Walter “Wally” Masters’ athletic talents on the Quakers baseball and football teams garnered attention on and off campus, leading him to play both sports professionally.
An All-American pitcher for Penn, Masters (front row, third from right) left the University in 1931 to play for Major League Baseball’s Washington Senators. He was on the team for one year, but also played amateur and professional football in the United States and Canada during this time.
When U.S. baseball regulations prohibited players from playing other sports, Masters decided to move to Canada to play with the Ottawa Rough Riders rugby team. After one season, he was disqualified from playing for the amateur team because he had played as a professional with the Senators. Masters stayed with the team, but spent the 1933 and 1934 seasons as the Rough Riders’ coach.
While living in Canada, he returned to playing baseball, keeping his skills sharp by pitching in a couple of Canada’s amateur baseball leagues before returning to the United States in 1936.
Over the next decade, Masters played both minor and major league baseball, as well as professional football. He played for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1936, and when he received an offer to return to Major League Baseball, he jumped right back in. Masters was a pitcher for the Phillies for a year in 1937, and joined the Philadelphia Athletics for the 1939 season.
During World War II, Masters, who was in his late 30s, was again a professional football player, playing in 1943 and 1944 for the Chicago Cardinals. He finished the 1944 season with the Pittsburgh Carpets, which later became the Steelers.
In 1947, he was back in Ottawa at the age of 40, as a rugby coach for the Ottawa Trojans and as a pitcher for the minor league Ottawa Nationals of the Border Baseball League. In a show of how skillful he still was, he pitched and won both games of a doubleheader.