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Why are a handful of Kansas ghost towns named after former Major Leaguers?

It started with a dentist.

Well, it started with a University of Pennsylvania student who decided to try something new in 1878 and became the first enrollee in the school's brand new dentistry program. Albert Bushong, D.D.S. graduated four years later. Obviously, when you're earning a medical degree, you want to spend your summers doing something relaxing.

So Bushong became a professional catcher, bouncing around from team to team when he wasn't learning how to pull teeth. When he finished his degree, he picked up the nickname "Doc" (I bet you can guess why), and played for the Cleveland Blues until 1884. In 1885, he started catching for the St. Louis Browns, helmed by player-manager Charlie Comiskey.

bushongcard

In 1886, the Missouri Pacific Railway started laying tracks through northern Kansas, and built a little whistle-stop town named Weeks on the western border of Lyon County. Hold onto this fact. It'll be important later.

That same year, Comiskey and his Browns ran away with the American Association title, with a 97-42 record. (The second place team, the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, went 82-55). Then, they beat the National League title winners, the Chicago White Stockings, in a best-of-seven, pre-modern World Series showdown. 

Now, how do you tend to celebrate when your favorite team wins it all? Maybe with a shirsey splurge? A tattoo? If you were one very specific Browns fan, a Browns fan who happened to be in charge of naming the whistle-stops along the Missouri Pacific Railway, you went with a different sort of tribute.

And so the town of "Weeks" became the town of "Bushong." Here's the railway's 1888 map:

1888map

See that town just across the county line? It's named after Bushong's teammate and manager ... Charlie Comiskey. Not only did he have a stadium named after him, he got a town in Kansas too. Here's the deed that established it: 

deed

But don't start packing your bags just yet. While "Comiskey, KS" would be a great mailing address, the town is no longer inhabited. It was disestablished in 1929, and is now entirely on private property. But the schoolhouse, church, and something called a "civic pavilion" still stand.

You can live in Bushong, on the other hand, if you don't mind small-town life. As of the 2010 census, 34 people lived in the town named for the catcher, so it's not completely a ghost town.

5/30 Bushong, KS population: 34 #ghosttown #adventure

A photo posted by NOT YOURS (@non.le.tien) on

But there's still a certain … ghostliness about it:

A photo posted by Laura Balke (@laurakbalke) on