Who was “Bat” Masterson of the American Old West and how did he get his nickname?

Bat Masterson was also known as Bartholomew Masterson. He later called himself William Barclay.

Born in 1853, William Barclay “Bat” Masterson of the American Old West was a buffalo hunter, U.S. Army scout, gambler, frontier lawman, U.S. Marshal, and columnist for the New York Morning Telegraph.

Masterson was the brother of lawmen James Masterson and Ed Masterson.

How he got the nickname Bat is still open to debate. One story is that it’s because of the cane he carried, which he used as a weapon whenever possible before going for a gun.

This philosophy was the result of a barroom gun battle in which he accidentally killed a woman friend in the crossfire. Other theories are that it’s short for “Battling Bill Masterson,” or an abbreviated version of his middle name.

Regardless, there’s an irony in that “Bat” better suited his later years when he traded his gun for a Remington typewriter. He’d’ moved to New York City and become a sports writer for the Morning Telegraph.

In 1921, after two decades of being football Bat, basketball Bat, and baseball Bat, Masterson died with his boots on at his desk, typing out a story.

One of Bat’s most well known quotes was, “Every dog, we are told, has his day, unless there are more dogs than days.”

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

1 thought on “Who was “Bat” Masterson of the American Old West and how did he get his nickname?”

  1. Actually, Masterson got the nickname of “Bat” due to his skills as a boxer. The cane is a myth that is perpetuated by the TV Series of the same name.

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