View Full Version : Great 19th Century Players Bio's
07-22-2006, 09:18 PM
JIM CREIGHTON (1841–1862)
orn on April 15, 1841, Jim Creighton was baseball's first real star and made his pitching debut with the Brooklyn Niagaras at age eighteen in 1859. He would join the Brooklyn Star Club that year and then join the Excelsior Club, in 1860, for "under the table inducements." Although it is difficult to prove, he was probably the first paid player (not Al Reach of the Brooklyn Eckfords and the Philadelphia Athletics as recognized by the Baseball Hall of Fame).
On June 30, 1860, the Excelsior Club boarded a train and embarked on the first great baseball tour. They started in upper New York State and on July 2 defeated the Champion Club of Albany, 24–6. On July 3 the Victory Club of Troy fell to the Excelsiors 13–7. They enjoyed a 50–19 victory against the Buffalo Niagaras on July 5. Wins in Rochester, NY and Newburgh, NY followed and the Excelsiors returned to Brooklyn on July 12 to prepare for the Atlantic Base Ball Club. On July 19, some 10,000 fans turned out to watch pitching ace Jim Creighton win easily 24–4. Afterwards they turned south in response to many invitations and played the Excelsior Club of Baltimore and won 51–6 on July 22. The trip concluded with games in Philadelphia, Maryland and Delaware, with the Excelsiors winning every game.
At the time Creighton pitched, the ball had to be delivered with a stiff-armed underhand motion. Creighton was said to be one of the first to bend the rule. He inaugurated speed pitching by adding an almost undetectable wrist snap and arm bend to his delivery. From 45 feet away he threw his rising "speedballs" and then threw slow pitches he called "dew drops" to further confuse the batter. During this time the pitcher's job was to help the batter and not hinder him. Fielding was to decide the game and some detested his aggressive approach. On November 8, 1860, Creighton would record baseball's first shutout. He was also an excellent hitter, scoring 47 runs in 20 games that same year. During the 1862 season, he was reportedly retired only four times.
On October 18, 1862, playing against the Union Club of Morrisania, NY, Creighton hit a home run. John Chapman, who was on-deck, heard something snap during Creighton's swing. After Jim crossed home plate he assured Chapman that his belt had broken. Four days later the Excelsior star was dead having ruptured his spleen or bladder in the process. He had bled to death of internal injuries. Jim Creighton was 21.
Creighton's approach forever changed the essence of the game from a match between hitters and fielders, to a duel between the pitcher and batter. He has not been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
07-22-2006, 09:19 PM
BOB FERGUSON (1845–1894)
In June 14, 1870 the Brooklyn Atlantics were playing host to the powerful Cincinnati Red Stockings at Capitoline Grounds in Brooklyn, NY. The Red Stockings had not lost a game in two years. They were undefeated with only one tie in 69 games, according to the Baseball Hall of Fame. At the end of nine innings, the Atlantics walked off the field proudly with a 5–5 tie. The crowd of between 9,000 and 20,000, who paid 50 cents to watch, was thrilled to see the Atlantics come from behind to tie the historic game.
The Captain of the Red Stockings, Harry Wright, claimed the game was not over. He said the rules stated that "unless it be mutually agreed upon by the captains of the two nines to consider the game a draw," a tie game must continue into extra innings. Atlantics captain, Bob Ferguson, announced that they were more than happy with a draw.
Wright consulted Henry Chadwick, chairman of the Rules Committee of the newly formed National Association, who was in attendance. Chadwick ruled the game should continue.
In the top of the 11th the Red Stockings pushed across two runs. In the home half of the inning, Cincinnati's pitcher Asa Brainard gave up a single to first baseman Charley Smith and allowed him to move to third on a wild pitch. Joe Start hit a drive to rightfield that went into the crowd. Cal McVey managed to get the ball from the crowd but not before Start ended up on third. With Smith scoring, the Atlantics were down by one. Leftfielder John Chapman grounded out to third but Start was unable to score. Third baseman Bob Ferguson hit a grounder to Charlie Gould at first base. Gould allowed the ball to go through his legs. Start scored the tying run and Ferguson rounded second and headed for third. Gould threw the ball over third baseman Fred Waterman's head and Ferguson scored the winning run.
Each Atlantic was paid $364 for their effort. The mighty Red Stockings continued to play, however, and after succumbing to five more losses the team disbanded six months later. Investors withdrew their support citing poor attendance and rising costs as the main reasons.
Robert Vavasour Ferguson was born on January 31, 1845 and raised in Brooklyn, NY. He was an overall average player. But it was his character and unquestioned honesty during a period when games were often decided by gamblers which made him different. His bad temper, stubbornness and honesty were traits that caused him to be disliked.
He became the first captain, and third baseman, of the New York Mutuals in the first professional league, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, formed in 1871. In the first season the Mutuals would finish fourth. Ferguson who "insisted upon implicit obedience from his men" was forced to leave because of the heavy rumors of gambling surrounding the team. He was also a substitute umpire for the National Association that inaugural season.
The year of 1872 was a busy for Ferguson. He was a convention delegate for the Brooklyn Atlantics, the team he would return to as the player/captain, for the '72 season. During the convention, held in Cleveland, he would be elected president of the National Association. Some ball players felt this was only a figurehead position. Ferguson felt otherwise. He wanted the players to have a representative. He would hold that position until the collapse of the NA, in 1875. He also became a regular umpire for the NA. On September 1, 1872 Ferguson arranged a benefit game for Albert Thake, a 22-year-old left fielder for the Atlantics, who drowned off Fort Hamilton, in New York Harbor, while fishing. The old Brooklyn Atlantics and Members of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings played against each other in the benefit game. The Atlantics ended the season in 6th place; the first of three consecutive 6th place finishes.
In 1873, Ferguson was once again a convention delegate for the Atlantics during the meetings held in Baltimore, MD. He stayed on as a regular umpire for the NA but was involved in an incident during a game on July 24. While umpiring a game between the Baltimore Canaries and Ferguson's former team, the NY Mutuals, he was loudly abused throughout the game by notorious umpire-baiter, Mutuals catcher Nat Hicks. The game was close and the Mutuals produced a three-run rally in the ninth to win 11-10. Ferguson and Hicks got into an altercation at the conclusion of the game. Ferguson hit Hicks with a bat in the left arm and had to have a police escort to get to the clubhouse. Although Hicks ended up with a broken arm in two places and would not play for two months, he refused to press charges and the two reconciled after the game. As a result, Ferguson was only a substitute umpire in the '74 season.
In 1875, Ferguson again became a regular umpire but he left the Atlantics, along with pitcher Tommy Bond, to become the player/captain of the Hartford Dark Blues. This would be his first, and most successful, of three straight winning seasons with the Dark Blues. The team would finish in second place at 54–28, 18½ games behind Harry Wright's powerful Boston Red Stockings. As for the Atlantics, they started the season at 2-11 and finished with a 31-game losing streak and a 12th place finish.
Ferguson became a League Director when the National League was formed in 1876. He was involved in a landmark decision that season. Jim Devlin, a pitcher for the Louisville Grays, wanted to be released from his contract. He claimed that the team had failed to fulfill the terms of his contract. Surrounding Devlin were rumors of "hippodroming." Ferguson, along with fellow League Directors Nicholas Appolonio, Boston President and St. Louis club Secretary Charles Chase ruled in favor of the Gray's VP Charles Chase. Devlin was compelled to remain with the Grays. The following season, Devlin and three other teammates, SS/2B William Craver, OF George Hall and 3B Al Nichols would be suspended for life for throwing games. Devlin would attempt for a number of years to be reinstated, but never was.
In 1878, Al Spalding hired Ferguson to captain the Chicago White Stockings. Spalding openly said he admired Ferguson's style and leadership that made the Hartford teams successful. Ferguson personally had his most successful season as a player. He hit .351, third in the league, led the league in on-base percentage, tied for fourth in RBI and ranked fourth in hits. The supposedly high-powered White Stockings finished at .500. In Spalding's memoirs he called Ferguson "tactless" and hopelessly lacking any knowledge "of the subtle science of handling men by strategy rather than by force." Spalding's harsh words helped end Ferguson's career as a player and manager.
In 1879, Ferguson played in only 30 games and managed the last 29 games for the Troy Trojans. He also resumed umpiring for the National League. From 1880–1882 he managed and played full time for the Trojans but did not umpire. Ferguson played for and managed the Philadelphia Quakers in the National League in 1883, but was replaced by Blondie Purcell with just 17 games remaining.
On August 21, the Quakers traveled to Providence to play the Grays. He needed to increase ticket sales on the road because the American Association entry in Philadelphia had forced the Quakers to reduce prices to 25 cents a game. He gave the ball to Rhode Island native Art Hagen who had several rough outings during a recent road trip. Ferguson hoped Hagen's appearance would draw the locals. The people came in large numbers to watch the hometown hero. Hagen surrendered 28 runs and the Quakers made 20 errors behind him. Philadelphia didn't score and to this day it's still the most lopsided shutout in major league history. Ferguson was labeled a sadist for not relieving him.
Ferguson found work in the American Association in 1884 with the Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He would be the second of five managers for the team that season and he would also play the last 10 games of his career. He returned to umpiring in the National League for the first time in four years, working part-time in '84 and full-time during the '85 season.
In 1886, 17 games into the season, Ferguson took over the managing duties for the New York Metropolitans, in the American Association and finished eighth. He also became an umpire in the A.A. in 1886 and continued until 1889. Ferguson would begin the season managing the Metropolitans in '87 but was replaced 30 games into the season.
Ferguson would never again manage. He turned full-time to umpiring and was a replacement umpire in the first game of the first all-New York World Series in '89 between the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Bridegrooms. He worked for the Players league in 1890 and returned to the A.A. in 1891 and then retired. Ferguson would pass away in Brooklyn on May 5, 1894, at the age of 49.
Ferguson would play in 562 games and manage another 949. He was the only person to umpire in four leagues in the 19th century as well as the only person to be an umpire, player, manager and league official at one time. Unfortunately, he is only remembered for one thing:
Question: Who was the first switch-hitter in professional baseball?
Answer: Bob Ferguson.
07-22-2006, 09:22 PM
PAUL HINES (1852–1935)
Paul Hines played in 1,659 games in three leagues, from 1872 through 1891, had 2,135 hits, hit over .300 eleven times and posted a career batting average of .302. Despite his successful career, Paul Hines would be all but forgotten today if not for the fact that he was involved in thirteen major league “firsts.”
Hines was born in 1852 in Washington, DC and first played infield for the Washington Nationals of the National Association in 1872. His first season was short lived as the 0–11 Nationals disbanded after a 9–1 loss to the Baltimore Canaries on June 26.
In 1873 Hines played for the reorganized Washington team (who changed their name to the Blue Legs), and hit over .300 for the first time. From 1874 through 1877 he played centerfield, his primary position for the rest of his career, for the Chicago White Stockings. During this time Hines would attain his first “first.” In 1876 the White Stockings would become the first National League Champions.
Hines moved to Rhode Island and played for the Providence Grays from 1878 through 1885. Here he would collect the twelve other “firsts.” His initial year with the Grays, Hines would become the first to record an unassisted triple play. In the third game of the season, after Providence had taken a 3–0 lead in the top of the eighth, the Boston Red Caps got one back in the bottom of the inning and had Ezra Sutton on second and Jack Manning on third with none out. Second baseman Jack Burdock hit a short fly ball over shortstop Tom Carey. From his centerfield position Hines made a running catch and continued toward third and stepped on the bag to put out both Manning and Sutton, who had proceeded home. According to the rules of 1878, if both runners had passed third base when Hines stepped on the bag, they were both immediately out. Hines threw to second baseman Charlie Sweasy who stepped on second to retire Sutton. It has been debated whether this was necessary. Some reports say that both men had passed third and were on their way home and some say that Sutton was on his way back to second. Either way Paul Hines has been given credit for accomplishing the feat.
His third and fourth “firsts” came in 1878, although he would not be given credit for one until 1968, 33 years after his death. At the conclusion of the season Hines along with LF Tom York and RF Dick Higham formed the first all .300-hitting outfield in NL history. As for the other, the NL crowned Milwaukee Grays LF Abner Dalrymple the batting champ for hitting .356. Dalrymple was considered to be the first rookie to win a batting title. But in 1878, hits made in tie games were not counted. So after recalculating the final averages Dalrymple’s .354 came up short to Hines’ .358. Hines also led the league in RBI with 50, and home runs with 4, so in fact, Hines was the first major leaguer to win the Triple Crown.
More investigation helped Hines gain his fifth “first” in 1879. Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide awarded the 1879 batting title to Chicago White Stockings first baseman, Cap Anson with a .407 average. Spalding claimed Anson had compiled 90 hits in 221 at bats. Years later, a subsequent investigation showed that in fact, Anson had only 72 hits in 227 at bats for a .317 average. Hines hit .357 in 1879, the highest average that year and the first major leaguer to lead the National League in batting average for two consecutive years. Also in 1879, the National League introduced, for one season only, the “Reached First Base” statistic. It included times reached via hits, walks and errors, but not hit by pitch because batter did not receive a base after being hit in 1879. Paul Hines, in 85 games, reached first base 193 times to lead the league—his sixth “first.”
In 1882, Hines became the first player to wear sunglasses during a major league game, and on September 25 played in the first true doubleheader in National League history. The Grays split the two games with the Worcester Ruby Legs in the first instance of two games for the price of one.
His final five "firsts" came in 1884. More specifically the 1884 World Series. He was the first National Leaguer to bat in World Series history. During that at bat he became the first batter to be hit by a pitch (the game was played under American Association rules which allowed a batter to receive his base after being hit by a pitched ball). In the third inning he got the first hit in National League World Series history, a single. He scored the first run in World Series play that same inning after a passed ball and two wild pitches by New York Metropolitans’ starter Tim Keefe. Hines’ Providence Grays beat New York three games to none to win the first World Series.
Hines would return to Washington and play for the Nationals of the National League for the 1886 and 1887 seasons and hit over .300 both years. He played for the Indianapolis Hoosiers in 1887 and 1888, hitting .308. In 1890, he patrolled centerfield for the Pittsburgh Infants for 31 games, and then, in the same season, moved to the Boston Beaneaters for 69 games. The 39-year-old Hines finished his career back home with the Washington Nationals of the American Association in 1891.
In 1920, Hines was arrested in Washington, where he worked for the Department of Agriculture Post Office, for pick pocketing. He would die 15 years later still not knowing he was the first major league Triple Crown winner and a two-time batting champ.
07-22-2006, 09:24 PM
CHARLES “OLD HOSS” RADBOURN (1854–1897)
A utcher by trade, Radbourn received his moniker for his incredible endurance and dependability in an era when most teams employed a two-man pitching rotation. As a starting pitcher for the Providence Grays (1881–1885), Boston Beaneaters (1886–1889), Boston Red Stockings (1890) and Cincinnati Reds (1891), Radbourn compiled a 309–195 career record. In 1884 he won the National League's pitching Triple Crown with a 1.38 ERA, 60 wins and 441 strikeouts. His 60 wins in a season is a record which will never be broken.
Once asked if he ever tired of pitching so often, he replied, “Tired out tossing a little five-ounce baseball for two hours? I used to be a butcher. From four in the morning until eight at night I knocked down steers with a 25-pound sledge. Tired from playing 2-hours a day for 10 times the money I used to get for 16 hours a day?”
On July 22, 1884, Providence Grays pitcher Charlie Sweeney, 17-8, misses practice because he is drunk. He starts against the Philadelphia Quakers and, with the Grays ahead, 6-2, in the seventh inning; manager Frank Bancroft brings in Joe "Cyclone" Miller. Sweeney refuses to leave the "box" and is suspended. The Grays play the final two innings with only eight players and lose, 10–6, on eight unearned runs in the ninth inning. Sweeney is kicked off the team and lands in the Union Association with the St. Louis Maroons. Providence is left with only one starting pitcher—Charley “Old Hoss” Radbourn.
The following day, Providence Grays pitcher Radbourn begins what may be the most remarkable feat in baseball history. “Old Hoss” pledges to pitch every game for the rest of the season if the Grays would agree not to reserve him for the following year. He pitches in nine straight games, winning seven, losing one and tying one. He takes a “day off” and plays right field before returning to pitch six more consecutive games. He plays shortstop for a single game and then pitches in 20 more consecutive games, winning 10 before having his 20-game win streak stopped. He would lead the NL in wins with 60, an ERA of 1.38, innings pitches with 678.2, (1.1 innings shy of the record set by Will White, 680, of the Cincinnati Reds in 1879) strikeouts with 441, complete games with 73 and winning percentage with a .833 mark. The Grays would win the pennant by 10½ games over the Boston Beaneaters.
At the close of the season Providence officials accepted New York Metropolitans’ (AA) manager Jim Mutrie's challenge to a three game postseason match. All of the games took place at the Polo Grounds in New York and were played under American Association rules, which forbade overhand pitching. This was no hindrance to Radbourn, who threw side arm.
On October 23, 1884, the Providence Grays (NL) whitewash the New York Metropolitans (AA), 6–0, behind Radbourn, in what is considered to be the first official postseason interleague game. Radbourn would allow two hits and strikeout nine. Tim Keefe is the loser.
The very next day, Radbourn three hits the Metropolitans and wins 3–1 in a game called after seven innings due to darkness. Grays third baseman Jerry Denny hits a three-run homer in the fifth inning. It is the first homerun in World Series history. Tim Keefe loses for the second time.
On October 25, 1884 the Providence Grays defeat the New York Metropolitans, 11–2, in the final game of the series. Radbourn wins for the third time in three days. Buck Becannon takes the loss as Tim Keefe, New York Metropolitans losing pitcher in games 1 and 2, umpired the contest.
Radbourn would pitch all three games, allow only 11 hits, strikeout 16, walk none and not allow an earned run. New York would bat .143 against Radbourn. Providence outscored New York 21-3 in winning all three games.
Despite his ability to sign with the club of his choosing, Radbourn remained with the Grays until 1886, when he joined the Boston Beaneaters. It was during his four-year stint with Boston that Radbourn gained notoriety of another sort. During a Boston/New York team photograph in 1886, he became the first public figure to be photographed extending his middle digit to the camera.
After a mediocre tour of duty with the Beaneaters, Radbourn joined the Boston Red Stockings of the Players' League in 1890, where he would lead the short-lived league in winning percentage (.692). The following year, he spent his last major league season with the Cincinnati Reds.
After retiring to Bloomington, Illinois, Radbourn owned and operated a billiard parlor and saloon. He would lose an eye in a hunting accident when his gun discharged accidentally. Less than six years after he threw his last pitch, Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn died at home of paresis on February 5th, 1897. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.
07-22-2006, 09:25 PM
JOHN CLARKSON (1861–1909)
Although he only pitched for 12 seasons, he complied statistics that would compare to a modern day pitcher with a twenty-three-year career. He won 328 games and lost only 178, finishing his career with a 2.81 Earned Run Average. He would pitch through three distance changes, two pitching delivery changes and two starting position changes. When he retired in 1894 he was the winningest pitcher in National League history.
John Gibson Clarkson debuted May 2, 1882, with the Worchester Ruby Legs. He would return to the National League with the Chicago White Stockings in 1884, and play four seasons for the club. In 1885, his first year as a regular, he would have one of two remarkable seasons. He led the league in wins with 53 (second most in NL history); innings pitched with 623 and strikeouts with 308 and helped the White Stockings to the pennant. Chicago and the St. Louis Browns of the American Association would end the season playing to a 3–3–1 “World Series” tie. On July 27, he pitched the only no-hitter of his career with a 4-0 win over the Providence Grays.
The two teams met again in the season ending 1886 championship series. With the Browns leading 3–2 in the best-of-seven series, Clarkson started his fourth game in six days. He held a 3–0 lead, but in the bottom of the eighth inning the Browns tied the game. Browns centerfielder Curt Welch singled to lead off the bottom of the tenth. It was only the fourth hit off Clarkson that day. Welch moved to third base on an infield hit and was sacrificed to third. Welch along with third base coach Arlie Latham, who was also a player, proceeded to distract Clarkson by heckling him and Welch made feigns as if hew was going to steal home. A Clarkson pitch got away from him and catcher “King” Kelly and Welch raced home with the series-winning run. It would be the only time the American Association would win the championship.
Clarkson was sold to the Boston Beaneaters for $10,000 in 1887. The previous year Boston had paid $10,000 for Chicago batting champion "King" Kelly. In 1889, Clarkson had perhaps the most dominant season by a pitcher in baseball history. He led the league in wins with 49, 11 more than the second place finisher. He pitched 620 innings which was 200 innings more than the runner-up. He completed 68 games, 22 more than the next pitcher and had eight shutouts, 4 more than runner-up. He would also lead the league in strikeouts, earned run average, lowest on-base percentage and winning percentage. He became only the fourth pitcher to win what is now considered the pitcher’s Triple Crown, the leader in wins, ERA and strikeouts. Even with Clarkson’s monumental accomplishments and with Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn as their second pitcher who also won 20 games, the Beaneaters fell one game short of the pennant.
When the National League absorbed four American Association teams in 1891 it was decided that the 1892 season would be a “split” season. The wining team of the first half would meet the winning team of the second half for the championship series. After 16 starts and a 8–6 record with Boston, Clarkson was traded to the Cleveland Spiders and joined a pitching staff that included Cy Young. After finishing fourth in the first half of the season, Cleveland would win the second half and meet Boston in the season ending series. Boston would win the series 5–0–1.
Beginning in 1893, the pitching distance from home was increased for the third time in Clarkson’s career, to 60 feet 6 inches. Perhaps due to the numerous amount of innings he had pitched over the years, Clarkson had problems adjusting Although he did manage to pitch 295 innings and win 16 games that season, his batters-walked to batters-struck-out ratio, and number of hits allowed had increased significantly. In 1894, he would appear in only 22 games.
In twelve seasons Clarkson would pitch 4536.1 innings. He would pitch over 600 innings in a season twice and average 378 innings pitched per year. Of the 518 games he started he managed to finish all except 33 games. He also hit 24 home runs.
Armed with a variety of curveballs delivered from different arm angles and an uncanny ability to locate a hitter's weakness, Clarkson was a finesse pitcher who relied on his wits, rather than a blazing fastball. Tragically, it was his mind that eventually betrayed him. In 1906, while living in retirement in Michigan, Clarkson suffered a breakdown, was declared insane, and spent much of the remainder of his life in mental hospitals. He died in 1909 at the age of 47 from complications stemming from pneumonia.
Arguably, the greatest pitcher of the 19th century, Total Baseball ranks Clarkson as the fourth best pitcher of all time behind Hall of Famers Cy Young, Christy Matthewson and Lefty Grove. His 328 wins rank him 10th in baseball history, an amazing feat when one considers that his career lasted only 12 seasons.
In 1963, fifty-four years after his death in February of 1909, the Veteran’s Committee elected John Clarkson to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
07-22-2006, 09:32 PM
Harry Wright 1847-1937
William Henry Wright, better known to the baseball community as "Harry" Wright, today strikes historians as, in the words of Bruce Markusen, an "especially underrated Hall of Famer" [Author's correspondence]. Popularly regarded in his time as "The Father of Professional Baseball," Wright's modern legacy pales in comparison, though many of his innovations characterize the game that we know today.
The time and place of Wright's birth to Samuel, Sr., and Annie Tone Wright (married in 1830) are not certain, but records indicate that the event occurred on January 10, 1835, in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. Mormon records suggest the date of November 8, 1832, in Leeds, England, and his death certificate lists an age that would place his birth at December 13, 1834 [Family records provided by Halsey Miller, Jr.]. But due to supportive census records and the simple fact that Wright failed to contradict the 1835 date during his lifetime, one must presume that it is correct.
Further mysteries surround Wright's early life. The exact date of his emigration to America - New York City, specifically - is also uncertain, though it appears that his father brought his family to the New World in 1836 on the promise of a spot on the St. George's Dragonslayers cricket team. During that year, Wright witnessed the birth of his brother Dan, seemingly unknown to baseball historians because he was the only one of the four Wright sons not to take up the game professionally. He subsequently moved to San Jose, California, sometime between 1861 and 1877 [Henry Chadwick Scrapbooks]. Dan was joined in the family by brothers George (b. January 26, 1847) and Samuel, Jr., or "Sammy" (b. November 25, 1848), and, finally, sister Mary (b. 1858) [Miller records].
Rumors today flourish that George was in fact merely a Hall of Fame half-brother of Harry Wright. This, in fact, is a myth created by the misstatement of George's housekeeper on his 1937 death certificate that he was the son of a woman named Mary Love [Miller records]. The existence of Love cannot be confirmed or denied, but she is certainly not the mother of George Wright.
Harry Wright dropped out of public school at the age of 14, in 1849, to apprentice as a jeweler at Tiffany's and the next year join the Dragonslayers, on which his father was the star and idol of cricket circles and would continue to play for the team until 1869. By 1857, Harry began receiving money for his performance, but while coaching George in cricket on the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey, the next year, he looked over to an adjoining field and witnessed his first game of baseball.
Wright quickly adapted to, and grew to love, the sport. At a rather tall 5'9 3/4" and 157 pounds, the right-hander became a formidable athlete. He and his brother, George, were regarded by the New York Dispatch as "the best exponents of batting as a science in the country" [Chadwick Scrapbooks], and Harry personally as "the finest, safest, best, and least showy player in America" according to the Detroit Post [Chadwick Scrapbooks].
That year he joined the New York Knickerbockers and participated in the heralded Fashion Course Matches that first charged money for admittance. In 1863 he became the first player to (openly) receive money for a game when a "benefit" was held by the Knickerbockers for him, his father, and others. Harry, the only one to actually make money from the benefit, received $29.65.
The Civil War so decimated the Knickerbockers' schedule that Wright decided to join the New York Gothams in 1864. But by the next year he had tired of baseball and decided to start over as a cricketer in Cincinnati, Ohio.
He went west with his wife of four years, Mary Fraser, and their children, four-year-old Charles, young Lucy Louise, and newborn George William, or "Willy". At some point between this move on March 8, 1865, and Wright's remarriage to Caroline Mulford on September 10, 1868, Mary died, though the details are not known. With Carrie he was to have seven children: Hattie (b. March 30, 1869), Stella (b. 1870), Harry II (b. August 4, 1871), Carrie (b. January 27, 1874), Albert (b. December 20, 1874), and William (b. July 13, 1876) [Miller records]. The two sets of children resented each other, and the Fraser/Wright children later lived with Harry's brother, Sammy, as well as with his sister Mary.
While in Cincinnati, Wright quickly reverted to baseball in much the same fashion that he first came to it, by witnessing a game on an adjoining field as he played cricket. After talking with Cincinnati Base Ball Club (CBBC) president Aaron Champion, he started a mass exodus of Union Cricket Club players to the CBBC that took the field together on September 26, 1866. He adapted his bowling techniques from cricket to become an effective pitcher known for his off-speed pitches that differed from most of the hard-throwing pitchers of the day. He would later use this to relieve fireballer Asa Brainard effectively and thus institute the strategy of relief pitching.
The competitive fire of Wright and his fellow club members was sparked by the western visit of the dominant Washington Nationals, for whom his brother, George, played shortstop, and the burgeoning ambition for their own tour. Part of this was due to the fact that the Red Stockings, as the team came to be called, were clearly the dominant club in the west and thus competition was not conducive to profits. Only a traveling, excellent team would be able to accomplish that.
It was decided that the Red Stockings would field an openly all-professional team in 1869, the first of its kind. Originally the team officials intended to sign every player that won an 1868 Clipper Medal, the equivalent, one may say, of a modern All-Star selection, but when that proved unrealistic, Wright was designated as scout and general manager. He selected a team of young players that, even if not individually outstanding, would function well as a team. His emphasis on teamwork later earned him recognition by sportswriter Tim Murnane as the originator of the very concept itself [Chadwick Scrapbooks]. He earned this distinction by the invention and application of such methods as hand signals to all players in the field, calling balls in the air, having one fielder back up another, platooning, and the hit-and-run.
The success of Wright's management was apparent. The Red Stockings dominated at home and abroad throughout the 1869 season. Throughout a tour of the East against the heralded teams of New York, Philadelphia, and elsewhere, the club went undefeated, shocking the sports world. The fame of the Red Stockings became so great that they were asked to take a tour of the western United States as well, specifically California. No such trip had ever been undertaken. But the Cincinnatis swept the competition, enhancing the popularity of baseball in the process.
While most would regard the success of the Red Stockings as being strictly contained in their win total, in fact they scored just as precious a victory in the conduct of their behavior. As the first salaried club, the Cincinnatis precipitated great controversy over the institution of professionalism. Any mingling of money with the game at that point was regarded as a recipe for corruption and the attraction of carousing undesirables, which would spell doom for the game. However, the Red Stockings were perhaps the most disciplined team ever to attract such attention, as demanded by manager, center fielder, and executive Harry Wright.
Wright's reputation as the most ethical gentleman in the game - "There was no figure more creditable to the game than dear old Harry," said The Sporting News [December 12, 1895] - defied the money-grubbing stereotype of what an exponent of professionalism was supposed to be. Instead, he emphasized the necessity of fair play and high ethical standards for the advancement of the game, an admonition that he heeded as well. In one 1868 home game, he reversed the blatantly errant ruling of an umpire seeking to curry the favor of the Cincinnati crowd. Owing largely to this action, the Red Stockings went on to lose the game. In later years Wright himself was entrusted to umpire games within his own league.
The Red Stockings eventually met defeat in a close and controversial game against the Brooklyn Atlantics on June 14, 1870. From there, the club unraveled after losses to other clubs and the desertion of the Cincinnati fan base. The once-adoring press turned sharply on the club, which by the end of the year officially splintered in an ugly public drama.
Wright took the team name and several of its players to Boston in the new National Association (NA), the first professional baseball league. By the end of its run in 1875, it came to be known as "Harry Wright's League" due to his club's domination of the circuit. After a disappointing 1871 season, the club rebounded to capture four consecutive titles, a feat unequaled in the sport for several decades.
The most notable occurrence of Wright's tenure in the league was his 1874 brainchild to tour the British Isles. It was an ill-conceived venture from the start, seemingly more of a personal dream than a wise professional plan, and it resulted in financial disaster. If the ever-frugal and business-minded Wright was willing to accept that, he at least desired to see the game that he championed catch fire in the land of his birth and ancestry (and a noble ancestry it was, at that, consisting of an Earl and a Grand Master in the Knights Templar). Due to an incompetent agent in England and the refusal of the English to replace their beloved game of cricket with this American stepchild called baseball, that hope failed as well. Upon his return, Wright was despondent; "We had an early frost," he wrote a friend. "I feel frosty" [Harry Wright Correspondence, September 15, 1874, to William Cammeyer].
The financial impact on the league was devastating, as it deprived the NA of both the Red Stockings and the Philadelphia Athletics, the two best clubs in the league. In 1876, the league was overthrown by the National League that exists to this day. Wright played a key role in this founding because he realized the hopelessness of the NA and the necessity of establishing a league that consisted of strong western clubs and not just Eastern dominance.
Reminiscent of the beginning of the NA, the Boston club (the "Red Caps" now, in deference to the upstart Cincinnatis) underachieved in the National League's inaugural year and then went on to win two consecutive championships. The clubs were noted for their accomplishments despite a weak lineup, furthering Wright's status as a superior manager. Noted one newspaper in 1886, "It is true Mr. Wright is not infallible, and he is apt to err, just as any other person in his particular profession will blunder, but Mr. Wright will make 49 good ones to every bad one" [Chadwick Scrapbooks].
By 1881, however, the club's fortunes had eroded, and Wright had tired of being unappreciated in Boston. So he moved to nearby Providence to head the Providence Grays. He did reasonably well, most notably for historical purposes, for he instituted the concept of a farm system. With salaries higher than management preferred, Wright thought it would be beneficial to assemble a club of amateurs to play on the Providence grounds while the first nine was on the road; he could use the second nine as a breeding ground for talent that could replace senior members in case of injury or poor play. Though such an institution was not to be popularly adopted for several decades, Sporting Life plainly stated in 1883 that Wright was "the father of the 'reserve club' system" [Sporting Life, December 12, 1883].
In 1884, Wright left Providence to take over the woeful young Philadelphias. He instantly improved the club, but never attained a championship during his ten-year tenure at the head of the club. Management failed to pay players - and Wright, for that matter - any more than was absolutely necessary, and the manager was forced to do his best with the talent available.
One way of improving the talent was his promotion of what we now know as "spring training," then referred to as a "southern trip." Wright first took his club south in 1886 with the idea that such a warm-up would give the Philadelphias an advantage over other teams by starting off with six weeks of play under their belts as opposed to entering the season fresh. The plan worked just as he expected, and other teams began to follow suit so that by 1890 every club went south in the spring.
In late May 1890, Wright was suddenly struck with catarrh of the eyeballs and was rendered blind. It would take until the next March for him to regain his eyesight, but the process in-between was very painful and emotional for him, his family, and the baseball community. When he came back to manage with partial sight late in the 1890 season, he was received with great applause, but privately pitied for his weathered appearance.
To make matters worse, Carrie suffered a nervous breakdown soon after Harry went blind and was unable to leave her bed. After a long illness, Carrie passed away on February 5, 1892, to Harry's tremendous grief. However, by July 1893 he was engaged to be married, and was subsequently wed in January 1894. His bride's name is not known for certain, but it is thought by descendants to have been his first wife's sister, Isabelle Fraser [The Sporting News, 1890-94]. If so, that may explain the intense bitterness harbored towards her by Carrie's children, who considered her a nasty stepmother.
Matters weren't going well with the Philadelphias, either. Throughout his tenure in the city, Wright had always had trouble with the management of Al Reach and especially Colonel John I. Rogers. Rogers micromanaged the club and publicly and privately attacked Wright's disciplinary tactics, despite all evidence against his criticisms. After the 1893 season, the Philadelphias chose not to renew Wright's contract, a move loudly protested by the Philadelphia press and fans.
The National League also regretted this move, and sought to compensate its old friend by creating the token position of Chief of Umpires. It was known that this sinecure would be Wright's for life and would be abolished after his death. In substance, it merely consisted of watching over umpires and evaluating their performances, though this end of the job did not seem to be scrutinized by the league.
Wright died on October 3, 1895, after contracting a serious illness in his lungs. After being diagnosed on September 21, he tried to relieve the problem by inhaling the salty air of Atlantic City, a favorite vacation spot, but he there died the day after an operation [Chadwick Diaries, Volume 23].
"No death among the professional fraternity has occurred which elicited such painful regret," groaned sportswriter Henry Chadwick [Chadwick Scrapbooks]. Perhaps one may not understand today the extent to which his contemporaries revered Wright for his contributions to the game. In fact, the Society for American Baseball Research revealed a 1999 poll of its members that rated Wright as the third greatest contributor to 19th century baseball, behind Chadwick and Albert Spalding. Interestingly, in November 1893 The Sporting News edition noted that Wright's only competitor for such a title was Cap Anson.
"[Harry Wright was] the most widely known, best respected, and most popular of the exponents and representatives of professional baseball, of which he was virtually the founder," Chadwick commented upon his death [Chadwick Scrapbooks]. (This was not merely an exaggeration upon the occasion of his death; an 1886 newspaper also referred to him as "undoubtedly the best known baseball man in the country" [Chadwick Scrapbooks]. Even Rogers, his determined enemy, declared, "It has therefore truly been said, that so identified was he with the progress and popularity of the game its history is virtually his biography" [Chadwick Scrapbooks].
To honor his memory, the National League held a "Harry Wright Day" on May 13, 1896, from which all proceeds were to go towards building a memorial upon Wright's gravesite. Wright himself had tipped his hat to the old league before his death by decreeing in his will that his personal writings be donated to its archives.
Wright was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1953 by the Veterans Committee, much later than his brother (1937), and much longer than many thought that he should have had to wait. His son, Harry II, blamed the new mentality of baseball that preferred sluggers and men of brawn to the scientific batter and the great minds
07-22-2006, 09:39 PM
Candy Cummings 1848-1924
Candy Cummings, at first glance, appears to be one of the least qualified pitchers in the Baseball Hall of Fame. His major league won-lost record is usually listed as 21-22, because most career totals begin with the formation of the National League in 1876. Cummings earned his stardom in amateur play during the late 1860s and in the National Association, precursor to the National League, in the early 1870s. He enjoyed great success, but threw his last major league pitch when he was only 28 years old. However, Cummings, despite his short career, was one of the most influential pitchers in baseball history. He was selected for Cooperstown immortality because he, according to most baseball historians, was the man who invented the curveball.
William Arthur Cummings, called Arthur by his family and friends, was born in Ware, Massachusetts, on October 17, 1848. He was the second child of William and Mary Cummings, who moved to Brooklyn, New York, when Arthur was two years old. The family grew to include 12 children and appears to have been well off, because Arthur's parents sent him to a boarding school in Fulton, New York, in his teenage years.
Cummings was an enthusiastic baseball player, and an outing with some friends in 1863, when he was 14 years old, gave Arthur the idea that changed the course of his life. He and a group of boys amused themselves at a Brooklyn beach one day by throwing clamshells into the ocean. The flat, circular shells could be easily made to curve in the air, and the boys managed to create wide arcs of flight before the shells splashed into the water. "We became interested in the mechanics of it and experimented for an hour or more," recalled Arthur in his later years. "All of a sudden, it came to me that it would be a good joke on the boys if I could make a baseball curve the same way." This seemingly passing thought started Cummings on a quest that took much of his time and energy for the next four years.
Throwing underhanded with his arm perpendicular to the ground, as stipulated by the rules at the time, Arthur practiced diligently and experimented with different grips and releases in an effort to find the secret of the curveball. In so doing, he made himself into an outstanding young pitcher in spite of his physical limitations. He grew to be about five feet and nine inches tall as an adult, but he never weighed more than 120 pounds at any time in his life. Even in that era, nearly a century and a half ago, he was small for an athlete. He also had small hands, usually a severe handicap for a pitcher. Arthur excelled on the mound anyway, perhaps due to the practice he gained from his pursuit of the elusive curveball.
In 1865, after Arthur graduated from the Fulton school, he joined the Star Junior amateur team of Brooklyn and posted an incredible 37-2 record. Later that year he was invited to join the Brooklyn Excelsior Club, one of the best amateur nines in the New York area. He soon became the team's leading pitcher, and was so dominant that people started calling him "Candy," a Civil War-era superlative meaning the best of anything.
In 1867, after four years of frustration, he found success with the curveball for the first time. He discovered that he could make the ball curve in the air when he released it by rolling it off the second finger of his hand, accompanied by a violent twisting of the wrist. Though it appears that Jim Creighton, a New York amateur pitcher, threw a ball with a quick jerk of the wrist in 1861 and 1862, Cummings was the one who combined it with the rolling motion from the fingers to maximize the amount of spin imparted on the ball.
Candy Cummings demonstrated his breakthrough in a game against Harvard College. “I began to watch the flight of the ball through the air and distinctly saw it curve,” wrote Cummings many years later. “A surge of joy flooded over me that I shall never forget. I felt like shouting out that I had made a ball curve. I wanted to tell everybody; it was too good to keep to myself." All day long, Harvard batters flailed helplessly at the new pitch. The secret of the curveball was his, and for several years afterward Cummings was the only pitcher in the nation to claim mastery over the pitch.
The curveball made the 120-pound Cummings the most dominant pitcher in the country. He threw a pitch that none of the batters had ever seen or practiced against, and only when other pitchers learned to throw the curveball would batters learn how to hit it. Any pitcher who sought to copy Candy Cummings would need months, if not years, of steady practice of the type that Cummings had already accumulated. This gave Cummings a gigantic head start upon his competitors and made for an advantage that perhaps no other pitcher has ever enjoyed in the history of the game.
The varsity nine of the Brooklyn Stars signed Candy as their featured pitcher in 1868. The Stars billed themselves as the “championship team of the United States and Canada,” and with Cummings on the mound they were able to make good on that boast for the next four seasons. One source states that from 1869 to 1871, Cummings posted records of 16-6, 17-9, and 17-13 in top-level amateur play, and won many more in exhibitions against other outstanding ballclubs. In 1871, influential baseball writer Henry Chadwick named Candy Cummings the outstanding player in the United States, the closest thing at that time to a Most Valuable Player award.
The National Association began play in 1871 as the nation’s first professional circuit. Cummings remained with the Stars that season, but his skills were in such demand that he was besieged with offers. He signed contracts with three different Association clubs before the 1872 season started, but in mid-February the Association awarded Cummings to the New York Mutuals and made the pitcher a professional for the first time. Cummings pitched every inning for the Mutuals that year, posting a 33-20 record and helping the New York team to a fourth-place finish. He led the Association in games, complete games, and innings pitched. Candy struck out only 14 men all year, but strikeouts were exceedingly rare then, and he led the league in that category as well.
For the next several years Candy Cummings pursued increasingly generous financial offers with different teams in the National Association. In 1873 he signed with Baltimore, where he shared the pitching chores with Asa Brainard. Candy posted a 28-14 record as Baltimore finished a strong third. The 1874 campaign found the 25-year-old veteran in Philadelphia playing for the Pearls, and once again pitching every inning of every game. He posted a 28-26 record with a mediocre ballclub, but made national headlines on June 15, 1874, when he struck out six Chicago White Stockings in a row.
By the 1874 season, other pitchers began to make up ground on Cummings by developing curveballs of their own. Bobby Mathews, Cummings’ successor on the Mutuals, began throwing the pitch after learning it from Cummings. Alphonse Martin of the Troy Haymakers also threw a curve at about this time, though Martin later claimed that he had thrown it in amateur play in 1866, a year before Cummings. The controversy over the origin of the tricky pitch had already begun, with several rivals challenging Candy Cummings’ claim to preeminence in newspaper articles across the nation. Cummings, proud of his discovery, was keenly protective of his status as the inventor of the curveball, and for the rest of his life he zealously defended his claim against all doubters.
In 1875 Cummings landed on his fifth team in five years, the Hartford Dark Blues. The 1875 season was longer than previous campaigns, so the Hartford club divided the pitching load between Cummings and 19-year-old Tommy Bond, who played right field for the first eight weeks of the campaign while learning the curveball from Cummings. Bond mastered the pitch by mid-season, and by July he and Cummings provided an effective one-two punch for the Dark Blues. Hartford finished in second place as Cummings went 35-12 and pitched seven shutouts. Bond posted a 19-16 log and batted .273 as an outfielder.
Hartford joined the new National League in 1876. Cummings, for the first time in six years, stayed with his previous team and returned to the Dark Blues, but at the age of 27 he began to slow down. Tommy Bond pitched so well early in the season that he became Hartford’s main starting pitcher, pushing one of baseball’s most celebrated stars to the sidelines. Candy pitched 24 games in 1876 with a 16-8 record, while Bond went 31-13 in 45 games as Hartford finished third in the new league. On September 9, 1876, in the first scheduled doubleheader in National League history, Cummings pitched two complete-game victories over Cincinnati.
Candy declined to sign a National League contract that winter, instead joining the Live Oaks of Lynn, Massachusetts, in the new International Association. That winter, Cummings attended the convention that created the new player-controlled league, and the other delegates elected him as the first president of the circuit. However, Cummings did not stay long with the Live Oaks. He left the team in late June and signed with the Cincinnati Red Stockings of the National League, though he remained president of the International Association for the balance of the season. In Cincinnati, with a worn-out arm and a weak team behind him, Cummings won only five of the 19 games he pitched.
At the age of 28, Candy Cummings came to the end of the line. Other pitchers had learned to throw the curveball, and by 1877 batters had figured out how to hit it. Cummings, with his slender frame and small hands, no longer threw a curve well enough to fool the batters, and his arm was sore from ten years of top-level amateur and professional play. He pitched briefly in the International Association in 1878, but soon dropped back to the amateur and semipro ranks. Later that year he returned to his hometown of Ware, Massachusetts, where he learned the painting and wallpapering trade. He played ball sporadically until 1884, when he moved to Athol, Massachusetts, and opened his own paint and wallpaper company, which he operated for more than 30 years. He and his wife, the former Mary Augusta Roberts, whom he married in 1870, raised five children.
For the next several decades, Cummings passionately defended his status as the inventor of the curveball. He wrote dozens of articles and letters to editors defending his claim and refuting those, such as former Chicago White Stockings pitcher Fred Goldsmith and others, who claimed authorship of the pitch. His efforts paid off; by the early 1900s, such influential baseball men as Albert G. Spalding, player-turned-writer Tim Murnane, and Sporting News founder Alfred H. Spink had thrown their support to Cummings as the creator of the curve. By 1908, when Cummings wrote an article for Baseball Magazine titled “How I Pitched the First Curve,” his reputation was secure. Today, most baseball historians credit Cummings as the first man to make a ball curve in flight and also as the first to use the pitch successfully under competitive conditions.
Cummings retired from his paint and wallpaper business in the late 1910s, and in 1920 the widowed 72-year-old moved to Toledo, Ohio, to live with his son Arthur. William Arthur Cummings died in Toledo on May 16, 1924, and was buried in the Aspen Grove Cemetery in Ware, Massachusetts. Fifteen years later, on May 2, 1939, a special committee elected Candy Cummings and five other 19th century players to the Hall of Fame.
07-22-2006, 09:44 PM
Bid McPhee 1859-1943
John Alexander "Bid" McPhee, baseball's greatest second baseman of the 19th century, was born on November 1, 1859, in Massena, New York, the fourth among five children of a saddle-maker. When he was seven, his family moved to the Mississippi River town of Keithsburg, Illinois, a small hamlet of 1200 inhabitants. Keithsburg was the birthplace of Parke Wilson, a catcher for the New York Giants from 1893 to 1899. Wilson's father was running a dry goods store in the town, and McPhee was for some time an all-around helper in the store. Both Wilson and McPhee played with a local team called the Ictorias.
The team played all the clubs of the surrounding towns, being a leading feature for the country fairs at that time. The Ictorias won first prize in the district league, which consisted of a nickel-plated bat. McPhee was a catcher then and the youngest player on the Ictorias at just
16. In 1877 he and Elmer Rockwell were signed by Davenport of the Northwest League, and they constituted what was then known as a crack battery, with Rockwell in the pitcher's box and McPhee behind the bat.
At Davenport in 1878, McPhee batted .333 with 65 hits in 39 games. He returned to Davenport the following season, playing second base as well as right field and catcher, but batted only .229 with 19 hits in 20 games.
In 1880, perhaps discouraged by his lack of success in pro ball, McPhee secured a position as a bookkeeper in Davenport. He made more money keeping books than playing ball, and he apparently liked the job.
In the summer of 1881, though, McPhee was induced to go to Akron, Ohio, where he played second base for an independent team of that town. Although no records exist of his play at Akron in either 1880 or 1881, he must have blossomed, because Cincinnati of the American
Association signed him for their inaugural season of 1882. McPhee's teammates at Akron,
Sam Wise and Rudolf Kemmler, were also secured by Cincinnati.
However, as the spring of 1882 approached and the time of reporting to Cincinnati drew near, McPhee, who held the position of bookkeeper in a business house in Akron, became possessed with the idea that he had achieved all the fame he desired in baseball and that he would settle down to be a. businessman. It required considerable persuasion to induce McPhee to give up his books, and it was only after dozens of letters had been written and several trips made to Akron by Cincinnati officials that he decided to continue his career on the diamond.
McPhee was lauded in the Cincinnati newspapers as an "honest man and the best second baseman in the world." However, in his and his team's first game against Pittsburgh on May 2 in Cincinnati, McPhee made a very poor showing. McPhee later referred to his own play as
"rotten" and he provoked hoots and jeers from the Cincinnati fandom, who suffered through a 10-9 loss. In an 1890 interview, McPhee recalled. "What broke me up worse than anything else was a little episode that occurred after the game. I boarded a Clark streetcar as soon as I changed my clothes, and leaned against the rail of the rear platform, which was crowded with baseball enthusiasts going home. In my citizen's attire none of the cranks knew me. They had evidently lost some money on the game and, as I had contributed more than anyone else to the Waterloo, I was the special target for their abuse. 'That stiff they played on second base today made me sick,' said one of the crowd. 'What's his name? McPhee? Yes, that's it. Maybe he didn't work the Cincinnati Club about wanting to keep books! He ought to have staved in Akron. He might be a good bookkeeper, but he is a rotten ballplayer!' And so it went. I dropped off the car without making my identity known, and at that time fully coincided with their views that I could do better at bookkeeping than I could at ball playing."
McPhee recovered quickly from his inauspicious beginning to help Cincinnati win the American Association championship. While he batted only .228, McPhee gave his early detractors a hint of his fielding prowess, leading the league's second basemen in putouts, double plays, and fielding percentage. The Red Stockings' major stars of their pennant-winning season were left-handed third baseman 'Hick" Carpenter (.342), catcher-manager "Pop" Snyder (291) and pitching ace Will White (40-12).
Although his Cincinnati teams would never again finish on top, McPhee went on to establish himself as the class of all nineteenth-century second basemen. McPhee led American Association second basemen in double plays every season the Red Stockings played in that league. In six out of eight seasons, McPhee led in fielding percentage. Playing bare-handed for most of his 18 seasons in Cincinnati, McPhee led American Association (1882-1889) and National League (1890-1899) second baseman in putouts eight times, assists six times, double plays eleven times, total chances per game six times, and fielding percentage nine times. McPhee remains the all-time leader among second basemen in putouts (6,545), and his 529 putouts in 1886 is the single-season major league record. He is also second in total chances (14,241) and fourth in assists (6,905).
As a hitter, McPhee was a consistent leadoff man with surprising power. He led the American Association in home runs with eight in 1886 (seven were inside-the-park homers). The following season, McPhee batted .289 with a league-leading 19 triples. He set a career-high in three-base-hits in 1890 with 22.
In that season, Cincinnati's first in the National League, McPhee had perhaps his greatest day at the plate on June 28th when he hit 3 triples in a game against New York's future Hall of Fame pitcher Amos Rusie (another future Hall of Famer, slugger Jesse Burkett, relieved Rusie midway through the contest, won by the Reds, 12-3).
McPhee stole 568 bases during his career, but that figure is misleading. No stolen base records were kept in the American Association before 1886, and from then until 1898, stolen bases were credited to base runners who went from first to third on a single or advanced an extra base on an out. McPhee was also a prolific run scorer with ten seasons in which he topped 100 runs. For his career, McPhee batted .271 with 2,250 hits.
McPhee's offensive accomplishments aside, it was his bare-handed wizardry at second base that continued to set records and brought him fame. In an 1890 interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, McPhee stated, "No, I never use a glove on either hand in a game. I have never seen the necessity of wearing one; and besides, I cannot hold a thrown ball if there is anything on my hands. The glove business has gone a little too far. It is all wrong to suppose that your hands will get battered out of shape if you don't use them. True, hot-hit balls do sting a little at the opening of the season, but after you get used to it there is no trouble on that score."
Standing 5'8" tall and weighing just 152 pounds, the dapper-looking McPhee, complete with classic handle-bar moustache, was particularly adept at double-steal attempts with men on first and third. His quickness and savvy allowed him to decide whether to nail the man coming to second or return the ball to the catcher for a play on the man coming from third.
Earlier in McPhee's career, "batsmen" were permitted to choose whether they wanted the pitcher to deliver a high or low ball. As a result, McPhee and other infielders found it relatively easy to tell where the ball would be hit. When this practice was ended in 1887, McPhee used his skills and knowledge to determine proper positioning for each batter. Also, because of the efforts of McPhee and two of his outstanding contemporaries, Fred Pfeffer and Fred Dunlap, the position of second baseman evolved in the 1880's from one of playing directly on or near the hag to placing themselves to the left, ranging towards first.
On the field and off McPhee was a gentleman. He was never fined or ejected from a game, and he was always sober and in playing condition. An 1897 ankle injury, the only serious one of his career, kept McPhee out of action for three months. Cincinnati fans and sportswriters staged a special benefit that raised $3,500 for him,
When he opened the 1896 season with an injured finger,. McPhee finally broke down and started to use a fielder's glove. The result was his major league record fielding percentage of .978, not topped until 1925, when Sparky Adams fielded 983.
McPhee retired from active play after the 1899 season. He returned to manage the Reds to a last place finish in 1901. In 1902, the Reds showed some improvement, but McPhee resigned after only 65 games amid rumors that former Baltimore Oriole Joe Kelley was about to take his place. He continued to scout for the Reds until 1909 when he severed all his connections with baseball.
McPhee moved to Ocean Beach, California, a suburb of San Diego, and lived there in quiet retirement, all but forgotten by the baseball world. In the January 28, 1932 edition of The Sporting News, it was mentioned that McPhee was dead. This prompted a letter from Corwin Sage of Los Angeles in which he stated "John A. McPhee is an exceedingly lively corpse. We have been intimate friends for a great many years and exchange letters nearly every week. I wrote to him today (March 1. 1932). He is rot as lively as in the days from '82 to 1900, but still is able to give some of them pointers on how to play second base and might be able to line one to the fence if he was served a cold one... Bid cut out the article from The Sporting News and mailed it to me with the remark that it was not often a man had the pleasure of reading his own obituary. McPhee was one of the finest players and most perfect gentlemen the game has ever known."
McPhee's actual death occurred on January 3, 1943, at his home in Ocean Beach. In March, 2000, 57 years after his passing and a century after his playing career ended, Bid McPhee was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by a vote of the Veterans' Committee. In addition to his considerable accomplishments as a ballplayer, McPhee's Hall of Fame plaque notes his "sober disposition and exemplary sportsmanship."
07-22-2006, 09:45 PM
Thanks for adding bios:)
07-22-2006, 09:50 PM
Thanks for adding bios:)
No problem ;)
Dummy Hoy 1862-1961
If William Ellsworth Hoy were playing today, he would not be called "Dummy"-not by players nor by fans nor by the media. He'd be "Bill" or "Billy," perhaps "Will" or "Willie," maybe even "Ellie." He wouldn't be a deaf mute, either. He'd be "aurally and vocally challenged." But back when Hoy was playing, nicknames were descriptive, often to the point of cruelty. To Hoy, his condition wasn't an excuse; it was what it was. Indeed, he referred to himself as "Dummy" and politely corrected those who, for whatever reason, called him "William."
Hoy would have been an exceptional man with or without his handicap. After his baseball career was over, he used his celebrity status to foster the needs and concerns of the deaf. He had a zest for life and once walked 72 blocks at the age of 80 to see his son, Judge Carson Hoy preside in court. At that advanced age he also danced the Charleston and pruned trees on his farm.
William Ellsworth Hoy was born in Houcktown, Ohio, on May 23, 1862. His parents, Rebecca Hoffman and Jacob Hoy, were of English-German and Scottish stock and had a farm in Houcktown. He had a brother and a sister, John and Ora. Contracting meningitis when he was three years old left William deaf and mute. Hoy attended the Ohio State School for the Deaf, completing grade school and high school in six years. Highly intelligent and hardworking, he was valedictorian of his high school class. In those days many deaf people were either employed or self-employed as shoemakers or shoe repair people. Hoy was no exception and in his early twenties opened his own shoe shop. During the summer in his hometown many of the rural people went barefoot. Business would grind almost to a halt then, and Dummy would play ball outside his shop with the local kids. One day a man passed by and saw Dummy playing. He was impressed but moved on when he found out Dummy was deaf. The man returned the next day, however, and asked Hoy if he would be interested in playing on the Kenton, Ohio, team against its bitter rival Urbana. Hoy accepted the invitation. Billy Hart, the Urbana pitcher, was a professional, but Dummy had no trouble solving him for some base hits. The following day Dummy closed his shop and set out for the Northwest League in search of starting a professional baseball career. Some teams turned him down because of his handicap, but he caught on with Oshkosh in Wisconsin. Hoy was a smart, fast and alert ballplayer who put together arguably the greatest career of any seriously handicapped player.
Hoy began his major league career in 1888 with Washington of the National League. A left-handed batter and right-handed thrower, he played with Buffalo, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Louisville. When Hoy joined the Washington ballclub, he posted a statement on the clubhouse wall: "Being totally deaf as you know and some of my teammates being unacquainted with my play, I think it is timely to bring about an understanding between myself, the left fielder, the shortstop and the second baseman and the right fielder. The main point is to avoid possible collisions with any of these four who surround me when in the field going for a fly ball. Whenever I take a fly ball I always yell I'll take it-the same as I have been doing for many seasons, and of course the other fielders let me take it. Whenever you don't hear me yell, it is understood I am not after the ball, and they govern themselves accordingly." Hoy's yell was actually a squeak. Hoy was with Buffalo in the Players League in 1890, with the St.Louis team of the American Association in 1891, then back with Washington in the National League in 1892 and 1893. He moved on to Cincinnati of the National League in 1894, where he stayed until going to Louisville of the National League in 1898 and 1899. He then played for Chicago of the American League in 1900 and 1901. He spent one more season with Cincinnati in 1902 and finally ended his baseball career with Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League in 1903. Hoy's moving around made him one of 29 players to play in four major leagues.
All told, Hoy played in 1,796 games with an average of .287 that included 2,004 hits, 1,426 runs, 40 homers and 726 runs batted in. Possessing great speed, he is credited with 597 steals. However, it is difficult to compare him to modern-day players because during his time going from first to third or second to home on a single was considered a steal. This rule was in effect from 1886 to the end of the 1897 season. Nevertheless, Hoy's ability to take the extra base shows he was an outstanding runner. A small man standing only 5' 4" inches tall and never weighing more than 150 pounds, he gave all he had in his small stature. Hoy is one of three men to throw out three base runners at home plate in one game. On June 19, 1889, he threw perfect strikes to catcher Connie Mack to throw out runners attempting to score from second base. In 1900 with the White Sox Hoy had 45 assists. He has a career mark of 328 assists.
Tommy Leach, who roomed with Hoy in 1899, said of Hoy: "We got to be good friends. He was a real fine ballplayer. When you played with him in the outfield, the thing was that you never called for a ball. You listened for him and if he made this little squeaky sound, that meant he was going to take it." Leach went on to say, "We hardly ever had to use our fingers to talk, though most of the fellows did learn the sign language, so that when we got confused or something we could straighten it out with our hands."
Some historians credit Hoy with umpires using hand signals for balls and strikes and safe and out calls, but their view is open to question. Bill Deane challenges that claim. Deane said, "We can find no contemporary articles about Hoy, or even any written while he was alive, that claim a connection between Hoy and the umpire's hand signals-much less any claim by Hoy himself." Bill Klem, a showboating umpire who began his umpiring career two years after Hoy retired, is officially credited with inventing hand signals as noted on his Hall of Fame plaque.
Hoy was directly involved in a funny situation when he was with the Washington club. The team was scheduled to play an exhibition game in Paterson, New Jersey, but the travelling secretary forgot to make a special note of it to Hoy. When the team was rounded up for the train trip to Paterson, Dummy was among the missing. A few players went up to his room to see what was the matter. Loud knocking and raised voices, of course, were of no avail. One little guy tried to squeeze inside the transom but couldn't get through. Then the players threw several plugs of tobacco at Hoy, hitting him in the shoulder but also to no avail. A pack of cards went into effect as they sailed all around Hoy. Still no response. Finally, a set of keys was sent through the transom tied to a bed sheet and dragged across Hoy until it caught in his night shirt whereupon he sleepily awoke to find a bunch of playing cards lying all over him. Thinking his mates were playing a trick on him, he quickly grabbed a pitcher of water and flung it at the heads peeping at him from the transom. Apologies and explanations followed, but from then on Hoy was always informed of any changes that were to occur.
A historic moment came about on May 26, 1902, when Luther Haden "Dummy" Taylor, pitching for the Giants, faced Dummy Hoy of the Cincinnati Reds. When Hoy came to bat for the first time, he greeted Taylor by hand signing, "I'm glad to see you!"-and then cracked a single to center. Forty years later the two met in Toledo during the Ohio State Deaf Softball Tournament held on Labor Day Weekend in 1942. They were batterymates (Taylor pitching and Hoy catching). At the time Taylor was 66 and Hoy 80.
On October 26, 1898, Hoy married Anna Maria Lowry, who was also deaf. Anna Maria became a prominent teacher of the deaf in Ohio. They raised three children, Carson, Carmen and Clover. Two others died when small. Carson became a lawyer and a jurist. Carmen and Clover became schoolteachers.
A caring human being, Hoy took on the responsibility of raising his nephew, whose mother had passed away and whose father was in bad health. Hoy did a good job of raising Paul Hoy Helms, who became the founder and sponsor of the Helms Athletic Foundation and Helms Hall, in Los Angeles.
After his retirement from baseball Hoy bought a farm in Mount Healthy, Ohio, where he succeeded as a dairy farmer. He also worked for a time as a personnel director for the Goodyear Tire Company. When all his children had reached adulthood, he sold the farm and made a connection with a book firm and remained there until he was 75. After retiring from business, he continued his involvement in baseball. He received a silver pass from both the American and National League presidents and used it frequently. He never liked to go to opening day games because he felt there was too much of a crowd. He also attended five or six meetings a year of the old timers club. In 1951 Hoy became the first deaf athlete elected into the American Athletic Association of the Deaf Hall of Fame. A baseball field at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, was named for him.
Anna Maria died after several months of illness on September 24, 1951, at age 75.
There has been a push by many people to have Dummy Hoy elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, but all attempts have failed. The 19th century figure picked for the Hall in 1999 was Frank Selee, the manager of the Oshkosh team where Hoy got his start in baseball. In 2000 Bid McPhee was the 19th century player chosen despite the push for Hoy. Hoy supporters asked, "What's McPhee have that Hoy doesn't?" Since 1991, the USA Deaf Sports Federation has been lobbying to get Hoy into the Hall of Fame. The committee has four honorary members including writer Lawrence S. Ritter and Brooks Robinson, former third baseman of the Orioles. Joan Sampson, Hoy's granddaughter living in Cincinnati, said, "I'm sure my grandfather would love to be in Cooperstown. He was very proud of his career." But she felt his chances of entering the Hall were very slim. However, in 1941 Hoy was inducted into the Louisville Colonels Hall of Fame.
In 1961 Hoy at the age of 99, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before game three of the World Series between the Reds and the Yankees in Cincinnati. He died on December 15, 1961. Hoy by living to the age of 99 was a bridge between the old game and the modern one. He was living proof of how the game had changed over the years. Hoy set the record at the time for the oldest living ex-major leaguer. Surviving him were son Carson, daughter Clover Skaggs of Sacramento, seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Two of the grandchildren are Judson Hoy, a Cincinnati lawyer, and Bruce Hoy, a Hollywood and New York entertainer.
Hoy never sought the limelight and did not look for praise. However, in December of 1987, a play called The Signal Season of Dummy Hoy was produced telling of the 1886 season when hand signals were supposedly developed to aid Hoy. The play received mixed reviews.
William Ellsworth Hoy overcame his handicap not only in a successful baseball career but also as an ordinary citizen. He was admired both as a hero and as a solid citizen. Hoy was truly a man for all seasons.
07-22-2006, 09:57 PM
Dave Orr 1859-1915
Big Dave Orr was truly one of the giants of baseball in his day, not only in stature but with the impressive statistics he accumulated in his short career. Dave was tragically struck down by a paralyzing stroke in the prime of his career and likely lost his place beside fellow American Association stars like Charlie Comiskey and Dan Brouthers in Baseball's Hall of Fame.
David L. Orr was born in the Richmond Hill section of Brooklyn, New York, not far from the current Shea Stadium, home of the NY Mets, on September 29, 1859, to Irish immigrant parents James and Rachel Orr. James was a stonecutter, while Rachel kept the house and raised David and his older brothers James, George and William. All four sons were born in New York City. Dave attended elementary school in New York but it appears he did not attend high school. Orr would only spend one year away from his beloved Brooklyn and that was to play baseball for the Buckeyes of Columbus, Ohio (American Association) in 1889. Dave was married to Emily Ann Orr who passed away in 1906. The couple did not have any children.
At 5'11" and 250 pounds, Dave's size did not hurt his ability to hit for average throughout his career, nor did it seem to hamper his agility playing first base. During his eight-year major league career Orr never hit below .305 and his .965 fielding average over that same period was very respectful. In fact Dave led all American Association first basemen in fielding in 1886 with a .981 fielding percentage. Nonetheless, his massive size was a major factor in his career-ending stroke, suffered at the age of 31.
Dave's first taste of organized baseball came with various clubs in the northeast, including Newark, Hartford and a Brooklyn team called the Alaskas. Orr was both a right-handed batsman and thrower.
In 1883, at the age of 24, Orr was playing for Hartford when he signed with the New York Gothams (Giants) of the National League. Dave made his major league debut on May 17 replacing future Hall of Famer Roger Conner. After only one game, Orr was transferred to the New York Mets of the American Association (John Day owned both the Gothams and the Mets, and often transferred players between the two teams.)
Dave finished the 1883 season as a fill-in player for the Mets, mostly for injured regulars. In only 14 games and 50 at bats, Orr was able to leave a good impression by batting a very respectable .320. Unfortunately Dave's father passed away that year and did not live to see his son make a name for himself in the Majors.
Only three players of the nineteenth century won the equivalent of baseball's Triple Crown: Paul Hines (Providence, National League, 1878), Tip O'Neill (St. Louis, American Association, 1887) and Hugh Duffy (Boston, National League, 1894). In 1884, Dave Orr's first full season in the majors, he came two home runs from winning his own Triple Crown as he led the American Association in batting at .354 and RBI's with 112. His nine homers were two shy of tying John Reilly of Cincinnati for the title.
In addition, Orr finished in the top 10 in several other categories including hits, total bases, extra base hits, slugging percentage, games played, doubles, triples and on base percentage. The 24-year-old also led the Mets to their first pennant, as they paced the American Association by 6 1/2 games over Columbus and earned a trip to the first "official" World Series.
The only blemish for the season for Orr and the Mets was getting drubbed by the powerful Providence Grays in the World Series in three straight games. In fact, none of the games were close and Orr managed only a single hit for the series.
In 1885 Orr followed his sensational rookie season with another big year. Although the Mets finished in seventh place, 33 games behind the St. Louis Browns, Orr ended up second to Pete Browning in the batting race (.342). Orr also managed to lead the circuit in slugging percentage and triples while finishing in the top ten in home runs, total bases and extra base hits. On June 12th Big Dave went six for six at the plate while hitting for the cycle, one of just four players in the ten-year history of the American Association to accomplish the latter feat.
It was obvious that John Day put more emphasis on his National League Gothams than he did on his Metropolitans. Day essentially used the Mets as a farm team for his League squad over the next two years. With the decline in his team's fortunes, Orr was even called on to pitch. Dave pitched in 3 games totaling ten full innings with no decisions, but a 7.20 ERA.
As remarkable as Orr's first two seasons in baseball were, his best year was his third, 1886. Dave repeated as slugging king of the Association with a .527 mark. He also topped the league in hits, a career best 193, set a major league record with 31 triples (still second-most in history, and the most for a right-handed hitter), and became the first player in major league history to total 300 bases in one season. His career-high 63 extra base hits also led the league. Tack on the third best batting average in the league (.338) and the second most homers (7), and it was clear that Orr was one of baseball's premier hitters.
Orr also had a fine year in the field, pacing league first baseman with a .981 fielding percentage and 1445 put outs. Once again, however, Orr's fine performance could not translate into wins as the hapless Mets finished in seventh place, a full 38 games behind the St. Louis Browns.
In 1887, Dave had another fine year, though not up to par with his first three seasons. While belting out a .368 batting average, he also had to deal with some injuries (including one suffered in a collision with teammate Pete Sommers), and he only played in 84 games, his career-low. With the team struggling to stay alive and compete, the Mets called on Orr to manage the team, and he replaced Bob Ferguson in mid-season. Orr managed only 8 games, going 3-5, before giving way to O. P. Caylor. This would be the final act for the woeful Mets, as the team folded at the end of the season after finishing 50 games behind the St. Louis Browns. The franchise was gone after only five years, and Orr was sold off to the new Brooklyn Bridegrooms.
Dave's first year with the new Brooklyn team, 1888, was not a particularly good one for him, although the team was successful. While the Dodgers finished second in the Association, only six-and-a-half games behind the perennial champion Browns, Dave managed to hit only .305, the weakest average of his career. (Balancing that, the Washington Post, in its May 7, 1888 issue, reported, "Dave Orr is said to be the most popular man on the Brooklyn Club.") Once again, Dave played less than 100 games due to injuries, and at the conclusion of the season he was sold to the Columbus Buckeyes.
In Columbus, Orr was named team captain, and his play seemed to be rejuvenated. At the age of 29 Orr had gained respect throughout the league and enjoyed one of his finer years in baseball with the Buckeyes. Orr finished the season in the top 10 in several offensive categories including his fourth place showing in the batting race with his .327 average. He also finished high in hits, RBIs, doubles, triples, total bases, slugging, and extra base hits. While his recent Brooklyn teammates captured the Association pennant, the Buckeyes would finish the 1889 season in sixth place.
Dave had a hand in helping Brooklyn win the 1889 flag, as this story from the January 7, 1906 Washington Post attests: "Perhaps the most historic hit ever made was a swat that Big Dave Orr gave the ball at Columbus, when, with one blow, he knocked St. Louis--the three time champions--out of their fourth pennant and gave Brooklyn the flag. The situation was a fair one to dream about! One ball to decide a pennant. The pitcher heaved up the ball and Orr swung. There was a crack and the ball started toward the city. It crossed the right center fence, still going higher. It crossed the canal, hit just above the second story window of a cottage, bounded and rolled up an alley- and the Comiskey's men yielded the pennant." (The author of this article miscalculated St. Louis's dominance as they had won four straight pennants and were attempting to gather their fifth consecutive flag).
After the 1889 season, Dave joined many of his fellow players in joining the newly formed Players League. The Columbus club was not happy at all with their star captain jumping ship. Ironically, the change moved Orr back to his hometown of Brooklyn where he was named captain of the Brooklyn Wonders managed by John Ward.
The Wonders, often referred to as "Ward's Wonders," finished in second place just six-and-a-half games back of the Boston Reds. Orr was now 30 years old, but showed he was still a fine hitter by posting a career high .371 mark, losing the league crown by two points to Pete Browning. Orr was again among the league leaders in several categories including batting, slugging, hits, RBIs, total bases and extra base hits.
As the season ended, it was clear that Dave Orr still had plenty of good years ahead of him. With the demise of the Players League, after just one season, we can only speculate where Orr's career would have taken him, what accomplishments lie ahead.
Tragically, Big Dave Orr was stricken with a career ending stroke just a few weeks after the 1890 season ended and just days after his 31st birthday. His left side was completely paralyzed. The stroke occurred while he was competing in an exhibition game against a local team in the tiny town of Renova, Pennsylvania.
Just weeks after his stroke, Orr was reportedly telling friends and teammates he would return to the game of baseball after rehab. He never did. Dave's brilliant baseball career was over.
In only seven full seasons, Orr left an indelible mark on the game of his time. He may have been the best player in his league four different times, including his last. He led his team in batting average each of his eight seasons in the majors, and is the best all-time hitter for three different franchises: the Metropolitans, the Buckeyes and the Brooklyn Wonders of the Players League. Dave's .373 batting average in his final season is the second best "swan song" campaign, trailing only Shoeless Joe Jackson's .382 with the 1920 White Sox. Dave's lifetime bating average of .342 is tied with Babe Ruth for 11th
all-time and is the 3rd highest ever for a right-handed hitter.
Life with paralysis would not be easy for Orr. In his passion to stay with the game, he frequently umpired games, including major league contests in Brooklyn. He also did odd jobs, working as a watchman, laborer and stagehand. He worked as a caretaker for the new Ebbets Field (which opened in 1913) in Brooklyn and in 1914 worked at Washington Park for the Brooklyn Tip Tops of the Federal League as a press box attendant and gate guardian.
On June 6th, 1915 Dave died of heart disease at the age of 55, joining his beloved Emily (who had passed away in 1906) at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.
Orr has also been immortalized in Columbus, Ohio, at Cooper Stadium, home of the Triple-A Columbus Clippers, on its Wall of Fame. Even though Dave only played one season with the Columbus Buckeyes, he ranks as one of the best hitters in the five-year history of the Buckeyes Franchise.
Had Dave Orr not encountered his tragic stroke he likely would have played ball for several more years and warranted careful consideration for the Hall of Fame. In David Nemec's classic book on the American Association, The Beer and Whiskey League, the author names Dave Orr as the best first baseman in league history.
Baseball history has many tragic stories of ball players cut down in their primes with career ending stories including Roberto Clemente, Thurman Munson, Addie Joss and Roy Campanella. Dave Orr is also on this list.
Dave Orr is a forgotten baseball hero of the 19th century and it's a tragedy that he along with a few others from that era are not in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown as true pioneers of the game.
07-22-2006, 10:06 PM
Lip Pike 1845-1893
Born May 25, 1845, Lipman Emanuel Pike was the first great Jewish baseball player, playing professionally from 1866 to 1881. While no comparable statistical records exist for his career through 1870, from 1871 through 1881 Pike appeared in 425 National Association and National League games, hitting .321 with a slugging average of .463. Despite being "small by modern standards...(5'8", 158 lbs.),"1 Pike nonetheless was among the premier sluggers of his time.
The son of a haberdasher2, Pike, according to the Big Book of Jewish Baseball,
"...[W]as born in New York City. He was the son of Emanuel and Jane Pike. The Pike family were Jews of Dutch origin. Lip had an older brother, Boaz, two younger brothers, Israel and Jacob, and a sister, Julia. The Pike family moved to Brooklyn when Lipman was very young.
"Boaz was the first of the Pike brothers to play base ball. Just one week after his bar mitzvah, Lip appeared in his first recorded game, along with Boaz. This was an amateur game."3
Playing for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1866, for whom the "long ball was a prominent part of [their] arsenal", Pike "had numerous multi-homer games" on a team that boasted several sluggers "capable of smashing the ball beyond the reach of opposing fielders."4 A description in The Baseball Chronology of the events of July 16, 1866, gives an indication both of Pike's home run prowess and of the nature of the game at the time:
"Lipman Pike of the Athletics of Philadelphia hits six  home runs, five in succession, against the Alert club of Philadelphia. Final score is 67-25."5
Also in 1866, Pike played a major role in the professionalizing of the game as "Philadelphia City Item publisher Fitzgerald...charged the club with paying two or possibly three members of the first nine (reportedly Dockney, McBride and Pike) $20 per week."6 Meanwhile, The Biographical History of Baseball reports:
"Pike was one of the first players to be acknowledged as a professional. While others had certainly been paid before 1866, Pike, along with two teammates on the ostensibly amateur Philadelphia Athletics, was ordered to appear before the judiciary committee of the governing National Association of Base Ball Players to answer charges that he had accepted $20 for his services. Although the matter was dropped when nobody bothered to show up for the hearing, the incident exposed for the first time the wide spread practice of paying supposedly amateur players."7
This was perhaps the first step in legitimizing the practice of play for pay. By 1869 acceptance of this idea allowed all-professional teams to be admitted to the Association. However, the professional teams proved to be so far superior to the amateur teams that matches between them were laughable. This led to the formation of the first all-professional league in 1871. This, in turn, sounded the death knell for organized amateur baseball and its governing body, The National Association of Base Ball Players.
Overall, Pike seems to have had a fine season with the outstanding Philadelphia Athletic club of 1866, appearing in sixteen of twenty-five games for a team that went 23-2. Playing the outfield as well as second and third base, Pike, in the rudimentary statistics of the day, made an average of 2.7 outs per game while scoring 6.4 runs per game.8
At the conclusion of the1866 season, dissatisfaction with non-native professional players became a major issue with the Philadelphia club, leading to Pike's dismissal from the team:
"The two salaried players who had been imported from New York (Dockney and Pike) were jettisoned in favor of Philadelphians. This experiment had never worked the way management had hoped. Whenever the play of the Athletics had been considered suspicious, the two 'foreigners' had been the most suspected. It seemed that, as nonnatives [sic], their loyalty was perpetually in question. With the exception of Reach, all of the 1867 regulars were local boys."9
In 1867, Pike played for the well-respected and powerful Irvingtons of New Jersey, (in 6 of the Irvingtons' 23 games, all at third base) and for the first rate Mutuals of New York (in 21 of the Mutuals' thirty games, in the outfield, first, second, and third base). He appeared exclusively for the New York Mutuals in 1868, hitting a robust .497, with a .661 slugging average for a Mutuals team that went 31-10.10
Pike returned to his native Brooklyn in 1869 where he played for one of the nation's leading teams, the Brooklyn Atlantics. For the first time the National Association of Base Ball Players recognized the professional class of player and team. Overall, against all comers, the Atlantics racked up 40 wins against six losses, with two ties. However, the Atlantics record against teams composed exclusively of professionals fell off to 15 wins, six losses, and one tie. This was Pike's first season as a full time player, as he appeared in all 48 games, hitting .610 with an astonishing slugging average of .883. Without diminishing Pike's performance, the modern reader is reminded that in 1869 the batter called for his pitch, telling the pitcher his preference for either a high or low ball, and foul balls did not count as strikes. In addition, the pitcher tossed the ball up to the batter in an under hand motion without snapping his wrist. In other words, the batter did not have to contend with either blazing fastballs or any sort of curve balls. The game was very similar to today's slow pitch softball.
Pike stayed with the Atlantics through the 1870 season, in which the team went 41-17, with 20 wins and 16 losses against professional teams. Pike again played second base in all of the Atlantic games, averaging 2.48 hits and 4.58 total bases per game.11
When the first system of government for professional baseball teams was organized for the 1871 season, The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, Pike joined the entry from Troy, New York, with the New York Clipper announcing that he "has been elected captain of the Haymakers of Troy..."12 In the nineteenth century the captain was in fact the field manager. He determined who played what position, the batting order, as well as directing play on the diamond, while the manager filled what today would be called the role of the general or business manager.
The season got off to an auspicious start for Pike and his nine, as "[t]he heavily favored Mutuals [we]re soundly defeated by the Haymakers of Troy, in Brooklyn, 25-10. Lipman Pike, the Troy second baseman, collect[ed] six hits."13
Pike's first year in the newly formed professional league was a smashing success. Playing outfield, first base and second base for a Troy team that finished sixth in a nine-team league, Pike tied for the league lead in home runs (with 4 dingers), placed second in slugging average (.654), third in total bases, fourth in RBIs, and sixth in batting average (.377). However, Pike did not fare too well as captain, turning the helm over to second baseman Bill Carver after three losses in four games.
Lip Pike joined the Baltimore team for the 1872 season. Officially, the team name was "The Lord Baltimores" but because of their bright yellow shirts with matching caps and hose, they were popularly known as "The Canaries." The team owners had vigorously recruited outstanding players during the off-season, and their efforts were rewarded with a second place finish (in an eleven team league). Overall, Pike, playing 56 of his team's 58 games, led the league in home runs (with 6), and RBIs, finishing second in total bases, while hitting a respectable .292.
Continuing with Baltimore in 1873, Pike hit a fine .315 while again leading the league in home runs with four. As reported in The Baseball Chronology, Pike also found time for an exhibition of his speed on August 16:
"At Baltimore's Newington Park, Baltimore outfielder Lipman Pike races against a horse named 'Clarence.' Pike has a short lead after 75 yards when the trotter breaks into a run. Pike holds on to win in 10 seconds flat."14
Prior to the 1874 season, "Power hitting Lip Pike, released from his contract with the bankrupt Baltimore organization, signed on as Captain and center fielder" for the Hartford Blue Stockings.15 As the Blue Stockings' "one bona fide star,"16 Pike enjoyed another excellent season, finishing third in hitting at .355, second in on-base percentage and first in slugging (.504).
For the 1875 season, Pike signed on with the St. Louis club, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of many in Hartford:
"Pike, never reticent, offended many in Hartford with his constant boasting of the havoc his new team would wreak on the old."17
In 1876, the National League replaced the National Association as the premier organization for professional teams. Indeed, virtually all the old Association teams, at the urging of the League's principal motive force, William Hulbert, simply registered with the new League, leaving the Association an empty shell. It vanished into history without a trace. Pike remained with the new St. Louis NL squad that finished a very respectable second behind the overpowering Chicago White Stockings. Pike batted a solid .323, finished third in slugging (.472), and fifth in total bases. Batting cleanup, then later moving to the leadoff spot, he led his team in every major offensive category, except runs scored and walks.
Prior to the 1877 season, Pike changed teams yet again, this time signing on as captain with the lackluster Cincinnati Reds. "The new fair-foul rule (for 1877) did not hurt the hitting style of...Pike, a four time home run champion in the 1870s,"18 but despite leading his league in home runs again, hitting .298, and "excel[ling] defensively as a swift center fielder...his heroics were not enough to keep Cincinnati from finishing last in the league for the second consecutive year."19 All that losing seems to have cost Pike the captain's helm, as "Pike resign[ed] as Cincinnati Captain (following a 13-2 loss to St. Louis)" on June 10, and was "succeeded by Bob Addy. Pike continue[d] as the starting center fielder."20
It appears that being a left-handed middle infielder finally caught up with Pike in 1877, as David Nemec reports:
"Pike played the most games on the [Cincinnati] team at both second base and center field. He moved permanently to center field following a game played in Brooklyn on Aug. 18, 1877. The New York Clipper observed, 'Pike is a splendid outfielder and quick in handling the ball on the bases, but his left-handed throwing unfits him from second-base playing.' "21
Despite league-leading home run totals that are miniscule compared to the modern era, Pike's status as a true power hitter should not be dismissed. As stated in Before They Were Cardinals, while "Pike's totals...were ludicrous by today's standards - he won his four (home run) titles by hitting a combined total of eighteen home runs....As the home run became more commonplace, the game's leading sluggers actually hit a smaller percentage of the overall home runs. In Pike's best season, 1872, his league-leading six home runs accounted for 17.1 percent of the thirty-five home runs hit in the National Association that year. Thus, the 1872 season marked one of only twenty-one occasions in baseball history when a league's leading home run hitter accounted for more than 10 percent of all the league's home runs."22 In addition, he finished in the top ten in slugging and in doubles in seven consecutive seasons, in total bases and triples six times, and OPS five times. All this was accomplished in a career spanning just eight relatively full professional seasons.
Perhaps his most famous feat of power probably occurred in this season of 1877, as the Sporting Life of May 27, 1883, reflecting on the demolition of Brooklyn's Union Grounds, spoke of "the pagoda from which rises the rod once bent by a ball struck from the home plate by 'Lip' Pike."23 How far from home plate was the rod atop the pagoda? The precise dimensions of the Union Grounds were lost forever when it was razed on May 28, 1883. However, the late Larry Zuckerman (a SABR member whose specialty was reconstructing the dimensions of the ball grounds of yesteryear) provided the following information:
"Union Grounds was between Harrison and Marcy Avenues (sort of east and west) and Rutledge and Lynch Streets (sort of north and south). The field featured a horseshoe shaped grandstand, facing west from Harrison. There was a board fence about 10 feet high surrounding the park, parallel to the streets and about 10 feet inboard of the sidewalks. Assuming a midline location of home plate, the foul lines would have been about 310 feet with dead center about 470 feet..............The pagoda seems to be in right center, more or less on a line drawn from home plate to the Marcy-Rutledge corner. I would put it at about 360 feet from home plate, perhaps more distant..."24
Imagine a batted ball crashing into a metal rod about forty feet above the ground level, and 360 feet away from home plate, with sufficient force to bend the rod!!!
"In 1877 Pike hit the ball over the ladies stand - I have no idea what that means or where it was - but the ball was still in play and he beat it out for an inside the park home run. The paper said it was the longest home run at the park since the introduction of the dead ball, suggesting that it was not as long as some of the 1876 shots..."25
Pike re-signed with the Cincinnati nine for the 1878 season. The infamous reserve rule was not enacted until 1879, and the players were free agents once their contract expired at season's end. An account in the May 21, 1878 Redleg Journal gives further evidence of Pike's enormous power:
"Lip Pike's long drive highlights a 13-2 win at Lakefront Park in Chicago. Pike's blast not only cleared the fence, but a freight shed and a half dozen railroad cars. Pike only earned a double on this hit, however, because of the ground rules of the ball park. Built on a narrow lot between Michigan Avenue and the railroad yards, Lakefront Park had foul line of less than 200 feet. Balls hit over the fence were considered doubles. Pike's hit was of such force, however, that the Enquirer felt obliged to estimate the distance: 200 yards! No doubt Pike's drive was a mighty wallop, but 600 feet strains credulity."26
The left field line at Lake Front Park was 180 feet, while the right field line measured 196 feet. Straight away center field was about 300 feet. There were two poles located along the outfield fence - one in left center and the other in right center. The ground rule provided that any fly ball clearing the fence between these two poles was an "automatic" home run. Any other over-the-fence fly balls were merely doubles. Pike must have pulled his ball rather sharply down the right field line.
Cincinnati's acquisition of "Buttercup" Dickerson spelled the end of Pike's tenure there, as related by David Nemec:
"After playing 31 games and hitting .324 in the lead-off position, Lip Pike was released by the Cincinnati team. This is due to Louis 'Buttercup' Dickerson joining the team, even though Pike went 2-for-6 in his last game vs. the Providence Gray's on July 9th. Dickerson batted .309 in 29 games for the Reds. Lip was signed by the Providence team and debuted with them on July 31st. He played second base and batted third. On August 8th, he went 0-for-7, made three errors and was released the next day. Pike was replaced by Charlie Sweasy at second base. Sweasy hit only .175 in 55 games and committed 54 errors so it is difficult to understand how he improved the team."27
But Pike got some measure of revenge, as The Baseball Chronology reports the events of July 31, 1878:
"Lip Pike, released by Cincinnati, goes 4 for 5 with 3 RBIs for Providence, as the Greys beat his old team 9-3."28
Pike slipped down to the minor leagues in 1879 and played for teams in Springfield and Albany. Captain and center fielder for the Springfield club, he appeared in a total of 53 games and hit .356.
Beginning the 1880 season with Albany, Pike showed he still had home run power, as evidenced by this report in The Baseball Chronology regarding the game of May 21, 1880:
"In Albany's Riverside Park, Lip Pike hits a ball over the wall and into the river. Right fielder Lon Knight begins to go after the ball in a boat but gives up. Few parks have ground rules about giving the batter an automatic home run on a hit over the fence."29
According to David Nemec:
"Pike played for the Albany team until it disbanded in July. He then played for the Unions of Brooklyn in a three-team tournament held at the Union Grounds on August 18th, featuring the Washington and Rochester teams. Pike also played for the New York Metropolitan team. He appeared in a total of 12 games and batted .241.30
"Pike opened the  season playing second base for his old Atlantic team in a minor league and working in the mercantile business. However, in late August he was called up by the National League Worchester Ruby Legs when Arthur Irwin was disabled. He joined Worchester on August 27th, played center field and batted second. In six games he went 3-for-25, a mere .120 batting average."31
Pike's miserable play for the Worchester club led to controversy, as noted in The Baseball Chronology's account of events as the season of 1881 drew to a close:
"Center fielder Lip Pike makes 3 errors in the 9th inning to give Boston 2 runs and a 3-2 victory over Worchester. The losing club immediately accuses Pike of throwing the game and suspends him."32
"At a National League meeting in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., the league adopts a blacklist of players who are barred from playing for or against any NL team until they are removed by the unanimous vote of the league clubs. These men are: Sadie Houck, Lip Pike, Lou Dickerson, Mike Dorgan, Bill Crowley, John Fox, Lew Brown, Emil Gross, and Ed Caskins."33
His baseball career essentially over, Pike "became a haberdasher in Brooklyn...Lip's haberdashery became a successful business and a meeting place for local base ball enthusiasts. After the expiration of his year's ban, Lip decided to continue with his business enterprise."34
While his professional career was over, Pike continued an interest in the game, "playing center field for an amateur club on Long Island."35
Finally, as reported by David Nemec, Pike made one final attempt to play at the major league level. It came on July 28, 1887:
"At the age of 42 Pike played center field and batted 6th for the New York Metropolitans, an American Association team. He was supposed to pitch, but switched to the outfield at the last moment. The papers reported that his fielding was good, but 'at the bat he was quite weak.' "36
Pike "died of heart disease on October 10, 1893 in Brooklyn, at the age of forty eight. His funeral was a notable event, attended by much of the Jewish and base ball communities of Brooklyn. The services were conducted by Rabbi Geismer of Temple Israel and, according to the Brooklyn Eagle, he 'paid fitting tribute to the exemplary life led by the deceased.' "37
In subsequent issues, the Sporting News published a series of tributes to Pike, indicating his stature as one of the greats of his time:
"Pike was the center fielder of the Atlantics of Brooklyn in the latter's palmiest days and as an all-round batsman, fielder and base runner he had few if any superiors. He was a left-handed batsman and in his day could hit the ball as hard as any man in the business. He was a right field hitter and during his career had sent balls over the right field fence of nearly every park in which he had played in."38
"Pike...was one of the few sons of Israel who ever drifted to the business of ball playing. He was a handsome fellow when he was here, and the way he used to hit that ball was responsible for many a scene of enthusiasm at the old avenue grounds...The roster of ball players who once wore the red and who have been called out by Umpire Death is not very large, but in the passing away of 'Lip' Pike one of the greatest sluggers who ever batted for Cincinnati has joined the file in eternity."39
"The death of 'Lip' Pike removes another of the veterans of the seventies from the ranks of the men who played as stars when most of the present favorites were babies. I remember Pike's ball playing best through a hit which I saw him make at Cincinnati...He hit the first ball pitched and none who saw that ball sail out over the right fielder's head will ever forget it. It went not only over the right field fence, but continued to sail until it cleared the brick kiln beyond and dropped into the high weeds bordering on Mill Creek. I am impressed with the belief that if the distance could be measured that hit of Pike's would go on record as the longest fly ball ever made. The last time I saw Pike - which was during the New York's last series of Championship games at Eastern Park - we rode together in the elevated train from the ball ground, and he recalled that famous home run with a great deal of pride. Some one of the players on that day had made a home run, and 'Lip' could not refrain from comparing it with the greatest incident in his professional career.
"...Those who knew Pike appreciated him most. He was one of the few ball players of those days who were always gentlemanly on and off the field, a specie which is becoming rarer as the game grows older. Such men as Pike, Barnes, Spalding, Reach, Jim White, George Wright, and Morill, creditable to the game professionally and personally, are becoming scarcer every year."40
Several honors came to Lipman Pike in the years following his death. The publisher of Philadelphia's prestigious Sporting Life, Francis Richter, constructed hypothetical All-Star teams in 1911. Richter selected Pike as one of his three outfielders for the 1870-1880 time period.
The Base Ball Writers of America held the inaugural election for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1936. Despite the fact that Pike had been dead for more than forty three years and his playing career had ended years before most, if not all, of the electors were born, he still received one vote. So to some small extent his achievement as baseball's first notable slugger was recognized.
Finally, the Big Book of Jewish Baseball reports that Lipman Pike was elected to the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Netanya, Israel, in 1985.41
07-23-2006, 06:52 AM
CHARLIE FERGUSON (1863–1888)
Charlie Ferguson was the Philadelphia Phillies’ first star pitcher but his untimely death in 1888, allowed Ferguson only four National League seasons. Born on April 1, 1863, Charlie Ferguson made his debut on May 1, 1884, for the then Philadelphia Quakers. He would win 99 games in his career, never winning less than 21 games in any season. Ferguson would strikeout two and one half batters for every one that he walked, and finished with a career earned run average of 2.67. He twice pitched over 400 innings in a season, including his rookie season and would average 378½ innings per year.
On August 29, 1885, he pitched the first no-hitter in Phillies history with a 1–0 win over the Providence Grays. In 1886, the year before many major pitching rule changes were instituted, he had his finest season. Ferguson won 30 games and lost only nine. His ERA of 1.98 was second best in the National League and the Phillies won 15 more games than the previous season.
In Ferguson's final season the Phillies would finish in second place, 3.5 games behind the eventual “World Series” winners, the Detroit Wolverines. His 22 wins in 1887, were not the only reason for the teams's great finish. Philadelphia's manager, the legendary player and strategist Harry Wright, saw the hitting potential of Ferguson. Towards the end of the season, Wright decided that Ferguson was too good a hitter to play only when he pitched. Wright decided that Ferguson would play second base for the final eight weeks of the season, replacing two players who hit a combined .214.
Philadelphia would win 16 and tie another in their final 17 games to move ahead of the Chicago White Stockings into second place. Playing every day allowed Ferguson to drive in a team-leading 85 runs in only 264 at bats, or one RBI for every 3.1 at-bats. He would hit .337, which also led the team and was fourth best in the National League.
During spring training in 1888, Charlie Ferguson contracted typhoid fever. He died on April 29. Charlie Ferguson was 25 years old.
07-23-2006, 07:00 AM
Cap Anson (1852-1922)
Adrian Constantine "Cap" Anson (April 11, 1852, Marshalltown, Iowa - April 14, 1922, Chicago, Illinois) was a professional baseball player in the National Association and Major League Baseball for the Rockford Forest Citys, Philadelphia Athletics, and Chicago White Stockings.
Anson spent a year at the University of Notre Dame before he started playing professionally in 1871 in the National Association. His best years in the NA were 1872 and 1873, when he finished in the top 5 in batting, OBP (leading the league in 1872), and OPS both years. He fell off a little after that, but was still good enough that he was sought by White Stockings Secretary-turned-President William Hulbert as he strove to improve his club for the 1876 season. Hulbert broke league rules by negotiating with Anson and several other stars while the 1875 season was still in progress, ultimately founding the new National League to forstall any disciplinary action. Anson, who had married a Philadelphia native in the meantime, had second thoughts about going west, but Hulbert held Anson to his contract and he eventually warmed to the Windy City.
The White Stockings won the first league title, but fell off the pace the following two seasons. During this time, Anson was a solid hitter, but not quite a superstar. Both his fortunes and those of his team would change after Anson was named captain-manager of the club in 1879. With Anson pacing the way, the White Stockings won five pennants between 1880 and 1886. They were helped to the titles using new managerial tactics, including the rotation of two star pitchers. After the expression first became popular, in the 1890s, he retroactively claimed to used some of the first "hit and run" plays, and, especially aided by clever base runner Mike Kelly in the first half of the 1880s, had his players run the bases in a way that forced the opposition into making errors. In a modern sense of going South right before a season, he shares credit as an innovator of spring training along with then-Chicago President Albert Spalding. An aggressive captain and manager, he regularly helped players play better, and his contributions helped make baseball a higher-quality sport, while at the same time making it more popular with fans. On the field, Anson was the team's best hitter and run producer. In the 1880s, he won two batting titles (1881, 1888) and finished second four times (1880, 1882, 1886-87). During the same period, he led the league in RBIs an incredible seven times (1880-82, 1884-86, 1888). His best season was in 1881, when he led the league in batting (.399), OBP (.442), OPS (.952), hits (137), total bases (175), and RBIs (82). He also became the first player to hit three consecutive home runs, five homers in two games, and four doubles in a game, as well as being the first to perform two unassisted double plays in a game. He is one of only a few players to score six runs in a game, a feat he accomplished on August 24, 1886.
Unfortunately, Anson was well known to be a racist. While baseball would have become segregated without him, his regular refusal to play in exhibition games versus dark-skinned players helped to usher in segregation. Despite this, Anson remained very popular in Chicago while playing for the White Stockings, which were increasingly known as the Colts starting with an influx of new players in the mid-1880s. Anson signed a ten year contract in 1888 to manage the White Stockings (which, because of a typographical error he failed to spot, ended after the 1897 season instead of the 1898 one), but his best years were behind him. He led the league in walks in 1890 and garnered his eighth and final RBI crown in 1891, but declined precipitously thereafter. On the managerial front, he failed to win another pennant. He also mellowed enough that his nicknames became "Uncle" and "Grandpa." When he was fired as manager after the 1897 season, it also marked the end of his 27-year playing career. The following season, the Colts were called the Orphans to reflect Anson's departure.
There is much controversy as to whether he became the first player ever to make 3,000 hits in a major league career; for many years, recognized statistics credited him with precisely that total. Researchers in the 1990s argued that he was incorrectly credited with extra hits in 1887, when bases on balls were counted as hits. Eliminating the 60 walks Anson received that year would drop his hit total to 2,995 according to statistics officially recognized by Major League Baseball. However, if one counts his 423 earlier hits in the NA, the major leagues' predecessor (which Major League Baseball does), he is well over the mark. He was, by any standard, the first player to make 3,000 hits in his professional career. Major League Baseball recognizes him as seventh all time in hits.
Anson briefly made a return to baseball managing the New York Giants in June and July of 1898, but fully retired afterward. He was later named president of a new American Association, but he scuttled the venture at the first sign of trouble, leaving him a laughingstock. He was later elected city clerk of Chicago in 1905, and failed in the Democratic primary to become sheriff in 1907. After going bankrupt, he toured in vaudeville and as late as 1920 had delusions of becoming commissioner of baseball. Anson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939, one of the first 19th-century players selected. Over 100 years after his retirement, he still holds several Cubs franchise records, including most career hits and runs. In addition, the White Sox owe their name to the team he made famous, the White Stockings of the 19th century and Anson, in part motivated by his dislike for the current management of the Chicago National League club, played an unorthodox role in helping Charles Comiskey place the White Sox in Chicago for the 1900 season.
Cap Anson died in 1922 and was interred in the Oak Woods Cemetery, Chicago.
Other great source for reading: http://bioproj.sabr.org/bioproj.cfm?a=v&v=l&bid=1257&pid=305
07-23-2006, 07:05 AM
Ross Barnes (1850-1915)
Roscoe Conkling Barnes (May 8, 1850 in Mount Morris, New York – February 5, 1915 in Chicago, Illinois) was one of the stars of baseball's National Association (1871-1875) and the early National League (1876-1881, playing second base and shortstop. He played for the dominant Boston Red Stockings teams of the early 1870s, along with Albert Spalding, Cal McVey, George Wright, Harry Wright, Jim O'Rourke, and Deacon White. Despite playing for these star-studded teams, many claim that Ross was the most valuable to his teams.
From 1868 to 1870, Ross starred for the Rockford Forest Citys, along with Albert Spalding, attaining professional status in the second year. When the National Association was formed in 1871, Harry Wright signed both men to his new team in Boston. Barnes' major league career thus started when he was only 21. He split time between second base and shortstop for the Boston Red Stockings of the new National Association. Barnes led the league with 66 runs scored and 91 total bases, finishing second in batting average at .401.
In 1872 he led the Association with a .432 batting average, a .585 slugging percentage, 99 base hits, 134 total bases, and 28 doubles. The Red Stockings began a four-year dominance of the Association, with Barnes a key player each year.
Barnes again led the Association in 1873, hitting .425, as well as leading in on base percentage (.456),slugging percentage (.584), base hits (137), runs scored (125), total bases (188), doubles (29), bases on balls (28), and stolen bases (13).
His .340 BA in 1874 was only good enough for eighth in the league, while his .364 was good for second in 1875, while leading again in runs scored (115), base hits (143) and on base percentage (.375).
Before the 1875 season ended, Barnes and four other Boston players signed contracts with the Chicago White Stockings. When word leaked out in Boston before the end of the season, Barnes and his teammates were reviled by Boston fans, being called "seceders", a strong epithet just a decade after the Civil War. It was likely that the National Association would void the signing, but Chicago owner William Hulbert preempted the move by forming the National League, and causing the NA to disband.
Barnes' new team finished first in the NL's first season with a 55-12 record, while Boston fell to fourth. Ross led the National League batting (.429), on base percentage (.462), slugging (.562), runs (126), hits (138), bases (190), doubles (21), triples (14), and walks (20). In the 1876 season, Barnes also established the single-season record for runs per game (1.91), a mark which still stands.
For those first six years of major league play, Barnes had hit .397. However, 1876 was to be his last dominant season.
In 1877, he fell ill with what was then only described as an "ague" (fever), played only 22 games, and did not play well when he was in the lineup. The illness robbed Barnes of much of his strength and agility, and shortened his career. While many baseball histories originally blamed the change in rules that outlawed the "fair-foul" hit, of which Barnes was an acknowledged master, his illness has become a more widely accepted explanation for his loss of productivity.
The remainder of his career was an effort to return to glory ending in mediocrity. He played for the Tecumseh team in the International Association (arguably baseball's first minor league) in 1878, returned to the National League with the Cincinnati club in 1879, sat out all of 1880, and finished his professional career in 1881, playing his last season in Boston, site of his former glory. After 1876, he never hit better than .272, and his other totals were barely half of those from his glory days. He retired at age 31. He finished his career with 859 hits, 698 runs, and a .359 average, in only 499 games played and 2392 at bats. His 1.4 runs per game played remains the best of all time.
Barnes has been rated as the best player of the National Association, and during his peak, from 1871 to 1876, he was a dominant offensive force. His skill at the fair-foul bunt caused rule changes, and his defensive abilities were highly regarded. A teammate of multiple members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, he was the most valuable batter. He also has the distinction of having hit the first home run in National League history, on May 2, 1876.
A lifelong bachelor, Barnes held a variety of white-collar jobs in the Chicago area after his baseball career ended until his death from heart disease in 1915.
07-23-2006, 07:08 AM
Dan Brouthers (1858-1932)
Dennis Joseph Brouthers (May 8, 1858 - August 2, 1932) was a pre-1900 era Major League Baseball player. He was nicknamed "Big Dan". His surname was pronounced with a long "o" and a hard "th", the way one would say "smoothers" if such a word existed.
Brouthers' career began in 1879 and didn't finish until 1904 (with a gap between 1896 and 1904), a span of four decades. From the last weeks of the 1886 season to the first month of the 1890 season, Brouthers had more career home runs than any other player. He was the third Major Leaguer to reach 100 or more career homers (after Harry Stovey and Roger Connor).
Major League Baseball claims his career batting average was .349. Other sources such as baseball-reference.com indicate his career mark was .342. This disparity results from a league rule in effect in 1886 and 1887, which counted walks as hits. Some sources reflect the statistics as originally recorded, while others change them retroactively.
After retiring from the Major Leagues, Brouthers played minor league baseball for Poughkeepsie of the Hudson River League. He hit a league-leading .373 at age 46.
Brouthers was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1945.
Dan Brouthers is interred in Saint Mary's Cemetery in Wappingers Falls, New York.
07-23-2006, 07:11 AM
Bob Caruthers (1864-1911):clapping
Robert Lee Caruthers (January 5, 1864 - August 5, 1911), nicknamed "Parisian Bob," was an American right-handed pitcher and right fielder in Major League Baseball who played primarily for the St. Louis Browns and Brooklyn Bridegrooms. The star pitcher on five league champions in a ten-year career, he was the top pitcher in the American Association, leading that league in wins and shutouts twice each, winning percentage three times, and earned run average once. His 175 wins in the Association were the second most of any pitcher, and his league ERA of 2.62 was the lowest of any pitcher with at least 2000 innings in the league; he was also the only pitcher to have 40-win seasons for two different Association teams. His career winning percentage was the highest of any pitcher prior to 1950 with at least 250 decisions; some sources recognize him as having compiled the highest winning percentage of any pitcher with at least 200 decisions (and retired as of 2006) in major league history.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Caruthers debuted with a 4-hitter for the Browns in late 1884, and the following year led the team to its first pennant. He led the league in wins (40), ERA (2.07), shutouts (6) and winning percentage (.755) in 1885, and was 30-14 for the 1886 champions after a lengthy contract dispute which he conducted from Paris, earning him his nickname. In 1886 he also played right field when not pitching, batting .334 to place him among the league's top five hitters, and leading the league in on base percentage. On August 16 of that year, he became the fourth pitcher to hit two home runs in a game, while also getting a double and a triple; after the last he was thrown out at the plate, ending the game, in trying for a third home run. In 1887, despite battling malaria, he again led the league in winning percentage with a 29-9 record as the Browns won their third consecutive title; he also batted .357 with 73 runs batted in, while finishing second in the league in slugging average for the second consecutive year.
After the team's 1887 postseason loss, during which the team was criticized for its recreational activities, his contract was sold to Brooklyn by team owner Chris von der Ahe, who largely blamed Caruthers, an expert billiards and poker player, for the failure. He posted a record of 29-15 in 1888, though his batting average dropped to .230; in 1889 he egain led the league in wins (40), shutouts (7) and winning percentage (.784) as the team captured its first title, but rarely played in the field when not pitching. Brooklyn changed leagues following the 1889 season, joining the National League. Caruthers' 175 wins during six Association seasons would stand as the second-best total in the league's ten-year existence, behind Tony Mullane's 203 wins in seven seasons; Caruthers' league ERA of 2.62 was the best of any pitcher with at least 2000 innings, and put him behind only Ed Morris and Will White among those with 1500 innings.
In 1890, Caruthers posted a record of 23-11 as Brooklyn won the NL title in their first season in the league; he also saw considerable playing time in left field and batted .265. In 1891 his record slipped to 18-14, and he played only occasionally in right field though he hit .281. In 1892 he returned to the Browns, who had joined the NL that season in a league merger; it marked his last season as a pitcher as he earned only two victories, though he played regularly in right field, hitting .277 with 69 RBI. He also managed the team for the final third of the season, compiling a 16-32 record. In 1893 the pitching distance was increased from 50 feet to 60 feet 6 inches, and after playing one game in center field with the Chicago Colts, he ended his major league career with several games in right field for the Cincinnati Reds. He continued to play in the minor leagues until 1898, and later became an American League umpire in 1902 and 1903. During his career he threw 298 career complete games among his 310 starts, including 24 shutouts, and had a career ERA of 2.83 in 2828 2/3 innings pitched. He also batted .282 lifetime with 29 home runs and 259 RBI. He was the only 19th-century pitcher to lead the league in winning percentage three times.
Caruthers is often considered one of the most deserving candidates for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Many sources recognize him as having compiled 218 wins and 99 losses, making his .688 winning percentage 5th all-time behind Pedro Martínez, Whitey Ford, Dave Foutz (his teammate for eight seasons) and Tim Hudson among pitchers with at least 200 major league decisions. However, that is based on a total of 10 losses in the 1892 season (his last as a pitcher), a total revised from the contemporary record; the official league records for that year, which are recognized by Major League Baseball, charged him with only 8 losses, a figure which some other sources also recognize. The reduction of two losses would increase his career winning percentage to .691, which would place him behind only Martínez (through the 2005 season).
Caruthers died in Peoria, Illinois at age 47.
07-23-2006, 07:14 AM
Sam Crawford (1880-1968)
Samuel Earl Crawford (April 18, 1880 – June 15, 1968), nicknamed "Wahoo Sam", was an American right fielder in Major League Baseball who primarily played for the Detroit Tigers. He batted and threw left-handed, standing 6'0" tall and weighing 190 pounds. His nickname comes from his birthplace, Wahoo, Nebraska.
Crawford played 19 big league seasons, starting his career in 1899 with the Cincinnati Reds, before jumping to the newly founded American League's Detroit Tigers in 1903, where he finished out his career.
Crawford twice led the major leagues in home runs, hitting 16 in 1901 and 7 in 1908. He still maintains the major league record for the most inside-the-park home runs in a season with 12 in 1901, and the most in a career with 51.
Crawford also holds the career major league record for triples with 309, a record unlikely to be beaten given the difference in the style of baseball played in the modern era compared to that of the dead-ball era of Crawford. When he retired, he had a career batting average of .309. Crawford fell just short of the magical 3000 hit club, compiling 2961. There has been debate about whether Wahoo Sam deserves inclusion in the 3,000 hit club. Crawford maintained that the 87 hits he got in the Western League, which became the American League in 1900, were supposed to be included in his official total under the 1903 agreement between the two leagues.
He played twelve years in the same outfield with Ty Cobb, accompanying him to the 1907, 1908, and 1909 World Series, falling to Honus Wagner's Pittsburgh Pirates in 1909 in seven games.
In retirement, he became somewhat reclusive, staying away from official baseball functions. In 1962, he was interviewed by Lawrence Ritter for his book The Glory of Their Times, a series of interviews with the players of the early 20th Century. Crawford's tales of Tiger teammates such as Cobb, Cincinnati teammates like deaf player William "Dummy" Hoy, and opponents such as Wagner helped to make the book one of the most admired ever written about baseball.
He was selected by the Veteran's Committee to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1957. He was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1968. On his passing in 1968, Sam Crawford was interred in the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California. In 1999, he ranked Number 84 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.
07-23-2006, 07:16 AM
Hugh Duffy (1866-1954)
Hugh Duffy (November 26, 1866 - October 19, 1954) was a 19th century Major League Baseball player.
Duffy entered the National League with the Chicago White Stockings in 1888 and shortly thereafter earned the reputation of an outstanding outfielder and powerful hitter. He switched leagues, joining the American Association's Boston Reds in 1891; he then returned to the NL with the Boston Beaneaters in 1892, where he enjoyed his best seasons. Playing in Boston from 1891 until 1900, Duffy knocked in 100 runs or more 8 times. In 1894 Duffy had one of the greatest seasons in baseball history, leading the league with 18 home runs, with 145 RBI and a .440 batting average (see Triple crown). Duffy's .440 average is the Major League single season batting average record. He worked throughout his career with some of the all-time better outfielders including Tommy McCarthy as half of the "Heavenly Twins", Chick Stahl as well as hall-of-famer Billy Hamilton.
Duffy finished his career in 1906 with 106 home runs which was, at the time, one of the highest career totals ever. However, in 1906, Hugh Duffy only got to play once.
Duffy was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945.
07-23-2006, 07:18 AM
Buck Ewing (1859-1906)
William Buckingham "Buck" Ewing (October 17, 1859 - October 20, 1906) was a 19th century Major League Baseball player and manager, and is widely regarded as the best catcher of his era and is often argued to be the best player of the 19th century. He was born in Hoagland, Ohio. Ewing joined the National League in 1880 as a member of the Troy Trojans, but rose to stardom in 1883 as a member of the New York Gothams, later known as the Giants. That year he became the first player in major league history to hit 10 home runs in a season (a feat he would never repeat), while batting .303. Playing in an era when triples were more common than home runs due to the spacious parks and poor quality of the balls used, he led the league in 1884 with 20 triples, and was often among the league leaders.
Playing until 1897 with the Giants, Cleveland Spiders and Cincinnati Reds, Ewing posted consistently superb offensive numbers. Arguably his best season was in 1893 with the Spiders when he batted .344 with 6 home runs, 122 RBI, 47 stolen bases and 117 runs.
In 1890, when a player revolt led to the formation of the short-lived Players League, Ewing led the New York franchise as both star player and manager. Lingering resentment in the wake of the league's establishment and demise has often been suspected as a reason for his limited play in 1891 and subsequent move to Cleveland following the 1892 season. Ewing finished his career with a .303 lifetime batting average, 71 home runs, 883 RBI, 1129 runs, 250 doubles and 178 triples - totals made more impressive by the fact he was playing annual seasons only 100-130 games long.
In addition to playing, Ewing managed for seven seasons: the 1890 (Players League) Giants, the 1895-1899 Cincinnati Reds and half of the season with the 1900 Giants. He compiled a 489-395 record for a .553 winning percentage.
Ewing died of diabetes at age 47 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was elected to membership in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939, the year of the Hall's opening; he was the first catcher, and (with Cap Anson) the first 19th-century player, to be selected.
07-23-2006, 08:07 AM
Pete Browning 1861-1905
A genuine pre-modern national star, one of the major league game's pioneers, and one of the sport's most enduring and intriguing figures, Louis Rogers "Pete" Browning was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on June 17, 1861, at 13th and Jefferson on the city's west side.
A lifelong resident of Louisville, Pete Browning was the youngest of eight children born to Kentucky natives Samuel Browning (1814-1874) and Mary Jane Sheppard Browning (1826-1911). They were married in Jefferson County, of which Louisville is the county seat, the day after Valentine's Day in 1849. The family numbered, in addition to Pete, three sons and four daughters: Charles L., Henry D., Samuel L. Jr., Blanche N., Fannie E., Florence and Ida May.
In October of 1874, when Browning was 13, his father died at age 59 from injuries sustained during a cyclone. A prosperous merchant, Browning's father had for years run a grocery store at the corner of 15th and Jefferson Streets in Louisville, not too far from the family's residence. Browning's mother, with whom the confirmed bachelor lived all his life, lasted substantially longer. She died April 6, 1911, at age 84 of old age at her home, 1427 West Jefferson Street, on the near west side of the city, having lived there for more than a half-century.
A skilled marbles player and name figure skater, Browning was a talented baseball player from the start. He made his first imprint on July 28, 1877, when he pitched a 4-0 win over the National League Louisville Grays. The young righthander's strikeout victims that day included slugging outfielder George Hall and ace pitcher Jimmy Devlin -- both participants in that season's National League pennant-fixing scandal, which eventually cost the city its major-league team and resulted in the lifetime ban of five Louisville players
Browning's reputation progressively increased during the next four years, spent principally with the city's nationally known semipro club, the Louisville Eclipse.
Louisville went major league again in 1882, this time as a charter member of the fledgling American Association, the National league's first great rival. His skills honed to a fine edge, Browning ran away with the American Association's inaugural batting race, posting a .378 average. Thirty-six points better than that of his nearest rival, Cincinnati's Hick Carpenter, it was also the best average in the majors, topping Dan Brouthers' National League top mark by ten points.
During the course of 13 major league seasons, from 1882 through 1894, the bulk of that with Louisville in first the American Association and later the National League, Browning compiled a .341 lifetime batting average. Tied for eighth place on the all-time list with Cooperstown enshrinees Wee Willie Keeler and Bill Terry, the .341 mark ranks today as the fourth-best among the game's right-handed batsmen. Only Hall of Famers Rogers Hornsby (.358), Ed Delahanty (.346) and Harry Heilmann (.342) have ever done better work from that side of the plate.
The work included one .400 season, and a trio of batting titles in two separate leagues. The latter makes Browning one of three 19th-century players to have won batting titles in two different leagues. Ross Barnes and Dan Brouthers are the others.
An instant major league star, Browning had a virulent drinking problem which didn't take much longer to reach major league proportions itself, making its public bow in an August 13, 1882, contest against the Athletics. Despite the Louisville Courier-Journal's story the following day over Browning's drunken state, the team did not release its star, nor did it tighten the reins at all on him. Regardless of Browning's heavy drinking, the club wasn't going to release its homegrown, sensational rookie star who was on his way to a batting title and who had brought major-league baseball back to Louisville with a flourish.
Deaf and illiterate, the six-foot, 180-pound Browning was eccentric as well. He refused to slide; played defense standing on one leg to prevent anyone running into him; stared into the sun to improve his "lamps" (eyes); treasured his "active" bats because of the hits they still contained; was constantly on the prowl for the next, new "magical" stick with hits in it; reportedly favored bats that were 37 inches in length and 48 ounces in weight; maintained a warehouse of "retired" bats in his home -- all of them named, many after Biblical figures; kept his batting statistics on his shirt cuffs; and when traveling over the circuit, frequently alighted from trains and introduced himself as the champion batter of the American Association.
Unlike many major-leaguers, Browning cut a swath through the sophomore jinx in 1883, batting .338 and finishing second to Pittsburgh' s Ed Swartwood for league honors.
On May 12 the following season, while the team was on the road, Browning underwent major surgery for the first time for mastoiditis, an inflammation of the mastoid process. Located behind the ears and connected to the temporal bones that run along both sides of the head, the mastoid process are two honeycomb-like areas that occasionally aid the ear by acting as a surplus receiving area for violent sound vibrations that the ear cannot handle by itself, such as a sudden, nearby explosion.
For nearly his entire life, Browning was plagued by mastoidal problems. The impact of this malady is significant. It robbed Browning of his hearing. Because he could not hear, he refused to go to school out of frustration and embarrassment; the lack of schooling made him a virtual illiterate. The resulting sense of isolation, coupled with the savage physical discomfort attendant to the condition, fueled his uncontrollable drinking. It also prompted his commitment to an insane asylum, and was a major factor in his early death --both the product of a brain infection. In short, the mastoiditis was responsible for all his personal and professional problems.
However, the results of the 1884 surgery were unmistakable. Freed from mastoidal pain for the time being, Browning was highly productive that season, finishing third in the league with a .336 average.
Far and away, however, Browning's 1884 season is best-remembered for the famed Louisville Slugger bat incident. In the spring of that year, so the story goes, John Andrew "Bud" Hillerich custom-made a bat for Browning, who was in a slump. "The Gladiator" then went out and got three hits the next day, and, as they say, the rest is history. The incident forged modern batmaking, birthing two American icons -- the Louisville Slugger bat and its equally renowned manufacturer, Hillerich & Bradsby.
In recent years, this story has come under inspection because no reference to it exists in either Browning's obituaries or in that season's baseball coverage. There are several other versions, also suspect, involving Gus Weyhing and Arlie Latham. Unquestionably, however, Browning is the namesake of the Louisville Slugger bat, and that is more than enough to sustain the longstanding historical link between the two. (At least three years before the name "Louisville Slugger" was registered as a trademark, Browning was referred to as the "Louisville Slugger" in the sub-headline of a June 17, 1891, Louisville Post article.)
Switched permanently to the outfield in 1885, Browning improved his 1884 average by 26 points, notching his second American Association batting title with a .362 mark.
In 1886, Browning narrowly lost the American Association batting title to Guy Hecker, the only pitcher ever to win a batting crown. Also the only pitcher ever to win a batting title and a pitching Triple Crown, Hecker held off Browning .341 to .340 (.3411078 to .3404710) as the race went down to the final day of the season. Hecker's work also included a 26-23 mound slate.
Browning's 1886 season also included hitting for the cycle for the first time against the New York Metropolitans on August 8, and being the victim of an unassisted pickoff play by Dave Foutz. Today, it remains the only documented case of a hurler picking off a runner unassisted without the benefit of a rundown.
There have been some two dozen legitimate .400 campaigns in baseball history, and Browning had one of them in 1887, hitting a career-best .402. It produced only a runner-up finish, however, as St. Louis' Tip O'Neill hit .435. In 1888, Browning came up with a .313 average. The one-season drop in average was a direct consequence of baseball restoring the three-strikes-and-out rule, plus rescinding its one-season experiment (1887) in which walks were counted as hits.
Spiraling downward, Browning batted a career-low .259 in 1889. His average was a reflection of the doomed season as the Louisvilles finished in the cellar with a 27-111 record and a .196 winning percentage, 661/2 games back of the league champion Brooklyn Bridegrooms.
Along the way, they posted a streak of 26 consecutive losses, still the all-time major-league record; suffered the humiliating takeover of the team by the league, which was followed by the sale of the club; endured arbitrary fines and pay dockings by capricious owner Mordecai Davidson; survived a close call with the lethal Johnstown, Pa., flood; and engaged in a brief players' strike, the first ever in major-league history, the participants including Browning.
Six players took part in the strike over Davidson's refusal to forgive what the Louisville Courier-Journal called "heavy fines" he had imposed on two teammates. "Three amateur players were called into requisition," the newspaper reported, to make up for the strikers. Louisville, without the six players withholding their labor, lost 4-2 on the road to Baltimore in a rain-shortened five-inning game, the 20th loss in the skein; the scheduled nightcap was washed out.
Oddly enough, Browning picked up his second career cycle game on June 7, during the middle of the losing streak. However, his season ended abruptly on August 11 when he was suspended the remainder of the campaign (a career-high two months) for drunkenness.
Jumping to the Cleveland Infants of the new Players League in 1890, Browning took the only batting title of that circuit with a .3732 average that just barely nipped Davey Orr's .3728 work. But the season wasn't just all hitting.
As a major-leaguer, Browning gained the nickname of "The Gladiator" for his ongoing battles with the fourth estate and his pathological alcoholism, best phrased by another memorable quote: "I can't hit the ball until I hit the bottle!"
The moniker also was a reference to his battles with fly balls. However, recent research indicates that Browning's fielding deficiencies, at the very least, deserve re-examination for several reasons: the crude equipment of the times, the typical fielding averages of his era, and the fact that Browning played three up-the-middle positions on the defensive spectrum: shortstop, second base and center field.
Moreover, the newspapers of his day published numerous accounts of his defensive prowess, those accounts running the entire length of his active major-league career. One of the best examples is an item that ran in the June 6, 1890, issue of the Cleveland Plain Dealer: "The one act of the afternoon which stands out like a wart on a man's nose was a catch by Col. Browning (an embellishment; he was never in the military) in the fifth inning. Mr. [Hugh] Duffy, a distinguished townsman with whom it is a genuine pleasure to deal, tripped to the bat with his teeth set so hard that his jaw bones stuck out like handles on an Etruscan vase. He reached for the first ball which Mr. [Jersey] Bakely was good enough to land over the rubber.
"The sound that followed was the same as when the slats fall down in an old-fashioned bed. The ball mounted towards the town of Jefferson until it was lost to sight. It came into view again in a few moments in the extreme left field, and then it was observed that Mr. Browning was only a few rods away.
"He rattled his lengthy legs towards his heart's desire as long as possible, and then jumped in a northwesterly direction, turning four times in the air and stretching one arm for the ball in a manner of a boy after his second piece of pie.
"He got it.
"Then applause went up from the grandstand like an insane man experimenting with a French horn. Pete had to doff his cap a dozen times."
The 1891 season marked Browning's third different league in as many seasons, and his first in the National League. Splitting the season between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds, Browning batted .317 overall. The work included bunting into a triple play in early May. His season ended prematurely in early September after Kid Gleason hit him.
(For the record, this hit-by-pitch incident is indirectly related to one of three longstanding and persistent historical or statistical errors about Browning. All have been recently corrected by documentation, and here is how the record should read. Browning was first hit by a pitch early in his career, in July of 1883, not in May of 1890 as reported by at least one newspaper. Secondly, Browning's correct number of cycle games was two, not three -- the current major-league record. Finally, Browning did not die in an insane asylum.)
By 1892, major-league baseball found itself with only one league, the Players League having folded after the 1890 campaign and the American Association closing shop following the 1891 season. Back in his home city, Browning hit .247 in 21 games for Louisville before being released in mid-May. Once again, he caught on quickly with Cincinnati, batting .303 for them in 81 games and ending the season at .292.
The next year, Browning signed a contract with Louisville in late May and delivered on both sides of the diamond, playing sterling defense and batting .355 in just 57 games. Inexplicably, however, he was released in early August and played no more that year.
Browning's major-league career came to a close on Sunday, September 30, 1894, in the finale of a closing-day doubleheader in his native Louisville. Playing right field for Brooklyn, The Gladiator singled twice in two official at-bats, walked once and scored once.
Officially, the final stop came in 1896 when Browning played his last recorded season of organized baseball at any level, batting .333 in 26 games with Columbus of the Western League.
The late 1890s found Browning working as a cigar salesman. He had owned a bar at 13th and Market Streets in Louisville, but that venture failed. Later, Browning turned to caring for his mother, and during baseball season, Browning was seen frequently at local baseball games. As in previous years, Browning was always well-received by the attendant crowds.
Browning's comfortable retirement came to an abrupt end, however. On June 7, 1905, Browning was produced in the criminal division of Jefferson County Circuit Court, where he was declared a lunatic and ordered to the Fourth Kentucky Lunatic Asylum at nearby Lakeland.
After some improvement, Browning was removed from Lakeland by one of his sisters on June 21, 1905. A month later, he was admitted to old City Hospital (later renamed General Hospital and now called University Hospital), where he underwent surgery for ear trouble and a tumor of the breast. Following several stints in and out of the hospital, Browning died there on Sunday afternoon, September 10, 1905, at 2:15. Survivors included his mother; two sisters, Florence and Fannie; and two brothers, Henry and Charles (the father of famed film director Tod Browning, a protégé of the legendary D.W. Griffith).
Though the official cause of death was asthenia (a general weakening of the body), Browning's medical problems no doubt included brain damage sustained by both the crudely treated mastoid condition and his longstanding defense against that malady - heavy drinking; cirrhosis of the liver, a product of his lifelong alcoholism; cancer; and most likely paresis, the third and final stage of syphilis.
Incurable even today, paresis is characterized by a total mental breakdown and is fully consistent with the times and Browning's profession; his unstable mental condition toward the end of his life; and his personal habits, which included a longstanding fondness for prostitutes (newspapers on occasion referred to him thusly: "Pietro Gladiator Redlight Distillery Browning").
Funeral services were held the following afternoon, September 12, at 2:30 at the home of Browning's mother. From there, Browning was taken to Cave Hill Cemetery, the final resting place for many of Louisville's major league ballplayers, as well numerous nationally prominent local and state figures.
His pallbearers included John Dyler, his first manager, and former teammate John Reccius, the latter a childhood friend and member of a noted Louisville baseball family that also included brothers Philip and William.
On September 10, 1984, as part of the centennial anniversary of the Hillerich & Bradsby Company, the company joined with the city of Louisville to honor Browning with a new grave marker that correctly spelled his name and fully detailed his lifetime baseball achievements.
A perennial candidate for Cooperstown via the Veterans Committee, Pete Browning made his most recent appearance on that committee's 2003 Hall of Fame preliminary ballot.
07-23-2006, 08:20 AM
Cupid Childs 1867-1912
Cupid Childs was one of the best hitting major league second basemen during the late nineteenth century, not to mention a better-than-average fielder who possessed great range on the diamond. Only four other second basemen in the history of major league baseball have averaged more total chances per game than Childs. His all-around outstanding play made him an integral part of the great Cleveland Spiders teams of the 1890s.
A natural middle infielder, Childs threw right-handed and batted left-handed. He played shortstop during his early years in the minors but eventually settled in at the keystone position for the remainder of his career. Childs, who seldom struck out, was a great contact hitter with an excellent batting eye. In his prime, he batted anywhere from first to fourth in the batting order. His best years in the majors produced batting averages of .345, .317, .326, .353, .355 and .338. Childs' lifetime major league on-base percentage of .417 is higher than every second baseman in the Hall of Fame except Rogers Hornsby and Eddie Collins. His .306 lifetime batting average is higher than nine of the second basemen who have already been inducted into the Hall. Childs scored over one hundred runs in a season seven times and reached double figures in triples five years in a row. However, for some reason the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee continually overlooks this talented multi-tooled player when it comes time to vote in new inductees. It seems that for now, Cupid's arrow has missed its mark in Cooperstown.
Clarence Lemuel "Cupid" Childs was born to Singleton and Caroline Childs near Sunderlandville in Calvert County, Maryland, on August 8, 1867. Singleton Childs was a planter and farmer. According to the 1860 census, the Childs' farm was valued at one thousand dollars. The 1870 census notes that Singleton and Caroline had 11 children living at home. Sadly, Singleton Childs died a few years after Clarence was born. At this time Mrs. Childs moved her large family to Baltimore City. While growing up in Baltimore, Cupid learned to play baseball on the local sandlots. Clarence eventually grew to 5'8" and weighed a solid 185 pounds. In later years, his playing weight was listed at 192 pounds. It's safe to assume that his resemblance to the fictional matchmaker was the reason for his cherubic nickname. He is also referred to in various newspaper accounts as "Fats," "Fatty," "Paca," and even "The Dumpling."
Childs' obituary notes that he first played organized baseball in 1883 when he was sixteen years old for Durham in the North Carolina State League. According to the obituary, he was paid four dollars a week, and the team paid his room and board. Not much is known about Childs' baseball career at this time. By May of 1885 Childs was playing shortstop for the very talented Monumental team in Baltimore. The Monumentals were playing in the Maryland Amateur Association in 1885. Future major league pitcher Frank Foreman pitched for the Woodberry team in the league that same year. At this time, Cupid Childs was living at 77 South Gilmore Street in Baltimore. His occupation is listed as can-maker in the 1885 Baltimore City Directory.
Childs started out the following season playing for the Brooklyn Harlems semi-pro team. The Harlem team traced its roots back to the New York City amateur leagues of the 1850s. By June of 1886, Childs had moved on and was playing shortstop with Petersburg in the Virginia State League. He played for Petersburg from June 25 to August 11. He left the Petersburg team and signed on with Scranton of the Pennsylvania State League for the rest of the 1886 season. He played in 24 games at shortstop for Scranton from August 17 to September 30. His final statistics for the 1886 Pennsylvania State League season were 27 hits, 6 doubles, 1 triple, 1 home run, 8 stolen bases and a .267 batting average.
Childs began the 1887 season with Johnstown of the Pennsylvania State League. He played with Johnstown from May 7 to July 4, when the Johnstown team folded. He then signed on with the Allentown team of the same league.
The Allentown Chronicle and News of July 7, 1887, observed: "The Allentown nine has secured Childs, the second baseman of the disbanded Johnstown club. Childs is a good hitter and a splendid baseman, and will prove a strong addition to the team."
An article in the same paper on July 12 mentions Childs coming through with a clutch triple in a 14-8 Allentown victory over the Bradford team: "Then Childs picked up the stick and drove the ball to right field for three bases sending home Beatin and O'Brien which tied the score and caused such yelling that several boards back of the catcher split."
Childs was with Allentown from July 8 to July 15, 1887, when the team dropped out of the league. Childs appeared in a total of 38 games during the 1887 Pennsylvania State League season. He had 51 hits, 7 doubles, 6 triples, 2 home runs and 14 stolen bases, finishing the year with a .373 batting average.
On August 4, Cupid signed with the Shamokin team of the Central Pennsylvania League. He played second base for the team until a broken collarbone ended his season on September 19, 1887. The Shamokin team went on to win the league championship.
In 1888, Childs signed with baseball pioneer Harry Wright's Philadelphia Quakers of the National League. He made his major league debut on April 23 against Boston and future Hall of Fame pitcher John Clarkson in Philadelphia. Childs went hitless at the plate that day. In the field, he played second base and handled six chances with one error while turning one double play. Clarkson pitched a complete game that day beating the Philadelphia team by the score of 3-1. The Quakers managed only six hits off Clarkson. Cupid Childs appeared briefly in the next game and then was released from the Philadelphia team. The Philadelphia Inquirer explained Childs' pending release: "Childs and Hallman are good players but they lack experience and that is worth a great deal in this league."
In June of 1888, Childs traveled out to Kalamazoo, Michigan, to try out for that city's local professional baseball team. The Chicago Tribune of March 25, 1900, described Childs' audition with the Kalamazoo team of the Tri-State League. The article is mistaken about Kalamazoo's being Childs' first professional team, but the story is an amusing look at how Childs was perceived by his peers:
"CHILDS' DEBUT AS A BALL PLAYER
He Wears Divided Skirts for a Uniform
at His First Practice.
The Grand Rapids (Mich.) Democrat gives the following story of Cupid Child's debut
in professional baseball:
"Childs is the most curiously built man in the baseball business: he is about as wide as he is long and weighs about as much as Jeffries, yet there are few men in the league who can get over the ground faster than the 'dumpling.' He started in the business as a professional with the Kalamazoo club in the Tristate league in 1888 and his work was so good that year that he graduated into fast company, where he has been ever since. When he reported to the Kalamazoo club he came in on a 'side-door Pullman' and presented himself to the management of the 'Celery Eaters' and asked for a trial. The manager thought he was joking after looking at his short length and broad girth, telling him he would make a better fat man in a side show than a ball player. Showing them he was anxious for a trial he was told to go to the grounds and practice with the rest of the team. A search was made for a uniform that would fit him, but none could be found, the only thing of that nature large enough for him being a pair of divided skirts, which he put on, cutting them off at the knees. His appearance with this costume on can be imagined and was so ludicrous that it threatened to break up the practice. However, as soon as he got out on the diamond and began to practice they began to open eyes and wonder. Such stops and throws were made as they never saw before and with such ease and grace that all were at once convinced he was a wonder. The management signed him on the spot and at a good salary, a move they never regretted, as his playing was the sensation of league all the season. Besides being one of the greatest ball players in the business, he is said to be one of the best humored, not a single instance of his ever losing his temper in a game being on record."
Childs appeared in 53 games for Kalamazoo from June 9 to September 1. His statistics for the 1888 Tri-State League included 11 doubles, 3 triples, 19 stolen bases and a .282 batting average. Childs left the Kalamazoo team in early September and came back east in time to play nine games at the end of the season with the Syracuse Stars of the International League. He played for Syracuse from September 8 to September 19. For the Stars, Childs had 11 hits, 1 double, 1 triple and a batting average of .297.
Childs stayed on with the Syracuse ball club for the following year. He played the entire season with the Stars, appearing in 105 games. Childs finished the 1889 International League season with 145 hits, 21 doubles, 12 triples, 53 stolen bases and a .341 batting average.
Childs and the Syracuse team left the International League in 1890 and moved up to the majors by joining the American Association. Childs appeared in 126 games for Syracuse in 1890. He amassed 170 hits, 70 walks, 13 triples and scored 109 runs. He led the American Association that year with 33 doubles and finished the 1890 season with a .345 batting average and 56 stolen bases.
On January 26, 1891, Childs signed with his hometown Baltimore Orioles, who were also members of the American Association. His Oriole contract stipulated that he was to be paid a salary of $2300 by the Orioles for the 1891 season. He was also given a $200 advance on the day he signed. In early February, the American Association withdrew from Baseball's National Agreement and decided to conduct operations as an independent major league. This meant that all of the American Association teams, including the Orioles, were no longer bound by the by-laws and clauses that were part of the National Agreement.
The American Association's withdrawal led Childs to conclude that his Oriole contract had been voided. The Orioles did not agree and still considered him under contract. News of Childs' availability spread, and in early February the Boston team of the American Association sent their manager, Arthur Irwin, to Baltimore in an attempt to sign Childs. Newspaper accounts stated that Irwin was unable to locate Childs in Baltimore. It appears that Childs did not want anything to do with any of the teams in the American Association. Childs, now considering himself a free agent, signed with the Cleveland team of the National League on February 16, 1891. Childs met with Orioles manager and part owner Billy Barnie on March 2. Childs informed Barnie that he would not be playing for the Orioles in the upcoming season. Barnie said, "The only explanation Childs gave him for leaving the team was that he could do better." Childs also attempted to return the advance money to Barnie, but the Oriole manager refused to take it.
Baltimore team management then filed an injunction in Baltimore City Circuit Court to force Childs to honor his Oriole contract. Judge Phelps of Baltimore City was selected to rule over the case. The trial opened on April 5, 1891. William Shepard Bryant and the Honorable Bernard Carter represented the Baltimore Baseball and Exhibition Company, and Thomas I. Elliot represented Childs. One hundred and thirteen pages of testimony were read on the opening day of the trial. "The courtroom was crowded with professional and amateur ball players and lovers of the game," wrote the Baltimore Morning Herald after the first day's session. The trial gained national attention and on April 22, 1891, the judge finally reached his decision. Phelps ruled in favor of Childs and the injunction filed by the Orioles was dissolved. Childs' Oriole contract had stated that he was due all of the rights accorded to professional baseball players designated by the National Agreement. Because the National Agreement no longer bound the Orioles, the team could not offer Childs the conditions that they had originally agreed upon, thus voiding the contract. This was the main point of Judge Phelps' summation in explaining his verdict. By the time the case was eventually settled, the Orioles had already filled the second base position. It seems that Oriole management pursued the Childs case on principle rather than necessity.
Baseball fans in Cleveland were overjoyed at the outcome. When the verdict was announced, the Cleveland management telegraphed Oriole manager Billy Barnie with the phrase, "He who laughs last, laughs best."
Cupid Childs went on to play his next eight major league seasons with the Cleveland Spiders of the National League. The Spiders were led by their hardnosed and hot- tempered player-manager Patsy Tebeau. Baseball historian Lee Allen said, "Patsy Tebeau was the prototype of all hooligans and his players cheerfully followed his example." At one time, Tebeau's Cleveland Spiders lineup included Hall of Fame players Cy Young, Jesse Burkett, Buck Ewing, John Clarkson and Bobby Wallace. The Spiders also had outstanding players like Chief Zimmer and Ed McKean.
Childs hit .281 batting and stole 39 bases in his first year as a Spider. He scored 120 runs and worked the National League pitchers for 97 walks in 141 games. The following year, Childs had a .317 batting average while playing in 146 games. He also led the National League that season with 136 runs scored and a .443 on-base percentage.
The next year Childs had a .326 batting average and stole 23 bases for the Cleveland team. He finished the season with 120 walks and 145 runs scored while playing in124 games. Amazingly, Cupid struck out just twelve times for the entire 1893 season.
Childs had another good year in 1894, hitting .353. He had 158 hits, 107 walks, 21 doubles and 12 triples for the year. He also scored 143 runs and stole 17 bases. Throughout his career Childs missed his share of games due to injuries and sickness but he also was capable of playing hurt. On August 8, 1894, Childs fell and broke his collarbone after he was tripped by Pittsburgh first baseman Jake Beckley while he was running down the first base line. Cupid must have had great recuperative powers because he was back in the Cleveland lineup at second base just 13 days later. In September of that year, Childs handled 16 chances without an error in the first game of a double header against Brooklyn. Remarkably, Childs finished the 1894 National League season with just 11 strikeouts.
In the spring of 1895, Childs was having contract problems and briefly left the club on April 23. He and the Cleveland team were at odds over a difference of $300 in his contract. Childs declined to leave on the train with the ball club for a road trip and said that he wanted to join the New York team. Childs and Cleveland management eventually came to terms and Cupid rejoined the team for the rest of the 1895 season.
The contract troubles must have affected Childs because his batting average slipped to .288 that year. However, he was on base enough to score 96 runs and steal 20 bases. He also hit his career high in home runs that season with four and knocked in 90 runs in 119 games.
Childs bounced back in 1896 with a monster year. He had 177 hits, 100 walks, 24 doubles, 106 RBI, and scored 106 runs in 132 games. Childs struck out just 18 times during the season. He finished the 1896 National League season with a .425 on-base percentage a .356 batting average and 25 stolen bases.
The 1897 season was Cupid Childs' last great year in the major leagues: a .338 batting average, 105 runs, and 25 stolen bases accompanied by 15 doubles, 9 triples, and 1 home run.
Childs played his final year for Cleveland in 1898. He closed out with a .288 batting average and 90 runs scored. Injuries took their toll on Cupid, and he ended up missing 46 games during the season.
The Cleveland Spiders played in three postseason Championship Series while Childs was a member of the team. The first was in 1892 when the National League played a split season. The Boston Bean-eaters had the best record for the first half of the season, and Cleveland had the best record for the second. The two teams played each other at the end of the year in a Championship Series that Boston eventually won. Childs played great for Cleveland, finishing the series with a .409 batting average. He had 9 hits including 2 triples and 5 walks in the five Championship games. Childs handled 32 chances at second base during the series without an error.
The other two post-season appearances the Spiders made were in the Temple Cup in back-to-back years. The Temple Cup was a Championship Series that was played at the end of the regular season between the first and second place teams of the National League. It was played from 1894 through 1897. The Cleveland Spiders played the Baltimore Orioles in two hotly contested Series in 1895 and 1896. The Spiders were the second place team during the regular season in each of the two years they participated in the Series. Cleveland won the Temple Cup in 1895 but lost to the Orioles in 1896. Childs did not hit well in either of the Temple Cup Series. Even though the Spiders and Orioles were bitter rivals on the ball field, Childs always remained popular in his hometown. "Cleveland second baseman Paca Childs is a Baltimorean and has many friends in this city," wrote the Baltimore Sun after an Orioles home stand against the Spiders during the 1894 season.
Childs was the all-time base on balls leader for the Spiders team with 758. His .434 on-base percentage as a Spider was the second highest in team history to Jesse Burkett's .436. His .318 career batting average as a Spider is second on the team's all-time list, well behind Burkett's .356. Childs ranks third on the Spiders all-time hit list with 1238 after Ed McKean (1693) and Burkett (1453). He finished third on the team with 70 triples (McKean had 127, Burkett 92) and third in runs scored with 941 close behind McKean (996) and Burkett (987). Finally, he leads the Spiders with 52 sacrifice hits. Childs, Burkett, and McKeanthey were the Big Three of the Cleveland Spiders.
The Spiders had an overall record of 679 wins and 439 losses while Childs was with them. In 1899, the Robison Brothers, owners of the Cleveland team, bought the struggling St. Louis club and assumed joint ownership of both National League franchises. The Cleveland ownership then transferred Patsy Tebeau, Cy Young, Jesse Burkett, Ed Mc Kean, Bobby Wallace, Harry Blake, Cupid Childs and a few others over to St. Louis in an effort to strengthen the ball club. Unfortunately, Childs contracted malaria while playing for St. Louis that year. When Childs was finally healthy enough to return to the lineup, he was not up to par and finished the 1899 season with a .265 batting average. The year before in 1898, the St. Louis team had won 39 games and finished last in the twelve-team National League. With the addition of the new manager and players from Cleveland, the St. Louis Perfectos won 84 games and finished fifth.
The following season, the Chicago Orphans of the National League purchased Childs' contract from the St. Louis club. Childs and the Orphans management came to terms, and he became a member of the Chicago team for the 1900 season. Only after second baseman Bill Keister had committed to the St. Louis team, did St. Louis manager Tebeau agree to let Childs go.
When a reporter asked Childs how he felt about joining the Chicago team he replied, "I am pleased with the idea of playing in Chicago. I had a little hard luck last season and my relations with the St. Louis club were not pleasant for the club or myself. This Chicago team looks good to me, and I think is stronger than ever. The Chicago club always troubled us to beat it and it is much stronger in the box. I have been riding horseback and taking light exercise all winter in Philadelphia to keep myself fit, for I do not want to take any chances of another attack of malaria and another bad season."
On April 11, 1900, Chicago Orphans manager Tom Loftus announced his starting lineup for the upcoming season. Childs had won the starting second baseman position and was batting second in the batting order. "Childs is showing beautiful form at second and his work is a sign of promise," wrote the Chicago Tribune regarding Cupid's play in late April of the 1900 season.
Childs was getting older now, but he evidently still possessed the old Cleveland Spiders fighting spirit. In May of 1900, Childs and Pittsburgh player manager and future Hall of Fame member Fred Clarke got in a fistfight at the train station in Pittsburgh. Childs and Clarke had collided with each other at second base in a recent game. Clarke had dared Childs to fight him on the field that day, but the two were separated before the trouble could escalate. Childs and Clarke then ran into each other at the train station in Pittsburgh when both teams were leaving the city. The two exchanged words and a fistfight ensued. Sources at the time said that there had been bad blood brewing between the two players that had dated back to previous seasons. Eyewitness accounts said both players took a beating but that Clarke got the worst of it.
At some point early in the 1900 season, Childs began to feel the effects from his previous bout of malaria. His weakened state was causing his hand-eye coordination and reflexes to fail him. Although the press was relatively kind to Childs, there were many instances of thrown balls going right through his hands on potential double play opportunities. Childs evidently knew something was wrong because in early June of 1900 he told the Chicago Tribune, "If I last through this season I will quit baseball. I have an excellent business opportunity and will get out of the business." Further along in the article the Tribune observed, "Childs is playing good ball for Chicago and helping the team by his clever bunting. He is drawing more base on balls than any man on the team and fielding well." Nevertheless, Childs finished the season with an uncharacteristically low batting average of .241.
The business deal must have fallen through because Childs returned to the Chicago team for the 1901 season. He never got on track and hit just .258 in 63 games. He was released from the Chicago team on July 8, 1901. Dating back to the nineteenth century, major league players who were past their prime would often catch on with minor league teams to finish out their professional careers. Childs took this route and signed on with Toledo of the Western Association. He appeared in 71 games for Toledo in 1901. He had 17 doubles with 14 stolen bases and ended the season with a .247 batting average.
Childs must have regained some of his strength because he bounced back to have a good year in the minors in 1902. Cupid started out the season with the Jersey City Skeeters of the Eastern League. He played in 33 games for the Jersey City team and hit a solid .290 with 5 doubles, 2 triples, and 6 stolen bases. Childs then moved on to the Syracuse team of the New York State League, where he had 102 hits, 12 doubles, 6 triples, 14 stolen bases and a .358 average in 74 games.
In 1903, Childs signed on with manager Wilbert Robinson and his hometown Baltimore Orioles. The Birds were starting their inaugural season in the Eastern League. Childs came to spring training in good shape and played well. On April 28, the Orioles played an exhibition game against the University of Maryland baseball team at Oriole Park. The Orioles won the game by the score of 26-0. Cupid was three for five with two triples and three runs scored. He played flawlessly at second base that day with one putout and three assists. "Childs made a sensational catch of a fly ball in the first inning," wrote the Baltimore Sun in their comments on the game
Childs was with the Orioles in spring training and through the first six games of the regular season. Unfortunately for Childs, his services had been reserved for the 1903 season by another team. The Montgomery, Alabama, team of the Southern League had engaged Childs prior to his signing with Baltimore. The Orioles tried to acquire Childs' contract back from the Montgomery team, but that club's management refused to deal. It was reported that the Orioles offered a sum of four figures to the Montgomery club for Childs' release. On May 4, Childs sent a telegram to Montgomery manager Lew Whistler stating that he would not play for the Montgomery team under any circumstances. Unfortunately for Childs, the final decision was made for him. On May 6, Eastern League President P.T. Powers wired the Orioles saying that Childs would no longer be allowed to play in the Eastern League and that he must report to the Montgomery ball club. Childs was so distraught over the matter that he threatened to play for the Johnstown team of the New York State League. Childs soon came to realize that he had no other alternatives available to him so he reluctantly boarded a southbound train for Montgomery and reported to the team.
Childs played the entire 1903 season with the Montgomery Legislators. He appeared in 108 games and had 104 hits, 7 doubles, 1 triple and he finished the year with a .318 batting average. The Atlanta Constitution on June 17 reprinted a brief article about Childs from the Shreveport Times that described Childs' work in glowing terms: "'Cupid' Childs is about one half of the Montgomery team. The way the old leaguer covers the ground and swats the ball reminds one of 'Cupid's' palmy days when he was the 'whole thing' with the Clevelanders."
In February of 1904, Childs was listed on the Montgomery team's reserve list at second base, but he does not appear in any of the Southern League statistics for the season.
Childs did play in the New York State League in 1904, appearing in 41 games for the Schenectady and Scranton teams. Cupid was now at the end of the line and finished the 1904 season with just a .245 batting average. Childs may have made some attempts to continue his baseball career in 1905. In August of that year, a brief line in a local newspaper reported that Childs had made an attempt to catch on in the New York State League. Childs does not show up in league records that season and more than likely did not play any organized baseball after the 1905 season.
With his baseball career over, Cupid Childs began working as a coal driver in Baltimore City. As did many people of his generation, Clarence "Cupid" Childs died at a young age. He passed away after a lengthy illness at age 45 on November 8, 1912, at Saint Agnes Hospital in Baltimore. The cause of death was listed as Bright's disease. His wife Mary and his eight-year-old daughter Ruth survived him. Childs had just recently bought a coal business and home that were both located at 1800 West Pratt Street in Baltimore. Unfortunately for Childs, his debilitating illness had rendered him bedridden. Because of this he was no longer able to oversee the daily operations of his coal company. A few weeks before his death, a local paper had reported that the bank was ready to foreclose on his new house and business. When Childs passed away, his obituary stated that his funeral service would take place at his residence at 1800 West Pratt Street. Since that was the address of his new home, it appears that the bankers may have worked out a last-minute deal to allow the Childs family to keep their home. Clarence L. "Cupid" Childs is buried in Loudon Park Cemetery in the southwestern section of Baltimore City.
A portion of Cupid Childs' obituary from the Baltimore Sun of November 9, 1912, read:
"Childs was considered the fastest second baseman and one of the heaviest hitters in the major leagues. He was the idol of baseball fans and although never playing on the old Oriole team in Baltimore, he was always given a warm welcome because he was a Baltimore boy."
Cupid Childs played a total of 13 seasons in the major leagues. He appeared in 1456 major league games and finished with 1720 hits. He ended his major league career with 991 walks, 1214 runs scored, 205 doubles, 100 triples and 269 stolen bases. His .416 career lifetime on-base percentage is right below Stan Musial's .417.
Taking into consideration the era in which he played, Childs has to be considered a better-than-average second baseman. Cupid averaged 6.3 chances a game at second base during his thirteen-year major league career. That places him fifth on the all-time list for chances per game by a second baseman. Childs finished his major league career with a .930 fielding percentage. However, taking into consideration his outstanding offensive production and given a little luck, Childs might already be in Cooperstown. He compares favorably with many of the second baseman in the Hall of Fame. Maybe it is time to take another look at him.
07-23-2006, 08:22 AM
Wilbert Robinson 1863-1934
Though he was an outstanding catcher for the Baltimore Orioles during the 1890s, Wilbert Robinson is remembered today primarily as the jovial, rotund "Uncle Robbie" who managed the Brooklyn Robins to two National League pennants and a 1,399-1,398 record from 1914 to 1931. His congenial nature and happy-go-lucky attitude made him one of the most beloved characters in baseball, but on the diamond he was a never-say-die competitor who specialized in getting the most out of his pitchers. "It is doubtful that baseball ever produced a more colorful figure than the esteemed Wilbert Robinson," wrote John Kieran in the New York Times. "Like Falstaff, he was not only witty himself but the cause of wit in others. His conversation was a continuous flow of homely philosophy, baseball lore, and good humor. He knew baseball as the spotted setter knows the secrets of quail hunting, by instinct and experience."
One of seven children of Henry and Lucy Jane (Handley) Robinson, Wilbert Robinson was born on June 29, 1863, in Bolton, Massachusetts. Wilbert (then known as "Billy Rob") inherited his father's butcher shop after Henry passed away in 1883, but his heart was in baseball, not the meat business. Following in the footsteps of his older brother Fred, who played three games for Cincinnati of the Union Association in 1884, 22-year-old Billy Rob signed with Haverhill of the Eastern New England League in 1885. His manager, William Prince, described him as looking like a "choice cut of sirloin," but he batted .269 in a league in which nobody hit .300 and demonstrated his natural leadership ability. "Robinson was a great catcher from the first day we placed him behind the bat, but to my mind his greatest quality was, and is, his personality," Prince recalled in 1913. "His good nature was a sure remedy to drive away all the blues. No cliques could last while Robbie was around. He taught us to look at all such things as a joke, and drew us together as a sociable, harmonious club."
The following year Robinson joined the Philadelphia Athletics of the major-league American Association, where he averaged a paltry .227 over the next four-and-a-half seasons. Strapped for cash towards the end of the 1890 season, the Athletics sold Robinson and star pitcher Sadie McMahon to the Baltimore Orioles. After batting just .216 in his first full year as an Oriole, the 29-year-old backstop raised his average to .267 in 1892. On June 10 of that season Robbie enjoyed one of the finest offensive games in the history of baseball, driving in 11 runs and racking up seven hits in seven at-bats, a record that has been matched only once--by Rennie Stennett of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1975. Over the next seven seasons in Baltimore, the 5' 8", 215 lb. catcher hit .312, including a career-high .353 in 1894, as Baltimore--"the toughest, rowdiest, dirtiest, most foulmouthed team in history"--won three consecutive National League pennants from 1894 to 1896.
During his years with the Orioles, Robinson developed a close and long-lasting friendship with teammate John McGraw, who was 10 years younger. The two men eventually went into business together, opening the Diamond Café, a Baltimore billiards parlor that included a bar, dining room, and bowling alley. Under a joint ownership arrangement, Baltimore manager Ned Hanlon and star players Joe Kelley, Willie Keeler, and Hughie Jennings moved to Brooklyn in 1899, but Robinson and McGraw stayed behind, refusing to leave their prospering business. When the season ended, and they again refused to move to Brooklyn, they were traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. Robinson and McGraw spent the 1900 season in St. Louis, then returned to Baltimore in 1901 to play for the new Orioles of the American League, with McGraw serving as player-manager. After hitting .301 during the AL's inaugural season, Robbie took over the reins as manager on July 8, 1902, when McGraw left the Orioles to manage the New York Giants. The big catcher batted .293 in 91 games during his final season as a major-league player.
Robinson remained in Baltimore, splitting his time between the Diamond Café, a butcher shop that he owned, and catching for Baltimore's Eastern League franchise through July 1904. After four-and-a-half years away from baseball, he accepted an invitation to go to spring training with McGraw's Giants in 1909 and work with the pitchers. Robbie did the same thing in 1910, and in midseason the following year he signed on as a full-time coach. His main duties were keeping the club loose, jockeying the opposition, and helping develop the pitching staff--pet projects included Rube Marquard, Jeff Tesreau, and Al Demaree. Robinson remained with the Giants through 1913, though he and McGraw quarreled throughout that last season. At a reunion with some old-time Orioles at a New York saloon after the last game of the 1913 World Series, McGraw got drunk and criticized Robinson's third-base coaching in that day's 3-1 loss to the Athletics. Robinson snapped back that McGraw's managing had been pretty lousy, too. "This is my party. Get the hell out of here," snarled McGraw. Robbie showered him with a glass of beer on the way out.
About a month later Robinson signed to manage the Brooklyn Dodgers, which eventually became best known as the Robins after several seasons under his leadership. He managed the club for the next 18 years, winning pennants in 1916 and 1920 but finishing in fifth place or worse 12 times. Developing a great rapport with his players (which is how he came to be known as "Uncle Robbie"), Robinson seemed to get the most out of a group of unproven youngsters and over-the-hill castoffs, often challenging for pennants when nobody expected him to. But even during the bad years, Robbie gained some measure of satisfaction if his club helped prevent McGraw's Giants from winning the pennant; though the two old friends shook hands for cameramen, neither made any effort to mend the rift between them.
The single incident for which Wilbert Robinson is most famous occurred during Brooklyn's 1915 training camp in Daytona Beach, Florida. A female aviator, Ruth Law, was making daily flights in the area, dropping golf balls as a publicity gimmick for a local golf course, and eventually the talk in camp turned to the idea of catching a baseball dropped from the plane. Though none of his players was brave enough to try, Robinson, three months shy of his 53rd birthday, agreed to accept the challenge. On the big day, Law forgot the baseball back in her hotel room so she substituted a grapefruit from the lunch of one of her ground crew at the last minute. The grapefruit landed in Robinson's mitt and exploded, knocking him down and drenching him in warm juice. Thinking he was covered in his own blood, Robbie called for help. The players rushed over and began laughing uproariously when they realized what had happened. Robinson always suspected that Casey Stengel or trainer Fred Kelly had played a prank on him, and Casey later claimed that he had been the one to drop the grapefruit, but Law herself told the true story in a 1957 interview.
When Brooklyn owner and president Charles Ebbets passed away in 1925, his heirs held a directors meeting and voted to give Robinson a new three-year contract as manager and president, along with a hefty raise in salary. He held both positions for the next five years, a period during which the Brooklyn team became known as the "Daffy Dodgers." Apocryphal stories abound from that period, tending to portray Robinson as the tolerant, easy-going Uncle Robbie or, worse, as some sort of comic buffoon. For instance, Robbie supposedly tried to discipline his team by instituting a Bonehead Club, assessing heavy fines on whomever became a member; according to the story, he became the first member himself when, prior to a game, he handed the umpire a laundry list instead of a lineup card. In reality, Robinson was still a sound baseball man who was simply overwhelmed by the responsibilities of his dual roles. He probably felt relief when the Robins replaced him as president in 1929, allowing him to focus on managing.
Robinson and McGraw finally reconciled at the National League winter meetings in December 1930, ending their 17-year feud. Robbie remained on as Brooklyn manager through the end of the 1931 season, after which he left for his hunting camp, Dover Hall, near Brunswick, Georgia. He wasn't there long when he received word that the Dodgers had replaced him as manager with Max Carey. In 1932 Robinson became president and manager of the Atlanta Crackers of the Southern Association, serving for two seasons. In early August 1934 he fell in his hotel room, hitting his head on the bathtub and breaking his arm. While being administered to, he uttered his most famous line: "Don't worry about it, fellas. I'm an old Oriole. I'm too tough to die."
He was wrong. Having suffered a brain hemorrhage, Wilbert Robinson died in Atlanta on August 8, 1934, with his wife at his bedside. It was just five months and 14 days after the death of McGraw. The two old Orioles are buried at New Cathedral Cemetery in Baltimore, not far from each other.
07-23-2006, 08:24 AM
Jake Beckley 1867-1918
When Jake Beckley gained election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971, 53 years after his death, most baseball fans had no idea who he was or why he should be honored with a plaque in Cooperstown. Beckley's reputation suffered because he never played on a pennant winner, and only one team he played for (the 1893 Pirates) finished as high as second place. Still, the colorful "Eagle Eye" compiled a .308 lifetime average, hit .300 or better in 13 of his 20 seasons (including the first four seasons of the Deadball Era), and retired in 1907 as baseball's all-time leader in triples. Beckley still stands fourth on the all-time list of three-baggers, behind only Sam Crawford, Ty Cobb, and Honus Wagner. He held the career record for games played at first base until 1994, when Eddie Murray passed him, but he still leads all first basemen in putouts and total chances.
Jacob Peter Beckley was born on August 4, 1867, in Hannibal, Missouri, the Mississippi River town that Mark Twain made famous. A left-handed batter and thrower, Jake played in his teenage years for fast semipro teams in the Hannibal area. Bob Hart, a former teammate from Hannibal, arranged his introduction to professional ball. While pitching in the Western League for Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1886, Hart recommended the 18-year-old Jake Beckley to his manager. Beckley traveled to Leavenworth and batted .342 in 75 games, playing mostly second base and the outfield. Though left-handed throwers still played second, short, and third in the 1880s, Jake really didn't have the arm strength to play any position except first base. Leavenworth moved him there the following season, and that is where he remained for the rest of his lengthy career.
Beckley batted over .400 in 1887 (walks counted as hits that season), splitting the summer between Leavenworth and another Western League team in Lincoln, Nebraska. The following year Lincoln sold the steadily improving first baseman to the Western Association's St. Louis Whites. Beckley played only 34 games before the Whites sold him in June 1888 to the National League's Pittsburgh Alleghenies for $4,000. Still only 20 years old, Jake batted .343 as a rookie and solidified the right side of the Pittsburgh infield with his defensive play. The next year he again led the club's regulars in batting and soon earned the nickname "Eagle Eye"--not for his ability to draw bases on balls (his walk totals were consistently below the league average) but for his batting skill. The hard-hitting Beckley brought a dash of excitement to the Alleghenies, and before long he became the most popular player on the Pittsburgh team.
In the spring of 1890 Beckley interrupted his NL career when he, along with eight of his teammates and manager Ned Hanlon, jumped to the Pittsburgh entry of the new Players League. Jake considered staying with the Alleghenies but the new league offered him a higher salary, and, as he explained, "I'm only in this game for the money anyway." He belted 22 triples to lead the Players League, while the Alleghenies missed him and their other stars so much that they fell all the way to last place. The Players League collapsed after one season and Beckley returned to the Alleghenies (soon to be called the Pirates) for the 1891 campaign.
Jake married in 1891 but his wife Molly died after only seven months. He slumped badly after her death, with his batting average plummeting to a career-low .236 in 1892. Jake didn't marry again until his baseball career was over. "Eagle Eye" returned to the .300 mark from 1893 to 1895, but when he slumped again in 1896 the Pirates, over the loud objections of their fans, traded him to the New York Giants for Harry Davis and $1,000 in cash. Beckley didn't hit well in New York, either, and most people thought his career was over when the Giants released him in May 1897. Fortunately for Jake, the Cincinnati Reds needed a first baseman and signed him a few weeks later. His bat came alive again in Cincinnati, and on September 26, 1897, Beckley belted three homers in a game against St. Louis. No other major leaguer performed that feat again until Ken Williams did it in 1922.
Beckley was a handsome man, though one of his eyes was slightly crossed, and kept his impressive mustache long after all but a handful of players had relinquished theirs; at the time of his retirement he was one of only three men in the majors who still sported facial hair. He also displayed several other idiosyncrasies. Beckley yelled "Chickazoola!" to rattle opposing pitchers when he was on a batting tear, and he perfected the unusual (and now-illegal) practice of bunting with the handle of his bat. As the pitch approached the plate, Jake flipped the bat around in his hands and tapped the ball with the handle. Casey Stengel was a teenager when he saw the maneuver performed. "I showed our players," said Stengel 50 years later, when he was managing the Yankees, "and they say it's the silliest thing they ever saw, which it probably is but [Beckley] done it."
Jake Beckley wasn't afraid to bend the rules. Despite his stocky build (he stood 5'10" and weighed 200 lbs.), he ran well enough to reach double figures in stolen bases and triples almost every year, but he also didn't mind cutting across the infield if the umpire's back was turned. One day, when umpire Tim Hurst wasn't looking, Jake ran almost directly from second base to home, sliding in without a throw. Hurst called Beckley out anyway. "You big son of a bitch," shouted Hurst, "you got here too fast!"
Jake also loved pulling the hidden-ball trick and tried it on every new player who came into the league. Sometimes he hid the ball in his clothing or under his arm, and other times he hid it under the base sack and waited for the unsuspecting player to wander off first. One day, with Louisville's Honus Wagner on first, Jake smuggled an extra ball onto the field and put it under his armpit, partially exposed so Wagner could see it. When the umpire's back was turned, Wagner grabbed the ball and heaved it into the outfield. Wagner lit out for second, but the pitcher still held the game ball and threw Wagner out.
For seven years Beckley played first base for the Reds, batting over .300 in every season except 1898. His career nearly ended on May 8, 1901, when Christy Mathewson hit him in the head with a fastball, knocking him unconscious for more than five minutes. Beckley recovered, missing only two games, and hit .307 for the last-place Reds that season. He was "Old Eagle Eye" by then, but still a solid run producer with good range and quick reflexes on defense. His only weakness remained his poor throwing arm, and National League base runners always knew they could take an extra base on him. Beckley once fielded a bunt and threw wildly past first base. He retrieved the ball himself and saw the runner rounding third and heading for home. Rather than risk another bad throw, Jake raced the runner to home plate and tagged him in time for the out.
The veteran first baseman pitched for the only time in his career on the last day of the 1902 campaign. The Reds were in Pittsburgh on a rainy, muddy day, and Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss insisted on playing even though the Pirates had clinched the pennant weeks before. To show his dismay, Reds manager Joe Kelley tapped the scatter-armed Beckley as his starting pitcher and played other Reds out of position. Jake allowed nine hits and eight runs in his four innings of work, and the game degenerated into a farce. Catcher Rube Vickers, normally a pitcher, committed six passed balls and didn't even bother chasing Beckley's wild pitches. The Pirates won, 11-2, but the irate fans forced Dreyfuss to refund all the gate receipts.
Beckley batted .327 in 1903 but manager Kelley wanted to play first base himself, so in February 1904 the Reds sold the 36-year-old star to St. Louis. Jake hit well in his first two seasons with the Cardinals but his batting declined quickly as injuries began to slow him down. He served briefly as a National League umpire in 1906, while on injury leave from the Cardinals, and tried to play again the following spring. In May 1907 the Cardinals released Beckley, ending his 20-year career in the majors.
Jake wasn't yet finished with baseball. He signed with Kansas City of the American Association shortly after the Cardinals let him go, and he played there for three years and managed the team for one. After short stints in 1910 with Bartlesville and Topeka, Beckley returned in 1911 to his hometown of Hannibal, where he managed and batted .282 at age 44. In late 1911 he moved to Kansas City and retired from professional ball, though he played on semipro and amateur nines for several more summers. He also helped coach the team at nearby William Jewell College and umpired for the independent Federal League in 1913, the year before the circuit became a short-lived major league.
Jake Beckley operated a grain business in Kansas City after he stopped playing ball. He once placed an order with a Cincinnati company, which cabled back, "We can't find you in Dun and Bradstreet." Beckley replied, "Look in Spalding Baseball Guide for any of the last 20 years." Beckley suffered from a weak heart, and he was only 50 when he died in Kansas City on June 25, 1918. He was buried in Hannibal, where the townspeople erected a small monument to his memory after his election to the Hall of Fame.
07-23-2006, 08:35 AM
Amos Rusie 1871-1942
Oliver Perry Caylor, the noted sportswriter for the New York Herald, wrote, "[T]he Giants without Amos Rusie would be like Hamlet without the Melancholy Dane." Caylor hyperbolized a bit, but it's difficult to overstate the importance of the man largely responsible for the rule change in 1893 that gave us baseball in the form we know it. Rusie's blinding fastball so terrified batters standing just fifty feet from the mound that League-Association officials moved the pitcher's box back to sixty feet six inches, where it has stayed ever since. In addition, he won 245 games in what was really a nine-year career and was at the center of some labor disputes that foreshadowed the dramatic changes of the 1970s and beyond. Ironically, so historically important a player is little more than a name today.
The son of mason and plasterer William Asbury Rusie and the former Mary Donovan, Amos Wilson Rusie was born May 30, 1871, in Mooresville, Indiana, then a small town of about two thousand people situated roughly ten miles southwest of Indianapolis. The Rusies lived in Mooresville in the Donovan home, a two-story frame house at the corner of East Main and Franklin Streets. While Amos was still young, the family moved to Indianapolis, where his ability to throw a ball at terrific speed was first noticed by the scouts.
Rusie's career as a pitcher came about serendipitously. He had quit school to work in a factory. While playing the outfield on a semi-pro team in Indianapolis, he replaced the pitcher. One look at his fastball and his pitching days had begun. When he shut out both Boston and Washington of the National League while pitching for an Indianapolis team called the "Sturm Avenue Never Sweats," he was released from factory work into the world of big league baseball.
The Indianapolis team of the National League signed the eighteen-year-old Rusie. His fastball was awesome, but he was wild, walking 116 batters and giving up 246 hits in 225 innings.
Baseball in 1890 was in turmoil, as an owners' plan to rank players and pay them accordingly backfired. The players organized the Players League in protest. Many National League and American Association stars jumped to the new league. The New York Giants, the National League Champs in 1888 and 1889, lost many stars to the Players League.
The Indianapolis team of the National League folded after the 1889 season. Seeing the importance of a strong New York franchise, the National League transferred several of the best Indianapolis players, including Rusie, to New York. Fans of the day were openly angered by the constant squabbling between the Players League and the National League and by the players jumping from team to team. For all three leagues-the National, the American Association and the Players League-it was disastrous. They all lost money, the Players League and the American Association collapsed, and the National League barely survived.
Enter Amos Wilson Rusie. His record in 1890 was only 29-34, but he thrilled the fans with 341 strikeouts and frustrated them with an all-time record 289 walks. The walks erased Mark Baldwin's one-year-old record of 274. Indeed, walks were Rusie's bugaboo throughout his career. With 267 in 1892 and 262 in 1891, he ranks third and fourth on the list of free passes given up in a season. He also comes in tenth with 218 in 1893 and twenty-fourth with 200 in 1894. The walks didn't hurt him as much as one might expect; he had his best overall year in 1894, going 36-13 with a 2.78 ERA and had decent ERAs the other years to go with win totals of 31 and 33 (twice).
New York took to Rusie, who was only nineteen when he arrived and quite the callow youth. The fans dubbed him "The Hoosier Thunderbolt." His name was used in a Weber and Field's vaudeville act. A drink was named after him, and a paperback book, Secrets of Amos Rusie, The World's Greatest Pitcher, How He Obtained His Incredible Speed on Balls, sold for a quarter a copy. Lillian Russell, the reigning goddess of the time, asked to meet him. New York was a wonderful town.
Rusie settled down long enough to marry May Smith in the Delaware County Clerk's Office in Muncie on November 8, 1890.
In 1891, he led the league again in strikeouts with 337, and his record improved to 33-20. On July 31, 1891, he no-hit the Brooklyn team 6-0 and had six shutouts for the year. As wild as he was fast, he walked more than 260 batters each of his first three years. Rusie's wildness with his terrific fastball terrorized hitters. His fastball didn't make his life easy, though, as Rusie noted years later: "It took a lot of pitchin' to strike a man out in those days. The foul strike rule hadn't come in. A guy had to miss three of 'em clean before he was out."
A large man for those days at 6'1" and 200 pounds, Rusie threw so hard that catcher Dick Buckley said he put a sheet of lead wrapped in a handkerchief and a sponge in his mitt when he caught Rusie. More testimony about his fastball came from Cubs outfielder Jimmy Ryan: "Words fail really to describe the speed with which Rusie sent the ball. He was a man of great height, great width, prodigious muscular strength and the ability to put every ounce of his weight and sinew on every pitch. The distance was shorter then, Rusie had the whole box to move around in, instead of being chained to a slab; and the giant simply drove the ball at you with the force of a cannon. It was like a white streak tearing past you." Indeed, Rusie's fastball was so hot that many fans claimed that he did not always throw the ball but merely went through the motions.
Rusie occasionally found himself in bizarre situations. One day he accidentally beaned Baltimore shortstop Hughie Jennings. Jennings somehow finished the final six innings of the game, then fell unconscious for four days. When Jennings returned to the lineup a few days later, the batter following him, almost as an act of retribution, smashed a pitch off Rusie's ear causing permanent hearing damage. In another game Rusie refused to bat when his turn came, and only twenty-six outs were recorded in the box score. The paper that carried the box score gave only a cryptic footnote in trying to explain twenty-six outs.
Financial woes still dogged the Giants. Trying to save one month's salary, they released Rusie near the end of the 1892 season. The Giants planned to sign him later and thought they had an agreement with other clubs not to pick Rusie up. However, the Cubs signed Rusie for $6,500 and a bonus of $2,000. New York had to pay more than they bargained for to buy back Rusie.
Seeking to recover what they had to pay to regain Rusie, the Giants set the stage for animosity between Rusie and the club by trying to count the bonus against his salary. More problems arose between Rusie and Andrew Freedman, a Tammany Hall politico who bought the Giants. Freedman, a man with a vile temper, became the most detested owner in the league. In his first year as owner, he went through three managers. The third, a friend of Freedman's with no baseball background, was an actor. The team fared poorly and dropped from second place to ninth.
In order to save money, Freedman accused Rusie of offenses that Rusie denied. Freedman fined Rusie for these alleged offenses and refused to rescind the fines after the season ended. To make matters worse, Freedman offered a contract to Rusie for only $2,500 for the next season. Rusie held out the entire year and sued Freedman for $5,000. The controversy caused such a commotion in New York that some Wall Street brokers hung a large sign in a Manhattan store window urging fans to boycott the Giants' games, and police were called to break up a vociferous crowd that had surrounded the sign to show their approval.
Holding out was nothing new to Rusie, who would hold out because he hated spring training. Rusie always placed a high value on his talent, and if a contract did not suit him, he could be very stubborn. This time, however, Rusie had a solid case against Freedman and had John Montgomery Ward represent him in an appeal to the other club owners. Ward's appeal failed. The press, eager to know what was happening, dogged Rusie, who was silent on the matter. Not one to live like a monk, Rusie disliked the press because he felt they portrayed him as a carouser.
Players in Rusie's day were essentially indentured servants, having no control over their working conditions and little over their wages. Ward wanted to alleviate the players' working conditions, and Rusie's problems with Freedman were cases in point. When Rusie threatened to sue, Freedman refused to back down. However, the other owners feared that allowing the case to go to trial could expose their nefarious practices, especially the reserve clause and the ten-day clause. Accordingly, they paid Rusie what he demanded and avoided what could have been a test case for the reserve clause and the ten-day clause. It wasn't until the 1970s that baseball was finally forced by the courts to withdraw those clauses, beginning a new economic era for the game.
Extending the pitching distance to sixty feet six inches for the 1893 season did not hurt Rusie. In fact, it made his curveball more effective. He won 33, 36, and 23 games the next three years and led the league in shutouts each year. The greater distance brought his strikeouts down to about 200 each year, but he still led the league.
Rusie followed up his fine pitching by holding out for the entire 1896 season.
Returning to the Giants in 1897, Rusie won 48 games over the next two years. Late in 1898, as he was attempting a pick-off throw, something popped in his shoulder. His arm was useless. Only twenty-seven years old, he stayed out of baseball for two years and rested his arm.
In 1900, a young Christy Mathewson had been sent back to Norfolk after a disappointing debut with the Giants. Cincinnati drafted Mathewson off the Norfolk roster, then traded Mathewson for the once invincible Rusie. The trade turned out to be a one-sided deal with Cincinnati getting the worst of it. Rusie gave it a try with Cincinnati, and the fans gave him a big welcome, but he was knocked out of the box in his first two games and quit. His arm was gone, and his heavy drinking did not alleviate the situation. Rusie retired after ten years in the majors with a record of 245-174, with 1,934 strikeouts and 1,704 walks (not surprisingly, seventh on the all-time list). Of 427 starts, he completed 392.
Returning to Indiana, he worked in a paper and pulp mill in Muncie and did freshwater pearling in Vincennes. From 1911 to 1921, he was a steamfitter in Seattle. In 1921, John McGraw gave him a job as superintendent of the Polo Grounds. He held that position until 1929, when he returned to Seattle. Rusie's troubles accumulated. He worked in a paper mill that soon shut down. He bought a chicken farm in Auburn, Washington, that failed due to the Great Depression, and was injured in an automobile accident in July 1934, leaving him with a brain concussion and several broken ribs.
Rusie lived in retirement in Auburn, Washington, until his death on December 6, 1942, at age 71. His wife had died two months earlier. A daughter, Mrs. C.E. Spaulding of Seattle, and his brother John of Indianapolis survived him. He was buried in Acacia Cemetery in Seattle.
Having taken New York by storm, Rusie died in obscurity. Rick Johnson brought his name back to the forefront in an article in the Indianapolis Star Magazine on October 31, 1973. Spurred on in large part by Johnson's article, the House of the Indiana State Legislature introduced a bill on November 12, 1973, honoring him.
In 1977 the Veterans Committee elected Amos Rusie to the Hall of Fame. It was a fitting tribute to not only a winning pitcher but a man who was at the center of a labor dispute that foreshadowed the free-agency era of the 1970s and whose prowess forced the rule change that gave us baseball as we now know it.
07-23-2006, 08:48 AM
Al Spalding 1850-1915
A SABR poll taken in 1998-99 ranked Albert Spalding second among nineteenth century contributors to the game (behind Henry Chadwick, tied with Harry Wright) and tied for 23rd among nineteenth century players. A larger-than-life figure, Spalding began as a star pitcher in the early 1870s, became manager and then owner of the Chicago White Stockings, and developed the sporting goods dynasty that still bears his name.
The first of three children, Spalding was born on September 2, 1850, in Byron, Illinois, near Rockford, to James and Harriet Spalding. The family was fairly affluent, owning land and horses. However, James Spalding died when Albert was eight years old, and the family subsequently moved to Rockford. Albert preceded them, living with an aunt, and it is said that he began playing baseball as a defense against loneliness. He became good enough at it to be asked to join the leading amateur team, the Forest Citys.
In 1867 the Chicago Excelsiors sponsored a tournament that featured the Washington Nationals, regarded as the best team in the country. The Nationals routed the Excelsiors, 49-4, but Spalding pitched the Forest Citys to a 29-23 victory over them. He was hired away to the Excelsiors, but soon returned to Rockford, where he worked at various jobs while continuing to pitch. While on tour with Rockford in 1870, Spalding defeated the famous Cincinnati Red Stockings.
Harry Wright, who had managed the Red Stockings, moved to Boston and worked to organize the first professional league, the National Association. He signed players for his own team, including Spalding, Ross Barnes, and Fred Cone from Rockford. Wright was an important formative influence on Spalding, imparting organizational skills to the young man. In 1874 he sent Spalding to England to organize the first foreign tour by American baseball players. The participants were players from the Boston and Athletic clubs. They departed July 16, arriving at Liverpool on the 27th. In addition to Liverpool they played games at Manchester, London, Sheffield, and Dublin. There were 14 baseball exhibitions, in which Boston won eight, but also seven cricket matches against top British teams. The Americans astonished the locals by winning six and losing none, the other being drawn because of rain. The victors sailed from England August 27, returning home September 9.
Spalding was the Association's top pitcher, leading in victories every year. He won a total of 204 games in five years, topped by a 54-5 record in 1875. After finishing second the first year, the Red Stockings won the next four pennants. Spalding's performance is described thus by Robert Tiemann (McMahon 1996:154):
"In the pitcher's box, Spalding was in complete control, using a fine fastball and change of pace. He was a master at keeping hitters off balance, either by quick-pitching or by holding the ball while the batter fidgeted. In addition, he was a good batsman, adept at opposite field hitting, and a savvy fielder who helped perfect the dropped-popup double play."
Spalding disapproved of drinking and gambling, and was thus sympathetic to William Hulbert's proposal to organize a new league with stricter discipline. Hulbert lured Spalding and other stars to his Chicago White Stockings. To prevent the eastern clubs from retaliating, Hulbert formed the new National League; for Spalding the new league meant a "promotion" to captain/manager. In the inaugural year of 1876 Spalding led in wins again with 47, but George Bradley of St. Louis, who had a 5-4 record against Spalding, was probably a shade better. The following year Spalding abandoned the mound for first base. Bradley was hired to replace him, but the team dropped from first to fifth place. Spalding gave up the captaincy and played in only one game in 1878; he was through as a ballplayer at age 27.
After retiring as a player, Spalding became secretary of the White Stockings, becoming president when Hulbert died in 1882. Spalding believed in strict separation between players and management, with the latter handling financial matters. He built a team that dominated the early 1880s, as the White Stockings won pennants in 1880, 1881, 1882, 1885, and 1886. He was determined to have a clean game that drew respectable citizens to the ballpark. He was innovative, starting the practice of spring training when the team went to Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 1886, and he sponsored a world tour of players in 1888-89.
Anson chronicled this trip (1900:140-285) as follows: Spalding organized a round-the-world tour with exhibition games between the Chicagos and a picked team, called the All-Americas, from the rest of the league. Among the All-America players were John M. Ward, Ned Hanlon, Fred Carroll, and Egyptian Healy. They left Chicago via the Burlington Railroad on October 20, 1888. For about a month they toured the west, playing in such places as Minneapolis/St. Paul, Des Moines, Omaha, Denver, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco. On November 18 they sailed for Hawaii, arriving a week later. In addition to Honolulu they held games in Auckland and a few Australian cities. In January they sailed to Ceylon, where they also played, but they avoided India for health reasons.
On February 7 they arrived in Egypt, where they had a game in the shadow of the pyramids. From there they proceeded to Naples, Rome (playing before the king of Italy), Florence, and Paris. In the latter city, on May 8, Ned Williamson tore his kneecap in a game, virtually ending his career. They crossed the Channel that evening, playing in London (before Edward, Prince of Wales) and other British cities, as well as Glasgow, Belfast, and Dublin. In all there were 28 games abroad, the All-Americas winning 14, the Chicagos 11, with three ties. The weary travelers sailed from Queenstown March 25, arriving in New York April 6. Two days later there was a game in Brooklyn followed by a banquet at Delmonico's, at which Chauncey Depew was the speaker, with Mark Twain also in attendance. After further exhibitions at Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Indianapolis they arrived back in Chicago on April 19 for a banquet at the Palmer House. The final game was played on the 20th at West Side Park, six months after they had started out.
Meanwhile, Spalding was undergoing a career change from player to team owner and sporting goods magnate. In February 1876 he opened a sporting goods store, in partnership with his brother Walter, at 118 Randolph Street. Within a few years they had a four-story building in Chicago, a five-story store in New York, and outlets across the country from Oregon to Rhode Island. Spalding was able to use his influence to supply balls, bats, uniforms, and other equipment to the league. He published semi-official guides and instruction manuals, carrying this practice over to other sports to promote his merchandise.
Spalding became the National League's most influential owner, promoting the reserve clause and its system of "indentured serfdom," i.e., keeping salaries down and controlling where men could play. He assumed a moral authority over the players, railing against drinking in the pages of his Guide (e.g., 1886:14-16). He set up the first "World Series" against the Association's St. Louis Browns, but Chicago only achieved a tie in 1885 and then lost four of six the following year. This induced Spalding to break up his team. First to go were the drinkers. Mike Kelly was sold to Boston for $10,000, and Jim McCormick and George Gore were axed. The following year star pitcher John Clarkson brought another $10,000 from Boston. Thus ended the Chicago dynasty.
By 1890 the players had a union, the Brotherhood, and rebelled, forming a rival league. Spalding led the effort to undermine the Players Association and ultimately turned organized baseball into a monopolistic trust. But he began to tire of baseball and turned over the presidency of the Chicago team to James Hart in 1892. According to Francis Richter (1915:3, 7), who regarded Spalding as "the greatest man the National game has produced," Spalding put the game above selfish interests. This caused him to come out of retirement to oppose the syndicate scheme of Andrew Freedman and John T. Brush. He ran for the league presidency against old friend Nicholas Young and actually won, but after several months of litigation he resigned in April 1902. He then sold out completely and retired to Point Loma, California. He devoted himself to proving baseball a uniquely American game, promoting the myth of its invention by Abner Doubleday.
From a baseball standpoint his most significant relationship was that with Adrian Anson. They had started out with Rockford, came to Chicago in 1876, and worked to build up the White Stockings. Anson shared Spalding's views and enforced his values on the field. However, Anson and Hart had differences dating back to the world tour, and when Hart took over the team the friction escalated until Anson was dismissed after the 1897 season. On the one hand, it was time for a change. On the other, Anson felt stabbed in the back by his old friend. Spalding tried to placate Anson with a testimonial said to be worth $50,000 (over $1 million today), but Anson was too proud to accept. In Anson's autobiography (1900: 306-314) the envy is clear: they started out together; Spalding prospered, while all of Anson's investments turned sour.
Spalding was married twice, first to Josie Keith in 1875; they had a son Keith. Josie died in 1899, and in 1901 Spalding married the widow Elizabeth Mayer Churchill. They had been clandestine lovers for some time and had a son (Spalding Brown Spalding, later changed to Albert Goodwill Jr.) out of wedlock. After marrying Elizabeth, Spalding acknowledged the paternity and also adopted her other son, Durand Churchill. He also took an interest in the career of his nephew Albert Spalding (1889-1953), a world-class violinist. Elizabeth was devoted to theosophy, and the Spaldings moved to Point Loma to be part of the community founded by Katherine Tingley. Spalding had been in the second echelon of Chicago society, but in the San Diego area he was a civic leader. This led to his campaign for the Senate in 1910. Although he was the popular choice, the insiders in the state legislature chose his opponent, John D. Works. He died of a stroke on September 9, 1915, leaving an estate of $600,000 to his wife and three sons. Twenty-five years later he was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame.
07-23-2006, 09:08 AM
Jimmy Wolf 1862-1901
William Van Winkle Wolf was born on May 12, 1862 in Louisville, Kentucky. To his family he was "Willie." As a teenager a friend dubbed him "Chicken," and later he was known as "Jimmy" to baseball fans in Louisville. "Willie" was a common diminutive of William in the German-American home of the Wolfs. "Chicken" was allegedly given to him by his boyhood friend and major league teammate, Pete Browning. The story goes that when Wolf and Browning were teenagers they were both members of the then semi-pro Louisville Eclipse team. Their manager instructed the team to eat lightly before a certain game, but Wolf surrendered to his appetite and stuffed himself on stewed chicken. He then played poorly in the game, committing several errors. Browning made a connection between the chicken and the lackluster play and hung the nickname "Chicken" on him. The name caught on with his teammates and the local press. How Wolf felt about the name has gone unrecorded, but about halfway through his professional career he was known as "Jimmy" Wolf in the Louisville newspapers. We do not know the origin or reason for this change.
It is not clear how the Wolf family came to America. Census records indicate that Andrew and Barbara Wolf probably emigrated from Germany in the 1840s, settling briefly in New York City before moving west to Louisville by 1850. They had seven children - four girls and three boys. Willie was the youngest of the brood. The men of the Wolf family were all involved in machinery. Andrew Wolf worked for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad as a machinist, as did his son Charles. The family lived on West Walnut Street, not far from the downtown area, and young Willie learned to play baseball with neighborhood friends. These friends included teenagers such as Pete Browning, and the Reccius brothers, John and Phil. By the time the boys were in their late teens, they were members of a West End baseball club called the Eclipse. The Eclipse had been founded in the mid-1870s by Billy Reccius, older brother of John and Phil. The club was semi-pro in nature, operating as a co-op club with the players splitting whatever monies were collected from the spectators at any game. In 1881 the club began paying salaries to the players. When the American Association was formed in 1882, the management of the Eclipse secured a franchise and began assembling a team. They took four players from the local club - Pete Browning, Joe Crotty, John Reccius and Chicken Wolf.
Wolf was the club's right fielder throughout his career, but the righthanded hitting and throwing Wolf played every position in the course of his playing days. He was a quiet player, leaving the press to spend time with his more voluble teammates like Browning, Guy Hecker, and Tom Ramsey. Wolf is rarely mentioned in newspaper reports except for his actions in the games. He is never reported to have held out during contract negotiations, usually signing before the first of the year. A mediocre fielder early in his career, he developed into a good outfielder after 1884. He was helped by his superior speed, much needed when dreadful-fielding Browning was moved to center field, and Wolf discovered that he had to cover all of right field as well as a sizable portion of center. Wolf hit .299 his first season, and except for the 1883 season he maintained an average between .272 and .300 for his first eight seasons. He also stole over 40 bases three times. His usual season was to hit about .290 with 20 doubles, 10 triples, and a pair of home runs.
His one time in the spotlight for non-playing activities came in 1889. The Louisville Colonels that season were one of the worst teams in the history of major league baseball. They posted a 27-111 record while battling the team's owners and each other. The season opened with Dude Esterbrook as team captain. Esterbrook insisted on people doing things his way and began assessing fines on players who chose not to take his advice to heart. In late April, Esterbrook fined second baseman Dan Shannon ten dollars for failing to obey his instructions on how to throw the ball. A few days later Wolf and Esterbrook engaged in a heated argument over that fine. As the temperature and tempers rose, Esterbrook dropped a ten-dollar fine on Jimmy. More words were exchanged, the fine escalated to forty dollars, and Wolf was on his way to visit Mordecai Davidson, the team owner. Within a week Esterbrook was no longer captain, and the team selected Wolf as their new leader.
Wolf apparently took his new role seriously, for during his tenure Davidson began a series of fines for poor play that caused the players to rebel. When Davidson refused to return the fines several players participated in the first players' strike in major league history. Although he had been one of the victims of Davidson's actions, Wolf performed his duties as captain and played in the game while the other six players sat out. Davidson sold the club in early June, and Wolf resigned as captain at the end of that month.
To study team pictures of the Louisville club throughout the 1880s is to see a change in Jimmy Wolf. He changes from a lithe twenty-year-old in 1882 to a more mature and rotund figure in 1888. While listed in the encyclopedias at five-foot-nine and 190 pounds, he appears taller in several team photos and heavier in the late 1880s. He seems to have battled a weight problem as the local papers commented in the spring of 1890, "Wolf is in good condition and has worked off nearly all superfluous flesh." The newly svelte Wolf was set for the best season of his career.
The 1890 season was a tumultuous one for professional baseball. It was the year of the Players War, with three major leagues operating and rosters completely changed from 1889. This turned out to be a blessing for Louisville. Although Browning and Hecker were gone, the play of a few rookies and career years by some veterans lofted the club to its only major league pennant. No player had a bigger season than Jimmy Wolf. He got off to a fast start, hitting .375 in the first month, and continued his hot hitting through the end of the season. He captured the American Association batting title with a .363 average and led the league with 197 hits and 260 total bases. He had career highs in doubles (29), home runs (4), and stolen bases (46).
Wolf continued his stellar season into the World Series against the Brooklyn club of the National League. Held to one hit in the first two games (both Brooklyn wins), he collected eight hits in the final five games with three doubles and a triple. He led all series batters with eight runs batted in and posted a .360 average for the series.
The 1891 season was the last for the American Association and Jimmy Wolf. Louisville reversed directions and fell to eighth place in the league. Wolf saw his batting average plummet to .253 and all his other offensive numbers fall in similar fashion. He was released in August but resigned a day later. Although he was originally on the club's reserve list for 1892, he was not signed for the next season.
Jimmy Wolf's ten years in the major leagues coincided with the life of the American Association. He set Association career records for games played (1195), total bases (1921), hits (1438), doubles (214), and triples (109). He was fifth in runs scored (778).
Looking to stay in baseball, Wolf strayed from Louisville for the first time, signing with Syracuse of the Eastern League. He stayed about a month, hitting only .209. He also had a brief three-game stay with the National League's St. Louis squad before returning home. In 1893 he had a good season with Buffalo of the Eastern League, hitting .343 in 114 games.
The year in Buffalo ended his professional ball-playing career. He returned to Louisville and in 1894 joined the Louisville Fire Department. He was assigned to two different fire companies during his tenure as a pipe man and later as an engine driver. After five years on the force he responded to a fire call near his West Walnut Street home. In rushing his team to the fire scene Wolf's engine collided with a pushcart at the corner of Walnut and 18th Street. The horse team separated from the wagon, and Wolf was dragged across the cobblestones for some distance, causing a serious head injury. After returning from the hospital Wolf was declared "mentally unbalanced" and in 1901 spent time in the Central Asylum for the Insane outside Louisville. (This is the same institution in which former teammates John Reccius and Pete Browning also spent time a few years later).
His final years were quite unhappy. In addition to continual suffering due to the effects of his head injury, one of his young sons died in 1901. His health continued to fail, and on May 16, 1903, Chicken Wolf died at City Hospital in Louisville. His wife Carrie and one son survived him. William Van Winkle Wolf was laid to rest in Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetery.
07-24-2006, 08:14 AM
Jack Glasscock 1857-1947
John Wesley "Jack," "Pebbly Jack" Glasscock is considered by many to have been the best shortstop of the nineteenth century, earning him the accolade "King of the Shortstops." His contemporary, Al Spink, founder and editor of The Sporting News, wrote of Glasscock "he was acknowledged by all his fellow players to be the greatest in [sic] his position" and "one of the greatest players from a fielding standpoint the game has ever known." (Spink, 220) Current sabermetrician Charles Faber rates Glasscock the best shortstop of the nineteenth century. (Faber, 79)
In his later years, Glasscock boasted that he had lived his entire life at 9 Maryland Avenue in Wheeling, West Virginia. Born there on July 22, 1859, his Scotch-Irish parents, Thomas Glasscock and Julia A. Collett, named him for the father of Methodism, even though he would attend St. Luke's Episcopal Church until his death. After attending Madison Elementary School through the fourth grade, he dropped out of school to become a carpenter like his father, but he did take some correspondence courses.
Baseball quickly became his vocation. At 15 he played for the Buckeye Base Ball Club, one of ten amateur teams in the Wheeling area. Before the 1875 season ended, Glasscock, along with Sam Barkley and Sam Moffitt, two other teenage Buckeyes who eventually played in the majors, joined the Standards, the top club of Wheeling. In 1876 he hit .369 for the Standards. In 1877 the Standards became an independent professional team, the first pro team in West Virginia. The team paid Glasscock $40 a month to play third base.
Before the summer of 1877 ended, Glasscock, still a teenager, left home to play for more money than he could make in Wheeling. He left with a barnstorming team called the Stars but soon joined the Champion Club of Springfield, Ohio. The next summer found him in Pittsburgh with the Alleghenys of the International League. When that club disbanded in June, he and teammate George Strief caught on with an independent professional team in Strief's hometown of Cleveland called the Forest City Club.
In 1879 Cleveland entered the National League. Glasscock became the first native of West Virginia to play in the big leagues. He was still a growing teenager, standing 5 feet, 8 inches and weighing 160 pounds, but he filled out to 5'10" and 175 pounds at the height of his career. He threw and hit right-handed. His rookie season, split between second and third base, offered little promise as he batted a paltry .209.
Glasscock switched to shortstop in 1880 and became the pivot of one of the top infields of the 1880s. With "Silver Bill" Phillips at first, and Fred Dunlap playing second they earned the nickname of "Stonewall infield." Spink remembered it as "perhaps the greatest infield ever known."(Spink, 196) Faber rates the trio as the best double play combo of the 1880s. (Faber, 48) In 1881 Glasscock led shortstops in putouts, assists, and fielding average. He followed up leading the NL in assists and double plays in 1882 and fielding average in 1883.
In 1883 he reached star level. Batting third in the Blues' order, he led the team in runs batted in. He also pushed his hitting near .290. That, combined with his great fielding led Faber to rate him player of the year for 1883.
When the short-lived Union Association claimed major league status in 1884, first Dunlap and then Glasscock jumped to the new league. Robert L. Tiemann quotes Glasscock as saying "I have played long enough for glory, now it is a matter of dollars and cents." (Tiemann, 51) Tiemann claimed the Cincinnati Unions paid him $2,000 for the remainder of the season, a big jump from his $1,800 Cleveland salary, but Glasscock remembered his Cincinnati salary was $1,600 for the part of the season he played there. (Glasscock, 2) He batted .419 against inferior pitching. While with Cincinnati, sportswriter Harry Weldon gave Glasscock the nickname "Pebbly Jack" for his habit of picking up stones in the infield and tossing them away. (Lanigan)
Following the collapse of the Union Association, the National League assigned Glasscock to the St. Louis Maroons for 1885. They were a bad team, but he flourished in the two seasons he played in St. Louis. The Maroons paid him handsomely, $2,200 in 1885, and made him captain. Glasscock rewarded them by hitting over .300 for the first time with a .325 average in 1886. He set NL records with 387 assists in 1885 and double plays in 1886. Appreciative St. Louis fans presented him with a diamond stick pen. (Glasscock, 3)
After the Maroons folded following the 1886 season, sports pages were filled with conjecture about which team would land him. The Sporting News speculated, "he will get the largest salary ever paid a player." (TSN, 4/8/1887) Glasscock claimed Boston offered $7,500 for him (Glasscock, 3), but, of course, the League wanted no free agents and transferred the St. Louis players to Indianapolis.
Glasscock's career peaked in his three seasons with the Hoosiers. His fielding continued to excel. He set new major league records for assists and double plays in 1887, and again led the league in fielding in 1888. The following year he set new marks with 246 putouts and led the league in assists, double plays and fielding average.
The 1889 season was Glasscock's finest. Faber believes he was the major league player of the year that season. He led the majors with 205 hits, and finished second in batting with a .352 average, the highest yet achieved by a shortstop. He ranked second in doubles and total bases, while scoring 128 runs and stealing 57 bases. He even took over as manager. The Hoosiers had a deplorable 59-75 record when he took over. Under his prodding they won 34 games against 33 losses. Despite the team's success he did not enjoy managing and never managed again.
Personally, the Indiana experience created considerable stress for Glasscock. Sporting Life reported him "anxious...to get away from Indianapolis" (SL, 9/28/1887) in June 1887, and still "not satisfied here"( SL, 9/28/1887) in September. Back home in Wheeling, he was jailed for being drunk and disorderly. As manager he drove his players and baited and bullied umpires. A Sporting Life reporter wrote "I have heard [him] swear and act like a blackguard before and [sic] audience partly composed of ladies." (SL, 3/2/90)
Unfortunately for Glasscock the Brotherhood war came at the peak of his career. Unlike 1884 when he had been one of the few established players to jump to the Union Association, he stayed with the National League. In doing so he engendered considerable animosity among the Brotherhood members. Indeed, in November 1889, after first agreeing to support the Brotherhood, then re-signing with Indianapolis, the Brotherhood expelled him. (TSN, 11/18/1889)
Because so many players jumped to the Players' League in 1890, Glasscock's accomplishments that year have been downplayed. After Indianapolis lost its franchise, Glasscock was transferred to New York. With the Giants he won his only major league batting championship, hitting .336 for the 1890 season. He again led the league in hits, the first time anyone had led in back-to-back years, while also tying a record with six hits in six at bats in one game.
In 1891 he injured his hand and was never the player he was before. He did lead shortstops in fielding again in 1893, but he could not throw as he once did. He could still hit, as his .320 average and 100 plus RBIs in 1893 attested. Transferred to Washington, the Nationals released him in 1895 midway through his seventeenth season.
Glasscock was the most difficult batter of his day to strike out. In his career he struck out only once every 33 at bats. In 1888 and 1890 he struck out only eight times. It would be 30 years before Joe Sewell bettered his 1890 average of 69 at bats between strikeouts.
After Washington released him, Glasscock returned to Wheeling where he caught on with Ed Barrow's team in the Iron and Oil League. Batting over .400, he led his hometown team to the league championship. It was Barrow's and Glasscock's first pennant.
Glasscock continued to play in the minor leagues as a first baseman until 1901. He topped the Western Association in 1896 with a .431 average. After three seasons with St. Paul, he finished up with Fort Wayne, Sioux City and Minneapolis.
When he finally hung up the glove he never adjusted to wearing, he retired to Wheeling. He and his wife Rhoda Rose Dubla, who died in 1925, raised two sons, John T. and Eugene, and a daughter, Florence. Glasscock made a living as a carpenter.
Glasscock died of a stroke in 1947 and was buried in Peninsula Cemetery in Wheeling. He was inducted into the West Virginia Hall of Fame in 1987.
07-24-2006, 08:58 AM
John McGraw 1973-1934
John McGraw was perhaps the National League's most influential figure in the Deadball Era. From 1902 to 1932 he led the New York Giants to 10 NL pennants, three World Series championships, and 21 first- or second-place finishes in 29 full seasons at their helm. His 2,784 managerial victories are second only to Connie Mack's 3,731, but in 1927 Mack himself proclaimed, "There has been only one manager--and his name is McGraw."
The pugnacious McGraw's impact on the game, moreover, was even greater than his record suggests. As a player he helped develop "inside baseball," which put a premium on strategy and guile, and later managed like he'd played, seeking out every advantage for his Giants. Known as "Mugsy" (a nickname he detested) and "Little Napoleon" (for his dictatorial methods), McGraw administered harsh tongue-lashings to his players and frequently fought with umpires; he was ejected from 118 contests during his career, far more than any other manager. "McGraw eats gunpowder every morning for breakfast and washes it down with warm blood," said Giants coach Arlie Latham.
The oldest of eight children of Ellen (Comerfert) and John McGraw, an Irish immigrant who fought in the Civil War and later worked in railroad maintenance, John Joseph McGraw was born in working-class poverty on April 7, 1873, in the village of Truxton, New York, about 25 miles south of Syracuse. During the winter of 1884-85 a diphtheria epidemic claimed Ellen and three of her children, leaving John Sr., a heavy drinker, alone to raise Johnny and the other four survivors. One night in the fall of 1885, 12-year-old Johnny received such a severe beating from his father that he moved across the street to the Truxton House Inn, where a kindly widow named Mary Goddard took him in and raised him along with her own two sons. Besides attending school, Johnny performed chores around the hotel, delivered newspapers, and peddled candy, fruit, and magazines out of a basket on the train from Cortland to Elmira. He used the money to buy new baseballs and the annual Spalding guide, parts of which he memorized.
At 16 years old, Johnny McGraw stood barely 5'7" and weighed little more than 100 lbs., but that didn't stop him from becoming the star pitcher for the local Truxton Grays. When Truxton's manager, Bert Kenney, became part owner and player-manager of the Olean franchise in the New York-Penn League in 1890, Johnny begged for and received a place on the team. In his first game on May 18, McGraw played third base and made eight errors in 10 chances. He was released after six games but caught on with Wellsville of the Western New York League, batting .364 in 24 games.
One of his teammates was a former National Leaguer named Al Lawson who was organizing a winter tour of Cuba. McGraw went along and played shortstop for the "American All-Stars." On the way home, Lawson's team stopped in Gainesville, Florida, to play a spring-training exhibition against the NL's Cleveland Spiders. McGraw collected three doubles in five at-bats, receiving national publicity when the game story appeared in The Sporting News. From among the resulting offers he received for the coming season, he chose Cedar Rapids of the Illinois-Iowa League and batted .276 in 85 games as the club's regular shortstop.
That August McGraw made his major-league debut with the Baltimore Orioles of the American Association, filling in at various positions and hitting .270 in 33 games. In 1892 the AA disbanded and Baltimore was absorbed into the 12-team National League. McGraw started the season as utility man but took over as the regular third baseman after Ned Hanlon was appointed manager in mid-season. Under Hanlon's tutelage, McGraw became the NL's best leadoff hitter, batting over .320 for nine straight years, twice leading the league in runs and walks, and stealing 436 bases, and his career on-base percentage of .466 ranks behind only Ted Williams and Babe Ruth. McGraw choked up on the bat and swung with a short, chopping motion that diminished his power, but he could place the ball virtually anywhere he wanted. He also wasn't above cheating. "McGraw uses every low and contemptible method that his erratic brain can conceive to win a play by a dirty trick," wrote one reporter.
With players like Willie Keeler, Joe Kelley, Hughie Jennings, Wilbert Robinson, Steve Brodie, Sadie McMahon, and Dan Brouthers, most of whom remained associated with and often employed by McGraw in later years, Hanlon's Orioles won three consecutive pennants in 1894-96 and finished second in 1897-98. Concerned about slumping attendance in Baltimore, Orioles owner Henry Von der Horst tried to transfer most of his key personnel to Brooklyn in 1899, but McGraw and his friend Robinson refused to report, claiming business interests that demanded their attention in Baltimore. Von der Horst reluctantly let them stay, and the 26-year-old McGraw managed the Orioles to a surprising third-place finish, just behind Hanlon's second-place Brooklyn Superbas.
Baltimore might've done even better had not another tragedy befallen its manager. In late August McGraw's wife, Mary, died from a ruptured appendix; a grieving John missed much of September. The Orioles disbanded when the NL contracted to eight teams in 1900 and, after again refusing to report to Brooklyn, McGraw was sold to the St. Louis Cardinals along with Robinson. Agreeing to go only when the reserve clause was removed from his contract, he signed for a salary of $10,000--the highest in baseball history--and hit .344 in 99 games.
In 1901 McGraw returned to Baltimore as manager and part owner of that city's franchise in Ban Johnson's new American League. Throughout that season and the next, he and Johnson quarreled constantly--the latter habitually supported his umpires in their frequent disputes with McGraw, and tension also existed over McGraw's interest in the team's ownership. Johnson finally suspended McGraw indefinitely in July 1902, and at that point the temperamental manager jumped back to the NL as player-manager of the New York Giants, even though he'd recently married a Baltimore woman, Blanche Sindall. One of his first acts New York was to release nine players, despite the protests of Giants owner Andrew Freedman. McGraw also brought six key players with him, including pitcher Joe McGinnity, catcher Roger Bresnahan, and first-baseman Dan McGann. The Giants finished last that season but rose to second in 1903, even though McGraw's much-injured knee finally gave out for good during spring training that year, effectively ending his career as a player.
In 1904 the Giants became NL Champions, finishing with a won-lost record of 106-47, 13 games ahead of the Chicago Cubs. McGraw and new Giants owner John T. Brush so detested Ban Johnson and his league that they refused to play the Boston Americans in what would've been the second World Series. After winning again in 1905, however, they agreed to play the AL-champion Philadelphia Athletics. New York triumphed in four out of the five games, three of them Christy Mathewson shutouts. McGraw led the Giants to pennants again in 1911, 1912, 1913, and 1917, but lost the World Series each year. His regular-season success was due to his knack for evaluating and acquiring players who fit into his system, which stressed good pitching, sound defense, and aggressive base running. McGraw bought, sold, and traded players more than his counterparts, grooming prospects for years before letting them play regularly. He also was an innovator, using pinch runners, pinch hitters and relief pitchers more than other managers.
Many commentators believed that McGraw's lack of World Series success was due to his strong preference for players who fit his system. The Giants were generally considered less talented than other top teams--they were a second-class team with a first-class manager, claimed the Cubs' Johnny Evers. Until left-fielder Ross Youngs entered the league in 1917, catcher Roger Bresnahan was McGraw's only Deadball Era position player who eventually made the Hall of Fame. McGraw's teams also had trouble reacting to events on the field. They sometimes made mental errors in big games, as though they didn't know what to do or were paralyzed at the thought of how the Old Man might react if they lost. After New York's 1913 World Series defeat by the Athletics, even the usually loyal Mathewson blamed McGraw for the team's setbacks in an article ghostwritten under his name in Everybody's Magazine. The Giants, said the article, are a "team of puppets being manipulated from the bench on a string."
McGraw's fiery personality made him fascinating to contemporaries outside sports. Gamblers, show-business people, and politicians were drawn to him. As his celebrity grew, McGraw became increasingly involved in various, sometimes questionable, off-field activities. He ventured into Vaudeville for 15 weeks in 1912, appearing with such acts as "Odiva the Goldfish Lady." For a while McGraw owned a poolroom in Manhattan with gambler Arnold Rothstein, who later became the principal financial backer of the 1919 World Series fix, and he sometimes spent winters in Cuba where he and Giants owner Charles Stoneham owned a share of a racetrack and casino. When Stoneham bought the Giants in 1919, McGraw became vice-president of the club and minority owner. Between 1912 and 1923 he helped resolve various ownership crises of the Boston Braves--which usually paid off in trades that helped New York more than Boston. Fatefully, McGraw also was instrumental in Col. Jacob Rupert's purchase of the Yankees and the decision to allow that team to share the Polo Grounds when the Giants were on the road.
In 1920 Babe Ruth arrived to play for the lowly Yankees. The team's attendance soared as Ruth began hitting home runs out of the Polo Grounds, prompting an enraged McGraw to instruct Stoneham to evict their upstart tenants. In what was widely viewed as a battle between Inside Baseball and the new Power Game, McGraw had the consolation of beating the Yankees in the World Series of 1921-22 ("I signaled for every ball that was pitched to Ruth during the last World's Series," McGraw gloated). The tide turned for good in 1923, however, when the Yankees crushed the Giants, four games to two, for their first World's Championship, with Ruth clouting three home runs. In 1924 the Giants won a record fourth consecutive NL pennant but lost another World Series, this time to the Washington Nationals. As the years passed, McGraw evolved with the game. Early in his career his teams emphasized the stolen base, but as the long ball began to dominate baseball, McGraw--despite his personal dislike of the home run--adapted to the change. For the rest of the decade and the early 1930s, the Giants fielded some fine teams but were never good enough to win. Plagued by health problems, McGraw resigned on June 3, 1932.
John McGraw made his last major public appearance at Comiskey Park in July 1933, managing the National League against Connie Mack's American Leaguers in baseball's first All-Star Game. He was 60 years old when he died at his home in New Rochelle, New York, on February 25, 1934, of prostate cancer and uremia--but mostly, according to one reporter, because he was no longer top dog. He was buried in New Cathedral Cemetery in Baltimore, near several of his old Oriole teammates, as well as his first wife, Mary. McGraw was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937. Blanche McGraw inherited her husband's stock in the Giants and carried on his memory, frequently attending games with Mathewson's widow. Her most tragic time, at least according to the New York newspapers, was on that September day in 1957 when the Giants played their final game at the Polo Grounds before departing for San Francisco. She said the move would've broken John's heart. Nonetheless, she was present at Seals Stadium in April 1958 at the team's first game on the West Coast, and again when Candlestick Park opened two years later. Blanche McGraw died on November 5, 1962, only a few weeks after attending the New York games of the Giants-Yankees World Series.
07-24-2006, 08:59 AM
Arlie Latham 1860-1952
Arlie Latham, known as "The Freshest Man on Earth" or the "Dude," would drive St. Louis Browns owner Chris Von der Ahe so crazy that Von der Ahe would blame Arlie when things spun out of control even if Latham wasn't involved. He would yell "dot Latams is driving me crazy." Arlie was a carefree guy who loved life and baseball. Before Nick Altrock and Al Schacht, Arlie was the clown prince of baseball.
Walter Arlington Latham was born in West Lebanon, New Hampshire, on March 15, 1860. His father was a bugler in the Union Army during the Civil War. Arlie became interested in baseball when returning soldiers from the war continued playing the game in his hometown. By the age of fourteen Latham was good enough to play with the "Well Known" General Worth nine in Stoneham, Massachusetts, where the family had moved. Some years later the Philadelphia Athletics asked him to play for them. He was a catcher, but after taking a beating behind the batsman he decided enough was enough and began playing third base. In 1877 he was with the Pittsfield, Massachusetts, club as their third baseman. In 1879 Arlie began playing for money at the age of nineteen. He appeared ready to play in the National League for Buffalo in 1880. However, the league was a little too much for him, and he was released. He then played for an independent team in Brockton, Massachusetts. In 1881 and 1882 he was with Philadelphia. The turning point for Arlie came in 1883, when he became the regular third baseman for the St. Louis Browns, who would win four consecutive pennants (1885-1888) in the American Association. He stayed in St. Louis through the 1889 season. Arlie split the 1890 season with Chicago of the Players League and Cincinnati of the National League. Latham stayed with Cincinnati through the 1895 season. Then it was St.Louis again for a short while in 1896 and down to the lower leagues with Scranton in the Eastern League and Columbus in the Western League. After a few more stops in the minors he wound up in 1899 with the Giants, and that was it for his playing career.
Latham was the first man from New Hampshire to make it to the majors. His mischievous behavior on the diamond earned him the name as the "Freshest Man on Earth," a popular song at that time. Standing only five feet eight inches and never weighing more than 150 pounds, he was never a power hitter but was a great base stealer. In 1886 Latham batted .316 and stole 142 bases. In the playoffs that year he stole 12 bases.
Arlie jockeyed and taunted opposing players not only from the bench but also as a third base coach. At that time there was no coaching box that the third base coach was supposed to stay in, so Arlie took full advantage of it by running up and down the third base line while yelling invectives at the pitcher while he was in the middle of his windup. The rule makers, taking notice of Arlie running up and down the line like a lunatic, soon put into the rules the coaching box. Arlie is reported to have been the first permanent base coach in major league history. The Brownies would have won a fifth straight pennant if not for some antics by Arlie. St. Louis and Brooklyn were in a dogfight for the pennant and were playing each other in the final game of the season, a game that would determine the pennant. St. Louis was leading 4-2 in the seventh inning when storm clouds gathered and the field grew dark. The Browns asked the umpire to call the game because of darkness. That would have resulted in a Brownie victory and the pennant. The umpire refused. This brought Arlie into action; he ordered 12 large candles be brought to the bench whereupon he lit all of them as a hint to the umpire that the game should be called. The umpire strode over and blew out each candle, whereupon Arlie lit them again. The umpire blew a fuse and blew the candles out again and forfeited the game to Brooklyn, although the protest was overturned. Many contemporary sources credit Von der Ahe for the candle idea.
Another incident occurred while Arlie was playing for Cincinnati. Angry at a decision by umpire Tim Hurst, Latham slammed his glove to the ground and gave it a kick toward Hurst, who kicked it back to Arlie. The two engaged in a soccer match with the glove finally coming to rest in deep centerfield. Another incident took place in Ironton, Pennsylvania, during a barnstorming tour in the 1880s. There was a sparse crowd that day, as Arlie described it "eight fans and a stray dog." Trying to hold the attention of the fans, he tipped his cap and announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, please don't go yet. Do you see that church steeple over there? I am personally going to dive off that steeple into a quart of milk." During a game when he was with St.Louis they were playing Brooklyn at the old Eastern Park in Flatbush. Behind the ball field was a quarry where workers were drawing more fans than the ballgame. Arlie was at bat during the game when a loud clanging noise of a chain came from the quarry. Arlie, never at a loss for words, raised his hand to the crowd and quipped, "Ladies and gentlemen, don't worry, that was Charlie Ebbets falling down the stairs with the day's receipts."
Chris Von der Ahe was a colorful character himself. A large man who wore loud, checkered clothing, Chris sat in a special box behind third base with a whistle and binoculars. He used the whistle to get the attention of players, for someone to get him a beer, or for special cops he employed for personal use and to keep tabs on his players. He bought the Browns in order to put himself in the limelight and to advertise his saloon business.
Arlie sometimes used his boss as a straight man. In one instance Der Boss (as Chris was known) called all the players into his office on the sixth floor of the building. Von der Ahe did not want anyone else to hear what he was about to tell his players. As Von der Ahe proceeded to talk, Arlie interrupted him and said, "Excuse me, sir, but the windows are open and somebody might hear you," whereupon der Boss thanked Arlie and promptly shut the windows. Another incident occurred when Von der Ahe accused Arlie of pulling a prank on him and fined him $50. It turned out that Arlie was not involved but Von der Ahe stubbornly said, "The fine sticks." Arlie stopped arguing and with some fast-talking said, "Okay, that fine wipes out the other $50 fine. Now if you will give me $50 in cash, that will make us all even and there will be no hard feelings." Von der Ahe, not wishing to argue further, shook hands eagerly at what he thought was an amicable adjustment. As Arlie walked out of the office, he could hardly contain his laughter. Von der Ahe after mulling over what had happened realized he had been conned and shook his head and sighed, "Dat Latams will drive me crazy some day."
Arlie's great gymnastic ability paid off from time to time. During one game Arlie laid down a bunt and the opposing team's first baseman, a big man, was in the baseline with the ball waiting to tag Arlie. Suddenly Arlie did a complete somersault over the startled first baseman and came down safely on the bag. Arlie and the St. Louis team were a pugnacious lot and were greatly encouraged by Von der Ahe to intimidate the other teams. When the league fined them, which was often, Von Der Ahe would pay off the fines.
Arlie got into many brawls. At end of one season he had 20 fights scheduled, five with teammates. The brawling seemed somewhat out of character, for Arlie had a tremendous sense of humor and seemed more of jokester than a fighter.
Pranks and brawls aside, Latham was a legitimate ballplayer. He played 1276 games in the majors, banged out 1833 hits with 27 homers, scored 1478 runs and drove in 389. His lifetime batting average was only .269, but he was a great base stealer with 679. Arlie also holds an unenviable record for the most errors lifetime for a third baseman, 822-more than 200 more than any other player. Arlie has a lot of footnotes in the history of baseball, more than most players: First full-time coach; brought into existence the third-base coaching box; oldest man ever to steal a base; and participant in the several of the earliest World Series.
But life was just beginning for Arlie. He umpired for a while in the the Southern League and in general kept in touch with baseball. In 1909 John McGraw gave him a job as the third base coach for the Giants. His comedic acts made him a favorite with the fans as he would do a somersault each time he waved in a runner.
During World War I he went to England to organize baseball for the soldiers. He was invited to Buckingham Palace to show King George V how to throw and catch a baseball. He said of the King, "He had a middling fair arm but it was hard to break him of the habit of his stiff arm way from playing cricket." Latham stayed in England for seventeen years as the Administrator (Commissioner) of Baseball. Arlie attended many parties and loved dancing the night away with the many friends he made, including royalty.
Arlie contributed to some slang to the baseball vernacular. An "Arlie Latham" was a low, hot drive that an infielder sidesteps because it is too hot to handle. Others said that Arlie would lift his right leg and let such a drive go on through for a hit. Arlie settled the argument by agreeing to the latter.
After returning to the United States in 1923, Arlie operated a delicatessen between 182nd and 183rd Streets, at 1450 St. Nicholas Avenue, in Manhattan. Arlie was the press box custodian for both the Yankees and Giants, depending on which team was at home. At first the baseball scribes thought he would be an old guy sleeping in the press box or boring them with his tales of yesteryear. Arlie turned out to be just the opposite. He was spry and took his duties seriously, and he did have a lot to say about the game during his time and the modern game. The writers were delighted to have him there and listened attentively to his stories. Arlie held the position until he died.
The one major blot on Arlie's record is that he signed a letter, addressed to Von der Ahe, stating that he would not play against blacks.
Like Dummy Hoy, who lived to the age of 99, Latham was a bridge between the old and the modern game. Arlie would compare the speed and wit of the old game in which he played to the modern-day wait-until-the big-inning game when some slugger would smash a three-run homer to win the game. He felt that Joe DiMaggio was the greatest player he ever saw. He felt that Phil Rizzutto was one of the greats as a shortstop.
Arlie married Kate Conway, who played the piano in a minstrel show Arlie was performing in. According to Arlie's death certificate, their marriage date is unknown. Further information suggests they were married in 1889. Arlie and Kate had three daughters, Arlene, Phyllis and Natalie, and a son, Walter A. Latham Jr. His offspring game him five grandchildren as well.
Arlie's death, at 92, came on November 29, 1952, in Garden City. His death certificate attributed his demise to old age. He was living with a married daughter at the time of his death. Kate had preceded him death, in 1950 at the age of 84. Arlie Latham is buried in Greenfield Cemetery in Hempstead, New York.
Latham's passing resulted in a celebration of a man who did what he loved with a flair for the comedic. Until he passed away he had a sharp mind and a spryness about him that endeared him to anyone he met. Arlie was a great ambassador for baseball.
07-24-2006, 10:34 AM
Steve Brodie 1868-1935
Walter Scott "Steve" Brodie, player, scout, and coach is best known as the center fielder of the swashbuckling Baltimore Orioles of the 1890s. The most durable player of his era, his streak of playing in 727 consecutive games established the nineteenth century record.
His father, Alexander Marr Brodie, an immigrant from Scotland, named his son after the most famous author of his native soil, Sir Walter Scott. His mother, Jennette LaMarque was a Virginia native of French heritage. The elder Brodie was a tailor by vocation and a Shakespearean actor by avocation. During his adult years, the younger Brodie enjoyed reciting lengthy passages from the Bard to the surprise of teammates and fans. Brodie was born September 11, 1868, in the Shenandoah Valley town of Warrenton, Virginia.
As a teenager, Walter moved to the bustling railroad center of Roanoke, Virginia, in 1885 to play ball on semi-professional teams in the local industrial leagues. Teams found jobs for him, but they were secondary. He began as a catcher and sometime outfielder. He acquired the nickname "Steve" after a famous daredevil named Steve Brodie gained fame by jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge and surviving in the summer of 1886. The sobriquet seemed to fit and never left him.
Brodie turned professional in 1887, at the age of 18, when he went north to play for Altoona of the Pennsylvania State Association. A left-handed hitter who threw right, he soon gave up catching and shifted to the outfield where his speed was better suited. He made a mark batting .338 before the team disbanded. He finished the season with Canton in the Ohio State League. The following season he played the entire season with the Wheeling (West Virginia) Nailers of the Tri-State League where his teammates included Hall of Famer Ed Delahanty. He showed good speed and range in the outfield and batted .272. In 1889 he stole 50 bases, hit 21 triples batted .302 for Hamilton, Ontario, of the International Association.
With his baseball career underway, Scott married fifteen-year-old Caroline "Carrie" Amanda Henry of Roanoke in 1887. They subsequently had two children, a son and a daughter. The couple made their home in Roanoke until 1912, when Brodie's playing career came to an end. He enjoyed being called "The Duke of Roanoke."
In 1890 Frank Selee took over as manager of the Boston Beaneaters of the National League. Almost all of the players, however, had jumped to the Players' League. Selee filled his roster with numerous minor league prospects including Kid Nichols, Linc Lowe, and Herman Long. Brodie was one of the rookies. Listed as 5 foot 9 inches and 175 pounds when he came up, he grew to 5'-10" and 180 pounds in the next few years. The team fared poorly in 1890, but Brodie hit a solid .296.
Augmented by several returning veterans from the Players' League, Selee's club won the National League crown in 1891. Brodie took over as the center fielder. He established himself as tough, durable, and swift player. His rookie season began a string of seven years of finishing among the top five batters in being hit by a pitch. More importantly, he began a stretch in which he played in 727 consecutive games. He, also, developed a reputation for being fun loving, "One of the premier clowns of the game" (New York Times, 10/30/1935). Perhaps that was why Selee dealt his center fielder to St. Louis after the 1891 season.
An adequate batter with Boston, Brodie became an outstanding hitter with the St. Louis Browns in 1893. He was hitting .318 after 105 games when St. Louis sold him to Baltimore. Ned Hanlon, like Selee in Boston, was building a powerhouse in Baltimore. Earlier he had acquired Joe Kelley to play left field. Brodie, whom he bought for $1,000, filled the gap in center. For the remainder of the season Brodie hit .361. He finished the year with a career high 49 stolen bases, and ranked among the top ten National League hitters in hits, walks and stolen bases.
Hanlon put the final touches on the Orioles in 1894.Willie Keeler took over in right field completing one of the great outfields of all time. Charles Faber rates the outfield of Kelley, Brodie, and Keeler one of the top three nineteenth century outfields both in fielding and all-around. Between 1894 and 1896 the trio averaged .338 with 334 RBIs.
An outstanding fielder, Brodie tracked down more fly balls and participated in more double plays than any outfielder in the 1890s. Three times he led National League outfielders in fielding average.
The Orioles collectively batted .343 as they captured the 1894 pennant. Brodie hit .366, scored a career-high 134 runs, batted in 116 runs, and collected 210 hits, the only time he reached the -hit plateau.
Brodie enjoyed his finest season in 1895 as the Orioles won their second title. Batting third behind Keeler and Hughie Jennings, he batted .348, drove in a personal-best 134 runs, which tied him with Kelley for second in the league, and slapped 27 doubles, the most he would collect in a season.
Following the 1895 season, the Orioles held a special Field Day for their fans. Players participated in various contests of hitting, throwing, and running. Brodie won the silver cup for best all-around performance.
By then, Brodie's flamboyant style had made him a crowd favorite. He was the only southerner on the team, but unlike Ty Cobb he got along with everyone. He often carried on conversations with himself in the outfield, quoted Shakespeare while at bat, and delighted spectators by catching balls behind his back (never in a game). John McGraw's biographer labeled Brodie "a flakea players who delights in zany behavior" (Alexander, p. 38).
Baltimore swept to its third straight pennant in 1896 and crushed Cleveland in the Temple Cup series. Brodie's production dropped that year. His batting average slipped below .300, and in the Temple Cup series he managed only one hit.
Hanlon traded Brodie to Pittsburgh following the 1896 season for Jake Stenzel, who had batted .361. Brodie voiced his displeasure at the trade and at the prospect of moving to the Smokey City. In an effort to placate him, Pittsburgh shifted its 1897 spring training site to Roanoke. Stenzel out hit Brodie in 1897 .353 to .292 but Boston nosed out the Birds for the NL flag. In 1898 Hanlon reacquired Brodie even though he was batting only .263 at the time of the trade. His swing returned in Baltimore, where in 1899 he batted .306 and led the club with 87 RBIs.
When the National League dropped Baltimore following the 1899 season, Brodie jumped to the fledging American League signing with Chicago. The White Sox captured the 1900 pennant, Brodie's fifth championship team, but he batted only .262 with little power. The following season John McGraw brought Brodie back to the AL Baltimore club where he hit .310 as the O's center fielder. When McGraw jumped to the National League New York Giants, Brodie went with him. In his final major league season he hit .281.
After thirteen seasons in the majors, Brodie had a lifetime batting average of .303 with 900 RBIs, 800 runs, had batted over .300 five times, had played for five championship teams, and established the record for consecutive games played.
Brodie continued playing in the minor leagues into his forties through 1910. He made stops in Baltimore, Montreal, Providence, and Newark of the Eastern League, Birmingham of the Southern Association, Roanoke, Portsmouth, and Norfolk of the Virginia League, and Wilmington in the East Carolina League. Only in Roanoke in 1907 did he manage to hit over .300. By 1910 when he finished up at Newark he could only manage to hit for a weak .214 average.
Following his playing career he coached at the college level for until World War I. He had stops at Rutgers (1912-1914), Princeton (1915), and the U.S. Naval Academy (1916-1917). During World War I he went to France with the American Expeditionary Force as YMCA secretary and athletic director. Following the war, Ned Hanlon, who had been a power on the Baltimore Parks Board since 1916, hired Brodie, and when Baltimore's Memorial Stadium was constructed in 1922 Hanlon tapped Brodie to be superintendent of the new facility. He served in that capacity until his death.
Brodie died of heart problems in Baltimore on October 29, 1935. He was buried in his native Warrenton, Virginia, in Woodlawn Cemetery.
In 1992 the Salem-Roanoke Sports Hall of Fame inducted Brodie with its first group of members.
07-24-2006, 10:35 AM
Kid Gleason 1866-1933
He is remembered as the manager of the most infamous baseball team ever, but less well known as a versatile and gutsy ballplayer of the nineteenth century. His counseling and humor became crucial to the success of many big leaguers in the years between the World Wars. He was the Kid from the coal country who rose above his humble beginnings to become a much-loved figure in the national pastime.
William J. Gleason was born October 26, 1866, in Camden, New Jersey, across the river from Philadelphia. His family moved to the coal regions of Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains, and Gleason grew up in the hard life of a "coalcracker" family. As with many boys of the era, he played games with his five brothers and one sister. His recreational interests turned to baseball; indeed, younger brother Harry played four years at third base in the American League with Boston and St. Louis. Gleason skipped college to become a professional ballplayer, displaying both a potent bat and strong pitching arm (he batted and threw right-handed). He was not a large man, growing to 5-foot-7 and weighing only 155 pounds as an adult, and was therefore labeled with the everlasting nickname "Kid."
Gleason played two seasons in the minor leagues of northern Pennsylvania. In 1886 at Williamsport of the Pennsylvania State League, he batted .355 and stole 20 bases in 36 games. (Note: All minor league statistics are based on J.C. Kofoed's research in the April 1916 issue of Baseball Magazine, and prior research by the author in his biography of Gleason in the Society for American Baseball Research publication Baseball's First Stars.) In 1887, again at Williamsport, he posted a 9-12 record with a glittering 1.87 earned run average as a pitcher, and batted .348 as a change player at both second base and the outfield. His obvious talent landed him a spot with the nearby Scranton team of the International League, then -- as now -- a top minor league. Though his pitching record was abysmal (1-12, 3.67), his all-around talents shone through as he batted .313 as a change outfielder -- today known as a utility player -- when not pitching.
Harry Wright, manager of the Philadelphia National League entry (then known as the Quakers, but later as the Phillies), heard about the prowess of young Gleason and invited him to try out with the team in the spring of 1888. He made the team largely on the basis of his performance in a March 31 exhibition game against the University of Pennsylvania varsity, when he struck out 12 batters and yielded no earned runs.
From the day of Gleason's major league debut on April 28, his 1888 season was largely limited to the pitcher's mound, even though Philadelphia's batting lineup that season was relatively anemic. Gleason stated 23 games for the Phillies in his inaugural season, winning but seven, though his 2.84 ERA closely tracked with the league average. (All major league statistics are from Total Baseball, John Thorn and Pete Palmer, eds.) His follow-up season in 1889 was significantly less successful as his ERA ballooned to over five runs per game.
As 1890 arrived, the rival Players League was formed and Gleason had the opportunity to jump the team. Gleason instead displayed a rather unusual (for his time) level of loyalty for his manager and decided to stay with the Phillies, saying, "Harry Wright gave me my chance two years ago when I was just a fresh kid playing coal towns, and I'm not running out on him now."(Philadelphia Inquirer, March 16, 1890.) As a result, Gleason was one of several prominent players expelled from the Brotherhood of Base Ball Players for refusing to jump to the new Players League.
The outcome of his decision was a coming of age for Gleason's pitching abilities. His 38 victories and .691 winning percentage ranked second in the National League for 1890. Gleason displayed workhorse abilities by hurling 506 innings and completing 54 games (all but one of his starts), both ranking third in the league. Gleason was also called upon to relieve in five games, and was among the league leaders with two saves. His follow-up season of 1891, significantly more challenging after absorption of Players League returnees, still produced 24 victories, tops on the team.
Gleason was sold to Saint Louis prior to the 1892 season and assumed a position in the starting rotation for the next two seasons, winning 20 or more games both seasons while playing more games as a spare fielder. He started 45 games each season, completing all but two in 1892 while hurling 400 innings (he added 380 in 1893). Though not among the league leaders, he nonetheless produced numbers that later researchers concluded gave him a positive Total Pitcher Index for both seasons.
It should not be surprising that Gleason, like any spirited St. Louis player of the day, ran afoul of team owner Chris Von der Ahe. One day, as Kofoed told the story, the owner imposed a fine on Gleason by withholding $100 from his pay envelope. Kid marched into Von der Ahe's office and yelled, "Look here, you big, fat Dutch slob. If you don't open that safe and get me the $100 you fined me, I'm going to knock your block off." Gleason got his refund immediately.
Gleason got off to a poor start in 1894, losing six out of eight starts, and was sold to Baltimore for $2,400 in late June. According to David Ball's research in "Nineteenth Century Transactions Register" (http://world.std.com/~pgw/19c/Trades2.rtf.), Gleason did not report until July 17 because of a money dispute resulting from either back pay or a desire to obtain a share of the sale price (a common practice of the day). Once he arrived in Baltimore and received the tutelage of Ned Hanlon, Gleason rebounded with another successful season, winning 15 out of 20 starts and averaging only 21/2 walks per game, third in the league. His contribution helped lead Baltimore to a pennant, something Gleason had yet to encounter in his career. More importantly, however, his batting skills increased dramatically, as Gleason averaged .349 during his appearances.
Hanlon noted this quality as the 1895 season dawned. Due to strong pitching and uncertainty in his infield, Hanlon decided to remove Gleason from the mound after only five starts and position him at second base. Gleason earned some $2,000 for the season, among the best salaries in the league, based on research by SABR's Garrett J. Kelleher (The Baseball Research Journal, 1988). Gleason responded with a .309 average, though his fielding percentage was below .900, abysmal even in those days. Despite winning another pennant, Hanlon decided that he could develop a better defense with a healthy John McGraw at third base and Henry Reitz back at second. He traded Gleason in the off-season to the New York Giants in exchange for slugging first baseman Jack Doyle.
Gleason closed his pitching career with 138 victories, a lifetime winning record, and a 3.79 earned run average. In a 1931 interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Gleason reflected on his demise as a pitcher: "When I won 38 games for the Phillies (1890) I pitched every other day -- had to, we had only 15 men. The reason the hurlers can't work so often now is because of the increased pitching distance."
His pitching days behind him, Gleason settled into second base in the Gotham City over the next five years. He developed into one of the better second basemen of the time, leading the league twice in assists and fielding rating, and once in putouts. His batting peaked at .319 with 106 RBIs in 1897 before a steady decline, though not enough to get him out of the lineup.
Gleason also served as team captain, and is credited by Kofoed with inventing that most curious of baseball stratagems, the intentional walk. In a high-scoring contest against Chicago, the bases loaded with Colts in the eighth inning with two outs, and the Giants nursing a fragile 9-6 lead, Gleason strolled to the mound and proceeded to confer with pitcher Jouett Meekin and catcher Parke Wilson. Coming up to bat was Jimmy Ryan, one of the most feared Colts, but Gleason noted that the less-intimidating hitter George Decker was on deck. All players returned to their position, and Meekin proceeded to toss four pitches wide of the plate. Ryan dutifully, though somewhat astonished, took his free pass and a run was forced in. Meekin then proceeded to fan Decker, and the Giants went on to win the game.
Gleason reached heroic status in New York City, though not only for his on-field abilities. He was going to the Polo Grounds on April 26, 1900, with teammates George Davis and Mike Grady when the ballplayers noticed smoke from an apartment house. Rushing to the scene, Davis climbed a fireman's ladder to rescue a fainted woman, then Gleason joined him to lead another woman and child down the fire escape. The fire left 45 families homeless but alive, thanks to the quick thinking of the Giants players.
Baseball players have long been accused of gullibility, and Gleason was no exception. Upon completion of the 1900 season, according to the same anecdotal research, a number of Giants and Dodgers assembled to play a series of exhibition games in Cuba. Some unnamed prankster convinced Gleason and Dodgers outfielder Tom O'Brien that drinking an excessive amount of seawater would ultimately cure seasickness, though with some immediate illness. Both men fell for the trick and became violently ill. Gleason recovered, but O'Brien suffered internal damage and, tragically, died from the prank.
Gleason was a hard worker and believed in preseason conditioning long before the popularity of spring training. Residing in Trenton, up river from Philadelphia on the New Jersey side, his routine was to pay a daily visit to the gymnasium and work out for a few hours each day. The results became more critical as he was now in his mid-30s, past his physical prime.
The temptation of a rival league arose again with the advent of the American League raids in 1901. This time however, Gleason owed no allegiance to his manager and signed on with the new Detroit franchise, which featured two Kids up the middle -- Gleason at second base and Elberfeld at shortstop. His next two years in the Motor City saw continued success in the field with significant putouts and assists, though he committed more errors both seasons than the rest of the league's second basemen.
When peace arrived between the warring leagues in time for the 1903 season, Gleason was part of the interleague player swapping, reuniting with the Phillies. For the next four seasons, Gleason held forth at second base, leading the league in putouts at that position in 1905. His batting also showed a resurgence in the first two seasons back in his adopted home town; both seasons he led the team in games played and at-bats, and he paced the 1904 team in hits and total bases.
During the 1906 season, Gleason's everyday playing skills were diminishing, but not his spirit. On June 20 of that season, he spiked Pittsburgh's Honus Wagner, who had just drilled a hit deep into the outfield, causing Wagner to stop at third base with a painful limp and miss three games. By 1907, at the age of 40, Gleason had become a utility player. Two brief but hitless appearances in 1908 completed his major league playing career (other than one brief appearance at second base four years later). He ended his nearly two thousand game career with more than one thousand runs, averaging about a hit per game, accumulating five hundred bases on balls (nearly four times his total strikeouts, demonstrating his remarkable eye at the plate), a .261 batting average, 328 stolen bases, and 889 runs created.
The next three seasons saw Gleason move progressively down the minor leagues, with stops at Jersey City (International), Harrisburg (Tri-State) and Utica-Binghamton (New York State). Twenty years later, in the Philadelphia Inquirer interview, he reflected on the style of play at second base, "They can't bring back the old kind of game, not the way we played it. ... I'd let them slide onto the bag, then kick them off the bag. That's the way we put them out." As for playing off the pitching mound, "Any time a man tried to steal I'd run over in front of him and slow him up."
Gleason returned to the major leagues in 1912 as a coach, when former teammate Nixey Callahan became manager of the Chicago White Sox. He also played a game at second base, obtaining his final major league hit despite the advanced age of 45. But his prime contribution was as team sparkplug. Prior research by the author (in Baseball's First Stars) reveals that the Kid's favorite trick was to sneak into Eddie Collins' room during road trips and tie him to the bed with a razor strap!
In one of F.C. Lane's stories in Baseball Magazine in the early twentieth century, Cleveland hurler Cy Falkenberg told of his ability to stymie Gleason with his emery ball: "'Kid' Gleason used to watch me like a hawk, whenever I pitched against the White Sox. He would say to me, 'I know you are doing something to that ball. You must be doing something to get it to break in that way.' And then he would pick up the ball I had used and examine it carefully. But he could never detect the slight and almost invisible roughening of a small spot on the side. He kept at me continually, but I would jolly him along and he never got on to the secret."
Promoted to manager prior to the 1919 season, Gleason led the team to the pennant with a record of 88-52. The Sox led the league in runs scored, batting average and stolen bases, showing he same spark at bat and in the field that Gleason had shown in his playing career. He later said, "I think they're the greatest ball club I've ever seen. Period." (http://quote.webcircle.com/cgi-bin/search.cgi?idPlayer=440)
One long-standing mystery of Gleason's team in 1919 is why he held out his star pitcher, Eddie Cicotte, at the end of the regular season. Although the pennant race was locked up, Cicotte was the only major-league pitcher that season with a fair chance to win 30 games, a mark of pitching mastery in the twentieth century. Yet he started only two games after September 5; he won his 29th game September 19 and failed to win his 30th five days later. He did not pitch again until the World Series. Speculation has long circulated that team owner Charles Comiskey refused to pay Cicotte the significantly larger salary the following season that he would have earned had he won 30 games, so he is accused of ordering Gleason not to pitch Cicotte until the World Series.
The trouble with this theory is its lack of verification by the principals involved. Neither Cicotte nor Gleason ever raised the issue in any interview. Lowell D. Blaisdell has an excellent analysis of this dilemma, reaching a different conclusion (Journal of Sport History, 1992). He notes that Gleason faced some serious concerns over the Series. First, pitcher Red Faber developed a sore arm and was inactive for the Series. Gleason now had only two reliable starters, Cicotte and Claude Williams, and the untested potential of Dickie Kerr. Moreover, the Series that year had the trial idea of a best-of-nine series, requiring the winner to post five victories before clinching the Series. Finally, the close proximity of the competing cities (Chicago and Cincinnati) led the leagues to decide on nine consecutive days of play, without travel days. How could Gleason hope to win such a series with only two proven starters? His only chance was to alternate Cicotte and Williams on only two days rest, at most. Therefore, it seems plausible that Gleason merely held Cicotte out of the regular season to save him for the Series. This theory is bolstered by the New York Times report of September 21, 1919, "...Gleason is not worrying much about his individual record. He is looking ahead and is loathe to take any changes with his star." The news account added that Gleason "is figuring on using his star in three games of the series..."
History records the deeds of that team during the World Series, earning the sobriquet of Black Sox. When the gambling story finally broke the next year and came to trial, Gleason was the first witness for the defense, challenging an alleged meeting between players and gamblers at the very time they were in practice in Chicago. Not only was Gleason not involved in the gambling, but probably knew from the first game what was happening (prominent journalists Ring Lardner and Hugh Fullerton held similar suspicions). Fullerton's recitation of this scene in the hotel room that night indicates Gleason's mindset, (as reported by John Erardi, in the Cincinnati Enquirer, June 12, 1997):
"Gleason sought out Cicotte after the game, but his pitcher had showered and left the park early. When Gleason went out to dinner that night - and returned to find Cicotte and Risberg sprawled in big chairs in the lobby of the Sinton and laughing with a pair of strangers - the White Sox manager snapped.
"`Cicotte! What are you laughing at?'' Gleason roared. ''You two think you can kid me? You busher, Risberg! You think I don't know what you're doing out there! Cicotte, you son of a bitch! Anybody who says he can't see what you're doing out there is either blind, stupid or a goddamn liar!''
"Suddenly, Gleason realized what he had done. The ballplayers' faces were blanched white; about a hundred people in the Sinton's lobby were agog at such a public outburst of such serious accusations.
'`'Come on Kid,'' said Fullerton gently, drawing him away. `Tomorrow's another day.'''
Though Gleason was found to be uninvolved in the scandal, he was personally affected by it for the rest of his life. His team finished a close second the following season of 1920, but failed to post a winning record in the three remaining years of his tenure. He ended his managerial career in 1923 with a record of 392-364.
Gleason returned to live in retirement in Philadelphia, but after two years the baseball bug bit him again. Now it was Connie Mack who invited him to return to the coaching ranks. Gleason played a pivotal role in building an obscure franchise into a three-time world championship team through his clubhouse antics and seasoned advice. Gleason became known as the unofficial greeter at spring training with his winning smile and iron-tight handshake.
Gleason retired for the last time after the 1931 season, at the height of the Athletics' success. He suffered from a heart ailment and became bedridden about the time of the 1932 World Series, the first one in four years without his beloved A's. It is ironic that, as Connie Mack was dismantling his team of stars, Gleason himself began slipping away from the scene. Living in the Philadelphia home of his daughter, Mamie Robb, Gleason passed away January 2, 1933. Though his wife had died five years earlier, all of his siblings were still alive at the time, according to the New York Times obituary.
His funeral reflected Gleason's popularity. The Philadelphia Inquirer estimated that more than 5,000 people attended, including longtime Giants manager and former teammate John McGraw, Mack and Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. To accommodate the crowd that could never fit into the funeral parlor, amplifiers were set up on the sidewalk for people to hear the service. Gleason was then buried in Northwood Cemetery in north Philadelphia.
Kid Gleason was much beloved by the baseball community. Upon hearing of his death, McGraw was quoted by the Philadelphia Inquirer as saying: "He was, without doubt, the gamest and most spirited ball player I ever saw and that doesn't except Ty Cobb. He was a great influence for good on any ball club, making up for his lack of stature, by his spirit and fight. He could lick his weight in wildcats and would prove it at the drop of a hat." McGraw was right: The spirit and guidance of the Kid from the coal fields was felt by his contemporaries and his players for years to come.
07-24-2006, 10:37 AM
Alexander Cartwright 1820-1892
Other than Abner Doubleday, perhaps no other person associated with the beginnings of baseball is more celebrated yet disputed than Alexander Joy Cartwright Jr. No evidence exists for Abner Doubleday's having anything to do with baseball. There is, on the other hand, plenty of evidence to connect Cartwright with baseball, especially the beginnings of baseball, as we know it. However, in light of interviews with other former New York KnickerbockersDaniel Adams, Duncan Curry, and William Wheatonuncovered in recent years, Cartwrights pivotal role has been questioned.
Randall Brown speaks about these men, and the controversy over who has true claim to significant rule changes. For example, William Wheaton in an interview in 1887 laid claim to at least two particular rule revisions formerly attributed to Cartwright: the diamond configuration of the playing field and abolishing the rule of throwing the ball at the runner, ordering instead that it should be thrown to the baseman instead.
Joel Zoss and John Bowman address The Cartwright Myth, comparing various aspects of the game attributed to Cartwright to actual evidence in existence or the lack thereof. One such example is that Cartwright umpired the first game, June 19, 1846. However, Cartwright did not sign the umpires blank in the game book that day, nor did anyone else. This does not mean that he did not umpire the game, nor does it mean that he did. Regardless of Cartwrights involvement with baseballs beginnings, his life makes for an interesting story.
Cartwright's obituary, published in both the Hawaiian Gazette and the Pacific Commercial Advertiser in July 1892 noted: "To publish more than an epitome of the eventful life of A. J. Cartwright is not practicable in a work of this character. He was one of the early argonauts of California, and his biography would, if exhaustively written, be extremely interesting. It would indeed fill a volume, and be an invaluable text book to place in the hands of the rising generation to reflect upon and emulate."
Born in New York City on April 17, 1820, to Alexander Joy Cartwright Sr., a merchant sea captain, and his wife Esther Burlock Cartwright, Alex Jr. was one of seven children. His six siblings were Benjamin, Katherine, Alfred, Esther, Mary, and Ann. Alex married Eliza Van Wie of Albany on June 2, 1842. Three children were born to them: DeWitt (May 3, 1843, in New York), Mary (June 1, 1845, in New York), and Catherine (or Kathleen) Leewho was known as "Kate Lee" (October 5, 1849, in New York during Cartwright's later venture to California and on to Hawaii).
Cartwright began work in 1836 as a clerk at the age of sixteen in Coit & Cochrane, a broker's office on Wall Street. He later earned his living as a clerk for Union Bank of New York. Banker's hours permitted bank employees the opportunity to spend more time outdoors before heading home by nightfall. Accordingly, it was common during the early part of the nineteenth century in New York to see men gathering in the street or vacant lots for a game of ball after their work was done for the day. One such vacant lot was on 27th Street (Madison Square) and later at 34th Street and Lexington Avenue (Murray Hill).
Many of these ball-playing young men, including Cartwright, were also volunteer firemen. The first firehouse that Cartwright was associated with was Oceana Hose Company No. 36. Later, he joined Knickerbocker Engine Company No. 12, located at Pearl and Cherry Streets. It disbanded in 1843, and perhaps for this reason that the young ballplayers, possibly Cartwright himself, named their ball club after the engine company, apparently sometime between 1842 and1845.
A huge fire in July 1845 destroyed the Union Bank where Cartwright was employed. Consequently, Alex went into the book-selling business with his brother Alfred on Wall Street. They did not give up on their ball playing, though. Meanwhile, the city was growing and changing all around them.
The Knickerbocker Base Ball Club ventured across the Hudson River by ferry to Hoboken, New Jersey. There they found a roomy spot called Elysian Fields. The team drew up a constitution and bylaws on September 23, 1845. Several of the rules attributed to Alexander Cartwright at the time remain in use today: (1) a runner being touched with a ball, rather than hit with it to be considered out; (2) a ball being determined foul if outside the range of first or third base; and (3) one of the most debated of the "Cartwright rules," the distance between the bases (paced out in a diamond-shaped format with forty-two paces from home to second base, and forty-paces paces from first to third base).
Cartwright and his friends played their first recorded game on October 6, 1845, and continued playing well into late autumn that year. Receipts exist for dinners that are dated December 5, 1845, and are labeled with "Elysian Fields Hoboken for twenty dinners at $1.50 each for the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club."
The first match game was played between the Knickerbockers and the New York Club on June 19, 1846, at Elysian Fields. The New York Club won 23-1. They were playing with one of Cartwright's original rules, that the first team to reach 21 aces or runs would win.
Documentation of Cartwright's doings between June 1846 and March 1849 is scarce. He undoubtedly worked at his stationery and book store with his brother Alfred on Wall Street, volunteered in fighting fires when emergencies arose, spent time with his wife Eliza and two children, DeWitt and Mary, and kept playing base ball with the Knickerbockers.
Gold was discovered in California during January of 1848. News reached New York by September of that year. By March 1849, Alexander was off to California for adventure and hopes of striking it richunaware that he and Eliza had their third child on the way.
The original handwritten diary of that journey, or a portion of it, resides in the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. Alexander's grandson Bruce Cartwright Jr. typed a transcribed copy of it as late as the 1930s. In that copy Alexander is described leaving New York on March 1, 1849, to travel by train to St. Louis. From St. Louis he took a steamboat to Independence, Missouri. According to the transcribed copy of the journal, A.J. Cartwright Jr. wrote on April 23, 1849: "During the past week we have passed the time in fixing the wagon-covers, stowing away property etc. varied by hunting and fishing, swimming and playing Base-ball. I have the ball and book of rules with me that we used back home."
A passage from the handwritten journal states: "We started under the guidance of Colonel Russell, the company consisting of 32 waggons [sic] with 110 men, for 'Gold Diggins' of California, our trail lay over a fine prairie on the Santa Fe route..." The rest of the journal tells of accounts with several Indian tribes, Baptist missionaries, trappers, government forts, trading posts, and Mormon settlers. Cartwright finally arrived in San Francisco on August 10, where he met up with his younger brother Alfred, who had preceded him there via Cape Horn. Together, the brothers purchased interest in a mining enterprise. They did find some gold; however, within days after doing so, Alexander sailed for Hawaii on August 15, 1849. He had been suffering bouts of dysentery, and his friend Charles Robinson told him about the Sandwich Islands, where he could relax and regain his health.
Upon arrival in Honolulu, Alex Cartwright must have inhaled the fragrance of tropical flowersplumeria, jasmine, and gardeniaalong with the sweet smell of pineapple and sugar cane in the air. Cartwright met up with former New York acquaintance Aaron B. Howe, who owned a ship chandlers business. Alex became employed as a bookkeeper for Howe.
Ancient Hawaiians revered Pele, the Goddess of Fire, but nineteenth-century Hawaiian society had to fight fire with buckets of water. W.C. Parke formed Honolulu's first Volunteer Fire Brigade in November of 1850 and not a day too soon, for that day a fire broke out and eleven homes were destroyed. Parke was Honolulu's first fire chief from that moment, but for unknown reasons, on December 27, 1850, King Kamehameha III passed an act in Privy Council that appointed Cartwright Chief Engineer of the Fire Department of the City of Honolulu. Oahu's Governor, Kekuanaoa, signed the act on February 3, 1851. Kamehameha reportedly took an immense interest in the department. When the alarm went off, the reigning monarch shed his coat, rolled up his sleeves and helped right along side the other volunteers.
A passenger list dated November 13, 1851, for the American ship Eliza Warwick shows Mrs. Cartwright and her three children, DeWitt, Mary, and Kathleen, traveling to Honolulu from San Francisco. An elaborate gravestone in the Cartwright cemetery plot in Honolulu shows that "Kate Lee" died in Honolulu on November 16, 1851. The other two Cartwright children also died young. Mary Cartwright Maitland died in 1869 at age 24, nearly three years after she married, and had no children. DeWitt died in 1870 at age 26. He was not married and had no children.
Two more children were born to Alexander and Eliza in Honolulu, Bruce in 1853 and Alexander III in 1855. Bruce grew up in Honolulu, married and had children, Bruce Jr. and Kathleen DeWitt. Alexander III married Theresa Owana Laanui and had two daughtersDaisy Napulahaokalani and Eva Kuwailanimamao. They divorced, and he eventually moved to San Francisco and married Susan Florence McDonald. They had two daughtersRuth Joy and Mary Muriel. Mary Muriel married Elliott Everett Check. It was through Mary that her grandfather's Gold Rush diary was donated to the Bishop Museum in Honolulu from her estate.
Bruce Jr.'s lineage can be traced to having three children, two of whom died quite young (Bruce III and Coleman), and another, William, who married Margery and had one daughter Jane. William and Margery divorced, and William later married Anne and had two more children, daughter Anna and son Alexander J. Cartwright IV. It was Bruce Jr. who first wrote to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936 about his grandfather and baseball.
Aside from his duties at the Honolulu Fire Department, Alexander became involved with many other aspects of the city through his involvement with Freemasonry. In 1859, for example, Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV founded Queen's Hospital. As part of its customs and traditions, cornerstone ceremonies were held for the construction of new buildings. The first public Masonic ceremony on the islands was at the laying of the hospital cornerstone in 1860.
As an advisor to the queen, Cartwright was the executor of her Last Will & Testament, in which she left the bulk of her estate to the hospital when she died in 1885. He also was appointed Consul to Peru, and was on the financial committee for Honolulu's Centennial Celebration of American Independence held on July 4, 1876.
A group of men, Cartwright among them, founded the Honolulu Library and Reading Room in 1879. The sponsors had originally named it the "Workingmen's Library," but felt that it needed a broader name to signify its true concept. In the local newspaper, the Commercial Pacific Advertiser, editor J. H. Black wrote, "The library is not intended to be run for the benefit of any class, party, nationality, or sect."
Some of the founders wanted to exclude women from membership, but Cartwright disagreed, writing to his brother Alfred: "The idea keeps the blessed ladies out and the children. What makes us old geezers think we are the only ones to be spiritually and morally uplifted by a public library in this city?" It wasn't long before the committee changed the wording of the constitution to make women eligible for membership.
Alexander Cartwright was involved with the library for the rest of his life, and was president from 1886 to 1892. The Reading Room librarian, Mary Burbank, said "Mr. Cartwright's name led the list of the first Board of Directors in 1879, and [he] remained on the board as long as he lived, giving the most generously of books." Cartwright was a constant reader, frequently donating his own purchased books after he had read them.
Another little known fact is that Cartwright was one of twelve men who belonged to a "Birthday Club." Beginning in December of 1871, the twelve men would have a "first-class" dinner at one of the member's homes each month. The Honorary President was King Kamehameha V. Their last dinner would be on May 2, 1872. The king suffered an attack of dropsy and died on December 11 (his 42nd birthday). Once the king fell ill, the club postponed their dinners, and never met again.
King Kamehameha V was the first native Hawaiian to become a Freemason. The February before he died, a cornerstone was laid in Masonic tradition with members of the lodge present, including the Acting Grand Master, Alexander Cartwright Jr. The king, together with Cartwright, spread cement beneath the Cornerstone for what would become the Judiciary Building.
The next monarch, King Kalakaua, became the first Hawaiian monarch to attend a baseball game. Cartwright was the king's financial advisor. The game took place in 1875 between the Athletes and the Pensacolas. Baseball had been growing in popularity since being played at Punahou School in the 1860s. But it is unclear whether Cartwright actually instituted the playing of the game on the islands.
Spalding's world tour of 1888-89 brought the Chicago White Stockings and the All-American teams to Honolulu in November of 1888. They were due to arrive on a Saturday and play a scheduled game at 1:00 PM. Unfortunately, their ship didn't arrive until 5:30 Sunday morning. Some political aspects to their visit prevented them from playing a game on a Sunday. The "blue law," originally enacted from New England missionaries in 1820, was enforced by the missionaries' descendents in defiance of the king, as political powers were plotting to overthrow the monarchy.
Everyone, including Cartwright, who had gathered to greet Spalding's group to see the men play was disappointed. In America's National Game (1911), Spalding recalls meeting Cartwright and calls him "one of the devotees of Base Ball
" No other details of a conversation between the two have been uncovered.
Spalding seemed impressed, however, when he remarked that Honolulu had four established clubs and that baseball was fully appreciated there. There is recorded evidence that Cartwright's Hawaiian-born sons, Bruce and Alex III, played baseball between the 1860s and 1880s in Honolulu. Without a doubt these young men, standing right beside their father, would not have missed seeing the professional ball players come to town. Given Cartwright's personal connection to the monarchy, it is also feasible that the Cartwright family attended a grand luau held at the queen's home to honor the visitors on Sunday evening.
Alexander Cartwright died on July 12, 1892, apparently of an "illness in his throat that worsened." A newspaper reported in the Hawaiian language that Cartwright "breathed the last breath of his life in Waikiki."
The Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown on January 17, 1893. A group of Americans in Honolulu had formed to request of President Benjamin Harrison that Hawaii be annexed to the United States. The president was in favor. The individual leading the cause for annexation was Lorrin Thurston. Coincidentally, Thurston had played baseball at Punahou School with Alexander III and Bruce Cartwright Sr.
Alexander Cartwright's grandson Bruce, Jr. carried the torch of the family legacy until his death on March 11, 1939, three months before the official opening ceremonies of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Bruce Cartwright was instrumental in providing enough information to the induction committee to have his grandfather inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1938. During the celebration festivities on August 26, 1939 there was also "National Cartwright Day," on which ballplayers at Ebbetts Field drank pineapple juice in a toast to Cartwright. It was the first major league baseball game broadcast on television.
A large pink granite monument in Nuuanu Valley Cemetery in Honolulu marks the final resting-place of Alexander Joy Cartwright Jr. Many baseball personalities, including Babe Ruth, have visited this spot to pay tribute. A street and a park nearby were named after Cartwright. The park was originally called Makiki Park, where it was known as the first grounds used for playing baseball.
With each passing year, baseball's true origin becomes more and more difficult to determine. Old papers deteriorate or destroyed, or perhaps buried among other forgotten relics in an attic somewhere. Nevertheless, a letter from Cartwright to old Knickerbocker friend Charles DeBost still exists. Cartwright writes in April 1865, "Dear old Knickerbockers, I hope the Club is still kept up, and that I shall some day meet again with them on the pleasant fields of Hoboken. Charlie, I have in my possession the original ball with which we used to play on Murray Hill. Many is the pleasant chase I have had after it on Mountain and Prairie, and many an equally pleasant one on the sunny plains of 'Hawaii'nei,' here in Honolulu my pleasant Island Homesometimes I have thought of sending it home to be played for by the Clubs, but I cannot bear to part with it, it is so linked in with cherished home memories, it is truly one of my family lares."
Note: If not for Bruce Cartwright, Jr. this biography of Alexander Cartwright, Jr. might not have been written. Perhaps his memories as a young boy listening to his grandfather tell stories that spurred Bruce to announce his grandfather's accomplishments to the world. As he told a journalist for an article in the magazine Paradise of the Pacific, "When I was a small boy it was my great joy to hear grandpa tell about the early days of baseball in New York and his adventures while crossing the continent."
08-01-2006, 02:49 PM
I don't know if there's much interest, but there's a possibility that Jake Beckley could have been killed if he was still with Topeka when this wreck occurred. About halfway down it mentions the lowly Topeka team traveling to Denver. Either way the team had a close call with death whether Beckley was still associated with them or not.Man that Topeka didn't just lose games, they got blasted about everytime they took the field didn't they?..
10-10-2006, 10:09 AM
PAUL HINES (1852–1935)
Hines moved to Rhode Island and played for the Providence Grays from 1878 through 1885. Here he would collect the twelve other “firsts.” His initial year with the Grays, Hines would become the first to record an unassisted triple play. In the third game of the season, after Providence had taken a 3–0 lead in the top of the eighth, the Boston Red Caps got one back in the bottom of the inning and had Ezra Sutton on second and Jack Manning on third with none out. Second baseman Jack Burdock hit a short fly ball over shortstop Tom Carey. From his centerfield position Hines made a running catch and continued toward third and stepped on the bag to put out both Manning and Sutton, who had proceeded home. According to the rules of 1878, if both runners had passed third base when Hines stepped on the bag, they were both immediately out. Hines threw to second baseman Charlie Sweasy who stepped on second to retire Sutton. It has been debated whether this was necessary. Some reports say that both men had passed third and were on their way home and some say that Sutton was on his way back to second. Either way Paul Hines has been given credit for accomplishing the feat.
the NL crowned Milwaukee Grays LF Abner Dalrymple the batting champ for hitting .356. Dalrymple was considered to be the first rookie to win a batting title. But in 1878, hits made in tie games were not counted. So after recalculating the final averages Dalrymple’s .354 came up short to Hines’ .358. Hines also led the league in RBI with 50, and home runs with 4, so in fact, Hines was the first major leaguer to win the Triple Crown.
Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide awarded the 1879 batting title to Chicago White Stockings first baseman, Cap Anson with a .407 average. Spalding claimed Anson had compiled 90 hits in 221 at bats. Years later, a subsequent investigation showed that in fact, Anson had only 72 hits in 227 at bats for a .317 average. Hines hit .357 in 1879, the highest average that year and the first major leaguer to lead the National League in batting average for two consecutive years. He would die 15 years later still not knowing he was the first major league Triple Crown winner and a two-time batting champ.
Hines' unassisted triple play has now been refuted.
Tie games before 1885 were not to be counted in any way per the Constitution, and thus Dalrymple is still the official batting champion. In fact, they arguably shouldn't be counted today either, but it is the rule since 1885 0n. In any case to change the rules of the day is hardly fair.
Anson's liver ailment caused him to miss quite a few games in 1879, and his hit totals were enhanced on purpose. Himes deserves that title.
10-10-2006, 10:57 AM
Cap Anson (1852-1922)
Unfortunately, Anson was well known to be a racist.
Other great source for reading: http://bioproj.sabr.org/bioproj.cfm?a=v&v=l&bid=1257&pid=305
I think it was Arthur Ashe who said that Anson was and is unfairly labled as a racist as though he were the only one. He did not control baseball. I remember the 1950's when there were a lot of racists. Anson played shortly after the Civil War, some 80 years before. Racism was institutional in all sectors, not just baseball.
10-14-2006, 09:06 PM
While researching John McGraw's childhood and reading his biographies, I discovered what many baseball historians run into every day. I wasted valuable time searching for the winter diphtheria epidemic of 1884/1885 that never occurred in his village. His mother and three siblings actually died during the late summer and fall of 1883, and their headstones and local newspapers confirm that.
07-25-2007, 04:35 PM
By Eric Miklich
JOE START began playing baseball during its organized infancy and retired after the game became big business, 28 years later. He played for 1 amateur team and six professional teams and attained the reputation of a well tempered, well-mannered steady ballplayer.
He played first base for the Enterprise Club of Brooklyn in 1860 and moved to the powerful Atlantic Club of Brooklyn the following year. During the 1864 season, Start hit 11 home runs in 18 games, and led the Atlantic Club to undefeated seasons in 1864 and 1865. On September 6, 1869, Start hit four homerun's in a 45–25 win over the Eckfords of Brooklyn and had seven hits on the day and totaled 21 bases. Against the undefeated Cincinnati Red Stockings on June 14, 1870, at the Capitoline Grounds in Brooklyn, Start hit a long fly ball in the bottom of the eleventh inning, with the Atlantics trailing 7–5. As Cincinnati's right fielder, Cal McVey, caught up with the ball and attempted to coral the ball on the first bound, he was interfered with by an Atlantic supporter. Start ended up on third and Atlantic's third baseman, Charlie Smith who had singled and moved to third on a wild pitch, scored to cut the Red Stockings lead to 7-6. The Atlantics would score two more runs to end the Red Stockings game winning streak. Before leaving the Atlantic Club in 1871, Start would help them to Championships in 1861, 1864–1866 and 1869.
Joe Start and his good friend Bob Ferguson moved to the Mutual Base Ball Club of New York for the 1872 season. Both Ferguson and Start were loyal and honest which was a rarity during the early days of baseball which were surrounded by betting scandals, especially the Mutuals. In 1873, Start managed the New York Mutuals for the final 25 games of the season and the Mutuals were 18–7 in those games but still finished in fourth place. Third baseman John Hatfield began the season as the manager and was 11-17, before being replaced.
Joe Start broke up Brooklyn Atlantic pitcher Tommy Bond's bid to become the first professional pitcher to throw a no-hitter on October 19, 1874. Start, a left-handed batter, doubled to left field with two outs in the top of the ninth inning at Brooklyn's Union Grounds. Brooklyn prevailed 5–0.
On July 21, 1876, he hit three home runs and a triple against the Athletic Club of Philadelphia.
In 1877 he played for the Dark Blue of Hartford, who actually played their home games in Brooklyn at the Union Grounds, and in 1878 he played for the Chicago White Stockings, following Ferguson, who managed both teams. Start was the only player to make 100 hits during the 1878 season. Wanting to return to the east he joined the Providence Grays for the 1879 season, helping to lead them to the National League Whip Pennant.
At age 41 in 1884, he missed 21 games, four in the middle of May due to Malaria, but was able to hit safely 105 times and was third on the team in average and runs scored. On September 26th, he hit his only homerun of the season, a three run home-run in the seventh inning, against his former team the Chicago White Stockings at League Front Park in Chicago, to clinch the Whip Pennant for the Grays. The Grays would win the first "World Series" over the American Association's New York Metropolitans three games to none, with all of the games being played at the Polo Grounds in New York.
Baseball Rules Banner: It's 1867. Do you know what the rules are? Click here.
He played with Providence until 1885 and at the end of the season married a Rhode Island native. In 1886, he played in only 31 games for the Washington Nationals before retiring at the age of 43.
He returned to Rhode Island and ran the Lakewood Inn in Warwick for several years. The Starts never had any children; his wife, Angeline, died in February of 1927 and Joe Start died one month later at age 84.
During his career the 5'9' Start was reported to be an excellent fielder and may have been the first first baseman to play off of the bag when not receiving a throw, enabling him to increase the area of the infield that he covered. At that time first basemen played close to or on top of the base, waiting to take throws from the infielders.