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Casey Hageman, Contract Enforcer

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  • Casey Hageman, Contract Enforcer

    Casey Hageman
    Kurt Moritz Hageman
    Righthanded Pitcher

    Kurt Hageman was born on May 12, 1887 in Mount Oliver, a borough completely surrounded by the city of Pittsburgh. He was born to German immigrants who came to the United States in 1867. His mother, Eliza Hageman, was born in October 1843. His father died before Kurt was 13 years old. Kurt was the youngest of seven surviving children (Eliza had 13 children).

    Kurt’s middle name was the Mortiz, a German derivative of Maurice. Hageman may have been confused here as he indicated his middle name as “Morris” on his WWI Registration Card and as “Maurice” on his WWII Registration Card.

    By 1900, the Hageman family had moved to Beaver Falls, about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. In 1906 Hageman enrolled at the local Geneva College. The SABR Collegiate Database indicates that he played baseball for the school from 1906-11.

    In 1909 Hageman pitched in the Class-B Central League for Grand Rapids, Michigan. A tragedy took place on the next to last day of the season. On September 14 Hageman started the first game of a doubleheader. The leadoff batter, Charles ‘Cupid’ Pinkney, Dayton’s second baseman, homered off Hageman who was eventually pulled in the second inning.

    Hageman also started the second game. By the middle of the game, it was becoming dark and the umpire decided that the game would end after seven innings. However, in the seventh inning Hageman caught Pinkney with ball four above the left ear. Pinkney died the following day.

    Distraught and feeling that his career would career a label, Hageman refused to rejoin the Central league for the 1910 season. He is listed in that year’s Census as a “designer, enamel worker” at home in Beaver Falls.

    In 1911 Hageman began the year with Denver in the Western League. On June 7, 1911 he was purchased by the Boston Red Sox for $5,000 but remained with Denver through the rest of their season. (Beginning here and for much of the rest of the decade, newspaper reporters continually mixed up the names and careers of Casey Hageman and Rip Hagerman)

    At the end of the 1911 season the Red Sox recalled Denver pitchers Thomas “Buck” O’Brien and Hageman. The pair left Denver by train on September 6. Hageman signed his contract (through 1912) on the 11th, calling for $400 a month. He made his major league debut on the 18th, a complete game loss, 4-1, to Cleveland. He lost again in the second game of a doubleheader on September 30.

    Hageman returned to Boston for the 1912 season. He started the third game of the season but was blown out in the first inning. The club eventually won 8-4. He relieved on another occasion before being optioned to Jersey City of the International League on May 14 for seasoning. The Red Sox gave Hageman some assurances that he would be recalled to the parent club within a relatively short time (Red Sox manager Jake Stahl advised Hageman to sign an equal deal with Jersey City. Hageman believed that he was only be loaned to Jersey City). He then signed a contract with Jersey City for the same $400.

    In June Boston recalled Hageman from the Jersey roster and assigned him to Denver of the Western League. Denver offered a contract calling for only $250 a month. Hageman wanted to be returned to Jersey City where his contract called for a higher salary. Boston president Jimmy McAleer tersely told him that that isn’t how things work.

    McAleer further offered to allow for Hageman’s release if the pitcher could find someone willing to pay $1,500 for his contract. Hageman did but McAleer reneged. Hageman protested to the National Commission claiming that he already had a contract from the Boston organization which called for $400 a month. Naturally, his complaint was denied as this was how business was conducted by baseball franchises. The commission telegrammed Hageman that “…the Denver club has a right to regulate your salary, you cannot expect a major league salary…”

    Hageman refused his assignment to Denver (sitting out the rest of the season). Instead, he showed up for work everyday at Fenway Park ready to practice and play for the Red Sox (through the end of the season). The club refused him to play him and stopped paying him on June 22. They would later claim that they released him, but Hageman denied that fact. Hagemen further stated that he could not obtain his release from the Red Sox and was therefore unable to sign a contract with another club.

    In October 1912 Hageman went public with his gripes. He was still looking for paychecks from the Red Sox. Since he still considered himself a member of the organization, he was also expecting World Series money.

    Nineteen Hundred Twelve also happened to be the year that ex-major leaguer Dave Fultz was trying to get a players’ union organized. He would meet secretly with small groups of players in this effort (Sam Crawford, Jake Daubert and Ed Reulbach were said to be among those involved during the initial stages). The big push came when Ty Cobb was suspended in May and his Tiger teammates decided to strike.

    Fultz unilaterally declared himself president of the union and selected Crawford and Davey Jones as vice presidents. The Baseball Players’ Fraternity was officially incorporated on September 6, 1912. The first case it took up was Hageman’s.

    On February 18, 1913 Hageman finally signed a contract to play with Denver in 1913. On May 31 he (with Fultz as lawyer) filed a lawsuit in New York (location of Fultz’s law office) against the Red Sox organization seeking $1,480 compensation because the club would not pay him after June nor would it allow him to seek employment elsewhere.

    Hageman claimed that the Red Sox were forcing him to pitch for Denver at a salary of $1,500 in 1912, but he had offers to pitch elsewhere for $2,400. Fultz cited the contract stipulation that, “A player recalled under an optional agreement or who has been in the service of a major league club for a season, shall not be subject to release under an optional agreement.” The Red Sox were clearly in violation.

    The New York Supreme court ruled in favor of the Red Sox, claiming that Hageman’s contract with Jersey City absolved Boston of any blame. For the 1914 season, Hageman landed a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. After twelve games (2 wins and a 2.44 ERA), he was sold to the Cubs on July 6 for the waiver fee (the encyclopedia sites have an error listed here – they state that Hageman was sold by the Brooklyn Dodgers). Oddly, he had just pitched a brilliant 5-1 complete-game victory over Pittsburgh on July 1. Hageman pitched in 16 games for Chicago.

    On February, 5 1915 the New York Appellate Division reversed the Supreme Court (by a 3-2 vote) and ordered a new trial. The prevailing opinion of Justice Laughlin claimed that “…many of the provisions of a contract to which a player becomes subject are coercive, and are so drafted that they may be enforced arbitrarily…”

    In the meantime the Cubs failed to live up to Hageman’s contract with the Cardinals. He had signed a contract with a bonus clause for $240 payable at the end of the season. The Cubs refused to pay claiming that they should only be liable for half the bonus since he was only with the team half the season. Moreover, his 1914 contract called for a similar bonus clause to be added to his 1915 contract. The National Commission ruled in Hageman’s favor, ordering the Cubs to pay the $240 and issue him a new contract for 1915.

    The new trial in the Red Sox case was scheduled for May 1915; then, it remained pending…for two and one half years. On November 13, 1917 the courts ruled in Hageman’s favor. Boston’s new owner was ordered to pay a judgment of $2,348.56 for back salary, interest and costs.

    Frazee refused to pay and moreover he wouldn’t appear in court. On February 18, 1919 Dave Fultz (By this time though the Baseball Fraternity was no longer in existence) obtained a Supreme Court order requiring Frazee to appear the next day to show cause. Frazee then paid the judgment, amended to $2,385.19.

    In 1915 Hageman was married to Grand Rapids native Helen Caroline (They had met during his year playing ball there). The couple moved to Youngstown, Ohio where they owned a news agency.

    Hageman died on April 1, 1964 in New Bedford, Pennsylvania. He was laid to rest at Calvary Cemetery in Grand Rapids.

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