Tragic Exits: James McDonough

28 Jan

James Vincent McDonough was born in Chicago in 1888, his father and younger brother were both Chicago police officers.  Primarily a catcher, the 5’ 10” 180 pound right-handed hitter first made a name for himself in the Chicago City League with the Auburn Parks and the Rogers Parks.

McDonough, middle row, second from left with the Rogers Parks in 1910.

McDonough, middle row, second from left with the Rogers Parks in 1910.

In 1911 he joined the Grand Rapids Furniture Makers in the Central League; in July The Sporting Life said he was traded to the Terre Haute Miners.  He finished the season with the Traverse City Reporters in the Michigan State League, and then returned to Chicago.

In 1912 and ’13 McDonough was one of the more popular members of Chicago’s entries in the United States and Federal Leagues.  He also started the 1914 season as a member of Joe Tinker’s Whales in the Federal league, although The Chicago Tribune said he was “handicapped this spring with a sore arm,” he played in the club’s final exhibition game in Covington, Kentucky, collecting two hits but never appeared in a game during the regular season, and was released in May.

McDonough

McDonough

That same month McDonough returned to semi-pro ball in Chicago and married the Marion Delores Jordan.

He remained a popular enough figure in Chicago baseball circles that his wedding and the brief marital scandal that followed in 1916 was reported in the local press.  The Tribune said:

“A ‘poisoned phone’ almost brought about the complete separation of Jim McDonough, the former backstop of the Federal baseball team, and his wife a few days ago.  For the last two weeks girls called up Mrs. McDonough every night and told her that her beloved hubby was not the saint she thought him.

“’These naughty girls,’ said the young Mrs. McDonough, ‘said Jim was out drinking champagne with them.  It almost drove me to nervous prostration.  Jim always denied the stories, but by that time I had grown to suspect him.

“’Then I went home to mother’s.  Three days later I saw a lawyer and filed a bill for a divorce.  Then the most wonderful thing in the world happened.  Jim came to me and told me he had done nothing wrong and that he loved me more than ever.”

Marion McDonough

Marion McDonough

The couple reconciled.

On April 22, 1918 McDonough made the papers for the final time.  The Chicago Examiner said:

“James McDonough, well-known as a catcher in the Chicago Federal League baseball team the first year of that organization’s existence, shot and killed his wife last night.  Then he killed himself with a bullet through his temple…Mrs. McDonough left the former ballplayer several months ago, charging that he failed to support her and their two children…McDonough was 29-years-old and subject to the draft. At the time of the separation Mrs. McDonough refused to sign exemption papers for him.  Several times since, it is said, he begged her to return to him or sign the exemption papers.”

The two had an altercation outside a drug store on Chicago’s South side.

“Noticing that they were attracting attention, the couple walked away.  At 4250 Vincennes Ave., McDonough pushed his wife into a hallway.  A moment later he shot her twice, once in the temple and once just below the heart. Then he sent a bullet into his own head.”

Both were taken to a nearby residence.  McDonough died after 10 minutes, his wife died 30 minutes later.

Although it appears he never played organized baseball after 1914, his Cook County, Illinois death certificate listed his profession as “Ballplayer.”

“The Chicago players began to Kick Vigorously”

26 Jan

The Chicago White Stockings arrived in Detroit on the evening of June 18, 1886 with a mission.  The Detroit Wolverines had won their first 18 home games, and threatened the record of 21 set by Chicago eight seasons earlier.

The Chicago Tribune said on the morning of the game a delegation of nearly 200 Chicago fans, led by team President Albert Spalding, arrived by train.  The Chicago Tribune said:

“Out of the car doors piled the delegation from the windy city, each man bearing a new broom with a placard strapped across the straw end announcing the arrival of the ‘Record Breakers.’”

The Chicago players, along with team mascot Willie Hahn, met the group at the train:

“(T)he Chicago players and their mascot marched down the platform and placed themselves at the head of the double column of visiting Chicagoans that had formed at the depot, and then with their brooms elevated, the delegation marched out of the depot…The odd looking procession, extending nearly two squares, attracted a vast amount of attention.”

The delegation marched to the team’s hotel, the Russell House, until it was time to leave for Detroit’s Recreation Park at 3 PM.

With Hahn, and the players again in the lead, the delegation marched to the ballpark.

The Chicago Inter Ocean described the team’s arrival:

“The Chicagos were escorted to the ground by a band, and entered the field behind little Willie Hahn, who carried an immense broom on which were the words ‘Our Mascot.’”

Not to be outdone, the Wolverines had quickly recruited their own mascot for the game.  The Inter Ocean said:

“The Detroits entered the grounds behind a little fellow almost the same size of Willie Hahn, and were received with cheer after cheer.”

The Wolverines mascot was “young Charlie Gallagher,” a local boy “said to have been born with teeth, and is guaranteed to posses all the magic charms of a genuine mascot.”

Charles “Lady” Baldwin pitched for Detroit, and Jim McCormick for Chicago.  Both pitchers gave up four runs through five innings.  Then, said The Tribune:

“Not a run to either side did the sixth, seventh, or eighth innings yield.  The Whites did not once get further than second in these three innings.  (Sam) Crane and (Charlie) Bennett for the home team alone reached third.

“Now (in the eighth inning) came the misfortune to which many a Detroiter attributes the defeat of their team.  Bennett had caught his usually brilliant game without an error…(Fred) Pfeffer was at bat and struck one of those wicked fouls that have so often proved terrors to catchers.  The ball caught the crack catcher upon the tip of the middle finger of his right hand, and almost tore it from the joint.  Bennett bore the pain like a man, tried to brace up and go on, but he soon saw the folly of such an undertaking and withdrew.”

Shortstop Jack Rowe moved behind the plate to replace Bennett, and the following inning, with a runner on second and no out,  a foul off the bat of George Gore struck Rowe’s finger ”jerking the member out of joint, besides splitting it badly.”

Detroit then tried to stall in order to have the game called on account of darkness

(Charlie) Ganzel, the Detroits’ remaining catcher, was then sent for.  A long delay followed.  The delay was so long that the Chicago players began to kick vigorously.  ‘The man will not put on his uniform,’ said (Cap) Anson to (Umpire John) Gaffney.”

Ganzel finally took the field “after twenty-five minutes’ delay.”  Gore singled, moving McCormick to third, then Ganzel allowed a passed ball, and Chicago won 5 to 4.

“The scene that followed can scarcely be described, and the delight of the Chicago delegation bordered upon wildness, and was in strong contrast to the blue faces of the great crowd of Detroiters that filed out of the grounds.  Brooms were waved with increased enthusiasm by the Chicago contingent on the road back to the hotel.”

Detroit won the two remaining games in the series and increased their lead over the second place White Stockings to three and a half games.  They stayed in first place until August 26—Chicago took over the league lead and never relinquished it, winning the National League pennant by two and half games.

Hahn remained the White Stockings mascot until 1888. Charlie Gallagher was never heard from again.

Lost Advertisements–Beer “The Proper Drink for Athletes in Training”

23 Jan

cobbbecker's

A 1918 advertisement for Becker’s Best Beer from Utah’s Becker Brewing & Malting Company, featuring Ty Cobb,  the ad said:

“Baseball is the National Pastime.  Beer is the National Drink”

It also included testimonials from “two of the leading baseball men of America as to True Temperance.”

As a result of the World War I “Food and Fuel Control Act,” malt beverages were mandated to contain less than 2.75% alcohol; brewers were trying to highlight the non intoxicating aspects of their current products as a wartime ban on the brewing of all beer was on the horizon (eventually that ban was adjusted to allow brewing of “non-alcoholic malt beverages).

The featured letters were from Brooklyn Robins President Charles Ebbets and New York Yankees Trainer John Burke to The New York Evening Journal regarding the paper’s invitation to a dinner honoring the ball clubs. Ebbet’s wrote:

“I accept with pleasure for my team the invitation to dine…We would suggest a simple dinner, with light beer and no stimulant.  That is out idea of the proper drink for athlete in training.”

Burke wrote:

“May I suggest in regard to the dinner , that men, while the season is on, lead very temperate lives.  If you will give them a good American dinner, with plain American Beer, they will appreciate it.”

Becker Brewing & Malting, according to a  1919 issue of “Brewers Journal,” was among the company’s making “laudable efforts…to meet the adverse conditions which have been imposed under the veil of ‘war time’ prohibition” by bottling soft drinks and manufacturing “Becco, a cereal beverage.”

Ty Cobb no longer appeared in the ads.

becco

Cecil and Josh

21 Jan

Newspapers across the country saw it as a human interest story about baseball; the Black Press saw it very differently.  With his team in a slump, New York Giants Manager Bill Terry brought in 13-year-old Cecil Terry to “bring the Giants some badly needed luck.”

Cecil Haley

Cecil Haley

The Associated Press said of Haley’s first day on the job:

“Cecil, a Negro mascot, was given a Giant uniform yesterday, allowed to sit in the dugout for the first time and promised a trip West if he’d bring the Giants some badly-needed luck.  The net result of his work?  Pirates 4, Giants 3.”

Very different stories appeared in the Black press.  The Washington Afro-American said:

“(O)rganized big leagues will have colored mascots but steadfastly refuse to accept them as players.  The proud lad sits under the bat rack in the Giants’ dugout, but to date, something must be wrong, because the Giants are hopelessly battling for fifth place.”

The New York Age said:

“Cecil Haley, New York Giants colored mascot, will know better when he grows older and tries to get a job playing for the same team.”

The same day that Haley appeared on the bench with the Giants, New York pitcher Carl Hubbell spoke with The Pittsburgh Courier about Josh Gibson:

“‘(H)e’s one of the greatest backstops in the history of baseball, I think…Boy–how he can throw!’ exclaimed Hubbell.

josh

“There seems to be nothing to it when he throws.  He just whips the ball down to second base like it had a string on it.  He’s great, I’m telling you.  Any team in the big leagues could use him right now.’

“But, with all that,’ said Hubbell, ‘the thing I like best about him is that he’s as fast as greased lightening.  You know, after a few years a catcher usually slows up considerably from bending down so much.  But that guy–why, he’s never slowed down.”

That summer, a new effort was underway to integrate baseball.  A petition drive led by the Young Communist League collected between 25,000 and 100,000 (reports varied) and delivered to National League President Ford Frick,  and Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis at the 1939 winter meeting in Cincinnati.

The Afro-American said Frick “avoided the issue by declaring that a ‘social problem’ was involved for which the big leagues were not responsible.”

There is no public record of the commissioner’s response.

Josh Gibson, with two-time Communist Vice-Presidential Candidate James W. Ford looking on, signs the 1939 petition to end racial discrimination in professional baseball.

I published a shorter version of this post on August 27, 2012.

“Throw Strikes. Home plate don’t Move.”

19 Jan

Satchel Paige told Dave Condon of The Chicago Tribune that early in 1965, with the help of his wife Lahoma, and 17-year-old daughter Pamela he “wrote letters to everyone in baseball just looking for a steady job.  Anything.”

After not one professional team responded, the spring and early summer were like most during his 40-year career as a pitcher—Paige traveled wherever there was a chance for a paycheck.

He had made appearances with the Harlem Globetrotters in the winter and spring and then hit the road; pitching for the barnstorming Indianapolis Clowns and whoever else would call.  In May, The Chicago Defender said Abe Saperstein, who was managing Paige’s appearances, took out an ad in The Sporting News:

“(T)he man, who may have been the greatest pitcher of all time, is letting it be known that he has glove and is willing to travel.  All that is necessary to secure his services is to contact Saperstein.”

One night Paige would be at Chicago’s Comiskey Park, in a White Sox uniform, pitching for the Clowns in front of a large crowd, or across town in Wrigley Field where 30,000 fans came out; another night would find him in Hastings, Pennsylvania taking “the mound for the Hastings VFW club,” or Wheatfield, Indiana pitching “for the Band Boosters against the Wheatfield Young Farmers,” in front of a few hundred people.

Paige at Comiskey Park in 1965--Chicago Cubs outfielder George Altman is the catcher.

Paige at Comiskey Park in 1965–Chicago Cubs outfielder George Altman is the catcher.

Things began to look up in late July when the Cleveland Indians inducted Paige into the team’s Hall of Fame between games of a Sunday doubleheader with the Yankees; in front of the team’s largest crowd of the season:  56,634.  According to United Press International:

“Satch tossed examples of his blooper, drooper and hesitation pitches to (former Indians teammate) Jim Hegan, now a Yankee coach and explained his philosophy of pitching thus: ‘Just take the ball and throw it where you want to.  Throw strikes.  Home plate don’t move.”

In August, he accepted an offer to pitch for and manage a team in Anchorage, Alaska called the Earthquakers.  In reality, Paige simply went to Alaska for a short series of exhibition games, and had no intention of staying there—he was already booked to appear at the old-timers game scheduled in September to mark the first season of the Houston Astrodome.  But he did his best to sell it as a possible long-term move.  He told a reporter for The Associated Press:

“Lately, I’ve wanted to leave barnstorming baseball to settle down somewhat to help the sport.  Anchorage seems to be the place to do it.”

In addition to his appearance in a handful of games in Alaska, his arrival in the state also resulted in a chance meeting that was reported in the press.

As a crowd of local residents gathered at the Anchorage airport to greet Paige, another plane arrived for refueling.  It carried former Vice President Richard M. Nixon on his way to Tokyo.  Nixon walked into the terminal while the plane was refueled, and when he asked about the crowd he was told they were waiting for Paige’s arrival.  Nixon joined the line to greet the pitcher.  The man who would be the leader of the free world in a little more than three years told a reporter from The Associated Press:

“I always like to meet celebrities.”

Nixon and Paige meet in Alaska

Nixon and Paige meet in Alaska

His commitment in Alaska over, Paige made it to the Astrodome on September 6.  The two-inning game, featuring a team of “immortals” versus “Texas All-Stars,” was an incredible collection of legends—more than 50 former players participated; twelve were already members of the Hall of Fame.  The Houston Post said of the player introductions:

Joe DiMaggio, the Yankee Clipper, got a deafening cheer.  So did Satchel Paige, peerless Negro hurler.”

The paper said the only others to receive a reception near that for Paige and DiMaggio were Dizzy Dean and native Texan Monty Stratton.

Paige in the Astrodome

Paige in the Astrodome

Perhaps it was the reception in Houston that caused one of the letters Paige, and his wife and daughter had written months earlier to finally be answered.

Charles Oscar Finley, who made his fortune in the insurance business and bought controlling interest of the Kansas City A’s before the 1961 season, was the one who finally responded.

That the signing of Paige appears to have been a spur of the moment decision for Finley after reading about the reception in Houston, is supported by the fact that it was announced by the marketing savvy Finley at what The Kansas City Times described as a “hastily called news conference,” which Finley, who was in Chicago, did not attend.

He appeared with General Manager Hank Peters and told reporters “I thought they were kidding” when Finley called and offered him a contract.

He said he was ready to pitch and brushed aside questions about his age:

“I think I can still pitch and help this club.  So what difference does it make what my age is if I can?”

Bill Veeck, who had signed Paige with the Cleveland Indians in 1948 and the St. Louis Browns in 1951, told The Times he hoped it wasn’t just a publicity stunt by Finley:

“I am hopeful he will be used as he should be—as a pitcher. Leroy should surprise a few people as he has for a long time.”

Veeck and Paige

Veeck and Paige

The controversial Veeck, more than a decade away from his return to the game, told The Kansas City Star he blamed himself for the pitcher’s  long absence:

“When I left Cleveland the first thing the new owners did was get rid of Satch.  When I sold the St. Louis Browns (and the team relocated to Baltimore), the same thing happened.  That’s nothing more than guilt by association.”

The signing of the 59-year-old Paige, who joined a team that included five 19 and 20-year-old pitchers who appeared in at least one game that year—Jim “Catfish” Hunter, John “Blue Moon” Odom, Ron Tompkins, Tom Harrison and Don Buschorn—inspired a short poem published in The Star:

“They’re either too

Young or too old,

When Charlie puts ‘em

In A’s Green and Gold.”

Papers across the country carried a photograph of Paige, seated on a chair, with one of Finley’s young pitchers, Catfish Hunter, on his knee.  While the photo was straight from Finley’s marketing plan, the impact of one future Hall of Famer on another, forty years his junior, seems to have been real.

Paige and Hunter

Paige and Hunter

The Star spoke to Paige about his pitching philosophy one afternoon as Hunter stood nearby.  The paper said:

“Hunter listened intently as Satchel expounded his pitching theories.”

Paige was equally impressed with the 19-year-old, telling The Star:

“This young man has shown me a lot of poise.  He has a great future in this game.”

The next two weeks were filled with pictures of, and stories about, Paige in a rocking chair, a nurse seated nearby, watching the A’s play, and while a “Satchel Paige Night” was scheduled, there appeared little chance the pitcher would be used as anything but a prop for publicity.  Then Finley announced that his new pitcher would start on his night, September 25 against the Boston Red Sox.

What took place on the mound on September 25 has been written about many times. With his six children and wife Lahoma—pregnant with number seven—sitting in the owner’s box with Finley, Paige pitched three shutout innings, allowing just one hit—a Carl Yastrzemski double.

The only disappointment was the anemic crowd—just 9,289 Kansas City fans turned out to see a legend, the second largest crowd during that six-game home stand was 2,874.

As Paige took the mound in the fourth inning, A’s Manager Haywood Sullivan, who was not consulted before Paige’s signing or before Finley announced he would pitch that night, came to the mound to remove Paige.  The pitcher walked off to a standing ovation.

Paige walks off the field with Manager Haywood Sullivan while Diego Segui warms up.

Paige walks off the field with Manager Haywood Sullivan while Diego Segui warms up.

Paige returned to the clubhouse.  The Star said:

“In the clubhouse he was down to his long underwear, and talking about helping the A‘s out of the basement when someone rushed in a and screamed, ‘Satch, they want you back on the field.’

“The lights were out.  More than 9,000 matches flickered in the darkness, and on ‘Salute to Satchel Paige Night,’ they sang ‘Rockin’ Chair,’ ‘Darling I am Growing Old,’ and “The Old Gray Mare.”

After returning to the clubhouse, Paige was greeted by Finley, who called him “a real credit to the game.”  Paige “shook the owner’s hand” and said “I want to thank you for bringing me here.”

Whether he truly believed it or not, Paige told reporters he planned to pitch again in 1965.

“Everybody doubted me on the ballclub.  They’ll have more confidence in me now.”

He did not appear in another game but stayed with the club for the remainder of the season.  Two days after his three-inning performance, he was with the team in Baltimore.

A discouraging word had not been uttered by Paige during his time with the A’s.  Perhaps being in Baltimore—where his big league career effectively ended after Veeck sold the Browns—or maybe just the realization that a man capable of throwing three shutout innings at age 59 was not given an opportunity by a major league club the previous 12 seasons, changed that.

Lou Hatter wrote in The Baltimore Sun:

“Satchel Paige, the slender pitching ancient signed 2 ½ weeks ago by Kansas City, bared a deep-rooted wound here last night for the first time.”

Paige said to Hatter:

“You can put it this way.  You can say I resent being overlooked by organized baseball all these years while I threw away most of my best years pitching for a barnstorming club…All they ask me, though, is how old am I.  But nobody asks me why I stayed out of the major leagues for 15 [sic 12] years.  That’s a long time isn’t it?  That’s a lifetime for most professional players.

“Let me ask another question. When Baltimore bought the St. Louis ballclub, why did they turn me loose?

“When I went to the Miami club (again pitching for Bill Veeck with the International League Marlins) and was a top pitcher for three years (11, 10 and 10 win seasons with ERAs of 1.86, 2.42 and 2.95), how come nobody picked me up?…I know the answer, but I won’t tell that neither—like I won’t tell my age.”

Despite Finley telling reporters throughout September that Paige would return to the A’s in 1966, if not as a player, then as a coach, he was released in September. The next time he appeared on the mound at Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium, it was again as a member of the barnstorming Indianapolis Clowns.

Paige back in Kansas City as a member of the Indianapolis Clowns in 1966.

Paige back in Kansas City as a member of the Indianapolis Clowns in 1966.

“Signals had a lot to do with our Winning the Championship”

16 Jan

George Stallings had been accused of being a sign stealer.  And, when he finally won his first and only championship with the miracle Boston Braves in 1914—the team was 35-43 and in eighth place on July 18—his shortstop, Walter “Rabbit” Maranville claimed sign stealing was a part of the team’s success.

Rabbit Maranville

Rabbit Maranville

The Boston Post quoted Maranville speaking to a group from Boston College during the winter after the team’s World Series victory:

“Signals had a lot to do with our winning the championship.  We had signals of our own, of course, and so far as I know they never were solved consistently.  We were able to get the meaning of the signals of the other team in nearly every other city of the league.  In St. Louis we knew almost every move that the other fellow was going to make, and that helped a lot.  Their signals were very easy.  Other teams had harder signals, but we managed to get most of them, while the other side was doing the guessing.”

Whether or not sign stealing played a part, the Braves were 9-1 (with one game ending in a tie) in their last 11 games against the St. Louis Cardinals and their “very easy” signals.

While Stallings never confirmed Maranville’s claim, he did tell The Boston Globe that winter that took great pains to ensure that their signs weren’t stolen in the World Series:

George Stallings

George Stallings

“Although we had a set of signals that I don’t think any ballclub in the world could have gotten on to we heard rumors that the (Philadelphia) Athletics had been tipped off to them.  We framed up an entire new set, and a coacher or base runner could have looked square into the catcher’s glove and never had gotten these.  (Connie) Mack’s men failed to get a sign of ours in the series so far as I know.”

Homer Hausen

14 Jan

When Homer Hausen of the Sioux City Cornhuskers hit Omaha Omahogs catcher Bill Wilson in the head with a bat it was the culmination of a feud a over a woman.

While initial reports said Wilson was near death, the catcher made a full recovery.

In the aftermath of the July 1900 incident, Hausen was blacklisted by the Western League, joined a semi-pro team in Rock Rapids, Iowa, and was reported to have married the object of the feud.

If the wedding happened, as reported by The Associated Press, it didn’t last—there is no record confirming the marriage took place, and there is a record, six years later, for Hausen’s marriage to his wife Nellie.

Hausen went to Utah in 1901 and joined the Ogden club in the newly formed Inter-Mountain League; then returned to the Western League in 1902, splitting time between the Denver Grizzlies and Colorado Springs Millionaires.

During his time in Ogden in 1901 The Deseret News said Hausen seemed to “have trouble wherever he goes,’ with Utah fans:

“This happened again yesterday afternoon at Lagoon and Hausen attempted to reply to the taunt.  That only made matters worse and he got it harder than ever.  He remarked that some of the rooters were ‘Salt Lake curs,’ and said that he would ‘spoil the face of one dirty cur.’ before he left the state.”

Despite his problems with the state’s  fans, he returned to Utah in 1903, and became involved in another incident involving a bat to the head.

Homer Hausen

Homer Hausen

This time he was on the receiving end.

On June 28 Hausen was behind the plate for the Ogden team in a Utah State League game against Salt Lake City in Ogden.

The Desert News said:

“A most brutal and murderous assault took place yesterday afternoon on the Glenwood park ball grounds when George Marshall, one of the Salt Lake baseball team maliciously struck Hausen of the Ogden baseball team over the right side of the head with a baseball bat, breaking Hausen’s upper jaw and terribly battering his face.“

The Salt Lake Herald said:

“(Pitcher Erven “Si”) Jensen delivered one that went wide of the plate and was called a ball…Hausen had returned the sphere to Jensen and was squatting back, apparently giving the signal to Jensen for the next delivery when Marshall whirled and brought his bat down on the catcher’s face…Marshall was quite excited and shouted to the grandstand that Hausen had called him an insulting name.”

The blow broke his cheek bone below his right eye—rather than his “upper jaw”—had been broken, and “But for the mask the blow might have killed Hausen.”

From an Ogden jail cell, Marshall told a reporter from The Herald he “resented” a name Hausen had called him but, “did not mean to strike hard enough to break any bones.”

The Deseret News said the incident was the result of a long-standing feud between the players:

“Yesterday morning, it is stated, the two men had words in a cigar store, in this city, which almost resulted in blows, and it is also stated that the police have proof that Marshall has made the statement that he would hit Hausen the first chance he got, and it is fully believed by those who saw the murderous blow struck yesterday that Marshall intended to kill Hausen.”

Unlike Hausen, who three years earlier, avoided any legal action in Iowa, Marshall was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, and was unable to make bail.  Despite the serious charge, and the alleged “proof” of intent the police were said to have, the charges were reduced to assault and battery and a sympathetic judge “took into consideration the boy’s age—18—and the fact that he had already served considerable time in jail (nine days)” and sentenced Marshall to time served and a $50 fine.

It’s unknown what became of Marshall after his release.

Hausen continued the life of an itinerant early 20th Century ballplayer.  He returned to Iowa late in 1903, then back to Salt Lake City in 1904, for his best season.  He hit .318 for the Salt Lake City Elders in the Pacific National League, and his contract was purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals, but was returned to the minor leagues early in the spring.

The 1904 Salt Lake Elders, Hausen is standing second from the left

The 1904 Salt Lake Elders, Hausen is standing second from the left

Hausen spent time in the Southern Association and Central League before returning to Utah in 1909.  He played several more seasons of semipro ball until retiring to a farm in Rupert, Idaho.  He died there in 1935.

Advertisement for a 1909 Utah State League game between Salt Lake City and Ogden.  Hausen played third base.

Advertisement for a 1909 Utah State League game between Salt Lake City and Ogden. Hausen played third base for Ogden

Despite his early trouble with fans in Utah, they seemed to have warmed to him later in his carer;

During one of his many stints playing in the state, The Salt Lake Tribune said of Hausen:

“No better or more faithful ball player ever stepped on a Utah diamond.”

“The most Disgraceful affair ever Witnessed”

12 Jan

Homer Chase “Bill”  Hausen spent more than 15 years playing in minor and independent leagues—but was almost banished from baseball in 1900.

He was born on September 8 in Franklin Grove, Illinois—records differ regarding the year–most say 1872, some say 1870–and began playing on independent teams near his northern Illinois hometown.  Hausen made his professional debut in the Eastern Iowa League with Ottumwa in 1895; primarily a catcher, he also played first base and outfield.

Homer Hausen

Homer Hausen

 

In 1898 he played with the Kansas City Blues in the Western League, and expected to remain with the club the following season, but according to The Sedalia Democrat he had a dispute with fellow catcher Bill “Scrappy” “Big Bill” Wilson:

“(T)hey were rivals for the hand of Mrs. Jessie Pierce a pretty widow…Hausen was the favored one and much ill feeling resulted between the two men that he charged Wilson with having secured his (Hausen’s) release from the Kansas City team.”

The bad blood culminated on July 9, 1900.  Hausen, a member of the Sioux City Cornhuskers, came to the plate.  Wilson was catching for the Omaha Omahogs.

“Hausen says Wilson was continually badgering him during the Sioux City-Omaha games… (On July 9, Wilson) made a derogatory remark concerning Mrs. Pierce’s character and Hausen felled him with a bat.”

The Omaha Bee said:

“The most disgraceful affair ever witnessed on a ball diamond in Sioux City took place today when Hausen of the Sioux City club deliberately struck ‘Big Bill’ Wilson of the Omaha team in the head with a bat, stretching him out on the ground.

“The assault was followed by great excitement during which Hausen was placed under arrest and quietly hurried off the grounds by a policeman. “

The Bee said the two “had bad words” every time Hausen came to the plate.

“(I)n the eighth inning they had words as usual.  It looked as if Wilson dared Hausen to hit him and Hausen tapped his mask with the bat.  A few more words were said and then Hausen swung the bat and struck Wilson above the left ear.”

After hitting Wilson, Hausen went towards the Sioux City bench while fans ran on the field.  Omaha President “Buck” Keith ran across the field towards Hausen:

“(Keith) called Hausen a coward.  ‘If I had a gun I’d fill you full of holes.’ He declared.

“Hausen still held the bat and dared Keith to come on.  Keith might have done so if an officer had not cleared the field.  The excitement had grown intense.  An Omaha rooter was offering 5 for a rope and a Sioux City rooter at his side cried ‘Hang him!  Hang the coward.’

Hausen was held for a short time at the police station while the Western League took immediate action.

The Associated Press (AP) said:

“President Thomas J. Hickey of the Western League, last night issued an order blacklisting Hausen of Sioux City for probably fatally assaulting Bill Wilson…Hausen used a ball bat, inflicting injuries on Wilson’s head that leave him irrational much of the time.”

President Hickey

President Hickey

The reports of Wilson’s impending demise were premature.  The catcher recovered and was back in the line up within two weeks.

The blacklisted Hausen quickly caught on with a semi-pro team in Rock Rapids, Iowa.

While his banishment seemed to be the correct recourse, Hausen was not without his supporters, who claimed he was not entirely at fault.

The Sioux City Tribune pointed out that Hausen “was a very quiet chap,” while Wilson had been disciplined numerous times for “using abusive language,” directed at umpires and other players.

In fact, Wilson’s temper was well-known.  In 1896, while playing for the Columbus Buckeyes he attacked an umpire named Clark twice during the same game in Minneapolis—as was the case in Sioux City, he came out on the short end–twice.  The St. Paul Globe said:

“Umpire Clark was forced into two fights by Bill Wilson…Clark got the best of Wilson in both encounters, and not only was Wilson battered up, but he is out $10, and President Ban Johnson says that he will be severely dealt with and probably suspended.  It was a sorry day for Bill.”

Hausen had the last laugh.  Two weeks after the incident The Sedalia Democrat reported:

“The last act in the little drama was enacted at Sioux City on Friday.  When Mrs. Pierce learned how much Hausen had sacrificed to protect her reputation, she went at once to Sioux City.  Hausen met her at the train and late in the afternoon a marriage license was secured.”

Wilson turned to a life of crime after his baseball career ended, and was murdered in 1924.

On Wednesday—Hausen on the receiving end.

Boston’s Horseshoe

9 Jan

Boston Beaneaters Manager John Morrill told The Washington Star in 1886:

“Yes, sir, it’s a fact, that professional ball-tossers are as a rule very superstitious.  It is nothing more than natural though, and is not as much due to the ignorance of the men as is sometimes supposed.  You see, so much chance enters into every game of ball that the boys who play game after game gradually become impressed with the belief that they can read in advance certain signs or omens which will have more or less effect upon their individual play, if not upon the result of the game.”

John Morrill

John Morrill

Morrill said that “on the whole” he thought his player’s superstitions were “a very good thing,” as long as “bad signs do not outnumber the good one.”  Morrill felt players were more inclined to look for good signs, which would encourage them to play “with more confidence.”

Morrill was also a supporter of mascots:

“Mascots are good things to encourage the boys.”

Morrill even attributed his greatest success as a manager to the power of superstition.  He took over the reins of the fourth place Beaneaters in July of 1883, and the team won 33 of their last 44 games, and won the National league pennant.

“When we were way behind in the race for the championship, one of the members of our nine saw a horseshoe in front of the hotel in Detroit.  He stepped into the street and picked it up.  On it was the mark ‘O Winn.’  It was only the name of the Detroit blacksmith who had made the shoe, but as we won the game that day, the members of the nine began to regard the shoe as a good-luck sign, and the first thing we knew we were winning games right and left, and ended the season in the lead.  Our players attributed out success to the horseshoe, and so did Mr. O. Winn, who never fails to call upon us when we are in Detroit.”

More than 40 years later, William Braucher, columnist for the Newspaper Enterprise Association, resurrected the story of the horseshoe—although he embellished some of the details of Boston’s winning season.

He said the player who had found the horseshoe was outfielder Paul Radford. According to Braucher, “Radford’s father had it gilded and framed and it was presented to the Boston National League club.”

Paul Radford--found the horseshoe

Paul Radford–found the horseshoe

The horseshoe hung at the South End Grounds until the ballpark was destroyed by fire on May 15, 1894

Baucher said Red Sox owner James Aloysius Robert “Bob” Quinn, whose club had been a perennial doormat since he took ownership in 1923, was so desperate for a winner that he was trying to locate the missing horseshoe.

“Bob Quinn would like to know what happened to that horseshoe.  The president of the Red Sox even went so far as to put an ad in the Boston papers the other day offering a reward for the shoe stamped with the name of ‘O. Winn.’  Bob is trying every possible means to give Boston a winning ballclub.  And if a horseshoe will help he wants it.”

Bob Quinn

Bob Quinn

Quinn never found the horseshoe, and never had a  winning Red Sox team.

“If we had a Veritable Ty Cobb among us, and no one Cared to See him, what would it Matter?”

7 Jan

At the beginning of the 1914 baseball season Andrew Bishop “Rube” Foster believed baseball’s color line was on the verge of being broken.

Rube Foster

Rube Foster

He talked about it with The Seattle Post-Intelligencer while touring the West Coast with the Chicago American Giants:

“Before another baseball season rolls around colored ball players, a score of whom are equal in ability to the brightest stars in the big league teams, will be holding down jobs in organized baseball…They’re taking in Cubans now, you notice and they’ll let us in soon.”

Billy Lewis, a writer for The Indianapolis Freeman did not share Foster’s optimism:

“It goes without saying it emphatically, that Foster’s opinion sounds mighty good to the ‘poor down-trodden’ colored players who have to do so much ‘tall’ figuring in order to make ends meet.  But the plain fact of the matter is that Rube has drawn on his imagination for the better part of his opinion.  For as much as I hope and as colored players and people hope for better days for the colored players there’s nothing to warrant what he had to say. Foster is having the time of his life, riding about in special cars out west, and naturally enough with the distinguished consideration paid him and his bunch of players, he feels to give out something worthwhile.

“Rube Foster nor the rest of us should expect to see any change in the baseball situation until there’s a general change…fact is, that our people are not breaking into the big leagues, and there’s no talk of them breaking into the big leagues, and there is not the slightest indication that they are needed.  This sounds rather severe, yet it is the truth, and that’s what we need even if we should not want it.  It may not make us free as it is so often insisted on.”

[…]

“As severe as the foregoing appears it has nothing to do with the playing ability of colored baseball men.  Expert sport writers long ago conceded that there were colored baseball players who played the game equal to the ‘high browed’ white players who drew their $3,000 plus per annum. It’s an old story why these competent men are not registered in the great leagues.  Really there is less opportunity for Negroes to play with the big leagues in the last few years than formerly. “

Lewis said Foster was wrong to claim that the acceptance of light-skinned Cuban players was positive sign:

“It is generally known that the Negroes stand last in the list of acceptability, hence it is rather poor diplomacy to speak of the preference shown for the Cubans.  It is right, all right.  Nevertheless, Cubans, Indians, Filipinos and Japanese have the right-of-way so to speak.  Of course they are not wholly persona grata, but they are not in the class with the colored players, who are absolutely without friends at court.”

Additionally, Lewis said fans were not ready for integration:

“If the management were inclined to take on the good ones among the colored players, they could not do so with impunity.  The box office is more often the dictator of terms than we think.  If we had a veritable Ty Cobb among us, and no one cared to see him, what would it matter?

“Foster is positive that he has the greatest player in the world in (John Henry) Lloyd.”

Foster had said of the shortstop:

“If you don’t believe it, wait until he gets into the big league—then watch the (Jack) Barrys, the (Honus) Wagners and the (Joe) Tinkers sweat to keep their jobs.”

Lewis said:

“It’s a fine boost for Lloyd, coming as it does from the famous Rube himself, yet we all know that if Lloyd was twice himself he would be no good unless it were the general sentiment that a man was a man.”

John Henry lloyd

John Henry Lloyd

Lewis felt Foster was deluded by the large percentage of white fans who watched him play when the American Giants barnstormed on the West Coast:

“The far west at this time seems ideal in the matter of patronizing games where colored and white teams are engaged.  But in spite of this there is no disposition in that seemingly fair country, to put colored men on the greater teams.  So it is not less than an iridescent dream.”

Lewis told his readers he did not disagree with what Foster desired, but said the great pitcher was basing his optimism on the of the wrong people:

“Much of the foregoing doubtless appears as an argument against mixed clubs.  It is not that way.  The object is to show up the true situation, the further object being to make the most of it. We will not be able to make the most of it as long as we fail to have the proper conception of things.  There are white managers who would gladly take on Negro players if it meant something by way of advancing their clubs.  But as said before it is the box office that dictates…the man on the bleachers and the man in the grand stand are together, and the manager must come by them…What have these to say about colored players entering the big league?  That’s the question.”

1915amgiants

The 1915 Chicago American Giants–Rube Foster is standing third from left, John Henry Lloyd is standing fifth from left. A year after Foster’s prediction, white baseball wasn’t calling.

 

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