“It may well be Doubted whether Beals should be Permitted to play Second Base again”

23 Jul

Thomas Lamb “Tommy” Beals had a complicated relationship with Harry and George Wright.

George named his son, the Hall of Fame tennis player, Beals Wright after his friend and former teammate.  But, The Chicago Tribune said when the two played together:

“George Wright and Tommy Beals went many a day without a friendly word.”

After signing a contract to play second base for Harry Wright’s Red Stockings for 1876—the first season of the National League—Beals decided instead to jump the contact and go to Colorado where he worked as a miner.

Tommy Beals

Tommy Beals

He eventually left Colorado and went to the West Coast where he played a handful of games in 1879 for the San Francisco Mutuals and Oakland Pioneers in the California League.  In the spring of 1880 he signed a contract with the Chicago White Stockings.

Harry Wright protested the signing of his former player, or as The Tribune said:

“Some parties in Boston have been making a wholly unnecessary fuss over the engagement of Beals by the Chicago Club, claiming that after engaging to play with the Bostons in 1876 he refused to report for duty.”

The Tribune noted that the contract was actually signed before the league was officially founded on February 2, 1876, but:

“The Boston people argue that, although the League was not in existence at the time Beals retired from baseball, it was agreed, upon its formation, that that all contracts existing between clubs and players should be recognized.”

The newspapers in Wright’s former hometown of Cincinnati weighed in.  The Commercial Gazette encouraged the Boston protest and said Wright should make it “a test case (and) prevent the Chicago Club from playing him during the coming season.”  The Cincinnati Enquirer took the opportunity to accuse Wright of protesting activities he was himself regularly guilty of engaging in:

“The disposition shown by the Boston Club management to create an unpleasantness in the matter of the engagement of Tommy Beals by the Chicago Club, upon the ground that Beals was under some sort of engagement with Boston four or five years ago, has had the effect of recalling some reminiscences calculated to show that the pharisaical kickers of the Hub are in no position to give us the ‘holier than thou’ racket.  In the first place Boston has slept upon its rights, if it ever had any, in the Beals case so long that the matter is outlawed long since, and ought never be raked up at this late day, especially in view of the fact that Chicago acted in good faith and without any suspicion of a cloud upon its title to the services of Beals.

“In the next place Boston had better be repenting for some of its own sins before assuming the role of exhorter towards other folks.  That club has now under contract three players whose engagements will not bear the closest kind of scrutiny.  In 1877 the Boston Club, in the middle of the season, committed an act of piracy on the Lowell Club of which it ought to be ashamed, by jerking (John) Morrill and (Lew) Brown out of the Lowell nine in regular highwayman fashion, both these players being then under contract for the entire season in Lowell…we (also) find that (Jack) Burdock was under contract to Chicago in 1875 and never showed up.  He might have been expelled by Chicago, but was not, and continues an honored and valued member of the Boston outfit.  In 1876, again Thomas Bond was suspended from play and pay by the Hartford Club, of which he was then a member, and in spite of this cloud upon his name and fame, was engaged the following year by Boston, and has been there ever since.”

Morrill, Burdock and Bond were all still members of the Red Stockings, comprising three-fourths of the team’s infield.

The Enquirer also criticized Boston because the team acted to “choke off” an attempt by Hartford Manager Bob Ferguson to bring the allegations which led to Bond’s suspension to light during a league meeting—Bond, during a season-long feud with Ferguson had accused his manager, among other things, of “selling” games.  Bond was suspended by Ferguson on August 21 of 1876 despite posting a 31-13 record for the second place Dark Blues—Bond’s replacement as Hartford’s primary pitcher was Candy Cummings.

Tommy Bond

Tommy Bond

The Enquirer took a final shot at Wright noting that when the league instituted the new rule for 1879 which barred non-playing managers from the bench “Boston squealed because Harry Wright couldn’t enjoy privileges  denied to everybody else, and this year they are playing baby about Beals on grounds equally absurd.”

The Tribune laid out Chicago’s long list of grievances for “plenty of ‘queer’ work in which Boston has been engaged.”  In addition to the incidents mentioned by The Enquirer, The Tribune said in 1877 after Albert Spalding had secured infielder Ezra Sutton for Chicago, “Sutton was worked upon by Boston and went there to play.”

So, according to Boston’s critics the club’s entire 1880 infield had come to the team via questionable circumstances.

The Boston Herald responded:

“It is not to be expected that the Chicago Club will recognize the position of the Boston Club in this matter, and release Beals.  That organization has on more than one occasion, shown its utter contempt for League rules, or in fact, for anything that interferes with its own particular self, and, to expect justice in this case, is not to be thought of.  In the meanwhile, the Boston Club will probably not take any official action in the premises, but let the Chicago Club enjoy all the honor (?) there is in playing such a man.”

After the weeks of allegations, posturing and name-calling in the press, the season began on May 1; Boston never lodged a formal complaint about the signing of Beals.

Chicago cruised to the National League title, spending only one day (after the season’s second game) out of first place.  Beals, rusty from his layoff made little impact for the champions, hitting just .152 in 13 games at second base and in the outfield.  By August, with the fight to defend his signing long forgotten, The Tribune said after a rare Beals start in a 7 to 4 loss to the Worcester Ruby Legs:

“Beals played as though he had never seen a ball-field before…It may well be doubted whether Beals should be permitted to play second base again…any amateur who could be picked at random would be likely to do better both in fielding and batting.  Worcester would have made two or three less runs yesterday if second base had been left vacant altogether, as what time Beals didn’t muff grounders he threw wild and advanced men to bases they would not otherwise have reached.”

Beals was 0 for 3 with three errors that afternoon—for the season he committed 4 errors in thirteen total chances at second for a fielding percentage of .692.

Let go by Chicago at the end of the season, Beals’ professional baseball career was over and he returned to the west.  In 1894 he was elected to one two-year term in the Nevada State Legislature as a Republican representing a district that included the town of Virginia City.  By 1900 he was back in Northern, California, where little is known about his activities.  He died in Colma, California in 1915

Things I Learned on the Way to Looking up other Things #10

21 Jul

Trash Talk, 1886

The Philadelphia Times reported in July of 1886 about a feud between two American Association pitchers; Brooklyn Grays rookie Steve Toole and St. Louis Browns star Dave Foutz:

“Steve Toole says Foutz is the ugliest player in the Association.  Foutz returns the compliment by saying that Toole is no pitcher, but his face paralyzes the batsmen.”

Dave Foutz

Dave Foutz

Steve Toole

Steve Toole

The National Convention—1867

The Nashville Union and Dispatch’s take on a decision which would reverberate for the next 80 years:

“Still Against The Negro—The National Convention of base-ball players in session at Philadelphia last week, resolved that no club composed of persons of color, or having in its membership persons of color, should be admitted into the National Association.

“To show the significance of this action we may state that there were four hundred and eighty-one clubs represented in this convention including clubs from the following states:  Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, District of Columbia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon and Nebraska.  From which it is evident that the Northern base-ballists are opposed to Negro equality.”

Boss Schmidt—Throwing and Fighting

Charles “Boss” Schmidt is best known for leaving Ty Cobb with two black eyes and a broken nose in 1907 after Cobb slapped a black groundskeeper and choked the man’s wife when she attempted to intervene;  he also was a member of three pennant winning Detroit Tigers teams (1907-1909).

Charles "Boss" Schmidt

Charles “Boss” Schmidt

During the era when several players received tremendous publicity for catching balls dropped from great heights. Schmidt received only minimal attention for an impressive throwing feat in 1909.

The Tigers were staying at Washington’s Arlington Hotel during an August series with the Washington Senators when Schmidt, according to The Associated Press:

“Charles Schmidt of the Detroit baseball team threw a 10-cent baseball from Vermont Avenue in front of the Arlington over the eight-story Shoreham Hotel (the one torn down in 1929, not the Omni Shoreham which was built in 1930 and is still standing), which faces on fifteenth Street.  He took a run, and the ball went up until it disappeared over the roof line of the hotel.  It was later found in Fifteenth Street.  Whether it cleared the building entirely or bounced from the roof is not known, but it was a splendid throw, for the distance from where Schmidt stood to Fifteenth Street is nearly 400 feet.”

shoreham

The Shoreham Hotel, Washington D.C., the eight story hotel Schmidt cleared with “a 10-cent baseball.”

Schmidt participated in two professional bouts in Fort Smith, Arkansas after the 1911 season—he won a six-round decision and participated in one four-round no decision.  While some thought Schmidt could potentially fight champion Jack Johnson (who some sources say he spared against during this period), it’s clear Schmidt never took seriously the idea of fighting Johnson.

In a letter later printed in The Detroit Times Schmidt told a friend:

“This white man’s hope bunk is the biggest joke ever put over on the public.  I admit I like the boxing game, but I have never even considered gathering a living from the roped arena.  I like to do just four things.  Play ball, fight, hunt and eat.  Boxing is all right for a little amusement when it’s too cold to play ball…As for this dope on my being the white man’s hope, somebody is loon, it sounds like a squirrel talking to a nut.

“I have joined the Tigers again, and mean to show by my playing that I am with the team heart and soul.  Whatever my personal opinions have been, whatever my playing is, whatever critics have said about me, no one can say that I have not given the Detroit team the best I have…I don’t know who this guy is who has been sending fight dope from Fort Smith about my challenging Jack Johnson, but whoever he is, he ought to get a job in New York.  He could sell J. Pierpont Morgan a nicely enameled brick without difficulty.

“Yours is peace, prosperity and pennants, Charlie.”

Despite being released by the Tigers before the beginning of the 1912 season, Schmidt remained true to his word that baseball, not boxing, was his sport of choice.  His big league was over, but he continued as a player and manager in the minor leagues until 1927.  He never fought again.

“Go to Providence”

18 Jul

After Ned Hanlon guided the Brooklyn Superbas to horrible back-to-back seasons in 1904 and ’05 (56-97 sixth place, 48-104 eighth place) it was time for a parting of the ways between Hanlon and Brooklyn—it was announced that Hanlon had signed to manage the Cincinnati Reds in 1906.

Ned Hanlon

Ned Hanlon

During fifteen years with the franchise (eight in Baltimore, seven more in Brooklyn) Hanlon led them to five pennants and three second-place finishes, and according to The Brooklyn Eagle his departure “caused no end of regret among the wide circle of friends he had gained during his seven years stay here as head of the Superbas.”

But, the paper said, one man “learned of the change with greater dismay than anybody else.”  John Montgomery Ward, the former player, manager and leader of the Brotherhood was, by then, a successful Brooklyn attorney.

Ward and Hanlon were long-time friends and Hanlon had been an active member of the Brotherhood, but Ward said, more than that, he “owed my start as a successful ballplayer,” to Hanlon.

John Montgomery Ward

John Montgomery Ward

“I had begun my career as a professional that year with the Binghamtons, but along about June the club disbanded.  I received offers from Rochester and Providence to finish the season in the box. For I was pitching in those days, and went to Rochester to look over the field.  I was a boy of eighteen then, and inexperienced, and I was taken aback when the manager and players clamored for me to sign immediately.  Hanlon was captain of the team and he joined in the request for me to sign.  I asked them to give me a little time to think it over and went back to the hotel for that purpose.  Hanlon, and a well-known player of those days, Ed Caskin, followed me there, and continued their importunities.

“’I told them that it was my first year in the game, and then turning to Hanlon said ‘Mr. Hanlon, put yourself in my place and tell me what to do.  Advise me just as if you were speaking to a brother.’

“’Hanlon flushed up, looked at the floor, then at Caskin.  Then he turned to me.’

“’Go to Providence.’ He said.  Caskin coincided, and I took my bag and went to Cincinnati where the Grays were playing.  I made good with them (22-13 1.51 ERA) and gained fully five years of my career because of the sacrifice of Hanlon, who wanted me in Rochester.  We’ve been firm fiends ever since, the bonds being strengthened during his stay here.  I’m sorry he has gone, but I am confident he will have better success with the Reds.”

Despite Ward’s confidence, Hanlon was only slightly more successful with the Reds in 1906 and ’07 than he had been during his final two seasons in Brooklyn–64-87, 66-87, sixth place finishes.

“Baseball is now Played by certain Mathematical rules and Regulations”

16 Jul

The Chicago Tribune’s Hugh Fullerton concluded in 1906 that base running had “in a sense, become a lost art.”

“Baseball is now played by certain mathematical rules and regulations, and there is no more of the brilliant individual feats of the old days.  Everyone who plays now knows just what stage the game is in, what to do in that stage, and if he does not the signals from the batter to show him his duty.  In the old days most of them ran unaided by bunt, ‘squeeze,’ hit and run, or blocking or feinting to bunt to draw the fielders out of position.

“Teams still run, hoping to demoralize the opposition, but not to the extent that they did in the early years of the game.”

Hugh Fullerton

Hugh Fullerton

According to Fullerton no team ran wilder than the Chicago White Stockings of the 1880s

 “Mike Kelly was perhaps the most daring of all base runners.  He never was extremely fast, and in his later years grew extremely slow—but he stole almost as many bases when slow as ever he did.  Indeed, the best base runners the game has known were men of medium speed in running, and few of the really fast sprinters ever were good base runners.  Kelly ran bases with his head instead of his feet.

“One of the best trick that old team ever pulled off was against Boston in Chicago.  Kelly engineered the deal, although he was on first base, with a runner—(Tom) Burns, I think—on third.  One was out and the worst hitter on the team was up, with one run needed.  Kelly was standing on first, and as the pitcher prepared to deliver the ball Kel went dashing towards second, yelling at the top of his lungs.

“The pitcher took a glance to see if the runner had left third and saw him standing still, and to his astonishment saw Kelly still tearing towards second.  He hesitated, expecting Kel would stop or slow up—then threw, and threw high, while Kel, instead of sliding and reaching second in safety, merely touched the base and tore towards third at top speed, leaving the second baseman holding the ball in astonishment.  The runner at third had moved off ten feet as Kel came tearing towards him yelling commands, and catching the drift of the play, he sprinted for home.  The throw went to the plate ahead of him as he rushed homeward and seeing himself hopelessly out he slowed up a bit, and Kelly, coming on from third, slid around him, escaped the astonished catcher, who was tagging the other runner, and scored, evening up the game.”

Mike "King" Kelly

Mike “King” Kelly

Fullerton also wrote about the “Kelly Slide,” or “Kelly Spread,” the hook slide Kelly made famous, which also went by another name:

“Kelly invented the ‘Chicago Slide,’ which was one of the greatest tricks ever pulled off.  It was a combination slide, twist and dodge.  The runner went straight down the line at top speed and when nearing the base threw himself either inside or outside of the line, doubled the left leg under him—if sliding inside, or the right, if sliding outside—slid on the doubled up leg and the hip, hooked the foot on the other leg around the base, and pivoted on it, stopping on the opposite side of the base.

“Every player of the old Chicago team practiced and perfected that slide and got away with hundreds of stolen bases when really they should have been touched out easily  There are some modern players who make the slide something as it was done then, but Bill Dahlen of New York really is the only one in either big league who executes it regularly and perfectly.”

And, as with most Fullerton reminiscences there were stories about his personal favorite players; which may, or may not have actually happened on a baseball field somewhere, to someone.

Elmer Foster was a great base runner, after his style.  He ran regardless of consequences and perhaps no man that ever played in fast company ever took an extra base on a hit oftener as did Elmer.  He simply refused to stop at his legitimate destination, and kept right on.  When he got caught he always said:  ‘Why, I wasn’t a bit tired.  Why should I have stopped running?’

“On day Foster was turning third, trying to score from second on a short hit, when Billy Kuehne bumped him with his hip, threw him out into the grass, and forced him to stop.  Elmer was wild.  He kept yelling, ‘I’ll be around here again.’  The next time up he made a two base hit and he never stopped at second, but dashed on for third at top speed.  The second baseman, surprised, made a high throw to third and Kuehne stretched to get the ball just as Foster, leaping through the air, landed on his chest with both feet and kicked him half way to the grandstand.  Foster came home running backwards and yelping with delight at Kuehne—and then got sore because he was called out.”

Elmer Foster

Elmer Foster

“One of the funniest incidents in base stealing I ever saw happened in Chicago one of the yeas that Bill Lange led the league in base running.  It was a close race between Lange and (Billy) Hamilton for the honors and the season was drawing to a close.  The game was close, and Lange led off the eighth inning with a two bagger.  Anson went to bat and laid down a perfect bunt, intending to sacrifice.  He went out in a close finish at first, and looking up, discovered Lange still perched on second.  He was furious, but the condition was mild compared to what he experienced an instant later when Lange stole third—and took the lead fo the base running honors.”

 

Frank Bancroft

14 Jul

When Frank Carter Bancroft died in 1921 at age 74, “Spalding’s Official Baseball Guide” said:

“His executive ability and Knowledge of Base Ball, combined with the fact that he was for sport first and the show element of Base Ball secondarily, rendered him one of the most competent of men to handle the affairs of a professional team.”

Frank Bancroft

Frank Bancroft

While working in the front office of the Reds in 1892, Bancroft talked with Harry Weldon, sports editor of The Cincinnati Enquirer about some of the players who got their start with his teams.  He also didn’t seem to mind taking a swipe at a couple former players:

“Probably no man now before the public except Harry Wright or Adrian C. Anson have had a longer or more varied experience with the intricacies of the great National Game than Frank C. Bancroft.  He never wore the spangles, like a great many other managers, but he has been connected with the game in a managerial capacity since the early seventies.  ‘Bannie’ is one of the wittiest men in the profession and he has a fund of anecdotes about players and plays that are well worth hearing.  Many of the great baseball stars now before the public made their debut under Mr. Bancroft’s management.  Many of them who are now drawing $4,000 or $5,000 a season worked under Bannie for about one-tenth that amount and were glad to get it.  Bancroft was one of the leading lights in the original New England League, which graduated a great many of the stars of today.

“At the present time Mr. Bancroft is business manager of the Cincinnati Reds.  He has nothing whatever to do with the players. All of that part of the club’s affairs being under the supervision of Captain (Charlie) Comiskey.  All Bannie has to do is look after the gate, railroad rates and dates.  The other evening the veteran manager was in The Enquirer office and grew reminiscent.  His recital of the details of the debut of some of the stars is worth reproducing.

Harry Stovey, one of the greatest ballplayers today, began his professional career under Manager Bancroft.  He began his career in the pitcher’s box and graduated out of the ranks of a Philadelphia amateur team called the Defiance in 1877 (the Philadelphia Defiance were a professional team, part of the league Alliance).  Manager Bancroft heard of him, and in 1878 engaged him as a change pitcher for the New Bedfords.  G. Washington ‘Grin’ Bradley was the regular pitcher of the team, and as he was an every-day pitcher Stovey was never allowed an opportunity of displaying his pitching abilities on the New Bedford team.  He had to be content with warming the bench until fate was kind and he had a chance.

George Stovey

George Stovey

“‘Stovey played his first game with our team at Baltimore,’ said Mr. Bancroft.  ‘we were making an exhibition tour when John Piggot, the first baseman, was taken ill, and as we only carried ten men, Stovey was called on to make an attempt to play first base.  His maiden effort was a brilliant one—so brilliant that it lost Piggott his job and made Stovey a fixture on first.  He had at least twenty putouts, no errors and several cracking hits to his credit that day.  He played the season with us, and his fame spread so that he was signed by the Worcester (Ruby Legs) League team and afterward with the Athletics Stovey’s salary the first season in New Bedford for $50 a month.  Now he is paid nearly that much a game.’

George Gore, the crack center-fieder of the New Yorks is another player who came into prominence with the New Bedfords that year.  Gore’s home was in Maine, at a little town called Saccarappa…Gore was about as green a specimen as ever stepped into the business.  He played a few games with the Fall Rivers, and then the New Bedfords got him.  He was a big, awkward country boy then, but he could run like a deer and hit the ball like a trip hammer.  Gore signed with the New Bedfords under Manager Bancroft for $50 a month, but he did not stay with them long.  His terrific batting attracted the attention of the whole baseball world, and soon the more prominent clubs were after him.  While the Chicagos were in Boston the late lamented (William) Hulbert, President of the National League, who was with them, ran up to New Bedford to have a talk with Gore.  Luck was with big George.  He had his eye with him, and made three home runs in the game.  That feat settled his fate.  Before Hulbert left New Bedford he had Gore’s name to a contract to play in Chicago in 1879 at $150 a month.  His career since that time is well known.  Today he is yet a great hitter, and reached first base as frequently as any player in the business, by either hits, errors or bases on balls.  His ability to reach first causes him to be selected to head the battery list of the New Yorks.

Arthur Irwin is another player whom Manager Bancroft put in the business. ‘He made a grand impression in his opening game with me,” said Manager Bancroft.  ‘I was then manager of the Worcester League team, and we were on the hog train for a while, owing to Charlie Bennett’s glass arm and Buck (William “Farmer”) Weaver’s faint heart.  Matters were so bad that a crisis was at hand.  A meeting of the stockholders of the club was called, and it was voted to place the team in my hands for one month, and if no improvement was shown at the end of that time I was to be given the chase.  It was a dying chance for me, and you could gamble that I had my eyes and ears open for a savior of some kind.  Arthur Irwin was then playing with an amateur team called the Aetnas, of South Boston, and I engaged him to play short with the Worcester.  (J. Lee) Richmond, the once famous left-handed pitcher, who played here with the Reds in 1886, was then with the Brown University team and he was telegraphed to come for a trial.  We played the Chicagos that day, and we shut them out, only one man getting first base.  Irwin made a great hit at short, and Richmond was a wizard.  Irwin was a fifty-dollar-a-month man, and that was the start of his professional career.  Richmond is now a physician at Geneva, Ohio.’”

The game Bancroft referred to was an exhibition between Worcester (a member of the National Association) and the National League’s Chicago White Stockings played on June 2 in Worcester. Richmond walked the first batter, Abner Dalrymple, and then retired the next twenty-one before the game was called after seven innings.  The Chicago Tribune said Richmond struck out 8.  Worcester tagged Frank Hankinson for 12 hits and 11 runs (Chicago also committed 11 errors).  Bancroft was correct that Richmond became a physician, but by 1892 he was no longer practicing, and was working as a teacher in Toledo, Ohio.

J. Lee Richmond

J. Lee Richmond

“Big Roger Connor of last season’s New Yorks, but now of Philadelphia, received his professional introduction under Manager Bancroft.  ‘It sounds queer to say that such a cracking hitter as Roger Connor was ever released for poor batting, but such was the case’ said Manager Bancroft

“’I had him with the New Bedfords in 1878, but he was hitting so poorly that I released him.  He afterward signed with the New Havens the same season, but the disbanded.  Roger left New Haven and went to Waterbury, his home, where he joined an amateur team in that city called the Monitors.  Up to that time he had batted right-handed, but he decided to turn around and try it left-handed.  The change saved his life.  He blossomed out as a great slugger, and his reputation has been growing ever since.

“Connor, like Stovey, began his professional career at $50 a month, and has since climbed to the top rung of high salaried players.  Many young players of today should look upon these as examples for honest and temperate habits have enabled them to remain at the head of the profession, while the path is strewn with a multitude of others who might have been where they are if they had not thought this world was a continuous round of gaiety and fun and discovered their mistake when it was too late.”

 

Lost Advertisements— “The Baseball Curver”

11 Jul

Less than twenty years after the introduction of the curveball entrepreneurs found a way to separate people who wanted to throw a curveball from their money.

In 1888 ads began to appear in newspapers from Joseph H. Burns of Cleveland:

“Can you throw a baseball?  If so, fifteen minutes practice with the Baseball Curver will enable you to pitch all the Curves as well as any Professional pitcher.  Sent postpaid on receipt of 75 cents”

1888 Baseball Curver advertisment

1888 Baseball Curver advertisement

Burns applied for a patent which was awarded in December of 1890; several newspapers ran a wire service story about the patent:

“The ‘delivery of a baseball so that the batsman shall be deceived into ‘striking out’ has been made the subject of much study by expert pitchers, and a device is here illustrated for giving the ball the ‘curve’ which is especially effective.  It consists of an elastic strap having a thumb-loop at one end and connected at its opposite end to a segment of a sphere, the latter being shaped to receive a section of the ball.”

Burns' patented "Curver"

Burns’ patented “Curver”

Burns’ invention was not the last “Curver.”

In 1907 advertisements appeared for a “New Idea,” “Baseball Curver,” offered by the Curver Co., of Omaha  which called theirs the:

“Greatest invention in baseball since the discovery of the curve.  It is so small the batsman cannot see it and they all wonder where those awful curves come from.  It imparts a rapid whirling motion to the ball thus causing a wide curve.  Fits either hand and does not interfere with catching or throwing.”

The “New Idea” Curver was a bargain compared to the version introduced two decades earlier.  It was 25 cents and came with “a large 64-page book of ‘Out Door Sports’ containing the 1907 rules for baseball.”  Three Curvers and three and three books were 50 cents.

The "New Idea," 1907

The “New Idea,” 1907

A patent for this version of the “Baseball Curver” was awarded in 1909 to Wilbur Ward Winquest of Nebraska.

Wilbur Winquest's patented "Curver"

Wilbur Winquest’s patented “Curver”

In 1912 another “Baseball Curver,’ the creation of another Nebraska inventor, Ralph Wilson Jones, was featured in the pages of “Scientific American:”

“Mr. Jones provides means in this case readily attachable to the hand for causing a ball to curve when thrown from the hand.  A vacuum cup is held in position by a band made of a size to fit a finger, but is preferably made of a size to fit two or more fingers so that the cup may be shifted or adjusted  nicely to any point for giving a great or small curve, or various kinds of curves.”

Ralph Jones' "Curver" as featured in "Scientific American"

Ralph Jones’ “Curver” as featured in “Scientific American”

Jones was also awarded a patent the same year.  It is unclear whether he ever marketed his invention.

Another “Baseball Curver” was advertised in newspapers in 1913—it is unknown whether it is Jones’ invention, or a different version—by M. Crofton of New York, as a premium for selling, at 25 cents each, “8 of my Beautiful Premium Pictures.”  Children would receive the “Curver” as well as a “Baseball Suit—Or a Player’s Outfit,” after returning the two dollars earned from the sale of the pictures.

1913 "Baseball Curver" advertisement

1913 “Baseball Curver” advertisement

One final advertisement appeared in many papers in 1917; the ARDEA novelty company of Stamford, Connecticut offered said their version “Fits the hand, cannot be seen.”  The 1917 “Curver” was sold for 10 cents, or thee for 25 cents.

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1917 Baseball Curver

A Goat and a Dog

9 Jul

Edward John “Goat” Anderson played just one season in the major leagues, hitting .205 for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1907.  He also played 10 seasons in the Central, Eastern and Western Leagues.

Described as eccentric, he made an impression on The Fort Wayne Sentinel in 1903, his first professional season with the South Bend Greens:

“’Goat’ Anderson who made it a rule during the games here to leave his post and come into the infield to argue every point raised by the umpire’s decisions, has stamped himself as the prize rowdy of the association.”

The Pittsburgh Leader said Pirate outfielder Tommy Leach had recommended the team sign Anderson, and told a reporter in the spring of 1907 that Anderson made the team because he was willing stand up to Manager Fred Clarke while training in Hot Springs, Arkansas:

“(Clarke) had told Anderson to bunt at the signal from a man on first…The ball was pitched five feet outside, and of course, the catcher flagged the man going to second.  Anderson made no move to bunt or even to strike at the ball.  Clarke started to call him.  ‘Shut up,’ you don’t know all there is in the books,’ Anderson replied.  The answer made Clarke gasp…’All right, son,’ grinned Clarke.  ‘I guess you haven’t got stage fright when you can give it to your manager that way.’”

Edward John “Goat” Anderson

Edward John “Goat” Anderson

 

His excellent fielding, .343 on base percentage and 27 stolen bases with the Pirates impressed the local press, if not the fans.  George Moreland of The Pittsburgh Press said:

“Some fans are of the opinion that “Goat” Anderson, the hustling little right fielder of the Pittsburgh team, is not much of a general use to the Pirates, and that a good move would be made to get another man for the job.  These same fans are the ones who believe that a ballplayer is not worth his salt unless he is a slugger of the Wagnerian stripe…Manager Fred Clarke knows how to win games, and he also knows where to place a player in the batting order to get the most out of him.  That is the reason that the ‘Goat’ has been put at the top of the list to lead off.  It is not that Anderson makes a large number of hits.  Even when he does hit, he has difficulty in getting the ball out of the diamond.  But, somehow or other he manages to get to first base just about as often as any of them and when he does get there he is not slow about getting around the circuit.”

The Leader was even more enthusiastic about the new outfielder:

“The way little Goat Anderson has been hitting the ball and running bases insures him a permanent berth in the outfield.  Anderson has proved one of the finds of the season.  If there ever was another Wee Willie Keeler it is Anderson.  He is a ‘drop hitter’ of the Keeler style, and can run bases and bunt with the star of the New York Highlanders.  As a matter of fact, Anderson is of more value to the team than Keeler, because the latter’s star seems to be sinking.”

Despite the praise, Anderson was sold to the Rochester Bronchos of the Eastern League in January of 1908.

While with Rochester, Anderson attempted to get a patent on a sliding pad he invented; there is no record of a patent being awarded.  He also suggested a novel idea for improving his batting average.

The Lexington Herald said Anderson, who trained in Kentucky with the Bronchos before the 1909 season made this recommendation:

“Cut down the size of the home plate and I’ll hit .500 as long as the season lasts.  Where the front of the home plate is seventeen inches wide make it 10 or 12.  Then the batter will be able to get an even break with the pitcher, who now has everything in his favor.  With a home base half its present size a pitcher would need perfect control to get the ball over.  All this business of cutting across the inside and outside would be a thing of the past.  There wouldn’t be enough of the plate to give the pitcher the advantage of feeding outside low ones that can only be hit into someone’s hands…With a home base ten inches wide the ball would have to look pretty good right from the start, and if it didn’t a batter could easily pass it up.  There would be more bases on balls at the start, and that would mean a base on balls or a hit, or a hard liner that would bring a fine fielding play.  A smaller plate seems to me to be the thing.”

The small plate was the wish of a man who hit .222, .201 and .138 from 1908-1910 in Rochester.

Goat Anderson saved his greatest moment for his final season in professional baseball.  As the manager and leftfielder for the Terre Haute Terriers (or Terre-iers) in the Central League he filed one of the most unusual game protests in history.

Goat Anderson (2), with the Terre Haute Terriers.

Goat Anderson (2), with the Terre Haute Terriers.

The Terriers were leading the Fort Wayne Champs 6 to 0 in the bottom of the seventh inning during the first game of a doubleheader.  Fort Wayne had a runner on first base with no outs with catcher Harry Martin at the plate.  The Fort Wayne Daily News picks up the story:

“Martin poked a drive into left field.  The ball rolled almost to the club house with ‘Goat’ Anderson in full cry after it.  Then came the cause for the protest in the person of Don.”

“Don” was a Great Dane who belonged to a Fort Wayne man named Ed Longfield.

“Don can’t bite, and wouldn’t if he could, but Anderson didn’t for sure know that, so ‘Goat’ hesitated a second in chasing the ball and Martin got a triple, Ted Anderson scoring. “

Fort Wayne went on to score six runs in the inning to tie the game and scored a run in the 10th to win 7 to 6.

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette said:

“Toothless Don, Ed Longfield’s dog, is supposed to be harmless.  Goat Anderson, Terre Haute manager and left fielder evidently doesn’t think so and because dog Don jumped at him during the seventh inning romp in the first game yesterday Goat will file a protest with President (Louis) Heilbroner, requesting the game be played over.”

Heilbroner ruled against Anderson’s protest saying the play did not have a sufficient impact on the outcome of the game, but he did order that Don would no longer be allowed on the field during games.

Terre Haute finished fifth in the six-team league with 60-79 record.  Anderson was rumored to be considering offers from Federal League teams for 1914, but never signed with a team and his career was over.

He returned to his home in South Bend, Indiana.  He died of stomach cancer 10-years later at age 43.

“This Wealth of Mr. Gertenrich has cost the Game an A-1 Player”

7 Jul

Sportswriter William A. Phelon said Louis Wilhelm “Lou” Gertenrich “is not a ball player because he has to be, but because he wants to be.”

The son of a successful candy maker, Gertenrich was rumored to be one of Chicago’s wealthiest young men.  He was also an excellent ballplayer and sprinter, but spent a great deal of time focused on business rather than sports.  Phelon said:

“Gertenrich hasn’t played ball, even when he desired to play the game, because his business interests would not allow him the leisure time.  In other words, Mr. Gertenrich, being a man of income and financial substance, cannot dally with the ball and bat as he would like, and this wealth of Mr. Gertenrich has cost the game an A-1 player.”

Lou Gertenrich

Lou Gertenrich

He began to be noticed as a ballplayer in 1891 as a 16-year-old pitcher with a team called the American Boys (later called the Mystics), the following year he joined the Clybourn Juniors.

At 19, in 1894 he joined Chicago’s City League, first with the Brands and then the Garden Cities, pitching and playing shortstop and outfield.  As local clubs found they could do better as independents than as members of a league the City League went from an eight, to six to finally a four-team league before disbanding at the close of the 1895 season.

Gertenrich remained a popular figure in semi-professional circles in Chicago, playing primarily for the Maroons and the Auburn Parks.

In 1898 The Sporting Life said Hank O’Day thought Gertenrich “is a sure comer.”

On September 15, 1901 the last place Milwaukee Brewers were in Chicago for a doubleheader, the final two home games for the first place White Sox.  Brewers Outfielder/Manager Hugh Duffy, and another outfielder, Irv Waldron, were injured.  As a result, The Chicago Daily News said:

“Manager Duffy gave Louis Gertenrich, a city league star, a trial.”

Starting the first game in right field, Gertenrich singled in his first big league at bat and scored a run on a home run hit by another player making his debut; Leftfielder Davy Jones.  Gertenrich was 1 for 2 before being removed in the fifth inning of a 5 to 4 loss.

In the second game he pinch hit for pitcher Ned Garvin and grounded out in the bottom of the ninth of a 9 to 4 loss to Chicago.

Gertenrich returned to the Auburn Parks with a .333 major league batting average.

He got a big league call again in 1903.  On July 21 the first place Pittsburgh Pirates were in Chicago to playing the Cubs.  Pirates Manager Fred Clarke, who was injured, had allowed outfielder Jimmy Sebring three days off to return to Williamsport, Pennsylvania for his wedding.

Gertenrich was brought in to play right field; he went 0 for 3 with a sacrifice bunt and handled two fly balls.  He returned to the Auburn Parks’ lineup the following day.

He spent most of the next decade playing in the re-formed Chicago City League—spending time with the Logan Squares, Gunthers, the Roger Parks, the West Ends, the Riverviews and Anson’s Colts.  He also coached baseball  at the Morgan Park Academy on Chicago’s South Side.

The Daily News said:

“Gertenrich is recognized as one of the heaviest hitters in local semi-pro ranks, and there is no batter more feared by the pitchers than this speedy fielder.”

1906 advertisement for the Rogers Parks, when Gertenrich played for and managed the team

1906 advertisement for the Rogers Parks, when Gertenrich played for and managed the team

William A. Phelon wrote for The Chicago Journal when Gertenrich left Chicago briefly in 1905, at age 30,  to join the Springfield Babes in the Central League and the Decatur Commodores in the Three-I League.  Phelon told a story about Gertenrich’s stay in Springfield:

“Mr. Gertenrich was able to arrange his affairs for a lay-off of three months (in order to play for Springfield, and) the rich man negotiated with (Manager Jack) Hendricks for a position…The very next afternoon beheld Mr. Gertenrich, free from business care and happy as a proverbial lark, capering in the Springfield pasture and slamming that old ball like seven Cobbs and a Lajoie thrown in for luck.

“On his first day out he got three singles.  Next day he amassed two triples and a double.  The third day he whacked a home run and a single.  On his fourth day he drew three passes and connected for a triple.  On the morning of the fifth day Mr. Hendricks summoned him to headquarters.

“’Mr. Gertenrich,’ said Mr. Hendricks, pausing to wipe away a tear ‘you are a great batsman and a good fellow.  You are setting this league afire.  You are the wonder of the Twentieth Century.  But you are breaking the hearts of my younger players.  They cannot bat like you.  They are losing their ambition.  A few more games with you among them and they will pine away and die…Moreover Mr. Gertenrich, you have money.  You do not need this job.  The boys whom you are shoving into obscurity have little families and need the coin.  I hate to say it Mr. Gertenrich,’—and the manager again wiped away a tear—‘but you and I must part.  Here is your release.  Goodbye, Mr. Gertenrich, and good luck be with you.  Please go away, for I weep every time I look at you.”

Gertenrich also appeared in several games for Decatur after his release from the Springfield Babes, against Springfield’s other team, the Senators, and the Peoria Distillers.

For the next four seasons, Gertenrich remained one of Chicago’s best local athletes.  At 33-years-old in 1908 he was still a good enough runner to win the City League Field Day title of fastest player; The Daily News said he rounded the bases in 14 and 1/5 seconds.

The Chicago Eagle called him:

“(O)ne of the best known and most popular players in Chicago.”

In 1909 he hit .318 (5th in the league) and The Sporting Life said the Brooklyn Superbas were trying to sign Gertenrich and made an offer “which he has taken under consideration.”  The deal was never completed.

Gertenrich hit .350 in 1910 (3rd in the league), playing for Rogers Park.

In 1912 he returned to professional baseball as a member of the Chicago Green Sox in the United States League.  William “Billy” Niessen, a long-time City League operator had initially been one of the organizers of another proposed outlaw organizations, the Colombian League, but when then venture failed, and after one of the proposed New York team dropped out of the United States League in late March Niessen was awarded a Chicago franchise; Niessen was a good fit for the fledgling league because already had a ballpark on the North Side of Chicago at the corner of Clark Street and Leland Avenue–called Gunther Park, also referred to frequently in the Chicago press and Niessen’s Park.

The Sporting Life said “Base ball men are still betting that the new league doesn’t open the season,” but Niessen had high hopes.  He hired Burt Keeley, a long-time City League figure who had pitched in 30 games for the Washington Senators in 1908 and 1909.

He also signed Gertenrich, who had played for Niessen’s Gunthers in the City League the year before, and according to The Chicago Examiner had hit a home run off of Bill Lindsay of the Chicago American Giants that was “the longest hit ever seen at Niessen’s Park.”

gunther

Gunther Park, where The Examiner said Gertenrich was responsible for “the longest hit ever seen at Niessen’s Park.”

An ambitious 126-game schedule was announced, but the upstart league was under-capitalized and low attendance doomed it to failure.  The league folded after just more than a month of play.  The Green Sox were 10-12.  Gertenrich returned to the candy business and semi-pro ball.

On March 8 of 1913 the Federal League rose out of the ashes of the United States League and was incorporated in Indianapolis.  Keeley was named manager, and many of the same players, including Gertenrich, who played for the Green Sox signed with the new club.

The Chicago Inter Ocean said:

“Gertenrich will be the mainstay of the outfield and is a heavy hitter.  He has made final arrangements for joining the club by procuring a competent manager for his candy business.  He will devote his time to the interests of the club.”

The team won their opener on May 6 against the St. Louis Terriers, and got off to a 7-1 start.  Chicago led the league until the middle of June when they were overtaken by Indianapolis.  They faded quickly after that; at the same time the team’s front office was in chaos, the team’s president was removed  and a new set of directors were elected in July.

On August 16 The Chicago Tribune said the team, hopelessly out of the pennant race, ten games behind Indianapolis, released Gertenrich “on the ground of cutting down expenses.”

Individual records are scare, but the 38-year-old Gertenrich was called “one of the classiest outfielders” in the league by The Associated Press.  In March of 1914 The Daily News said Gertenrich “was batting .413” at the time of his release, but had not received an offer from one the Federal League teams for 1914.

While Gertenrich relinquished some of the responsibilities of his company during 1912 and 1913 he had time to receive two United States patents for inventions for his candy company, including one described as a “corn confection” called the “Ball Tosser.”

Gertenrich was finished with professional baseball after his release in 1913, but continued playing semi-pro ball for several teams in and near Chicago, and formed a team called the Gertenrich Stars which played in Chicago through 1917.

He was a regular sponsor and attendee of alumni events for semi-pro and professional ballplayers in Chicago and played on the German Club of Chicago’s baseball team until his death from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1933.

As a candy maker he had one more connection with professional baseball.  An advertisement for his company appears on the back of a baseball card set.  The 120 card set–the more common version advertises American Caramel on the back (E121)—was issued in 1922.  The Gertenrich variations are extremely rare.

The Gertenrich back variation of an E-121

The Gertenrich back variation of an E-121 card

Independence Day 1918

4 Jul

In June of 1918 it was announced that King George V would be attending, and throwing out the first pitch, at the July 4 baseball game between the United States army and navy teams.

The Associated Press (AP) said the King was looking for help to prepare for the Independence Day game:

“At the request of the king, Arlie Latham, a former big league player, who will umpire the Fourth of July game, sent the King a regulation baseball a few days ago.  The next day Latham called at the Palace and gave the King a brief lesson as to how the baseball should be handled.

“The proper form in pitching was rather hard for the King to get, as he is used to a different type of throw, as in cricket, but the royal student finally began to get something approaching the right swing.  Since then the King has been practicing in his spare moments on a blank wall in the garden.

“The King has expressed hope that he will be able to throw out the ball in a manner to win the approval of the American Rooters.”

Whether he actually practiced is unknown, but the plan to have the King throw out the first ball was scrapped, and he instead walked the ball out to Umpire Latham and handed it to him.

Regardless of how the ball was delivered, the press in London understood the gravity of the gesture.

The London Daily Telegraph said:

“Nothing will give greater pleasure across the Atlantic than the appearance of the King and Queen at the baseball match at Chelsea.  That mark of understanding and attention will appeal to the heart of America far more than any military pageant or review, and the handing out of the ball by the king to the players—an act which will seem trivial and incomprehensible to the German mind—is likely to do more toward the removal of century-old prejudice in America against the name ‘King George’ than the ablest diplomacy or the most persuasive rhetoric.”

The London Daily Sketch memorialized the event in verse:

“King George III with cannon balls

Did try our brothers to dispatch.

King George V the country calls

To watch with him their baseball match.”

King George shakes hand with Lt. Mims, captain of the army team.  Admiral Sims looks on.

King George shakes hand with Lt. Mims, captain of the army team. Admiral William  Sims looks on.

On July 4 The AP reported:

“King George saw the American Army defeated in a hard-fought baseball game today.  The opponent of the army team was one picked from the American navy, which won by a score of 2 to 1.  Every one of the nine innings had its thrills for the more than 18,000 spectators.

“King George followed the game closely and enjoyed it thoroughly.  At the close he turned to Admiral (William) Sims and General (John) Biddle and expressed the hope that he might be able to see many more games before the summer was over.

“Few sporting events since the war began have aroused so much interest and discussion in London as yesterday’s game.  Independence Day was on everybody’s lips…For several days the newspapers have been explaining baseball and the people of London have been pouring over the mysteries of the American national game, instinctively trying to find in it some parallel to their own cricket.  Many persons went to the game armed with clippings and drawings of a diamond showing the position of the players.

“American soldiers and sailors on their way to the game were heartily cheered.  Outside the entrance to the Chelsea football grounds, where the game was played, the people lined the streets for several blocks and crowded the windows in their homes to watch the crowds.”

Hall of Famer Herb Pennock pitched for the navy team which was captained by his Red Sox teammate Mike McNally.

Most sources reported the the attendance as 18,000.  McNally, in a letter to Red Sox Secretary Larry Graver said in a letter reprinted by The AP:

“There were some 50,000 people present.  King George, Admiral Sims, and a lot of other ‘big guys.'”

The wire service summed up the importance of the day:

“No Country ever celebrated the national anniversary of another country as the people of Great Britain today celebrated the Fourth of July.”

“No Exhibition was ever Received in this City with more Enthusiasm”

2 Jul

The New York World unveiled a newly updated attraction for baseball fans on August 6, 1889; the “Baseball Bulletin,” a version of which had also been introduced at the Boston Music Hall earlier that summer.

The Boston Music Hall "Bulletin Board."

The Boston Music Hall “Bulletin Board.”

The Associated Press said some fans thought the board was “an advantage over the actual game, in that it not only reproduces the plays graphically and simultaneously, but it keeps at the same time a simple and conspicuous record of the contest.”

The New York World's "Bulletin Board."

The New York World’s “Bulletin Board.”

The Boston Herald said their board measured “fifteen feet square.”  New York’s board was an improved version of one that had been used the previous October for the Giants six game to four World Series victory over the American Association’s St. Louis Browns.

The crowd on Park Row for the 1888 World Series

The crowd on Park Row for the 1888 World Series

The board was the creation of  reporter Edward Van Zile of The World; Van Zile received a patent for the invention, although it was another member of the paper’s staff, Publisher Joseph Pulitzer’s secretary Edwin A Grozier, who turned it into a profitable enterprise. After purchasing the original rights from Van Zile, Grozier improved the design and received his own patent.

The World said the new version was a bigger sensation than the one introduced the previous October:

“’Perfection’ is the word which expressed the verdict of the baseball public who had the good fortune to witness the game between the New York Giants and Baby Anson’s team on The  World’s Baseball Bulletin Board yesterday afternoon…it is safe to say that no exhibition was ever received in this city with more enthusiasm than was the baseball bulletin.

“And the crowd too!  What a vast number!  There must have been fully 10,000 people in the audience, and the way they cheered when the Giants made a run was a sound that would have made Baby Anson sick.”

The presentation of the game took place on New York’s “Newspaper Row” (Park Row), with a crowd on the east side of the street

“(E)xtending from above The World Building to far below it (and) on the west side of the street the crowd was much larger.  There was a long line of people from Mail Street almost down to the other end of the big Federal Building.

“No point from which the game could be witnessed was left vacant.  The boys climbed up and lodged themselves in among the pillars of the Post Office…Even the lamp post was monopolized by the urchins, and when our boys made a good play they generally led the cheering.”

The “expert board operator placed the Chicago men in the field,” for the first inning, and leadoff hitter George Gore at the plate:

“When (Gore) slid down to first base the crowd were just ready to cheer, but they saw him put out and they reserved their applause for another occasion.

“They did not have long to wait, however, for (Mike) Tiernan and (Buck) Ewing  each succeeded in gaining bases, and then big Roger Connor was placed over home plate

“The crowd held its breath in anticipation of what was to come.  Their enthusiasm was drawn up to a high pitch, and was just waiting for a chance to break its bonds.  And they got it!  The little red disk representing Connor slid up to first and Tiernan slid across home plate.  Then there was a volley of cheers.  It broke forth clear and strong, and the sound could be heard blocks away.

“Up on the tops of the tall buildings in the neighborhood the cheers of the crowd could be heard resounding forth as a victorious army returning from battle.

“And it was all the same through the game. A great many people were attracted to the spot by the cries of the crowd, and when they saw the baseball bulletin they all united in declaring it to be the greatest thing they had ever seen.”

Chicago scored seven runs off Tim Keefe in the ninth to tie the score at 8.  The crowd’s “disapproval resolved itself into a continued groan.”

The Giants scored two runs in the tenth, and when the white Stockings came to bat in the last half of the inning:

“(T)he crowd watched more intently than at any time before.As each Chicago man went out there was a yell, and when they all went out without having made a run it was impossible to say a word that could be heard.”

The Box Score

The Box Score

The paper commemorated their innovation with a poem:

A boy was passing down the street,

Another lad he chanced to meet;

‘I’ll bet,’ he said, ‘we’re licked once more.

What is the score?’

A merchant coming down that way,

Lifted his bearded head so gray;

And ceased o’er book and cash to pore—

‘What is the score?’

A preacher wrestled with his text,

And wondered what he’d best say next;

Then called out through his study door;

What is the score?’

The Mayor in his office sat

And pondered over this and that,

The said: ‘I’m sure the game is o’er.

What is the score?’

If they had only chanced to go

Into the middle of Park Row,

And see the bulletin of The World,

And the glorious pennant there unfurled,

They’d never ask the question more

‘What is the score?’

The  World predicted the initial crowd was just the beginning:

“Today’s game between the Chicagos and the New Yorks will be duly recorded on the board.  There is room for everybody to see, and it is expected that the crowd will be twice as large as yesterday.”

The following day the paper did not say the crowd had doubled—to 20,000—but claimed it was “The largest crowd that had ever been on Park Row,” for the Giants 4 to 2 victory over the White Stockings.

Crowds continued to come to Park Row as the Giants battled the Boston Beaneaters and won the pennant on the final day of the season.

Baseball Bulletin Boards, and other versions of the concept, remained a popular feature well into the 20th Century. More often than not they were sponsored and presented by local newspapers.

The New York Sun presented their own "Baseball Bulletin Board"  on New York's Park Row in 1914

The New York Sun presented their own “Baseball Bulletin Board” on New York’s Park Row in 1914

 

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