Humpy Badel

27 Apr

Fred Badel was the first player in professional baseball (and most likely the only one) who suffered from Kyphosis, the over-curvature of the upper back.  In less sensitive times, the first decade of the 20th Century, this led to his nickname: Humpy.

Badel was born in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, March 6, 1881, although contemporary newspaper accounts implied he was much older.  He never learned to read or write, and despite his medical condition developed into a solid ballplayer.

The Altoona Tribune said:

“He is a little left-handed hitter, fast on his feet, and an excellent baserunner.”

The Tribune also said he was “(A) protegé of (Honus) Wagner.”

The Pittsburgh Press said he was:

“[E]xtremely fast on his feet, can hit like a fiend, and fields his position in a most finished manner.”

That description of Badel’s abilities appeared in an article about “The assertion…there are three classes of men who do not succeed in fast company in baseball, namely Hebrews, hunchbacks and Negroes,” the article failed to mention the concerted effort of organized baseball to keep at least two of those “classes” out of the game.)

Fred “Humpy” Badel

His professional career began in 1905 with Johnstown in the independent “outlaw” Tri-State League, although earlier he appears to have played for the Youngstown team in the Ohio-Pennsylvania League, and independent teams in Pennsylvania.

No statistics survive, but Badel appears to have played well.  He was described variously by Pennsylvania papers as a “picturesque character” and “odd,” but there seemed to be general agreement that he was destined for the big leagues.  He also had a reputation for playing dirty, The Williamsport Sun-Gazette said he had “a nasty trick of trying to spike basemen.”

At the close of the 1905 season, Badel was signed by the Buffalo Bisons in the Eastern League, managed by George Stallings.  Stallings, who had managed the Bisons since 1902, took the team south for spring training for the first time.

George Stallings

The trip was so successful that Stallings said he’d never again hold spring training in a northern climate—a regular practice at that time.

When the Bisons stopped in Cincinnati for an exhibition game with the Reds on April 10, Badel made an impression.

The Cincinnati Enquirer said:

“Humpy Badel was the bright particular star of the game…Badel is humpback, but a great athlete, with great speed and a fine arm.  An outfielder who cuts into two double plays in one game is going some.  He also made a fine catch on (Jim) Delahanty‘s drive in the second, which would have gone on for three bags…Badel was the main Bison slugger, securing two of the four hits off (Orville) Overall and one of the three off (Leo) Hafford.  Toward the end of the game, the bleacherites were cheering him on with cries of ‘good work, Humpy,’ and applauding every move he made.”

The Enquirer reported that Stallings turned down a  $4000 offer from Cincinnati–it was later reported to be $5000– to purchase Badel’s contract; the paper said Reds Manager Ned Hanlon badly wanted Badel.

Within months everything changed.  He was with Buffalo until July, 6, when without notice he jumped the team and returned to Johnstown.

badel

A cartoon from The Harrisburg Telegraph featuring Badel.

 

The Buffalo Courier blasted Badel; under the headline “Humpy Badel is a Foolish Man” the newspaper detailed how well he had been treated in Buffalo.  While acknowledging that Badel “Has the makings of a great player in him,” the paper repeatedly mentioned his illiteracy, claimed he “Lacked common sense,” missed or ignored signs, refused Stallings’ attempts to help him,  and was the subject of ridicule from his teammates who considered him ignorant.

The Buffalo Times summed up their view in verse:

“There was an outfielder named Humpy.

Whose work was decidedly lumpy;

So one bright summer day

He asked George for his pay,

And went back to the farm rather grumpy.”

Badel’s hometown papers in Pittsburgh and Sporting Life were somewhat less harsh, but all said that Badel’s leaving Buffalo probably ended a sure chance at a major league career.  Rumors that he jumped because oil had been found on his Pennsylvania land and he no longer needed to play ball were quickly dismissed.

There is no record of Badel ever having been asked for an explanation for why he left Buffalo and effectively ended any chance he had to play in the major leagues.

Badel hit over .300 in Johnstown during the second half of 1906.  He did not play professional ball in 1907, some reports said he had been blacklisted, others claimed he was ill–The Washington Herald said he was “in the grip of consumption,” although that report was likely false.

He appeared briefly with Johnstown again in 1908, but it appears he was not the same player.  The Harrisburg Star-Independent said:

“‘Humpy’ Badel has degenerated.  The eccentric one is no longer the valuable player which he showed himself to be in 1906.”

Badel is listed on the rosters of several independent, C and D league teams between 1910 and 1914, including the “outlaw” United States League in 1912 and the Federal League in 1913.  As was the case throughout his career, there are few extant statistics for Badel during this period.

The last mention of Badel in the press was the report of  his release from Maysville in the Ohio State League in June of 1914.  According to census records and his World War I registration card, he lived in Cincinnati, then Akron and worked as a carpenter until 1919.

 After 1919, there are no records of Badel, a suitable, enigmatic end to the story of an enigmatic man.

A shorter version of this post was published on August 21, 2012

Lost Advertisements–Famous Ball Players–Farmers & Merchants

24 Apr

farmersandmerchantsad

An October, 1925 advertisement for California’s Farmers & Merchants Bank:

Famous Ball Players who are depositors in the Farmers and Merchants

Dazzy Vance, Brooklyn, Leading pitcher of the National League

Jimmy Austin, the St. Louis Browns

Ernie Johnson, with the New York Yankees

Hervey McClellan, with the Chicago White Sox

George Sisler, manager of the St. Louis Browns

Ken Williams, of the St. Louis Browns

One of Farmer’s  Merchants depositors, Hervey McClellan, had an unusual distinction on June 14, 1922 while filling in at shortstop after his Chicago White Sox teammate, and fellow bank customer, Ernie Johnson was hit by a pitch and left a game against the Philadelphia Athletics.   The Sox, behind Urban “Red” Faber, took 6 to 3 lead into the eighth inning.

Hervey McClennan

Hervey McClellan

Then, according to The Chicago Tribune‘s Irving Vaughan, McClellan was responsible for “Possibly the most unusual feature of the afternoon,” when:

 “(He) started his high diving by muffing (Cy) Perkins‘ roller.  (Chick) Galloway then grounded to (first baseman Earl) Sheely who heaved to second, but McClellan neglected to cover.  This put runners on the two far corners and both counted when McClellan threw to the grandstand on (Jimmy) Dykes‘ grass cutter…What McClellan did was notch three errors on three consecutive batters…two runs scoring on the blunders and providing a close score.”

The Box Score

The Box Score

McClellan, who played six seasons with the White Sox, died a month after this advertisement appeared.  He had been ill for more than a year, suffering from  complications from two gall stone surgeries.

1911 Washington Senators Season Ticket Contest

22 Apr

hahnscontest1

 

On March 17, 1911, a fire destroyed Washington D.C.’s Boundary Field, almost immediately construction began on a new ballpark on the site–what would become Griffith Stadium.

The Boundary Field fire.

The Boundary Field fire.

The Hahn Shoe Company took out advertisements in all of Washington’s daily newspapers announcing a promotion for the new ballpark:

Baseball Season Tickets To Be Given Away!

“Baseball is the popular game that it is because it is A GOOD, CLEAN GAME–the BEST GAME ON EARTH FOR THE MONEY YOU PAY!

“‘HAHN’S SHOES,’ also are so popular–because THEY ARE GOOD SHOES–the BEST SHOES KNOWN FOR THE MONEY YOU PAY!

“To still further popularize BASEBALL and the ‘HAHN’ SHOES this spring, we start today a great VOTING CONTEST–the awards in which are to be

“Three Season Tickets to Scheduled American League Games–Each Ticket Good for Fifty Admissions to (.75) Grand Stand Seats at the Washington Baseball Park.”

The contest called for fans to collect votes on their behalf–the three highest vote totals by April 29 would receive the tickets to 50 home games from May 4 through the end of the season.

The contest became very popular, and by April 9 The Washington Times said that a million votes had been cast,

hahnscontestformBallots were printed regularly in the newspapers and additional votes could be received for submitting bonus coupons and purchasing items in Hahn stores.

Leader boards were displayed in the windows of each Hahn store, and The Washington Herald said “So close to the present leaders are many of the other contestants that constant changes are likely.”

When the contest came to an end, The Times claimed “a total of 7,000,000 votes was [sic] cast by friends of the contestants.”

Hahn’s announced the winners in large ads in all of Washington’s newspapers:

hahnscontestwinners

The winning contestants each received more than 200,000 votes each.  Hahn’s said:

“That baseball and Hahn’s Reliable Shoes are both at the zenith of their popularity here in Washington was manifested by the phenomenal success of our Baseball Voting Contest, in which millions of votes were cast.”

Despite the claim that baseball was “at the zenith” of its popularity in the nation’s capital, or perhaps because construction of the new ballpark wasn’t completely finished until July 24, attendance dropped by nearly 10,000 from 1910 to 1911.

The Senators were no better either.  They followed their 66-85 record in 1910, with a slightly worse 64-90 mark in 1911.

 

“Let us try and meet his Qualifications as a Gentleman”

20 Apr

In April of 1947, with Jackie Robinson on the verge of making his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, the “Dean of Negro sportswriters,” Frank Albert “Fay” Young said in The Chicago Defender, Robinson would not be the only one under a microscope:

“It is hoped that the Negro fans, who want to see Robinson remain in big-time baseball will learn to treat him as another top-notch ball player.  He should not be made to carry the added burden of ‘the race problem’ on his shoulders.  He will have a hard enough job playing the brand of baseball expected of any other big leaguer.

“Two things are important.  The first is the conduct of the Negro fans.  Drinking is out in all National League parks.  Profane language, if you have to use it, reserve it for your home where your wife will ‘brain’ you.

Robinson will not be on trial as much as the Negro fan.  The Negro fan has been the ‘hot potato’ dodged by managers who would have taken a chance by signing a Negro player.”

Frank "Fay" Young, The Chicago Defender

Frank “Fay” Young, The Chicago Defender

Robinson was scheduled to make his first appearance in Chicago on May 18.  Young said:

“We hope that Sgt. Harness and ‘Two-gun Pete’ and some other brave Negro policemen will be assigned to the Cubs Park.  Harness and ‘Two-gun’ know the hoodlums.”

Harness and ‘Two-gun Pete’ were Robert Harness and Sylvester Washington, two well-known African-American police offers.  Harness rose to the rank of commander before he retired.  Washington, who The Defender called “Chicago’s toughest black cop,” and carried two pearl-handled revolvers, suffered a different fate.  The paper said in 1951, he was “(A)sked publicly to explain how he had been able to purchase a $40,000 building specifically, and maintain an expensive auto and flashy clothes on a $3,600 per year salary.  ‘A lot of people give me things…I am a great policeman,’ he is reported to have replied.”  Washington resigned from the force that year.

In addition to their behavior at the ballpark, Young also implored fans:

“Robinson is against being singled out before a game to be called to home plate and be presented with numerous gifts.  There will be eight other Dodger players in the game.  Jackie insists on being treated as a ballplayer trying to make good and not a Negro ballplayer seeking special privileges.

“The Negro fan can help Robinson.  The Negro fan can ruin him.  Robinson is an American citizen, an ex-army officer, a ballplayer and a gentleman.  Let us try and meet his qualifications as a gentleman.  If you Chicagoans have got to raise a lot of hell, do a lot of cussing, go somewhere else.”

Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson

Robinson’s Chicago debut—a 4 to 2 Dodger victory–drew 46,572 fans, the then largest crowd to attend a game at Wrigley Field since field seating was discontinued in 1936.  The Defender reported that the fans were “Orderly,” focusing their only derision towards “one Dixie Walker who was the recipient of plenty of boos.”  The fans maintained order even when Robinson was called out on strikes with the bases loaded in the fifth inning “much to his disgust and to those who sat behind home plate and though the umpire should have called the pitch a ball.”

Lost Advertisements–“Spark plug of Huggins’ Machine”

17 Apr

cozydolanA 1915 Coca-Cola ad featuring Albert “Cozy” Dolan of the St. Louis Cardinals.

“Like chooses like–no wonder the ‘spark plug of (Manager Miller) Huggins‘ machine’  likes this live wire beverage.”

Dolan, a 32-year-old utility infielder and outfielder who had never appeared in more than 100 games in a season before 1914, was an unlikely spokesman, given that most Coca-Cola ads of the period featured the game’s biggest stars.

He stole 42 bases for the Cardinals in 1914, but he hit just .240. In 1915, he hit .280 and stole 17 bases in 111 games.

While hardly great numbers, Dolan’s time in St. Louis was a huge success when compared with his disastrous 35-game tenure with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Dolan was traded to the Pirates by the Philadelphia Phillies for third baseman Bobby Byrne and pitcher Howie Camnitz in August of 1913 and became the team’s starting third baseman but hit .203, had a fielding percentage of .937 and became the target of angry fans.

Cozy Dolan

Cozy Dolan

Richard Guy of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette described his time with the Pirates:

“He looked bad and he was object of revile by those who criticize, and he failed.”

Joe Kelly of The Pittsburgh Chronicle said:

“No player ever was ridden harder by players and fans than was the former International League speed boy when he performed at Forbes Field.  Perhaps few who held down a berth regularly ever deserved more criticism, for his performances were on the awful order.  But it’s a hard job to make good when hoots and howls follow every poor play, and the few successful ones are greeted with ironical applause.  Dolan got off wrong at Forbes Field and he seemed to be sensitive, too sensitive, to the crowd’s attitude.  There comes to mind a scene last summer when the Pirates were leaving their club house.  They came out in twos and threes, laughing and joking, but among the first was Dolan, all alone.  His face was strained and drawn and worried.  He had failed that day, and he knew it…The fans poured their criticism on his head, and he sat tight and took it without a whimper.  There is something in a guy like that, or the major league managers wouldn’t keep him sticking around.”

Dolan stopped “sticking around” after 1915.  Huggins released his “spark plug” at the end of the season.  He returned to the minor leagues, playing three seasons in the American Association, then became a coach for the New York Giants in 1922.

In 1924, received a lifetime ban from Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis for his role in an attempt to fix a game.

 

Jules Pujol

15 Apr

Jules Pujol was an infielder and outfielder for several professional teams in and around his hometown of New Orleans during the 1880s.  Statistics are unavailable for much of Pujol’s career, but his best season was with New Orleans in the Southern League in 1887 when he hit .314 in 82 games–he played sparingly, and hit no better than .242 after that.

Pujol was born in New Orleans on December 12, 1864.  When he was not playing baseball he was a member of New Orleans’ all-volunteer fire department–the Fireman’s Charitable Association.

Pujol’s statistical decline after his .314 season might be attributed to an incident on Bourbon Street in New Orleans in March of 1888.  Pujol was out celebrating after New Orleans’ annual “Fireman’s Day Parade,” when, according to The New Orleans Times-Picayune he was “Shot and dangerously injured by Police Officer Albert Torregano.”

Pujol was fighting with another man in the bar when the officer approached:

“The officer attempted to make pace and requested Pujol to stop, when the latter said: ‘You want some of it, too,’ and struck him in the face and knocked him down.

“As the officer got up he again asked Pujol to quit, when Pujol knocked him down again, and his brother Luis came up saying, ‘Let me get at him, ‘ and also struck (the officer), and while he was lying there they both kicked him and beat him about the legs and body.”

The officer finally drew his weapon and shot Pujol, “striking Jules under the left shoulder-blade.”  Despite being shot, Pujol “continued chasing the officer.”  Pujol finally “fell to the floor from the loss of blood,” and was taken to the hospital where the wound was “pronounced very dangerous.”  The bullet had “passed through his right lung and striking the third rib lodged in his stomach.”

So dangerous was the wound that several newspapers printed a wire report which said:

“Jules Pujol, late third baseman of the New Orleans club, who was shot in the Crescent a week ago, is dead.”

Reports of Pujol’s demise were premature.  Three weeks after the shooting he was released from the hospital.  The Times-Picayune declared him “cured.”

In April, the assault case against the Pujol  brothers was “continued indefinitely.”  Neither were ever tried,  Louis returned to the fire department, and Jules left for Texas. He played for the Galveston Giants and Houston Babies in the Texas Southern League in 1888 and finished his professional career the following season with mobile in the Southern League.

In 1891, he became a Lieutenant in the newly formed New Orleans Fire Department.

Pujol and four other firefighters, including his brother Louis, were awarded the department’s highest honor for saving nine lives in a fire at the Grunewald Opera Hall at Baronne and Canal Streets in 1892.  According to the book History of the Fire Department in New Orleans (1895), the five went to the roof of a neighboring building, and then swung “A rope to the burning building, hauling a ladder over to bridge from one to the other, and passing the endangered persons across it to a place of safety.”

Jules Pujol, second from left

Pujol rose through the ranks of the department and was an assistant chief–serving under his brother, Chief Louis Pujol–on February 23, 1924, when he responded to a fire at a warehouse on Canal Street.  Pujol died after being trapped in the building when the walls collapsed.  Five other firefighters were seriously injured.

He is interred at Greenwood Cemetery in New Orleans.

A shorter version of this post was published on September 13, 2012

“I am, I Believe, more Inclined to fear the Jinx”

12 Apr

In 1910, Johnny Evers “wrote” an article in “Baseball Magazine” about superstitions:

“’On the Cubs’ team, for instance, I am, I believe, more inclined to fear the jinx than any other member of the club.  In batting practice before the game the general belief is that if you are not hitting the ball hard or up in the air you will bat well in the game ofttimes as a result. In many cases I have seen a player hit two or three balls hard and on the line and then go to the bench and refuse to bat anymore, saying, ‘I’m saving mine for the game.’”

Johnny Evers

Johnny Evers

Some of Evers’ other superstitions:

“Going to the different parks in the cars the sight of a funeral along the road is regarded as an ill omen.  The same applies to a (handicapped person) unless you toss him a coin.  A wagon load of barrels is a good sing.  Frequently a man, having gone a mile out of the way to purchase something on a day when his club happened to win, will continue to travel the roundabout pathway so long as the club is in that particular city or until his teammates lose.”

As for superstitions during a game:

“Watch a man when the inning is over.  If the inning previous was favorable to a player, observe him go over and be particular to locate the same spot to lay down his glove.  You doubtless have often seen a player attired in a soiled and far from presentable uniform.  Beneath all that lurks our old friend the jinx.  The player will stick to the dirty garments so long as his team is winning.  When the streak is broken the laundryman gets a chance at his clothing, but not before.”

[…]

“Not for the world could you induce the average major league pitcher to resume work with a new shoe lace.  He will tie up the remnants and go ahead, hoping to make the laces last throughout the session.  The players don’t want the bat boys to hand them their clubs either.  On our home grounds of course, Red Gallagher, the bat boy, has a sort of standing job swinging the sticks, but he always tries hard to drive away the hoodoo.  Watch him salivate the handle of every bat before it goes in the hands of its owner.”

In addition to bat boy spit, Evers said there were other superstitions among the Cubs:

“Keep your eyes glued on Tinker when he goes to bat.  Joe has a habit of walking straight from the bench to the plate to the plate for the first time up.  If he gets a clean hit that time he’ll repeat in the second trip, but if he fans or fouls out or is tossed o death on an infield drive Tinker certainly will waltz out in a circle, going back to the plate.  This is the way he hopes to break the hoodoo.”

Joe Tinker

Joe Tinker

[…]

“Recall how Manager (Frank) Chance refused to have the Cubs pose for a team picture during the closing days of the League race in 1908.  He was especially fearful that the photographer might work a jinx on the players and jeopardize our chances of beating Detroit.    (Ed) Reulbach is a mighty superstitious chap.  I remember how one of Ed’s friends approached him when the big pitcher was mowing them down for his record of fourteen straight victories (In 1909 Reulbach tied the record set in 1904 by Joe McGinnity and Jack Chesbro). He wanted Reulbach’s cap, the one he had worn during all those games, but Ed refused to part with the headgear.

Yes, the ballplayer is to be listed only with the actor or the sailor when it comes to the superstitious phase of life.”

Lost Pictures–Tris Speaker and Laddie Boy’s Brother

10 Apr

trisIn 1921, the most famous dog in the world was Laddie Boy; the Airedale Terrier was the first celebrated Presidential Dog.  Laddie Boy was presented to President Warren G. Harding on March 5, 1921–the day after his inauguration–by a Toledo, Ohio breeder–his father  was an international champion Airedale named Tintern Tip-Top.

Laddie Boy had his own chair at Harding’s cabinet meetings, “wrote” articles about his life at the White House, and after Harding’s death a statue of Laddie Boy–paid for with donations collected by newsboys across the country–was commissioned and displayed at the Smithsonian Institution.

laddieboy

Laddie Boy poses on the White House lawn in his chair.

Nearly two months after Laddie Boy went to the White House, one of his lesser-known brothers was presented to Player-Manager Tris Speaker of the defending World Series Champion Cleveland Indians on opening day of the 1921 season.

Speaker became a fan of the breed and later bought Airedales from another Ohio breeder, Walter Lingo.  Lingo, to promote his breeding business–Oorang Kennel Company–hired another one of his customers, Jim Thorpe, and together they organized the Oorang Indians National Football League franchise.

Jim Thorpe--Airedale fan

Jim Thorpe–Airedale fan

“He Drinks one Glass of Whiskey a day while Training”

8 Apr

The Associated Press (AP) said in 1912 that 45-years-old Denton True “Cy” Young “(B)aseball’s most interesting veteran has gone  to Augusta, Georgia, to join his teammates of the Boston Nationals at their training camp.”

Young had gone to Augusta from Hot Springs, Arkansas, where The AP said he had spent several weeks performing his annual ritual for getting into shape, “He started going there years ago.”

Cy Young, third from left, with Bill Carrigan, Jake Stahl and Fred Anderson at Hot Springs in 1912

Cy Young, third from left, with Bill Carrigan, Jake Stahl, and Fred Anderson at Hot Springs in 1912

Among his secrets: “He drinks one glass of whiskey a day while training.”

Young shared his training regimen with the wire service:

“First week:  The regular daily baths at Hot Springs.

“Second week:  Baths and road work.  He dresses in flannels and sweater and does 10 to 15 miles on the road.  He tramps, sprints and climbs hills. He does not touch a baseball.

“Third week: He continues baths and road work.  He fields and tosses the ball. He handles bunts to reduce his stomach.  At the end of the third week, he pitches his first ball.”

Cy Young

Cy Young

Young said after he began throwing pitches, he had no set rule for one to begin throwing hard:

“Young doesn’t attempt a fastball until he is just right and no one but himself can tell when this will be.  He says he doesn’t know how he knows when the moment arrives, but he just naturally begins to speed them across and perhaps to put ‘something on the ball’ at the correct time.  The result is you never hear of Cy Young complaining of a sore arm, or wrenched back, as many youngsters do.”

Young, by all accounts, pitched fairly well in  games in Georgia and went north with Boston.  But, he never appeared in a game.  An April story that said he was retiring to take a baseball writing job at The Boston American proved untrue.  Finally, on May 23, Young was scheduled to pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The AP said:

“The veteran was sent out to warm up to pitch for Boston against the Pirates…but his salary wing refused to behave.”

Young vowed to return to his farm “and get into shape,” in order to return before the end of the season.

His training regimen finally wasn’t enough.  His career was over.

Hearing that Young was returning to his farm, his Boston teammates took up a collection “to defray Cy’s expenses and $44.39 was raised.”  The AP said some of the young players didn’t realize the collection “was a joke…He is worth $75,000 and owns 160 acres of land in Ohio…Cy smiled and spent a good hour hunting up the younger players and returning their money.”

Diet Tips from Tim Murnane

6 Apr

Tim Murnane, who began his career as a first baseman for Middletown Mansfields in the National Association in 1872 and later was a member of the Boston Red Stockings in the National League’s inaugural season in 1876, would go on to become one of the most influential baseball writers in the country.

Tim Murnane

Tim Murnane

Writing in The Boston Globe in 1906, he said he had discovered the one thing that caused the greatest harm to a baseball player.

“Over-feeding kills off more ballplayers than accidents or hard work on the ball-field.”

Murnane suggested two solutions.  First, he recommended that, “The Fletcher system should be taken up by the veteran ballplayers without delay.”

The “Fletcher System” or “Fletcherizing” was a then very popular diet technique put forth by a “self-taught nutritionist” named Horace Fletcher.  Fletcher claimed, in several books published during the first decade of the 20th Century that the key to weight loss was to chew food so completely that it was virtually liquefied before swallowing.  Called “The Great Masticator,” Fletcher counted Thomas Edison, Henry James, Franz Kafka, John D. Rockefeller, J.C. Penny—and apparently Tim Murnane—among his adherents.  His theories had fallen out of favor, replaced by diets based on calorie intake, by the time of his death in 1919.

Horace Fletcher "The Great Masticator"

Horace Fletcher, “The Great Masticator.”

Secondly, Murnane said, “(T)he rules of eating should be laid down by the management of every club.”

He said Harry Wright, who had been Murnane’s manager in Boston, “(W)as about the first baseball man to keep a close watch over his players during meal time,” and insisted they eat lightly before games.

“’Just a plate of soup.  That’s plenty,’ would be Mr. Wright’s cry as the players filed into the dining room for lunch.  The greatest athletic performances on the field have been accomplished on practically empty stomachs.”

[…]

“I have known at least half a dozen good ballplayers being passed up in Boston on account of paying no heed to the manager’s advice about overloading their stomachs.  Frank Selee was just as much of a stickler in this line as was Harry Wright, and both were remarkably successful baseball managers.  The manager who does not pay especial attention to this end of the players’ life must lose out, for his team will be unable to keep up a fast clip very long after the boys commence to take on flesh as the result of overfeeding and drinking.”

Murnane had other diet tips for readers:

“A ballplayer cannot drink too much good milk.  The greatest drinker of milk I ever knew was James O’Rourke, and Jim, after thirty-three years on the ball-field, is just as lively a 10-year-old today.  O’Rourke never used tobacco in any form, nor ever indulged in malt liquors, but what a milk drinker he has been all his life and what credit to the national game, from every angle you view the old sport!’

Jim O'Rourke

Jim O’Rourke, “The greatest drinker of milk.’

Murnane blamed the disappointing performance of the Boston Americans in 1905 (Fourth place, 78-74, 16 games out of first) on the dietary habits of the team:

“To be honest, I think the Boston Americans last season practically ignored condition from first to last.  I never witnessed on one ball team so many men out of form by being overweight…This club would have won at least one dozen more games had they taken good care of their stomachs, and no one knows this better than Captain (Manager Jimmy) Collins himself, who has said it will be a much different season with the Boston club next season.”

The next season, 1906, was much different, but not in the way Collins had hoped.  The team was 35-79 when Collins was replaced as manager by Charles “Chick” Stahl, and finished in last place with a 49-105 record.

Murnane concluded:

“Baseball was never intended for a fat man’s game, and Captain Anson was the only heavyweight who ever piloted a pennant winner, although my old friend Charley Comiskey was growing a bit stout when his boys carried off the prize five years ago.”

 

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