When Bobby Wallace was named manager of the St. Louis Browns in 1911, the local press, desperate for any ray of hope for a club that finished in eighth place with a 47-107 record, enlisted a “noted phrenologist” named Squeers from Hot Springs, Arkansas to examine the new manager.
Phrenology was a popular pseudoscience in the in the 19th and early 20th Century that claimed the structure of the skull determined a person’s mental ability and character.
The result of Wallace’s examination was reported in several newspapers:
“The eminent brain specialist pronounced the manager of the Browns one of the most normal-minded men he had ever examined. He did not know his man when he made his diagnosis.
“Wallace’s head is abnormally developed on the left side. This is as it should be, Dr. Squeers declares. The left lobe of the brain governs the right side of the body…It is natural, asserts Dr, Squeers, that a man should be right handed, right-footed, right-eyed, that the right side (of the body) should be larger and stronger than the left.”
It was not enough to declare Wallace “normal minded,’ the “doctor” also “diagnosed” roughly 10 percent of the general population. He said because “It is natural” to be right-handed, left-handers therefore, were “in many cases a bit abnormal.”
“For whatsoever the reason may be, the man whose throwing arm is governed by the right lobe of his brain seems bound to be erratic. Thus is Dr, Squeers, knows little of baseball, justified in pronouncing Wallace an ‘abnormally normal’ man. Wallace is the farthest thing from erratic that any man could be. He could not do a left-handed or wrong thing—could not act abnormally to save his soul.”
“Wallace has been the quietest, most regular, most normal human being in the world. He is the perfection of moderation, of balance in all things. He takes life quietly and is never disturbed or out of temper. He has never made an enemy. He is the favorite of everyone…It remains to be seen if normality means success when it is applied to the management of a baseball team.”
In this case it didn’t.
The Browns, awful in 1910, were awful again under Wallace in 1911; another eighth place finish with a 45-107 record. After a 12-27 start in 1912, George Stovall replaced him as Browns manager.
Wallace managed one more time—he replaced Chuck Dressen as manager of the Cincinnati Reds in September of 1937. The “most normal human being in the world” was 5-20.