Brother Joe’s Holdout

29 Nov

Joseph Aloysius “Brother Joe” Corbett got his nickname because lived in the shadow of his older sibling—“Gentleman Jim” Corbett, World Heavyweight Champion.

Baseball was Jim’s first love, and he aspired to pro career, but his time in professional baseball was limited to about three dozen games for a variety of minor league teams from 1897-1900 when his boxing fame made him a drawing card.

Jim was very protective of Joe, and contemporaneous newspaper accounts indicate that he served as something of an agent for his younger brother.

Joe, at 19-years-old and with limited experience in college and two California-based minor leagues, was given a trial with the Washington Senators in 1895—said to be a result of Jim’s friendship with Senators manager Gus Schmelz.  Joe went 0-2 for Washington and was released.

After pitching for the Norfolk Braves in the Virginia League and Scranton Miners in the Eastern League in 1896, Corbett earned another trip to the Big Leagues with Ned Hanlon’s great Baltimore Orioles team, the O’s were 90-39, 9.5 games ahead of the second place Cleveland Spiders.

Joe Corbett

Corbett was 3-0, and won two games against Cleveland in the Temple Cup, the National League post season 7-game series between the first and second place teams.

At the close of the Temple Cup series, while Jim was in New York, Hanlon got Joe to sign a $1400 contract in Baltimore for the 1897 season.

The 1897 Orioles finished in second place, but Corbett established himself as a rising star, posting a 24-8 record.  The Orioles sent Joe a contract for $2100.  Joe returned it unsigned and demanded $3000, and according to some reports, $300 in travel expenses.

The Orioles offered to split the difference.  Joe refused.

Ultimately the parties ended up either $100 apart, or with the Orioles relenting (depending on the source).  Joe still refused, and sat out the entire season.

Some sources, like the book “Baseball Hall of Shame 4,” claim Corbett’s holdout was over Hanlon’s failure to keep a promise to buy Joe a suit for winning 20 games.  The articles from that period and the quotes from the principles would make the suit story appear apocryphal and of later vintage.

Jim Corbett blamed the dispute on Hanlon, who he felt took advantage of his brother with the $1400 contract for 1897. “Gentleman Jim” said:

“Hanlon, as you know, is the cheapest magnate in baseball…he knows very well that I would not allow Joe to sign for such a measly salary and he took advantage of my absence. “

Jim said he told his brother to “Quit Hanlon for all time.”

Joe sat out 1898.  Before the 1899 season Joe told reporters:

“I have gone out of the baseball business for good.”

Like his brother, who retired from the ring on numerous occasions, Joe would be back.

More tomorrow.

Gentleman Jim

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8 Responses to “Brother Joe’s Holdout”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Brother Joe Comes Back « Baseball History Daily - November 30, 2012

    […] Joe Corbett, brother of heavyweight champ “Gentleman Jim” Corbett announced his retirement before the 1899 season.  Corbett had written a column for The San […]

  2. Brother Joe Goes Home « Baseball History Daily - December 3, 2012

    […] After the Saint Louis Cardinals released Joe Corbett in August of 1904, he returned to San Francisco and signed with the Seals of the Pacific Coast League. […]

  3. Larry McLean « Baseball History Daily - January 8, 2013

    […] story said McLean was training with Tom Corbett (older brother of “Gentleman Jim” Corbett) and Corbett said he “has a ‘sure ‘nuff’ champion in the big […]

  4. Assumed Names–Happy Hogan « Baseball History Daily - January 11, 2013

    […] said he also attended the University of the Pacific)—one of his coaches was Major League pitcher Joe Corbett.  (There is some confusion because there is another player with the surname Hogan, Major Leaguer […]

  5. “Hanlon Springs a Surprise on the Baseball Public” « Baseball History Daily - January 14, 2013

    […] The Herald cautioned that “it’s too early to say that Maul is all right,” but all season he successfully filled the gap in Baltimore’s rotation caused by Joe Corbett’s holdout. […]

  6. “Fear of the Black List has Stopped Many a Crooked Player from Jumping” | Baseball History Daily - September 9, 2013

    […] complete game victories in the Giants four game sweep of the first place Baltimore Orioles in the Temple Cup series (Rusie won the other two […]

  7. “You are mostly Fakes, and yet I love you all!” | Baseball History Daily - March 19, 2014

    […] addition to Fullerton repeating the story over the years,  “Gentleman” Jim Corbett retold it in his syndicated sports column in 1919 and Al Spink, writing for The Chicago Evening […]

  8. Kid Nichols | Baseball History Daily - June 25, 2014

    […] the headiest pitcher that ever stepped on a rubber.  Among the other great ones are Jack Taylor, Joe Corbett, (Bill) Bernhard, of Cleveland and our own Jake […]

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