John Bradley

18 Jan

Two members of the 1888 Dallas Hams were shot and killed in Texas.

One, George Kittle, I wrote about in September.

John Bradley was the other one.

Charles M. “John” “Brad” Bradley (wrongly listed with the middle initial “H” on Baseball Reference) left Oil City, Pennsylvania where he was born in June of 1864, to go west and play baseball.  An article in The Louisville Courier Journal said he was born to wealth and left Pennsylvania because of his father’s disapproval of baseball:

“(Bradley) was surrounded with every luxury.  He acquired a collegiate education and all the ornamental accomplishments of modern times.  He was possessed of a charming tenor voice; was a brilliant pianist and an expert linguist.  He was passionately fond of the national game…An early disagreement with his father, the result of his penchant for baseball, led to an estrangement, and, troubles never coming singly, he was rejected by a young lady of Oil City, PA, to whom he was devoted.”

After playing in Corning, New York in 1885 Bradley went to Kansas.  Various sources place him with the Topeka Capitals in the Western League and/or a team in Abilene in 1886 though neither can be verified.  Bradley then played with the Emporia Reds in the Western League in 1887.

He signed with the Austin Senators in the newly formed Texas League in 1888.  In March, Bradley caught for Austin in two exhibition games with the Cincinnati Red Stockings of the American Association—the Statesmen lost the first game 2-0, but won the second 3-0.

Box score of 1888 Austin -Cincinnati game won by Austin 3-0.

Box score of 1888 Austin-Cincinnati game won by Austin 3-0.

Bradley was Austin’s starting catcher until the dissolution of the Texas League in July.  When the reformed Texas Southern League commenced play later that month, Bradley was with Dallas where he shared catching duties with Kittle.

Bradley hit .158 as Dallas coasted to a championship.

The 1888 off season was an eventful one.

Bradley was offered a contract for 1889 with the St. Joseph Clay Eaters in the Western Association.

He also started seeing Dolly Love, “A woman of bad repute,” as The Dallas Morning News said; problem was Love was also involved with a livery driver named Tom Angus.

At the same time Bradley got in trouble with the law in December of 1888.  The Austin Weekly Statesman said:

“(Bradley) shot a man named Billups in a (Dallas) bar room, because Billups attacked him with an empty beer keg because he refused to pay for drinks.”

Bradley was charged with “assault with intent to kill” and was scheduled to appear in front of a Dallas Judge at the end of January.  He was also arrested twice in early January for altercations with Love at the brothel she operated.

Throughout the chaos Angus and Bradley were trading threats over Dolly Love.

The rivalry came to a head on January 16.  Shortly after 10:30 a.m., Bradley and a friend exited Swope & Mangold’s Saloon at the corner of Main and Austin to return to his room at the Grand Windsor Hotel across the street.  The Austin Weekly Statesman said Bradley was:

“Shot down like a dog by Tom Angus, a hack driver, who followed him and fired in his back.”

The Headline in The Dallas Morning News said:

“The Killing of Charles Bradley the Baseball Catcher, all about a Fallen Woman.”

Bradley was shot through the back and began to run as Angus fired two additional shots; after running about 120 feet, Bradley fell dead in the street.  Angus was immediately arrested and ordered held for trial.

A letter from five representatives of the Texas/Texas Southern League and addressed “To the Baseball Profession of the Union” was published in newspapers around the country soliciting funds “In order that able counsel may be obtained to conduct the prosecution,” the letter concluded:

“John Bradley played with Austin and Dallas in 1888, and had recently signed with St. Joe for the season of 1889. He was a gentleman, an excellent ballplayer and altogether an honor to our profession.  To ball players this case suggests not only a duty but a privilege, and we trust that a suitable response will be made.  Yours fraternally,

J. J. McCloskey, manager Austin team, I888.

Charles Levis, manager Dallas team 1888

Doug Crothers, manager Dallas team, 1889.

Kid Peeples, short stop Dallas team 1888.

Billy Joyce, third base Ft. Worth and New Orleans, 1888.”

It is unknown how much money was raised.

Dolly Love left Dallas for Fort Worth to escape the publicity.  Tom Angus spent more than a year in jail awaiting trial during which time he got married.  Dick Johnson, a friend of Angus’, who was at the scene of the shooting, was charged as an accessory, but was acquitted in a separate trial.

When the trial began in April of 1890 The Dallas Weekly Times-Herald headline called it:

“The Most Sensational Case that Has Been up for Years.”

Several witnesses, including a Dallas police officer testified that Bradley had also made threats against Angus in the weeks leading up to the killing, and that he often carried a gun.  Although Bradley wasn’t carrying a gun on the morning he was shot, and was shot in the back, the defense claimed that Angus had acted in self-defense.  Angus was found guilty, but sentenced to only five years in prison.

The sentence was upheld on appeal, the decision said:

“The accused should congratulate himself upon the mildness of the sentence.”

Angus was released from prison in the spring of 1895; in December he was arrested for shooting a man over a dispute about a horse.

Bradley was buried in Dallas.

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3 Responses to “John Bradley”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Henry Fabian « Baseball History Daily - January 21, 2013

    […] John Bradley and George Kittle, Henry Fabian was a member of the 1888 Dallas Hams, champions of the Texas League […]

  2. The Worst, or Best Game Recap Ever—1888 | Baseball History Daily - April 9, 2013

    […] and kept the other from scoring. In the eighth inning (Frank) Hoffman for Austin scored.  It was (William) ‘Kid’ Peeples error that lost the game.  A beautiful, way up, pop fly came over to him, falling so prettily […]

  3. “Show yourself a man, Borchers, and Leave Boozing to the Weak Fools” | Baseball History Daily - February 10, 2014

    […] Borchers split the remainder of the season between Portland and Spokane, compiling a 14-14 record with a 1.44 ERA.  When the Pacific Northwest League season ended Borchers returned home to play in the California League again; The Sacramento Record-Union printed a letter from his manager at Spokane, William “Kid” Peeples: […]

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