Things I Learned on the Way to Looking Up Other Things #1

7 Mar

There are many interesting, odd, great stories I stumble across when researching that are too short for a full post.

Sydney J. Harris, the late Chicago Daily News and Sun-Times Columnist had a regular feature by the same title as this post.  It seemed an appropriate name for this feature—so with a hat tip to Mr. Harris:

Arrested for Refusing to Fight Forest Fire

In December of 1911, Boston Red Sox pitcher Charley Hall and Pacific Coast League outfielder Harry Price were teammates on a winter league baseball team in Ventura, California, when a forest fire broke out in the area.  According to The Associated Press:

“When the fire was at its height Hall and Price…were sitting on the veranda of a hotel,  a deputy fire warden ordered them to fight the fire but they refused.”

Charley Hall, arrested for refusing to fight fire

Charley Hall, arrested for refusing to fight fire

Fire Warden John Kuhlman placed both players under arrest.  There is no record if they were ever convicted.

Baseball 1860

The New York Herald report on a July 5, 1860 game:

“The friendly game of ball between the Excelsior Club of Brooklyn and the Niagara Club of Buffalo resulted in an easy victory for the Excelsiors.

“The score was, Excelsior 50, Niagara 19.  In the fifth inning the Excelsiors made twenty-four runs.”

The Excelsiors, 1860

The Excelsiors, 1860

Carrier Pigeons

According to The Philadelphia Record in 1883 a zookeeper in Philadelphia used carrier pigeons dispatched between the zoo and Jefferson Street Grounds to provide updates on Athletic games.

Pigeons were also used by news organizations for the next several decades.  In 1900 The Milwaukee Journal bragged of their “carrier pigeon news service” which delivered updates from Milwaukee Park to the newspaper offices.  According to The Journal, sometimes the pigeons were more interesting to Brewers fans than the games.

The Journal’s carrier pigeon service attracted much attention on the field, and as each bird was released from the grand stand, the spectators of the game invariably lost interest for a moment in the diamond as they watched the bird dart upward and shape its course toward the city.

“Even the members of the contesting teams allowed their attention to be distracted at times by the unusual spectacle, and once, at the beginning of the sixth inning, when one of the liberated birds swooped down past big Perry Werden (Minneapolis Millers first baseman) as he stood guard over the initial bag…(Werden) raised an imaginary gun as though to take a shot at the pigeon, and of course the bleachers laughed.

“That The Journal’s service by means of the birds in not unknown to Milwaukeeans was well illustrated by the conversation of people seated around the spot from which the birds were set free.  They discussed the enterprise and those who did not understand the plan were quickly enlightened by the others, who knew all about how fast the birds flew, how they were kept and how they carried the news.”

The practice was continued at The Journal over the next decade.

Cincinnati radio station WLW revived the practice for at least one game in 1939, when the station used pigeons to deliver information from a Reds game against the Pittsburgh Pirates to the studio.

Carrier Pigeons being released at Crosley Field,  Cincinnati, 1939

Carrier Pigeon being released at Crosley Field, Cincinnati, 1939

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