“Good day—Double Crosser”

30 Jul

Hap Myers’ abrupt exit from the Boston Braves was never fully explained; the Boston press said he simply didn’t get along with manager George Stallings, Myers said it was because of his activities as one of the leaders of baseball’s most recent labor movement.

"Hap" Myers

“Hap” Myers

Two articles from The Associated Press about George Stallings that appeared after the braves won the World Series might have shed some light on the relationship between the two—one mentioned an incident that took place during a game, and the other had to do with Stallings’ well-known and strange superstitions.

The first article was about “a game played in Boston in the summer of 1913,” (box scores indicate it was most likely, the second game of a double-header with the Cincinnati Reds on July 22).

“Two men were out and the Braves had a man on first and another on second…A long hit would either tie the score or win the game.  ‘Hap’ let the first one pass—and bunted the second.  He was thrown out by at least 10 feet and the game was over.  The Braves had lost.

“’Hap’ in terror over a possible rebuke…escaped into the clubhouse.  Stallings was there, enshrouded in deepest gloom.  Baseball never knew a harder loser that Stallings.  But Stallings never said a word to Myers then, and Myers ducked out.

“The next morning found Stallings at Myers’ home.  Myers had just gotten up.”

When Myers answered the door, Stallings asked him why he had bunted with two on and two out.  Myers told his manager that he thought he’s “double-cross the other fellows…catch ‘em asleep.”

Stalling blew up at the first baseman:

“Well, let me tell you this Myers, if you ever again try any of that ‘double-crossing’ stuff there’ll be a funeral in this particular neighborhood.  Good day—double crosser.”

The second article said that during a losing streak in June of 1913 the superstitious Stallings blamed the “jinx” on a colorful necktie Myers wore—the only tie the first baseman owned.  According to the article, Stallings told his equally superstitious owner James Gaffney:

“That necktie of his—that horrible looking sight, that drapes down from his collar.  No wonder we can’t win.  No wonder we are jinxed.  That necktie would hoodoo anybody.”

The story said Stallings stole the tie from Myers, and after the Braves won the following day told Gaffney:

 “Told you so, didn’t I?”

The Boston Globe told a slightly different version of the story in 1931 in an article about Stallings.

By the time these stories were published, Myers was in his second season with the Brooklyn Tip-Tops in the Federal League.  He hit a disappointing .220 in 1914, but stole 43 bases.  In 1915 he hit .287 and was suspended for several days in June after he and Chicago Whales player-manager Joe Tinker “exchanged blows.”

"Hap" Myers Brooklyn Tip-Tops

“Hap” Myers Brooklyn Tip-Tops

When the Federal League folded Myers returned home to California and signed a contract with the San Francisco Seals, who already had veteran William “Chick” Autry at first.  When Myers arrived in San Francisco, The San Jose Mercury News said:

“The fight for the job will be a battle which will be watched with more than passing interest by San Jose fans, for most of them remember Myers as an elongated youngster who wielded a ferocious bat when he first broke into professional ball in this city.”

Myers hurt his arm and the battle never took place; he only appeared in three games, and was hitless in two at bats.  He would never play organized baseball again.

Where Myers spent the remainder of the 1916 season is unknown; The Mercury-News said he went to Ray, Arizona to join the Tri-Copper League, but no reference to Myers can be found in league statistics—whether he played in Arizona or not, he did spend time in the Southwest that year.

In November of 1916 Myers and two other men were arrested in Los Angeles on a warrant from El Paso, Texas.  The Associated Press said Myers was “wanted by the El Paso Police on a charge of highway robbery…one resident (was robbed of) a $1500 diamond ring and $48 in cash, and another resident, a diamond ring valued at $325,”

In January of 1917, when the trial took place, highway robbery was punishable by death in Texas.

On January 23 Myers and his co-defendants were acquitted.

Myers, now a free man, remained in the Southwest and went to work as a metallurgist with a copper mining company in Grant County, New Mexico.

In 1918 the 31-year-old Myers enlisted in the military; joining Company B of the Field Signal Battalion at Camp Lewis, Washington.   He played baseball at Camp Lewis and in France with the United States Army—among Myers teammates were professional players Ten Million, “Coaster Joe” Connolly, Howard Mundorff and Charlie Schmutz.

After returning from France Myers worked as an insurance adjuster in Seattle and later in automobile financing back in his hometown of San Francisco.

“The elongated first baseman” died in San Francisco in 1967 at age 80.

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