“In the ‘90s Nobody ever Thought Anything of telling the Manager to go Chase Himself”

6 Nov

Bill Lange played only seven seasons in the National League—all with Chicago–but his reputation lived on long after he walked away from the game in 1899 at 28 years-old.  Two of his biggest supporters, Connie Mack and Clark Griffith, remained influential until their deaths in the mid 1950s, and both helped to keep Lange’s legend alive until his death in 1950.

Long after his retirement to enter the insurance and real estate business in his native San Francisco, Lange remained extremely popular in Chicago;  he was frequently quoted by Chicago sportswriters (most often his friend Hugh Fullerton), and was even retained The Chicago Examiner’s  “World Series expert” in the early and mid teens.

Bill Lange

Bill Lange

In 1909, when the White Sox were training in San Francisco, Lange told a reporter for The Chicago Inter Ocean that “the batsmen of the present time had not advanced in any way” over the hitters of his day—and Lange felt they took too many pitches:

“I have noticed that the habit nowadays is to be altogether too scientific.  And that science is ruining the batters.  There used to be such things as .400 hitters in the big leagues and now the managers are spending fortunes in the hopes of finding a .250 hitter.  The reason they are so hard to find is because the batsmen don’t follow their natural inclinations to wallop the ball, but stall around at the plate in the artificial hope of drawing a pass instead of breaking a board in the back fence.

“No batter, who has any eye at all, ought ever to wait when he has three balls and one strike on him, unless the pitcher is uncommonly wild.  Think of the advantage of hitting when three balls have been called.  You are dead sure that the next one will be over the plate if the pitcher can get it there.  If he doesn’t, let it go and take your base.  But if you let a good one go then you are up against another proposition.

“Then the batsman is in a worse hole than the pitcher and his chances of making a safe hit are at least 4 to 1 against him, for a nervy pitcher will take a chance on a curve or a high one in the hope of making the batsman bite.  He wouldn’t dare do that very often when the count was only three and one.  The batsman who waits too long is just giving himself the worst of the deal.”

Unlike many players of his generation, Lange did note that some aspects of the game had improved since he played:

“We didn’t hustle like the players of the today do.  We would shirk morning practice all the time, so we could sleep late.  And take it from me, a lot of us needed the sleep, for most all of the boys belonged to the Ancient Order of Owls.

“The teams of today report at the grounds at 9:30 in the morning and work to beat the band for two hours. In the old days, after we had stalled the manager off as long as possible, we would finally show up for morning practice.  I don’t know all the systems the players on other teams had for dodging morning work, but with the old Chicago bunch we left it up to (Bill) Dahlen to break up the practice after about ten minutes of hustling.

“Dahlen could turn the trick might easily.  All he had to do was whiz four or five low throws at Anson’s shins.  ‘Pop’ used to bawl Dahlen out for a few minutes, but Bill would keep up the bum throwing until Anse would say ‘Enough.’  Nothing like that goes in the big or small leagues now.  It is a question of work and buckle down to business.  In the ‘90s nobody ever thought anything of telling the manager to go chase himself.  I haven’t heard of anybody doing anything like that in late years, and getting away with it.”

Bill Dahlen

Bill Dahlen

Lange on pitching, tomorrow.

4 Responses to ““In the ‘90s Nobody ever Thought Anything of telling the Manager to go Chase Himself””


  1. “Clark Griffith nearly Ended the Life of William Phyle” | Baseball History Daily - November 19, 2013

    […] days later he went duck hunting with teammates Clark Griffith, Bill Lange, Jack Taylor and Jimmy Callahan at A.G. Spalding’s New Mexico ranch.  The Inter Ocean said of […]

  2. “Foster you are Released” | Baseball History Daily - March 17, 2014

    […] the time Fullerton joined The Chicago Tribune in 1897 until he left Chicago for New York in 1919 Bill Lange was probably the only 19th Century player he wrote about more often […]

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

    […] Bill Lange, another player he helped make famous long after his career was over, Fullerton’s most often […]

  4. “Baseball is now Played by certain Mathematical rules and Regulations” | Baseball History Daily - July 16, 2014

    […] of the funniest incidents in base stealing I ever saw happened in Chicago one of the yeas that Bill Lange led the league in base running.  It was a close race between Lange and (Billy) Hamilton for the […]

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