“I’ll Break your Head if I ever get out Again”

8 Dec

Before a game against the Philadelphia Quakers in 1883, Providence Grays outfielder Samuel “Cliff” Carroll was drinking from a hose.  He then turned the hose on a Providence fan named Jimmy Murphy.

After the game, an 8 to 4 Grays victory, Murphy returned to the Messer Street Grounds with a gun.

Cliff Carroll

Cliff Carroll

The Providence Evening Press said:

“Shortly after the ball game, Wednesday afternoon, the neighborhood of Messer Street was thrown into a state of great excitement by the announcement that a member of the Providence baseball club had been shot.”

The paper said the initial hysteria included reports that the player had been killed.

“A well-known baseball crank named “Jimmy” Murphy, has been in the habit, for some time past, of frequenting the ball grounds during the hours of practice, and imagining himself to me a player of extraordinary merit.  Owing to his eccentricities he was a source of great amusement to the players, and was made by them the butt of many practical jokes.  ‘Jimmy,’ who is said to be slightly ‘off’ mentally speaking, occasionally resented his treatment, but never until Wednesday did he report to violent means.”

The Evening Press said after Carroll “thoroughly drenched” Murphy with the hose:

“Murphy immediately departed, nursing his wrath, and in the afternoon returned, and waited outside the grounds until the players issued, after the game.  Carroll came out with a number of men, among whom was (Joe) Mulvey, the change shortstop, and ‘Jimmy’ at once drew a pistol and deliberately fired at Carroll, but owing no doubt to his excitement, he missed his man, and the bullet struck Mulvey in the right shoulder, inflicting a painful, though not dangerous wound.”

Murphy, the shooter, fled from the scene, and was pursued by police, citizens, and Grays second baseman Jack Farrell.  He managed to escape, but was arrested later in the evening.  Neighbors told the paper “Murphy is a ‘crank’ in other matters besides baseball, and is not considered responsible for his actions.”

It was later learned that the wound to Mulvey was superficial, the ball never penetrating his skin:

“Mr. Mulvey quietly walked to his home on Crary Street, congratulating himself upon his narrow escape.”

The following day in court, Murphy was found “probably guilty in the justice court,” and “bound over to the court of common pleas.”  While being led out of the courtroom, Murphy spotted Carroll and said:

“I will get even with you yet, I’ll break your head if I ever get out again.”

The eventual adjudication of Murphy’s case is lost to history.

Carroll was part of the 1884 “World Champion” Grays team, and remained with Providence until the club folded at the end of the 1885 season. He played with five more National League teams through 1893; although he sat out the 1889 season to operate a farm in Bloomington, Illinois.

There is no record of Murphy having ever having the opportunity to “get even.”

Carroll died in 1923 in Portland, Oregon.  The Oregonian said:

“One of the greatest baseball players of the game died in Portland recently, but so modest was he that few even knew he had been spending his last years here.”

The Providence Morning Star reported on the day of the shooting that Grays Manager Harry Wright had agreed to “loan” Mulvey to the Quakers.    Mulvey joined Philadelphia in early July.  He was switched to third base, and was a member of the Quakers through 1889, he played until 1895

Joe Mulvey

Joe Mulvey

Mulvey remained in Philadelphia after his playing days and worked as a watchman at Shibe Park.  The Associated Press said on August 20, 1928, the man who had a brush with death at a ballpark in 1883, “attended a boxing show at the ballpark,” and “was found dead of heart failure in the club locker room,” the following morning.

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One Response to ““I’ll Break your Head if I ever get out Again””

  1. Gary Trujillo December 8, 2014 at 7:17 am #

    Whoa! Great story!

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