On October 6, 1898, Hughie Jennings, who, for the fifth straight season was the National League’s leading hits batsman, faced Jouett Meekin, the New York Giants’ notoriously wild pitcher —Meekin hit 89 batters in nine major league seasons and walked 1056 while striking out 901.
The New York Times said:
“Meekin began the game by hitting (John) McGraw on the head. It was only a glancing blow, however. Jennings followed McGraw, and the first ball pitched struck him on the nose, breaking it. Jennings, after he was hit, staggered and then fell. It was a swift in-curve, and the players on both teams rushed to the plate thinking he had been fatally injured”
The concern was warranted. In June of 1897 Jennings was hit in the head with a pitch thrown by Meekin’s’ teammate Amos Rusie during the first inning of a game. While the Rusie beaning was serious, it was likely not as serious as some sources claim–it has been said he was unconscious for three or four days, and near death. These claims are belied by contemporary news reports, as early as the next day that said, while serious, the injury was neither life-threatening nor caused a days-long coma.
The New York Sun:
“Last night the doctor said he was suffering from a slight concussion of the brain and a temporary paralysis of the right arm, but he declared his injuries would not prove serious and that Jennings would be able to play again in a few days.”
Jennings was back in the Orioles lineup in a week.
Still, there was reason for concern, Jennings had been hit by nearly 200 pitches since 1894, and according to The Sun, “his face was covered in blood.” The previous season he had “pluckily continued in the game” after the Rusie beaning, until the second inning; this time he was immediately taken to the clubhouse.
It was there that his broken nose was attended to in an unusual way.
Enter John Joseph “Dasher” Troy, a major league infielder in 1880s, a member of the 1884 American Association champion New York Metropolitans.
In 1891, Troy had been granted a liquor concession, “running the bar under the grandstand” at the Polo Grounds. Three years later The Sun said Giants owner Edward Talcott “quietly ousted Troy,” after the former player’s “attack on a grandstand gatekeeper and his threatened attack on Mr. Talcott.”
Despite being ousted from the business, Troy remained a fixture at Giants games—and would eventually reclaim the business after Talcott sold his interest in the Giants to Andrew Friedman, running it until 1900.
The New York Telegraph picks up the story:
“(Troy) was at the Polo Grounds when Jennings, of the Baltimores, had his nose broken by a pitched ball. Jennings was assisted to the clubhouse and a physician summoned. The ‘Dasher’ followed in after the doctor, and pushing the latter aside, said to Jennings:
“‘Hughie, will you let me fix that for you?’
“Hughie looked embarrassed and said:
‘Yes, Dash, but here’s the doctor.’
“’Oh, to hell with him,’ answered Johnny, with his usual impetuosity. “I can fix that nose in two minutes. I have fixed noses before, and broken ‘em too,’ said Troy as he threw out his chest and glanced severely at the doctor.
“’Here boy, go out and get me a couple of pebbles.’
“The (doctor) brought back two small stones, and Troy put one on each side of Jennings’ injured nasal organ, and began to press. The damaged nose was one sided, the cartilage being badly out of place. Jennings said he could feel the grating as Troy gradually pressed on the stones and, sure enough, when the pebbles were removed the nose was as straight as it ever was.
“’There,’ said Troy, looking again fiercely at the doctor, ‘could you do better that that? You doctors make me tired.’
“The doctor, however, when he had collected himself, said Jennings had better go to a hospital for further treatment, apparently not being fully satisfied with Troy’s treatment, or possibly his winning ways.
“Jennings did not follow the doctor’s advice that night, but (the following day) he went to Mt. Sinai Hospital. A physician then examined the injured nose, felt of it carefully and said:
“’There is nothing out of place there. Who set it for you?’
“’Oh, some doctor up at the Polo grounds,’ answered Jennings.
“’Well, said the hospital physician, ‘I never saw a cleaner or better piece of work in my life.”
Regardless of having his nose successfully fixed by Troy, Jennings’ all-time record for being by pitches 287 times took a toll. He had turned 30 years-old just a month before the 1888 broken nose, but only played more than 100 games once more—in 1900—and was, essentially finished as a player by 1902.
Another story about Jennings’ “doctor” Dasher Troy on Friday