By the time of his 1935 death in a car accident, Robert Sidney Smith—known professionally as Sidney Smith—was one of America’s most popular cartoonists; The New York Times said his death “will be felt by literally millions of Americans.” His comic strip, “The Gumps,” was syndicated by The Chicago Tribune, and ran in hundreds of newspapers; it also spawned dozens of animated film shorts, nearly fifty-two-reel comedy film, a radio program and merchandise.
But, before Smith joined The Tribune, he had started in Chicago drawing baseball cartoons for The Chicago Examiner.
The cartoons featured a talking (sometimes singing) goat named Buck Nix.
These two examples chronicled the fortunes of the 1909 Chicago White Sox.
The first, above, appeared just seven games into the season. Chicago had high hopes for the Sox, 86-64, the previous season, but the club limped to a 3-4 start.
As the cartoon notes, in addition to bad weather and weak hitting causing a poor start for President Charles Comiskey and Manager Billy Sullivan, Sox ace “Big Ed” Walsh was not yet with the team. Walsh, a forty game winner the previous season held out for $7,500 and did not sign until April 28. Still hopeful, “Buck Nix” says “Wait ’til the sun shines Commy.”
The second, below, appeared on June 26. The Sox were 24-28, in fifth place, and as Buck Nix sings were “Drifting away from loves golden shore.” Walsh only started 28 games, the Sox hit just .221 as a team and were never in the race. They finished 20 games out in fourth place.