The Milwaukee First Base Jinx

20 May

In January of 1911, the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association were in search of a first baseman.

Newspapers across the country began to speculate that getting someone to play the position might be a problem.

They began to talk about the “Milwaukee First Base Jinx.”

Dan McGann, who had been Milwaukee’s first baseman in 1909 and 1910 committed suicide a month earlier at Besler’s Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky (Although McGann’s sisters claimed he was murdered because an expensive ring was missing, there was a history of depression and suicide in the family and other expensive items were found on his body).

Dan McGann

The regular first baseman before McGann, Arthur Brown, as mentioned in an earlier post, was killed in 1911 by an actor whose wife had left him for the first baseman

 The man Brown replaced at first in 1908 was Quait Bateman, who also had a brush with violence.  He had been stabbed by Charlie Dexter.  Initial reports said the stabbing happened as a result of what The Milwaukee News called “A drunken row,” later Bateman said it was an accident and refused to press charges.

Unlike the others, Bateman did not die–although he was said to be close to death twice– and actually returned to Milwaukee for three more seasons.

Quait Bateman

But that fact didn’t get in the way of a good jinx story.

Shortly after the jinx stories appeared, Milwaukee signed 34-year-old former American League first baseman Tom Jones.  As the club’s first baseman for four seasons–and part of a fifth–Jones temporarily put the talk to rest.

Tom Jones

But it was revised again in 1913.

Newspapers brought up the jinx again when another former  Milwaukee first baseman Jiggs Donahue–who played for the club in 1902 and ’03– died in July.  Donahue died in the Ohio State Hospital in Columbus.  It was widely assumed his mental illness the result of advanced syphilis.

Jiggs Donahue

Articles in a number of papers speculated on what fate awaited Jones.  The Day in New London Connecticut said:

“Tom Jones, first baseman at Milwaukee, wonders what’ll become of him.  Murder, suicide, stabbing, shooting and insanity have been the fates former Milwaukee first basemen have met.”

Jones, at least in the short term, dodged the jinx.  His career with the Brewers ended during the 1915 season with no stabbings, shootings or other mayhem.  He died in 1923 at age 46.

The “jinx” was put to rest for good by Milwaukee’s next two first basemen; Clarence Craft and Mal Barry lived to 70 and 68 respectively.  Craft died in 1958, Barry in 1960.

A shorter version of this post appeared on August 20, 1912.

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3 Responses to “The Milwaukee First Base Jinx”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. More Superstitions | Baseball History Daily - April 25, 2013

    […] pitcher also “started each inning…by tossing a ball to (Browns first baseman) Tom Jones.  Next year he will have to use (Highlanders first baseman) Hal […]

  2. Lost Team Photos–1904 Chicago White Sox | Baseball History Daily - December 31, 2013

    […] (2B), Lee Tannehill (3B), Jimmy “Nixey” Callahan (MGR and LF), Frank Isbell (INF), John “Jiggs” Donahue (1B), Danny Green (RF), Nick Altrock (P), and Ed McFarland (C).  Kneeling: Fielder Jones (CF), […]

  3. “This Fellow has about as much Judgment of Balls and Strikes as a Six-year-old Kid” | Baseball History Daily - September 10, 2014

    […] each man passed the umpire they would make some remark, until finally (Dan) McGann, (Roger) Bresnahan and McGraw were put out of the grounds by Conway.  Note the four names, all of […]

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