“Sinister Dick” Kinsella is primarily known as John McGraw’s equally pugnacious right-hand man and scout. He was at McGraw’s side for one of the manager’s most famous brawls; a battle with Giants catcher Larry McLean in the lobby of the Buckingham Hotel in St. Louis, he also boasted an impressive list of “finds” including Carl Hubbell, Chief Meyers, Hack Wilson and Larry Doyle.
Kinsella credited a career minor league player and manager for his discovery of Doyle, who he sold to the New York Giants in July of 1907. After Doyle hit .310 in 1911, a syndicated Newspaper Enterprise Association told the story of how he acquired Doyle after the 1906 season from the Mattoon Canaries of the Kitty League, having never seen him play:
“Mattoon was in need of a pitcher and appealed to President Dick Kinsella of the Springfield Three-Eye League team for aid…Kinsella saw a chance to make a bargain when Mattoon hoisted the distress sign and struck one. ‘I’ll let you have a pitcher for the pick of your team at the end of the season,’ Kinsella told the Mattoon people. His offer was accepted and pitcher (John) Jokerst was sent to the Kitty League team by Springfield.
“Doyle didn’t do well with Mattoon (.225 in 91 games) that season. Kinsella had not even considered him in deciding what player to pick. He had almost made up his mind to take a veteran pitcher.”
Fate intervened when Kinsella mentioned the Mattoon deal to Frank Belt, manager of the Kitty League’s Jacksonville Jacks. Belt asked Kinsella if he had ever seen Doyle:
“’No,’ answered Kinsella.
‘”Well, don’t pick anyone until you do, and then pick him. He’s the coming ballplayer of that club. He hasn’t looked good in the box scores, but he’s ‘there’ any way you take him. He’ll bring you more money inside of a year than you ever got for a player.”
Sight unseen, Kinsella took Belt’s advice. Doyle played third base and hit .290 in 66 games for Kinsella’s Springfield Senators. He became the subject of a bidding war with the Giants winning out over the Detroit Tigers and Washington Senators for his services on July 16.
Kinsella was paid a then-record $4500 for Doyle—a record eclipsed the following year when Kinsella sold Rube Marquard to the Giants for $11,000.
According to The Springfield Journal Kinsella sent Doyle off to New York with just one piece of advice:
“There’s one thing you mustn’t do when you get to New York. You must quit sliding to bases on your head. If you don’t, they will think you’re from the brush.”
Doyle was moved to second base, hit .290 over a 14-year big league career, and presumably took Kinsella’s advice about sliding head first.