Baseball’s “Annual Display of Foolishness”

9 Mar

In 1914, Hugh Fullerton of The Chicago Examiner had a problem with something that had become a common practice:

Hugh Fullerton

Hugh Fullerton

“Spring training of baseball teams has commenced.  Nearly half of the major league teams already are in the field.  The others are gathering to hurry southward for the annual display of foolishness.”

It was, he said, simply a ploy for publicity:

“Nothing in baseball shows the era of the press agent, as opposed to playing real baseball, as well as spring training does.  The idea is not to develop players, or train them, but to get a column or more a day in each newspaper on the theory that advertising of that kind plays.”

A map showing the 1914 spring training locations of big league teams

A map showing the 1914 spring training locations of big league teams

Fullerton said spring training was “the annual joke of the game,” and responsible for “the poorer quality of baseball” in recent seasons:

“There is no argument against a manager taking young recruits down south in mid-February…But taking a squad of veteran players South eight weeks before the season starts is reckless foolishness on the part of any owner who has pennant aspirations.

“In twenty years of going South with major league baseball teams, I have never seen a team in better condition at the end of two weeks of training than it was when it started the season. A seasoned ballplayer will start with easy work, loosen up his muscles, take off eight or ten pounds and at the end of ten days or two weeks will be in nearly top condition to play baseball.  Then, satisfied with his own condition, he has a pleasure trip of five or six weeks in the South, working as little as possible.  Then, soft and used to hot weather, he comes North early in April and spends a month getting cold in muscles and playing in miserable weather.”

While he conceded that pitchers might need an extra week to ten days than position players, Fullerton concluded with some advice for major league teams:

“Someday some wise manager will wait until about March 25, take his team down to the middle South for two weeks of real work and then get his advertising by playing real baseball right from the jump.”

 

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3 Responses to “Baseball’s “Annual Display of Foolishness””

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Baseball History Daily - March 11, 2016

    […] two years before Hugh Fullerton of The Chicago Examiner called spring training Baseball’s “Annual Display of Foolishness,” Giants Manager John McGraw “wrote” an article for The New York Evening World explaining […]

  2. “One of the Biggest Jokes of Baseball” | Baseball History Daily - March 16, 2016

    […] Fullerton of The Chicago Examiner had decried spring training as an “Annual display of foolishness” in 1914.  Four years later, he was convinced the First World War had been its death […]

  3. “One of the Biggest Jokes of Baseball” | Baseball History Daily - March 16, 2016

    […] Fullerton of The Chicago Examiner had decried spring training as an “Annual display of foolishness” in 1914.  Four years later, he was convinced the First World War had been its death […]

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