“Robison Laughs at Pitcher George Cuppy’s Threat”

8 Jun

George “Nig” Cuppy staged an unusual holdout before the 1897 season. He sent a letter to a friend in Cleveland which was published by The Cleveland Press:

“Before leaving the country I thought it best to write briefly in the way of explanation. You will not see my name in any score card this summer—possibly never again. I intend to enlist with a party of friends in the Cuban army. I expect to leave Logansport (Indiana) for Cuba December 26.”

cuppy

Cuppy

Cuppy said he would join the Cuban rebels—who had just lost their highest ranking officer Lt. General Jose Antonio Maceo y Grajales–fighting for their independence from Spain.  Cuppy, whose middle name was Maceo, was often referred to by sportswriters as “The Cuban Warrior,” or “The Cuban Hero,” because of his famous namesake.

The following day, The Cleveland Plain Dealer talked to Cleveland Spiders owner Frank Dehass Robison about Cuppy’s plans:

“President Robison laughs at pitcher George Cuppy’s threat to join the Cuban army.  He doesn’t for an instant entertain the idea that Cuppy is serious in his announced determination to go to the rescue of Maceo’s followers.”

Robison said:

“I am at a loss to know how we can fill his place. You see, Cuppy has for a long time been working on a big enterprise.  He proposes to build a hotel and has a great scheme to save on the ground lease.  He intends to have only one room on a floor and to build the hotel 126 stories high.”

robison

Robison

Robison said Cuppy’s building would include 125 elevators so “guests will be saved the annoyance of stopping,” and said that his pitcher had attempted to get him to invest in the plan:

“’It seems he was unsuccessful, for this is what I hear from him,’ and Mr. Robison handed out a telegram, under a Logansport date which read as follows:

“’I’m off for Cuba.  Will sell my hotel scheme to (General Valeriano) Welyer (Spanish Governor of Cuba) for Spanish hospital.  Cup.”

Robison might not have taken Cuppy seriously, but others did.  His hometown paper, The Logansport Journal said:

“(Cuppy’s) friend turned the letter over to a newspaper correspondent, who telegraphed he news far and wide…And now George’s troubles have fairly begun.  He received letters by the dozen yesterday from fellows who want to join his party.”

Cuppy might have preferred Cuba.  After winning 120 games in his first five seasons, Cuppy hurt his arm in 1897 and won just 42 games in his final five seasons.

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