“He has Always Been a Lazy, Unmanageable Fellow”

3 Apr

Mert Hackett—contemporary newspapers generally referred to him as Myrtie–caught 241 games over five National League seasons from 1883 to 1887.  In 1902, he was asked by The Boston Post to assess the modern game:

“People who never used to miss a game do not go at all now. At the time when the Brotherhood League was formed 12 years ago and during the troubles that followed, many people lost all sympathy for those who are now in National ownership. As a member of the Cambridge police force, I meet many old friends who used to be regular attendants at the games but who never go now. They have lost their interest and are disgusted with the questionable tactics in vogue now among players and managers.”

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Hackett

The Post claimed that Hackett’s career came to an end in 1887, when he was “Practically blacklisted” by Indianapolis Hoosiers manager Horace Fogel:

“Hackett received a letter from his sister in Boston stating that her three children were sick and requesting him to come at once. The old catcher left immediately and arrived only to be present at the death of two of the children.”

The paper claimed, “For some reason” Fogel later said Hackett did not have permission to leave the team and “wrote a letter to the other clubs” saying Hackett had been fined and suspended.

Contemporaneous accounts in The Indianapolis News and The Indianapolis Journal tell a different story.

In July of 1887, The News said that Fogel, having just taken over as manager, had granted Hackett leave (to “visit his friends”) before discovering that the team’s other catchers Tug Arundel and George Myers were injured.

“(Fogel) told him that, by reason of the crippled condition of the nine, he would have to catch the game with the Cuban Giants in Trenton. Hackett was greatly enraged, and with the threat he would be ‘—— if he played against n——.’ He left the club and for this reason he was suspended.”

Horace_fogel

Sporting Life said Hackett was, “Playing off all season,” and “he has always been a lazy, unmanageable fellow, and the players all claim that he is the only troublesome, disorganizing man in the team.”

In whatever case, he never played in the major leagues again after the close of the 1887 season.  When he was released by the Hoosiers before the 1888 season, The Journal said:

“Strange that a player of his ability could not be sold for a small sum at least.”

He managed and played for the Troy Trojans in the International Association—his brother Walter was the team’s shortstop–briefly in 1888.

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Hackett, 1935

Hackett’s career in law enforcement lasted much longer, he was with the Cambridge police force for 42 years, retiring in 1935 at age 75. He died in 1938

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