“Old Timers make Monkeys of them”

29 May

“You may talk about your college hazing and your West Point tricks on the plebes and beasts, but they don’t beat the jobs put up on young ball players. A juvenile ball tosser is legitimate prey for all other members of the team and they have unlimited fun with him.”

In 1896, Bill Everitt, in his second season as third baseman for the Chicago Colts told The Chicago Daily News about the treatment of rookies:

everitt

Everitt

“A great number of the young players who break into the league come with the idea that the older fellows necessarily know a great deal more about the game than they do and they are only too willing to do anything that may be told them. The result is that old timers make monkeys of them.”

Everitt told the paper that when his former teammate Jiggs Parrott joined Chicago in 1892:

“(Parrott) was told that he was too slow and that he must increase his running powers. How was he to do that? Why, easily enough. Just put on seven heavy sweaters and run ten times around the park in the hot sun without stopping. And Jiggs did it and couldn’t walk nor talk for three days after. Again, they told him that he must take a shower bath after practice—good advice in itself, but detrimental in this case, because they stole his clothes while he was bathing and he had to go home in a pair of brown overalls and a blanket, loaned him by the grounds keeper.”

Everitt said the latest story of a rookie hazing he heard involved 20-year-old Chicago native Joe Kostal, who had just joined the Louisville Colonels. While on a train, Pitcher Chick Fraser and catcher Doggie Miller told Kostal:

“(T)he way big league pitchers kept their arms in order was to suspend them at night in a strap, which hung from the roof of their berths. Of course, they had previously fixed up a strap, like a street car holder, in Kostal’s berth, and he took it for gospel truth. When he retired, he stuck his arm through the strap and hung that way all night. He couldn’t bend the arm the next day.”

Everitt said the most popular “way to have fun” with younger players involved food:

“I remember that we had some young recruits thoroughly drilled on the diet question. They ate nothing for breakfast but oatmeal mush, which they knew would not make the stomach too heavy, with red pepper sauce poured on it to brighten the batting eye, while they drank coffee with salt in it, guaranteed to harden the muscles and add to endurance.”

Pete Browning was particularly fond of this method of hazing:

browning2

Browning

“(He) used to order the most absurd and hideous compounds and would tell the youngster that it was to help his batting. The juveniles would accept whatever Pete said and would order the same stuff until old Pete’s ingenuity was exhausted dividing new cruelties for them. He would order pancakes with onion dressing and sugar on top and tripe with maple syrup, and all such things and the poor lads who hoped some day to bat as Pete did would never tumble.”

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