“The Crowd Yelled with Derisive Delight”

20 Jan

Spokane, Washington’s first professional team was performing well; the Bunchgrassers, members of the Pacific Northwest League during the circuit’s inaugural season in 1890, they were second place, a half-game behind the Seattle Blues in the four-team league on July 1.

The Blues were in Spokane for a series, and according to The Spokane Falls Review:

“The game of baseball yesterday was very unsatisfactory to those who put up 75 cents for the privilege of watching it from the grandstand.”

Spokane’s starting centerfielder and leftfielder Tom Turner and Fred Jevne:

“(D)id not occupy their accustomed places. At the beginning of the game, they refused to don their uniforms.”

They refused to play in protest over what they felt were excessive fines imposed by manager John Sloane Barnes:

“After the game had started Jevne and Turner attempted to go up to the ladies’ portion of the grandstand…Tuesday is ladies’ day at the baseball grounds, and their portion of the grandstand was crowded by the gentler sex. When Jevne and Turner came up into the stand, swearing as they did, many of the ladies prepared to go, but Manager Barnes, whose attention was called to the occurrence, quieted the two rowdies at an opportune time, and although the ladies felt outraged, they remained throughout the game.”

John Sloane Barnes

Spokane lost 9 to 6.

The Spokane Daily Chronicle, which went to press on the first after the two refused to play, but before they went into the stands, said initially that Turner and Jevne were “two of the best players on the coast” and that the team would be “materially weakened” if they were released.

The following day, The Daily Chronicle had a different take and said, “Sympathy at first was with the players,” but after they “acted like ruffians,” in an “intoxicated condition,” the paper referred to them as “malcontents.”

By July 4, Turner, the team’s leading hitter, begged for forgiveness. The Review said:

“Turner made an ample apology to (team president Thomas) Jefferson on the condition that he have nothing more to do with Jevne and pay a fine of $50.”

The Daily Chronicle said he, “apologized to Manager Barnes and others and has been reinstated.” However:

“Jevne will hardly be so fortunate even if he apologizes.”

Jevne, who had been suspended earlier in the season for punching an umpire was seen by many to be the instigator in the walk out, but two days later, The Daily Chronicle changed course again when Turner struck out three times on July 6:

Fred Jevne

“Mr. Turner, baseballist, has lost public favor. In Sunday’s game he struck out three times and the crowd yelled with derisive delight. This made Mr. Turner, baseballist, angry and he bit his blonde mustache quite savagely.

“Here is a little story about Mr. Turner, baseballist. He felt aggrieved by the local management, and suggested to Jevne, who was then his firm friend, that they strike. Jevne agreed, not because he wanted to but because Turner so desired. They swore they would stick together. But Turner lacked grit and shamelessly deserted Jevne. He ate crow and was received back into the fold, where, by the way he is heartily disliked by the rest of the lambs. The fact that Turner ‘went back on his pard’ has gone abroad, and the star of Mr. Turner, baseballist, is under a cloud.”

All was forgiven nearly instantly, Turner continued to hit, and the team continued to win. Turner hit .301 and Spokane won the league’s first pennant by seven games over the Tacoma Daisies. Jevne.

Turner played another decade for minor leagues teams across the country.

Jevne never played again in Spokane, and with the exception of a stint with the Evansville Hoosiers in 1891 was finished as a player.  He became an umpire; his life ended tragically and suspiciously in 1901.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: