“I had Discovered a Real Treasure”

22 Sep

The Dubuque Tribune called Ted Sullivan, “The Burton Homes of Baseball.”

Holmes, who coined the phrase “travelogue” presented live stage presentations which combined slides, motion pictures, and monologues about his world travel.

Sullivan was in Iowa in 1915 to present his “illustrated lecture” of the history of baseball and his life as one of the early, nomadic pioneers of the game, to a group in Dubuque.

Ted Sullivan

He told the paper he was “no longer connected with baseball anymore but am still a ‘bug’ and will be until the end of my time.”

He also had personal history in the Iowa town:

“In 1878 Sullivan heeded the call of baseball and organized a club in Dubuque.”

By 1879, with a roster including Old Hoss Radbourn, Charlie Comiskey, Tom Loftus, and Jack and Bill Gleason, the Rabbits won the Northwestern League. The team’s most famous game was August 4 that year, when behind Radbourn the club beat the Chicago White Stockings 1 to 0 in front of 1200 fans.

The Dubuque Herald said the day after 4-hit Radbourn’s masterpiece:

“(The Rabbits) defeat by a score like 12 to 0 was thought to be a foregone conclusion. Pools were even sold in Chicago yesterday on the game 13 to 0 on the white-hosed club.

“But the Dubuques gloriously…gave the visitors a most thorough whitewashing. The victory is due in great part to the deceptive and very effective pitching of Radbourn–spelled without an “e”–and to the splendid backing which the nine gave him in the field.”

The Box Score

Sullivan, 36-years later, told The Tribune how he “landed the pitcher” for Dubuque:

“Sullivan arrived at the Radbourn home (in Bloomington, Illinois) late at night, the family having retired with the exception of Radbourne [sic] Sr. To the pitcher’s father, Sullivan explained his mission and asked if Charlie was home.”

Sullivan was told Radbourn was sleeping.

“Old Hoss” Radbourn

Radbourn was roused from bed:

“’Charlie came down,’ said Mr. Sullivan, ‘and I told him I wanted him for my team.’

“’Of course, you know Sullivan, ‘he said to me, ‘I must get $75 a month,’

“’We’ll fix that up,’ I said, ‘you just sign this contract.’”

Sullivan said after victories over Providence and Rockford early in the season, “the other fellows realized that I had discovered a real treasure…I never tire of talking about Radbourne [sic] he was a great ballplayer and could not only pitch but play the infield and outfield as well.”

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