“His Enmity was a Thing to Fear”

22 Oct

Johnny Evers’ 1913 Chicago Cubs finished a respectable 88-65 in third place, but the first-time manager was forever bitter about the season; Henry Farrell of The Newspaper Enterprise Association said, “he almost cried (and said) every ball player on the club, with the exception of (pitcher) Larry Cheney, laid down on him.”

Johnny Evers

Never in first place after May 8, the team was never closer than 10 games back after July 8. Farrell asked Cheney, who won 21 games, what went wrong:

“Johnny ruined himself by worry. He couldn’t understand how players could be so dumb and he began to fancy that they had grievances against him. He thought there was a religious clique working against him and he worried himself into a condition where he was in no state to think about the game immediately at hand. I tried to tell him that his superstitions were foolish, but you know Johnny. He couldn’t be convinced.”

Farrell said as a player and later as a manager, there was “nothing moderate” about Evers, “He is an extremist in every trait…a violent man in his likes and dislikes.” A walking contradiction, he was:

“(O)ne of the smartest men that ever played baseball. He was the crabbiest, fightin’est, most sarcastic, meanest-tongued player that ever wore a spiked shoe ad at the same time he was and is yet, one of the nicest and finest little gentlemen that ever lived.

“His enmity was a thing to fear; his friendship a possession to be treasured.”

Farrell said in addition to Evers’ well documented feud with teammate Joe Tinker, Evers, “during the turbulent days of career he was on the outs with almost everyone he knew.”

Evers’ inability to “understand why his Chicago players couldn’t do the right thing when he had told them what to do. He couldn’t understand that there is such a thing as instinct.”

Evers fared worse in his return as manager of the Cubs in 1921; he was fired August 2, with the team in sixth place with a 41-55 record. In 1924 he managed the Chicago White Sox; he was 51-72, one of three managers of the eight-place club.

Evers,

In 1928, it was announced that Evers would be “assistant manager” of the Boston Braves; Braves owner Emil “Judge” Fuchs managed the team. Farrell said the past “troubles and disappoints” had “softened his disposition,” and the presence of Fuchs, “a cool, even-tempered individual,” would serve Evers well.

Evers drew a three-game suspension a month into the season– Evers’ lineup card had flipped Joe Dugan and Emil Clark in the batting order and “Dugan’s hit was disallowed, (Freddie) Maguire was called out for not taking his proper turn at bat, and Evers was ejected for his oratory,” by umpire Ernie Quigley.

The Braves under Fuchs and Evers finished 56-98 in eighth place.

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