Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

“The Catcher Struck him in the Face”

23 Dec

Dan Sullivan was a star in Louisville.  He played with the Akrons with Tony Mullane in in 1881—and the two were reunited with the Eclipse in 1882.

He caught Mullane’s and Guy Hecker’s no-hitters, thrown eight days apart, and hit .273 for Louisville.

Dan Sullivan

The Louisville Courier-Journal said of him:

“He is a vey hard worker behind the bat and being a powerful man can hold the swiftest pitcher with ease. He is a thoroughly reliable catcher at all times and a very safe hitter, especially in a close place. In stature he is about the medium height, but very strongly bult, weighing about 180 pounds.”

Sullivan’s batting average slipped the next two seasons, but he remained popular.  An amateur team called the “Dan Sullivans” was named in his honor, and during the final homestand of the 1884 season, Eclipse president Zachery Phelps halted the game as Sullivan came to bat for the first time:

“Phelps stepped out on the ballfield with a beautiful gold medal in his hand. Approaching the batter, se said:

”A number of Louisville gentlemen, lovers of the national game who are deeply interest in the success of base ball in this place and who from time to time admired the earnest and honest efforts put forth by you interest of our representative club; who have applauded again and again the readiness and willingness with which you are always found at your post of duty, even though scarred and bruised from battles already fought…They desire me to urge you continue faithful as you have been; to avoid carefully such faults and excesses as have already destroyed the prospects of many a man in your profession.”

The Courier-Journal said Sullivan was “too surprised to make a response and bowed his thanks while the spectators loudly applauded.”

The medal was “a broad plate of gold, to which is suspended two bats and a mask, of solid gold, which represents a ball field, with a batter and catcher in position. The legs, caps, and shirts of the players are made of white platinum, and the bodies of red gold. The diamond is made of green and gold, with a miniature grandstand in the background.”

Things changed quickly.

Sullivan got off to a slow start, hitting less than .200 during the first month of the season and losing playing time to Joe Crotty, which drew the notice of William G. Osborne, sports editor of The Louisville Commercial.

Osborne was mildly critical of Sullivan’s play, and the catcher was “very much offended and threatened vengeance.”

On May 27, Osborne arrived at the ballpark:

“(A)ccompanied by two ladies.  As he went up the grandstand, he passed Sullivan, and the latter said he wanted to see him.”

Osborne returned to Sullivan who said the criticism was unfair, Osborne said, “he had written what he thought was just, and had criticized his playing, not his personal character.”

The argument continued into the clubhouse:

“’You must make me an apology before you go out of here,’ said Sullivan.

‘”I will not do anything of the kind,’ replied Mr. Osborne.”

Sullivan then called Osborne “a name most vile,” then:

“The catcher struck him in the face and knocked him down, following up the blow with several others. Mr. Osborne was of course no match for his opponent, who weighs something over 200 pounds, and received the worst of the encounter.”

More details emerged the following day, suggesting that the entire Eclipse club was aware of the attack:

“Mr. Osborne very properly and manfully refused (to apologize). Thereupon, Mr. Sullivan, the brave and courageous Louisville catcher, with Mr. James A. Hart, his manager, and eight or ten sympathizing fellow-players to lend him additional courage, introduced his slugging act against a gentleman without a single friend present, who was vastly his inferior in weight and physical strength.”

The Courier-Journal said, “No language of ours is strong enough to express the utter contempt in which Mr. James A. Hart, the manager of the Louisville club, should be held by all of the respectable ball-loving public of the city, who assist by their presence in keeping the Louisville club alive.

“A manager who permits such an outrage in his own presence, without the slightest effort to prevent it, shows himself utterly wanting in the qualities which go to make a good manager.”

The Commercial and The Courier-Journal also charged that Hart, “got the ruffian into a hack…and had him hustled over to Jeffersonville so as to evade arrest; both papers called for Hart’s immediate dismissal and the release of Sullivan.

Sullivan remained with the club for 10 more days, Hart said he would have released him sooner but “was compelled to retain his services until another man could be signed.” The Eclipse signed Miah Murray to replace Sullivan.

Sullivan never appears to have been arrested, and there was no further mention was made of replacing Hart, who remained manager through the 1886 season.

Sullivan was signed by the St. Louis Browns. He hit .117 in 17 games for the American Association champions and was released before the end of the season. The St. Louis Globe-Democrat said:

“(Sullivan’s) work was unsatisfactory and he was again released. He did not assist in winning the pennant.”

Sullivan played just three more professional games; one with the Pittsburgh Alleghenys and two with the Savannah club in the Southern Association in 1886—he was 0 for 10.

He returned to Providence, Rhode Island. Sullivan died of quick consumption on October 26, 1893; it was said he contracted the illness while visiting the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago earlier in the month.

Unser Fritz

21 Dec

Fred Pfeffer made 30 errors in 32 games for the Chicago Colts in 1897. The 16-year veteran, “Unser Fritz” (our Fritz) had removed himself from the starting lineup in mid-May after making three errors in a 10 to 1 loss to the Beaneaters.

The Chicago Inter Ocean said:

“Pfeffer, walking with Captain Anson across the diamond toward the clubhouse yesterday after the eventful game with Boston, asked the old man to put him on the bench for a while.”

The paper said of the three-error performance

“No one who witnessed the disastrous game that had just closed and seen the pathetic downfall of the man whom the Chicago public had so long worshipped as the king of the diamond…could but feel that it was the occasion of the passing of a veteran.”

Pfeffer

The Chicago Chronicle said Pfeffer had been ill all spring and came back too quickly:

“Malaria has been the disease, and of late his inroads have become mare marked. His skin has taken on a yellow hue and every sign has been of Illness.”

The Chicago Tribune said at least five of the 6-14 club’s losses were “directly traceable” to Pfeffer.

Finally, on June 30, his career came to an end.

The Chronicle said, 15 minutes before the game started:

“Pfeffer, hero of a thousand games, the worshipped of the bleachers for 15 years, was called into the private office of President (James) Hart and given his unconditional release.”

After speaking with Hart:

“Pfeffer was in uniform, the white cap and stiff visor, the loose smoking-style jacket and the white blouse, knickerbockers and stockings that have been sacred to the Colts from the immemorial time of baseball…he was slow to go from the field.”

The paper said in eulogizing his career:

“In the final passing of Fred Pfeffer, the king of all second basemen has been relegated to history. The single and united hope of every baseball enthusiast the country through is that he and his deeds may live in story. They will, for while baseball exists as a national game the praises of he who was in his day the greatest player of them all will be sung and resung.”

The Tribune also called Pfeffer “The king of all second basemen,” and said:

“He was fast and shifty on his feet, and no matter where the ball was thrown always tagged his man.”

No sooner had Pfeffer been released and eulogized, when just days later, the struggling Colts had struggled because of him. By July 4th “Unser Fritz” had become a clubhouse cancer:

The Chronicle said:

“One of the reasons for the team’s poor showing early in the season was the unpopularity of Fred Pfeffer with his fellow players. The men realized that the veteran second baseman’s days were about over and Anson’s persistence in keeping Pfeffer in the game and Jimmy Connor, evidently a far better player, on the bench, tended to engender the spirit of dissatisfaction among the men.”

The Tribune called Pfeffer,” a disturber” who in spite of giving advice to teammates in “the most friendly manner and with the kindest intentions” his opinions “affronted the youngsters” on the Colts.

Despite the opinion of the Chicago papers in the days following his release, Pfeffer was in demand. The Inter Ocean said he had, “a pocketful of offers,” including the Washington Senators and the Louisville Colonels in the National League and several minor league clubs.

Pfeffer rejected all offers to continue playing and began to make plans to open a “twelve-table billiard hall” on the corner of Clark and Madison in Chicago.

He also appealed to National League President Nick Young to make him an umpire. The Chronicle said, “a hundred or more telegraphic endorsements and recommendations” were sent to Young on Pfeffer’s behalf.

The push on his behalf, failed; Young said, “he appreciated Mr. Pfeffer as a gentleman and a player,” but here would be no job as an umpire and suggested Pfeffer take a minor league umpiring position. Young told Pfeffer in a letter:

“Without skill and experience they would have you rattled and standing on your head in less than two weeks. Of the many old league players that I have tried—fresh from the ranks—I have never succeeded in holding one yet.”

The Inter Ocean accused Young of, “Another bit of resentment toward this city,” after he turned Pfeffer down. The paper also said Young’s motives were borne out of “resentment which still clings in Young’s craw because of Fred’s part in the brotherhood fight.”

Pfeffer worked as an umpire in several Chicago City League games throughout the summer and was called upon as a fill in to work the August 3 game between his former team and the St. Louis Browns. The Chicago papers universally praised his effort as umpire.

The Tribune said he was “roundly cheered” when he first appeared on the field and:

“During the game he proved his competency as a judge and got away with half a dozen close decisions without a murmur of disapproval.”

The Chicago Daily News said he “Filled the bill satisfactorily,” The Chronicle lauded him for his “gentlemanly bearing” and took a shot at two National League umpires who were not popular in Chicago:

“(Pfeffer) was proof conclusive that the rowdyism of a (Tim) Hurst and a (Jack) Sheridan is not a necessary adjunct to the official position.”

The Inter Ocean said he “umpired splendidly,” and called on Young to “add with all dispatch,” Pfeffer’s name to league’s umpire staff.

Pfeffer worked the next day’s game as well, but was not added to the league staff.

Despite Pfeffer having enough money to open a business, a benefit game was planned for him in September. The day consisted of a concert and a double header; a three-inning first game between a team made up of “old timers,” including Ross Barnes, Jimmy Wood, Joe Quest, Patrick Quinn and Emil Geiss (who local papers all noted had gained nearly 100 pounds since his active days a decade earlier) playing a team of local actors, and the second game, with Pfeffer as umpire, between the Marquettes of Chicago’s City League and the Chicago Unions—the city’s first organized black team.

The Inter Ocean said:

“They gave Fred Pfeffer quite a blow-out, and Unser Fritz went home last night with so much money that he will have no need to labor, or even think, during the coming winter.”

More than 8,000 fans attended and Pfeffer took home more than $2,000; the old timers beat the actors 17 to 0; the game featured a home run by Geiss, who The Chronicle said:

“(W)as able to drag his weight to second—he could not get himself any further and stopped by very inertia.”

 The Unions beat the Marquettes 12 to 5.

Pfeffer made another attempt to join the National League umpire staff in 1898, but was again rebuffed by Young; instead, he spent 1898 umpiring local games and running his tavern/billiard hall—he would own several during the rest of his life.  He also appeared that season in two games with the Minneapolis Millers against the Chicago Unions—the teams split the two games.

He made a comeback in 1902, at 42-years-old he became the player/manager of the Decatur Commodores of the Three-I League.

Pfeffer doubled in his first at bat in Decatur and the team won their opener.  Things went downhill from there. The team quickly settled into last place in the eight-team league and were decimated by injuries all season. The eighth place Commodores finished 39-73.

He intended to return to Decatur in 1903, but on October 19, having been hired to play with a team from Kenosha, Wisconsin for a game against the team from Racine, Pfeffer, after being “greeted with cheers” as he took the field, broke his arm making a throw in pregame warmups.  Kenosha lost 10 4. 

Pfeffer returned to his tavern business until Prohibition shut him down; he spent his later years in charge of the press boxes at Chicago area racetracks, The Tribune said of the job:

“There were duties to be performed and a need for such service, but Pfeffer held the position principally because he had once been Unser Fritz.”

He died in Chicago in 1932.

“The Nearest Approach to a Baseball Machine ever Constructed.”

18 Dec

After the Pirates barnstormed in several Midwest cities before the 1912 season, The Pittsburgh Press acknowledged that an out of towner’s assessment of the city’s biggest star revealed that local reporters, “have seen so much of him that they ceased to marvel at his astounding stunts, and take many of them as a matter of course.”

The sports editor of The Kansas City Star wrote several articles about Wagner, and, “The Kansas City man points out several things which have seldom been commented upon by local writers, who have come to regard ordinary doings by Wagner as of little importance, and only mention him particularly when he pulls off some herculean—something which no one else would attempt.”

Among the observations in The Star:

“Hugh Fullerton, who writes once in awhile on baseball topics, has said that Hans Wagner is the nearest approach to a baseball machine ever constructed. ‘Constructed’ is good. Wagner is put up solidly, after the fashion of government architecture.”

Wagner

And, he was built, “like a piano mover above the waist and below it resembles a pair of parentheses.”

Wagner, said the paper:

“(H)as as much fun playing ball as a kid on a corner lot. He romps about and kids the opposition, most of whom are ex Pirates in this town, and nags good naturedly at the umpire. For Hans is field captain this year and feels that he must do some beefing. But beefing is hard word for Hans. He is too good natured.”

He was a dichotomy; “a born comedian, though so bashful he will hide himself under a bat rack if he sees a reporter coming.”

The Star marveled at the 38-year-old’s fielding:

“He has a style that is all his own. No bush leaguer would dare try to play short like Hans Wagner. He plays wherever he pleases, frequently retreating to the edge of the outfield, whence only his mighty arm would carry to first in time to head off a fast runner. When he goes after a ground hit, he goes after it like a runaway gondola loaded with coal—but he gets it if it is getable. And when once one of those ponderous hands clamps down on the pellet there it remains quietly until the great shortstop wings it on its way.

“Wagner’s pegging is something to ponder. Several times in the Kansas City series he would field a sharply hit drive lazily, merely lobbing the ball over to first and beating the runner only by a step.

“’Shucks,’ remarked some of the bugs who were watching Honus for the first time, ‘that guy’s as slow as molasses: A fast man would have beat him.’

“Wait a bit, though. There goes a fast man—and his hit was a slow one. But he’s out by the same distance. And if you want to see Honus really peg, watch him finishing up a double play. The big frame moves like a streak. He gets the ball away in a twinkle—and it nearly knocks the first baseman off the bag.”

At the plate, “He is one of the few celebrities who can stand bowlegged and pigeon-toed at one and the same time, and he does it with ease and aplomb…He steps into the pitch with a long, swinging stride and meets the ball with a heave of his whole powerful frame.”

Off the field, The Star noted that Wagner, “can’t bear to see a dog hungry. If he can’t provide for them elsewhere he ships them home…And he is a great old boy, is Honus.”

“The Greatest Utility Player of Color”

16 Dec

Henry “Harry” “Mike” Moore was among the pioneers of black baseball in Chicago.  He began his career at 19 with the Chicago Unions and was part of their 1895 team which was awarded Chicago’s “Amateur Baseball Association” championship in 1895.

The Chicago Tribune said:

“There were 159 competitors for the pennant, but the colored boys came out on top by winning forty-seven games out of fifty-six played.”

The next year, The Chicago Inter Ocean said the Unions “closed the season of ’96 with as good a record as ever made by any amateur team either East or West.”

 They ended the season 100-19 with three ties.

In 1897, when the Unions appeared in a charity game for recently retired White Stockings 2nd baseman Fred Pfeffer, The Tribune said they had “played 129 games, winning 113,” that season.

Moore pitched and was a utility player at first, third, and the outfield for the Unions and later was primarily a utility outfielder and corner infielder for several clubs through 1913.

Moore, seated second from left, with Leland Giants 1909

Moore died in September of 1917 of tuberculosis, and was eulogized by Dave Wyatt—negro league player turned sports writer—in The Chicago Defender:

“Harry (Mike) Moore is dead. Such was the sad, sad news that was passed to thousands of the devotees of the national pastime early last week.”

Wyatt said that Moore had been in ill health since at least 1911, “His last appearance as a member of a big club” when Moore played with Frank Leland’s Chicago Giants is a series against Rube Foster’s Chicago American Giants.

Wyatt said of him, pre illness:

“Moore was rightfully considered the greatest utility player of color that has ever been introduced to the baseball public. He was without a peer as a center fielder, big leaguers not excluded. He was known and admired by all baseball men, white and black.”

Moore, he said, was “quiet, unassuming and his temperament was as mild as a baby’s. He was a gentleman both on and off the field. If he was ever ruffled or offended over a misplay, the derisions of the crowds, or an adverse decision of the umpire, no person has ever been able to discern a surface show of the same.”

Wyatt called Moore “one of the game’s greatest batters…a natural hitter. He had a free and easy swing but his swipe carried terrific force.”

Two months before Moore’s death, a benefit game was played at Schorling’s Park involving players from the Chicago Giants, Union Giants, and American Giants—the teams were called Pete Hill’s Stars and John Henry Lloyd’s Stars—the game, according to The Defender:

“(W)as much of a success, as Mr. (Rube) Foster, who donated his park, has $117, with more people to be heard from. Charles A. Comiskey sent a check for $25.”

The paper said C.I. Taylor “sent his bit from Indianapolis, as did players and managers from other part of the country.”

Hill’s Stars won the game 2 to 0.

Box score for Moore benefit game

Wyatt closed, saying:

“Long and lasting may the memory of Harry ‘Mike’ Moore exist.”

“Waddell is not a Rowdy”

14 Dec

Rube Waddell struck out 12 and shut down the St. Louis Browns 4 to 1 on July 17, 1903; he also, as The Philadelphia Inquirer said:

“(B)y way of variety, rushed into the pavilion and made a spectator look even work than (Browns outfielder Emmet) Hendrick, who struck out each of the four times he was at bat.”

A group of fans at Philadelphia’s Columbia Park, “made a persistent attempt to break up Waddell” throughout the game.

During the seventh inning, Waddell responded to “all sorts of coarse epithets.” After striking out Browns pitcher Roy Evans to end the inning, and his response to the fan of “Shut up you knocker,” ignored:

“Waddell made a rush for the stand, and jumping over the railing, ran up the stairs, where he seized Maurice Blaw [sic, Blau], a well-known ticket speculator.”

Rube and friend

The fight was broken up before Waddell could inflict significant damage (although reports varied on the extent) and Blaw was arrested and help on $600 bond.

The following day, Charles Dryden wrote in The Philadelphia North American:

“While crushing the already crumbled Browns, the ever-surprising Mr. Waddell paused long enough yesterday in the game at Columbia Park to break the nose of a man who insulted him, then watched the victim of his wrath depart in a police wagon.”

Dryden said Blau and his cohorts had bet on the Browns and Waddell’s dominance led to the catcalls which came to a head when Rube retired the side in the seventh:

“Like an enraged panther Waddell covered the distance from the box to the stand in half a dozen bounds, the muscles in his bared arms swelling and his face white with passion.

“There is a door in the bulkhead front of the stand near the bench, but Rube did not stop for that. His last leap carried him over the railing and landed his long, lean figure three rows back.”

As Waddell attempted to reach Blau, “an old man arose, and handed Rube an upper cut.”

“He did not stop to ask the reason why or offer the old man a rain check. Two more leaps and Rube was on top of Blau, who is a man of girth and weight. He might as well have tackled a white automobile.”  

 Dryden said, after punching Blau in the face and ripping off “his coat, shirt, and collar,” “half a dozen struggling coppers” broke up the fight and arrested Blau:

“Waddell is not a rowdy, despite his peculiar action. The ordinary procedure in such cases is for the offended player to approach the stand and pour out a flood of profanity sufficient to sicken all within hearing.

“This is not Rube’s way. With all his queer capers he possesses a gentlemanly instinct and a sense of right and wrong. To his notion, the talk and abuse from the stand disturbed not only himself but outraged the comfort and decency of the better grade of baseball patrons of both sexes who were sitting near.”

Dryden concluded that the fans present “recognized the valor of the act…as stated before, Rube is not a rowdy, and he is gentle with those who treat him right.”

Rube

American League President Ban Johnson, who attended the game, didn’t completely agree with Dryden’s assessment:

“I was present and saw the entire occurrence. While Waddell was given great provocation, he must be punished for his action, and perhaps it will be a lesson to clubs to give better protection to their players. I insist that rowdyism must be cut out of American League base ball, and if that cannot be accomplished one way, we must try other methods. Waddell’s sentence is suspension for five days.”

Waddell rejoined the Athletics in Washington D.C. on July 23, arriving with his wife at the team’s hotel. The Washington Times said:

“’Mr. and Mrs. George Edward Waddell,’ written in a bold free hand, adorns a page of the Riggs House register, and is a fine example of the Rube’s chirography.”

The paper also warned Washington fans:

“A tip, however, to the wise! Don’t let your remarks become too personal. Only last week the long, lank, and lean pitcher pulled a spectator from the grandstand in Philadelphia ad spoiled his countenance by breaking his nose. Rube was suspended for the ‘gentle reprimand,’ which suspension expires today.”

Waddell and the Athletics beat the Senators 11 to 3.

“Satchel Paige is not old”

11 Dec

Satchel Paige was still a big enough draw in 1961 for his appearance in Spokane with the Portland Beavers to rate a front-page story in The Spokesman Review.

Reporter Dorothy Rochon Powers, called “Spokane’s best known and beloved journalist,” who spent more than 40 years with the paper, interviewed Paige:

“Satchel Paige is not old and no man’s got any business sticking his nose on the moon.

“And the man to tell you both is Leroy Satchel Paige.”

Satchel 1961

Paige told Powers:

“I’m the onliest man in the United States they don’t anybody know anything about his age!”

He vowed he was “never gonna turn that secret loose.”

Paige said Bill Veeck was the cause of the perpetual questions about his age.

“Veeck made a gag out of how old I was. People took it and haven’t let loose.”

As for the moon, Paige opined:

“People trying to get to the moon now. They didn’t put the moon up there; they got no business seeing what’s there.”

He told Powers he only ate two meals a day:

“I never had three meals in my life. When I got to the place where I could have three meals, I had six children—and I had to give it to them.”

Asked about his kids, the pitcher took out “a hand-printed list” of their names and ages.

And some Satchel wisdom:

“I don’t have no money. I never had none, so it don’t worry me. My hair’s gonna be black a long time if they wait for me to get gray hair worryin’ over money.”

Ad for Spokane vs. Portland

Paige pitched four innings for The Beavers on August 31, Harry Missildine, sports columnist for The Spokesman Review said:

“He was entertaining in four innings. He was effective for at least three.”

Paige ended each inning with a cigarette at the top of the dugout steps, “which is contrary to Pacific Coast League rules and custom…but I guess Paige is old enough to smoke if he wants to.”

Satchel gave up two earned runs in four innings and was pulled for a pinch hitter with Portland trailing 2 to 1; the Beavers came back to win 9 to 8.

The 54-year-old Paige appeared in five games for Portland with no decisions and 2.88 ERA in 25 innings.

“If he Started Drinking, they were to lay their Bets”

9 Dec

Hugh Fullerton wrote about pregame “jockeying…that count(s) for much in a championship race” for The Chicago Herald Examiner in 1919.

Fullerton

Both stories Fullerton told in the column were likely apocryphal—at least in terms of the participants mentioned—but like many Fullerton tales, worth the retelling.

The first involved two Fullerton story favorites, John McGraw and Rube Waddell:

“I remember one day getting to the Polo Grounds early. The Giants were to play, and Rube Waddell was expected to pitch against them.”

The two could not be the participants if the story is based on an actual incident given that Waddell pitched in the American League from 1902 until his final game in 1910 while McGraw was managing the Giants.

 “A batter was at the plate driving out flies and in right center John McGraw was prancing around catching flies and throwing the ball back to the catcher, it is not fun to watch a fat man who has retired from active survive shag flies in the outfield.”

Rube

Fullerton said McGraw’s long throws to the plate “were not fun” to watch, but “McGraw kept it up patiently and gamely.”

At this point in Fullerton’s story, Rube Waddell walked towards McGraw in the outfield.

“Rube looked interested, stopped and talked.

“’I’ll bet you five you can’t outthrow me,’ snarled McGraw in response to Rubes ‘kidding.’

“Rube grabbed the ball and threw it to the plate. For ten minutes they hurled the pill, then McGraw reluctantly admitted that the Rube could outthrow him and paid over the five dollars.

“Rube went to the slab and lasted the greater part of the first inning. McGraw had laid the trap, had kidded Waddell into making six or seven long distance throws and had won a ballgame thereby.”

The second story was about another Fullerton favorite, Bugs Raymond:

“There was a bunch of petty larceny gamblers who hung out around the West Side park in Chicago for years looking for the best of it, who got caught in one of their own traps once.

“The St. Louis club was playing in Chicago and poor Arthur Raymond, better known as ‘Bugs,’ was to pitch a game. The gamblers knew Bugs and knew his weakness.

“Just across the street from the park was a bar kept by a fine little Italian, as grand a little sportsman and a square a man as ever lived. In some way he overheard the plot of the cheap sports, which was to waylay Raymond and invite him to drink. If he started drinking, they were to lay their bets.”

Fullerton said the plan unfolded:

“Raymond was greeted by a bunch of admiring ‘friends,’ who led him to the bar more than an hour before game time. The ‘friends’ invited him to have a drink, and the proprietor winked at Raymond. Bugs was not as foolish as many believed. Without a minute of hesitation, he grabbed the cue as the bartender reached for a bottle a bottle labeled gin. The crowd drank. Bugs invited them to join in, but they insisted he was the guest of honor.

“In the next half hour, he swallowed more than half the contents of the bottle. The plotters exchanged winks and an agent was rushed out to place the bets, Meantime, the others remained to buy more for the Bug. He swallowed three or four more doses and finally said:

“’Say, fellows, I’ve got to break away. I’m pitching today.’

“With that, he lifted the gin bottle, poured all the contents into a tumbler, drained it off at one gulp and walked out on them.”

Bugs

Of course, said Fullerton

“Raymond beat the Cubs in a hard game. It was all over before the pikers realized that the little saloon man had given Raymond a bottle of plain water instead of gin and that Arthur had gone through with the play.”

Like the Waddell story, the facts don’t square with Fullerton’s story; Raymond never beat the cubs during the Cubs in Chicago during his two seasons with the Browns.

“I just Escaped Being a Second Rube Waddell or a Bugs Raymond”

7 Dec

In a 1912 interview with the Continental News Service, Joe Jackson said he nearly derailed his career during his two brief stints with Philadelphia in 1908 and 1909:

Jackson recounted failing to appear for a game:

“I know that I was wrong, but I don’t suppose that excuses my conduct any. There are few people who know what this same Mack stood from me before he turned me loose”

Joe Jackson

Jackson said Mack tried to change him, “with tears in his eyes, but I wouldn’t listen.”

“(O)ne afternoon I was scheduled to play center field for Philadelphia , and on my way to the grounds I took a notion that I’d like to see a show and hopped off the car without a word to anyone and spent the afternoon watching a burlesque show.

“I just escaped being a second Rube Waddell or a Bugs Raymond. Mack did everything possible to make me see the folly of my ways, but he finally lost patience and but me on the blacklist, where I would have remained for the rest of my life if he hadn’t been the kind man he is.”

Failing to change Jackson’s ways, in the spring of 1910, Mack:

“(T)old me to pick out the club I’d prefer to go with and he’s see what could be done.’

“A few days later he came to me and said: ‘I’m sorry, Jackson, that you refuse to settle down and take ball playing seriously, because you have the makings of a crackerjack player in you.”

Jackson was sent to New Orleans:

“It wasn’t until I was well on my way South that I began to realize what an opportunity I had lost. Mack was not the first manager whose friendship I had sacrificed by my foolish actions, but it was he who brought me to my senses. I made up my mind long before I reached New Orleans that I’d cut out my kiddish way and then try to get Mack to give me another chance.”

He said of his time in New Orleans, where he hit .354 in 136 games:

“Having made up my mind to attend to my knitting, I played every game and never missed a morning’s practice.”

Jackson was traded to the Naps and hit .387 in 20 games with Cleveland.

As another example of his behavior before his New Orleans epiphany, he told a story about a run in with umpire Fred Westervelt when both were in the South Atlantic League in 1909.

Jackson, 1909

Jackson said he and teammate Ed Lauzon, “who was the official troublemaker,” on the Savannah Indians:

“Along about the second inning…left the field and took seats in the grandstand with the spectators. Manager (Ernest) Howard sent Harry King [sic, Kane] to get us, and we persuaded him to gather around the festive board. When Howard, who was a player as well as a manager, saw the three of us lined up eating peanuts he also joined the gathering.”

Westervelt gave the four players two minutes to return to the field, when they refused, Jackson was fined $50, King was fined $35 and Lauzon and Howard received suspensions.

“I don’t tell you this because I think now it was funny, but merely to show you how much interest I took in baseball when I got my name on Manager Mack’s list of what, I believe, he calls his ‘daffy players,.’ No one regrets these incidents more than myself, and you can bet it’s me for the straight and narrow hereafter as long as I am in the game.”

“He Seems to Possess a Sixth Sense”

4 Dec

In 1912, the Continental News Service which served several newspapers in the South and Midwest, published a long interview with 24-year-old Cleveland Naps outfielder Joe Jackson.

“The lanky Southerner’s prowess with his formidable black bat has won him an enviable niche in the baseball Hall of Fame, and his work in the outfield is only slightly less remarkable. He seems to possess a sixth sense—a sort of second sight—that enables him to guess just where a given batsman will place a hit, if it is in the direction of right garden, where Jackson holds sway.”

Jackson was asked, “how he sizes up the intentions of an opposing batter, as it appears from the different positions he takes as various men com to bat, he seems to sense just where each man will hit.”

His response:

“I’m not any surer than you where any particular player will hit, but a man isn’t in the game very long before we learn his failings and endeavor to use them to his disadvantage.

“With such men as (Ty) Cobb, (Joe) Tinker, (Heinie) Zimmerman, (Tris) Speaker and other well-known sluggers I know that if they hit out of the infield I have got to be playing deep in order to stand  any chance of getting them. On the other hand, I also know certain players who never hit further than back of the bases. These hitters cause the fielders more trouble than the sluggers because it’s anybody’s ball. That is to say, a baseman may be just as close to it as a fielder, and where two men are going after the same fly the chances of a collision sometimes causes an easy out to be turned into a safe drive. A fielder coming in on a ball has a much better chance of getting it than a baseman who has got to run back for it, even though the latter has a shorter distance to cover.”

Jackson

Jackson said while less balls were hit to right; it was the most difficult position:

“Balls hit to right field if not caught are always dangerous, and especially so when there are men on bases. I am so far from third that the average runner can easily go from first to third if I am not able to make a quick recovery and return.”

Jackson said even as a child he never liked playing infield and:

“Center and right field are the only two positions I have ever played (he had played three games in left field for Philadelphia in 1909)…I was always considered a speedy runner and won many a sprint race back home before I took to playing ball for a living. My father was, and is today, opposed to the playing of the game for money, but as I have six other brothers, all ballplayers, two of whom are in the minor leagues. It looks as though he’ll have to get used to it. Last Fall was the first time he ever saw me in a game, and then only because he had a business engagement in Cleveland.”

Jackson recounted his greatest play in right field:

“I have made several ‘grandstand’ catches in the outfield but the one I feel the proudest about occurred when I nailed (Del) Gainer’s drive off the cement wall in our home grounds.”

Jackson said Cobb was the fastest player he had seen going from home plate to first base:

“Still, a Cleveland fan claims that he clocked me going from home plate to first, and that I covered the distance in less than three seconds. It may be possible that I did, but I rather think the watch or something else was out of order.”

Jackson said the claim made him curious and he tested his speed from hoe to first:

“I got a stopwatch and made several trials. The best I was able to do was a fraction over three seconds. It’s just possible that the excitement of the game may have made me go faster than I did in practice, but with all due respect to the gentleman who timed me I hardly think there is a player in the game today that can hit and make first in less than three seconds.”

“He was a Rube Waddell, a Cy Young”

22 Sep

In 1905, Napoleon Lajoie told a story to a reporter for The Cleveland News about “a wizard in the person of a pitcher who applied for a job in Philadelphia<’ when Lajoie played for the Phillies in 1899:

Napoleon Lajoie

“We were out for morning practice one day when a tall, angular, awkward man, who looked more like a sailor than an athlete, gained admittance to the park and asked permission to work with us.”

Lajoie said the man was sent to the outfield and “did fairly well catching fungoes;” he then asked to pitch.

“Big (Ed) Delahanty made two or three swings at the twisters y=the stranger served up to him, and then he turned around to me: ‘Nap, that fellow’s a ringer,’ he said. We all laughed at Del’s remark, but the laugh didn’t last. I was as helpless before him that day as I am nowadays before Jack Chesbro’s spitball, when it is worked right. Duff Cooley was mad all over because he couldn’t hit the new-fangled curves.”

Delahanty

Lajoie said when he stood behind the man as he pitched, he:

“(W)atched in open-mouthed wonder the zigzag, round-the-corner, hide-and-seek curves he pitched against the grandstand. It was hard to tell whether you were on a ballfield or in the delirium tremens ward of an inebriate hospital.”

He said he asked the man what he did for work:

“’Oh, most anything,’ he said ‘Anything that will earn me bread and butter and a place to sleep. Help load ships, sweep crossings—anything.’”

Lajoie said the man was told he could “earn $500 or $600 a month.”

He said he invited the man out the next day to meet manager Bill Shettsline.

“He was there at the appointed time and showed Shetts his paces. (Bill) Bernhard, (Red) Donahiue and the other pitchers looked on him with voiceless astonishment. He was a Rube Waddell, a Cy Young, a John Clarkson, a Charles Radbourn and Eddie Beaton [sic, Beatin], and a Clark Griffith combined in one.

“Shettsline told him to come to the office the next day and signa contract. That night we all had dreams of the pennant and of the consternation the new pitcher’s debut would create in the ranks of the other clubs.”

But it was not to be.

“He disappeared as suddenly as he appeared and as completely as if he had jumped into the muddy waters of the Schuylkill. Detectives hired by the club hunted high and low for him, and we even advertised in the papers, but we got no trace of him whatever.

“And never before and never since have I seen such a marvelous exhibition of masterful pitching as that unknown man in shirtsleeves and overalls gave that day in the presence of the most famous hitting team ever organized.”