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“Baumgardner Ought to be one of the Greatest Pitchers in Baseball”

30 Jul

Two things were certain after George Baumgardner’s major league debut—a 4 to 1 victory over the Big Ed Walsh and the Chicago White Sox—he had talent, and he was a bit odd.

The Chicago Tribune said:

“He had a lot of speed.  The best thing he had was splendid control.  He seemed able to cut the ball across any portion of the plate except the middle, and he seldom gave the Sox a chance to belt a good one, yet he was getting them over for strikes.”

The Chicago Daily News said Baumgardner was told it was a big deal that he had beaten Walsh:

“’Who is this fellow Walsh?’ he asked.  He was told that Big Ed is considered by many the greatest pitcher in the game.  ‘If he’s so good why don’t some National League clubs draft him?’  Inquired Baumgardner innocently.  He has since been told that the American League, in which he promises to earn fame, is a major organization just like the National.”

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Baumgardner, 1912

He was 37-47 with a 3.12 ERA in his first three seasons for Browns teams that lost 101, 90, and 88 games.

However, he was sent home by the Browns after appearing in just seven games in 1915—he was 0-2 with a 4.43 ERA.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said, the pitcher “has hit the lonesome trail of the West Virginia pines…and has been advised to go home and get in shape.”

After the 1915 season, American League umpire Billy Evans said in his nationally syndicated column that, “Baumgardner…ought to be one of the greatest pitchers in baseball, but he is not, and thereby hangs a rather interesting tale.”

Evans said:

“Baumgardner has wonderful speed and a beautiful curve.  He is fleet of foot and a corking good fielder.  There are in the major leagues today any number of pitchers rated as stars who do not possess one-half the natural ability.”

Evans said in addition to his slow start, the Browns gave up on the pitcher so easily because of the financial stress the Federal League had caused American and National League clubs:

“Baumgardner’s salary was surely $4,000 or better, because George Stovall tried to sign him for the (Kansas City) Feds.  Stovall, having managed the Browns (Stovall jumped to Kansas City before the 1914 season) was familiar with Baumgardner’s ability. There are few players who would let such a salary slip away from the without making some effort to retain it.”

Evans claimed that after they sent him home, the Browns never heard from their pitcher, and “his whereabouts during the summer was unknown,’ to the team.

“The only news ever received from the eccentric pitcher came through a St. Louis traveling man, who made the small towns in the south.  He bumped into Baumgardner in a West Virginia hamlet pitching for one of the village clubs.  He watched him perform, said he never looked better; so good in fact he could have gotten a long without his outfield.”

Evans said the man asked the pitcher if he had been in touch with the Browns:

“’I am waiting to hear from them,’ was Baumgardner’s reply.  ‘I guess if they really thought they could use me they would have me rounded up.  I ain’t much on letter writing; they don’t need to expect any word from me.”

Evans said:

“It hardly seems possible that in times of war, when big salaries were almost possible fir the mere asking, a fellow would let it get away from him (but) nothing worries the big fellow, it is easy come, easy go with him.”

Baumgardner’s 1916 season was even more unusual than 1915.  He again reported to the Browns out of shape, and struggled.

In June, the Browns attempted to sell him to the Memphis Chickasaws in the Southern Association.  The Post-Dispatch said:

“George Baumgardner of Barboursville, WV, the heart of the Blue Ridge belt, is all puffed up like a pouter pigeon because he has signed a new contract with the Browns.  All of which proves how easy it is to get Baumgardner all puffed up.

“This contract, which Baumgardner considers and asset, according to his own statement, calls for $75 a month.”

The paper said Baumgardner would have earned $200 a month with the Chickasaws, but told manager Fielder Jones:

“Who’ll ever see me pitch in Memphis?”

Baumgardner lasted just one more month in St. Louis.  He appeared in four games for the Browns and posted a 7.88 ERA before being released on July 20.

The Sporting News said the Browns attempted send Baumgardner to the Little Rock Travelers, where he would have earned $250 a month and he again said he wasn’t interested:

“But even that ($75 a month) was too much, thought Fielder Jones, so one day last week he handed Baumgardner another release, his second or third in three months, and told him positively to get away and stay away.”

Baumgardner said his right arm had “gone back on him,” and that he was going to “go back to the mountains and practice with my left arm.”

After several days he joined the Travelers.

He only lasted a month in Little Rock.  Baumgardner was 2-1 in five appearances on August 21 when The Arkansas Democrat said he was heading back to West Virginia:

“(He) says he is going home this week and stay there until next season—maybe.  Or he may come back and help the Travelers in the last few days.”

Baumgardner promised the paper he would return and “not lose more than four games” in 1917.

baumgardner

Baumgardner, 1917

The Arkansas Gazette summed up his 1917 season:

“Every time “Bummie” goes out he gets a beating.”

And he didn’t keep his word.  He lost five games in 1917, winning three, before being released by Little Rock on June 7.

After winning 37 games in his first three major league seasons, Baumgardner’s professional career was over six weeks before his 25th birthday.

Wagner is the Nearest Approach to a Perfect Baseball Machine”

30 May

Claude Johnson was the long-time sports editor for The Kansas City Star.  Al Spink, in his book “The National Game,” called the paper “one of the greatest newspapers in the Western world,” and said of Johnson:

”He is a real baseball enthusiast… (The) sports pages are widely read and perfectly edited by little Johnson… (he) ought to be dancing in the big league.”

When the Pittsburgh Pirates came to town to play exhibition games with the American Association Kansas City Blues, Johnson wrote a long profile of Honus Wagner:

“Hugh Fullerton, who writes on baseball topics, has said that Hans Wagner is the nearest approach to a perfect baseball machine ever constructed.  ‘Constructed ‘ is good.  Wagner is put up solidly, after the fashion of government architecture.  And you may take it straight from any bug who ever saw Hans Wagner that he is some baseball machine.“

wagner

 Honus Wagner

Johnson said in the Kansas City games Wagner had the “star role:”

“Do you know, it’s lots of fun to watch Hans Wagner play ball.  A good deal of this is due to the fact that Honus enjoys it himself.  He has as much fun playing ball as a kid on a corner lot.  He romps about and kids the opposition…and nags good naturedly the umpire. For Hans is field captain this year and feels that he must do some beefing.  But beefing is hard work for Hans.  He is too good natured.  Hans would much rather take a bun decision with a humorously protesting wave of his enormous hands and make up for it later by one of his terrific wallops.

“Hans has a lot of little mannerisms on the field.  He is a born comedian, though so bashful he will hide himself under the bat rack if he sees a reporter coming.”

Johnson said Kansas City fans were as impressed with his work in the field as at the plate:

“Most of what you read of Hans is about his tremendous hitting, and it is all true, too.  But Hans is a miraculous fielder, also.  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; retreating to the edge of the outfield grass, 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 line 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.”

wagnerpix

Wagner

Next Johnson described Wagner at the plate:

“At bat Honus is a study.  He is built like a piano mover above the waist and below he resembles a pair of parenthesis.  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.  At least it looks very much like aplomb.

“Hans twiddles his ponderous bat as if it weighed about as much as a feather duster.  He balances it between his fingers, pulls down his cap and takes his stand–bowlegged and pigeon-toed—well back of the plate.  You see the reason for the latter.

“Wagner watches the ball from the time pitcher starts his delivery.  He steps into the pitch with a long, swinging stride, and meets the ball with a heave of his whole powerful frame.  It looks very easy, and there is a certain grace about it too.  But what you mainly notice is the streaky appearance of the ball, whatever way it may travel, tearing its way through the hands of an infielder or flying like an arrow over the outfield.”

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Wagner

Johnson said, in the final game of the series, Wagner “walked into the first” pitch he saw in the eighth inning:

“He did not seem to hit the ball hard, yet, it soared away into the top of the center field bleachers—one of the longest hits ever made inside the park.”

The Pittsburgh Post called the home run, “a wallop into the center field bleachers…the longest hit of the series.”

As for Wagner himself, Johnson said:

“Hans is a likable chap—a retiring, modest sort of star.  He is fond of dogs and collects strays in nearly every city he visits.  He can’t bear to see a dog hungry.  If he can’t provide for them elsewhere he ships them home, where he has a dog farm collected in that way.  Hans’ main pet is a Dachshund, whose legs, he says, are dead ringers for his own.

“And he’s a great old boy, is Honus.  And you can start something with nearly any bug by suggesting that there is a greater player doing business today.”

“It’s a Nice Game for a Poet or Orator”

18 Apr

Marcus C. “Brick” Pomeroy, publisher and editor of The La Crosse (WI) Democrat was no fan of President Abraham Lincoln—a Copperhead, who opposed the Civil War and desired an immediate peace settlement with the Confederacy—he called the president “fungus from the corrupt womb of bigotry and fanaticism.”

 

brickpix

Brick Pomeroy

 

After the Civil War, he briefly turned his attention to baseball.  In 1867, he wrote in The Democrat about his experience with the game:

“The doctor said we need exercise.  Doctors know.  He told us to join base ball, we joined.  Bought a book of instructions, and for five days studied it wisely, if not too well.  Then we bought a sugar scoop cap, a red belt, a green shirt, yellow trousers, pumpkin colored shoes, a paper collar and a purple necktie, and with a lot of other delegates, moved gently to the ground.

“There were two nines.  These nines were antagonists.  The ball is a pretty little drop of softness, the size of a goose egg, and five degrees harder than a brick.  The two nines play against each other.  It is a quiet game, much like chess, only a little more chase than chess.

“There was an umpire.  His position is a hard one.  He sits on a box and yells ‘fowl.’ His duty is severe

“I took the bat.  It is a murderous plaything, descended from Pocahontas to the head of John Smith.  The man in front of me was a pitcher.  He was a nice pitcher, but he sent the balls hot.  The man behind me was a catcher.  He caught it too!

“The umpire said ‘play.’ It is the most radical play I know of, this base ball—Sawing cord wood in moonlight rambles beside base ball.  So the pitcher sent a ball towards me.  It looked pretty coming, so I let it come.  Then he sent another.  I hit it with the club and hove it gently upward.  Then I started to walk to the first base.  The ball lit in the pitcher, or his hands, and somebody said he caught a fly.  Alas, poor fly! I walked leisurely toward the base.  Another man took the bat.  I turned to see how he was making it, and a mule kicked me in the cheek.  The man said it was the ball.  It felt like a mule, and I reposed on the grass.  The ball went on!

“Pretty soon there were two more flies, and three of us flew out.  The other nine came in, and us nine went out.—This was better.  Just as I was standing on my dignity in the left field, a hot ball as they called it, came skyrocketing toward me.  My captain yelled ‘take it.’

“I hastened gently forward to where the ball was aiming to descend. I have a good eye to measure distances and saw at a glance where the little aerolite was to light.  I put up my hands.  How sweetly the ball descended. Everybody looked—I felt something warm in my eye!  ‘Muffin!’ yelled ninety fellers, ‘muffin be damned! It’s a canon ball!’  For three days I had two pounds of raw beef on that eye, and yet I paineth!

“Then I wanted to go home, but my gentle captain said ‘nay.’  So I stayed and stayed.  Pretty soon it was my strike.  ‘Brick to the bat!’ yelled the umpire.  I went, but not all serene as my wont.  The pitcher sent in one hip high.  I missed it.  He sent in another neck high. It struck me in the gullet.  ‘Fowl,’ yelled the umpire.  He sent in the ball again.  This time I took it square and sent it down the right field, through a parlor window—a kerosene lamp, and rip up against the head of an infant who was quietly taking it’s nap in his mother’s arms  Then I slung the bat and meandered forth to the first base.  I heard high words and looked.  When I slung the bat I had with it broken the jaw of the umpire and was fined 10 cents.”

 

1870

An 1870 Woodcut by Rogers and McCartney of Boston, which would have been an appropriate illustration for Pomeroy’s article

 

Pomeroy said the game was as dangerous to spectators as players:

“The game went on.  I liked it.  It is so much fun to run from base to base  just in time to be put out, or to chase a ball three-fourths of a mile down hill, while all the spectators yell ‘muffin!’ or ‘go round a dozen times!’ Base ball is a sweet little game. When it came my turn to bat again, I noticed everybody moved back about ten rods!  The umpire retreated twelve rods.  He was timid.  The pitcher sent ‘em in hot. Hot balls in time of war are good; but I don’t like ‘em too hot for fun.  After a while I got a fair clip at it., and you bet it went, cutting the daisies down the right field.  A fat man with his dog sat in the shade of an oak enjoying the game. The ball broke one leg of the dog and landed like a runaway engine in the corporosity of the fat man.  He was taken home to die.”

Back on defense, Pomeroy said:

“Then I went on a double quick to the field and tried to stop a hot ball.  It came toward me from the bat at the rate of nine miles a minute. I put up my hands, the ball went sweetly singing on its way with all of the skin from my palms with it.

“More raw beef!”

Pomeroy summed up his experience playing ball:

“That was an eventful chap who first invented baseball.  It’s such fun.  I’ve played five games, and this is the glowing result:

Twenty-seven dollars paid out for things.

One bunged eye, badly bunged

One broken little finger

One bump on the head.

A sore jaw.

One thumb dislocated.

Two sprained ankles

One dislocated shoulder, from trying to throw a ball a thousand yards

Two hands raw from trying to stop hot balls

A lump the size of a hornet’s nest on my left hip, well back.

A nose sweetly jammed, and five uniforms spoiled from rolling in the dirt at the bases.

“I have played two weeks, and don’t think I like the game.  There is not a square inch on, in or under me but aches.  I sleep nights dreaming of hot balls, ‘flys, and ‘fouls,’ and descending skyrockets.’  I never worked so hard since Ruth stole wheat, and never was so lame since the burning of Luther.

“I am proud of my proficiency in the game. It’s fine exercise—a little easier than running through a thrashing machine, and not much either.  It’s a nice game for a poet or orator—‘twill make one sore beyond all accounts.

“I’ve looked over the scorer’s book, and find that in two weeks I’ve broken seven bats, made one tally, broken one umpire’s jaw, broken ten windows in adjoining houses, killed a baby, broke the leg of a dog, and mortally injured the bread basket of a spectator, knocked five other players out of time by slinging my bat, and knocked the waterfall from a school marm who was standing twenty rods from the field, a quiet looker on.

“I’ve used up fifteen bottles of arnica liniment, five bottles of lotions, half a raw beef, and am so full of pain that it seems as if my bones were but broken bats, and my legs the limbs of a dead horse chestnut, instead of the once elegant trotters.

“P.S.  All ladies in favor of ‘universal suffering’ are invited to join our club”

After his brief interest in baseball, Pomeroy moved from Wisconsin to New York, to Chicago, and back to New York where he published various newspapers.  In 1880 he was president of a company that proposed to dig a tunnel through the Rocky Mountains; the company sold $7 million worth of stock, but eventually went bankrupt before and work on the project was begun.

He died in 1896.

Lost Pictures–Ty Cobb’s “Outburst of Historic Art”

30 Sep

After the 1916 season, Ty Cobb spent four weeks on Long Island shooting the first feature film starring a major league ballplayer.

The story for “Somewhere in Georgia” was written by Grantland Rice, then of The New York Tribune.

Ty Cobb and leading lady Elsie MacLeod

Ty Cobb and leading lady Elsie MacLeod

Rice said of the film:

“For the matter of twelve years Tyrus Raymond Cobb, the first citizen of Georgia, has proved that when it comes to facing pitchers he has no rival…It may have been that facing such pitchers as (Ed) Walsh, (Walter) Johnson, (Babe) Ruth and others has acclimated Ty to facing anything under the sun, even a moving picture camera.  At any rate, when Director George Ridgewell, of the Sunbeam Motion Picture Company, lined Ty up in various attitudes before the camera he was astounded at the way the star ballplayer handled the job.

Grantland Rice

Grantland Rice

“These paragraphs should be enough to break the news gently that Cobb, wearying of competition with (Tris) Speaker, (Joe) Jackson and (Eddie) Collins through so many years, has decided to go out and give battle to Douglas Fairbanks and Francis X. Bushman.  Not for any extended campaign, but for just one outburst of historic art.”

Director George Ridgeway said of his star:

“The most noticeable thing about Cobb’s work was this:  I’ve never had to tell him more than once what I wanted done.  I had an idea that I would have to take half my time drilling him for various scenes in regard to expression and position. But, on the contrary, he seemed to have an advance hunch as to what was wanted, and the pictures will show that as a movie star Ty is something more than a .380 hitter.  In addition to this, he is a horse plus and elephant for work. Twelve hours a day is nothing to him, and when the rest of us are pretty well worn out Cobb is ready for the next scene. I believe the fellow could work twenty hours a day for a week and still be ready for overtime.”

Rice noted that Cobb balked at just thing during the filming:

“Ty was willing enough to engage in mortal combat with anywhere from two to ten husky villains.  He was willing enough ti dive headfirst for the plate or to jump through a window, but when it came to one of our best known pastimes, lovemaking, he balked with decided abruptness.

“Despite the attractiveness and personal appeal of the heroine, Miss Elsie MacLeod, Ty was keen enough to figure ahead, not what the spectators might think of it, but what Mrs. Tyrus Raymond Cobb of Augusta think. The love making episode, therefore, while more or less thickly interspersed, had to be handled in precisely the proper way to meet Ty’s bashful approval”

The "bashful" star

The “bashful” star

The New York Tribune claimed that “More than 100 motion picture scenarios” were presented to Cobb before he agreed to appear in Rice’s.  The paper said, “(H)e would not, he emphatically stated, appear in anything that was not compatible with both his dignity and his standing in the baseball world.”

The Ty Cobb character in “Somewhere in Georgia” is a bank clerk who plays ball for the local baseball team—he, along with the bank’s cashier are vying for the love of  the banker’s daughter.  Cobb is scouted and offered a contract by the Detroit Tigers but the banker’s daughter tells him he must choose between baseball and her.  At the same time, the cashier, Cobb’s rival for the banker’s daughter, bets against the home team and plots to have Cobb kidnapped by “a gang of thugs.”

Cobb accosted by thugs

Cobb accosted by thugs

After being held hostage in a cabin, Cobb escapes with the help of “a local farm boy,” and:

”Commandeering a mule team, Ty succeeds in reaching home just in time to make a spectacular play and save the game for his team.  He then turns the tables on the cashier, wins the girl and winds things up in a manner appealing to ball fans and picture fans alike.”

Cobb escaping with the aid of a local farm boy.

Cobb escaping with the aid of a local farm boy.

Billed in advertisements as “A thrilling drama of love and baseball in six innings,” no prints of the six-reel film survive, but Cobb received better reviews than most of his brethren who attempted a film career.

After the film’s release in 1917, The Tribune said:

“(A)s an actor Ty Cobb is a huge success.  In fact, he is so good that he shows all the others (in the cast) up.”

When the film premiered at the Detroit Opera House in August of 1917 The Detroit Free Press said:

Ad for the film in Detroit

Ad for the film in Detroit

“(The film) is not only a most interesting baseball picture, but it gives views of “The Georgia Peach” that one does not see at Navin Filed…One seldom gets a chance to take a peep at Ty in civilian clothes and he shows himself to be as much at home in this story of love and romance into which a few baseball surroundings have been woven as he is on the diamond.  He makes a pleasing film hero, wooing and winning the bank president’s daughter and performing other exploits that one would expect from Douglas Fairbanks and his like.”

Lost Pictures–Frank Leet Caricatures

31 Aug

leetjohnson

Walter Johnson of the Washington Senators, as depicted by Frank Rutledge Leet, a cartoonist for The Newspaper Enterprise Association, as well as the author of a number of children’s books, including one called, “When Santa was Late.

In 1912 and 1913 he provided caricatures for a number of articles featuring players telling their favorite baseball stories.  In addition to Johnson, Leet created images of Johnson’s teammate Germany Schaefer:

leetschaefer

Chicago White Sox pitcher Big Ed Walsh:

bigedwalsh

Johnson and Schaefer’s manager Clark Griffith:

leetgriffith

And, Detroit Tigers manager Hughie Jennings:

leethugh

Lost Advertisements–Southern League Opener, Memphis, 1919

29 Jul

memphis1919

An advertisement for the Memphis Chickasaws 1919 home opener against the Little Rock Travelers at Memphis’ Russwood Park:

“Some Faces You’ll See at the Opening Ball Game

“‘Fan.’ A hard loser but a game fan–you’ll like him too

“And when ‘Cy’ (Memphis manager, outfielder and pitcher Eros Bolivar “Cy” Barger) pounds the pill for a homer with a couple of Chick sluggers on the bases, there is going to be some faces from Little Rock that are going to show the shock…

“‘Fan.’ With the winning smile, that makes you happy.

“If ‘Cy’ hits a home run.

“In the first game of the season–if he wallops that old pill over the right field fence–you’ll see this happy grin on a thousand faces…The artist couldn’t draw a face that would show the consternation, the gloom, the lost-heartedness depicted. on the face of the Little Rock fans who are rash enough to follow the Travelers to Memphis, should old Cy smash that pill over the fence and into the bleachers.

“But Cy’s Chickasaws have to beat somebody in the opening game at home and it might as well be Little Rock.

“‘Fan.’ Whose grandma dies about this time every year.

“‘Fanette.’  Who says she is going to see every game.

“No!  Memphis isn’t full of sport ‘Pikers.’ We’re going to break the attendance record and win the cup to show the Southern League how much we appreciate their electing the greatest true-blooded sportsman in the South for its president.  And because he hails from Memphis we’re not going to let him feel sorry for it.  We know the man and know we’ll get the good, clean game we’ve wanted in our national sport for the last ten years if we’ll support him as loyally as he’ll support us.”

The new league president referenced in the ad was John Donelson Martin, a Memphis attorney, who later became a federal judge.

The mention of the need for a “good, clean game” refers to the lingering concerns in Memphis about the integrity of the league which began when the Memphis Egyptians collapsed in the last three weeks of the 1907 season, giving the pennant to the Atlanta Crackers, after holding a wire-to-wire lead.

As for the opener, the Chickasaws lost to Little Rock 4-2.  Things never got better for the team, which finished fifth with a 66-79 record.

Cy Barger

Cy Barger

Cy Barger didn’t hit a home run on Opening Day, he didn’t hit a home run all season.  In 1758 at bats during a 16-year professional career (seven in the major leagues) Barger hit a total of four.

Baseball and Evolution, 1887

11 May

In 1887, 28-years after the publication of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species,The San Francisco Chronicle declared:

“The modern game of baseball is one of the most convincing proofs of the doctrine of evolution.  All the leading features of that theory—natural selection, differentiation of species and the survival of the fittest—are admirably illustrated in the game of baseball as played at present.  It is admitted that baseball originated with the game of town ball, or rounders, and some future Darwin of the diamond field may publish ponderous folios to exhibit the various steps by which the childish game of rounders developed into the scientific sport now so popular.”

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin

That evolution, said the paper, was also seen in the popularity of the game:

“The permanence of baseball as a game is now firmly established.  It has grown into the affections of sport-loving Americans as thoroughly and absolutely as cricket is the object of English admiration.  As evidence of this it is stated that on Decoration Day 96,000 people attended three games of baseball in and near New York City.”

bb

Despite the popularity of the game, the paper noted there was some pushback against “scientific baseball:”

“The most unfavorable criticism which has passed upon the present game is that it has become a ‘battery game;’ that is, all the playing is done by the pitcher and catcher.  The object of late years has been to keep the score of runs down, and to that end the rules have been framed in the interest of the pitcher and catcher…and scores of one to one and one to nothing have not been uncommon.  Now this is very scientific, but the people who pay their money to see baseball played have become tired of it and want to see the field have something to do.  They want to see more batting and base running and larger scores.”

grays1

The Chronicle said, in order to increase offense, “The National League and American Association, appreciating this state of things has recently adopted some new rules.”  Among the rules instituted for the 1887 season were the reduction of the pitcher’s box to 5 ½ feet by 4 feet, five balls rather than six for a base on balls, and four “called strikes” for a strikeout:

“The opinions of expert players as to the effect of the new rules differ, although most agree that the game will be of more interest to the spectators and will draw better and the gate money be increased, a question of interest to all the clubs except the purely amateur ones. “

Whatever the result of rule changes, this further evolution and the game’s “manly qualities” were reasons baseball had earned its place in American culture:

“It would be hard to find a sport which brings into play the manly qualities of wind and muscle to greater advantage than baseball.  No one but a skilled athlete can play the game successfully, and training men for a baseball campaign has become almost as much a science as training them for a boat race or a foot race.  Eye and nerve, lungs and heart, legs and stomach must all be capable of doing their duty and doing it well to make a good baseball player.  There is generalship too, in the game, and many matches are won by superior skill, even though handicapped by inferior strength.  The game well deserves its title of the national game, and bids fair to excite more interest and attention year by year.”

Lost Advertisements–Heinie Groh for Sweet Caporal

4 Mar

grohsweetcaporal

A 1914 Sweet Caporal advertisement featuring Heine [sic] Groh–the company didn’t spend a great deal of time checking the spelling of the names of their endorsers.

“For a fine, mellow cigarette you can’t beat Sweet Caporal.  They’ve got a good, pure tobacco flavor that’s great.”

The salary dispute that culminated with Groh’s trade from the Cincinnati Reds to the New York Giants after the 1921 season had been ongoing since at least 1917 and earned him the title “last of the holdout kings” from The Washington Herald.

His 1920 holdout was, according to Groh, inspired by his wife Marguerite, who also spoke to the press on her husband’s behalf as the dispute ground on into March.

The Cincinnati Times-Star said while speaking at a “local banquet,” Groh told the audience:

“We were sitting in a vaudeville show not long ago and were listening to the thunderous applause being accorded a couple of high salaried dancers.

“My wife touched my arm.  ‘Do you see how they are being praised now?’ she asked. ‘But what will happen to them in a few years when their legs start to go bad?  They’ll get asked to leave won’t they? That’s why they’re so high-priced now.  Let that be a lesson to you.’

“So right then and there Mrs. Groh made me promise that I would not sign a Reds contract until I got my figures…When my wife says sign, I’ll sign and not a minute before.”

Groh

Groh

Marguerite Groh was more direct when she spoke to the paper:

“I don’t care if all the other players sign, and if Heinie can’t do anything better next summer than work in the garden I think he should continue holding out for what he wants.

“We both believe Heinie has been underpaid for several seasons.  This is the year in which we can afford to be independent, and I am urging Heinie to continue his fight to get what he believes he is entitled to.

“It is not a question of how much Heinie can make in some other business. We both know the Reds are willing to pay him more than he will make if he does not sign at the club’s terms.

“But we will be perfectly able to get through the year without any baseball income if the Reds don’t meet Heinie’s terms, and they’ll have to do it if he is to play for them.”

After the Reds left for Miami, Florida without Groh on March 5, The Associated Press said:

“Heinie Groh, or rather Mrs. Heinie Groh, is still among the holdouts in baseball.  There is lurking suspicion that Heinie would like to end the controversy and join his teammates in the South, but Mrs. Groh absolutely refuses to let him go unless (Reds owner August) Garry Herrmann offers her little Heinie more money.”

Four days later Groh agreed to terms, The Cincinnati Enquirer said the Reds “Would not state the amount” of the contract, but said Groh had asked for $12,500 and the team had originally offered $10,000.

During Groh’s long holdout the following year, Mrs. Groh’s opinion was never reported.

 

 

Lost Advertisements–Anheuser-Busch, Washington Senators

5 Feb

 

ab1910sox

In 1910, a series of Anheuser-Busch ads  appeared in several Washington D.C. papers. The ad above appeared when the Chicago White Sox faced the Senators in early May:

Comiskey’s New White Sox are in Town

The headline referred to Charles Comiskey‘s shakeup of his team, which included the appointment of Hugh Duffy as manager, and a new starting infield; first baseman Chick Gandil, second baseman Rollie Zeider, and shortstop Lena Blackburne, and Billy Purtell at third.

An advertisement later that week featured caricatures of Napoleon Lajoie and Hughie Jennings, and described Rube Waddell as “The only wild animal of his kind in captivity:”

ab1910nap

The ads were similar in style and content to those for Old Underoof Whiskey that appeared in Chicago papers during the same period–all advertised upcoming games, commented on the behavior of fans and players, and chronicled the year’s pennant races–with one exception.

A July ad featured the full text, with illustrations, of Ernest Thayer’s “Casey at the Bat:”

ab1910casey

They only appeared for one season.

 

Lost Advertisements–Ty Cobb, Lewis 66 Rye

11 Dec

cobblewis66

A 1912 advertisement for Lewis 66 Rye Whiskey from The Strauss, Pritz Company, a Cincinnati-based distiller:

“Away Above Everything”

Ty Cobb–‘The Georgia Peach’

“Baseball never saw Ty Cobb‘s equal.  The Chalmers Trophy Commission, appointed to name the most valuable American League player in 1911, unanimously gave every possible point to Cobb (he received all eight first-place votes–the commission consisted on one sportswriter from each league city).  In 1911, Cobb led his league in hits, runs, and stolen bases.  Hits 247; batting average .417; runs 149, stolen bases 85 [sic 248; .420; 147, 83].”

Cobb was presented with a Chalmers “36” at Shibe Park in Philadelphia on October 24, 1911, before game four of the World Series. Jack Ryder, covering the series for The Cincinnati Enquirer said of the presentation:

“President (John T.) Brush of the Giants declined to allow this ceremony at the Polo Grounds, so it was pulled off very quietly here this afternoon…The event took place 10 minutes before the game and was coldly ignored by the Giants though the Athletics took a keen interest in it and several of them had their pictures taken with Cobb. Ty now has three cars, but he says this one is much the best of the lot, and he expects to drive it to his home in Georgia as soon as the series is over.”

Cobb in his Chalmers at Shibe Park

Cobb in his Chalmers at Shibe Park

While Cobb was the unanimous choice of the eight-man commission, the second place finisher in the American League received a more valuable car.

The Chicago Inter Ocean said Chicago White Sox fans, unhappy that pitcher “Big Ed” Walsh finished second to Cobb, “Undertook to raise a fund to purchase an automobile,” for him.

But, said the paper, the fans:

“(F)ound themselves confronted with a dilemma–they had too much money in the fund to buy a duplicate of the Chalmers touring cars presented to Ty Cobb and (National League winner, Chicago Cubs outfielder) Frank Schulte.”

Two days before Cobb received his Chalmers in Philadelphia, Walsh was presented with his car before a charity game at Comiskey Park.

Ed Walsh

Ed Walsh

No Chicago newspaper reported the make and model.  The Daily News called it “A handsome automobile.”  The Inter Ocean said it was “A $4,000 automobile,” and The Tribune said simply that he had received an “(A)utomobile subscribed for by the fandom of the city.”  The Examiner also failed to mention the type of car Walsh received but said the Cubs’ Schulte “gave $25” to the fund.

According to The Tribune, Walsh promised to “‘(L)earn how to run it before spring,’ and the stands cheered loyally.”