Lost Advertisements: Satch’s Palm Springs No-Show

13 Jul

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An advertisement for the October 1950 game between Bob Lemon‘s All-Stars and Satchel Paige‘s All-Stars at Polo Grounds in Palm Springs–later the Spring Training home of the Los Angeles Angels–both the Pacific Coast League and American League clubs, currently known as Palm Springs Stadium.

According to The Desert Sun, Paige instead “(A)ccepted a lucrative offer to pitch a series of Hawaii exhibition games,” and failed to appear in Palm Springs.

Just 639 fans came out to watch Lemon and a team comprised of Indians teammates and PCL players beat the Paige-less Kansas City Royals 9 to 3.

The most notable aspect of the game was Indians second baseman Ray Boone had his wrist broken with a pitch in the first inning–Boone who hit .301 for Cleveland in 1950, hit just .233 in 1951 after the injury.

“He’s the Wisest ‘Green’ man you ever saw”

11 Jul

Billy Rooks was a fixture in Detroit baseball circles in the first decade of the 20th Century.  He owned the Utopia Café at the corner of Clifford and Bagley, a hangout for many Tigers and out of town players.

In 1905, he told Frank Cooke of The Detroit News that anyone who thought Rube Waddell was dumb or “green” was mistaken,” (H)e’s the wisest ‘green’ man you ever saw.”

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Rube

Rooks told Cooke that Waddell came into the bar when the Athletics were in Detroit in August, and said:

“’Bill, let me take $2.’ I was just starting in and wasn’t very long on change right then, so I told him I couldn’t afford it, but he kept coaxing and I kissed the two goodbye.

“An hour later back came the Rube and he asked for $3 more. I told him I wouldn’t do it, and he finally took off that watch charm which he got for playing with the 1902 pennant winners and throwing it on the bar, said, ‘I guess that’s worth the five all right.’”

Rooks said by the end of the night, Waddell had hit him up for another $5:

“(M)aking $10 that he was into me, but the charm was worth enough to make up for it.”

The following day, Rooks said Athletics manager Connie Mack noticed the charm was missing from Waddell’s watch:

“’I lost it at the park,’ said Waddell.  ‘As I was going through the gate I felt something pull and when I looked it was gone.  We all tried to find it, but somebody must have stuck it in their pocket.’

“Connie told Rube to hurry over to a newspaper office and have a notice put in with a reward of $10 for the charm, which he did, and then he came up to my place and said, ‘Bill, you send your bartender down to Connie Mack in the morning and tell him he found the charm at the park.  He’ll give you your $10 back, and I’ll have the charm and we’ll all quit even.

“I sent the boy down and Connie gave him the $10, and I was glad to get it.”

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Rube

A year later, at the end of the 1906 season, Waddell told The News he took a job tending bar for Rooks:

“Rube has signed to tend bar for Billy Rooks at the Utopia Café, and left a large share of his baggage (after the Athletics final road game in Detroit on September 28) to insure his appearance as suds slinger immediately  after the American League season

“If Rube keeps his promise, there will be plenty of quasi-baseball news during the winter.

“’Billy and I are old pards,’ said the Rube in discussing his promise…His place here seems to be baseball headquarters, and I think I will find it congenial.”

The paper said Waddell had originally intended to spend the off season in Cleveland, but:

“Utopia is near a fire station, and Billy has promised Rube a fire alarm right back of the bar.”

Lost Advertisements: Jesse Haines, Mail Pouch Tobacco

6 Jul

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“You don’t get tired of Mail Pouch.” 1930 advertisement for Mail Pouch Tobacco featuring St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jesse Haines.

In 1927, on his way to his best season–24-10, 2.72 ERA–soon to be 33-years old-Haines won his first five decisions.  Lynn Carlisle “L.C.” Davis, sports columnist and “resident bard” of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote “An Appreciation” to commemorate Haines’ fast start:

lcdavis

L.C. Davis

Old Jesse Haines is going great,

More honor to his name!

The grand old man has won five straight

And hasn’t lost a game.

That good old Jess can win em all,

The patrons don’t expect;

But with his famous knuckle ball

The batters can’t connect.

Whenever Jess is on the hill

Or so-called pitching mound,

In lieu of landing on the pill,

The air the batters pound.

In fact the Red Bird’s pitching staff

Is pretty hard to beat.

Into the foe they ease the gaff

In manner that is neat.

Lost Advertisements: Independence Day–National Foundation Baseball Day

4 Jul

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A 1959 advertisement for The National Foundation–originally the National Foundation for Infant Paralysis founded by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1938, and better known for by the name coined by actor Eddie Cantor for their primary fundraising campaign, the March of Dimes.

“Help strike out polio,arthritis, virus diseases, birth defects”

Professional and amateur teams raised money an awareness for polio– there were more new cases of paralytic polo in 1959 than any year since the Salk vaccine was introduced in 1955.

Several professional teams pledged to donate a portion of the 4th of July gate, as they had in 1958–the ad for the 1958 “National Foundation Baseball Day”is below.

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“The Case of Mr. Pollock’s Clowns”

2 Jul

DeHart Hubbard was the first African American Olympic gold medal winner in an individual event—running long jump,1924—and owned the Cincinnati Tigers, who played as an independent team from 1934-36, and were members of the Negro American League in their final season, 1937.

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DeHart Hubbard

In 1944, Hart authored a plan to capitalize on black baseball’s, “opportunity of becoming firmly entrenched as an outstanding and progressive enterprise, reflecting credit in Negro people.”

Hubbard warned that promoters and “booking agencies” controlled Negro League baseball and said the owners held no power.

Wendell Smith, sports editor of The Pittsburgh Courier endorsed much of Hubbard’s plan which he said would relieve the Negro Leagues “of many of the Barnum and Bailey policies, with which we are all familiar.”

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Wendell Smith

Smith used Hubbard’s “logical and credible” suggestions to improve “solve many of the problems with Negro baseball,” to revisit his opposition to one team–under the headline: “The Case of Mr. Pollock’s Clowns,” Smith wrote:

“In line with Hubbard’s program for a clearer interpretation of the policies of Negro baseball, I submit the case of the Negro American League aggregation known to one and all and the ‘Clowns.’ This team is owned by Syd Pollock of Tarrytown, NY, a theater owner, who is reaping profits out of Negro baseball.”

Smith had previously—in 1942 and 1943 columns–referred to the Clowns as a “fourth rate Uncle Tom minstrel show,” and said, “I believe most Negroes resent the Clowns and their implication.”

As a result of Smith’s 1942 comments, Pollock sent The Courier what Smith called “a bristling letter,” calling Smith’s claims about the team were “founded in filth and untruths.” Pollock claimed in the letter that the club was still owned by Hunter Campbell, a black man who founded the team as the Miami Giants in 1935 and by most accounts had sold his interest to Pollock in 1939.

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Syd Pollock

To this claim, Smith said, he was unable to “establish ownership” of the club, but that if Campbell still had an ownership stake:

“(T)he finger of scorn is all the more direct and penetrating.  As a Negro, Campbell should realize the danger in insisting that his ball players paint their faces and go through minstrel show reviews before each ball game.”

Smith also noted during the 1942-43 exchange that Pollock “Cancelled his subscription to The Courier.”

His opinion of Pollock and his team had not softened in 1944:

“Like many other white people, Mr. Pollock has a misconception of the value of Negro performers…(He) believes, apparently that the only way to make a success out of Negro baseball is to tack such an infamous name a “Clowns” onto his hired hands and send them around the country putting on showboat skits before ball games.”

Smith said he had spoken to Pollock frequently and considered him “a fine and well-meaning man,” but said:

“(Pollock) still seems to believe that the only way to make the ‘Clowns’ popular is to send them into a song and dance.

“Why he insists that this is the way to baseball success, I don’t know, because he certainly hasn’t been able to make any one city or community accept the team for any length of time.  Mr. Pollock has put his baseball circus in Miami and Cincinnati, but neither city accepted them.  Now he has moved his team to Indianapolis, where he hopes he’ll find more hospitality and finally a stationary home.”

Smith predicted that because “Mr. Pollock insists on having his ‘Clowns’ stress clowning on the baseball field, he won’t find a home,” and called on Negro American President Dr. John B. Martin, to explain to Pollock the, “broad and distinct difference between baseball and slap-stick comedy…The next thing we know, Mr. Pollock will have his ball club playing in a tent with an elephant doing the pitching.”

Smith kept up his criticism of Pollock later that summer when the Clowns’ owner was fined $250 by the league for his team walking off the field during a game in Memphis in June:

“It is gratifying to know that (President) Martin had the courage to give the arrogant Syd Pollock and his urchins a spanking.”

Smith took the attack on Pollock further:

“If there were such a thing as a baseball fascist, we’d expect to find Syd Pollock on the list, because he did more than any other person in the sports world to belittle the plight of Ethiopia while it was being raped by Italy.  My. Pollock carried on the ingenious idea of calling his club the ‘Ethiopian Clowns.’ He painted his players’ faces in diverse colors, made them go into a song and dance on the playing field, and in general was a party to what might be termed a ‘burlesque’ campaign that belittled the tragedy of Ethiopia.”

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Ethiopian Clowns, 1936

Smith would continue to take shots at the Clowns and Pollock throughout the 40s while fighting for integration of organized baseball.  In 1945, he congratulated Detroit promoter John Williams, who refused to book the Clowns in Detroit because, “he vigorously objects to the ‘Uncle Tom’ shows they put on,” he also lauded outfielder Jack Marshall who had refused to re-sign with the team because of “the monkey-shines owner Syd Pollock requires of his players.”

Despite Smith’s efforts, which continued after integration and after he moved to The Chicago Herald-American—where he again referred to Pollock’s “Minstrel Show,” in the 1950s, the Clowns continued barnstorming long after Smith called for their demise, and for more than a decade after Smith’s death in 1972.

Lost Pictures: Matty’s Outcurve

29 Jun

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The Washington Evening Star’s pitching tips for kids, 1912:

“Boys, it’s almost a cinch most of you have an idea that you will be a second Amos Rusie when you grow up. Maybe you if you stick to pitching practice. Any boy can throw curves if he will practice.

But before you start, here are a few things to remember:

Practice as often as you can.

Strive to get control.

Don’t overdo yourself.

Take good care of your arm.

Change your delivery until you get a style that does not make your arm sore.

Abandon every unnecessary motion that will give the base runner a big start.

An outcurve is the easiest of all. You can see in the picture just how Christy Mathewson of the New York Giants grasps the ball for an ‘out.’

The picture was taken just as the ball was ready to leave his hand. Notice the palm is upward. The ball shoots out between the first finger and thumb. The curve depends upon the rotary motion given. Be sure you do not hold the ball too tightly. This will prevent it getting the necessary rotary motion. You can start it underhand or overhand.

After you are sure you have the right grasp, practice. And don’t get discouraged if you don’t see the curve the first day. If you keep at it, you are sure to learn.”

Ben Hill

27 Jun

Benjamin L. Hill (some sources incorrectly list his middle initial as “N”), came to Oakland in 1890; Hill was signed by Colonel Tom Robinson to play center field for the Oakland Colonels in the California League.

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Ben Hill c. 1895

The Oakland Tribune said, “Hill is making a reputation as a base runner,” and he moved up in the batting order from seventh, early in the season, to second, and was batting leadoff by June. Then suddenly, he was gone.

According to Sporting Life:

“Ben was a good centre fielder, but incurred the displeasure of manager Robinson and was released.”

Hill finished the season with the San Francisco Haverlys.

He returned to semi-pro ball the following year accepting an offer to play for the Suisun Aetnas on the weekends in Suisun City, California, as Sporting Life said, he was, “given a comfortable business ‘sit’ (running a tavern) on the condition of playing with the team.”

Hill played with the Aetnas, a member of the Northern California based Valley League, for two seasons. When Suisun played a series in Sacramento, The Record-Union said:

“Ben Hill, an old Sacramento favorite, is captain and center fielder of the visitors. He is playing better ball now than he did with the Oaklands, which is saying a great deal, as he put up a fine game with the Colonels.”

While he appeared successful on the field, Hill was doing even better in the bar business and bought his own tavern. According to Sporting Life:

“He became popular and the saloon made money. Ben saw his value, borrowed some money and opened a bar and card rooms on his own account. He soon had the patronage of the whole town and was clearing from $400 to $500 per month.”

In 1892, Hill married 17-year-old Agnes Nelson.

But by 1894, the paper said, “(Hill) could not stand prosperity. He made periodical trips to the city; where his profits disappeared, no one knows how. He lost his business and is willing to play ball again.”

Hill and his wife had a two-year-old son when he lost the bar and there were no offers to return to baseball. He moved his family to Oakland in March of 1895 and took a job as a railroad brakeman. In November, he left his family in Oakland to seek work in Portland, Oregon.

Hill returned to Oakland in January of 1896, and on the evening of January 11, met with his wife on the street, they walked to the corner of Twelfth and Kirkham, where Hill pulled a revolver and shot her three times.  She died at the scene.

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Agnes Hill

According to The San Francisco Call, Hill walked to the nearby Piedmont Cable Company power house, handed the gun to an employee and waited for the police to arrive.

Two days after the killing, a reporter for The Oakland Tribune spoke with Hill:

“He is now at the city jail, about the most cool and unconcerned prisoner there. He does not repent his crime. He talks as dispassionately of killing his wife as he would any ordinary everyday occurrence.”

Meyer Cohen, a long-time Northern California “baseball enthusiast,” and one-time baseball writer for The Oakland Times, told The Tribune that Hill had been born in Sparta, Wisconsin in 1860 and:

“He attended college and studied for the ministry, but instead became a ballplayer.”

Cohen claimed Hill began his professional career in 1893 and said he played in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Minneapolis, Macon, Georgia, Omaha and Kearney, Nebraska, and Portland, Oregon, although there is little or no evidence of his time in any of those cities.

Cohen said that Charlie Ganzel had recommended Hill to Oakland:

“(He) fully sustained all that was said of him. He became a great favorite and as he was a good player, he made a host of friends.”

Cohen said under Hill’s leadership the Suisun Aetnas were “one of the best amateur clubs in the state,” and that Billy Hulan, who had a brief major league career but spent nearly two decades as a minor league player and manager, played for Hill before started his professional career in 1892.

At trial, Hill’s attorney claimed temporary insanity. Hill’s wife had admitted she was pregnant as the result of an affair and struck him, and according to his defense attorney:

“These acts…might not in themselves justify killing in a sane man, but were sufficient to render a man who loved his wife as Hill did to become insane.”

The jury disagreed.

Hill was found guilty and sentenced to hang within 10 days of his conviction in March of 1896. He received a temporary stay of execution while his case was appealed.

The San Francisco Chronicle said Hill’s brother and sister in law began an appeal fund and solicited “The ball players of America,” to contribute. The paper said Charlie Ganzel “is treasurer of the fund which promises to be a good sized one.”

The fund must have done fairly well, Hill’s legal team managed to get several stays of execution while his case worked his way up to the Supreme Court, he also had his case presented to the governor twice in an effort to be granted executive clemency.

According to The Call, while his appeals proceeded:

“Ever since Hill was convicted of the murder…and brought to San Quentin under sentence of death he has devoted his entire time to reading and studying the bible. In fact, so ardent have been his religious devotions that the murderer was believed to be a fanatic.”

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Ben Hill c. 1898

Hill began preaching to his fellow death row inmates, including Theodore Durrant, the “Demon of the Belfry,” who killed two women in the church he was the superintendent of the Sunday school—the 1895 murders were called “San Francisco’s crime of the century.” Durrant had also received several stays while awaiting his appeal.

The Call said:

“Durrant is an interested listener and one of Hill’s best scholars.”

The Supreme Court denied his appeal in February, and on April 6, 1898 Hill stood on the scaffold at San Quentin.

The Oakland Tribune went into exacting detail of the execution, noting that Hill spoke his last words—admitting his guilt—at 10:32 AM, and was dead a minute later.

The Tribune declared:

“It was the most successful execution ever held in San Quentin and Hill proved to be the gamest man who ever mounted a prison scaffold.”

Like describing a ball game, the state’s executioner Amos Lunt told the paper:

“He was the gamest man I ever saw on the scaffold, and he is the sixteenth man I have worked on. Durrant (his appeals had run out and he had been hung three months earlier) was not in it with him. He was cool and spoke longer and with less trembling than Durrant did.”

Hill’s brother and sister in law adopted his son.

Eighteen months, and five more executions, after Hill was put to death, Amos Lunt, the state’s executioner went insane. The Call said:

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Amos Lunt

“His diseased imagination has conjured up the specters of those he has executed, the gibbering, mocking ghosts of twenty-one blood-stained wretches…’They are after me,’ whispered the demented hangman. ‘There are several under the bed now.”

Lunt was committed to Napa State Hospital where he died two years later.

“The Most Graceful Player of All-Time”

25 Jun

Writing in The New York Herald Tribune in 1952, Grantland Rice, in his 51st year covering baseball, set out to choose his all-time “Most graceful” team.

The idea was borne out of a conversation with Charles Ambrose Hughes, who covered baseball for several Chicago and Detroit papers during a career that started one year after Rice’s–Hughes left the newspaper business to serve as secretary of the Detroit Athletic Club, he published the club’s magazine and led the group of investors who founded the National Hockey League Detroit Cougers in 1926–the team became the Red Wings in 1932 .

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Hughes

In an earlier column that year, Rice quoted Hughes on Napoleon Lajoie:

“Big Nap, or Larry, was the most graceful player of all time.  Every move he made was a poem in action.  He was even more graceful in the infield than Joe DiMaggio was in the outfield—and that means something.”

Rice agreed:

“I was another Lajoie admirer.  I never say Larry make a hard play.  Every play looked easy—just as it so often looked to DiMaggio, (Tris) Speaker, and Terry Moore.”

The comments apparently caused a spike in the volume of mail Rice received, and he said in a later column:

“Old timers in baseball still have the keener memories.  This thought developed in the number of letters received by admirers of Napoleon Lajoie, the Woonsocket cab driver…they were writing of baseball’s most graceful player. But almost as many modern fans stuck with Joe DiMaggio.”

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Rice

Rice said the issue caused him to think about “grace or rhythm” among players:

“(It) does not mean everything.  Honus Wagner looked like a huge land crab scooping up everything in sight.  He had a peculiar grace of his own, but it was hardly grace as we know it. Yet he was the game’s greatest shortstop”

Rice based his team on “the beauty of movement,” on the field:

Rice’s team:

Pitchers—Walter Johnson, Grover Cleveland Alexander, and Bugs Raymond

Catcher—Johnny Kling

First Base—Hal Chase

Second Base—Lajoie

Third Base—Jimmy Collins

Shortstop—Phil Rizzuto, Marty Marion

Outfield—Speaker, DiMaggio, Moore

Rice said:

“(T)his is the team we’d rather see play.  This doesn’t mean the greatest team in baseball…it leaves out many a star.

“But for beauty of action this team would be a standout…Looking back I can see now some of the plays Lajoie, Chase, DiMaggio, Speaker, Collins, Moore, Rizzuto, and Marion made without effort.”

Rice said Kling was not as good as Mickey Cochrane and Bill Dickey, “But he was a fine, smooth workman—smart and keen.”

He said he chose Raymond as one of the pitchers because of John McGraw:

“In an argument far away and long ago, I named Walter Johnson.  McGraw picked Raymond.

“’Raymond has the finest pitching motion I ever say,’ he said.  ‘It is perfect motion from start to finish—no wasted effort anywhere.”

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Bugs

Rice reiterated that the  “Woonsocket cab driver” was the most graceful of the graceful:

“The all-time top was Lajoie.  Here was the final word in grace, in the field or with a bat.  After Lajoie the next two selections belong to Hal Chase and Joe DiMaggio.  Speaker isn’t too far away.”

Rice concluded:

“Gracefulness does not mean greatness.  It means Jim Corbett in boxing, Hobey Baker in hockey, Bobby Jones in golf, Red Grange in football, Lajoie in baseball, (Paavo) Nurmi in running, It means (Eddie) Arcaro in the saddle. It means smoothness, ease, lack of effort where sensational plays are reduced to normal efforts.”

Lost Advertisements: “Mail Pouch Gets my Money”

22 Jun

A 1930 Mail Pouch Chewing Tobacco ad featuring Chicago Cubs catcher Zack Taylor:

mailpouch

Taylor, according to Jimmy Dykes, was a major factor in the Philadelphia Athletics’ 4 games to 1 victory over Chicago in the 1929 World Series.  According to The Philadelphia Record, Dykes told attendees at a lunch for the Delaware County Real Estate Board:

“We didn’t watch for signals in that 10 to 8 game where we scored 10 runs in the seventh inning, but in all the other World Series games we knew the Cubs’ signals.

“We worked it this way: When one of our batters got on base, he would fix his eyes on Taylor…who at times, was a little careless.   The runner would stand in a perfectly natural position until he caught the signal, then he would move his hand in such a way that the batter was informed what kind of a ball was a about to be pitched, or else a man near the batter would catch the runner’s signal and relay it to the man at the plate.”

Dykes was ridiculed for the claim.

Davis Walsh, the baseball writer for the International News Service, noted that the Athletics left 27 men on base during the four games Dykes said they were stealing signs.

Damon Runyon, in his column for the Hearst paper’s Universal Service, said Walsh showed “By facts and figures that if the Athletics had the Cubs signs the only bewildered the Athletics.”

Dykes hit .421 with four RBI in the four-game series.

“But, no Freakish Balls”

20 Jun

After Smokey Joe Williams struck out 27 Kansas City Monarchs in a 12-inning one-hit shutout in Kansas City in August of 1930, Paul A.R. Kurtz of The Pittsburgh Press wrote about meeting Williams in the Grays dugout when the two teams played at Forbes Field two weeks earlier:

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Smokey Joe Williams

“Personal experience recently revealed to me the superstition existing in baseball.

“I know big league players want bats scattered when they’re not hitting; others touch bases or gloves on the way to the bench during innings and do numerous other unusual things.  But my own failing for peanuts brought me an interesting interview.”

Kurtz said he bought peanuts from a vendor when he arrived at Forbes Field:

“While a few Grays were practicing, I wandered to the Homestead bench to be greeted by Smokey Joe Williams, the veteran Gray twirler, who noticed the hard-shelled peanuts.”

Williams asked:

“’Do you know peanuts are barred from our bench?’ Joe asked.  I inquired, ‘how come?’

“’I don’t like them around and have made my mates understand that.  They try to tease me by eating some once in awhile.  I always feel I’m losing when I hear the cracking of shells.”

Williams said:

“That’s my only superstitious feeling in baseball.”

Kurtz said he was concerned he contributed to Williams losing for the first time that season:

“Joe didn’t like peanuts. I had them in my hands.  Joe was starting pitcher.  He had won 23 games without a defeat until the Monarchs beat him with a rally that particular night.”

Williams, with the help of Grays shortstop Jake Stephens–who made three errors in the game, two of them in the ninth–blew a 4 to 3 lead in the ninth when the Monarchs scored five runs to beat the Grays 8 to 4 in the second night game ever played in Forbes Field:

“Was I the cause of Joe’s downfall? Those peanuts may have preyed on his mind and by mental telepathy Stephens foozled a few swats to help the monarchs halt Williams’ winning streak.”

Generally listed at 6’ 3” or 6’ 4” and 190 pounds, Williams told the the reporter he was 6’2” and weighed 224 pounds, but said he loses “nearly 30 pounds during a summer.”

Williams said:

“’I have no trouble keeping in shape. I take good care of myself, sleep long and eat carefully.  I tried to throw a spitball once, but it jerked my arm and so I cut it.  Control and plenty of motion are my bets.  I have practiced hard to master control to place the ball just where I want it on a batter.  Low knee fast pitches, inside and outside, are my favorites.  But, no freakish balls.  I am better with control than those who try an assortment of twisters.”

Williams told Kurtz about the biggest regrets of his career:

“Although Joe has marvelous control of his fast pitches, he talked regretfully of three boys who he hurt badly.  One lad in Texas became demented after being hit and another had all his teeth knocked out. In Coal City (Pennsylvania) Joe dented a player’s skull, leaving the imprint of the ball on his forehead.”

Williams told Kurtz that he had, for years, kept “a big scrapbook…It contained all accounts of his baseball life.”  The book, “which Williams prized highly,” was stolen:

“Since it disappeared Joe has not been as interested in recording his accomplishments. ‘How I’d like to get that book back,’ he said.”

He then went out and took his first loss of the 1930 season.