Tag Archives: Bill Coughlin

Things I Learned on the way to Looking up Other Things #33

7 May

Radbourn on Rule Changes

Old Hoss Radbourn told The Boston Journal that he thought the new rule changes for 1887—including the four-strike strikeout and abolishing the rule that allowed batters to call for high or low pitches—would have very little impact:

“Radbourn says it is a mistake on the part of anybody to think that (Dan) Brouthers can’t hit anything but a low ball. He thinks they will find that when it is absolutely necessary Brouthers can hit almost anything. When asked what effect the thought the new rules would have on Anson’s batting, Radbourn smiled and said: ‘Anson’s all right. He has more chances than anyone else. A man has to get five strikes on Anson before the umpire will call him out. Umpires don’t like to call strikes on Anson. I don’t know why, but they don’t. The pitcher who strikes out Anson does a big thing.”

radbourn

 Radbourn

Brouthers’ average dropped 32 points to .338, but he still led the league in runs, doubles and on base percentage.  Anson’s fell 24 to a league-best .347—he had 18 strikeouts in 533 plate appearances. Radbourn posted career highs in walks (133) and ERA (4.55) for the fifth place Boston Beaneaters.

Comiskey on ‘Friends’

Charles Comiskey said he had no friends in the American League. He told The Pittsburgh Press before the 1902 season:

“There’s Connie Mack, if he thought I could use one of his players he would keep him around until the Fourth of July, and then, if I hadn’t got that place filled, he would take the player out behind the grandstand and shoot him rather than turn him loose so I could sign him. The rest are getting as bad as Connie too.

“When (Tom) Loftus came back into the league I thought I would have at least one friend. Now he puts blinders on his players every time I get anywhere near them. Just to show you; before Loftus went East recently, I framed it all up for him to get a good second baseman for his team. I knew (John) McGraw couldn’t use all his infielders, so told Loftus to go after either (Bill) Keister or (Jimmy) Williams. McGraw would talk to Loftus, but not to me, when it came to players.”

comiskeypix

 Comiskey

Loftus ended up signing Keister as a free agent.

“Well, Loftus got Keister, you know, and I figured that would solve my third base problem, for he can’t use both (Harry) Wolverton and (Bill) Coughlin at third, and neither is much good anywhere else. So, when Tom came back, I led him up to the subject gently and proposed taking one or the other of them off his hands. Then what do you think Loftus sprung on me? He said he though of playing Keister in the outfield next year so he would need all his infielders. He looks like all the rest to me now.”

Keister and Coughlin remained with the sixth place Washington Senators all season—Coughlin at third, Keister splitting time at second and in the outfield—Wolverton, who had jumped to the Senators returned to the Philadelphia Phillies mid-season. Comiskey tried to solve his “third base problem” by acquiring Sammy Strang from the New York Giants. Strang hit .295 but committed 62 errors and was released in September.

Warner on Revenge

In 1906, Washington catcher Jack Warner told The Boston American how he had gotten even with Cupid Childs for spiking him. The incidents occurred, he said, in 1895 when he had recently joined the Louisville Colonels and Childs played for the Cleveland Spiders.

warner

Warner

Warner said he had received the throw to the plate well ahead of Childs:

“Well, sir, Cupid came in like the Empire State Express, feet first and his body high in the air. And say, he planted those mudhooks of his on my right side with such force that I flew twenty feet. Then there was absolutely no excuse, as the play was not close, me being there waitin’ there to receive him. I put up a howl but that was useless, so I made up my mind to work the next day and watch for a chance to get even. I was lucky to have the same sort of play come off.

“Up in the sky went Mr. Cupid again. But this time I was not there, only thereabout. I had plenty of time to look him over and pick out a soft spot in his architecture. They had to pry the ball out and it took half an hour to bring him back from dreamland. That’s the way to do it when you know a lad it trying to get you. And you can always tell if he is on the level after a couple of encounters.”

Lost Team Photos–Delhanty’s Last

11 Apr

1903senators

The 1903 Washington Senators.  Photo was taken the day before the Senators 3 to 1 victory in the home opener against the New York Highlanders at National Park.

The Senators–sixth place finishers in 1901 and 1902–were in eighth place by May 8 and never gave up their spot in the American League cellar.  The horrible season was made worse when the club’s best player Ed Delahanty was swept over Niagara Falls and  died on July 2–Delahanty’s death has been chronicled by many excellent sources.

When this photo was taken, Delahanty had been forced to rejoin the Senators after having signed in the off season with the New York Giants–he was badly hurt financially by the peace agreement between the American and National Leagues–Delahanty, who made $4,000 in Washington in 1902 had signed for between $6,000 and $8,000 (contemporaneous sources disagreed on the amount) and a large advance, which he was forced to return.  Despite his financial woes, Delahanty still managed to hit .333 for the last-place team at the time of his death.

The photo above is the last team picture which included the future Hall of Famer:

First row: James “Ducky” Holmes, William “Rabbit” Robinson, Gene DeMontreville, Lew Drill

Second row: William “Boileryard” Clarke, Wyatt “Watty” Lee, Manager Tom Loftus, Bill Coughlin, Joe Martin, Jimmy Ryan

Standing:  Delehanty, Albert “Kip” Selbach, Al Orth, George “Scoops” Carey, Casey Patten, John “Happy” Townsend, Charles Moran

Loftus was let go as manager after the 43-94 season.  The team would not finish better than seventh place in the American League until 1912.

Ed Delahanty

Ed Delahanty

“Victim of Hoodoo”

4 Feb

In a game filled with stories of superstition, jinxes, “hoodoo,” and general irrationality, the Detroit Tigers seem to be the subject of an out-sized number of such stories during major league baseball’s first four decades.

Tigers’ pitcher George Mullin, whose story I told in October, was one of the most superstitious players in the history of the game, and he was not alone in Detroit.

This story begins in 1904, but took off in 1911, first in the Detroit newspapers and then across the country.  The Headline in The Duluth News-Times said:

“Moriarity (sic) is Victim of Hoodoo that follows Detroit Captains.”

“Moriarity” was George Moriarty, who had been named captain of the Tigers for 1911.  The story said Moriarty was the victim of a “Jinx” that dated back to 1904 when Bobby “Link” Lowe was acquired by the Tigers and named captain:

“His sterling playing qualities and the friendship that all the players had for him, together with his knowledge of baseball brought him the appointment of captain.  Bob got into a slump and Bob did not get out of it.”

Bobby "Link" Lowe

Bobby “Link” Lowe

In 1905, the Tigers named Bill Coughlin captain, the story continued:

“Coughlin, whom everybody liked and who could play ball as well as the majority of them and think faster than most of them… (His) playing started down grade.  Bill bit his fingernails tore out his black wavy hair in bunches, lost sleep and worried several pounds off…Bill never got back to form.”

Bill Coughlin

Bill Coughlin

After Coughlin was replaced at third base by Moriarty in 1909, Detroit manager Hughie Jennings named William Herman “Germany” Schaefer captain for the 1909 season.  The story said of him:

“Herman with his ever penetrating optimism, humor and baseball wisdom …appeared to be the right man in the right place as captain…but Herman’s playing ability decreased to such an extent that Detroit gladly grasped at the chance to trade Schaefer.”

Germany Schaefer

Germany Schaefer

Hughie Jennings was enough of a believer in the jinx, even before it became grist for the newspapers, that after trading Schaefer in August of 1909, he chose not to name a captain for the remainder of the season, or for 1910.  Jennings decided to again name a captain in 1911:

“On the Southern training trip Jennings came to realize the necessity of a field leader… (Moriarty) was cool-headed and had the qualities of a leader…the choice seemed like a good one…But soon after the opening of the season it became apparent that Moriarty caught the hoodoo…The duties of the position have weighted in Moriarty until his playing ability has fallen away below par.”

After the 1911 season, Jennings took the situation seriously enough to again consider eliminating the position of captain.  The Detroit Free Press said, “In all probability the Tigers will have to struggle along without a captain next season,” citing Moriarty’s “Frightfully bad year,” after being named captain.

George Moriarty

George Moriarty

In the end, Moriarty was again captain of the Tigers in 1912 and served in that capacity through 1915.

Like most “jinxes,” there really was no jinx, none of the players performed significantly worse than their career averages except for Lowe—but he was 38-years-old when he was acquired by Detroit in 1904 and had missed most of 1903 with a badly injured knee.

Coughlin had shown great promise with the Washington Senators, hitting .275 and .301 in 1901 and 1902, but by the time he was named Tiger captain in 1905 he had back-to-back seasons of .245 and .255, right around his career .252 average.

Schaefer was a .257 career hitter, and his numbers during his half-season as captain were similar to his career numbers.

Moriarty hit .243 during his season with the captain “hoodoo;” his career average was .251, and most of his 1911 numbers were similar to his performance throughout his career.

More on Moriarty tomorrow.