Tag Archives: Bugs Raymond

Bugs Finds the “Plate”

17 May

John McGraw called the erratic, talented, and tragic Arthur “Bugs” Raymond, one of the best pitchers he ever managed.  Raymond might be the best pitcher to finish his career with a record 12 games under .500 (45-56); he drank himself out of organized ball by age 29, and he was dead the following year.

bugs pix

Bugs

When Raymond was traded to the New York Giants after the 1908 season, Hugh Fullerton of The Chicago Herald told a story about how St. Louis Cardinals infielder Billy Gilbert helped cure Raymond of a bout with wildness the previous year.

hughf

“Bugs sometimes lacks control, and during one period early last season in St. Louis, he got so wild that (Manager John) McCloskey was in despair.  ‘Bugs’ couldn’t get one over the plate, let alone cutting the corners, and McCloskey began to believe he never would.  One afternoon just before a game, Mack, who is a born worrier, was sitting on the bench and turning to Gilbert, said: ‘Gil, what’s the matter with the Bug? Isn’t there any way he can get control?’

‘Let me catch him for awhile and I’ll fix him,’ said Gilbert.

‘All right.  Take him back of the stand and work with him.’”

billyg

Billy Gilbert

Fullerton said before taking Raymond “back of the stand,’ Gilbert went in search of something.

“(S)ecuring a big beer mug (he) placed it on the ground and standing behind it, ordered Raymond to proceed.

“’Here’s where you get control, Bugs,’ said Gil.  ‘You can hit this every time.’”

Said Fullerton:

“And whether faith, confidence, or luck did it, he got perfect control pitching over the stein, and it was a week before Gilbert dared tell McCloskey how he did it.”

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On the Road with the Giants, 1912

18 Jan

As the New York Giants were cruising to the National League Pennant in 1912—they won by 10 games and were never in second place after May 20—New York’s catcher John “Chief” Meyers provided fans with a look at life with the Giants.

Chief Meyers

Chief Meyers

The article was written for The Associated Press—most likely by Jim McBeth of The New York American, who acted most often as Meyers’ ghostwriter:

“After the last ball of the game is fielded and the crowd begins to pour out of the park and the players disappear into the clubhouse—what then?

“The fans read in their papers next morning: ‘New York at Pittsburgh’ or ‘New York at Boston,’ or something like that.  And until the bulletin boards begin to put up the score, inning by inning, in the afternoon, they know little of nothing about the men they have been watching and cheering.

“What have ballplayers been doing in the meantime?”

Meyers explained life on the road:

“Well, suppose we’ve just finished a game on the Polo Grounds.  Our schedule calls for a battle with the Pirates in their home park.  Of course, the first thing is to get there, and we get there in easier and better fashion than any other sort of a traveler.

“We have two private Pullman cars of our own, always, and they are our traveling home We assemble at the railroad station—sometimes forty strong—and just pile aboard and make ourselves comfortable.

“In the first place, I might mention the make-up of our party.  We carry twenty-five players, as many as the rules allow; John McGraw, the manager; Wilbert Robinson, coach and assistant manager; the club secretary and his assistant; Dr. Finley the club physician;  Ed Mackall, the club trainer; Dick Hennessy, our kid mascot, and as many as ten or twelve newspaper writers especially towards the end of a close race.”

The 1912 Giants

The 1912 Giants

As for accommodations:

“If he is a regular he takes possession of a seat which indicates that his berth when it is made up will be a ‘lower.’ That’s an absolute rule.  Nothing but the cream for the first string players.

“As soon as the train pulls out the boys go to their favorite amusements—card playing, reading, ‘fanning.’  Don’t think a player finishes a game when he sheds his spangles.  He doesn’t.  Many a game is played all over again as soon as the boys get together.

“There’s a little quartet of us who are pinochle fans—(James ‘Doc’) Crandall, (Art) Fletcher, (David ‘Beals’) Becker and myself—a fine lot of Dutchmen we are.  We’re the ‘tightwads’ of the club because we don’t  risk as much as a nickel on our games.

“There was a time when there was tall gambling by the players on trains while traveling from one town to another.  I’ve seen as much as $6,000 or $7000 on the table in a poker game. But that’s past; the player of today holds on to his money, and, besides, he knows that high betting causes ill feeling between friends and heavy losses get a man’s mind off his playing.  The Giants play a little poker, of course, but it’s only a 25-cent limit game, where a man in hard luck may lose as much as $4 or $5 in a session.

“Occasionally you’ll hear a little singing.  Some of the boys have really good voices.  Others fancy themselves as vocalists, anyhow.  Larry Doyle, for instance…Leon Ames gets up sometimes and gives us his specialty.  He recites Kipling’s poem, ‘On the Road to Mandalay,‘ (with an affected speech impediment). That always gets a laugh.  The younger, smaller players buzz around Big Jeff Tesreau like a flock of mosquitoes attacking an elephant, giving him a good-natured kidding until he sweeps his big arms and chases them. “

Big Jeff Tesreau

Big Jeff Tesreau

Meyers said the Giants were “like one big family—a lively, noisy bunch of pals.”   He said a player occasionally “gets a grouch and sits off by himself,” but:

“I never saw a group of men in any business so genuinely attached to each other…Occasionally some stranger tries to horn into our cars but he quickly finds he isn’t wanted.”

The Giants, he said, drew crowds at the ballpark and at their hotel:

“There’s nothing tight about us when we travel. We’re an attraction and we know it, and that helps box office receipts.  People always want to see this club that’s got Matty and a real Indian, and sometimes  (the previous season) Charley Faust  or a Bugs Raymond as an added attraction. So we don’t keep our light under any bushel.

“We’re always pretty well sized up in our hotel in a strange city.  We can hear people say ‘So they are the Giants eh?’  The native can always spot me because of my Indian appearance, so I’m usually the one they make for.

“’Say, Chief, which is Matty?’ they ask.  ‘Which one is Johnny McGraw?’ ‘Who’s going to pitch today, Chief?’ The other boys give me the laugh because I’m the goat for all questioners.  The fans don’t recognize the other players.”

Meyers said most of the Giants were not great dressers, ‘content with two changes of costume.”  The exceptions were Rube Marquard:  “He travels with a steamer trunk and sometimes has six or eight suits with him,” as well as Josh Devore and Art Wilson.

Meyers said every player shared one fashion statement:

“Everybody…sports a diamond.  That seems to be the badge of big-league class.  As soon as a ballplayer gets out of the ‘bushes’ and into the big show the first thing he does is buy a spark.  Some of the boys have half a dozen. “

Meyers also insisted that drinking was not a problem among the modern players:

“One thing we hear from strangers most frequently is ‘Have a drink, old man let’s drink one for good luck in today’s game.’  That invitation is invariably refused. Few of the boys drink anything at all, and those who do take a glass of beer occasionally do it among themselves always.  The present day player differs greatly from the old timer, who mixed with everyone.

“Pleasant strangers, with sensible questions, we don’t mind, but they are in the minority t the butters-in who simply want to tell their friends they are associates of ballplayers.”

Meyers said he and his teammates were also very popular with deaf fans, many of whom began following the Giants when Luther “Dummy” Taylor (1900-01, 1902-08) pitched for the club:

“(N)ow they’re friends of all of us.  Most of the Giants learned the finger talk from Taylor.”

He said Mathewson, Doyle and Fred Snodgrass were all very conversant in sign language and “are the idols of” many deaf fans.

Fred Snodrass

Fred Snodgrass

Meyers frequented art museums on the road.  As for his teammates: billiards for most, chess or checkers for Mathewson during the day, and the theatre at night, he said, were the “favorite pastimes” of the Giants.

No matter the activity after a road game, he said: “Everybody must be in bed” by 11:30 pm.  “That’s one of McGraw’s rules, and the boys are on their honor to obey it.”

Meyers drew one conclusion from the lifestyle of the modern ballplayer.  He and his brethren were “(A) trifle better off, both physically and morally, than the average young man.”

“Everyone Knows the Human Insect”

13 Jan

Arthur “Bugs” Raymond, obtained by New York Giants at the end of 1908 in the trade that sent Roger Bresnahan to St. Louis, was a great talent but long considered second only to Rube Waddell as baseball’s most eccentric pitcher.

Manager John McGraw was convinced he could succeed with Raymond where other managers had failed.  James Hopper, college football coach, turned novelist and journalist, wrote about Raymond’s first spring with the Giants in “Everybody’s Magazine:”

“’Bugs’ Raymond belongs to the old type of professional baseball player. He is a big child, thoughtless, improvident, a wonder of efficiency at his craft, but totally irresponsible outside of it.  He has been pitching for several years on ‘tail-ender’ clubs—indifferently, in spite of natural gifts, because always out of condition… (McGraw) thinks he can ‘handle’ him.  And he is doing so, thus wise;

“He does not let him have any money. ‘Bugs’ is married and his wife is an invalid.  The contract between (The Giants) and ‘Bugs’ provides that the latter’s salary each month shall go in toto to Mrs. Raymond…Result, a perpetually penniless ‘Bugs’ living an enforced simple life.”

Bugs Raymond

Bugs Raymond

As a result, Hopper said Raymond had behaved and “gradually regained the lithe lines of an athlete,” during the spring in Marlin Texas.

And, six weeks into the 1909 season, it appeared McGraw’s strategy was working.  Raymond won five of his first seven decisions for a team that was 17-17 at the end of May.

Most of what was written about Raymond that season was superficial; many of the stories apocryphal, nearly all of them portrayed him as a simple-minded clown.  One exception was a profile written in May by Sid Mercer of The New York Globe—it remains one of the only articles about Raymond that doesn’t reduce him to a caricature:

“It isn’t necessary to introduce Mr. Arthur Raymond.  Everybody knows the Human Insect.  He’s the easiest fellow to get acquainted with that you ever met.  Just at present, he is the leading pitcher of the Giants, although that is not much of an honor, considering the position of the team.  However, the Chicago citizen is delivering the goods in large packages…Raymond is one of the great pitchers of the country, yet he does not take baseball seriously.

Bugs

Bugs

“He never has got over being a boy, although he is close to 30-years old.  He gets lots of amusement out of the ordinary things of life and of course, his escapades are usually exaggerated.  But do not take the eccentric twirler for a simple fellow.  Raymond has no use for money except to spend it, but he is nevertheless fairly well educated, and when his mind turns to serious thoughts he is quite a different person than the fans imagine he is.

“’I may be crazy,’ he once remarked.  ‘but I ain’t as crazy as Rube Waddell, and I’m no fool.’

“While it cannot be said on good authority that Raymond is a total abstainer, yet he seldom pitches a bad game.  Whatever his faults or weaknesses he earns the salary that is paid to him. His rollicking disposition long ago developed in him a distaste for the accumulation of wealth, so the most of his salary goes to Mrs. Raymond and three children ([sic] Raymond had just one child) in Chicago, while Bugs gets along on a little and has just as good a time as if he handled it all.

“Raymond was originally a pressman on a Chicago newspaper and he has already visited the press rooms of most of the New York papers.  There is nothing of uppish about him and the pressmen are all strong for him…With the bleacherites Raymond is a big favorite.  He is one player who likes to talk baseball to the fans, and his disposition is one that makes friends.  The big fellow is big hearted and generous and there isn’t a mean streak in him.”

Raymond did not finish the 1909 season with the Giants.  He was 18-12 with a 2.47 ERA in mid-September when he left the club, or was asked to leave, or left by mutual agreement, depending on the source.

He was said to be tending bar in New York in late September—but that story is questionable as most contemporary accounts say he was with the Giants when they arrived in Pittsburgh on September 27 and returned to his home in Chicago on September 29.  He told The Chicago Daily News:

“I was fined again and again and suspended until I couldn’t stand it any longer.  My salary for the year was $4500 but McGraw fined me $1700 on one pretext or another, so I’ve got only $2800 for my work this year.

“I was unjustly suspended a short time ago, and this was the last straw.  McGraw didn’t seem inclined to give me a chance to work, and so I quit the team and came home to Chicago.  I may pitch a few games here for some local teams.”

McGraw tried and failed two more times with Raymond—he was 10-15 in 1910 and ’11 with the Giants.  He was dead 15 months after his final game with New York.

Connie Mack vs Herman W. Souse

6 Nov

In his autobiography “My 66 Years in the Big leagues,Connie Mack said, “My first great disappointment came in 1912.”

Connie Mack

                          Connie Mack

After two straight World Series victories, Mack’s Athletics stumbled to a disappointing third-place finish.  With his team 15 ½ games out of first on September 6, Mack suspended pitcher Charles “Chief” Bender and Reuben “Rube” Oldring for, as The Philadelphia Inquirer  put it:

 “(T)heir failure to live up to the training requirements, as demanded by Mack and all common sense baseball managers.”

Chief Bender

                                Chief Bender

The Inquirer said “Mack refused to discuss this matter further,” but just days later in Detroit he gave what The New York World called “a sermon” on the reason for the suspensions:

“Booze and baseball don’t mix; never did, and never will. A pitcher who thinks he can fan Herman W. Souse is simply pitching to the greatest home run hitter he ever faced.

“Once in awhile you hear of some marvel who can stay out all night, drink all the breweries dry, wreck a few taxi cabs and otherwise enjoy himself, and then step in the box and pitch a wonderful game of ball.  Players who haven’t any more sense point to Rube Waddell, Bugs Raymond and that brand and say: ‘Ah, those were the good old days.  None of these high-priced managers and their red tape then.  And what wonderful players we produced in those days.’

“Well, look at Waddell—one of the most remarkable pitchers nature ever produced.  But Waddell, with all his talent, couldn’t stay in the major leagues.  Why?  Because he stood there and pitched himself to Old Man Barleycorn, and finally every one he threw was slammed over the fence.  And that’s the way all go.  Is it so wonderful, after all?

“No, sir, the day of the stewed ballplayer has gone and it won’t come back.  If the members of my team want to drink, all right.  But they can’t drink and play ball at the same time.  That’s settled.  They can do whatever they prefer, but they can’t do both.

“There are no exceptions to my rule, either.  Any manager will tell you the same.  A short life and a merry one—that’s it.  And the merrier it is the shorter it will be in the big leagues.”

In December of 1912, The Philadelphia Record said Bender had written a letter to Mack asking his manager “to please forgive him.”

According to The Inquirer, he was forgiven and set to return to the Athletics in 1913:

“This winter Bender has spent nearly all the daylight hours automobiling and hunting in the South.  He looks stronger than ever.”

The “stronger,” sober Bender appeared in 48 games, 21 as a starter, and posted a 21-10 record with a 2.21 ERA, and helped lead the Athletics to their third championship in four seasons.

In “My 66 Years in the Big leagues” Mack said of him:

“Let me say here that I consider Chief Bender the greatest one-game pitcher, the greatest money pitcher baseball ever has known.”

“Here was the King of all the Tramps I’d ever seen”

7 Oct

In 1947, Grantland Rice of The New York Herald-Tribune told a story about how he came to know one of the most colorful pitchers of the first decade of the 20th Century:

“Baseball, above all other games, has known more than its share in the way of masterpieces of eccentricity.  Many of these I happen to know.”

Grantland Rice

Grantland Rice

Rice went on to list some of his favorites—Rube Waddell, Crazy Schmit, Dizzy Dean—“Also, Flint Rhem, Babe Herman, Bobo Newsom, Germany Schaefer, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Arlie Latham—nits, wits, and half-wits—but all great ballplayers.”  But, said Rice, “one of the leaders in this colorful field” had been all but forgotten:

“His name was (Arthur) Bugs Raymond, the pitcher John McGraw always insisted had the finest pitching motion he ever saw, including Walter Johnson.”

[…]

“I remember Bugs because I happened to have a small part in his pitching career.  I was working in Atlanta (for The Journal) when I happened to read a story that came out of Shreveport (Louisiana), about a young pitcher named Raymond who had made and won the following bet:

“That he could eat a whole turkey, drink two bottles of scotch—and win a doubleheader.  He did it.  I didn’t believe it at the time, but I believed it later.  I recommended to either (Atlanta Crackers owner) Abner Powell or (manager) Billy Smith (44 years is a long time) that Raymond looked like a good buy.  Good copy is always scarce.  Raymond sounded like good copy.”

Bugs Raymond

Bugs Raymond

Rice’s story about the bet is likely apocryphal, there is no mention of it in contemporary newspapers in Shreveport, or in Jackson, Mississippi where Raymond played in the Cotton States League before coming to Atlanta–he also names the wrong manager–Smith came to Atlanta the following season.  While Raymond probably didn’t make the bet Rice claimed, he did, on at least one occasion win both ends of a doubleheader, and he was wildly popular in Mississippi.  After he was sold to Atlanta in July of 1905, The Jackson News said:

“The regret over Raymond’s departure was not one-sided.  The big fellow was all broken up over the transaction.”

The paper said that although Raymond would make $200 a month in Atlanta and have a chance to return to the major leagues, leaving Jackson was difficult for him:

“During his engagement with the Jackson team he has made a host of friends and was undoubtedly the most popular player who ever donned a home uniform.  The plain fact is Raymond almost owned the town.  Nothing was too good for him and he always made a hatful of money on the big games, a shower of silver and greenbacks being the inevitable result of a victory in a doubleheader.”

Rice’s story about Raymond also took another real event and embellished it–either by design or through the fog of forty years.

After finishing the 1905 season with a 10-6 record for the Crackers, Raymond was picked by new Manager Billy Smith to start for Atlanta in an exhibition against the Boston Americans on March 26, 1906.

In Rice’s colorful version, he gave the incorrect date for the exhibition and wrongly claimed that he met Raymond face-to-face for the first time on the morning of the game:

“By some odd chance, before starting a mile-and-a-half walk to the ballpark, I happened to be taking a drink at some wayside bar in preparation for the trip.  A heavy hand fell on my shoulder and, as I looked around, there was an unkempt-looking fellow, around 200 pounds who wore no necktie and hadn’t shaved in at least two days.  Here was the king of all the tramps I’d ever seen.

“’How about buying me a drink, fellow?’ was his opening remark.  I bought him a drink.  Then I had to buy him another drink.

“’How do we get out to this ballpark?’ he asked.

“’We walk,’ I said, ‘if you are going with me.’ Then a sudden morbid thought hit me.  ‘Isn’t your name Raymond?’ I asked.

“’Yes,” he said ‘Bugs Raymond.’

“I figured then what my recommendation to the Atlanta team was worth.  Something less than two cents.

“’Do you happen to know,’ I suggested, ‘that you are pitching today against the Boston Americans?’

“’I never heard of ‘em,’ Bugs said.  ‘Where’s Boston?’

“On the walk to the ballpark that afternoon Bugs spent most of the trek throwing rocks at pigeons, telegraph poles and any target in sight.  People I had known in Atlanta gave me an odd look after taking a brief glance at my unshaven, rough and rowdy looking companion.”

Once at the ballpark, Rice said:

“Raymond started the game by insulting Jimmy Collins…and every star of the Boston team.  He would walk from the pitcher’s box up towards the plate and let them know, in forcible and smoking language, what he thought they were.”

In Rice’s version, the cocky, seemingly drunk Raymond shuts Boston out 3-0 on three hits.  He got those details wrong as well, and Raymond’s performance was just as incredible without the embellishments.

Bugs Raymond

Bugs Raymond

The Atlanta Constitution said on the day after the game:

“No better than bush leaguers looked the Boston Americans…yesterday afternoon at Piedmont Park, when ‘Bugs’ Raymond came near to scoring a no-hit game against the bean-eating crew, who escaped a shut-out through two errors made by (Morris “Mike”) Jacobs in the eighth inning.

“Score—Atlanta 4, Boston 2.

“’Bugs’ was there with the goods.  Boston hitter after hitter stepped up to the plate, pounded the pan, looked fierce for awhile, and then went the easy out route.

“’Bugs’ was in his glory.  It was in the eighth inning before a single hit or run was scored off his delivery

Both Boston hits were ground balls Atlanta shortstop Frank “Whitey” Morse beaten out by  Collins and Myron ”Moose” Grimshaw:

“As inning after inning went by, the Boston sporting writers along with the team began to think of the possibility of defeat, and, about the seventh inning, when it looked strangely like a shutout game, they pulled out their books of excuses and began to look for the proper one to use in Tuesday morning’s newspapers.

“The one finally agreed upon at a conference of all four writers read like this:

“’The eyes of the Boston players were dimmed by the flying moisture from the spit-ball delivery of one ‘Bugs’ Raymond, who let himself out at full steam, while our pitchers were waiting for the opening of the coming season.  It does a major league club good to be beaten every now and then, anyway.”

The Box Score

                 The Box Score

Given Raymond’s alcoholism, there might be some truth Rice’s embellishments although there is no evidence for most of his version.

The performance against Boston was quickly forgotten as Raymond just as quickly wore out his welcome with Manager Billy Smith.  On May 6 he was suspended indefinitely because, as The Constitution put it “(Raymond) looks with delight in wine when it is red.”  On May 31, Atlanta sold Raymond to the Savannah Indians in the South Atlantic leagues. An 18-8 mark there, followed by a 35-11 season with the Charleston Sea Gulls in the same league in 1907, earned Raymond his return to the big leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals.

By 1912, the pitcher, about whom Rice claimed John McGraw said “Even half sober Raymond would have been one of the greatest,” was dead.

“Then the Harder I threw the Harder they hit them”

3 Oct

Walter Newton Justis–often misspelled “Justus” during his career– performed an incredible feat in 1908.  While posting a 25-17 record for the Lancaster Links in the Ohio State League, he pitched four no-hit games between July 19 and September 13.

Walter Justis

Walter Justis

The performance earned him his second shot to make the big leagues.  The first consisted of two relief appearances (8.10 ERA in 3.1 innings) with the Detroit Tigers in 1905 when he was 21.  He said later that he wasn’t ready:

“All I knew was to burn them over.  And the harder they hit them the harder I threw.  Then the Harder I threw the harder they hit them.  Most of the time in the three months that I was there I lugged the big bat bag, and I guess I earned my salary then about as much as at any time I know of.”

Justis’ bizarre behavior often made as big an impression as his pitching.  Roy Castleton was pitching for the Youngstown Ohio Works in 1906 when Justis joined Lancaster (the team was in the Ohio-Pennsylvania League in 1906 and ’07, and joined the Ohio State League in 1908).

Castleton, while playing for the Atlanta Crackers two years later told The Atlanta Constitution  he thought “Rube Waddell and Bugs Raymond, two players well-known for their eccentricities…will have to take off their top pieces,” to Justis.  Castleton was staying in the same hotel as the Lancaster team:

“Early one morning he heard someone raising a disturbance in the hotel hallway and taking a look to see what was doing, he observed pitcher Justis…running down the hallway.

“’At the end of the hall Justice placed a pillow against the wall.  He would get a good start down the hall and after the fashion of a man on the paths would take a running slide at the pillow.  When he arrived at his destination he would hold out his hand as umpires do and yell ‘safe!’  Justis would keep this up for hours at a time playing base runner and umpire out in the hall at daybreak.’

“’Sometimes he would stop the double existence of umps and runner and would (just) be the judge of the play.  Standing over the pillow he would hold out his hand and yell ‘safe’ so loudly that he could be heard a block off.’”

The Constitution also said that Justis was superstitious:

“He never goes into a game without wearing a pair of ladies’ silk hose supported in the usual manner.  Regular baseball stockings would never do for him, as he believes his career as a pitcher would be cut short if he were to wear them in a game.”

He was signed by the St. Louis Browns, and Manager Jimmy McAleer told The St. Louis Globe-Democrat the pitcher’s eccentricities were a positive:

“McAleer says that the reason he signed pitcher Justis of Lancaster was because Justis bears the reputation of being a baseball ‘bug.’  ‘Bugs,’ says McAleer, ‘make good in St. Louis.  We have Waddell, while the Cardinals have ‘Bugs’ Raymond.’”

Justis joined the Browns in Dallas in the spring of 1909.

The Globe-Democrat said after he had a poor outing in an exhibition against the Houston Buffaloes of the Texas League:

“Justis pitched two innings for the Browns Saturday and the Houston team got six runs.  Until this bombardment he was tagged for the regular club, and the label hasn’t been removed yet, though slightly loosened.”

And Justis appeared to have made the team when they broke camp in Texas and returned to St, Louis in early April, but The Associated Press reported on April 6:

“Walter Justus, a pitcher recruit of the St. Louis Browns, is confined to his room by a severe nervous collapse, and the nurse in charge says he may be able to leave for his home in Indiana in a few days.  Justis lost his power of speech at the end of a wrestling bout with Arthur Griggs in Sportsman’s Park today.  It is claimed Justus fell to the floor, striking his head, and reopened an old wound received when a boy.”

Justis suffered similar attacks at least four other times during his career; in June of 1907, twice in 1908, and August of 1909.  In July, 1908 after a double-header with the Lima Cigarmakers, The Marion (Ohio) Daily Mirror said “(Justis) suffered a sudden brain stroke akin to apoplexy.  He fell in a dead faint at the close of the second contest.  He was removed to his hotel in an unconscious condition.”   In September, after another attack left Justis hospitalized, The Sporting Life said prematurely “physicians say he will never twirl another game.”   It is likely that he suffered from epilepsy.

Within days of returning to Indiana from St. Louis Justis fully recovered.  The Associated Press said “His recovery is one of the most remarkable in the history of athletes.”  But, despite his recovery, Justis was returned to Lancaster by the Browns, and lost his opportunity to return to a major league team.

He threw another no-hitter for Lancaster in 1909, on May 18 against the Marion Diggers, and went 19-16 for the season.  Justis continued pitching until 1913, finishing with the Covington Blue Sox in the Federal League—where he played with the equally eccentric, enigmatic Fred “Humpy” Badel.

Justis shut out the St. Louis Terriers 4 to 0 on the opening day of the Federal League season, but no complete records remain for the season.  By late September of 1913 he was back home in Greendale, Indiana pitching for a local team.  He remained in Greendale until his death in 1941.

Bugs Versus Rube

9 Jun

Charles Emmett Van Loan is largely forgotten today, but from 1904 until his death in 1919 at age 42, he was considered one of the best, and most prolific, baseball writers in the country.

Grantland Rice said:

“Van Loan was not only a great story-teller.  He was the first writer of his time to see the romance and the glamour of the game, mingled with its amazing fund of humor.”

In addition to his newspaper work, which included stints in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver, Van Loan wrote some of the most popular fictional baseball stories of his era—he published four collections of baseball stories, as well as anthologies of  boxing, horse racing and golf stories.

Hugh Fullerton said of his death:

“Van is dead and sports in America have lost their greatest interpreter, and fighters, ball players and athletes of all grades have lost their best friend.”

Charles Emmett Van Loan

Charles Emmett Van Loan

As sports editor for The New York American in 1910 Van Loan weighed in on the two most interesting pitchers of the day:

“In the race for distinction as the most erratic, eccentric and daffy pitcher of the big leagues “Bugs” Raymond is leading by an elbow over our old friend, G. Edward Waddell, known to fame and a portion of Missouri as the ‘Rube.’

“The battle between G. Edward and the ‘Bug’ has been a close one.  For many moons Waddell held the belt for eccentricity.  If he had not been a wonderful baseball player, he would have been chucked to the minors years ago, but pitchers like Waddell are so rare that they must be preserved to the game.

Bugs Raymond

Bugs

“We all remember the sorrows of Oscar Hammerstein and the many tribulations forced upon him by his singers, particularly the women.  A woman with a wonderful voice can get away with anything short of murder in the first degree by blaming it upon her artistic temperament—which is an ornamental means for plain unadorned meanness, selfishness or petty spite.  If a soprano got jealous of another woman and tore up her contract, refused to sing her roles and played smash generally, she could blame it upon her artistic temperament, and all was forgiven.  What a shame the ‘Rube’ never heard about that artistic temperament thing!  It would have been such a handy alibi for him.

“Waddell stuck in the limelight by virtue of his ability to throw a ball like a streak of lightning and throw it twice or three times in the same place…In between his marvelous performances the ‘rube’ established himself as a bartender, a side-show barker, an actor, a sidewalk comedian, a rough and tumble battler and a very competent vessel for mixed liquors.  He enjoyed the proud eminence of supreme bug of the major leagues and everything was lovely until ‘Bugs’ Raymond happened along.  ‘Bugs’ went the ‘Rube’ one better.  Waddell in his balmiest days never had a special keeper engaged, by the management to take him gently but firmly by the elbow and steer him away from temptation.

Rube

Rube

“You never heard of a chorus girl with an overdose of the artistic temperament.  A chorus girl who develops tantrums is fired immediately.  You never heard of an eccentric ballplayer who was not a good one, a bad player would be sent  back to herd the cows and coax the potatoes out of the ground with a hoe.

“’Rube’ and ‘Bugs’ are good players.  Raymond almost drove (John) McGraw to despair last season, for the chubby manager realized what an excellent pitcher ‘Bugs’ really was and tried to save him for the hard finish of the season.  McGraw even went so far as to try physical persuasion upon his big, but erratic southpaw, upon the ground that a swift wallop on the nose is sometimes better than a ream of argument.

“McGraw tried to keep money out of Raymond’s hands, figuring that if he never had a cent he would be forced to keep his nose dry.  No use.  ‘Bugs’ had too many friends.  His admirers were always ready to purchase even if ‘Bugs’ had to look up in the air when it came his turn to deliver orders to the gent in the apron.

“’Turn him loose on a desert isle’ said one of the players, referring to Raymond, ‘and inside of an hour he will turn up with a flask on his hip.  How he does that I don’t know.  I guess he just charms that liquor.

“Unfortunately George Edward must retire from the competition.  Boston is his hoodoo town,  By reason of matrimonial troubles ‘Rube’ was forced to cut Boston off the pitching list, and just as the clouds cleared away, bing! On the elbow with a red hot liner, and out goes the ‘Rube’ with a broken bone.

“At the end of last season nobody believed that McGraw would make another effort to reform the thirsty Raymond.  It was thought that in spite of the fact that ‘Bugs’ won 600 percent of his games, he would get the gate, but McGraw decided to try it again on the ground that a pitcher of Raymond’s class is worth saving at any cost.  McGraw is willing to gamble.  Should he fail to straighten out the big spitballist everybody will say:  ‘I told you there wasn’t any use.’  On the other hand, should the private keeper keep ‘Bugs’ away from the disturbance water and his pitching be up to his usual standard, everyone will say that McGraw showed excellent judgment in hanging on to his souse paw through thick and thin.

“An erratic pitcher is a hard strain on a team.  The men behind him never know when he is going to blow up and they are kept on a strain whenever the eccentric one works.

“When ‘Bugs’ goes into the box in good condition, his head clear and his muscles hardened by work, he pitches good enough baseball for any man’s club.  His keeper has been steering him away from the gin mills for some time—touch wood everybody—and at last accounts McGraw was hopeful that the problem had been solved.

“They say the ever loving ‘Rube’ is consumed with jealousy because ‘Bugs’ has a keeper.  A man with a broken wing doesn’t really need a keeper.”

McGraw was unable “to straighten out the big spitballist,” Raymond’s big league career was over by June of 1911, and he was dead just more than a year after that.  Waddell’s major league days were over within weeks of Van Loan’s observations, and he was dead less than four years later.

Crazy Schmit

9 May

In 1913, Giants manager John McGraw, wrote an article that ran in newspapers across the country, in which he made the case that baseball had “practically eliminated the ‘bad actor,’” citing the World Series and the development of the game as a business as the primary factors.

McGraw said many of the players of his day “had paths worn from the ballpark to some favorite saloon and back to the grounds.”  McGraw singled out one player in particular to make his point.

Frederick “Crazy” Schmit pitched for parts of five seasons for five different American and National League teams from 1890-1901, posting a career record of 7-36.  (Schmit’s name was almost universally misspelled by contemporary newspapers–the misspellings have been corrected in quotes that reference him).

Crazy Schmit

Crazy Schmit

McGraw wrote (and likely embellished) about Schmit, who was his teammate in 1892 and ’93 and who he managed in 1901 with the Baltimore Orioles:

  “(W)e had a pitcher named Schmit generally and aptly called ‘Crazy’ Schmit.  His habits were nothing for a temperance society lecturer to dwell upon as an example…I called (Schmit) into a corner the day before the first game (of a series with the Cleveland Blues) and told him that I wanted him to pitch the next afternoon and asked him to get into good shape.  He said he would be out there with everything on the ball.  That was one thing about him—he never knocked his own ability.

“But Schmit’s notion of preparations did not coincide with mine.  I learned afterwards that he went directly from my lecture to his favorite loafing place and remained there telling his friends what he would do to Cleveland the next day.”

McGraw claimed that Schmit fell down on the mound (there’s no contemporary report o confirm it) and:

“Those were the days of quick action, so I rushed into the box from third base where I was playing, sore enough to do anything.

‘Get out of here.’  I yelled at him ‘You are released.’

“He laboriously regained his feet, and with ludicrous dignity walked out of the pitcher’s box and toward the exit of the park.  As he left he whirled on me and exclaimed dramatically: ‘I go to tell the world that the great Schmit has been released.”

McGraw said the pitcher only made it as far as the same tavern he had been at the day before, “and we had to send his clothes to him.”

John McGraw

John McGraw

McGraw wrote that before he released Schmit he used a tactic he later tried with “Bugs” Raymond; withholding money from the pitcher to keep him from spending it on liquor:

“After a time I began to miss baseballs in great numbers from the clubhouse and my suspicions were aroused, so I followed Schmit when he left the grounds one night…Schmit proceeded to a corner and mounted a soapbox which he produced from the bushes nearby, and then he pulled five or six league balls, partly used, out of his pocket and began to auction them off as ‘genueen leeg balls.’  For some of them he got as high as $5 apiece.  Or rather, he received $5 for the first one, and then I interrupted him and took the rest away.”

Schmit was released by the Orioles on June 10, 1901; he continued to pitch in semi-pro and outlaw leagues for more than a decade and worked as a scout–for the New York Giants, managed by John McGraw.

Another “Crazy” Schmit story tomorrow.

“Bugs” and Trains

28 Dec

Arthur “Bugs” Raymond was one of the most talented pitchers to end his career with a sub .500 (45-57) record.  Known more for his drinking problems and erratic behavior, Raymond was dead by 30.

John McGraw, the only manager who even for a short time, managed to get the best out Raymond, told sportswriter Grantland Rice that he had the best motion he’d ever seen and “Even half sober Raymond would have been one of the greatest.”

Rube Waddell, whose eccentricities were the standard by which all players of his era were judged, weighed in about Raymond, saying about Bugs something he could have said about himself:

“It’s a shame that fellow doesn’t take care of himself.  He would be a wonder if he would just keep in condition and pay strict attention to business.”

Bugs Raymond

Bugs Raymond

While Waddell was fascinated with fire and on many occasions assisted fire fighters (although there is no evidence supporting the long-held myth that Waddell left the mound during a game to follow a fire wagon), Raymond was enamored of trains.

According to the Hall of Fame sportswriter Hugh Fullerton III Raymond loved trains:

“The moment he enters a sleeping car he begins to take possession of the train and it isn’t long until he’s captured it.  Usually he begins by borrowing a blue coat with brass buttons and a uniform cap from some trainman or porter who admires baseball players, and arrayed in these he saunters through the train trying to collect fares, issuing orders and generally enjoying himself.”

Fullerton wrote about a 1907 road trip:

“(R)ushing through the darkness in two sections.   The St. Louis Cardinals were traveling in the rear car of the first section and the other section was following five minutes behind.  Suddenly there was a jarring of the brakes, the shrilling of air, the jar of sudden stoppage, and the second section jolted to a sudden standstill shaking sleepers out of their berths and awaking everybody.”

According to Fullerton the sudden stoppage and near accident of the following train was explained in the report issued several days later by the railroad:

“Raymond, who was looking for amusement, had stationed himself on the rear platform of the first section and amused himself touching off the red flare which is carried for use as a warning s and danger signals…the second section saw the warning and stopped.”

Hugh Fullerton

Hugh Fullerton