Tag Archives: Chalmer’s Award

“I knew but Little, but Schaefer Taught me.”

19 Sep

Ty Cobb had a dilemma in the fall of 1910.  After being presented with a new Chalmers automobile (along with Napoleon Lajoie) for leading the league in batting.  Ed Grillo of The Washington Evening Star said he found a solution:

cobbchalmers

Cobb in his Chalmers

“Ty Cobb has presented Herman Schaefer with his old automobile.  The car which he has been using will be of no further use now that he has received the one offered for the best major league batsman.

“In giving Schaefer the machine Cobb is repaying ‘Germany’ for the many kindly turns he did for Cobb.”

Cobb told Grillo:

“If it were not for Schaefer’s interest in me I would not have made myself the ballplayer I am…When I joined the Detroit club (in 1905) I knew but little, but Schaefer taught me.  The very first day he got after me because I did not pick my feet up and run as he thought I should.  Then he told me to turn toward second when going to first so that if anything happened to the ball I could take another base.”

Schaefer told Grillo his most difficult task was teaching the 18-year-old Cobb to slide—Cobb agreed:

germany

Schaefer

“I thought it was too dangerous in those days and would not try.  But one day in an exhibition game at Indianapolis I saw Schaefer slide away from the baseman holding the ball, and I made up my mind that I would learn the trick.  I asked Schaefer to teach me, and for the next two weeks we would go to the park every morning and he would go through the motion of catching and touching me with the ball.  He would tell me just when and how to slide, and if I made a mistake he would change places and he would do the sliding.

“In that way I learned everything I know about base running, and I owe it all to Schaefer, and I gave him my machine in appreciation of the many kindnesses he has shown me.”

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.”

Lost Advertisements–Larry Doyle for Coca-Cola

20 Mar

larrydoylecoke

A 1916 advertisement for Coca-Cola featuring New York giants Captain Larry Doyle.

Four years earlier, when Doyle led the Giants to a National League championship–hitting .330 and winning the Chalmers Award as the league’s most valuable player–he told a reporter from The New York Evening Journal that his success was driven by a snub from White Sox Manager Jimmy “Nixey” Callahan:

“When he was playing in a western minor league city (the Three-I League with the Springfield Senators) the (New York) Highlanders heard of him and asked Callahan, then playing independent ball (in Chicago’s City League), to look him over.  Callahan watched Doyle perform in several games and then wired the Highlanders:

“‘He isn’t fast enough.  Can’t field and isn’t a first-class hitter.’

“So Doyle was passed up and Callahan sent in a bill for $200 to cover his expenses and time.  Then (John) McGraw walked up…and paid $4,000 (actually $4,500) for Doyle, who couldn’t be purchased now for three times that amount.  All of which goes to show that some of the best judges of ball players make serious mistakes.”

 

 

Butcher Boy Schmidt

25 Jul

Charles John “Butch” “Butcher Boy” Schmidt was credited by Connie Mack with being the catalyst for the Boston Braves World Series upset of Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics in 1914; one year later Schmidt walked away from baseball in his prime.

Butch Schmidt

Butch Schmidt

He was born in Baltimore in 1886, and played amateur ball while working in the family meat market, which earned him his nickname.

Schmidt signed as a pitcher with the Baltimore Orioles  in the Eastern League and assigned to the Holyoke Papermakers in the Connecticut State League, where he posted a 10-9 record.  In late August the Orioles recalled him, and he went 5-1 in 11 games with Baltimore.

The New York Highlanders drafted Schmidt and the 22-year-old pitcher started the 1909 season in New York.  He appeared in only one game, on May 11, giving up 10 hits and eight runs, four earned, in five innings.  Early in June he was returned to the Orioles.

After appearing in eight games on the mound with the Orioles, Schmidt was moved to first base.  After hitting .244 for the remainder of ’09, he hit .292, .291, and .274 the next three seasons, and was sold to the Rochester Hustlers in the International League, where he hit .321; he was purchased by the Boston Braves on August 22, and hit .308 in 22 games playing in place of Ralph “Hap” Myers.

At the end of the 1913 season Boston sold Myers’ contract to Rochester; The Boston Post reported that Braves manager George Stallings simply didn’t like Myers.  (Myers had a different theory for his release—that story next week)

Schmidt was installed as the Braves first baseman in 1914, and as Boston made their improbable run to the National league pennant Schmidt   hit .285 with 71 RBI and .990 fielding percentage, and finished 16th in the voting for the Chalmers Award, for the most valuable player in the National League; teammates Johnny Evers and Rabbit Maranville finished first and second in the voting.

Grantland Rice said in The New York Tribune:

“There are few greater first basemen in baseball and none who is steadier or a better fighter.  For Schmidt is also of the aggressive type and a hustler every second.”

The New York Times didn’t think quite as highly of Schmidt and on the eve of the World Series said the “advantage favors the Athletics” at first base:

(John “Stuffy”) McInnis makes exceptionally brilliant plays…has been through Worlds Series fire and proved just as cool as if he were playing an exhibition game in the springtime.  Schmidt has yet to face the strain and tension of the big baseball classic…While Schmidt is not a scientific batsman, he is a free swinger and hits the ball hard, but he doesn’t hit it often.”

The pressure of the series didn’t seem to bother Schmidt, the Braves first baseman hit .294 with five hits, two runs and two RBIs in the four game sweep of the Athletics; McInnis hit just .143.

In game one he made a play in the first inning that Connie Mack said set the tone for the series and “sparked the Braves.”  With runners on first and second with one out, Athletics third baseman Frank “Home Run” Baker hit a foul pop-up into short right field.  Athletics outfielder Eddie Murphy tagged up and attempted to go to third; The Associated Press said Schmidt made a “great throw…from a difficult angle,” to third baseman Charlie Deal to retire Murphy.

Stuffy McInnis, Eddie Murphy and "Home Run" Baker,

Stuffy McInnis, Eddie Murphy and “Home Run” Baker,

Early in the 1915 season Braves manager George Stallings called Schmidt “The best first baseman in the game,” but his performance at the plate slipped.  Schmidt hit just .251 with 60 RBIs.  The Braves again found themselves in 8th place in July, and while they made another strong run, finished 2nd, seven games behind the Philadelphia Phillies.

Despite the mediocre season at the plate, it was assumed the 28-year-old Schmidt would remain the Braves first baseman.  Schmidt shocked Stallings, Boston fans, and all of baseball when he announced in January of 1916 that he was retiring from baseball.

Butch Schmidt at bat

Butch Schmidt at bat

The Associated Press said Schmidt was leaving “to devote his entire time to his private business.”

Grantland Rice said Schmidt’s business included “six meat markets in Baltimore,” and that he earned $8000 a year from his stores.

The Sporting Life said it was just as likely that Schmidt, listed at 200 pounds, retired because:

Hard work in that old rubber shirt to get down to weight, especially when the extra weight comes off slowly, more slowly each succeeding season, is a trial that anyone would like to sidestep if he could. “

Boston manager George Stallings filled the void left by Schmidt by purchasing Ed Konetchy from the Pittsburgh Rebels from the newly defunct Federal League.

The Boston Post said the change at first base would not hurt the Braves:

“Konetchy, a heavier hitter than Schmidt, is just about as capable in other ways.”

Despite the confidence of The Post, Stallings was not convinced and continued to try to induce Schmidt to return; his efforts were unsuccessful.

After Konetchy hit .260 for the third place Braves in 1916 it was reported that Schmidt would return to the team.  After several weeks of speculation, Schmidt told The Boston Globe “no offer” could induce him to return to Boston.

Konetchy hit .272 and .236 the next two seasons, and each off season it was rumored Schmidt would return, and every year he stayed home where he continued to run his business and play semi-pro ball in Baltimore’s Inter-City League.

Before the 1919 season Konetchy was traded to the Brooklyn Robins and the Braves acquired Walter Holke from the Cincinnati Reds.  Holke hit .292 for the Braves in 1919, but rumors continued that Schmidt, out of organized baseball for four years, would be returning to Boston.  The Associated Press said:

“George Stallings of the Boston Braves is trying to get Charlie “Butch” Schmidt, the Baltimore butcher boy who played first base for the world’s champions of 1914, to return to the Boston Braves.  Schmidt is reported to be in wonderful condition as he has kept in practice since his retirement.”

Schmidt never returned to professional ball, and was finally removed from Boston’s reserve list in 1922.

Butch Schmidt walked away from professional baseball and never looked back; he died in 1952 of a heart attack while inspecting cattle at the Baltimore Union Stock Yards.

“Is the Best the Game has Known”

23 Jul

Joining the Boston Braves for the 1914 season provided second baseman Johnny Evers with the opportunity to appear in one more World Series, and gave him the chance to take a very public swipe at one of his most famous former teammates, shortstop Joe Tinker.

In December of 1912 the Chicago Cubs traded Tinker to the Cincinnati Reds, and depending on which version of the story was to believed, Tinker and Evers had not spoken a word to one another for either five or six years.

Johnny Evers

Johnny Evers

Tinker said the two stopped talking in 1908 after Evers jumped in a horse-drawn cab leaving Tinker and other teammates behind before an exhibition game in Indiana leading to an on-field fight between the two later that day; Evers said a year earlier Tinker initiated the bad blood between the two by throwing a ball so hard to the second baseman on a force play that it injured his finger.

Evers said years later:

“I yelled to him, you so-and-so. He laughed. That’s the last word we had for-well, I just don’t know how long.”

The 1914 Braves got off to a horrible 4-18 start, and were still in eighth place on July 18, but surged to second place by August 10, winning 18 of 21 games.  By September 2 the Braves had first place to themselves, and ended up running away with the pennant, beating the second place New York Giants by 10 ½ games, and sweeping Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series.

Evers, named Boston’s captain by manager George Stallings, led National League second basemen in fielding; hit .279 for the season, and .438 in the World Series.  Evers received baseball’s last “Chalmers Award,” a forerunner of the Most Valuable Player Award, which was presented from 1911-1914.  The award was sponsored by the Chalmers Motor Car Company and was presented to Evers along with a new car.

The runner-up for the Chalmers Award was Evers’ teammate, shortstop Walter James Vincent “Rabbit” Maranville.  Maranville, Evers and first baseman Charles “Butch” Schmidt were an excellent double-play combination throughout the season; Evers participated in a career-high 73 twin killings, more than he’s ever turned in a season with Tinker and Frank Chance.

Years later Maranville said of Evers:

“It was just Death Valley, whoever hit a ball down our way.  Evers with his brains taught me more baseball than I ever dreamed about.  He was psychic.  He could sense where a player was going to hit if the pitcher threw the ball where he was supposed to.”

Two days after the Braves won the World Series; Evers took the opportunity to take a swipe at his former teammate Tinker.  Evers told William Peet, sportswriter for The Boston Post that:

“(Maranville’s) the best shortstop the game has ever known.

“Better than Joe Tinker; your old side partner?

“Yes, he’s better than Tinker.”

Joe Tinker

Joe Tinker

Peet sad:

“Evers has been given credit for making Maranville the great player he has shown himself to be this season, but Johnny declares this s untrue, stating that Maranville learned the game and all its fine points unaided.”

Peet said Evers’ claim that Maranville “is a greater shortstop than Tinker is about the highest praise anyone can shower on the peppery little chap who was such a prominent factor n the Braves’ victory.”

Rabbit Maranville

Rabbit Maranville

Evers and Peet failed to mention where Honus Wagner would be ranked if Maranville was, in fact, “the best shortstop the game has ever known.”

No response from Tinker was recorded.

Evers and Tinker would not speak again for another decade.  In 1924, the two finally spoke when they were summoned to California by Chance, their former teammate and manager, who was dying.

Tinker, Evers and Chance

Tinker, Evers and Chance

Tinker, Evers and Chance were inducted into the Hall of Fame together in 1946 by the veterans committee; Maranville was elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America in 1954.