Tag Archives: Colorado Springs Millionaires

“One of the Greatest Shortstops the Game has ever Known.”

26 Dec

Ed McKean had played 12 years in Cleveland before being part of the mass player transfer to the St. Louis Perfectos before the 1899 season.  The career .302 hitter was struggling, and according to The Cleveland Plain Dealer, he requested his release:

“Ed is very sensitive to criticism, and the papers have been roasting him lately, until he got into such a nervous state that he couldn’t play ball a little bit.”

Buck Ewing said he was “forced out of the game,” and “one of the greatest shortstops the game has ever known.”

McKean’s release opened the door for Hall of Famer Bobby Wallace’s switch to shortstop.

mckean

Edward [sic Edwin] J. McKean

McKean, like his former teammate Cupid Childs had a large build, and according to the St. Louis papers needed to shed a few pounds to get back into playing shape.

The St. Louis Republic said McKean intended to spend the next several months preparing to “play in Cleveland” the following season.

McKean, said The Buffalo Courier, had a “peculiar stand at the bat,” which “often balked” pitchers

“Instead of striking the conventional side or profile position in the batman’s box.  McKean gave the twirler a three-quarter view of his burly figure.”

The paper also said before becoming a ballplayer McKean had made a name for himself as a wrestler—contemporary news accounts occasionally referred to him as “Sandow,” because of his physique; a reference to Eugen Sandow the “father of modern bodybuilding”

McKean filled his time away from baseball by becoming a wrestling and boxing referee in Cleveland—if he was looking for a job that shielded him from criticism, he chose wrong.  McKean served as referee for at Cleveland’s Business Men’s Gym, between Art Simms and Tommy White in December on 1899.  The St. Louis Republic described the situation:

“Sandow Ed McKean, the burly grounder-copper, who secured a divorce from St. Louis on the ground of incompatibility of temperament, finds life as a referee of pugilistic encounters no less a bed of roses than playing short before a critical local crowd…Experts and common spectators asseverate that White was a winner by a mile, but Sandow fumbled the points of the game, let the strikes registered by White go over without calling them, and said it was a draw.  The people yelled for a rope, and McKean thought he was again staggering at short in League Park…It was not the hated yet harmless ‘Take him out!’ that was heard, but ‘Hang the robbing rascal.’”

McKean was accused of “being in cahoots” with Simms’ manager, who the paper said was a former Boston sportswriter who McKean knew from his playing days.

White hailed from Chicago, and one of his hometown papers The Inter Ocean was even harsher in their assessment of McKean.  The paper claimed:

“(White) took Mr. Art Simms in hand and administered probably the most terrific beating that had been handed out to a pretentious lightweight in recent years…(but) McKean, who used to be a fair sort of infielder, under Patsy Tebeau, called the bout a draw.”

The Chicago paper not only questioned McKean’s integrity but claimed that three of the four recent fights he had refereed “have been marked by decisions almost as ludicrous.”

Curiously, both papers failed to mention that Simms had participated in three of the four fights in question—coming away with a 2-0-1 record for the three bouts (Simms was 33-14-9 for his career and 5-0-1 in fights officiated by McKean.)

Throughout the 1900 season McKean’s imminent return was reported—usually bound for the Cleveland Lake Shores in the American League.  The Sporting News said in June:

“McKean is hard at work practicing to get into the game.  He goes to League Park every day, and the way that he works indicates that he is not out there for fun.”

Cleveland used six different shortstops during the 1900 season, but McKean was never signed.  Published reports that he would sign with the New York Giants never materialized either.

mckean2

McKean

His sitting out the entire season might have saved a life—while working at his bar The Short Stop Inn on St. Clair Avenue and Seneca (present day Third Street) in Cleveland in August of 1900, he, according to press reports, stop a potential lynching.

The Cleveland News said a news boy threw a rock at a black man, and when the man confronted the rock thrower:

“(Twenty) news boys took up the trouble. They followed the negro threatening him until he turned on them (near McKean’s saloon).”

Another confrontation took place in front of the saloon and “a volley of stones were fired at” the man who then ran into McKean’s business.

“Other newsies joined their companions until 150 boys were standing in front of the place.  Their noise attracted a crowd of men and all became excited when they explained that a negro had attacked them.

“’It’s nothing but a boys fight,’ said McKean, trying to quiet the crowd.  But he did not succeed.  Men and boys collected stones and clubs, and the situation was becoming dangerous when McKean took the negro out the back way while employees guarded the front entrance.  McKean boosted the man over the back fence and he made his escape through Noble Street.”

McKean spent all of 1901 managing his bar, working as a referee—without any further charges of crookedness—and training wrestlers; Although The Cleveland Leader reported in the spring that McKean was again working out at League Park and had “many offers from the American League.”

He finally returned to baseball in 1902, signing to manage and play first base for the Rochester Bronchos in the Eastern League.

McKean hit .314 but the club struggled all season and The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle said McKean had for some time “wanted to be released from the team” to attend to his bar.  His wish was granted on August 18—with the team in sixth place with a 42-53 record, he was replaced by Hal O’Hagan—the team went 15-21 under O’Hagan.

McKean returned to his bar, managing wrestlers, and umpiring amateur games in 1903 and 1904, all the while, promising another comeback.  Several newspapers reported he was either considering, or on the verge of joining various minor league clubs as manager.

He returned again in 1905.  McKean signed to manage and play shortstop for the Colorado Springs Millionaires in the Western League. He struggled at the plate—hitting .191 in 22 games–and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said his arm was gone and he was “slated for the junk pile.”  Released by Colorado Springs in June, McKean appeared with seven more teams through the 1908 season: the 44-year-old called it quits for at the end of the 1908 season.

McKean refereed the occasional fight, organized semi-pro teams around Cleveland, and maintained his bar, which was the meeting place for baseball, boxing, and wrestling fans.  At some point he appears to have closed his bar and gone to work for Cleveland boxing promoter

When he died in 1919, The New York Sun noted that McKean was:

“(O)ne of four big league shortstops who had a life’s average batting .300 or better.  Jack Glasscock, Hughie Jennings, and Honus Wagner were the others, and it might be added that this quartet were classed as the greatest shortstops in the game.”

“Baseball is full of Authenticated instances of Woman’s Influence over it”

27 Jul

In 1905, The Washington Evening Star said:

“The unwritten history of baseball is full of authenticated instances of woman’s influence over it…Not infrequently a sweetheart’s or a wife’s objections to the game cause a star to forsake the diamond for work for which he is not fitted in the least degree, and at which he makes only a living at best.

Bill Lange is a case in point.  Up to (1899) he was one of the best ground coverers in the profession, and as a batsman had a high average.  From the day of his wedding, his wife kept at him to leave the game, urging him to take the step on the grounds of personal safety.  Bill reasoned with her and told her time and again that he knew of no other job for which he could make $4,500 in six months.  But Mrs. Lange was obdurate, and so, when his last season closed Bill ruefully announced to his manager that the diamond would never know him again.  And it has not, though he has annually been tempted by numerous flattering offers. ‘I have given my word to my wife,’ he says simply, ‘and so long as she feels as she does about the game I shall not take up the bat.’”

 

Bill Lange

Bill Lange

Lange never played another professional game

The Evening Star said that occasionally a wife would change her mind, and allow her husband to play professional ball; George “Del” Howard was one such player.

Howard—under his middle name Elmer—was a member of the Mattoon, Illinois team in the Indiana-Illinois League in 1899.

“Howard took as his wife the daughter of a prominent citizen of a central western town.  They had scarcely settled down after their honeymoon when Mrs. Howard began pleading with her husband to give up the game, naming as a reason that she had a strong dislike for it.  She was so insistent that finally Howard reluctantly severed connections with the game, and secured employment selling agricultural implements.

“But he did not give up all hope of returning to the diamond.  During the months that he was engaged in telling farmers of the merits of his particular make of wheat drills and mowers he spent his spare time endeavoring to get his wife interested in baseball. At first it was hard and slow work, and had to be accomplished diplomatically, but little by little he progressed to the point where Mrs. Howard would accompany him to games.  Then Howard explained every play made, told her about the players, introduced them to her, and made her acquainted with the woman folk of the players who were in the grandstand.

“At the end of four tedious years his work of education bore fruit.  Mrs. Howard came to him one day, confessed that she had changed her mind about baseball, declared that she would rather have him on the diamond than an agent for farm implements, and further caused him great joy by appending that he couldn’t get their quickly enough to suit her.“

After a five-year absence from baseball, Howard signed with the Omaha Rangers in the Western League in 1904.  He hit .316 in 144 games (finishing second to William “Bunk” Congalton of the Colorado Springs Millionaires for the batting title) and was purchased by the Philadelphia Phillies.

Del Howard

Del Howard

Traded to Pittsburgh for three players, the 27-year-old Howard made his major league debut for the Pirates on April 15, 1905, in Cincinnati with his wife Jessie in the stands.

Howard’s rookie season was his best; he hit .292 in 123 games with the Pirates.  He played in the major leagues for five seasons and was a member of the 1907 and ’08 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs.

Howard played and managed in the minor leagues through 1922. His wife Jesse died in California in 1933.  He died on his 79th birthday on December 24, 1956.

Homer Hausen

14 Jan

When Homer Hausen of the Sioux City Cornhuskers hit Omaha Omahogs catcher Bill Wilson in the head with a bat it was the culmination of a feud a over a woman.

While initial reports said Wilson was near death, the catcher made a full recovery.

In the aftermath of the July 1900 incident, Hausen was blacklisted by the Western League, joined a semi-pro team in Rock Rapids, Iowa, and was reported to have married the object of the feud.

If the wedding happened, as reported by The Associated Press, it didn’t last—there is no record confirming the marriage took place, and there is a record, six years later, for Hausen’s marriage to his wife Nellie.

Hausen went to Utah in 1901 and joined the Ogden club in the newly formed Inter-Mountain League; then returned to the Western League in 1902, splitting time between the Denver Grizzlies and Colorado Springs Millionaires.

During his time in Ogden in 1901 The Deseret News said Hausen seemed to “have trouble wherever he goes,’ with Utah fans:

“This happened again yesterday afternoon at Lagoon and Hausen attempted to reply to the taunt.  That only made matters worse and he got it harder than ever.  He remarked that some of the rooters were ‘Salt Lake curs,’ and said that he would ‘spoil the face of one dirty cur.’ before he left the state.”

Despite his problems with the state’s  fans, he returned to Utah in 1903, and became involved in another incident involving a bat to the head.

Homer Hausen

Homer Hausen

This time he was on the receiving end.

On June 28 Hausen was behind the plate for the Ogden team in a Utah State League game against Salt Lake City in Ogden.

The Desert News said:

“A most brutal and murderous assault took place yesterday afternoon on the Glenwood park ball grounds when George Marshall, one of the Salt Lake baseball team maliciously struck Hausen of the Ogden baseball team over the right side of the head with a baseball bat, breaking Hausen’s upper jaw and terribly battering his face.“

The Salt Lake Herald said:

“(Pitcher Erven “Si”) Jensen delivered one that went wide of the plate and was called a ball…Hausen had returned the sphere to Jensen and was squatting back, apparently giving the signal to Jensen for the next delivery when Marshall whirled and brought his bat down on the catcher’s face…Marshall was quite excited and shouted to the grandstand that Hausen had called him an insulting name.”

The blow broke his cheek bone below his right eye—rather than his “upper jaw”—had been broken, and “But for the mask the blow might have killed Hausen.”

From an Ogden jail cell, Marshall told a reporter from The Herald he “resented” a name Hausen had called him but, “did not mean to strike hard enough to break any bones.”

The Deseret News said the incident was the result of a long-standing feud between the players:

“Yesterday morning, it is stated, the two men had words in a cigar store, in this city, which almost resulted in blows, and it is also stated that the police have proof that Marshall has made the statement that he would hit Hausen the first chance he got, and it is fully believed by those who saw the murderous blow struck yesterday that Marshall intended to kill Hausen.”

Unlike Hausen, who three years earlier, avoided any legal action in Iowa, Marshall was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, and was unable to make bail.  Despite the serious charge, and the alleged “proof” of intent the police were said to have, the charges were reduced to assault and battery and a sympathetic judge “took into consideration the boy’s age—18—and the fact that he had already served considerable time in jail (nine days)” and sentenced Marshall to time served and a $50 fine.

It’s unknown what became of Marshall after his release.

Hausen continued the life of an itinerant early 20th Century ballplayer.  He returned to Iowa late in 1903, then back to Salt Lake City in 1904, for his best season.  He hit .318 for the Salt Lake City Elders in the Pacific National League, and his contract was purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals, but was returned to the minor leagues early in the spring.

The 1904 Salt Lake Elders, Hausen is standing second from the left

The 1904 Salt Lake Elders, Hausen is standing second from the left

Hausen spent time in the Southern Association and Central League before returning to Utah in 1909.  He played several more seasons of semipro ball until retiring to a farm in Rupert, Idaho.  He died there in 1935.

Advertisement for a 1909 Utah State League game between Salt Lake City and Ogden.  Hausen played third base.

Advertisement for a 1909 Utah State League game between Salt Lake City and Ogden. Hausen played third base for Ogden

Despite his early trouble with fans in Utah, they seemed to have warmed to him later in his carer;

During one of his many stints playing in the state, The Salt Lake Tribune said of Hausen:

“No better or more faithful ball player ever stepped on a Utah diamond.”