Tag Archives: Count Campau

“He is Thoroughly Incompetent and Could do no Better”

12 May

After the Cincinnati Reds traded for Piggy Ward in June of 1893, Alonzo Flanner of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said of his first visit to play the Browns with his new club:

“Ward, one of Comiskey’s latest acquisitions, is a great baseball player. He got his base every time he came to bat yesterday. He steals bases with a gavotte step and coaches like a cow with a cough but can’t field a little bit.”

Flanner had more to say later the same month:

“Ward, the young man with the waddle and voice like a catarrhal cow, who essayed to play right field for Cincinnati. He shows the happiest faculty for muffing, fumbling, and wild throwing of any young man masquerading in a League uniform and drawing salary.”

The observations appear to be accurate; in 42 games with the Reds, Ward hit .280, stole 27 bases, and made 13 errors in just 75 chances in the outfield. The Reds released him in August.

piggyward

Frank Gray “Piggy” Ward

The Cincinnati Enquirer said of Ward’s two-month tenure with the club:

“His opening was a dream. For weeks after he started in with the Reds, he was the talk of the town. He stood on the topmost pinnacle in the esteem of the local enthusiasts. Then came the awful exhibition of yellow fielding in the Fourth of July games.”

Ward played right field in the first game and left field in the second against Philadelphia on July 4. He was charged with two errors in the first game and one in second, and the paper said, “His miserable work in the field,” accounted for “no less than six” of Philadelphia’s 15 runs in their 15-14 victory in the first game, but allowed:

“Ward should not be blamed too harshly, because he is thoroughly incompetent and could do no better.”

After the Fourth of July debacle, The Enquirer said:

“No one could be found to fill his place as well, and again Ward had a chance to show himself. So well did he take advantage of this opportunity that it is safe to say of all the players that have been released by the Cincinnati Club none of them ever left behind such a feeling of universal regret as this same Ward.”

ward4thofjuly

The Cincinnati Enquirer after the July 4 double header

The Enquirer was so appalled by Ward’s performance that the paper referenced it at length a year later on Independence Day:

“The Exhibition of how not to play the game of ball given by Piggy that day will never be forgotten by those unfortunate enough to witness it. Such fielding was nauseating.”

The Cincinnati Commercial Gazette said, “There is nothing that that so disgusts a Cincinnati base ball crowd as poor fielding.”

Ward had arrived in Cincinnati with a reputation. He appeared in a major league game at age 16—playing third base for the Philadelphia Quakers on June 12, 1883; he was 0 for 5 and reached on an error. The Philadelphia Times description of Ward’s debut is ironic given later assessments of his skills:

“(Ward) fielded well but was weak at the bat and a very slow runner.”

After that single game, he bounced all over the US and Canada—and made two more brief stops in the big leagues between 1887 and 1891—after his first game in the outfield for the Quakers in his second trial with the club in 1889, The Philadelphia Enquirer said, “he proved conclusively he cannot play the outfield.”

He was also, by all accounts, a bit eccentric:

While playing with the Hamilton Hams in the International League, The Toronto Mail said he, “tried one of his supposed funny fakes.”

Ward handed a potato to pitcher Bill Pfann who was supposed to throw the potato over first baseman Ed Swartwood’s head.  Pfann was apparently slow on the uptake and threw the potato to Swartwood “and (Toronto Canucks Tom) McLaughlin was therefore not caught by the trick.”

Ward made at least one other documented attempt at the hidden ball trick—this time without a potato—during his brief stop with the Baltimore Orioles in June of 1893 in a game with Louisville. The Baltimore Sun described the play:

“Ward walked to the pitcher’s plate as if to advise (Kirtley) Baker on some point of the game. Then he walked back to first base. Baker resumed his position on the plate as if to pitch, but (Fred) Pfeffer had seen Ward take the ball and did not remove his foot from first base.”

Pfeffer pointed out the situation to umpire Michael McLaughlin and Baker was charged with a balk.

Pfeffer told the paper:

“I did intend at first , for the fun of the thing, to let Ward touch me with the ball by stepping off the base and then calling the umpire’s attention to the balk, but it occurred to me that the umpire might not have seen the play and would therefore decide against me. You have to be careful on such points.”

Ward’s was also considered by many to be a clubhouse cancer throughout his career. He started the 1893 season with the New Orleans Pelicans in the Southern Association. After Ward left the Pelicans, The New Orleans Times-Democrat said team president Charles Genslinger called Ward “a dissenter of the worst type and kept the local club in constant internal turmoil until his departure.”

Among Genslinger’s charges were that Ward had been the “sole cause” of an early season uprising that caused several of the team’s best players—including Count Campau, Pat Luby, and Mark Polhemus– to attempt to secure their releases, and that manager Abner “Powell ordered Ward to stop smoking in uniform, and as he persisted in the disobedience to orders he was compelled to impose a heavy fine.”

More of Ward’s story tomorrow.

Count Campau Explains the “Science of the Sport”—Part 2

28 Mar

Charles “Count” Campau was among the fastest and best base runners of the 19th Century; he stole 63 bases in 147 games major league games, and stole 100 with Savannah and New Orleans in 1887.  In 1900 Campau, then 36 appears, not to have slowed down much.

The Binghamton (NY) Press said at a “field day” competition in Montreal, Campau “circled the bases in 14 ½ seconds and won a handsome gold watch, which he now carries as a souvenir of the feat.”  The Press also said “At one time Campau challenged any baseball player in the world to run a match race of 100 yards for 100.”

"Count" Campau

“Count” Campau

In 1893 Campau wrote an article for the New Orleans Times-Picayune about the “Science of the Sport,” last week‘s post included his comments about the battery, this week, the rest of the article:

“Many people will not believe that a third baseman’s position is one of the hardest and most trying.  As soon as he makes a hot pick-up he must immediately send the ball to first to score the batter out.  He must be a quick, hard and accurate thrower, or a fast base runner will have a good chance to get to first.

“The short stop and second baseman, as a rule, generally work together, but the short stop aids the baseman more than he receives help, in fact, the second baseman is a sort of short stop.  Should a batter be right-handed the grounder will invariably go to the short stop.  If a man has already reached first, the short stop depends upon the second baseman to be at the bag, and send the ball to him…A left-hand batter will send the ball between first and second, where the second baseman generally plays.  Should there be a man on first, the short stop is looked upon to cover the bag, and if the hit is a fast grounder and both men are quick throwers, a double can be easily worked.

“The first baseman is a mean position to play.  It looks easy, but is hard.  He has got to play a short stop game, must be a sure catcher of a thrown ball and is supposed to get a low thrown ball or a high one, and must catch a ball either on the left or right side.  This position is the best place for a captain; for he can see every play that is made better than should he be in the outfield, and can readily argue a decision with an umpire without walking a mile to do so.

“The outfield must be greatly depended upon and must catch all the balls in that territory..  The outfielders have not as much work as the infielders, but they have to look up at Old Sol and must have a good pair of eyes.  They must be hard, quick throwers to be of any value to the team and have got to watch the base runners and use judgment  as to the proper place to throw the ball…A person can be a good fly ball catcher with diligent practice.  He must know where to run and judge a ball.  As soon as he can do this there will be no trouble to succeed.

“A captain must be a cool man and be able to command respect from his men and let them know that his rulings must be obeyed…When his side is in he should instruct his men how to bat, when to bunt or sacrifice. “

Campau said “Baseball is a great exercise, for it is played with brain and every muscle, and daily practice will make any person become strong quick, for every muscle is brought into play and is developed.”

Campau played and managed until the 1905 season, finishing his career with the Binghamton Bingoes in the New York State League; released by Binghamton mid-season, he became an umpire, working in the Southern, Eastern and New York State Leagues June of 1907.

Charles Columbus "Count" Campau 1904

Charles Columbus “Count” Campau 1904

Campau gave up umpiring for thoroughbred racing; he served as a handicapper, clerk of scales and placing judge at a variety of race tracks, including Kenilworth Park in Buffalo, King Edwards Park in Canada, Oriental Park in Cuba, and finally, the Fair Grounds in his adopted home of New Orleans.

Campau died in 1938.

Count Campau Explains the “Science of the Sport”—the Battery

20 Mar

Charles Columbus “Count” Campau earned his nickname because of his regal appearance and his background; he was a member of a prominent Detroit family and educated at Notre Dame, and was regarded as one of the smartest players of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

His Major League career was brief, just 147 games with the Detroit Wolverines, St. Louis Browns and Washington Senators, but he was one of the best known, and highest regarded minor league players for 20 years.

Charles Columbus "Count" Campau

Charles Columbus “Count” Campau

Campau was especially popular in New Orleans, where he played for parts of four seasons, managed for one, and adopted as his home.

In 1893 Campau, who The New Orleans Times-Picayune called “one of the best students of baseball,” wrote an article as “Advice for Amateurs” about the “Science of the Sport:”

 “Many a time I have been asked for my views on the successful way to make a good ball player.  From a player’s standpoint a ball player is born and not made.  But with continued practice and coaching from and older and experienced head the amateur will probably reach the top notch in the profession.  There are two things, when combined, (which) will make a good ball player.  A practical and intellectual knowledge of the pastime or sport will aid the amateur.”

The New Orleans Pelicans captain explained what passed for “scientific baseball” in 1893; position by position:

“The most important position is the pitcher. For three reasons he ranks as the most important player on the team. He is the pivot upon which the victory of the team rests.  Should he be slightly disabled or out of condition all hopes of victory would go glimmering and the rest of the team would not put up a good game of ball.  A good pitcher, with fair fielders, is better than a poor pitcher with brilliant fielders.  With a weak pitcher, a fast fielding team would make a sport, and with good hitters would likely win one game out of ten.”

Campau blamed pitching for the Pelicans slow start that season; in spite of being “as hard a batting team” as there was in the league, they “could not win for the reason that the box was decidedly weak.”

“Another important factor in a game is the catcher…A catcher with good judgment and a quick brain will prevent the speedy base runner from advancing, and will lessen the work of the pitcher by watching the bases.  A good battery, with judgment, will work a hard batter, and the chances are that he will pop up a fly or send a grounder to short.  The catcher’s work does not only consist of receiving the delivery of his pitcher, for such a catcher is not worth the chest protector he wears, and will never become a success…(Charlie) Bennett(Jack) Clements, (Buck) Ewing and (Morgan) Murphy are catchers who watch every point of the game.  They back up the first baseman at every safe opportunity.”

"Count" Campau

“Count” Campau

More from the “Count” next week.

Anger Management

27 Dec

Thomas Timothy “Tim” Flood just couldn’t control himself.

Flood was a solid infielder and somewhat erratic hitter.  As a 17-year-old he hit .364 with the New Orleans Pelicans in the Southern Association in 1894 but hit .266 in his minor league career and .233 as a Major Leaguer.

He had a late season 10-game trial with his hometown St. Louis Perfectos in the National League in 1899.  He was given his next shot in the National league in 1902 when he was signed by Ned Hanlon’s Brooklyn Superbas to fill the void left at second when veteran Tom Daly jumped his contract to join the Chicago White Sox.

Flood was an upgrade in the field, and while a weaker hitter than Daly, he quickly became a favorite of Hanlon who named him Brooklyn’s captain for the 1903 season.

Tim Flood

Tim Flood

1903 was not a good season for the new captain; he continued to struggle at the plate and dealt with a knee injury that limited him to 84 games.  He was also suspended for two games in July for a physical altercation in Cincinnati with umpire James “Bug” Holiday.  Holiday, a former Major Leaguer had a stormy half season as a National league umpire and resigned several days after tangling with Flood.

Flood was released by Brooklyn in March of 1904 and joined the Los Angeles Angels in the Pacific Coast League.

He was a very popular player in Los Angeles and captained the Angeles in 1904 and part of 1905 until he assaulted Ira “Slats” Davis, another former Major Leaguer turned umpire during a game in June of 1905. Eugene Bart, president of the league suspended flood indefinitely.

Newspapers reported that Flood said he would “never fight another arbitrator whether he is in the right or wrong.”

In 1906, he signed with the Altoona Mountaineers in the “outlaw” Tri-State League, where he appears to have kept his pledge and had an incident-free season.

In 1907, he joined  the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern League and managed to play 29 games before he was in trouble again.  Flood assaulted an umpire named John Conway during a game in Toronto; the attack included a kick to the umpire’s chest.

Flood was arrested.

He was charged with assault and ordered to appear in front of a magistrate. Friends told Flood the hearing would be a formality and that he should plead guilty and receive a small fine.

No one told Magistrate George Taylor Denison who said, “This sort of thing must be discouraged,” and sentenced Flood to “Fifteen days in jail with hard labor.” At the same time Patrick Powers, president of the Eastern League, banished Flood from the league.

Toronto fans were outraged and immediately began circulating petitions which “included the names of several clergymen” and were presented by team officials to Minister of Justice Allen Bristol Aylesworth in hopes of getting Flood pardoned.

Opinions of the punishment varied.  Several newspapers carried the following poem which lamented Flood’s fate for “Sassing” an umpire:

“’Holy Moses!’  In Toronto

There is news to make you pale

Sass the umpire if you want to—

That is, want to go to jail!

There is woe among the batters,

As around the field they scud;

And their pride is torn to tatters

By the fate of poor Tim Flood

Fifteen days in jail for Timmy

Soon the parks will close so tight

That you couldn’t with a jimmy

Let in one small streak of light.”

Others, including two former players, said Flood got what he deserved and implied that his behavior was not limited to the three well-publicized incidents.

Charles “Count” Campau, a former Major Leaguer and umpire, who had been a teammate of Flood’s in New Orleans said:

“I am sorry to see anyone go to jail, but, for the good of baseball. I am glad to see Tim Flood out of it for good. Rowdies of the Flood type are a disgrace to any sport or business, and especially baseball. He was always mixed up in just this way and was chased out of California, where b« was playing, for the same kind of tricks. Umpire baiting was always his long suit, and, from what I can understand, his attack on Umpire Owens [sic] was a most cowardly one: Flood is a good ballplayer, but his hasty temper, his meanness has put him out of the game forever, and incidentally Into Jail.”

Charles "Count" Campau

Charles “Count” Campau

Tim Murnane, Major Leaguer turned baseball writer said:

“Tim Flood has a new record, and will now be in a position to go back to his trade and give up the game he was unfitted for.  The courts all over the country should follow the example of the Canadian judge, who sent a ballplayer to lock-up for assaulting an umpire.  It wouldn’t take many decisions of this kind to drive the bad men out of the sport.  Imagine a player taking a running jump at a man and hitting him in the breast with his spiked shoes!”

Tim Murnane

Tim Murnane

After serving 10 days, Minister of Justice Aylesworth ordered Flood released.  The player, in various reports, claimed he lost between 10 and 16 pounds during his incarceration, citing the poor quality of the food.

President Powers rejected pleas from the Toronto management to reinstate Flood and permanently banned him from the Eastern League; however, contrary to Campau’s and Murnane’s wishes, Flood was out of baseball for less than a month.

Flood was signed before the end of July by the Saint Paul Saints in the American Association and vowed, as he had before, that he was a changed man.

It appears 10 days in jail might have made a difference.  Flood was named manager of the Saints in 1908 and continued to play and manage in the minor leagues for five more seasons, apparently without incident.

In 1914, The Sporting Life reported, with no irony, that Flood was hired as an umpire in the Northern League.

Flood died in St’ Louis in 1929.