Tag Archives: Dallas Hams

The Worst, or Best Game Recap Ever—1888

9 Apr

In June of 1888 the Dallas Hams were coasting to the Texas League championship; the team was so good, and so far in front, the league would be reformed in July as the Texas Southern League.  Dallas would win that championship as well.

The 1888 Dallas Hams

The 1888 Dallas Hams

Unfortunately most stories did not have bylines in 1888, as a result we’ll probably never know who wrote this recap of the June 12 game between the Hams and the Austin Senators in The Dallas Morning News:

“It was a good game on both sides, still a listless, lifeless, inanimate game.  Neither side showed any life or spirit.  They played like they were asleep, or dead.  There were only about 150 spectators and the boys couldn’t throw any life into the game.

“For seven innings neither side made a run.  Each side played ball and kept the other from scoring. In the eighth inning (Frank) Hoffman for Austin scored.  It was (William) ‘Kid’ Peeples error that lost the game.  A beautiful, way up, pop fly came over to him, falling so prettily right into his hands, and he let it slip—muffed it.  Jack Wentz was on one side of him (Clarence) ‘Daddy’ Cross at the other, each one standing ready and waiting, but it was Peeples’ ball and they stood by.  He muffed it.  He said afterward that he had his hands out for it to come down between his breast and his hands, which it did, but he had his hands too far out and it slipped through.

“The game was lost for Dallas by Peeples’ error of the fly already mentioned.  Look at the score and you will see that while Austin made five base hits, Dallas made nothing except Charlie Levis’ two bagger.

“It is not necessary to go through the minutia of the game.  It was goose egg after goose egg up to the eighth inning, when Austin made one.  There wasn’t a brilliant play in the whole game.  Charlie Levis did make a two bagger, and is entitled to credit for it.  Nobody else did anything.

“Only about 150 people were present to see the game.  The small crowd discouraged the boys and they played without verve, without spirit, without animation.”

The Box Score

The Box Score

“Father of Sunday Ball”

22 Jan

After becoming president of the Waco Tigers in the Texas League, Henry Fabian allowed himself to be arrested in order to challenge a law that was costing Texas League owners money: The blue law that didn’t allow them to play games on Sunday.

The state statute forbade “Sunday amusements” that charged admission.  Texas League teams had lost money in each previous incarnation of the league and the inability to schedule games on Sunday was a contributing factor.

Whether challenging the law was part of Fabian’s plan from the beginning is unknown, but by June his Tigers had played three Sunday home games, and three times Fabian was arrested for violating the statute, posting $60 bond on each occasion.

After being found guilty at the local level Fabian challenged the statute in Texas’ Court of Criminal appeals, arguing that the law was passed before baseball became a professional sport and did not apply to the game.  The court ruled in Fabian’s favor, and while local ordinances still prevented Sunday games in Dallas, Sunday baseball became the norm in the Texas League. In his obituary, 35 years later, The Dallas Morning News’ headline called Fabian “Father of Sunday Ball.”

Fabian sold the Waco club to local businessmen in 1906 and took a job with a sporting goods company, but it was his interest in ballpark design and grounds keeping that would become his vocation.

Fabian participated in the layout and design of several local ballparks in Texas from 1888-1910, and was credited with creating the first “ Turtle-back diamond” at Oak Cliff Park, the Dallas Hams’ home field in 1888.  The pitched design and elevated pitcher’s mound allowed for quick drainage.

By 1910 Fabian had designed diamonds in Dallas, Waco, Galveston, New Orleans and Atlanta, when he was hired as head groundskeeper for the Saint Louis Browns.  He stayed with the Browns for three seasons until his old friend John McGraw hired him to be the groundskeeper for the New York Giants

By 1915 The Sporting Life said:

“Visiting ballplayers declare that the diamond Henry Fabian has built up at the Polo Grounds is the best in the country.”

Fabian was considered the premier groundskeeper in baseball for the next 25 years and in 1939 he was put in charge of the Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) project to prepare Doubleday Field in Cooperstown for baseball’s centennial celebration.

Doubleday Field renovation, 1939

Doubleday Field renovation, 1939

Fabian died the following year on February 25, six years to the day after the death of his friend John McGraw.

Henry Fabian

21 Jan

Like John Bradley and George Kittle, Henry Fabian was a member of the 1888 Dallas Hams, champions of the Texas League and the Texas Southern League.  Unlike those two, when someone fired a shot at him he missed.

Fabian was born in New Orleans, in 1864 or 1866, depending on the source.  He began his career in 1886, catching and playing first base for both of his hometown teams in the four-team Gulf League: the Robert E. Lee’s and the team that became the New Orleans Pelicans.

Fabian had his fingers broken by a foul tip before the beginning of the season.  A 1913 article by former Major Leaguer turned sportswriter Sam Crane told the story:

“It was such a serious injury that there was no possibility of his playing again that season and rather than release him his manager (Thomas Brennan) asked him to become groundskeeper at the same salary he was getting as a player.”

That experience would stay with him.

By November of 1887 he had recovered enough to play in games against the Chicago White Stockings and Saint Louis Browns when their post-season barnstorming tour stopped in New Orleans.

In 1888 Fabian came to Texas as a member of the Galveston Giants, but was with Dallas by June. While statistics are spotty for his career, and non-existent for 1888, The Dallas Morning News said of him:

“Though not a brilliant player, Henry has always been a hardworking courageous one.”

Fabian continued playing until 1903, spending his entire career in Texas and Louisiana with the exception of 1891 when he played for the Cedar Rapids Canaries in the Illinois-Iowa League where he played with John McGraw, who became one of his closest friends.

Fabian was the subject of two strange stories.  In a July 1892 a headline in The Dallas Morning News said:

“Henry Fabian Shot At.  A Case in Which a Base Ball Man Dodged a Bullet.”

The story said a local carpenter named Parker had fired a shot at Fabian.  Fabian told a reporter for the paper that “an article appeared in The Kansas City Sun about which he wanted an explanation from Parker.”  The article said “Mr. Fabian’s description of the article The News is not privileged to report at this stage of the proceedings.”

There was never another reference in any Dallas paper to the incident or about what the Kansas City story might have been.

Henry Fabian, circa 1930

Henry Fabian, circa 1930

In 1904 an Associated Press article appeared in several newspapers under the headline “Joy Restores Her Sight:”

“Sight has been miraculously restored to the stone-blind eyes of an aged mother by the voice of her son who returned unheralded after an absence of 18 years.  The woman is Mrs. Sophie Fabian of New Orleans and the son is Henry.”

The rest of the story did not completely live up to the headline or lede; Mrs. Fabian was told her sight might come back and the story conceded “the recovery was not complete,” but nonetheless, the paper’s treated it as some kind of miracle

Fabian returned to baseball in 1905 as part owner and president of the Waco Tigers in the Texas League, and while there he was the catalyst for changing a Texas law that helped make Texas League baseball profitable.

That, and Fabian’s other claims to fame, tomorrow.

John Bradley

18 Jan

Two members of the 1888 Dallas Hams were shot and killed in Texas.

One, George Kittle, I wrote about in September.

John Bradley was the other one.

Charles M. “John” “Brad” Bradley (wrongly listed with the middle initial “H” on Baseball Reference) left Oil City, Pennsylvania where he was born in June of 1864, to go west and play baseball.  An article in The Louisville Courier Journal said he was born to wealth and left Pennsylvania because of his father’s disapproval of baseball:

“(Bradley) was surrounded with every luxury.  He acquired a collegiate education and all the ornamental accomplishments of modern times.  He was possessed of a charming tenor voice; was a brilliant pianist and an expert linguist.  He was passionately fond of the national game…An early disagreement with his father, the result of his penchant for baseball, led to an estrangement, and, troubles never coming singly, he was rejected by a young lady of Oil City, PA, to whom he was devoted.”

After playing in Corning, New York in 1885 Bradley went to Kansas.  Various sources place him with the Topeka Capitals in the Western League and/or a team in Abilene in 1886 though neither can be verified.  Bradley then played with the Emporia Reds in the Western League in 1887.

He signed with the Austin Senators in the newly formed Texas League in 1888.  In March, Bradley caught for Austin in two exhibition games with the Cincinnati Red Stockings of the American Association—the Statesmen lost the first game 2-0, but won the second 3-0.

Box score of 1888 Austin -Cincinnati game won by Austin 3-0.

Box score of 1888 Austin-Cincinnati game won by Austin 3-0.

Bradley was Austin’s starting catcher until the dissolution of the Texas League in July.  When the reformed Texas Southern League commenced play later that month, Bradley was with Dallas where he shared catching duties with Kittle.

Bradley hit .158 as Dallas coasted to a championship.

The 1888 off season was an eventful one.

Bradley was offered a contract for 1889 with the St. Joseph Clay Eaters in the Western Association.

He also started seeing Dolly Love, “A woman of bad repute,” as The Dallas Morning News said; problem was Love was also involved with a livery driver named Tom Angus.

At the same time Bradley got in trouble with the law in December of 1888.  The Austin Weekly Statesman said:

“(Bradley) shot a man named Billups in a (Dallas) bar room, because Billups attacked him with an empty beer keg because he refused to pay for drinks.”

Bradley was charged with “assault with intent to kill” and was scheduled to appear in front of a Dallas Judge at the end of January.  He was also arrested twice in early January for altercations with Love at the brothel she operated.

Throughout the chaos Angus and Bradley were trading threats over Dolly Love.

The rivalry came to a head on January 16.  Shortly after 10:30 a.m., Bradley and a friend exited Swope & Mangold’s Saloon at the corner of Main and Austin to return to his room at the Grand Windsor Hotel across the street.  The Austin Weekly Statesman said Bradley was:

“Shot down like a dog by Tom Angus, a hack driver, who followed him and fired in his back.”

The Headline in The Dallas Morning News said:

“The Killing of Charles Bradley the Baseball Catcher, all about a Fallen Woman.”

Bradley was shot through the back and began to run as Angus fired two additional shots; after running about 120 feet, Bradley fell dead in the street.  Angus was immediately arrested and ordered held for trial.

A letter from five representatives of the Texas/Texas Southern League and addressed “To the Baseball Profession of the Union” was published in newspapers around the country soliciting funds “In order that able counsel may be obtained to conduct the prosecution,” the letter concluded:

“John Bradley played with Austin and Dallas in 1888, and had recently signed with St. Joe for the season of 1889. He was a gentleman, an excellent ballplayer and altogether an honor to our profession.  To ball players this case suggests not only a duty but a privilege, and we trust that a suitable response will be made.  Yours fraternally,

J. J. McCloskey, manager Austin team, I888.

Charles Levis, manager Dallas team 1888

Doug Crothers, manager Dallas team, 1889.

Kid Peeples, short stop Dallas team 1888.

Billy Joyce, third base Ft. Worth and New Orleans, 1888.”

It is unknown how much money was raised.

Dolly Love left Dallas for Fort Worth to escape the publicity.  Tom Angus spent more than a year in jail awaiting trial during which time he got married.  Dick Johnson, a friend of Angus’, who was at the scene of the shooting, was charged as an accessory, but was acquitted in a separate trial.

When the trial began in April of 1890 The Dallas Weekly Times-Herald headline called it:

“The Most Sensational Case that Has Been up for Years.”

Several witnesses, including a Dallas police officer testified that Bradley had also made threats against Angus in the weeks leading up to the killing, and that he often carried a gun.  Although Bradley wasn’t carrying a gun on the morning he was shot, and was shot in the back, the defense claimed that Angus had acted in self-defense.  Angus was found guilty, but sentenced to only five years in prison.

The sentence was upheld on appeal, the decision said:

“The accused should congratulate himself upon the mildness of the sentence.”

Angus was released from prison in the spring of 1895; in December he was arrested for shooting a man over a dispute about a horse.

Bradley was buried in Dallas.

The 1888 Texas Southern League

17 Jan

The Texas Southern League was in existence for half of one season; the reason for its creation was that the Dallas Hams were just too good a team in 1888.

In the winter of 1887 the Texas League was formed with six teams: the Dallas Hams, Austin Senators, Fort Worth Panthers, Galveston Giants, Houston Babies and San Antonio Missionaries.  Representatives from the Memphis Grays and New Orleans Pelicans in the Southern League, which was struggling to replace teams that had folded, also attended the meeting and lobbied for the league to be expanded to eight teams, but the six Texas-based teams voted not to include them;   New Orleans and Memphis joined the 4-team (down from 7) incarnation of the Southern League, which also included the Birmingham Maroons and Charleston Sea Gulls.

Charlie Levis, who had played Major League ball in The Union Association and American Association in 1884 and ’85 was named manager and played 1st base for Dallas.  Levis, a St. Louis native, brought in several Missourians including some who had spent time in the Major Leagues and built a strong team.

The Sporting News said Levis:

“Signed a team of professionals for Dallas that would do credit to almost any league in the country…They are all splendid fielders and batsmen and fair base runners.”

The team was so strong according to The Dallas Morning News that:

“So good was the Dallas team that club after club dropped out after repeated drubbings at its hands.  Dallas won so many consecutive victories that the other cities lost their appetite for baseball and withdrew.”

By late June, Dallas led the league with a winning percentage above .800; Austin and Fort Worth had dropped out and all the remaining teams were losing money with players often going several weeks between paydays.  At the same time, the Southern League was collapsing.  In early July, a deal was struck to create the five-team Texas Southern League with New Orleans joining Dallas, Galveston, Houston and San Antonio.

The 1888 Dallas Hams--Identifiable players: Front right Bill Goodenough, front left, Pat Whitaker, seated left, Ducky Hemp, standing left Charlie Levis, standing right John Fogerty,

The 1888 Dallas Hams–Identifiable players:
Front right Bill Goodenough, front left Ducky Hemp, seated left Pat Whitaker, standing left Charlie Levis, standing right John Fogarty,

While New Orleans provided some much-needed competition for Dallas the Texas Southern League half-season was not much different from the Texas League half-season.  Dallas finished with a winning percentage of .826, New Orleans finished second followed by San Antonio, Galveston and Houston.  The Morning News said on the final day of the season:

“The league is dead, and the Dallas club carries off the glory, waves high the pennant, and stands the champion club not only of the league but of all the South.”

The following season Austin and Fort Worth rejoined and the Waco Babies replaced the San Antonio Missionaries to again form a six-team Texas league; New Orleans returned to the Southern League, and the Texas Southern League was finished.

The story of one member of the 1888 Dallas Hams tomorrow.