Tag Archives: Dick Kinsella

“I can Pitch Ball when I’m Geezed”

21 May

Bugs Raymond decided to become a wrestler.  After his disastrous 1910 season—4-9, 2.81 ERA and John McGraw hiring a former police officer to chaperon the wayward pitcher—Raymond decided to try the ring.  The Chicago Daily News said during his debut—and finale-at Chicago’s Alhambra Theater:

“(H)is shoulders were twice pinned to the mat by Joe Kennedy, a local semi-professional. Kennedy won the first fall with little difficulty. Bugs came back strong and took the second but was unable to stand the pace and was forced to yield the third.”

 

bugs19102

Bugs

Three days after the December 17 bout, Raymond told the paper he was done”

“It’s a harder game than I figured on. As soon as you slip out of one hold, they don’t give you time to think, but clamp another on you right off the reel. The strain is something awful. Me for baseball. The worst thing they can do there is chase you to the bench when you aren’t right.”

More importantly for the Giants and McGraw, in January the team announced that Raymond would be going to Dwight, Illinois, to, according to The St. Louis Times:

“Submit to the rejuvenating influence of the Keeley cure.”

The paper doubted the success and concluded:

“The consensus of opinion hereabout is that Arthur is not worth the trouble.”

The St. Louis Star said, “we will bet…Raymond’s seat on the water cart is vacant.”

The Chicago Evening Post reported on Raymond’s final day in Chicago and his trip to Dwight—80 miles from Chicago—accompanied by “Sinister” Dick Kinsella—Giants scout, McGraw’s right-hand-man, and former minor league executive:

“Before starting the course, it is customary to give the ‘patient’ all he desires of his favorite beverage. Kinsella called for his man on the West Side and together they made the rounds of Bugs’ usual resorts. A farewell drink was taken at each place.”

dickkinsella

“Sinister Dick” Kinsella

On the train, after lunch, “There were four empties on the table when the stopping place was reached.”

When Kinsella and Raymond arrived at the Keeley Institute–the “institute” was the flagship of Keeley’s alcohol treatment practice which had more than 200 branches throughout the United States and Europe—he initially refused an injection:

“’Don’t put that in my left arm, there’s a sore there that I got in the wrestling match,’ said Bugs when the attendant started to insert the needle.

‘”No, you can’t put it in my right arm either, for that’s my pitching arm.’”

Raymond eventually relented and The Post claimed he passed his first test at the institute, turning down a shot of bourbon after receiving the injection.

When Kinsella left Raymond, he was said to be “sitting in his room smoking a pipe and planning a new curve to use.”

bugs19104

Bugs

Two weeks after he checked in, The New York Herald said Giants Secretary William M. Gray had received a letter from Raymond:

“He notified the club that he would be ready to join the training squad in Marlin Springs when called on by Manager McGraw and would be in first class condition ‘for the first time since I have been a professional ballplayer.’”

Raymond was said to be sober for two weeks and a letter from the institute that accompanied Raymond’s said he was “a model patient,’ and:

“He complies with all the rules of the institution and is getting along as well as could be expected.”

After Raymond had spent six weeks in Dwight, The New York Tribune said, “the eccentric twirler of the Giants has been discharged from the institution completely cured,” and would be leaving St. Louis for training camp in Marlin Texas on February 18,

Raymond spoke to The St. Louis Post Dispatch before leaving for Texas.  The paper said:

“Arthur Raymond, who no longer desires to be known as Bugs, may slip from the water wagon he so arduously climbed upon during the six weeks at Dwight Institute.”

Raymond said he had “good reason” for wondering if he could pitch sober:

“’In all my days as a baseball player I always pitched my best when I had a comfortable ‘edge’ on,’ said Raymond naively. ‘Now I am on the water wagon and will probably stick, but wouldn’t it be funny I failed to make good while behaving?’

“’If I find I can’t make a success on the mound as a prohibitionist, I’m going to tumble, because I know that I can pitch ball when I’m geezed. I will be a pretty rich man at the end of the season, though if I keep riding high and dry.”

Raymond told the paper he met with McGraw in Chicago in mid-February and signed a contract that “calls for a boost of $1700 over what I drew last year.” Raymond said his salary for 1911 would be “almost $6000.”

Raymond said he spent three days in St. Louis before leaving for the South and hadn’t “touched a drop,”

Things went well in Texas and The New York Herald said:

“The Mighty Insect is working his head off to make a showing in the practice and exhibition games…He figures that a good showing   in the ante-season contests ought to put him in right with the fans back home and now he is really on the penitents’ bench he wants all hands to think well of him.”

He also dropped 17 pounds, after arriving in Texas weighing 210.

McGraw said:

“Raymond is the best right-hand pitcher in the big leagues when he’s sober and decent.”

As was well, until March 31.

The Washington Times reported that Raymond fell off the wagon when the Giants got to Atlanta:

“After pitching a few innings Wednesday against his old club, Raymond proceeded to celebrate, and that evening did not appear at the hotel until very late.”

The paper said Raymond also “was willing to mix things up” with Washington scout Mike Kehoe who was staying at the same hotel, Kehoe “seized a bat standing in the corner and made a rush for Raymond,” in order to back him down.

The New York Herald claimed Raymond was not drunk. After the Giants arrived in Norfolk, Virginia and he pitched three hitless innings against a local club, the paper said:

“Raymond was not in condition to pitch at Atlanta. It is true, but it was not drink. He contracted a bad case of malaria there and was confined to his room.”

Multiple papers retracted the story that Bugs had been drunk, John Wray, sports editor at The St. Louis Post Dispatch said the pitcher was “getting all worst of his past reputation.”

The Atlanta Georgian and News did not retract:

“Raymond skidded off the water wagon and into the pickle vat the night after he pitched against Atlanta. He showed up his old-time teammates so strong that he just had to celebrate some.”

Raymond won three games to begin the regular season, but by mid-June was 6 and 3 and seemed to have lost McGraw’s confidence.  On June 16 he was sent in to relieve Louis Drucke in St. Louis with the bases loaded and no one out in the first inning.  Four runs scored before Raymond retired the Cardinals.

Raymond allowed four more runs in the fifth and was removed after the sixth; he walked six and hit Steve Evans twice with pitches.  McGraw promptly fined him $200 and suspended him:

The St. Louis Times said:

“A too intimate communion with lemonade, seltzer, fer-mil-lac, and other popular beverages, is said to have been the undoing of Raymond for the ‘steenth time.”

Raymond signed with a semi-pro team in Winsted Connecticut, where he lasted just one game. The Associated Press said:

“Raymond arrived last night and after amusing a street crowd for several hours, during which he was threatened with arrest, he kept a majority of the guests at a local hotel awake all night. Bugs refused an invitation to drive the village water wagon and was finally put to bed by friends, being resuscitated a couple hours before the contest was called.”

Winsted lost 6 to 4 and Raymond was let go.

He then began pitching for various semi-pro clubs on the East Coast, including a July 1 game in New Brunswick, New Jersey where Raymond pitched for a the all-woman Female Stars.  The New Brunswick Daily Home News said:

“No score was kept, and no one could tell who won. In fact, no one cared…The sun proved too much Bugs and he was glad when the agony was over. He tried to be funny and succeeded only partially.”

The National Commission said Raymond’s participation in these games as a suspended player was “contrary to the letter and spirit of the National Agreement,” and that he would be subject to penalty before ever becoming eligible to play organized baseball again.

Throughout late July and early August, various reports had Raymond heading to either Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, or Mobile I the Southern Association.

The Atlanta Constitution said:

“That Bugs would prove a drawing card with any Southern league team goes without saying.”

Instead, he returned to Chicago and signed first with Harry Forbes’ Athletics—he was hit hard and beaten 7 to 1 by the Indiana Harbor semi-pro club and was let go.  Next, Raymond signed with the Gunthers in the Chicago City League. Raymond showed flashes of his talent; in his first league game with the teams he beat Smokey Joe Williams and the Chicago Giants 2 to 0, and in late September he beat Frank Wickware and the Chicago American Giants 3 to 2.

In October, The New York Herald noted that while the Giants would be playing in the World Series in week, Raymond, “instead of participating” and earning “about $3000,” had given up eight runs in the first inning to the West Ends.

In less than a year, Raymond would be dead at age 30.

“Killing Minor League Baseball as a Business”

20 Mar

Charles A. Lovett was just 15 years old when he became the sports editor of the Peoria (IL) Herald-Transcript in 1909; by the time he was 20 he had become a sportswriter at The St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

In September of 1918, with minor leagues having shut down all season and the major league season ended on Labor Day, Lovett spoke to “Sinister” Dick Kinsella, the former the former minor league magnate and major league scout, who predicted the dire future of baseball in general and the minor leagues in particular:

“Few followers of major league baseball realize how many are affected by the present condition of the sport—with the game literally shot to pieces.”

dickkinsella

“Sinister Dick” Kinsella

Major league clubs, Kinsella said:

“(R)olled in wealth until the war came in 1914. I was in on the ground floor, and don’t let ‘em tell you different. I was only one of the help but the Cardinals paid me $5000 and expenses to scout in 1912.”

Kinsella said even after the war started in Europe, he had earned $6500 with the Giants in 1915.

“I might name other of the huge profits that were piled up in the majors, but it may suffice to say that even the Cardinals, in 1911, made $130,000 net. (Roger) Bresnahan told Bill Armour and myself—we were both scouting for (owner Helene Hathaway) Britton in 1912—to go out and buy some good players. I bought one, Frank Snyder for $1200 [sic, published reports at the time said the price was $2000] and the club turned down an offer of $15,000 for Frank that winter, or to be exact, before the team went into training in the spring of 1913. Armour recommended one, George (Possum) Whitted…(we) earned our salaries.”

Now, said Kinsella, who had returned to his hometown of Springfield (IL) after the season ended to tend to his paint manufacturing business:

“I’m peddling varnish and I can’t complain, either. Armour’s running a saloon in Kansas City and pretty soon he’ll be doing something other than marketing internal varnish.”

The season after Kinsella signed Snyder, there was still so much money in baseball, he said that:

“Bresnahan quit the Cardinals $27,000 to the good. Mrs. Britton settled with him for $12,500 and Charles Murphy gave him $15,000 to sign with the Cubs. Roger showed me the checks in the Planter’s hotel, St. Louis, then bought a bottle of wine and handed the waiter a $5 tip.”

bresnahan

Contemporaneous reports indicate Kinsella ‘s recollection was off, and low—Bresnahan was said to have received a $25,000 signing bonus from the Cubs and settled a lawsuit against Britton and the Cardinals for $20,000

Kinsella said, as poor a financial state as the major leagues were in as a result of the war and the ravages of the flu epidemic, the minor leagues were in their death throes:

“Ten years ago, there were a dozen minor league franchises worth from $50,000 to $150,000. Charles Ebbets (Jr., son of the Dodgers owner) made $80,000 net one season with the Newark International League team. This s only a sample of the big money that was in baseball among the smaller teams.”

Kinsella said his experience as a club owner was indicative of the decline and impending doom that faced the minor leagues:

“I used to own the Springfield three I League club and sold out ten years ago when I saw the handwriting and realized that golf, automobiles, and country clubs were killing minor league baseball as a business. The Springfield businessmen who bought the franchise lost $30,000 before they gave up the ghost.”

In addition to the businessmen that lost money after buying his club, Kinsella predicted doom for Bresnahan who used the money he received in 1913 to buy the Toledo Mud Hens in 1914, rather than accept Kinsella’s offer to help him invest it.

“If he had it to do over again, I’ll bet he would stick that money in Liberty Bonds.”

Bresnahan owned the club until 1924 and did lose money on the investment.v

 

 

Things I Learned on the Way to Looking Up Other Things #17

10 Feb

Honus Wagner on Integration, 1939

As part of a series of articles on the long overdue need to integrate major league baseball, Wendell Smith of The Pittsburgh Courier interviewed many of baseball’s biggest names.  One of the most vocal proponents was Honus Wagner.

Wagner

Wagner

The then 65-year-old Pittsburgh Pirates coach told Smith:

“Most of the great Negro players I played against have passed on, but I remember many of them well.

Rube Foster was one of the greatest pitchers of all time.  He was the smartest pitcher I have ever seen in all my years of baseball.

“Another great player was John Henry Lloyd.  They called him ‘The Black Wagner’ and I was always anxious to see him play.

“Well, one day I had an opportunity to go see him play.  After I saw him I felt honored that they should name such a great ballplayer after me, honored.”

Rube Foster

Rube Foster

Wagner said the “Homestead Grays had some of the best ballplayers I have ever seen.”

John Henry lloyd

John Henry lloyd

Although he misidentified one of them as “lefty,” Wagner also said of William Oscar Owens, a pitcher and outfielder for the Grays and several other clubs:

“He was a great pitcher and one of the best hitters I have ever seen.”

More recently, Wagner said Oscar CharlestonJasper “Jap” Washington, Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson “could have made the grade easily had they been accepted.”

Wagner concluded:

“Yes, down through the years, I have seen any number of Negro players who should have been in big league baseball.”

 

Uniform Criticism, 1923

The Decatur (IL) Herald found the state of baseball uniforms worthy of an editorial in March of 1923:

“Pictures of baseball players in training reveal that the season of 1923 has brought no marked change in the style of uniform.  It is quite as baggy and unbecoming as ever.

“Baseball players refer to their costumes as ‘monkey suits,’ a term that is supposed to establish some sort of connection with the cut of the affairs worn by the little animals that pick up the organ grinder’s pennies.  However, that may be, no sensible man imagines that his uniform accentuates his good looks.  It is purely a utility costume and smartness has no place in it.”

ruthandgehrig

Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth in their “baggy and unbecoming” 1923 uniforms

 

The paper was most concerned about the uniform’s tendency to make players look foolish and appear to be out of shape:

“A collarless blouse with an awkward length sleeve bags at the belt in a way to emphasize abdominal prominence instead of athletic trimness about the loins.  Loose knickerbockers gathered at the knee resemble the khaki uniforms of the Spanish-American War period in their voluminousness and wrinkles…A cap fitting close about the head and bringing ears into striking relief is the climatic feature of this make-up.

“Underneath this covering of dirty gray or brown there are doubtless lithe limbs and well developed muscles, but the spectator doesn’t see them.  The baseball costume doubtless serves its purpose, it fails lamentably to make the wearer look like an athlete.”

No Women Allowed, 1912

Coming out of the 1912 winter meetings in Chicago, The New York Globe said:

“Nothing doing for suffragettes in the American League!  Not even if they march to the meeting.  They may be making great progress in their cause, but there will not be any Mrs. Brittons in the Ban Johnson organization.”

“Mrs. Britton” was Helene Hathaway Britton, who became owner of the St. Louis Cardinals after the death of her uncle Stanley Robison.

Helene Hathaway Britton with children Marie and Frank

Helene Hathaway Britton with children Marie and Frank

 “A decision was reached that no woman can own a club or even attend an American League meeting.  According to the owners it was a good decision, as they did not want to get into the same mess of trouble which the National League has encountered since one of its clubs fell into the hands of a woman.  Which shows the American League is constantly being benefitted by the experience of the National.”

The “trouble” referred to tension between Britton and Manager Roger Bresnahan, who she had given a five-year contract before the 1912 season.  The two feuded after the team struggled and Britton rejected numerous overtures from Bresnahan to buy the team.  She eventually fired the manager and a very public battle ensued.  Sinister “Dick” Kinsella, who along with Bill Armour comprised the Cardinals’ scouting staff, resigned claiming Bresnahan was “Not treated right.” Armour remained with the club and a settlement was finally reached when Bresnahan was named manager of the Chicago Cubs.

bresnahanandtoy

Bresnahan moved on to the Cubs

One American League owner told The Globe:

“I think it will benefit our league to keep the women out of baseball.  It is almost impossible to do so, but we must keep them out of baseball.  A woman owning a ballclub is about the limit, and the American League made a great move when they decided to bar female magnates.  Votes for the women may be alright, and we do not blame them for battling for them, but it would be a terrible thing to have them in baseball as owners.  It would mean the ruining of the game.”

Grace Comiskey, who became owner of the Chicago White Sox after the death of her husband John Louis Comiskey in 1939–she was forced to go to court to get control of the club from The First National Bank of Chicago; as trustees of the estate, the bank wanted to sell the team because there was no specific instruction in the will that his widow should take control.

She became the American League’s first woman owner.

The game appears not to have been “ruined” during her tenure.

“There’s one thing you mustn’t do when you get to New York”

26 Oct

“Sinister Dick” Kinsella is primarily known as John McGraw’s equally pugnacious right-hand man and scout.  He was at McGraw’s side for one of the manager’s most famous brawls; a battle with Giants catcher Larry McLean in the lobby of the Buckingham Hotel in St. Louis, he also boasted an impressive list of “finds” including Carl Hubbell, Chief Meyers, Hack Wilson and Larry Doyle.

"Sinister Dick" Kinsella

              “Sinister Dick” Kinsella

Kinsella credited a career minor league player and manager for his discovery of Doyle, who he sold to the New York Giants in July of 1907.  After Doyle hit .310 in 1911, a syndicated Newspaper Enterprise Association told the story of how he acquired Doyle after the 1906 season from the Mattoon Canaries of the Kitty League, having never seen him play:

“Mattoon was in need of a pitcher and appealed to President Dick Kinsella of the Springfield Three-Eye League team for aid…Kinsella saw a chance to make a bargain when Mattoon hoisted the distress sign and struck one.  ‘I’ll let you have a pitcher for the pick of your team at the end of the season,’ Kinsella told the Mattoon people.  His offer was accepted and pitcher (John) Jokerst was sent  to the Kitty League team by Springfield.

“Doyle didn’t do well with Mattoon (.225 in 91 games) that season.  Kinsella had not even considered him in deciding what player to pick.  He had almost made up his mind to take a veteran pitcher.”

Fate intervened when Kinsella mentioned the Mattoon deal to Frank Belt, manager of the Kitty League’s Jacksonville Jacks.  Belt asked Kinsella if he had ever seen Doyle:

“’No,’ answered Kinsella.

‘”Well, don’t pick anyone until you do, and then pick him.  He’s the coming ballplayer of that club.  He hasn’t looked good in the box scores, but he’s ‘there’ any way you take him.  He’ll bring you more money inside of a year than you ever got for a player.”

Larry Doyle

                  Larry Doyle

Sight unseen, Kinsella took Belt’s advice.  Doyle played third base and hit .290 in 66 games for Kinsella’s Springfield Senators.  He became the subject of a bidding war with the Giants winning out over the Detroit Tigers and Washington Senators for his services on July 16.

Kinsella was paid a then-record $4500 for Doyle—a record eclipsed the following year when Kinsella sold Rube Marquard to the Giants for $11,000.

The $4500 check to Kinsella for the sale of Doyle

                              The $4500 check to Kinsella for the sale of Doyle

According to The Springfield Journal Kinsella sent Doyle off to New York with just one piece of advice:

“There’s one thing you mustn’t do when you get to New York.  You must quit sliding to bases on your head.  If you don’t, they will think you’re from the brush.”

Doyle was moved to second base, hit .290 over a 14-year big league career, and presumably took Kinsella’s advice about sliding head first.

Lost Advertisements–Larry McLean for Sweet Caporal

25 Sep

mclean

A 1914 Sweet Caporal Cigarette advertisement featuring New York Giants catcher Larry McLean “a great favorite of the fans:”

“Once a smoker gets the taste of Sweet Caporal no other cigarette ever really satisfies him.  He always comes back to good old Sweets.”

McLean wore out his welcome in New York and ended his major league career the following season when he fought with Manager John McGraw, and McGraw’s right-hand man, “Sinister Dick” Kinsella in the lobby of the Buckingham Hotel in St. Louis.

It was hardly the first controversy for McLean, who battled–albeit not physically–with every manager he played for during his 13-year-career.  Sam Crane, the sports writer and former infielder, summed up McLean well in a 1910 article for “Pearson’s Magazine:”

“Larry McLean, of the Cincinnati Reds, as a mere mechanical catcher is hard to beat.  He has a splendid arm and can throw like a streak.  Larry is too, perhaps, the best batting catcher in either league, but his erratic habits make it impossible to place any confidence in him.”

Larry McLean

                                  Larry McLean

A year earlier, in May, McLean had deserted the Reds during an East Coast trip and was “suspended indefinitely” by Manager Clark Griffith, who told The Cincinnati Enquirer:

“When you have a man who is liable to run out at the first call of the wild, you are in an uncertain position all the time. I am perfectly free to say that I might not take McLean back on the team at all, and certainly not until he shows me that he means business.”

McLean was back in the lineup within days, and as he did throughout his career, pledged to a reporter from The Cincinnati Times-Star that he would “(C)onduct himself properly from now on.”

It was a pledge McLean made and broke several times throughout his career which ended at age 33.  He would be dead six years later, the result of a fight in a Boston bar.

 

“Three of the Greatest Pitchers the Game ever has Produced”

15 Jul

In 1915, Frank G. Menke, who wrote for the Heart Newspaper’s International News Service told readers:

“The color line drawn so tightly around major league baseball has barred from major league fields three of the greatest pitchers the game ever has produced.”

The three were John Donaldson, Frank Wickware, and Jose Mendez.

In May, Donaldson, who pitched for the All Nations, had thrown 30 consecutive no-hit innings against Kansas City based semi-pro clubs.

Sketchy contemporary accounts with some transposed numbers in newspaper articles seem to have led to confusion about Donaldson’s feat in later years: some sources claim the streak was over two games—a regulation contest and a 21-inning game , but it appears from the earliest reports in The Kansas City Times and The Indianapolis Freeman that he pitched a nine-inning and 12-inning no-hitter against the Schmelzers, a powerful semi-pro club sponsored by the Schmelzer Arms Sporting Goods Company in Kansas City and another no-hitter against a team called the KCK (Kansas City, Kansas) All-Stars.  (Later in the summer of 1915, Schmelzers became the sponsor of the All Nations after the club lost their original sponsor, Hopkins Brothers Sporting Goods).

John Donaldson

John Donaldson

Menke quoted New York Giants Manager John McGraw’s assessment of the All Nations’ star after having watched him pitch in Cuba:

“If Donaldson were a white man, or if the unwritten law of baseball didn’t bar Negroes from the major leagues, I would give $50,000 for him—and think I was getting a bargain.”

Menke said of Wickware of the Chicago American Giants:

“(He) is another Negro pitcher who would rank with the Walter Johnsons, Joe Woods and Grover Alexanders if he were a white man…Wickware has marvelous speed, a weird set of curves and wonderful control.  And he has a trick that has made him feared among batters.  He throws what seems like a ‘bean ball,’ but his control is so perfect that he never yet has hit a batter in the head.  But when the batters see the ball, propelled with mighty force, come for their heads, they jump away, and the ball, taking its proper and well-timed curve, arches over the plate for a strike.”

Frank Wickware

Frank Wickware

The final pitcher on Menke’s list was Mendez,  another member of the All Nations:

“He’s known as “The Black Matty” and his work has been almost as brilliant as that of “The Big Six” of the Giants.  Mendez is only of medium height (5′ 9”), but he has terrific power in his arm.

“The Cuban Negro has a canny brain and he always has used it.  He has mixed his fastball with his slow one, has an assortment of beautiful curves and perfect control…Like Mathewson, he never pitches air-tight ball unless he has to.  He conserves his strength.  But when he needs to pitch hitless ball he does it.  When he needs to strike out a man he usually succeeds.”

Jose Mendez

Jose Mendez

Incredibly, a story about three pitchers who deserved notice by the major leagues written by an influential white sportswriter received barely a notice in the black press.

The Indianapolis Freeman ran the story with no further comment, and no mention of who wrote the original story, simply attributing it to The Indiana Daily Times which had run Menke’s piece.

The Chicago Defender and The Pittsburgh Courier ignored the story entirely.  The New York Age didn’t mention Menke’s story, but the same week did make a pitch for black players—not with the positive portrayal of three great pitchers as Menke had done, but by highlighting the bad behavior of some major leaguers.

Lester Aglar Walton, who wrote about baseball and theater for The Age and later became the United States Ambassador to Liberia, said:

“(I)f baseball magnates are not color prejudiced can it be that they have misgivings as to how Negro players would conduct themselves on and off the field if permitted to play in the big leagues?  However, if this is their chief cause of concern and the stumbling block in the way of crack Negro players, big league managers should be reminded of the Ty Cobbs, Larry McLeans and others who have distinguished themselves by acts of ruffianism on and off the diamond.”

Lester Aglar Watson

Lester Aglar Watson

Walton related the story of McLean’s recent fight with Giants Manager John McGraw and coach “Sinister” Dick Kinsella in the Buckingham Hotel in St. Louis.

“(H)ad McLean been a colored player the incident in St. Louis would have brought about the disbarment of all Negroes from hotels in St. Louis—had a policy of accommodating Negroes existed.”

Larry McLean

Larry McLean

Walton also noted that when white teams met black teams on the field after the regular season, “The mixing of the races does not provoke racial conflicts and the best of feelings exist” among the players.

Then, he asked the men who owned major league clubs:

“The question is therefore put up to big league magnates that if the Indian with his dark skin and the Cuban are permitted to play in the big leagues, and if there is not the least possibility of the record for ruffianism established by the Ty Cobbs and Larry McLeans being eclipsed, why not give the Negro player a chance?”

As would be the case for three more decades, there was no reply.

“The Dream of an Ardent Baseball Fan and Admirer brought to Realization”

8 Sep

The Associated Press (AP) reported the same day that Hall of Famer Joe McGinnity was released by the New York Giants that he, along with a partner had purchased an Eastern League franchise, the Newark Indians, for $50,000—more than $1.3 million in current dollars.

Joe McGinnity

Joe McGinnity

The following month, The AP told how McGinnity and his co-owner, Chicago businessman Henry Clay Smith, came to be partners:

“There is an interesting story connected with the deal whereby Joe McGinnity and H.C. Smith of Chicago purchased the Newark club of the Eastern League, which reveals the identity of Mr. Smith and portrays the rise of a penniless man to a millionaire, who remained true to his first love in the baseball world.

“H.C. Smith is now a leading member of a Chicago manufacturing company, was station agent for the Chicago & Alton Railroad at Auburn, a little town south of Springfield, IL., working on a modest salary, with nothing better in view, 12 years ago…it was in those days that he learned to admire McGinnity as a ballplayer.

“That was the time when McGinnity earned the sobriquet of ‘Iron Man.’ He would work six days a week, pitching for country teams all over central Illinois, and on Sunday he would go to Springfield and play with the Springfield team.”

One of McGinnity’s teammates on that semi-pro team in Springfield was Dick Kinsella, who would become a minor league magnate and confidant of John McGraw:

“(Kinsella) remembers the connection between H.C. Smith and Joe McGinnity in the olden days.

“Smith was one of Joe’s staunchest and most consistent admirers, and from the time he first knew him until the present day, his admiration has not abated.  In 1895 Smith left Auburn and went to Chicago, where he became engaged in the brokerage business, at which he prospered.  Later he became connected with his present company, gradually working his way to the top, until he was a man of wealth.

“Learning that the New York Giants were going to release McGinnity, Smith at once arranged with Joe to get hold of some team, for which Smith would furnish the money.  The result was the purchase of the Newark club, the dream of an ardent baseball fan and admirer brought to realization, and a home assured the famous Joe McGinnity, all through the regard, which a station agent in a country town felt for a ballplayer whom he considered the best he had ever known.”

McGinnity

McGinnity

The 38-year-old McGinnity started 46 games and posted a 29-16 record with a 1.66 ERA for the 2nd place Indians during his first season as co-owner and team president.

Harry Wolverton, who had been hired as manager by the previous ownership was retained by McGinnity and Smith.

Harry Wolverton

Harry Wolverton

 

There are several versions of the story of how McGinnity came to replace Wolverton as manager late in the season—some say Wolverton was let go for trying to remove McGinnity from a game, others say Wolverton took another position.  The real story, based on contemporaneous accounts in The Newark Evening News, was simply that Wolverton was injured before the team’s final road trip, and McGinnity took over.  In the winter of 1909 Wolverton purchased his release and McGinnity became the team’s full-time manager.

McGinnity and Smith owned the Newark Tigers through the 1912 season.  McGinnity managed the team to a second place finish in 1910 and a seventh place finish in 1911.  The team joined the International League in 1912 and finished third.

McGinnity won 87 games and lost 64 in 151 starts during his four seasons in Newark.

He and Smith sold their shares in the club after the 1913 season.

Kauff and Perritt

29 Jan

Benny Kauff and Pol Perritt were two of the reasons why the New York giants won the National League Pennant in 1917.  Kauff led the team with a .308 average and Perritt was 17-7 with a 1.88 ERA.  Both came to the Giants by way of the Federal League, and with the help of “Sinister Dick” Kinsella, John McGraw’s right-hand man.

"Sinister Dick" Kinsella

“Sinister Dick” Kinsella

Kinsella was the former baseball magnate of Springfield, Illinois who went east to serve as McGraw’s chief scout.  He was a key player in the incident that led to Giants’ catcher Larry McLean’s banishment from organized baseball.

After the 1914 season, McGraw set his sights on the Indianapolis Hoosiers’ Kauff, who was being called the “Ty Cobb of the Federal League.”  Kauff led the league with a .370 average, 120 runs, 211 hits and 75 stolen bases.

When the debt-ridden Hoosiers were transferred to Newark for the 1915 season Kauff’s contract was sold to the Brooklyn Tip-Tops, and he joined the team in Browns Wells, Mississippi.

At the same time, Perritt coming off a 16-13 season was prepared to jump the St. Louis Cardinals and join the Pittsburgh Rebels in the Federal League.

Pol Perritt and Benny Kauff, 1917

Pol Perritt and Benny Kauff, 1917

Sportswriter Frank G. Menke of Hearst’s International News Service picks up the story:

“Dick Kinsella, scout for the Giants, according to the story we get, hustled to Browns Wells and got a job on a plantation…Kinsella didn’t dare to put up at the same hotel because he was known by Manager Lee Magee, Business Manager Dick Carroll and others of the Brookfeds.”

Kinsella, according to Menke, was pretending to be a farm hand and also observing Kauff’s workouts and reporting back to McGraw who, along with Jack Hendricks of the Indianapolis Indians in the American Association (who held Kauff’s rights) was sending coded telegrams to Kauff signed “Father.”  Kauff received telegrams saying, “Mother wishes to see her boy,” and “All is forgiven.”

According to Menke, the telegrams were intended to inform Kauff that McGraw wanted him with the Giants and:

“The “everything forgiven” telegram was to tip Kauff off that if he jumped the National Commission probably would let him play.”

While Kauff was in Mississippi, Pol Perritt was in the process of  jumping to the Federal League.

According to Menke, Kinsella left Mississippi in the middle of the operation to secure Kauff in order to talk to Perritt.  What Kinsella said to Perritt is unknown, but Perritt’s meeting with Pittsburgh manager Rebel Oakes pretty much put an end to any chance of joining the Federal League.  The Associated Press said:

“Pitcher ‘Pol’ Perritt who jumped to the Pittsburgh Federal recently had a fist fight with Manager ‘Rebel’ Oakes…Those who saw the fight say that the pitcher delivered one blow that knocked Oakes over a chair…Friends and acquaintances interceded and hushed up the whole affair before police arrived on the scene.”

The story said Perritt was meeting with Cardinals’ management to “flop back to organized ball,” within weeks the Cardinals sold Perritt’s contract to the Giants, The AP said:

“Carefully guarded by “Sinister Dick” Kinsella…Perritt was delivered to John J. McGraw this noon…Kinsella brought his man in from Shreveport without struggle, and states that he did not even sight a Federal submarine during the entire journey.”

An alternate version of the story, published in The New York Times said it was McGraw who met with Perritt rather than Kinsella and highlighted the manager’s journey to meet the pitcher:

“McGraw had to travel forty miles on one railroad, nine miles on another, and then drive nine miles through the mud to get to Perritt’s home in Louisiana.”

Perritt was in the fold.  After a 12-18 season in 1915, he would win 18, 17 and 18 from 1916-18.

Kauff would be a bit more complicated.

While Kinsella was gone from Mississippi securing Perritt, Kauff signed a $6000 contract with Brooklyn, which he immediately regretted and contacted McGraw.

kinsellamcgraw

Dick Kinsella and John McGraw, 1920

According to Menke, Kauff:

“Related the difficulty he had with Robert B. Ward, president of the Brookfeds, over the contract.  The Giants people thought that owing to Kauff’s trouble—or alleged trouble—over the Brookfed contract that he was not legally under contract.”

Menke said the Giants signed Kauff for $7000 a year for three years with a $7000 bonus.

National League President John Tener voided the contract and Kauff was forced to return to the Tip Tops; he again led the league with a .342 average.

McGraw finally got his second man at the close of the 1915 season.  After the Federal League folded and Kauff was reinstated to organized baseball he signed a two-year contract for $6500 a season and a $5000 bonus with the Giants.

New York had finished in eighth place in 1915. They improved to fourth in 1916 and won the pennant by 10 games in 1917. McGraw’s Giants lost the to the Chicago White Sox four games to two in the World Series.  Perritt appeared in three games in relief, and Kauff hit a disappointing .160, despite two home runs in the Giants’ game four victory.

After the 1917 World Series Perritt and Kauff faded fast.

Perritt was 18-13 in 1918, but would only win four more games over the following three seasons with the Giants and Detroit Tigers; he was out of professional baseball before his 30th birthday.

Kauff’s demise is better known; his professional career came to an end at age thirty, the result of allegations of his involvement with gamblers, in general, and 1919 World series fixer Arthur Rothstein in particular.  Kauff, who owned an automobile accessory business with his half-brother and Giant teammate Jesse Barnes, was charged with stealing and reselling an automobile.  Although he was acquitted at trial, Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned Kauff for life.  Kauff’s oft-told story is told best in two excellent books by David Pietrusza:  Rothstein: The Life, Times, and Murder of the Criminal Genius Who Fixed the 1919 World Series and Judge and Jury: The Life and Times of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

Perritt died in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1947; Kauff died in Columbus, Ohio in 1961.

“Big, Good-Hearted and Foolish”

9 Jan

Almost immediately there was trouble for manager John McGraw after the New York Giants acquired Larry McLean from the St. Louis Cardinals, August 6, 1913—it was one of the few times in his career when the trouble wasn’t McLean’s fault.

With Chief Meyers hurt McGraw needed a catcher and traded the popular Doc Crandall to the Cardinals for McLean.  The day after the trade The Cincinnati Commercial Tribune reported that McGraw had “exchanged fisticuffs” with five of his players:

“Crandall was very popular among the club members, and there was much bitterness felt at his loss…The players passed hot words (at McGraw), and several blows were struck.”

McGraw was left with a bloody nose from the fight, and less than two weeks later reacquired Crandall from St. Louis.

McLean thrived in New York, a United Press story said:

“The big lad has been slamming the horsehide at a terrific gait, and has been displaying wonderful form behind the plate…Larry is said to be behaving himself better than he ever has since joining the big show.”

McLean hit .320 for the pennant-winning Giants and went 6 for 12 in their World Series loss to the Philadelphia Athletics.  He earned the praise of McGraw and despite diminishing skills, remained a model citizen for all of 1914 and part of 1915.

That all changed in June of 1915.  McLean had a clause in his contract which would have earned him an additional $1000 if he did not drink during the season.  McGraw’s right-hand man, scout Richard “Sinister Dick” Kinsella, had accused McLean of drunkenness and as a result was suspended for 10 days by McGraw.

Larry McLean, 1915

Larry McLean, 1915

In the lobby of the Buckingham Hotel in St. Louis, McLean accused Kinsella of making up the charge that he’d been drinking in order to cheat him out of the promised bonus.  Words were exchanged and then a fight broke out.  There was the McGraw-Kinsella version and the McLean version.

McGraw and Kinsella said McLean was carrying a length of gas pipe, and “came into the lobby with a number of rough companions.”

Kinsella’s version was as colorful as it was questionable:

“I picked up a chair and broke it over McLean’s head.  That frightened his gang of ruffians and they fled.  McLean continued to fight until McGraw and I chased him into the street, where he jumped into an automobile filled with women and begged for protection.”

McLean told reporters “I whipped McGraw and all of his associates with my two fists, I did not use a gas pipe, and he “exhibited his bruised right hand as evidence.”

McLean was finished with the Giants.

In March of 1916 The Associated Press reported that McLean had purchased the New Haven Murlins of the Eastern League and said “Larry will manage the club and catch.”  Either the report was erroneous or the deal fell through.  McLean never again played professional baseball and spent 1916 playing with semi-pro teams in New York.

Before the 1917 season baseball writer Ren Mulford reported that McLean might be signed by the Reds:

 Wouldn’t it be odd if Big Larry would come out of the swamp and stick to his spikes into dry ground?  Larry McLean, big, good-hearted and foolish, always his own worst enemy might come back if he willed it so.”

McLean never joined the Reds.

Also in 1917 several newspapers reported that McLean was becoming an actor, The New London (CT) Day said McLean “is now a real moving picture actor,” and included a picture of McLean with another actor “as Egyptian slaves in ‘The Siren,’ a movie soon to be released.”  (The film “The Siren” is described on IMDB as a western—what film, if any McLean actually appeared in is unknown)

Larry McLean, 1915

Larry McLean as an Egyptian slave in a 1917 film

In 1919 McLean was “in serious condition,” in a New York hospital as a result of burns received in a Turkish bath when he lost consciousness after entering a room.  He had been suffering from pneumonia and was in a weakened condition.”

That was the last that was heard of McLean until March 24, 1921.  McLean and a friend named Jack McCarthy were in a bar in Boston’s South End.  The bartender (John Connor) claimed McLean became enraged when he refused to give him cigarettes and threatened to “beat him up:”

 “McLean started to climb the bar to attack him.  McCarthy was helping McLean over the counter when Connor reached for a pistol, and fired… McLean staggered out to the sidewalk where he fell.”

Connor claimed that the previous evening McLean had chased another bartender “up and down the barroom…and forced him to leave to save himself from a beating.

McCarthy was also shot and died in the hospital six days later.  (Some recent sources, such as Bill James in “The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract” erroneously identify McCarthy as John Arthur “Jack” McCarthy, a former Major League player.  The McCarthy who was shot with McLean was John F. McCarthy.  Incidentally, John Arthur McCarthy is one of a very few Major League players for whom death information is unknown)

Connor was being held without bail at the time of McCarthy’s death and, according to The Boston Post, eventually pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to one year in prison.