Tag Archives: Eastern Iowa League

“Pitcher Geiss No Good”

3 Jun

Emil August Geiss pitched one game in 1887 for Cap Anson’s Chicago White Stockings; it was his only Major League game as a pitcher (he later played two games in the infield).

The Chicago Tribune reported that Geiss was signed by the White Stockings “at a salary of $250 month.”  Geiss had been blacklisted the previous season for failing to report to the St. Paul Freezers in the Northwestern League after signing with that club.  The paper said, “It cost $200 to get him reinstated (The Sporting Life said it was $600).”

Geiss’ performance on May 18 was less than memorable.  He gave up 11 runs, eight earned, and 17 hits in an 11-4 loss to the Washington Senators.

The Chicago Tribune headline the following day summed up Geiss’ performance:

Pitcher Geiss No Good

Emil Geiss

The headline in The Chicago Inter Ocean was no kinder:

Geiss Is No Good.  A New Pitcher Tried by the Chicagos at Washington with Disastrous Results

The paper said Anson, who sat out, “watched the game from the players’ bench, a look of disgust deepening on his face every inning widened, and fairly turned his back on the unfortunate Whites.”

Geiss briefly redeemed himself when filling in for Anson on June 15 against the Indianapolis Hoosiers. The Tribune said:

“Geiss played first base in first-class style. He accepted eleven chances with no errors.At the bat he struck out twice and made one hit.”

Their opinion changed one week later when he played in place of Fred Pfeffer at second and  made three errors on seven total chances and was 0 for 5 at the plate.

The Tribune said:

“If Geiss is capable of no better work that he did yesterday he should not be allowed to again don the uniform of the Chicago nine.  A man who plays as he did is a positive menace to the success of the club.”

At the end of June, Geiss was released and finished the season in the Chicago City League.

An additional note about Geiss, and it’s a confusing note:

The remainder of his career is a bit vague and complicated.  His brother was William Geiss, who had two brief major league stints and a long minor league career during which he sometimes played under the name of Emil Geis (one “s”), further complicated because Emil Geiss’ Cook County, Illinois death certificate lists him as “Emil Geis.”

Emil pitched for the London Tecumsehs in the International League in 1888 and ’89.  He was the subject of a dispute between London and New Orleans in the Southern League over his rights—an arbitrator ruled that Emil was the property of London; at the same time William was with New Orleans, so we know it was Emil with London.

After a seven-year absence from professional ball, Baseball Reference has Emil hitting .402 in 41 games split between Bloomington in the Western Interstate League and Ottumwa in the Eastern Iowa League in 1895.

It seems likely, and contemporary reports indicate that it was actually William, playing under the name Emil Geiss (sometimes Geis) who put up those numbers in 1895–this conclusion is also supported by the fact that Emil, who had joined the Chicago Police Department in 1891 was still a member a force in 1895.

William Geiss

William Geiss

Both brothers died in Chicago, Emil on October 4, 1911, and William on September 18, 1924.  Both are buried at Saint Boniface Cemetery in Chicago.

 

Ollie Pecord

26 Sep

Oliver T. Pecord had a brief minor league career during the last decade of the 19th century, but for a brief time was known around the world for his pivotal role in another sport.

Born April 5, 1869, in Troy, NY, Pecord began his career in 1890 with the Flint Flyers in the Michigan League.  Pecord is credited with a .371 career average, but the available statistics appear incomplete.   For example, several newspaper accounts put Pecord with the Columbus Reds of the Western League in 1892, but there are no surviving statistics for 1892 for Pecord with any ballclub.

pecord

Ollie Pecord

After playing in the Southern Association, Western League and Eastern Iowa League (where he is credited with a .660 average, 31 for 47 in 14 games with Rock Island in 1895) Pecord left professional baseball to focus on boxing.

Pecord was a popular fighter, and while mentioned often for bouts in and around his home in Toledo, he appears to have been a journeyman and unknown outside of Ohio.  In 1900, Pecord turned his attention to work as an umpire for local semi-pro baseball leagues, managing fighters, and serving as a boxing referee.

Pecord went from a local sports figure to being known nationally when, in 1919, he was named as referee of the July 4 fight in Toledo between challenger Jack Dempsey and champion Jess Willard.

Pecord was at the center of the fight’s two controversies.  The ringside bell had malfunctioned and replaced by a whistle which Pecord, nor anyone else in the crowd, could hear.  Willard, knocked down for the seventh time in that round, was counted out by Pecord who raised Dempsey’s arm, and Dempsey left the ring.  But the round had actually ended at the count of seven; Pecord informed Dempsey’s manager Jack Kearns that the fight was not over and his fighter needed to return to the ring.

Pecord in the ring with Dempsey and Willard

Pecord in the ring with Dempsey and Willard

Willard was unable to answer the bell for the fourth round and Dempsey was declared the winner, but because Willard’s corner did not throw in the towel until after the fourth round had begun, it fell to Pecord to rule exactly when, and how the fight ended.  Two days later Pecord ruled the fight ended by a knockout in the third round.

This was not an insignificant decision because of the huge amount of money wagered on the bout—as an example, it was reported by the Associated Press that a man in Chicago who ran pari-mutual machines and a book on the fight, made $82,500 on the fight; $25,000 more than he would have made if Pecord ruled the fight over in the fourth round.

After the controversy around the fight died down, Pecord returned to relative obscurity nationally, but remained a popular figure in Toledo and served as a fight referee until the mid-thirties when illness forced his retirement.

Pecord died in Toledo on July 1, 1941.  The Toledo Blade called him “(T)he most prominent figure in sports Toledo has ever produced.”