Tag Archives: Emmet Heidrick

“O’Connor Called me a big Fat-Head”

30 Aug

Jake Stenzel’s nine-year big-league career came to an end at age 32 in July of 1899. The Cincinnati Post said the abrupt end was the result of, “suffering from a lame throwing ‘wing’ all season.”

Stenzel had joined his hometown club, the Cincinnati Reds, after being released a month earlier by the St. Louis Perfectos.

Stenzel drew his release after an altercation with teammate Jack O’Connor during a June 18 game with Washington. He came to the plate in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and no outs. Stenzel attempted to bunt and pooped up to first baseman Pete Cassidy who doubled Emmet Heidrick off first.

Stenzel

The St. Louis Globe-Democrat said:

“O’Connor, who was coaching, addressed some remarks to Stenzel, and by the looks on the faces of both men they could not have been good natured ones. Stenzel made a rush at O’Connor, and they came to a clinch.”

Stenzel was “very bitter” at O’Connor and manager Patsy Tebeau over the release which was made official several days later

“When I made that bunt that resulted in a double play O’Connor called me a big fat-head and used all kinds of profanity. When I walked to the bench Tebeau told me I was released. A few minutes later when, when someone in the stand asked Tebeau why he released me he, Pat said because I was a thick-headed Dutchman.”

O’Connor denied having a role in Stenzel’s release, telling The Globe-Democrat he was, “in no position” to have influenced Tebeau—despite being the club’s captain—and claimed after the altercation the two shook hands in the clubhouse.

Stenzel signed with the Reds weeks later and hit .310 in nine games before being released again for his lame arm.

Stenzel bought a bar on Western Avenue, across the street from the three ballparks the Reds called home until 1970 and was frequently sought out by reporters for his opinions on the game until his death in 1919.

In 1915, he told The Pittsburgh Chronicle-Telegraph:

“Delicate and dainty, indeed, are the athletes of today.”

Current players, he said:

“(H)op out of the game on the least pretext; their managers and club owners uphold them in retiring from the fray as soon as they suffer the slightest damage, and a cut finger is amply sufficient to secure a week’s vacation on full pay.”

Earlier that summer, Reds pitcher Rube Benton was on the mound two days after having a finger broken by a line drive during a game with the Cubs. He was, said Stenzel:

“(A)bout the gamest fellow I’ve heard of recently. Most of them would have laid off two weeks and then told the manager that the hand was still tender.

“Back 30 years ago things were very different. Players prided themselves on their nerve and often had to be actually forced out of the game before they’d stop. Best evidence of the difference between then and now; in the old days a player couldn’t leave the game unless disabled, and the clubs carried only twelve or thirteen men. If a pitcher or a catcher broke his finger it meant that he would have to play right field awhile…Show the manager a broken finger ad it meant an assignment to right field for the next afternoon instead of a vacation. The player expected it too, and would have felt insulted if he had been told to take a layoff instead of getting into action.”