Tag Archives: Eugene Bert

A Bobby Eager Story

23 Feb

The 1906 San Francisco earthquake left the city in ruins; it also put the future of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) in serious jeopardy.

Years later PCL veteran Bobby Eager wrote about the league in the aftermath of the quake in The San Jose Evening News:

“Did you ever hear of a bunch of ballplayers owning their club in a league?  I never did, but I came within an ace of being a part owner at one time.”

Bobby Eager

Bobby Eager

Eager, then with the Los Angeles Angels, said the league was “pretty much on the bum,” and while leagues in the East had agreed to help the PCL financially, there was no sense of how the league would operate.

Jim Morley, the owner of a large pool hall in Los Angeles, owned and managed the Angels, but said Eager:

“(H)e got cold feet early.  He practically dismissed the team and said he was through.”

San Francisco Seals owner James Calvin (J. Cal) Ewing, whose deep pockets kept the league afloat, was “furious at Morley, quitting like a hound.”

Local boxing promoter “Uncle” Tom McCarey was asked by Ewing and league president Eugene Bert to take control of the club, but when that failed they reached out to a local businessman.

“They got a fellow by the name of Gil Meade to take over…It was decided to play the San Francisco games at Oakland, and go on with the league and give the fans some ball.  Of course it was an uphill fight all around with no grounds at Frisco.

“Meade shot his $5,000, which was his bankroll, in a couple months and he was done and out.”

At the time, The Los Angeles Examiner said Meade left as a result of the league failing to award him a large block of stock in the team that was promised.

Eager said after Meade departed the team was called together by field manager and Captain Frank “Pop” Dillon:

Frank "Pop" Dillon

Frank “Pop” Dillon

“He first wanted to know how much money we all had and we told him.  Then he laid before us his plans.  He showed us how we could take over the club by putting up three or four hundred dollars apiece.  He said we would not get any salaries that year but the next year he thought the club would pay big.  A few of the players (Eager included) were willing to take a chance but most wanted their salaries.  They were not gamblers.”

Dillon could not convince enough of the Angles and Eager’s dream to own a club died.

“The result was the league dug up (William Henry) “Hen” Berry who was running a little poolroom.  Hen’s brother (Clarence, who made a fortune in the oil and horse businesses) let him have enough to back the club the rest of the season which was about $8,000, but next year we won the pennant and Berry cleaned up big.  I know every stockholder who had a $100 share got a $40 dividend the next year.  If we players had taken the club we would have made just as much and might have started something new in baseball in the way of profit-sharing.”

Clarence, left, and William Henry Berry played for the amateur Selma (CA) Tigers in the 1890s

Clarence, left, and William Henry Berry played for the amateur Selma (CA) Tigers in the 1890s

Another “Hen” Berry story on Wednesday.

“A Yellower Effort at Baseball has not been Seen Here”

4 Dec

The doormat of the eight-team 1898 Pacific Coast League (also contemporaneously referred to as the Pacific State League)  was the Oakland Reliance.

Their 26-2 loss to the Sacramento Gilt Edges on April 17 resulted in this game recap which appeared in The Sacramento Record-Union:

They Called It Baseball

But If So, It Was The Oakland Quality

Sacramento’s Gilt Edge Players Up Against a Lot of Kindergartners

“A yellower effort at baseball has not been seen here since the Boston Bloomer Girl Aggregation waddled around the bags, than that offered by the Oaklands of the Pacific State League yesterday. A dozen pick-up teams in this city could give them cards and spades and win out easily.

“Probably 1,100 or 1,200 persons sat the essence of misery through several innings, and the many absconded, and the cranks who were not present played in luck.

“The Oaklanders did not know the game, and many disgusted enthusiasts present were willing to make affidavit that they could not distinguish between a baseball and a pumpkin.  In a game between that same aggregation of alleged Oakland players and the Young Cherub Teas of this city–all of the members of the latter club being under 12 years of age—the betting would be dollars to doughnuts with the Cherubs as favorites.

“The score was 26 to 2 and even the most inveterate gambler who saw the slaughter would have been unwilling to venture a white chip on what it would have been had the Gilt Edges let out a link and played the game to a finish.  But the locals tired of the fun before the end, and during the last three innings ran on everything and often on nothing, and, more’s the pity, they usually scored.

“The Oaklands have gone home.  There let them rest in peace, forever and a day, or until they are taught that there is a game called baseball, and that there are several thousand people in Sacramento who know the game, and are willing to render unto Caesar those things which are his, but who are willing to call sere, yellow, punk ball by its right name.

“None of the foregoing applies to the Gilt Edges, who were in the best of practice and ready to play the game of the season.  But the Gilts were handicapped, and to pile up runs against the Oakland infantiles reflected small honor upon them.  They had nothing to do but touch the ball.  Anything was good for a base, and even a cripple might have stolen any number of bases and come out without a scratch.”

Ervin "Zaza" Harvey had four hits for Sacramento

Ervin “Zaza” Harvey had four hits for Sacramento

In May the Pacific Coast League consolidated with the California League and this incarnation of the PCL disappeared after 1898.  Five years later it was reborn, and remains in operation.