Tag Archives: George Dudley Proud

“Wilmington is in to the Finish”

10 Dec

When first-year manager Edgar Bear’s 1-9 Wilmington Sailors took the field on May 17, 1902 against the Durham Bulls, George Dudley Proud was, contrary to speculation in the press, assigned to work as umpire.

With the season just 10-games old Proud’s abilities as an umpire had been called into question by Bear, by Greensboro Farmers manager George “King” Kelly, and the press in Greensboro and Wilmington.

The game remained a scoreless tie into the bottom of the seventh inning.  The Wilmington Messenger said:

“Up to that stage it was a clean game, and there were many brilliant plays.  Neither side had scored.  Wilmington took her seventh inning and retired without any chance at the home plate.  Durham came up and (Otis) Stocksdale reached first on a clean hit and stole second. “

The next batter, John Curran, hit a ground ball to first baseman William “Germany” Dommel.  Proud ruled that Dommel did not touch first base and called Curran safe:

“This caused the trouble that resulted in Wilmington’s leaving the field.”

The team left the field and refused to return; Proud awarded the game to Durham by forfeit.  Bear’s role during the incident that led to the forfeit is unclear.   The Wilmington papers said he was present and in the stands, The Durham Herald said he was not at the ballpark when the incident took place.

What happened next is not in dispute.

The Durham Herald said:

“Umpire G. D. Proud, of the State Base Ball League, was assaulted last evening by Mr. E. J. Bear, manager of the Wilmington club.  The assault was the outcome of the kicks made by the Wilmington players in the game yesterday.”

According to the paper, Bear, accompanied by five Wilmington players, went to Durham’s Central Hotel and confronted the umpire.

“(Bear) knocked on the door of Proud’s room and being told to enter; he did so and started off by using insulting language.  This was followed by an attempt to strike the umpire.”

Bear was restrained by two hotel guests and arrested for assault.  Proud was fined $25 and released from jail the following morning.

The Messenger said:

“(Proud’s) conduct in Durham was such to make him many enemies, he told (a reporter) this morning that Durham had tried to ruin him and now he intended to break the state league if possible.  It is learned he telegraphed (North Carolina League) President (Perrin) Busbee this afternoon telling him either Durham or Wilmington had to get out of the league.”

On May 20 The Charlotte Observer published a letter from Bear, which read in part:

“I do most earnestly declare that in my opinion Mr. Proud is totally incompetent as an umpire, and the earlier he is relieved of his job the better it is for the league, and I desire to deny most emphatically that I ever made the statement that Wilmington was going to try to break up the league, or that either Durham or Wilmington had to get out of the league.”

Bear claimed he had not been in contact with the league president and said:

“I am manager of the Wilmington club at a great financial loss, but I have only the good of the league at heart, and intend that Wilmington shall remain a member of the league as long as any other club is in it, whether the Wilmington club wins another game or not.  And further that my best efforts will be given to make the league a success, financially and otherwise.  Wilmington is in to the finish.”

Wilmington was in to the finish—Bear was not.

The New Bern Daily Journal said:

“Manager Edgar Bear rather unceremoniously relinquished the management of the Wilmington baseball club (on May 25) by failing to provide transportation for the team to leave for the game at New Bern.”

Bear had disappeared.  His career as a professional baseball manager was over in less than a month.  He was replaced Harry Mace, who was an umpire in the league and a former professional player who had pitched in three games for the Washington Statesmen in the American Association in 1891.  Wilmington was 10-40 at the beginning of July when the team disbanded and the league was reconstituted with four teams.  Mace rejoined the league’s umpire staff.

Proud did not last much longer.  The day The New Bern Daily Journal reported on Bear’s exit, another article said:

“The New Bern team (the Truckers) arrived here (May 25), after its tempestuous three games at Raleigh…The team felt no discouragement from the loss of those games, which were under the complete control of Umpire Proud, who never gave new Bern a chance to win.”

Proud would resign before the end of May.  The Wilmington Messenger said he was “Honest, but not up to the requirements of the position.”

Proud became an umpire in the Tri-State League a month later.  He was also involved in automobile racing on East Coast, and created road maps.

Bear made the papers one last time.  On September 18 1905, Bear, going by the name of Eddie Merode and working as an acrobat in vaudeville performances in Utah.  The Charlotte Observer said police were called to “an opium joint” in Salt Lake City’s Chinatown were they found him “apparently dying of opium poisoning.”  He died later that day.

Edgar Bear

9 Dec

It was somewhat by accident that Edgar J. Bear came to be involved in organized baseball—as president and manager of the 1902 Wilmington Sailors.

Bear was born in Wilmington on January 12, 1877, and attended the Oak Ridge College Preparatory school, now Oak Ridge Military Academy, where according to The Charlotte Observer, he studied business then “wandered around the country for several years.”  The paper also said he inherited $30,000 from his father’s estate.

He first worked as a jockey, and then joined the circus.  He was with Walter L. Main and Carlo Brothers Circuses as a bareback rider and acrobat.  The Wilmington Messenger said he performed throughout the United States and South America, and “three trick mules” were part of his act.

In 1898 The Wilmington Morning Star said he took a break from the circus to travel to Alaska in search of gold.

Sometime early in 1902 he returned to Wilmington, and according to The Observer “became interested in baseball.”  In March The Morning Star said a Massachusetts man who was being counted on to bankroll a local team in the newly formed North Carolina League had dropped out and “Mr. Edgar J. Bear was found to be the man of the hour.”

The paper said Bear “made a proposition to assume the responsibility of managing and maintaining a team throughout the season, provided $500 will be raised by popular subscription and the Street Railway Company will hold good its proposition to furnish an enclosed park and donate $200 to the fund, making a total of $700.”

With that Bear became the president and manager of a professional baseball team.  He quickly raised the money to operate the club for the season; The Messenger said he “deserves credit for his zealous efforts and the faithful manner in which he has worked.”

That same month, the new league hired an umpire from Pennsylvania named George Dudley Proud.  It was Proud’s first professional job; he had worked in amateur leagues around Philadelphia for several years.

Wilmington got off to a slow start, losing six of their first eight games.

Proud, the league’s rookie umpire was having his own problems.  During the first week of the season Proud ejected George “King” Kelly, manager of the Greensboro Farmers, in the eighth inning of a game against the Raleigh Red Birds, after a close play at first base.  The Morning Star said:

“Kelly came on the field and insisted wildly that (the runner) was out and challenged the umpire to fight him.  Proud said he could not, in view of his position, have a fight.  Kelly refused to get off the field and was forcibly ejected amid great excitement…he later assaulted the umpire on Fayetteville street.”

The paper said Kelly landed several punches, but no one seriously hurt.

The Greensboro Daily Record accused the umpire of being crooked, and threatened further bodily harm:

The Record wants to say that the people of Greensboro are as fair as any people on earth.  Had the same thing occurred here and in our favor the public would not have stood it.  The umpire might have been allowed to have his way at the time, but the score would not have stood.  We want to say further that should Mr. Proud pursue his same tactics here we would advise him to get an accident policy.  He may not be killed while the game is going on, but someone will maul the life out of him afterwards.  Many spectators who have observed his work—they are not Greensboro people—say that his conduct is such as to lead to the belief that he is standing in with a lot of sports who are dividing their earnings with him.  That is to say, that there are men who make bets, tell Proud what they are and trust him to save them, then they divide with him.  If this or anything approaching it is true, the sooner his services are dispensed with, the better.”

The Morning Star said the day after the above story appeared in Greensboro, Proud “employed a Raleigh attorney to enter suit for libel against The Daily Record.”

On May 15 the first-time manager with a one and seven record, and the first-time umpire whose integrity was on the line came together in Durham, when the Wilmington Sailors arrived for three games with the Durham Bulls.

They lost the first game 5 to 3.  The Morning Star said “Manager Bear was put out of the grounds for interfering and he protested the game several times.  Several of the Wilmington players were fined.”

The following day Wilmington lost 3 to 0 and two more players were fined—The Messenger said the game was “marred by kicks against umpire Proud,” The Morning Star said “Proud doesn’t seem to be making a very enviable reputation,” and predicted that he “has umpired his last game.”

The prediction was wrong; the rest of the story tomorrow.

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