Tag Archives: Grand Rapids Rippers

Harley Parker

20 Oct

Harley Park Parker was a renaissance man; a physician, an ambidextrous golfer, a billiard player who trained champions, in addition to being a major league pitcher—he was 5-8 with a 5.90 ERA in parts of four seasons with the Chicago Colts and Cincinnati Reds.

He is also responsible for what might be the worst single game pitching performance in professional baseball history.

The 22-year-old Parker was pitching for the Grand Rapids Rippers (several newspapers in other in the other Western League cities called the team the Rustlers) against the Kansas City Blues (newspapers were split between referring to the club as the Blues or the Cowboys) on July 25, 1894.

Harley Parker circa 1895

Harley Parker circa 1895

The Kansas City Gazette said:

“The ball bats of the Kansas City Blues in the game against Grand Rapids collided with Pitcher Parker’s curves thirty-nine times yesterday, and yielded as many runs.”

The Blues actually had thirty-eight hits, to go along with 13 Grand Rapids errors.

The Kansas City Star said:

“(The Blues) hit him at will yesterday, for singles, doubles, triples and home runs.  It was a slugging match, the like of which had never before been seen in a professional game at Exposition Park, and while the Rustlers did some very sloppy fielding, there was world of free, sharp and hard hitting.”

Every member of the Kansas City line up had at least two hits, and three players, Sam Nicholl, Ollie Beard, and pitcher Pete Daniels, collected six each.

The final score was 39 to 10.

The Box Score Grand Rapids vs Kansas City

The Box Score Grand Rapids vs Kansas City

The game was indicative of Parker’s season; he finished with a 15-18 record with a 6.23 ERA—in addition to the 193 earned runs he gave up in 278.2 innings, his team gave him horrible support, and he allowed 194 unearned runs.

Parker had a similarly disastrous day as a major leaguer seven years later.  While pitching for the Reds against the Brooklyn Superbas on June 21, 1901 Parker allowed 21 runs on 26 hits in a complete game loss—“Wee Willie” Keeler was 5 for 5 with a rare home run (he hit just 33 during his 19-year career).

The Box Score Cincinnati vs Brooklyn

The Box Score Cincinnati vs Brooklyn

During his five minor league seasons Parker was only above.500 once; 5-4 in 1898 with the Minneapolis Millers; he was 5-8 as a major leaguer.

Parker briefly owned a Central League franchise in 1911, the club moved from Grand Rapids, Michigan to South Bend, Indiana, but even with the move he was forced to sell the team at mid-season because of financial difficulties.

That same year he also had a short stint as an umpire that ended with a trip to the United States Capitol.

In August, after one of Umpire Jack Sheridan’s frequent resignations—he returned to his position days later—American League President Ban Johnson hired Parker to the league staff.

Less than a month into his tenure Parker was on the field for one of William Herman “Germany” Schaefer’s stunts.  On August 4, Schaefer’s Washington Senators were playing the Chicago White Sox.  With the score tied in the ninth inning Schaefer stole second, hoping to draw a throw to allow Clyde Milan to score from third base; Sox catcher Fred Payne did not throw to second.  Schaefer then led off second base on the first-base side and returned to first on the next pitch.

The Washington Herald said:

“Umpire Harley Parker, who was officiating on the bases, was near first at the time.  When he saw Schaefer coming back to first Parker accosted the comedian ball player with the query: ‘What are you doing here?’

“’I have stolen second.  Now I am stealing first,’ said the Nationals’ troublemaker.

“’Well, if you stay down here I’ll call you out,’ said Parker.

“(White Sox) Manager (Hugh) Duffy in the meantime had ordered Doc White to throw the ball to John “Shano” Collins at first.  Germany thought discretion the better part of valor, and made a dive back toward second.  In the meantime Milan was tearing down toward home.  Collins wheeled and threw home, Milan being tagged out at the plate.”

Germany Schaefer

Germany Schaefer

Duffy was standing in the middle of the diamond arguing with Parker and home plate umpire Tommy Connolly as Milan was thrown out at home—Washington protested that “the play shouldn’t go because Chicago had ten men on the field.  Manager Duffy having stayed out to the middle of the diamond.”

Connolly and Parker finally ruled that Milan was out.  Washington went on to win the game 1 to 0 in 11 innings.

Harley Parker, 1910

Harley Parker, 1910

The following month Parker was again in Washington working a series between the Senators and the White Sox when, while sitting in the lobby of Washington’s Driscoll Hotel, according to The Washington Star he was approached by an “officer from the United States Senate,” who told Parker “I have a warrant for you.”

Parker was taken to the United States Capitol.

“The officer of Uncle Sam marched the arbitrator up to the desk of Vice President (James Schoolcraft) Sherman in the senate, the most august assemblage in the United States.

“’I guess I’ve got your man at last,’ said the officer as he introduced Parker to the vice president.

“’I sent for you to inquire about that play when Germany Schaefer went back to first after stealing second,’” said Sherman and Parker drew a sigh of relief.

“It was just like eating pie for Parker to explain the play and he did so to the satisfaction of all concerned.  Sherman admitted the play bothered him more than any problem that had come up in the extra session of congress and that was going some.”

Parker did not work as an umpire again after the 1911.  He returned to Chicago to practice medicine and teach billiard; contemporary newspaper accounts said he trained two champions—Calvin Demarest and Welker Cochran.

He died in Chicago in 1941.

Jot Goar

15 May

Joshua Mercer “Jot” Goar had one good minor league season.

Born in 1870 in New Lisbon, Indian, Goar’s early career is mostly unknown, although he appears to have pitched for the Muncie club in the Indiana State League in 1890 and for a variety of semi-pro teams in that state during the early 90s.  In one version of a story I told in January (“Remarkable Baseball Stunt”), “Baseball Magazine” identified Goar as the pitcher who gave up six hits in one inning without a run scoring in an Indiana State League game versus Anderson.

Goar was signed by the Toledo Swamp Angels in the Western League in 1895 (the team would relocate to Terre Haute, Indiana during the season).  While his numbers don’t look impressive, 13-19 with a 3.38 ERA and 345 hits in 288 innings, Goar was called “The best twirler in the Western League,” by The Sporting Life, and quickly became a highly sought after prospect.  Goar also hit .273 as a part-time outfielder.

His manager Denny Long told Indiana papers that Cap Anson “offered him a neat sum,” to sell Goar to Chicago.  Instead, the pitcher was purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates; The Anderson Herald said Pittsburgh paid $3,200 for Goar:

“Jot Goar, considered the greatest find in the Western League this year…is looked upon to be one of (the Pirates) mainstays for next year.”

Gore joined Connie Mack’s Pirates in Hot Springs, Arkansas in the spring of ’96 and made the team; he made his debut with the team on April 18, pitching in relief in a 7-2 victory over the Louisville Colonels.  Gore struggled in three games with the Bucs, he allowed 25 earned runs on 36 hits and eight walks in 13 1/3 innings, losing his only decision, and was sold to the Grand Rapids Rippers in the Western League on May.

Jot_Goar

Jot Goar

No statistics survive for Goar’s 1896 season in Grand Rapids, but a mention of Goar in The New York American two years later said he had “deserted Grand Rapids,” at some point during the season.  Goar joined the Indianapolis Indians in 1897, and with a 25-9 record and a 1.39 ERA led the Indians to the Western League championship.  Goar was again highly sought after and his contract was purchased by the Cincinnati Reds.

Goar spent the winter refusing to sign a contract along with Frank “Noodles” Hahn, who had also pitched in Western League in 1897; the Cincinnati Enquirer said both players were asking for $1,800.  Goar finally signed in February, but the salary he settled upon was not reported, The Mansfield Daily Shield said:

 “Jot Goar has signed his Cincinnati contract and expects to play good ball this season.”

In March The Sporting News said:

“Jot Goar is showing more speed than any of the Reds pitchers.”

Goar did not live up to the expectations.  He hurt his arm in his first and only appearance; a two-inning mop up in an 11-5 loss to the Pirates, giving up, four hits, three runs, two earned, and a walk.

Pittsburgh Sports writer John Henry Gruber said Goar went to Reds manager Buck Ewing after the game “and at his own request was laid off until such time as he could get in shape.”

Goar returned to Indiana and for the remainder of 1898 and all of ’99 he managed and played first base for an independent team in his hometown in New Lisbon, that fall his team took part in a ballpark riot.  The Indiana State Journal said:

“The game of baseball between the Shamrock and Jot Goar teams on the Hagerstown grounds Sunday broke out in a riot.  Fists, clubs and stones were freely used and practically everyone who attended received some kind of injury.  The trouble arose over a decision of the umpire, who was Councilman John Geisler of Hagerstown.”

Gore began pitching again 1900 for the Indianapolis Hoosiers in the American League posting a 7-2 record in 10 games; he also played for the Western Association Hoosiers the following year, but there are no surviving records.

Goar returned again to New Lisbon, vowing that his pro career was not over, and accepted the position of postmaster and opened a general store while continuing to play for the local team. In 1904, The Sporting Life noted that he was still pitching in Indiana:

“Jot Goar, the old Cincinnati and Toledo pitcher, was doing things with the Connersville, Indiana team this season.  He pitched seven games for that club, six of which he won, the other being a 12-inning tie.  Only five runs were scored in the seven games, and he struck out seventy batters or an average of 10 a game.”

Goar gave up baseball after 1906.  He accidentally shot himself in the arm while hunting in 1907, and his general store burned to the ground, the 1911 “Reach Guide” said:

 “His place of business was completely ruined by a disastrous fire, which practically destroyed the business section of (New Lisbon).”

He rebuilt the store which he operated until 1921; Jot Goar died in 1947 at 77.