Tag Archives: Harry Pulliam

Rube and Money

18 May

After Rube Waddell’s death on April 1, 1914, he was eulogized by Christy Mathewson in his nationally syndicated column.  Mathewson compared Waddell to one of his own former teammates with the Giants:

“He was a man, who, like ‘Bugs’ Raymond, wasted a wonderful natural gift.  If both these players had taken care of themselves they might still be stars of the big leagues.”

rubesuit.jpg

Rube

Mathewson said a teammate had recently told him a story about Rube’s time with the Louisville Colonels:

“Waddell was always notably careless with money, and he never kept track of how much he had or how much was coming to him…Mr. (Harry) Pulliam…hit on a scheme in 1899 to make ‘Rube’ save money.

‘”Rube,’ he said to Waddell at the beginning of the season, ‘I am going to give you $2 to spend every day, and then we will pay you the balance of what we owe you at the end of the season so that you won’t be broke all winter.  The club will take care of all your living expenses.”

After Waddell agreed to the deal:

“So after every game that year Mr. Pulliam gave Waddell his $2. He was never a high salaried player in his palmist days, and I believe the figures written into the best contract he ever had did not amount to more than $3,500, which would not be much for a star of his ability in these times.”

Mathewson said at the end of the season Pulliam had $150 left for Waddell:

“’Now, be careful of that money,’ advised Mr. Pulliam, ‘because it has got to last you for a long time.’

“’Sure,’ said Rube.

“By the first of November Mr. Pulliam heard from Rube, and the report said he was broke.  Waddell received a response of $25, which lasted him for a couple of weeks, and he had to repeat his request for money. This occurred several times and then Mr. Pulliam sent him $100 for Christmas.  Rube was back for more by the first of February.”

rube12

Rube Waddell

When Waddell reported to the Colonels that spring, Mathewson said, Pulliam “figured it up,” and he had still held back $1100 from Waddell’s 1899 salary:

“He sent $1000 to Waddell’s father…Then he handed the $100 to Rube.

“’That was still coming to you from last season’s work,’ said Mr. Pulliam.  Waddell pocketed the money without complaint.  If he had drawn his salary twice a month during the season as the rest of the players did, the improvident Waddell would not have had a cent left by the close of the 1899 campaign.”

 

 

Bowerman by TKO

5 Nov

“The Popular Magazine,” a literary magazine that billed itself as a “magazine for men and women who like to read about men,” was published by Street & Smith from 1903 until 1931.

In 1904, the magazine told the story of a fight the previous season involving New York Giants catcher Frank Bowerman.

Frank Bowerman

Frank Bowerman

Bowerman was not kept by Fred Clarke when the Pirates and Louisville Colonels merged after the 1899 season; his contract was assigned to the  Giants.  Apparently some bad blood remained into 1903, and according to the magazine, Giants manager John McGraw used Bowerman’s grudge and some comments made by Clarke to try to light a fire under his team:

“When the Giants were in Pittsburgh (on June 1) last season McGraw noticed that there was bad feeling in the team.  The men stood in little knots in the hotel corridor glowering at other players; they rode to the field in a bus without exchanging a word; the preliminary practice, usually so brilliant, was dull and lifeless.  This worried McGraw.”

John McGraw

John McGraw

The article said McGraw had figured out the cause a few days later in Chicago; Bowerman had sat in the grandstand for that June 1 game, being unable to play due to an injured thumb.  Jack Warner caught Christy Mathewson that day.  What McGraw discovered was that Clarke said Bowerman was overheard criticizing Warner’s work behind the plate, blaming his teammate for one of the two runs scored off of Mathewson:

“This, of course, was tantamount to Bowerman’s asserting his superiority over Warner, a boast that ballplayers are rarely guilty of.”

McGraw cornered Bowerman who insisted Clarke had told “the meanest lie that ever was told, and I told Jack Warner so, but he don’t believe it.”  McGraw told him to keep quiet about it until the Pirates visited New York on June 26.

“(McGraw) proceeded to reinject that esprit de corps by a measure so drastic that it horrified ball patrons all over the country, who, however, thought it merely an incident of the brutality of ballplayers.  Instead of that, it was a well-planned scheme of a crafty general.”

When the Pirates arrived at the Polo Grounds on the morning of the 26th, McGraw took Bowerman aside:

“’Frank, have you got a good right swing?’  The Michigan Lumberman smiled grimly and clenched a fist knotted and as hard as Hercules’ war club.  ‘Well, it’s up to you, then,’ advised McGraw, “to put life in the team. Don’t lose any time.’ Bowerman understood.

“”’I’d like to speak to you a minute,’ he said to Clarke, as the Pittsburgh captain was passing through the gate on his way to the clubhouse.  They went into the stuffy box office; where there was hardly room to swing a cat.  Three times Bowerman demanded an explanation, offering to bring McGraw and Warner in as witnesses…Clarke went down three times and finally admitted he had enough…The Giants played that day, to use the expression of a rooter, as though they were ‘fighting their weight in wildcats.’  Bowerman and Warner coached each other with pet names, and walked lovingly from the victorious field arm in arm, while Fred Clarke was buying a pound of raw beef.”

Fred Clarke

Fred Clarke

“The Popular Magazine” story added an element that differed from the coverage in New York and Pittsburgh newspapers—while each town pointed fingers at the other (in Pittsburgh Bowerman was an out of control thug, while in New York, Clarke got what he deserved for stirring up trouble) no one else suggested that McGraw engineered the fight to motivate his club against the first place Pirates.

The Giants weren’t able to catch Pittsburgh, finishing in second place six and a half games behind the Pirates.

National League President Harry Pulliam initially announced that there would be no punishment for either player because the fight did not take place on the field, three weeks later, under pressure from Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss, Pulliam fined Bowerman $100.

Jimmy Rogers

16 Sep

In January of 1897 owner Barney Dreyfuss and the directors of the Louisville, Colonels met to determine the future of the club.  The Louisville Courier-Journal said:

“The most important meeting in the history of the Louisville Base-ball club was held last night at the Louisville Hotel.  It was marked by more liberality than had been shown by the club during all the years since it became a member of the big league.”

No one was surprised that Dreyfuss’ protégé, team secretary Harry Clay Pulliam was named team president, nor was it surprising that Charles Dehler was retained as vice president.

But no one had predicted the Colonel’s choice to replace Bill McGunnigle as manager.

McGunnigle had succeeded John McCloskey, and the two combined for a 38-93 record and a twelfth place finish.

James F. “Jimmy” Rogers would be a first-time manager; three months short of his 25th birthday and only 110 games into his major league career.  The Courier-Journal knew so little about the new manager that the paper got his age and place of birth wrong, and also reported incorrectly that he had minor league managerial experience.

While he had only played 72 games with Louisville in 1896 and only 60 at first base, The Courier-Journal called Rogers “the best first baseman the Colonels ever had.”  Even so, the paper acknowledged that “as a manager he is yet to be tried.”

Just why was he the right man to manage the team?

“One of the chief reasons Rogers was selected was that he is sober.”

Jimmy Rogers

Jimmy Rogers

Despite being “the best first baseman the Colonels ever had,” Rogers opened the season as the team’s starting second baseman; thirty-five-year-old minor league home run king Perry Werden, acquired from the Minneapolis Millers of the Western League played first base for Louisville.

The team won five of their first seven games, and then went 12-22 through June 16 when Rogers was fired as manager and released; he was hitting .144 and made 16 errors in forty games at second base.

Rogers was replaced as manager by Fred Clarke; the future Hall of Famer was two weeks shy of his 24th birthday.

The Cincinnati Post said the outgoing manager was not only to blame for the team’s poor performance but also for center fielder Ollie Pickering’s slump; Pickering hit .303 after joining Louisville in August of 1896 but was hitting .243 on the day Rogers was let go:

“The claim is made that Jimmy Rogers is responsible for the decline of Pickering.  The Virginian created a sensation last fall, but “Manager Jimmy” tacked the title “Rube” to Pick, and it broke his heart.”

Ollie "Rube" Pickering

Ollie “Rube” Pickering

Pickering was released in July, signed with the Cleveland Spiders, and apparently recovered from his broken heart, hitting .352 in 46 games for Cleveland.

Rogers would never play another major league game.  He was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates the day after Louisville released him, but became ill with the flu and never played for them.  A month later he joined the Springfield Ponies in the Eastern League and finished the season with them.  Rogers played for East Coast minor league teams until in August of 1899 when he became ill while playing with the Norwich Witches in the Connecticut League.

In January of 1900, Rogers died at age 27.  Two different explanations for his death appear in various newspapers; both may be wrong.  The Courier-Journal and several other newspapers said his death was the result of the lingering effects of “being struck on the head by a pitched ball several years ago while playing in the National League.”

The New Haven (CT) Register repeated the story about Rogers being hit by a pitch, and said that while that injury contributed to his death, he had died of Bright’s disease—a kidney ailment now referred to as nephritis.

Rogers’ Connecticut death certificate listed the cause of death as a bacterial inflammation of the brain.

Murphy Calls Out an Umpire

12 Oct

Three years before Chicago Cubs President Charles Murphy ousted legendary manager Frank Chance, he picked a fight with the most powerful and respected umpire in baseball.

In September of 1909 the second place Cubs had just taken three of five games from the league-leading Pirates in Pittsburgh.

On September 9 Murphy filed a formal protest with the league over the fourth game of the series (won by the Pirates 6-2) charging that umpire Bill Klem “(D)eliberately acted as a conspirator, robbing the Cubs of any reasonable chance for victory.”

The Cubs had argued several calls by Klem during the game and Manager Frank Chance and Cubs’ infielders Joe Tinker and Harry Steinfeldt were fined for comments made to the umpire.

Murphy questioned Klem’s honesty and demanded that he not be allowed to serve as umpire in any games played by his team and that the game be replayed.

Klem was an unlikely person to have his integrity questioned.  Generally credited with professionalizing umpiring, he had come forward with fellow umpire Jim Johnstone the previous season to report they had been offered a bribe to help determine the outcome of the October 8 Cubs game with the New York Giants to decide the pennant (the make-up game for the September 23 “Merkle’s Boner” game).

While the league never released specific details of the bribe attempt, the allegations made by the umpires were found to be true and barred the “unnamed conspirators” from any Major League ballpark. Both umpires were commended by the league for demonstrating to the “American public the honesty and integrity of our national game.”

League President John Heydler (appointed after the suicide of Harry Pulliam) immediately announced his support for Klem in the dispute.  Murphy responded by announcing he would ensure Heydler would not be reappointed president of the league that winter—Murphy would be successful spearheading the effort to replace Heydler.

Murphy was never able to cite any specific reasons for his charges and was pressured to drop the protest, which he eventually did, but Klem remained indignant and asked to have his name cleared.  According to newspaper reports:

“The umpire does not propose to let the matter rest.  He considers that his reputation has been attacked, and he therefore will ask the league to investigate him.”

There’s no record that the investigation was ever conducted.

Klem attended that year’s winter meetings in order to be on hand when Murphy was pressured to make a formal, public apology.

Chicago Cubs President Charles Murphy

More on Murphy and his feuds in the coming weeks.