Tag Archives: Jimmy Ryan

“A Historical Account of a Great Game of Ball”

5 Mar

The headline above appeared in 1907 above an article written by Frederick North Shorey in The Freeman regarding a series between Andrew “Rube” Foster’s Leland Giants and Mike Donlin’s All-Stars “an aggregation composed of such noted players as Mike Donlin, Jake Stahl, Jimmie Ryan and Jimmy Callahan, probably the best semi-professional team in the country.”

Shorey said the series at South Side Park “exceeded in interest to the people it attracted anything that took place between the White Sox and Cubs last fall (1906 World Series).”

Rube Foster beat the Donlin All-Stars 3-1 in the first game, allowing only three hits:

“Rube Foster is the pitcher of the Leland Giants, and he has all the speed of (Amos) Rusie, the tricks of a Radbourne, and the heady coolness and deliberation of a Cy Young.  What does that make him? Why, the greatest baseball pitcher in the country; that is what the best ballplayers of the white persuasion that have gone up against him say.”

Rube Foster

Rube Foster

Foster was so important to his fans, Shorey said:

“If it were in the power of the colored people to honor him politically or to raise him to the station to which they believe he is entitled, Booker T. Washington would have to be content with second place.”

The Chicago Tribune said of Foster’s domination of the All-Stars:

lelandsvsdonlins

Back to the series, and back to Shorey:

“While the all-stars were confident in their ability to win, several of the old players, including Mr. Donlin himself, who have known of the prowess of Mr. Foster…knew that it was by no means a certainty…but they had hopes that the colored team behind him might do something to undo the efforts of the twirler.

Mike Donlin

Mike Donlin

Shorey said the all-stars were over matched:

“The colored men set a new pace for base running, while foster’s cool, deliberate pitching was too much for the old-time players on Donlin’s team.  Both teams put up brilliant fielding games.”

Foster pitched in four games in the series; he won all four.

David Wyatt–who had been a teammate of Foster’s with the Chicago Union Giants in 1902, and who in 1920 was asked by Foster to help draft the constitution of the Negro National League—also wrote about the series in The Freeman:

“All the baseball critics in the city were out to look the Lelands over, many under the impression that they were overrated.  The most interested of the number was Mr. Comiskey, owner of the white Sox…After witnessing the first game the white sox boss said if it were possible he would have annexed the signature of at least three of the boys to contracts, and he was so enthused over the fast, snappy work of the Lelands that he had his world’s champions to lay over one day in Chicago to watch the boys play.”

Wyatt had higher hopes for “Baseball as the common leveler” in general and the series specifically:

“There was no color line drawn anywhere; our white brethren outnumbered us by a few hundred, and all bumped elbows in the grand stand, the box seats and bleachers; women and men alike, all whetted freely with one another on the possible outcome of the series, the effect it would have upon the future of the negro in baseball, the merits of the different players etc…”

Foster’s heroics, Wyatt’s hopefulness, Comiskey’s words and Chicago’s enthusiasm were, of course, not enough to change the status quo; regardless of the “Great game of ball,” played at South Side Park in that 1907 series, the color line would remain intact for four more decades.

David Wyatt

David Wyatt

Escorted to the Canadian Border

31 Jul

John Morris “Moose” Baxter made it into six games for the 1907 St. Louis Cardinals hitting .190.  Baxter was born in Chippewa Falls, WI and played throughout the Midwest and Western US before his April ’07 cup of coffee with the Cardinals; he seems to have spent parts of each season between 1903 and 1906 playing independent ball in Canada—he appears on the rosters of independent teams in Calgary, Wetaskiwin and Banff during that period.

Many ballplayers of his era lived on the edges of the law, but Moose had the distinction of being escorted to the border of Canada and asked not to return.  Moose’s troubles began in 1908 while playing Montgomery in the Southern Association.  Baxter was unexpectedly released in June and Montgomery manager Jimmy Ryan said the move was “(F)or the good of the team.”  Within weeks, the newspapers in Southern Association cities reported that Moose was released for betting against his team.  He finished the season in New Orleans.

Moose Baxter Sioux City 1902

Moose played parts of two more seasons in the New York State and Western Canada Leagues but spent most of those two seasons playing independent ball in the Northwest United States and Canada.

Sometime in 1910 Moose ended up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada where he quickly made a name for himself and was described by the local papers as “The boss of the Tenderloin District.”  Moose ran Turkish baths and sold liquor in several establishments without bothering to get a license.  His brother Henry, who pitched for Edmonton in 1911 and also played independent ball in the Northwest, was his partner in the business.  After several run- ins with the law both brothers were arrested late in 1911, Moose was sentenced to six months in prison at Lethbridge, Alberta.

According to newspapers in Canada and Washington, upon his release Moose Baxter was given a week to sell off his considerable property in Calgary; and “Immediately placed in charge of Immigration Agent A.E. Humphries to be taken to the boundary line and given his freedom.”

After returning to the Northwest in 1912, Baxter split his time between Spokane, Washington and Portland, Oregon, appearing in city directories for both towns.  He died August 7, 1926, in Portland and was buried at Greenwood Memorial Terrace in Spokane.