Tag Archives: Joe Rickert

“Apperious is a high-toned Man”

8 Jan

After igniting a controversy in Vermont’s Northern League in 1905 when he refused (as he had in college in 1903) to appear on the field with William Clarence Matthews, Sam Apperious returned to Alabama in 1906.

He played centerfield for the Montgomery Senators in the Southern Association.  The Washington Post said in March “it is said that Connie Mack has arranged to try him out with the Athletics next fall.”

Sam Apperious

Sam Apperious

The Atlanta Journal said he was in Alabama, and not the big leagues, by choice:

“Apperious is a high-toned man, a graduate of Georgetown, and plays ball for his home town because he likes the game.  He is not in the strict sense a professional, for he declines to go the big league, where he could easily get a much larger salary.”

In Montgomery Apperious became part of the biggest controversy of the Southern Association’s 1906 season—the league had no shortage of controversies each season.

It started with a fly ball to Apperious in an otherwise uneventful 9-0, June 10 victory over Charlie Frank’s Pelicans in New Orleans.  The Journal said:

“It sailed so high in the air that Apperious, who caught it, concealed under his shirt and gave it Manager (Dominic) Mullaney.  When cut open (the following day in the presence of Shreveport Pirates Manager Bob Gilks) it was found to be wrapped in rubber.”

Charlie Frank

Charlie Frank

Five days later the Atlanta Crackers were in New Orleans when, in the eighth inning after home runs by Pelicans’ William O’Brien and Mark “Moxey” Manuel,  Atlanta second baseman and captain, Adolph Otto “Dutch” Jordan suspected something was wrong with the balls.  The Atlanta Constitution said:

“(After Manuel’s home run) The ball was lost and new one was thrown out by the umpire, but before (Joe) Rickert, the next batter could go to the plate, Jordan picked up the ball and said he would not play, that the balls had rubber in them and that his men were being robbed…Jordan tried to purloin one of the balls, and only gave it up after he had been arrested by a half dozen policemen.”

Jordan was charged with petit larceny and released on $100 bond.  The ball taken from him was reported to be in the possession of the New Orleans Police.  Days later the Montgomery team gave the ball Apperious had kept to Southern Association President,  William Kavanaugh.  A full investigation was promised.

The Journal called for immediate action:

“Kavanaugh may be making investigations quietly and he may intend to act later, but what seems most in order just now is the suspension of the man who is said to be responsible for all the trouble in the Crescent City.  The actions of Charlie Frank in causing the arrest of Otto Jordan and his being taken in a patrol wagon through the streets of the city in a uniform of Atlanta, is a disgrace and the mere thought given it the more repugnant it becomes to all decent people.

“It was a disgusting and uncalled for act and was done to cover up the outrageous contact of the man who put the rubber balls into the game.”

By the end of the week, Apperious denied that the ball opened in Shreveport was the ball he caught in New Orleans while Mullaney and the Montgomery club dropped their request for an investigation of Charlie Frank and the rubber balls.

On June 23 the Crackers mascot, a four-year-old goat named Yaarab (shared with the Atlanta fire department) died suddenly.  A tongue-in-cheek article in The Constitution said: “when the news was flashed over the wires that Mullaney was another of Frank’s right-hand men, the goat betook himself to a bed of straw and curled up and bid his firemen friends a last farewell.”

Yaarab in happier times

Yaarab in happier times

Once Apperious and Mullaney withdrew their allegations, the scandal went the way of most of the annual scandals in the league; in early August The Sporting Life said President Kavanaugh declared the charges “entirely unfounded.”

Apperious appeared in 137 games for Montgomery in 1906 and hit .251.  The Constitution called him “The fastest outfielder in the South.”  The Montgomery Advertiser said he was “one of the best all-around ballplayers in the South.”

He only appeared in 24 more games.  Early in the 1907 season, The Advertiser said he was “suffering with water on the knee.”  Unable to recover from the injury, Apperious was released by Montgomery in June.

Apperious would never play again; he married and moved to Louisville, Kentucky.

The man who refused to take the field with William Clarence Matthews and the Cuban X Giants lived to see baseball integrated.  He died in 1962.  There is no record of him ever speaking to a reporter about his actions in Washington and Vermont.

A final note: The Washington Herald reported before the 1908 college baseball season that for the first time since 1904 Harvard would be playing Georgetown:

“When Sam Apperious was captain of the varsity nine Harvard insisted on playing a negro against the Blue and Gray, and Apperious viewed the game from the bench.  This brought about a severance of athletic relations, but the old wounds have healed and the Crimson will play at Georgetown field on April 25.”

The game ended in a 2-2 tie after 10 innings.

A Thousand Words–New Orleans Pelicans

13 Nov

Another picture I’ve never seen published before—the 1906 New Orleans Pelicans of the Southern Association.

Top, Left to right.

Bill Phillipshe spent seven seasons in the Major Leagues with a 70-76 record; and won 256 games in a minor league career that began in 1890 and ended in 1909.

Mark “Moxie” Manuelwas said to have appeared as a both a left and right-handed pitcher for New Orleans in 1906 and 07, Manuel was a combined 37-26, earning him a second trip to the Major Leagues in 1908, where he posted a 3-4 record in 18 appearances for the Chicago White Sox.

Milo Stratton—a weak hitting (career .185) catcher who played in the minor leagues from 1903-1914.

William O’Brien—a .215 hitting first baseman in 1905 with the Toronto Maple  Leafs in the Eastern League and with the Pelicans in 1906.

Jake Atz—played for the Washington Senators in 1903 and the Chicago White Sox 1907-1909, a minor league manager for 21 seasons he won more than 1900 games.

Art Brouthers—a third baseman who played in 37 games for the 1906 Philadelphia Athletics, Brouthers managed the 1913 Paducah Indians to the Kitty League championship.  After his baseball career he was a hotel detective in Charleston, South Carolina.

Front, left to right

Whitey GueseGuese had several strong seasons in the minors, but in his lone Major League season with the Cincinnati Reds in 1901 he was 1-4.  The Youngstown Vindicator said, “He is a twirler who belongs to the disappointing species known as ‘morning glories.” And, “Seemingly has a heart like a canary.”

Joe Rickert—“Diamond Joe” Rickert stole 77 bases for the Pelicans in 1904; he played 15 games in the Major Leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Beaneaters.

William Blake—an outfielder with 13 different minor league teams from 1902 to 1910 and native of Louisville, Kentucky, little else is known.

Punch Knoll—another long-time minor league manager.  Knoll appeared in 79 games for the 1905 Washington Senators, he appeared in 3 games as a pinch hitter, collecting one hit, at 48-years-old while managing the Fort Wayne Chiefs in the Central League

Chick Cargo—brother of Major Leaguer Bobby Cargo, Charles “Chick” Cargo was a shortstop and 3rd baseman who played 19 seasons of minor league ball.

George Watt—Watt had three good seasons for the Little Rock Travelers, with a 53-34 record from 1902-1904.  He slipped to 20-37 in 1905-06 with Little Rock and New Orleans.  By 1907 he had dropped from “A” ball to “D” ball with the Zanesville franchise in the Pennsylvania-Ohio-Maryland League.  In 1908 he pitched for the Zanesville Infants in the Central League, was release in August after posting a 6-15 record and disappeared.