Tag Archives: Lefty Grove

Things I Learned on the Way to Looking up Other Things #30

30 Jan

Reddy’s Last Words

When Tom “Reddy” Miller, the catcher for the 1875 St. Louis Brown Stockings, died in May of 1876 (he was, depending on the source, somewhere between 24 and 26 years old at the time of his death), The St. Louis Globe-Democrat noted his handling of pitcher George Bradley:

“The brilliant manner in which the plucky little fellow supported Bradley last season is a matter of record.”

gwbradley

Bradley

Apparently, according to The Chicago Tribune, catching Bradley was the last thing Miller thought about before his death:

“In his last moments he was delirious, and fancied he was at his place in the ball-field, facing his old pitcher, Bradley. His last words were ‘Two out, Brad—steady, now—he wants a high ball—steady, brad—there, I knew it; that settles it.’”

Altrock on Alexander, 1928

On June 11, 1928, 41-year-old Grover Cleveland Alexander held the Boston Braves to one run on nine hits in an 8 to 1 complete game victory. Nick Altrock, Washington Senators coach, told The Cleveland News:

“Boston got nine hits off Grover Alexander Monday, but got one run, which is why I claim Alex is the world’s greatest pitcher. He is as easy to hit as a punching bag, but you can’t knock him off the rope. Alex pitches like a busted chewing gum slot machine. You keep dropping your nickels in it but no chewing come comes out.”

oldpete

Alexander

Alexander was 16-9 with a 3.36 ERA for the pennant winning St. Louis Cardinals.

Baker’s Homerun Ball, 1911

Frank Baker’s game-tying ninth inning home run off Christy Mathewson in game three of the 1911 World Series quickly became legendary, and people began asking about the whereabouts of the ball.

baker2

Baker

The New York Bureau of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch solved “The great mystery of what became of the ball” three days later:

“In the Brush stadium Tuesday, occupying a seat in the eighth row on the projecting line drawn through home and first, sat Mrs. Charles F. Hunt of 537 West 149th Street. Her husband Dr. Hunt, is a physician to the Yankees.”

According to the paper, just as Baker connected:

“(S)omeone got up in his seat just ahead of Mrs. Hunt and she could not follow the course of the ball. The man apparently tried to catch it.

“Then as Mrs. Hunt sat still the ball flattened the left side of her head with a blow on the left temple.”

Despite being dizzy, the paper said Hunt continued watching the game, “pluckily refusing medical attention.”

Hunt also refused to be taken out of the stands, telling her husband:

“I feel so hysterical that if I try to go out, I’m afraid I’ll create a scene.”

After the Athletics won 3 to 2 in 11 innings, Hunt remained in her seat for another hour, and when she finally returned home, the paper said she spent the next 24 hours ill in bed, and “the bump” remained on her head:

“What became of the ball? Oh, yes. Mrs. Hunt didn’t get it. The moment it fell from her head to the floor, a youth grabbed it.”

Gehrig on the Greatest “Team man, 1937

Dan Daniel of The New York World Telegram did his part to add to the Babe Ruth/ Lou Gehrig feud in February of 1937—just days after Ruth questioned Gehrig’s consecutive game streak, calling it “One of the worst mistake a ballplayer could make.”

Daniel visited with Gehrig in his New Rochelle home, and asked readers if their was a “War between” the two.

He said he asked Gehrig to name the all-time greatest player; Gehrig responded

“Honus Wagner the flying Dutchman…I say Wagner because there was a marvelous player who went along doing a grand job without any thought of himself. He was the team man of all time.”

gehrig

Gehrig

In addition to his snub of Ruth, Gehrig talked about his “greatest thrill” and the best pitcher he ever faced:

“’The greatest thrill of my baseball career?’ Gehrig furnished the reply without a moment’s hesitation. ‘It came when I hit that home run off Carl Hubbell in the third inning of the fourth game of the World Series last October…You don’t hit against very many pitchers like Hubbell in a lifetime and you don’t hit very many homers off the Hubbells in such situations.’ The Iron Horse continued.

“’But the greatest hurler I have seen was not Carl. My vote goes to Lefty Grove. When that bird was powdering them in at the top of his form, he was about as terrible a proposition for a hitter as you could imagine, even in a wild nightmare.’”

Lost Advertisements–Connie Mack Day in Cleveland

6 Sep

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A 1938 Advertisement printed in Cleveland newspapers for Connie Mack Day.

The Philadelphia Athletics manager was honored on June 19 in front of 20,000 fans at Cleveland Stadium.  The ad listed every “star player developed by the grand old man of baseball.”

The baseball world pays tribute to that grand master of the National Game

Connie Mack

President and Manager of the Athletics

Connie Mack’s major league career dates back to 1886–52 years ago.

He became an American League manager in 1900 and had served as manager of the Athletics from 1901 to date–the longest record of continuous managerial service in the entire history of the sport.

He has to his credit nine American League pennants (1902, 1905, 1910, 1911, 1913, 1914, 1929, 1930, 1931) and five world championships (1910, 1911, 1913, 1929, 1930).

The list of star players discovered and developed by him is a tremendous honor roll to his credit.

His city has awarded him the $10,000 annual award for outstanding performance to the credit of Philadelphia.

A kindlier man never lived.  A greater baseball strategist never lived.  We do ourselves credit to honor this great sportsman and gentleman.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer said Mack was presented with “a handsomely bound leather book in which were the signatures of every person in organized baseball from Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis down to the greenest rookie in the West Texas-New Mexico League.”  Cleveland’s baseball writers also presented Mack with an engraved gold pencil.

The Plain Dealer and The Cleveland News both noted that when Mack addressed the crowd he added an “n” to Indians president Alva Bradley’s first name; The Plain Dealer said:

“Mr. Mack always had a tough time with names of his friends and players.  For years he has called ‘Lefty’ Grove ‘Groves’ and Lou Gehrig “Garridge.’ In fact he never has attempted to call his second baseman, (Dario) Lodigiani, anything but ‘Lodi’ for this season.”

The league-leading Indians beat Mack’s Athletics 5 to 4.

Another “Rube”

4 Mar

Hall of Famer “Lefty” Grove and Jack Ogden were the best known pitchers of the great Baltimore Orioles teams that won seven straight International League Pennants from 1919-1925, but in 1923 both were out-pitched by James Arthur “Rube” Parnham.

Parnham began his professional career in 1914 with the Huntington Blue Sox in the Ohio State League.  In 1915 he joined the Raleigh Capitals in the North Carolina State League, managed by Connie Mack’s son Earle.  The 21-year-old was an unspectacular 9-15 for Raleigh, but caught the eye of the elder Mack and spent the spring of 1916 with Jacksonville with the Philadelphia Athletics.

Rube Parnham, 1917

Rube Parnham, 1917

Parnham returned to the North Carolina State League for the 1916 season, splitting time between Raleigh and the Durham Bulls, posting a 17-19; his contract was purchased by the Athletics in late August.  Nearly a month later Parnham made his Major League debut; he appeared in four games for Mack’s last place (36-117) ballclub, he was 2-1 with a 4.01 ERA.

Parnham was with the Athletics in Jacksonville again in 1917, but was sent to Baltimore before the beginning of the season.  He won 16 games for the Orioles and earned one more shot with Mack in Philadelphia; Parnham was 0-1 with a 4.09 ERA in two September appearances.

As Parnham started winning games for Baltimore he developed a reputation as a work horse; in 1917 he won both ends of a double-header against the Rochester Hustlers, pitching a total of 24 innings in two 3-2 victories; in 1919 he won both games of a twin bill twice.   At the same time he began to earn a reputation as “eccentric’ and “erratic,” the inevitable comparisons to Rube Waddell and his small time roots earned Parnham the nickname “Rube,” he was also known as “Uncle.”

Baltimore sold Parnham to the Louisville Colonels in the American Association in March of 1918, but within two months was sold back to Baltimore, where he rejoined manager Jack Dunn, with who he had, and would continue to have, a contentious relationship.  He won 22 games in 1918 and followed with 28 in 1919, leading the Orioles to their first championship since 1908.

As the Orioles jumped out to a quick lead in 1920 (Parnham was 5-0, and was joined on the pitching staff by Ogden and Grove) the erratic Rube Parnham surfaced again. He was prone to disappearing for days at a time and also appears to have been hurt.  By mid-season he was gone.

More recent accounts have said Parnham jumped the Orioles to play semi-pro ball in Pennsylvania; just as likely, Parnham, who was suspended in June by Dunn for being out of shape, and who was clearly overshadowed by Grove (12-2) and Ogden (27-9); as well as Jack Bentley (16-3) and Harry Frank (25-12), was let go.

Lending credence to Parnham not having jumped is a January 1922 Associated Press item that said the pitcher “whose arm went on him” would rejoin “the Baltimores for the 1922 season.  Parnham wrote Dunn that he believed he could come back next season and pitch successfully.”  He won 16 games for the Orioles in 1922.

The following season would be Parnham’s best; the 29-year-old pitcher led the Orioles with a 33-7 record, Grove was 27-10, Ogden 17-12.   In addition to out-pitching his two teammates, Parnham set an international League record by winning 20 consecutive games.

Parnham’s old ways returned before the 1924 season when he failed to report to Florida for spring training.  The Associated Press said:

“Rube never reported at the Oriole training camp in the south and never even deigned to notify Jack Dunn whether he was going to play ball this year.”

Parnham eventually reported, but had another stormy, abbreviated season.  With a 6-5 record and a 4.84 ERA, Dunn suspended the pitcher in June, and he appears to have not pitched for the Orioles again that season.

The only reference to Parnham in 1925 was a May game he pitched for a semi-pro team in Duquesne, Pennsylvania and was beaten 8-0 by the Homestead Grays.

His career appeared to be over, but Dunn, it seems was willing to give his pitcher one more chance.

The Baltimore Sun said shortly before the 1926 season:

“Uncle Rube Parnham, the most colorful figure in the International League, will be back on the mound for the Orioles next season.”

Parnham was 13-9 with a 5.05 ERA, and spent the entire season feuding with Dunn; It was the end of the Orioles dynasty, the Toronto Maple Leafs won the championship in 1926 and Baltimore would not finish first again until 1944.

The Orioles were finally through with Parnham, The Baltimore Sun said:

“There was so much trouble between Parnham and Dunn last year that it was apparent Rube had spent his last season with the Orioles.” “

The 32-year-old was still considered valuable enough that the Milwaukee Brewers in the American Association purchased the pitcher from Baltimore.

The Brewers expected big things from their new pitcher, The Milwaukee Journal said:

“At times his playfulness leads him away from the straight and narrow, and he nearly drove Jack Dunn nutty last season…But Parnham is a great pitcher, despite his eccentricities, and if (Brewers owner) Otto Borchert can hire a good keeper for him is certain to be a winner with the Brewers.”

By March Parnham had worn out his welcome with another manager when he didn’t bother to report to Hot Springs, Arkansas for spring training.  The Journal said:

“Disgusted with the dilatory tactics of Rube Parnham, Jack Lelivelt, boss of the Brewers, hinted Saturday night that unless the eccentric righthander reports at once that he would probably be turned back to Baltimore.  Former International Leaguers …have told the Milwaukee leader about some of Reuben’s idiosyncrasies  and Lelivelt is beginning to feel that he will become a stepsister to Kid trouble if he had the former Oriole on his club.”

Parnham never played for the Brewers, and was returned to Baltimore, but Dunn was finished with him as well and he was shipped off to the Reading Keystones.  After a 2-8 season split between Reading and the Newark Bears, Parnham’s career was over.

rube

Rube Parnham, 1923

Parnham retired to McKeesport, Pennsylvania, where the troubles that followed him throughout his career seem to have continued.  James Bready, an editor for The Baltimore Sun went to Pennsylvania to interview the former Oriole hero in 1961:

“The story was that he had gone downhill. Falling asleep in the snow, recently, he had lost several toes. On the phone, the director of a home for indigents said he would notify Parnham of the interview project. He gave me the street address — and a caution: ‘Try to get here before noon.’

“Paper, pen — I knocked and Rube beckoned me inside what today would be called a shelter. He was wearing an overcoat (I understand that better, now) and had not shaved recently. We sat down, facing, on two of half a dozen cot beds.  I tried a question. ”Gbbmhdahlr,” he replied. I stared at him; slowly, the meaning penetrated. I reached in my pocket and handed him a dollar.”

Parnham died two years later in McKeesport.

A Thousand Words—Home for Christmas

25 Dec

japantour

Members of the 1931 Tour of Japan delegation of Major League stars arrive in San Francisco two days before Christmas.  They were greeted on arrival by Ty Cobb:

Back Row: Al Simmons, Larry French, Muddy Ruel, Ralph Shinners, Mickey Cochrane, Lefty O’Doul, Lefty Grove.

Front Row: Ty Cobb, Leonard Knowles (New York Giants trainer), Herb Hunter (former minor league player who organized this and several earlier tours of Japan), Bruce Cunningham and Rabbit Maranville.

Jack Ogden

28 Sep

John Mahlon Ogden had limited success in three stints in Major League Baseball, but for an eight year period he was one of the greatest minor league pitchers in history.

Born in 1897, Ogden played baseball at Swarthmore College (where his brother, Major League pitcher Warren “Curly” Ogden also played), and went directly to John McGraw’s New York Giants.  The 20 year old appeared in five games for the Giants before being shipped to the Newark Bears in the International League where he went 5-5 with a 1.48 ERA.  Ogden spent 1919 with the Rochester Hustlers posting a 10-13 record with a 2.37 ERA.

His career took off the next season with the Baltimore Orioles.  The 22 year old Ogden led the International League champions with a 27-9 record—future Hall of Famer Lefty Grove was 12-2 for the O’s that year.  Egan followed that up with an incredible 31-8 record with a 2.29 ERA in 1921.  Beginning on May 10 Ogden won 18 straight decisions, finally losing 3-2 to the Jersey City Skeeters on July 22.  Ogden then won his next five starts.  Baltimore won their third of seven straight IL championships (Grove was 25-10 with a 2.56 ERA).

Over the next six seasons Ogden went 133-63, including a 28-win season in 1925, the last championship in Baltimore’s domination of the International League.

Jack Ogden

Ogden made it back to the Major Leagues with the Saint Louis Browns in 1928 and ’29 where he was a combined 19-24 with an ERA above 4. Ogden was acquired by Cincinnati for the 1930 season, but due to an illness he announced his retirement and took a high school coaching job.

Ogden attempted a comeback in 1931, going a combined 6-10 for the Reds in ’31 and ’32, followed by two more minor league stints with Rochester (after being traded by the Reds to Cardinals) and Baltimore.  He retired for good in 1934 and accepted the position of Vice President and General Manager of the Orioles and became assistant to Philadelphia Phillies President Gerald Nugent in 1939.

In 1941 Ogden bought controlling interest of the Elmira Pioneers in the Eastern League.  His son, John Jr., also a star pitcher and basketball player at Swarthmore, helped Ogden operate the team until he was drafted in 1943.   PFC John Mahlon Ogden Jr. was killed in France on August 8, 1944. Ogden sold the Elmira franchise shortly after his son’s death.

Ogden continued in baseball serving as a scout for a number of teams and managed high school and college teams.  He passed away in 1977 in Philadelphia.

Ogden is a member of the International League Hall of Fame.