Tag Archives: Morgan Murphy

Murnane’s Plan to Save Baseball

29 Aug

For as long as there has been a game, there have been plans intended to “save” it.

Tim Murnane considered himself a diet expert, and a baseball expert.

murnane

Tim Murnane

The baseball player and pioneer turned sportswriter proposed his plan to save baseball in the fall of 1895 in the pages of The Boston Globe.

Murnane said:

“Many lovers of baseball claim that the sport is degenerating, owing to leading clubs engaging players from all parts of the country.

“How can a man, they ask, born and brought up in New York city, join the Boston club and be as anxious to defeat the Giants as would a man hailing from the East?”

Murnane used Cincinnati Reds catcher Morgan Murphy “the great Boston favorite” as an example:

“Year after year he is forced to go out to Cincinnati from his home in Rhode Island when the Boston public would be delighted to see him in a Boston uniform.”

In addition to Murphy, said Murnane, there was Boston infielder and Chicago native Herman Long:

“Now wouldn’t he look more in place in a Chicago uniform.”

In order to give the game “more local coloring” Murnane proposed:

“The National League to be composed of eight clubs, representing Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore in the east, Pittsburgh, Chicago Cleveland and Cincinnati in the west.”

Murnane then set up a series of territories, for example, all Chicago players would have to come from Illinois, Iowa, or Minnesota—New York could only sign players From Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. Each team could only sign players from their territory.

Players from all western states except California would be eligible to play for any of the “western” teams, and California players would be able to sign with any club.

Next, Murnane proposed reestablishing the American Association as a feeder league with franchises in in Providence, Brooklyn, Washington D.C., Buffalo, Louisville, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Columbus. These teams could sign players from anywhere and the entire rosters would be eligible to be drafted by the National League clubs at the close of each season.

Part of Murnane’s plan also addressed one of his personal crusades:

”Abolish Sunday ball playing by league clubs and make it optional with the clubs of the association.”

The Globe published a list of every current major leaguer, and showed which team they would be with under the plan.

Murnane was convinced his proposal:

“Would give baseball a grand boom from Maine to California, as it would revive the interest among the amateur players and give each section of the country something special to work for.”

The Globe’s larger rival, The Boston Post, couldn’t wait to tell readers how horrible Murnane’s plan was.

Never mentioning the rival paper’s writer by name, The Post said:

“The recent scheme of how to enliven baseball in the East and give the game more local tinge has given the gossiper a chance to assert himself.”

The “scheme” said The Post had already been “exploded by many of the enthusiasts, ball players, and ex-ball players in this vicinity.”

One local businessman and “greatest enthusiasts of the game in this city,” noted that the champion Baltimore Orioles did not have a single player from their “territory,” and “There would be a great deal of kicking,” from Orioles fans.

Beaneaters president Arthur Soden told the paper he was against the plan despite the fact that:

“We might, of course, have a winning team, as we have such a lot of men to pick from, but it looks to me that the other teams in consequence would be handicapped for good men.”

An Eastern League umpire named John Bannon, noted that the geographical restrictions would be a boon for owners as players would “be forced to sign for any amount the magnates offered them, “ and pronounced the plan “ridiculous.”

James “Doc” Casey, a Massachusetts native then with the Toronto Canucks in the Eastern League, who would later play 10 major league seasons—none in Boston—was also against the plan:

“If directors were forced to make up their teams from a certain territory, then the extremes would be reached. One club would have all of the cracks and another would be forced to go through the season with a crowd of men who be incompetent.”

With that, Murnane’s plan to “save” baseball died a quiet death.

Charlie Hoover–Infinite Baseball Card Set

21 Mar

Gary Cieradkowski is an exceptionally talented artist from Covington, Kentucky.  Since 2010 he has produced the great Infinite Baseball Card Set Blog–with excellent stories and his incredible art work.  Gary contacted me recently about collaborating on a piece.  I chose Charlie Hoover.  Hoover was a talented, troubled 19th Century catcher who faded into obscurity and remains one of a handful of Major League players for which there is no information on the place or date of his death.  Read the piece here on Gary’s blog.

This is the card Gary created:

HOOVER_LG

Count Campau Explains the “Science of the Sport”—the Battery

20 Mar

Charles Columbus “Count” Campau earned his nickname because of his regal appearance and his background; he was a member of a prominent Detroit family and educated at Notre Dame, and was regarded as one of the smartest players of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

His Major League career was brief, just 147 games with the Detroit Wolverines, St. Louis Browns and Washington Senators, but he was one of the best known, and highest regarded minor league players for 20 years.

Charles Columbus "Count" Campau

Charles Columbus “Count” Campau

Campau was especially popular in New Orleans, where he played for parts of four seasons, managed for one, and adopted as his home.

In 1893 Campau, who The New Orleans Times-Picayune called “one of the best students of baseball,” wrote an article as “Advice for Amateurs” about the “Science of the Sport:”

 “Many a time I have been asked for my views on the successful way to make a good ball player.  From a player’s standpoint a ball player is born and not made.  But with continued practice and coaching from and older and experienced head the amateur will probably reach the top notch in the profession.  There are two things, when combined, (which) will make a good ball player.  A practical and intellectual knowledge of the pastime or sport will aid the amateur.”

The New Orleans Pelicans captain explained what passed for “scientific baseball” in 1893; position by position:

“The most important position is the pitcher. For three reasons he ranks as the most important player on the team. He is the pivot upon which the victory of the team rests.  Should he be slightly disabled or out of condition all hopes of victory would go glimmering and the rest of the team would not put up a good game of ball.  A good pitcher, with fair fielders, is better than a poor pitcher with brilliant fielders.  With a weak pitcher, a fast fielding team would make a sport, and with good hitters would likely win one game out of ten.”

Campau blamed pitching for the Pelicans slow start that season; in spite of being “as hard a batting team” as there was in the league, they “could not win for the reason that the box was decidedly weak.”

“Another important factor in a game is the catcher…A catcher with good judgment and a quick brain will prevent the speedy base runner from advancing, and will lessen the work of the pitcher by watching the bases.  A good battery, with judgment, will work a hard batter, and the chances are that he will pop up a fly or send a grounder to short.  The catcher’s work does not only consist of receiving the delivery of his pitcher, for such a catcher is not worth the chest protector he wears, and will never become a success…(Charlie) Bennett(Jack) Clements, (Buck) Ewing and (Morgan) Murphy are catchers who watch every point of the game.  They back up the first baseman at every safe opportunity.”

"Count" Campau

“Count” Campau

More from the “Count” next week.