Tag Archives: Quait Bateman

Rowland’s Superstition

8 May

When Clarence “Pants” Rowland became an investor in the Milwaukee Brewers in the American Association in 1919, and took over from Jack Egan as manager, The Chicago Daily News said he was making some changes:

pants

“He is superstitious but claims to have facts to bear out the superstition.”

Rowland moved the team’s office and changed the phone number:

“The room was No. 1300 in a downtown building and the telephone in the office was Grand 13. So Rowland decided to change.”

“Since the “13” office has been occupied by the Brewers the following star of misfortune has traced the club:

“Dan McGann, a first sacker, committed suicide, while a member of ( former manager) John McColskey’s team.

mcgann

Dan McGann

“Dan Shay was held on a murder charge while managing the club, although he was exonerated by a jury in Indianapolis.

Ned Egan, signed to manage in 1918 ( no relation to Jack Egan,  to the man who replaced him) became ill suddenly and was removed from St. Paul to a local sanatorium, after which he went to Chicago and was found dead in a hotel. A coroner decided Egan committed suicide.

nedeganpix

Ned Egan

Charles M. Havenor [sic, Charles S.], owner of the club, died some years ago (1912—although the team won league championships in the two seasons following his death).”

With the exception of McGann, the article left out most of the “Milwaukee First Base Jinx,” which included the 1911 murder of Arthur Brown, Quait Bateman’s stabbing at the hands of Charlie Dexter, and early death of one-time Milwaukee first baseman Jiggs Donohue.

Despite changing offices and phone numbers, Rowland’s Brewers finished in seventh place—Rowland sold his stake in the club and was replaced as manager by the man he replaced: Jack Egan.  Milwaukee would not win another American Association championship until 1936.

The Milwaukee First Base Jinx

20 May

In January of 1911, the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association were in search of a first baseman.

Newspapers across the country began to speculate that getting someone to play the position might be a problem.

They began to talk about the “Milwaukee First Base Jinx.”

Dan McGann, who had been Milwaukee’s first baseman in 1909 and 1910 committed suicide a month earlier at Besler’s Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky (Although McGann’s sisters claimed he was murdered because an expensive ring was missing, there was a history of depression and suicide in the family and other expensive items were found on his body).

Dan McGann

The regular first baseman before McGann, Arthur Brown, as mentioned in an earlier post, was killed in 1911 by an actor whose wife had left him for the first baseman

 The man Brown replaced at first in 1908 was Quait Bateman, who also had a brush with violence.  He had been stabbed by Charlie Dexter.  Initial reports said the stabbing happened as a result of what The Milwaukee News called “A drunken row,” later Bateman said it was an accident and refused to press charges.

Unlike the others, Bateman did not die–although he was said to be close to death twice– and actually returned to Milwaukee for three more seasons.

Quait Bateman

But that fact didn’t get in the way of a good jinx story.

Shortly after the jinx stories appeared, Milwaukee signed 34-year-old former American League first baseman Tom Jones.  As the club’s first baseman for four seasons–and part of a fifth–Jones temporarily put the talk to rest.

Tom Jones

But it was revised again in 1913.

Newspapers brought up the jinx again when another former  Milwaukee first baseman Jiggs Donahue–who played for the club in 1902 and ’03– died in July.  Donahue died in the Ohio State Hospital in Columbus.  It was widely assumed his mental illness the result of advanced syphilis.

Jiggs Donahue

Articles in a number of papers speculated on what fate awaited Jones.  The Day in New London Connecticut said:

“Tom Jones, first baseman at Milwaukee, wonders what’ll become of him.  Murder, suicide, stabbing, shooting and insanity have been the fates former Milwaukee first basemen have met.”

Jones, at least in the short term, dodged the jinx.  His career with the Brewers ended during the 1915 season with no stabbings, shootings or other mayhem.  He died in 1923 at age 46.

The “jinx” was put to rest for good by Milwaukee’s next two first basemen; Clarence Craft and Mal Barry lived to 70 and 68 respectively.  Craft died in 1958, Barry in 1960.

A shorter version of this post appeared on August 20, 1912.

Charlie Dexter, and the Other Charlie Dexter

14 Aug
Last week I told you about Charlie Dexter, former major leaguer, and one of the heroes of Chicago’s Iroquois Theater fire.  Not to be confused with the other Charlie Dexter, a minor league outfielder and first baseman of the same era.  The two were often conflated in contemporary newspaper accounts.

Charlie Dexter

The other Charlie Dexter, the career minor leaguer (1904-09), was born Oscar Schoenbecker in Ohio and was killed in a hunting accident in November of 1909 in Mount Holly, Ohio.  According to his obituary, in The Cincinnati Commercial Tribune he changed his name “fearing the jests of the old people in case he failed,” as a player.

Reading contemporary accounts of the major league Charlie Dexter is a study in dichotomies.  A year and a half before his heroics at the Iroquois theater were recounted in papers across the country, numerous papers echoed the sentiments of the Pittsburgh Press that Dexter’s release by Chicago had more to do with his being a “trouble maker” than his .227 average.

Numerous stories over the years hinted, or outright said that Dexter, like many players of the era, had a serious drinking problem. He was released by Boston after the 1903 season and returned to the minor leagues for the first time since 1895.
The end of line seemed to come in October of 1905 in Des Moines, when during what was described as a “Drinking binge” Dexter stabbed his friend, Milwaukee first baseman Henry “Quait” Bateman.  The earliest reports from Iowa papers and wire services said Bateman was either dead or near death and that “(Dexter) slashed Bateman across the breast, the blade cutting into the lung.”

Quait Bateman

Dexter was immediately arrested.  But within days the wire services were reporting that Bateman was not seriously injured and had refused to file charges.  Dexter was released from custody.  Other players who were present (none were named is stories) “Dexter and Bateman are on the best of terms and that their little quarrel had done nothing to mar their friendship.”  Without Bateman’s cooperation, a grand jury elected not to indict Dexter.

He played two more seasons in Des Moines, taking over as manager from Mike Kelly 20 games into the 1907 season and managing the team through 1908.

Dexter stayed in Iowa and was occasionally mentioned in local papers over the next few years in connection with amateur and semi-pro leagues.  Dexter shot himself in 1934 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Bateman Died in Milwaukee on January 18, 1937.

One more story about the aftermath of the Bateman stabbing next week.