Tag Archives: Red Faber

“A Colorful Critter”

17 Feb

John Walter “Duster” Mails was another left-handed pitcher with talent who never lived up expectations and was labeled “eccentric,” or “Another Rube.”

John B. Foster of The New York Sun said:

“Mails’ ability is conceded so far as his arm is concerned, but when it comes to the illuminated phases of baseball Duster must have the center of the stage or he moans in a corner like a monkey with the pip. If he’d make the best use of his left arm, he should be able to win two games for every one he loses.”

Billy Evans, the American League umpire, and syndicated newspaper columnist called him, “A colorful critter.”

In 1925, when the St. Louis Cardinals acquired Mails from the Oakland Oaks in the Pacific Coast League for what would be Mails’ third and final shot at the big leagues, Evans wrote:

“Walter Mails has as much natural ability as Rube Waddell and no southpaw ever had more stuff than George Edward.

“Mails has a dazzling fastball. I umpired back of Waddell when he was at his best. If anything, Mails’ fastball had something on Rube’s.”

Mails

Evans concluded that Waddell “seemed to have uncanny control” of his pitches, which Mails lacked.

He argued that given Mails’ personality quirks, he would be “rival Babe Ruth” as a newspaper copy generator if he could recreate his short period of major league dominance in 1920:

“Joining Cleveland late in the season, when the Indians were on the ropes because of lack of pitching, Mails proved the man of the hour.

“Taking part in nine games he turned in seven victories and didn’t suffer a single defeat.”

The Indians won the pennant by two games over the White Sox.

“Late in the season when Cleveland met Chicago in the final and all series between the two clubs, Mails remarked to me before the first game:

“Those birds are made to order for me; If (Tris) Speaker starts me against them I won’t be satisfied with anything but a shutout.”

Mails shut the White Sox out and beat Urban Faber 2 to 0; the September 24 victory increased the Indians lead over the Sox to 1.5 games.

“In one inning, after walking three men a la Waddell, he continued Rube’s trick by striking the next three out.”

Evans’ recall was slightly off.

In the fifth inning, Mails retired Swede Risberg, then walked Ray Schalk, Faber, and Amos Strunk. 

Mails then struck out Buck Weaver and Eddie Collins, The Chicago Tribune said, with a full count, Collins:

“(H)it three fouls in succession, swung at a bad ball and struck out.”

Mails’ dream season continued through the World Series, he relieved Ray Caldwell in the first inning of game three, pitching 6 2/3 scoreless innings in a 2 to 1 loss to the Brooklyn Robins.

Evans said Mails told him:

“If Speaker had only started me that one run we made would have been enough to win. He says he is going to give me a chance against (Sherry) Smith the next time he starts. Those birds will be lucky any time they score on me.”

He shut out the Robins and Smith 1 to 0.

Mails posted a 1.85 regular season ERA in 1920 which ballooned to 3.94 in 1921 and 5.28 in 1922, before he was sold to Oakland.

Mails’ final big-league stint ended like his first two, flashes of brilliance punctuating an overall lack of control and discipline.

He returned to the minor leagues for another decade. 

Early in his career, Mails tried to explain his control issues to The Spokane Spokesman Review:

“In my younger days, my folks used to live just a short distance from the San Quentin penitentiary. It was always a hobby with me to throw stones at the guards on the ramparts to kid them. One day I thought I could get control by aiming at them, but the darn fools always used to be on the move and even today when I am out on the mound pitching, the home plate seems to act like those guards, always on the move. So, you can see I have an excuse coming.”

“Baseball’s Case Against the Automobile”

9 Jan

Paul Purman wrote for the Newspaper Enterprise Association, a Scripps-Howard syndicate, from 1916 through 1918; best known for naming the college All-American Football Team during those years, he also wrote regularly about baseball.

Shortly before the 1917 season, he wrote about Clarence “Pants” Rowland’s plan to make the Chicago White Sox pitching staff more effective that season:

“Rowland is the latest pilot to take a hand in the life of his players off the field. He has issued an order that his pitchers be forbidden from driving automobiles during the playing season.”

pants

Purman said “Baseball’s case against the automobile,” had been a issue that “occupied managers’ minds for many years.”

He said that more than half of current players “own cars and drive them daily” during the season.

“In Cleveland (in 1914) it was charged that the poor showing of the team was due mainly to players paying more attention to their machines than they did to their baseball.”

Purman said despite the concern, Cleveland manager Joe Birmingham “issued no orders against motoring,” and the Naps “finished a poor eighth (51-102).”

Golf, said Purman, was “another thorn in the sides of managers.” He said Bill Carrigan had “issued a blanket order against his men playing golf.” Carrigan’s order, he said, was the result “two or three players who had been warned repeatedly against thinking more of golf than they did their baseball,” and after the Red Sox won the pennant, Purman said:

“It is rumored other managers will fall in line this year.”

After issuing the ban, Rowland told The Chicago Daily News:

“Physicians declare that the strain of handling a steering wheel is injurious to the muscles used in pitching. There is no doubt that a pitcher cannot do himself justice on the mound after several hours as a gasoline pilot. The eyesight also is put to severe test.”

Urban “Red” Faber, Joe Benz, and Eddie Cicotte were said to be the three pitchers who would be most upset with the ban.

cicotte

Eddie Cicotte

The Chicago papers were silent about whether Rowland’s “ban” was enforced throughout 1917, but Cicotte had his finest season, 28-12, 1.53, and Faber and Benz made significant contributions to the World Champion White Sox.

Lost Advertisements–“Oh! You ‘Dave’ Robertson!”

24 Jun

1917ws

An advertisement for Hart, Schaffner & Marx which appeared after game three of the 1917 World Series.  After losing two games in Chicago, the New York Giants won 2 to 0; the Giants scored both runs in the fourth inning of Eddie Cicotte; Dave Robertson tripled and scored on Walter Holke‘s double, Holke scored on a single by George Burns.

The advertisement after game two, a 7 to 2 White Sox victory, featured Chicago first baseman Chick Gandil, who:

“Makes a wonderful catch on (Bennie) Kauff‘s foul ball in (the) third inning.  Running over to the Giants bench he leaped in the air and with his left hand ‘speared the pill.'”

1917ws2

And, one more after game six, won by Urban “Red” Faber and the White Sox:

Long Live The King!

“Sox take final game, score 4 to 2.  Chicago now boasts two world’s champions ‘White Sox.'”

1917ws3

 

 

 

“Many say he was so Modest he Hated to have his Picture Taken”

30 Mar

In the winter of 1918 Malcolm MacLean of The Chicago Evening Post wrote about the peculiar reactions of a few players to photographers:

“It may happen that a pitcher does a phenomenal streak of work and his photo should run.  It may be the only one of him in stock that has been used time and again—so often, in fact, that it is all but worn out.

“Hence it is necessary for a photographer to snap said fellow’s photo on the ball field.  Ninety-nine times out of a hundred this is a pipe. Yet there are exceptions.”

MacLean said he recalled a handful if examples of players refusing:

“In practically every case it was that uncanny thing known as ‘baseball superstition’ that made it difficult, almost impossible, to get them to pose.

(Urban) Red Faber, of the White Sox, on two occasions (during the 1917 season) lost ball games after he had been snapped.  So he announced his intention of refusing to pose again until the White Sox won the American League championship.  Another member of the Sox, Charles (Swede) Risberg, joined him in the declaration. And they stuck to it.

Red Faber

Red Faber

“The day after the title was clinched both Faber and Risberg were among the easiest fellows on the squad to photograph.  In their case it was ‘superstition’ and we don’t know they could be blamed.  If a player keeps winning, only to have the streak smashed the day his photo is taken, well we have an idea we’d do the same thing.”

MacLean said during Rube Marquard’s 19-game winning streak the Giants’ pitcher refused to allow a Chicago photographer to take his picture.  MacLean said he and a cameraman approached the pitcher on July 8, 1912:

 “’Nothing doing,’ he said.  ‘Come around any time you want after I’ve lost a game and you’re welcome to all you want.’  It so happened that Rube lost that day, Jimmy Lavender hanging the bee on him, and the following afternoon Rube posed and posed and posed.”

MacLean said Jim Thorpe was a particularly difficult subject to photograph when he began his major league career, but not due to superstition:

“When Thorpe first came to Chicago with the Giants, he was the most widely advertised athlete in the world.  He was fresh from his triumphs in Sweden on the track field and from the gridiron at Carlisle.

“Many say he was so modest he hated to have his picture taken.  At any rate, many a film and plate was wasted on him because he would turn his face away, throw up his arm in front of him, or do something also to ruin the exposure.”

Jim Thorpe--Airedale fan

Jim Thorpe

Another difficult member of the Giants was catcher John “Chief” Meyers, who MacLean said would brush past photographers, saying:

“’Aw, you’ve got all of me you want,’ It was decidedly exasperating, especially when publicity is what helps keep major leaguers in the majors.”

Two other oft-photographed pitchers had their own particular quirks.

MacLean said:

“It will surprise many to learn that Ed Walsh, of the White Sox…refused to pose on the day he was expected to pitch…Few men were snapped so frequently as Ed when he was in his prime, yet we venture to say no man ever got a photo of him—when Ed knew it—on the day he was to work.

Eddie Plank, of the Athletics…was one of the easiest of all men to photograph, but it was exceedingly difficult to get a good one of him.  The reason was he kept tossing stones at the camera or twisting up his face in some farcical fashion.  And when other players were being taken Ed would throw peddles at them, trying to have them distort their faces.”

Eddie Plank

Eddie Plank

Lost Advertisements–Famous Ball Players–Farmers & Merchants

24 Apr

farmersandmerchantsad

An October 1925 advertisement for California’s Farmers & Merchants Bank:

Famous Ball Players who are depositors in the Farmers and Merchants

Dazzy Vance, Brooklyn, Leading pitcher of the National League

Jimmy Austin, the St. Louis Browns

Ernie Johnson, with the New York Yankees

Hervey McClellan, with the Chicago White Sox

George Sisler, manager of the St. Louis Browns

Ken Williams, of the St. Louis Browns

One of Farmer’s  Merchants depositors, Hervey McClellan, had an unusual distinction on June 14, 1922, while filling in at shortstop after his Chicago White Sox teammate, and fellow bank customer, Ernie Johnson was hit by a pitch and left a game against the Philadelphia Athletics.   The Sox, behind Urban “Red” Faber, took 6 to 3 lead into the eighth inning.

Hervey McClennan

Hervey McClellan

Then, according to The Chicago Tribune‘s Irving Vaughan, McClellan was responsible for “Possibly the most unusual feature of the afternoon,” when:

 “(He) started his high diving by muffing (Cy) Perkins‘ roller.  (Chick) Galloway then grounded to (first baseman Earl) Sheely who heaved to second, but McClellan neglected to cover.  This put runners on the two far corners and both counted when McClellan threw to the grandstand on (Jimmy) Dykes‘ grass cutter…What McClellan did was notch three errors on three consecutive batters…two runs scoring on the blunders and providing a close score.”

The Box Score

The Box Score

McClellan, who played six seasons with the White Sox, died a month after this advertisement appeared.  He had been ill for more than a year, suffering from  complications from two gall stone surgeries.