Tag Archives: Texas Southern League

Jules Pujol

15 Apr

Jules Pujol was an infielder and outfielder for several professional teams in and around his hometown of New Orleans during the 1880s.  Statistics are unavailable for much of Pujol’s career, but his best season was with New Orleans in the Southern League in 1887 when he hit .314 in 82 games–he played sparingly, and hit no better than .242 after that.

Pujol was born in New Orleans on December 12, 1864.  When he was not playing baseball he was a member of New Orleans’ all-volunteer fire department–the Fireman’s Charitable Association.

Pujol’s statistical decline after his .314 season might be attributed to an incident on Bourbon Street in New Orleans in March of 1888.  Pujol was out celebrating after New Orleans’ annual “Fireman’s Day Parade,” when, according to The New Orleans Times-Picayune he was “Shot and dangerously injured by Police Officer Albert Torregano.”

Pujol was fighting with another man in the bar when the officer approached:

“The officer attempted to make pace and requested Pujol to stop, when the latter said: ‘You want some of it, too,’ and struck him in the face and knocked him down.

“As the officer got up he again asked Pujol to quit, when Pujol knocked him down again, and his brother Luis came up saying, ‘Let me get at him, ‘ and also struck (the officer), and while he was lying there they both kicked him and beat him about the legs and body.”

The officer finally drew his weapon and shot Pujol, “striking Jules under the left shoulder-blade.”  Despite being shot, Pujol “continued chasing the officer.”  Pujol finally “fell to the floor from the loss of blood,” and was taken to the hospital where the wound was “pronounced very dangerous.”  The bullet had “passed through his right lung and striking the third rib lodged in his stomach.”

So dangerous was the wound that several newspapers printed a wire report which said:

“Jules Pujol, late third baseman of the New Orleans club, who was shot in the Crescent a week ago, is dead.”

Reports of Pujol’s demise were premature.  Three weeks after the shooting he was released from the hospital.  The Times-Picayune declared him “cured.”

In April, the assault case against the Pujol  brothers was “continued indefinitely.”  Neither were ever tried,  Louis returned to the fire department, and Jules left for Texas. He played for the Galveston Giants and Houston Babies in the Texas Southern League in 1888 and finished his professional career the following season with mobile in the Southern League.

In 1891, he became a Lieutenant in the newly formed New Orleans Fire Department.

Pujol and four other firefighters, including his brother Louis, were awarded the department’s highest honor for saving nine lives in a fire at the Grunewald Opera Hall at Baronne and Canal Streets in 1892.  According to the book History of the Fire Department in New Orleans (1895), the five went to the roof of a neighboring building, and then swung “A rope to the burning building, hauling a ladder over to bridge from one to the other, and passing the endangered persons across it to a place of safety.”

Jules Pujol, second from left

Pujol rose through the ranks of the department and was an assistant chief–serving under his brother, Chief Louis Pujol–on February 23, 1924, when he responded to a fire at a warehouse on Canal Street.  Pujol died after being trapped in the building when the walls collapsed.  Five other firefighters were seriously injured.

He is interred at Greenwood Cemetery in New Orleans.

A shorter version of this post was published on September 13, 2012

“There were Absurd Errors, Collisions, Accidents, Spectacular Batting”

2 Mar

William Henry “Josh” Reilly had a memorable big league debut for the Chicago Colts in 1896.

Josh Reilly

Josh Reilly

Reilly filled in at shortstop for Bill Dahlen in a May 2 game against the St. Louis Browns.  The Chicago Tribune said Dahlen was “(E)ngaged at home in holding a hot water bag against a turbulent tooth.”

While the toothache story was reported in the Chicago papers, The Sporting Life was not sold on the reason for the hard-drinking Dahlen’s absence:

“Dahlen laid off—was sick, or—well, you know Dahlen.”

Bill Dahlen

Bill Dahlen

The Chicago Inter Ocean called the game “Worse than cough medicine,” and said:

“Of all the untabulated, unscheduled, unexpected, terrible, heartrending, frayed-out exhibitions of something or another that must be classed under the head of baseball, yesterday’s game with St. Louis was the worst.”

The Tribune said:

 “There were absurd errors, collisions, accidents, spectacular batting.”

Reilly was responsible for three of those “absurd errors,” and some of the “spectacular batting,” going 2 for 6 in his debut; he was also responsible for what The Tribune called “The electrifying feature of the game.”

The Inter Ocean described what happened:

(Monte) Cross got to first because (Chicago first baseman) George Decker thought his arm was as long as the legs of a man who has to stand on a ladder to comb his hair.  His arm was short by about six feet.  Then (Tom) Parrott made a single to center… (Duff) Cooley knocked a hot liner, and everybody started to sprint.  Reilly was playing at short, and stuck his finger nail into a loose stitch just as the ball shot past him.  He slammed it to (Harry) Truby, where Cross should have been, but was not, and Truby in turn, tossed it over to Decker to fondle while Parrott endeavored to correct himself.”

That game was the only highlight in Reilly’s major league career.  He played a total of nine games in Chicago—the other 8 at second base—and made a total of 11 errors.  And, after going 2 for 6 in his debut, he was just 6 for 36 thereafter.   Then, in late May Reilly became ill—accounts varied regarding what the illness was, The Sporting News said it was typhoid fever, The Sporting Life, and The Chicago Daily News said pneumonia.

Reilly returned home to the West Coast.  By September, his debut heroics were long forgotten, The Tribune simply said:

“(Reilly) was a disappointment and he was released.”

Despite his brief and relatively inauspicious big league career, Reilly was a popular minor leaguer for more than a decade.

An often told story about him, alleged to have taken place the year before his short trial in Chicago, illustrates just how superstitious 19th Century players could be.

The earliest telling was in 1897 in The Tribune, and it appeared on several occasions, in several papers, over the next 15 years with various embellishments.  There was no byline on the original story, but it was likely written by Hugh Fullerton–who retold it himself several times.

Reilly spent the 1895 season in Texas, playing with the San Antonio Missionaries and the Fort Worth Panthers in the Texas-Southern League.  Reilly opened the season with the Missionaries, who got off to a horrible start; they won just three of their first 28 games:

“The team was discouraged and sore.  They held a meeting and were on the verge of firing their mascot or committing violence upon his person when Josh Reilly…came to the rescue with a new proposition.  The mascot was put into a full dress coat, with gray baseball trousers and a silk hat, and the bats, some half a score of them, were pulled upon his back.  Then the team formed in line and marched down to the hotel, where “The Divine Healer,” Schlatter was stopping.”

Francis Schlatter was, at that time, walking across the American Southwest gaining fame and followers.  Three years earlier he had come to believe he received a “directive from God” to heal the sick, and became a messianic figure for many during his brief time in the spotlight.

Francis Schlatter

Francis Schlatter, “The Divine Healer”

“The divine was brought forth and made to pronounce a blessing upon the bats…and through all the season those inspired bats continued to give out base hits., and the team went close to the top of the league.”

While Reilly never disputed the story–and seemed to tell it himself on occasion–Fullerton’s ending was pure fiction. San Antonio continued to struggle and blessed or not, the Missionaries’ bats were mostly silent all season–the team never left the cellar and was 21-72 in August when they disbanded.

Josh Reilly, 1930--he died in San Francisco in 1938.

Josh Reilly, 1930–he died in San Francisco in 1938.

In different versions of the story, it was claimed that Reilly still used one or more of the “blessed bats.”  In another, Reilly “Hit .344” with one of the bats “and after he broke that bat he hit .189 for the rest of the season.”

Fullerton had one more Reilly story that he told often–first appearing in 1906 but recycled frequently for two decades–this one about his fielding troubles during his brief stay in Chicago and the impact the ire of fans has on a struggling player:

“(Reilly) was pretty bad as a fielder, and getting no better rapidly.  the jeers, hisses and hoots of the crowd merely made him mad.  He wanted to fight back.  His Irish blood was boiling.  For a time it seemed as if he would win and prove himself a great ball player merely by his nerve in playing at all under such a constant shower of criticism.  But one day Josh got through.  I found him frothing at the mouth out at the club house.  He was done.  He never would play again–unless he got a chance to kill a certain man.  When he grew calm enough.  I discovered the cause of it.

“‘He was a big man sitting in the bleachers’ said Josh.  ‘While they were all yelling at me for booting a hot one, he sat still.  I saw him and  said to myself ‘there’s one friend of mine up there.’  He never said a word until the seventh inning.  Then he stood up, stretched himself, walked down two or three steps and yelled:  ‘Reilly, you’re a disgrace to the Irish!’  If I had him I’d killed him.'”

The Worst, or Best Game Recap Ever—1888

9 Apr

In June of 1888 the Dallas Hams were coasting to the Texas League championship; the team was so good, and so far in front, the league would be reformed in July as the Texas Southern League.  Dallas would win that championship as well.

The 1888 Dallas Hams

The 1888 Dallas Hams

Unfortunately most stories did not have bylines in 1888, as a result we’ll probably never know who wrote this recap of the June 12 game between the Hams and the Austin Senators in The Dallas Morning News:

“It was a good game on both sides, still a listless, lifeless, inanimate game.  Neither side showed any life or spirit.  They played like they were asleep, or dead.  There were only about 150 spectators and the boys couldn’t throw any life into the game.

“For seven innings neither side made a run.  Each side played ball and kept the other from scoring. In the eighth inning (Frank) Hoffman for Austin scored.  It was (William) ‘Kid’ Peeples error that lost the game.  A beautiful, way up, pop fly came over to him, falling so prettily right into his hands, and he let it slip—muffed it.  Jack Wentz was on one side of him (Clarence) ‘Daddy’ Cross at the other, each one standing ready and waiting, but it was Peeples’ ball and they stood by.  He muffed it.  He said afterward that he had his hands out for it to come down between his breast and his hands, which it did, but he had his hands too far out and it slipped through.

“The game was lost for Dallas by Peeples’ error of the fly already mentioned.  Look at the score and you will see that while Austin made five base hits, Dallas made nothing except Charlie Levis’ two bagger.

“It is not necessary to go through the minutia of the game.  It was goose egg after goose egg up to the eighth inning, when Austin made one.  There wasn’t a brilliant play in the whole game.  Charlie Levis did make a two bagger, and is entitled to credit for it.  Nobody else did anything.

“Only about 150 people were present to see the game.  The small crowd discouraged the boys and they played without verve, without spirit, without animation.”

The Box Score

The Box Score

John Bradley

18 Jan

Two members of the 1888 Dallas Hams were shot and killed in Texas.

One, George Kittle, I wrote about in September.

John Bradley was the other one.

Charles M. “John” “Brad” Bradley (wrongly listed with the middle initial “H” on Baseball Reference) left Oil City, Pennsylvania where he was born in June of 1864, to go west and play baseball.  An article in The Louisville Courier Journal said he was born to wealth and left Pennsylvania because of his father’s disapproval of baseball:

“(Bradley) was surrounded with every luxury.  He acquired a collegiate education and all the ornamental accomplishments of modern times.  He was possessed of a charming tenor voice; was a brilliant pianist and an expert linguist.  He was passionately fond of the national game…An early disagreement with his father, the result of his penchant for baseball, led to an estrangement, and, troubles never coming singly, he was rejected by a young lady of Oil City, PA, to whom he was devoted.”

After playing in Corning, New York in 1885 Bradley went to Kansas.  Various sources place him with the Topeka Capitals in the Western League and/or a team in Abilene in 1886 though neither can be verified.  Bradley then played with the Emporia Reds in the Western League in 1887.

He signed with the Austin Senators in the newly formed Texas League in 1888.  In March, Bradley caught for Austin in two exhibition games with the Cincinnati Red Stockings of the American Association—the Statesmen lost the first game 2-0, but won the second 3-0.

Box score of 1888 Austin -Cincinnati game won by Austin 3-0.

Box score of 1888 Austin-Cincinnati game won by Austin 3-0.

Bradley was Austin’s starting catcher until the dissolution of the Texas League in July.  When the reformed Texas Southern League commenced play later that month, Bradley was with Dallas where he shared catching duties with Kittle.

Bradley hit .158 as Dallas coasted to a championship.

The 1888 off season was an eventful one.

Bradley was offered a contract for 1889 with the St. Joseph Clay Eaters in the Western Association.

He also started seeing Dolly Love, “A woman of bad repute,” as The Dallas Morning News said; problem was Love was also involved with a livery driver named Tom Angus.

At the same time Bradley got in trouble with the law in December of 1888.  The Austin Weekly Statesman said:

“(Bradley) shot a man named Billups in a (Dallas) bar room, because Billups attacked him with an empty beer keg because he refused to pay for drinks.”

Bradley was charged with “assault with intent to kill” and was scheduled to appear in front of a Dallas Judge at the end of January.  He was also arrested twice in early January for altercations with Love at the brothel she operated.

Throughout the chaos Angus and Bradley were trading threats over Dolly Love.

The rivalry came to a head on January 16.  Shortly after 10:30 a.m., Bradley and a friend exited Swope & Mangold’s Saloon at the corner of Main and Austin to return to his room at the Grand Windsor Hotel across the street.  The Austin Weekly Statesman said Bradley was:

“Shot down like a dog by Tom Angus, a hack driver, who followed him and fired in his back.”

The Headline in The Dallas Morning News said:

“The Killing of Charles Bradley the Baseball Catcher, all about a Fallen Woman.”

Bradley was shot through the back and began to run as Angus fired two additional shots; after running about 120 feet, Bradley fell dead in the street.  Angus was immediately arrested and ordered held for trial.

A letter from five representatives of the Texas/Texas Southern League and addressed “To the Baseball Profession of the Union” was published in newspapers around the country soliciting funds “In order that able counsel may be obtained to conduct the prosecution,” the letter concluded:

“John Bradley played with Austin and Dallas in 1888, and had recently signed with St. Joe for the season of 1889. He was a gentleman, an excellent ballplayer and altogether an honor to our profession.  To ball players this case suggests not only a duty but a privilege, and we trust that a suitable response will be made.  Yours fraternally,

J. J. McCloskey, manager Austin team, I888.

Charles Levis, manager Dallas team 1888

Doug Crothers, manager Dallas team, 1889.

Kid Peeples, short stop Dallas team 1888.

Billy Joyce, third base Ft. Worth and New Orleans, 1888.”

It is unknown how much money was raised.

Dolly Love left Dallas for Fort Worth to escape the publicity.  Tom Angus spent more than a year in jail awaiting trial during which time he got married.  Dick Johnson, a friend of Angus’, who was at the scene of the shooting, was charged as an accessory, but was acquitted in a separate trial.

When the trial began in April of 1890 The Dallas Weekly Times-Herald headline called it:

“The Most Sensational Case that Has Been up for Years.”

Several witnesses, including a Dallas police officer testified that Bradley had also made threats against Angus in the weeks leading up to the killing, and that he often carried a gun.  Although Bradley wasn’t carrying a gun on the morning he was shot, and was shot in the back, the defense claimed that Angus had acted in self-defense.  Angus was found guilty, but sentenced to only five years in prison.

The sentence was upheld on appeal, the decision said:

“The accused should congratulate himself upon the mildness of the sentence.”

Angus was released from prison in the spring of 1895; in December he was arrested for shooting a man over a dispute about a horse.

Bradley was buried in Dallas.

The 1888 Texas Southern League

17 Jan

The Texas Southern League was in existence for half of one season; the reason for its creation was that the Dallas Hams were just too good a team in 1888.

In the winter of 1887 the Texas League was formed with six teams: the Dallas Hams, Austin Senators, Fort Worth Panthers, Galveston Giants, Houston Babies and San Antonio Missionaries.  Representatives from the Memphis Grays and New Orleans Pelicans in the Southern League, which was struggling to replace teams that had folded, also attended the meeting and lobbied for the league to be expanded to eight teams, but the six Texas-based teams voted not to include them;   New Orleans and Memphis joined the 4-team (down from 7) incarnation of the Southern League, which also included the Birmingham Maroons and Charleston Sea Gulls.

Charlie Levis, who had played Major League ball in The Union Association and American Association in 1884 and ’85 was named manager and played 1st base for Dallas.  Levis, a St. Louis native, brought in several Missourians including some who had spent time in the Major Leagues and built a strong team.

The Sporting News said Levis:

“Signed a team of professionals for Dallas that would do credit to almost any league in the country…They are all splendid fielders and batsmen and fair base runners.”

The team was so strong according to The Dallas Morning News that:

“So good was the Dallas team that club after club dropped out after repeated drubbings at its hands.  Dallas won so many consecutive victories that the other cities lost their appetite for baseball and withdrew.”

By late June, Dallas led the league with a winning percentage above .800; Austin and Fort Worth had dropped out and all the remaining teams were losing money with players often going several weeks between paydays.  At the same time, the Southern League was collapsing.  In early July, a deal was struck to create the five-team Texas Southern League with New Orleans joining Dallas, Galveston, Houston and San Antonio.

The 1888 Dallas Hams--Identifiable players: Front right Bill Goodenough, front left, Pat Whitaker, seated left, Ducky Hemp, standing left Charlie Levis, standing right John Fogerty,

The 1888 Dallas Hams–Identifiable players:
Front right Bill Goodenough, front left Ducky Hemp, seated left Pat Whitaker, standing left Charlie Levis, standing right John Fogarty,

While New Orleans provided some much-needed competition for Dallas the Texas Southern League half-season was not much different from the Texas League half-season.  Dallas finished with a winning percentage of .826, New Orleans finished second followed by San Antonio, Galveston and Houston.  The Morning News said on the final day of the season:

“The league is dead, and the Dallas club carries off the glory, waves high the pennant, and stands the champion club not only of the league but of all the South.”

The following season Austin and Fort Worth rejoined and the Waco Babies replaced the San Antonio Missionaries to again form a six-team Texas league; New Orleans returned to the Southern League, and the Texas Southern League was finished.

The story of one member of the 1888 Dallas Hams tomorrow.

“A Leaden Messenger of Death”

12 Sep

George Kittle played in Texas and Nebraska from 1888-90.  Very little is known about his life before 1888, other than that he was most likely born in Taylorville, Illinois between 1860 and 1862.

Kittle appears in Texas in 1888 as an outfielder and catcher for Dallas in the Texas Southern League and Fort Worth in the Texas League.  In 1889 he pitched for the Austin Senators in the Texas League posting a 25-16 record.  Kittle spent the first half of 1890 pitching for the Waco Babies.  He was 9-8 when, on June 20, he was sold to Omaha in Western Association.

No records exist for Kittle’s time in Omaha and he was not listed on the roster of any team for 1891, but it appears he was playing baseball in or around Waco that season.

On January 19, 1892 Kittle and two friends entered one of Waco’s legal brothels.  Just after arriving one of Kittle’s friends became involved in altercation with another customer.  Hattie Tyree, who operated the brothel, became involved in the dispute and had a physical altercation with Kittle.  She returned to her room and came back with a pistol.  She fired one shot at Kittle, who was immediately taken from the brothel to a nearby hotel and a doctor was called.  Kittle died from the gunshot wound early the following morning.

Ren Mulford Jr., the famous baseball writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer and  Sporting Life described the shooting:

“George Kittle, the Texas Leaguer, was sent to his grave by a siren named Hattie Tyree, who fired a leaden messenger of death into him at Waco. That murder was cold blooded.”

Ren Mulford

Tyree’s trial was a sensation in Waco, where she was well known; Kittle was not the first person she had shot in her house (the first had survived).  Despite public outcry and multiple witnesses who testified that Kittle was not the aggressor in the altercation, Tyree was acquitted by a Texas jury in the spring of 1882.