Tag Archives: Tug Arundel

“He has Always Been a Lazy, Unmanageable Fellow”

3 Apr

Mert Hackett—contemporary newspapers generally referred to him as Myrtie–caught 241 games over five National League seasons from 1883 to 1887.  In 1902, he was asked by The Boston Post to assess the modern game:

“People who never used to miss a game do not go at all now. At the time when the Brotherhood League was formed 12 years ago and during the troubles that followed, many people lost all sympathy for those who are now in National ownership. As a member of the Cambridge police force, I meet many old friends who used to be regular attendants at the games but who never go now. They have lost their interest and are disgusted with the questionable tactics in vogue now among players and managers.”



The Post claimed that Hackett’s career came to an end in 1887, when he was “Practically blacklisted” by Indianapolis Hoosiers manager Horace Fogel:

“Hackett received a letter from his sister in Boston stating that her three children were sick and requesting him to come at once. The old catcher left immediately and arrived only to be present at the death of two of the children.”

The paper claimed, “For some reason” Fogel later said Hackett did not have permission to leave the team and “wrote a letter to the other clubs” saying Hackett had been fined and suspended.

Contemporaneous accounts in The Indianapolis News and The Indianapolis Journal tell a different story.

In July of 1887, The News said that Fogel, having just taken over as manager, had granted Hackett leave (to “visit his friends”) before discovering that the team’s other catchers Tug Arundel and George Myers were injured.

“(Fogel) told him that, by reason of the crippled condition of the nine, he would have to catch the game with the Cuban Giants in Trenton. Hackett was greatly enraged, and with the threat he would be ‘—— if he played against n——.’ He left the club and for this reason he was suspended.”


Sporting Life said Hackett was, “Playing off all season,” and “he has always been a lazy, unmanageable fellow, and the players all claim that he is the only troublesome, disorganizing man in the team.”

In whatever case, he never played in the major leagues again after the close of the 1887 season.  When he was released by the Hoosiers before the 1888 season, The Journal said:

“Strange that a player of his ability could not be sold for a small sum at least.”

He managed and played for the Troy Trojans in the International Association—his brother Walter was the team’s shortstop–briefly in 1888.


Hackett, 1935

Hackett’s career in law enforcement lasted much longer, he was with the Cambridge police force for 42 years, retiring in 1935 at age 75. He died in 1938

Tug Arundel

16 Nov

Twenty-one years before catcher Gabby Street caught a baseball dropped. From the Washington Monument, another catcher attempted it with less success.

When news of Street’s feat was reported in 1908, Oliver Romeo Johnson, who had been a sportswriter for The Indianapolis News in 1887, recalled the circumstances:

“On one of our eastern trips we followed the Chicagos in Washington, and while there the catching of a ball dropped from the monument was much talked of, because one of the Chicago players was said to have done it a few days before.  My impression is that it was (Cap) Anson himself, although it might have been Silver Flint.

“One of our team, John Thomas ‘Tug’ Arundel, a catcher, said it was ‘dead easy’ to catch a ball dropped from the monument, and a bet was made on it.  A crowd of us went out to see the attempt.  Arundel wore catcher’s gloves—which were not so thick as they now are—on both hands and put layers of cotton under them. He tried eight or ten times to catch the ball…but failed every time, and after he had battered up his hands so he could not play for some days he gave it up.”

Tug Arundel

Tug Arundel

Several days after Johnson’s recollection appeared in The News, Horace Fogel, who had been Arundel’s manager with the Hoosiers and dropped the balls from the monument, weighed in.  Fogel, then sports editor of The Philadelphia Telegraph, disputed the claim that Anson or Flint had caught a ball and said of his catcher’s attempt:

“Arundel, if I remember alright, only succeeded in getting his hands on one ball and it almost tore them off at the wrists. Tug explained afterward that he had not figured on ‘A ball weighing a ton coming from that distance.’ The other balls, a dozen or more, I tossed out to him, Arundel missed, some by fifty feet, he misjudged them that badly.”

Horace Fogel

Horace Fogel

Bad judgment was a staple of Arundel’s career which was marred by arrests for drinking and fighting.    He appeared in just 76 major league games over four seasons from 1882 to 1888 and played for at least 16 different professional clubs during his 10 seasons in professional ball, often quickly wearing out his welcome.

The Memphis Appeal said he was:

“(T)he handsomest player in the profession, who would sooner fight than eat.”

The Washington Critic summed up the opinion many had of Arundel when he was acquired by the Nationals in 1888:

“’Tug’ Arundel has been secured by the Washington management, as last week’s reports indicated he would be.  He is not popular here.  However, it is to be hoped that Manager (Ted) Sullivan can keep him muzzled.”

After his release, when it was rumored he might join the Detroit wolverines, The Detroit Free Press told readers:

“Detroit wouldn’t have Tug Arundel under any circumstances.”

After every incident, Arundel pledged to change his ways.

After an 1887 drunken melee in Indianapolis, which resulted in the arrests of Arundel along with teammates Jerry Denny and John (Patsy) Cahill, he told The Indianapolis News he took “a total abstinence pledge for six months.”

In the spring of 1889, he was arrested in his hometown, Auburn, New York twice. First for assaulting a police officer and then for a bar fight with another former major leaguer, and Auburn native, Mike MansellThe Auburn Bulletin said Arundel “Got the worst of it.” A month after the fight, The Sporting Life said Arundel “writes he is in fine shape and looking for an engagement.”

In 1890, the 28-year-old Arundel was nearing the end of the line.  He signed with the Saginaw-Bay City (Michigan) club in the International Association and told The Detroit Free Press that he was serious about sobriety this time:

“I lost splendid situations and almost ruined my reputation through liquor, but, sir, I realize the baneful effects of over-indulgence in intoxicating liquors and I have resolved never to touch another drop.  I have kept aloof from it for the past three months and am now in as good condition as I ever was in my life.”

It is unclear whether, or for how long, Arundel kept his last public pledge.  He appeared to have played fairly well behind the plate for Saginaw-Bay City.  Although he hit just .152, The Free Press, which three years earlier assured readers that Arundel was not wanted on the city’s National League club, was pleased when he signed with the Detroit Wolverines of the Northwestern League:

“(Arundel) has faced the greatest pitchers on the field and held them all.  Arundel is a good trainer for young ones, and did good work while with the Hyphens in 1890.”

Whether because of drinking or injuries (The Free Press and The Detroit News said he suffered from “Split fingers” several times throughout the season) Arundel was finished after the 1891 season, at age 29.

Arundel returned to Auburn and was eventually committed to the Willard State Hospital for the Chronic Insane in New York where he died in 1912.

Brought the League “Discredit throughout the South”

18 Jun

In the final weeks of the 1886 Southern Association season, second place Savannah travelled to Atlanta for a four game series against the league leaders.

Hours before the August 18 game, umpire John McQuade left Atlanta by train.  The Macon Telegraph called the circumstances of his departure “Mysterious.”  The Atlanta team said the umpire left town because he was bribed to throw the game by Isaac G. Haas, owner of Savannah.

The Telegraph said McQuade’s departure was the result of his being followed by a detective hired by Stephen Andrew Ryan, a wealthy Atlanta businessman who was one of the directors of the Atlanta team.

The paper quoted a Detective Jones:

“I was hired by Mr. Steve Ryan to shadow McQuade, and I did so.”

Jones went on to say that he saw the umpire speak with various people, including Haas, Savannah catcher John “Tug” Arundel and Ryan’s brother John, who claimed he tried to convince McQuade to stay and work the game.

Savannah pitcher Hank O’Day said the umpire told him “he had been offered money by Mr. Ryan, of the Atlantas, to stay and umpire the games in Atlantas favor and said that he would not and could not do so.”  Arundel said McQuade had told him he had been offered money by “one of the Atlanta officers.”

After McQuade left, Atlanta installed backup catcher Joe Gunson as umpire.  Atlanta shut out Savannah 2-0, The Constitution said “Gunson gave every close decision against Atlanta…his evident desire to be fair, carried him, frequently, too far.”

Joe Gunson, umpire for a day

Joe Gunson, umpire for a day

Savannah disagreed.   Haas demanded that, as had been done earlier in the year, when an umpire did not arrive in Savannah for a series—the teams selected umpires on alternating days.  Atlanta refused; claiming league rules gave them the right to name the umpire, and chose a former local player named George Whitlock to work the second game.

When Atlanta took the field at 3:30 PM the following day in front of a large crowd, the Savannah team was not present, The Telegraph said:

(Frank) Wells fired nine balls over the plate, which were caught by Gunson, and the umpire gave the game to the Atlanta by a score of 9-0.”

The Constitution said Savannah’s Hass “without cause declined to permit his men to play.”  The Atlanta police also got involved, arriving at the depot before the Savannah team was able to board a train and arresting five members of team, including O’Day and Arundel.

Arrested in Atlanta--Hall of Famer Hank O'Day

Arrested in Atlanta–Hall of Famer Hank O’Day

The Savannah Times said the police attempted to arrest the entire team, “but some of them dodged the officers and got away,” the five players were charged with “disorderly conduct and using profane language,” they were fined between $5 and $10 each and released.

The Times also claimed that Haas, and other Savannah team officers and fans were being “roughly handled,” and “pretty severely abused,” on the streets and in the hotels of Atlanta.

Within days McQuade made a statement under oath “that no Savannah director had endeavored to induce him to leave the city or bribe him in any way.”  McQuade also sent a letter to The Sporting Life and Southern newspapers claiming that Atlanta’s Ryan had tried to bribe him:

“Mr. Ryan, of the Atlanta club, came to me and said: ‘Here Mac, we must have the games; we have got to have them, and will give you one hundred dollars for each game.”

Regardless of the charges, and aided by the forfeited and canceled games, Atlanta won the Southern Association championship.  The season was over, but the allegations were not.

McQuade’s story was given additional credence after the end of the season.  Benjamin F. Young, a former Southern Association umpire, sent a letter to same publications McQuade had, and told a similar story.  Young’s letter implicated another prominent Atlanta citizen:  Henry Woodfin Grady, editor of The Atlanta Constitution, and a long-time supporter of baseball in Georgia.

Young said early in the 1886 season, while in Atlanta, Grady approached him and mentioned the hardship of umpire being responsible for their own travel expenses.  According to Young, Grady claimed he could “fix him up’ and said:

“’I can get passes for you on about every road you’ll have occasion to use.’  Knowing my reputation for honesty and fearing he had said too much, he failed to say ‘why’ he wanted me to take the passes, but it is evident he wanted me to favor Atlanta…Now a good many may say that Grady did not mean tany harm in offering me the passes.  If he had offered me money then of course, it would be a serious matter.  But Grady knew better than to offer me money, so he thought he could come to me in a roundabout way with the passes.”

By the turn of the century, charges such as these would have resulted in an investigation, but in Southern baseball in 1886, it was little more than a ripple.

At the end of season league meeting, the championship was “officially” awarded to Atlanta.

A resolution was introduced by the owners of the Charleston Seagulls which said Atlanta’s “treatment of visiting clubs, and behavior of their players,” had brought the league “discredit throughout the South,” and called for the team to be “censured and reprimanded.”  The resolution was adopted only after Charleston “was induced” to change “Atlanta” to “some club” in the text.

There were consequences; however, interest in baseball waned in Atlanta, and the city would not have another professional team until 1889.

Atlanta manager “Blondie” Purcell earned a return to the big leagues, finishing the 1886 season with the Baltimore Orioles in the American Association.  He played four more years, finishing with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1890.

Blondie Purcell

Blondie Purcell

Umpires McQuade and Young both finished 1886 in the American Association, and appear to have never again been approached with bribes.

Henry Grady, newspaper editor, segregationist, and “Spokesman for the New South,’ died three years later.

Henry Woodfin Grady statue in Atlanta

Henry Woodfin Grady statue in Atlanta

Stephen Ryan’s dry goods business collapsed in 1891, with debts anywhere from $500,000 to $2 million depending on the source, including losing $16,000 on the Bob Fitzsimmons /Jack “Nonpareil” Dempsey fight.  Accused of hiding assets he was jailed for 13 months.  Upon his release he rebuilt his business only to suffer a similar collapse with a year.  He died in Atlanta in 1908.

“Begged the Crowd for God’s Sake not to Kill Him”

21 May

Edward Siegfried Hengel (often misspelled Hengle during his career) was a well-known umpire and manager in the 1880s.

Born in 1855, Hengel managed the Union Association franchise that began the season in Chicago, and relocated to Pittsburgh in August, 1884.  His career is occasionally confused with Emery “Moxie” Hengel (also often misspelled Hengle) who played second base for 1884 Chicago/Pittsburgh club, and had a long minor league career.  (The two were born two years apart in Chicago, but there is no indication they were related).

Emery "Moxie" Hengel

Emery “Moxie” Hengel

In 1886 Ed Hengel was an umpire in the Southern Association.  On August 5 he was working a game between Savannah and the Charleston Seagulls.  The Macon (GA) Telegraph said, in the sixth inning:

“”At this point of the game it became apparent to the audience, as well as to the players of the local team, that Hengle (sic), the umpire, had sold the game to Savannah; but notwithstanding his adverse decisions, the locals kept the Savannah team down to one run till the end of the ninth inning.  During the latter half of this inning (Hengel) gave the visitor three runs, letting them score in the following manner:  (John “Tug”) Arundel was at the bat. There were two out.  He hit a grounder to (Henry “Heinie”) Kappel who stopped it and threw it to first.  Arundel had stopped running and left the line when (first baseman Jim) Powell   failed to catch the ball”

Arundel then came back onto the field and ran to first, Hengel declared Arundel safe and a  run scored; the next hitter, Joe Miller, drove in two more runs, to win the game for Charleston, 4 to 3

The Telegraph said:

“As soon as the crowd caught on to the steal the grand stand and bleaching boards emptied their male contents on the ground, and for five minutes (the umpire) was in danger of getting very badly hurt, if not killed, by the infuriated crowd.”

The management of the Charleston team helped keep the fans at bay until police arrived:

“It were (sic) best for (Hengel) to get transferred immediately as another disgraceful piece of umpiring will cost him some inconvenience.  The people of Charleston will not stand another robbery.

“(Hengel) was scared nearly to death; he was as white as a sheet, and it is said begged the crowd, for God’s sake, not to kill him.  He did not deny having sold the game when charged with it by a director of the baseball club after he was safe.”

Hengel did not work another game in Charleston that season.

In October of 1887 The Aurora (IL) Daily Express credited Hengel with signing “(Charlie) Hoover crack-backstop of the Western League” for the Chicago White Stockings—within weeks Hoover’s long series of troubles would begin.


Charlie Hoover

Hengel continued as an umpire, including stints in the Tri-State and Pacific Northwest Leagues,  and minor league manager for the next decade.  While managing the Hamilton (OH) club in the Tri-State League, Hengel saved a young girl from drowning, and “her grateful parents presented him a pair of diamond sleeve buttons.”

Hengel disappears from the newspapers after 1892;  he died in Great Britain in 1927; presumably not at the hands of angry Charleston fans.

Note:  Henry “Heinie” Kappel does not appear on surviving rosters for the 1886 Charleston Seagulls, but contemporaneous accounts in The Sporting Life and other newspapers confirm he was with the team.

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