Tag Archives: Wilkes-Barre Coal Barons

“How ‘Sun’ Daly Became a Coacher”

7 May

In 1898, Dan Shannon explained how James J. “Sun” Daly started coaching, and also took a shot at a former rival.  Shannon was then managing the Wilkes-Barre Coal Barons, a team he managed in 1894 and 1895 and again from 1897-1899.

He told the story to The Wilkes-Barre Record:

“’Did I ever tell you how ‘Sun’ Daly became a coacher?’

“’Why, you know Jim Daly was never known to open his mouth from the minute he got into his uniform until he was ready to tell the waiter at the supper table that he would have some macaroni,’ said Shannon.  ‘One day in 1894—when I was managing Wilkes-Barre—Buffalo came along for her second series of games.  Daly was playing right field—at least he was out there for that purpose. (Tom) Vinegar Vickery was in the box and there was a manager on the bench for Buffalo, who, I believe, afterwards took my place and made a mess of it in this city.  He was asked to resign by the management, and being obstinate, was released for incompetence.”

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Dan Shannon

The Buffalo manager Shannon was referring to was Jack “Death to Flying Things” Chapman, and he was close, but not quite right with his description.  Chapman succeeded Shannon as manager of Wilkes-Barre.  His tenure was short and rocky.  The Coal Barons struggled out of the gate and by June, The Wilkes-Barre News-Dealer called Chapman “a failure as a baseball manager,” and said:

“(I)t is quite safe to say if Chapman was not manager the team would stand well to the front. “

On July 3, with the Coal Barons tied for last place with a 19-35 record, Chapman resigned.  The News-Dealer said “The public demand…has been granted at last.”

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Jack Chapman

Shannon and Chapman also both managed the Louisville Colonels in the American Association for parts of 1889–Shannon was 10-46, and Chapman 1-6, as two of the four managers of the club that finished with a 27-111 record.

Shannon continued his story:

“’Well, Daly was in right field, and up to the fourth inning had let four ground balls go by him, and muffed one fly ball.  When the Bisons finally got us out, Daly came in from right field to the coacher’s box at first base, dropped his mitt on the grass, and, getting in position, commenced to coach.  We were all of us thunderstruck, for every player knew that Daly would never think of coaching unless from some extraordinary impulse.’”

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Sun Daly

Shannon said the usually silent Daly:

“(K)ept up a running fire of coaching, never glancing towards the bench.  Three of the Buffalo crowd went out in their order and Daly quietly picked up his mitt and returned to the action in right.  When they had retired the boys again Jim again stopped at first base and commenced his sing-song-catch-a-ky-me-oh.  Finally, I was inclined to ask the cause of his sudden change and so I called over to him from second base:’

“’What on earth are you doing over there, Jim, hollering like that?’

“’What do you s’pose I’m doing?’ asked Jim. ‘D’you think I’m going into that bench after that exhibition out’n the field and get a tongue lashing from the likes o’ him! Nit! It’s a dumb sight more pleasant taking a hack at coaching!’

“And that’s the way Sun Daly became a coacher right here in Wilkes-Barre,’ said Uncle Daniel.”

“Baseballists of Note”

16 Dec

After rain prevented a June 1899 game between the Reading Coal Heavers and Wilkes-Barre Coal Barons of the Atlantic League, The Reading Times said “the handful of rooters that gathered,” had a good time in spite of the weather:

Baseballists of Note

The Wilkes-Barre boys are a jolly lot and, while the rain was falling (performed) a vocal concert by a quartet composed of (Billy) Goeckel, (Bill) Clymer, (Cy) Vorhees, and (Reading’s) Eddie Murphy.  The boys sand ragtime melodies, sentimental songs and selections from various operas in splendid shape.  Murphy, it was learned, is one of the sweetest tenors this old town has met for a long time.  Goeckel has an excellent bass voice, while Clymer sings a clear baritone.  Vorhees’ voice is a cross between a falsetto and a soprano, but at any rate he can make himself heard.”

Baritone Bill Clymer

Baritone Bill Clymer

And there was more:

“Wilkes-Barre’s mascot pup, ‘George,’ also contributed to the amusement of the crowd by chasing balls thrown in the diamond.  Captain Goeckel claims ‘George’ can beat Clymer to a standstill hunting up grounders at short.”

George’s performance managed to improve his image in Reading;  a month earlier after Wilkes-Barre had defeated the Coal Heavers 5 to 4 with a run in the in the ninth, The Times quoted a fan who was convinced the mascot was to blame:

 “Hang these dog mascots; they’re always Reading’s hoodoo.”

Despite the “hoodoo” George was alleged to put on opponents, Wilkes-Barre was three games behind the league-leading Richmond Bluebirds on August 6 when the financially troubled league disbanded.