Tag Archives: Wisconsin-Illinois League

Tragic Exits 3

23 Mar

Eddie Meade

Edward “Eddie” Meade appeared headed to the big leagues.  After beginning the 1926 season with the Kinston Eagles in the Virginia League, the 24-year-old left-hander was acquired at midseason by the St. Paul Saints of the American Association and posted a 12-7 record with a 3.40 ERA in 22 games.

Meade began the 1927 season with a 6-0 shutout of the Louisville Colonels on April 17.  The same week he recorded his first victory, The Associated Press said he was about to become a member of the defending American League champions:

“The Yankees talked of possible reinforcements in the shape of Eddie Meade, of St. Paul, called the best young pitcher in the American Association.”

Eddie Meade

Eddie Meade

During the same week, Meade became ill; although the nature of the illness was never disclosed.  Eight days later he started a game with the Columbus Senators but was pulled after giving up six runs in the fifth inning of 9 to 8 loss.  Five days later he pitched in relief against Louisville, but The Minneapolis Journal said he lasted less than an inning due to his “impaired physical condition.”

When the Saints left Minnesota for a series in Kansas City on May 16, Meade stayed behind.  The following evening Meade checked into St. Paul’s Boardman Hotel and shot himself to death.

The day after his suicide, The Journal said, “it was learned today that Meade was slated to go to the New York Yankees in the fall.”

St. Paul Manager Nick Allen told The Associated Press:

“He was one of the hardest working youngsters we ever had on the club and the outlook for his future was bright, as he had only two years in baseball.  The only motive he could have had for such action would be mental depression.  He was not married.  The nature of his illness was no cause for alarm, but he apparently believed it otherwise.”

Tommy Coates

Thomas A. “Tommy” Coates was born in Omro, Wisconsin on February 18, 1886 (Baseball Reference lists his middle initial as “O” but birth and death records  list it as “A”).

After starring, along with his older brother Hiram, on Omro High School’s undefeated baseball team in 1901—The Omro Herald called the team “possibly the best in the state”—Coates played industrial league and semi-pro ball in Central and Northern Wisconsin.

After playing in Rhinelander, Wisconsin in 1908, The Oshkosh Northwestern said:

“Coates had lots of confidence in himself, and during the winter months the Omro boy came to the city one day and sought out “Pink” Hawley. Hawley agreed to give him a trial.”

Emerson Pink Hawley, a Wisconsin native who pitched in the major leagues for a decade, was the manager of the Oshkosh Indians in the Wisconsin-Illinois League.

Tommy Coates

Tommy Coates

 “Coates came to this city from his home at Omro (for his tryout).  He donned baseball togs and he ‘made good’ from the start.”

Coates, who The Northwestern said  was “tall (and) built something like the great Ty Cobb,” became the Indians starting left fielder one week into the season and went on to lead  the team with a .299 batting average (he hit .002 better than his 19-year-old teammate Heinie Groh).

In September, The Sporting News reported that with just one season of professional experience, Coates “Looks good to Connie Mack,” and was drafted by the Philadelphia Athletics. He was the only member of the Indians drafted by a big league club in 1909.

At season’s end in September, Coates, with an invitation to train with Mack’s club in the spring, spent most of his time hunting.

On October 11 Coates was in a row-boat with a friend, hunting in a marsh near Omro.  The friend told The Omro Herald:

“Tom saw a mud hen rise up on the right hand side.  He turned about quickly and took hold of his gun which was at his left side and pulled it toward him…I turned about as soon as I heard the shot, and to my horror saw Tom lunge forward.”

Coates accidentally discharged his gun, shooting himself in the left eye.

Twelve days after the Oshkosh Indians received a $300 check from Connie Mack—his draft price—Coates was dead.

The Northwestern said:

“He was quiet and unassuming. After making a sensational play in the field or batting out the hit that won the game…the Oshkosh fans could not induce Coates to doff his hat.  He would return to the bench with face covered with blushes.”

[…]

“His more ardent admirers were confident he would make good in the American League, and one of their first thoughts upon hearing of the unfortunate accident, was the promising career he had before him.”

Crazy Schmit Stories

13 May

Fred “Crazy” Schmit was widely considered to be the first pitcher to keep a “book” on hitters, it was mostly attributed to his poor memory, and the pitcher kept an actual book in his pocket listing the weakness of each hitter.  The earliest reference to Schmit’s book was in The Sporting Life in 1894, but the story was repeated in newspapers for the next thirty years, usually as a story told by John McGraw or Hughie Jennings.

The article said Schmit kept:

“(A)n account of the weakness at bat of his opponents, setting them down in a small book, which he always carried with him on the diamond…One day when he had the Chicagos as opponents (it was the season that Captain Anson led the League in batting), Anson came to the bat. “Crazy” Schmit looked at the big first baseman, then went down into his pocket, and, taking out his book, read “Anson, base on balls.”

Over the years the story changed—the batter was sometimes Elmer Flick, Nap Lajoie, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Tris Speaker, and as Jennings said in 1926, “Every good hitter since Anson’s day, but Anson is the player whose weakness was reported to be a base on balls.”

"Cap" Anson

“Cap” Anson

Jennings also claimed that during the 1890s as part of a prank by teammates aboard a ferry, Schmit’s suitcase, with his book inside, fell overboard, and said:

“Schmit was a losing pitcher from that time on.  He won a few games but lost a great many more…The bottom of Hudson River held his ‘pitching arm.’”

Pitcher turned sports cartoonist Al Demaree said Schmit “used to warm up with an old water-soaked ball that weighed several pounds—at a distance of 75 feet, and not the regulation 60 feet from his catcher.”

Al Demaree's Schmit cartoon--as with most references to the pitcher, his name is spelled incorrectly

Al Demaree’s Schmit cartoon–as with most references to the pitcher, his name is spelled incorrectly

After his final game with the Baltimore Orioles in 1901, Schmit continued to play with semi-professional and quasi-professional teams for more than a decade.  His antics continued to make the papers.

In 1906 Schmit joined Jim “Nixey” Callahan’s Logan Squares in the Chicago City League.  The Sporting News’ Revere Rodgers told a story (complete with Schmit speaking in a comic German accent) about the team going to Joliet, Illinois for a game:

“(The Logan Squares) knew the umpire was a ‘homer’—a man who couldn’t see a close decision without giving his team the best of it.  He stopped before the grandstand, hat in hand, and announced (the batteries)…’Crazy’ Schmit was right behind him and when (the umpire) finished Schmit took off his cap and making a sweeping bow said: ‘Laties and schentlmen, der umpire for der game today vill be Mister Miller of Joliet and he vill as usual slightly favor der home glub mit his decision.”

According to The Chicago Tribune’s Hugh Fullerton Schmit was deeply disappointed at the end of the 1906 season when Callahan did not allow him to pitch in the Logan Squares victories against the World Champion White Sox, and National League Champion Cubs.

Schmit continued to play in the Midwest and also did some scouting for John McGraw’s New York Giants.  A story that appeared in The Duluth News-Tribune said Schmit pitched a few games for the Fond du Lac in the Wisconsin-Illinois League (Schmit’s name does not appear on any Fond du Lac roster in either of the two years the other player mentioned in the story was with the team (1909, 1911)so the story may be apocryphal):

“Along about the seventh inning, with Rockford leading by 6 to 4 the first man up got on.  Schmit pitched out three times in an attempt to get the runner going down to second base, but the runner made no attempt to purloin the sack.  With the count three and nothing on the batter he grooved the next one, only to have the batter lean on it and drive it over the left field fence for a homerun.

“After the runners had circled the bases the umpire threw up another ball.  Schmit took it, shook his head and walked over to Bobby Lynch, who was playing third base…and said to him ‘Say, Bobby, no wonder I can’t beat these fellows.  I won’t pitch against them any longer.  I quit right now.  They don’t know how to play baseball and yet they are leading in this league.  The runner that was on first base just let me waste three balls and yet he does not attempt to steal; then when I put one over for the batter who has three balls and no strikes, he hits it.  Tell me, how can a man of my intelligence and baseball knowledge pitch a game of baseball against such boneheads and unscientific playing of the game?”

“Crazy” Smith died in Chicago in 1940.

1912 Wausau Lumberjacks

11 Dec

Before embarking on his career as a boxing promoter, Mique Malloy was a minor league manager and player.

Around midnight on September of 1912 Malloy and his Wausau Lumberjacks boarded the Southbound Chicago & Ashland Limited of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad.

When the train was 50 miles from Green Bay a sudden rainstorm washed out a section of track causing the train to derail; according to The Milwaukee Sentinel:

“(The train) while running, at 30 miles an hour, on time at 2:25 AM, ran into a washout caused by a local cloudburst…the engine, mail, baggage and smoker (cars) tipped over.”

Six members of the train’s crew and one passenger were killed; dozens more were injured.

Southbound Chicago & Ashland Limited, September 2, 1912

Southbound Chicago & Ashland Limited, September 2, 1912

Wausau shortstop/outfielder JamesJimmy” Davey (misidentified as Glen or Glenn in nearly all contemporary accounts of the crash), was badly injured, and according to The Milwaukee Journal his arm needed to be amputated—the report turned out to be premature, Davey’s arm was saved,  but his career was over.  Davey who also had also played professional basketball with his hometown Troy (NY) Trojans in the Hudson River League returned home.

The other Wausau player who was seriously injured was pitcher William “Wild Bill” Kirwan, a native of Baltimore.  He had won 19 games the previous season with the Danville Speakers in the Three-I League.  Kirwan suffered a fractured skull and was transported to Chicago for treatment.  After recovering he attempted a comeback in 1913 with the Oshkosh Indians, but retired after a 2-6 start.

"Wild Bill" Kirwan, Oshkosh 1913

“Wild Bill” Kirwan, Oshkosh 1913

Mique Malloy suffered a variety of minor injuries in the wreck, but was able to return to Wausau as a player/manager in 1913, until a fractured ankle in June ended his career.

In 1913 the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad settled with the three players, Newspaper reports said Kirwan received $1000, Davie $600 and Malloy $586.

Mique Malloy

10 Dec

John Michael “Mique” Malloy has at least three different listings under various forms of his name on Baseball Reference.

Malloy was born in Chicago in 1885, and played mostly amateur and semi-pro ball in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, but had a brief professional career as a player and manager in the Wisconsin-Illinois and Minnesota-Wisconsin Leagues.  The few statistics that survive include a .301 batting average in 133 at bats as a player-manager with the 1913 Wausau Lumberjacks–Malloy fractured his ankle in June and was released in July.

With his playing career over Malloy joined the Chicago Cubs as a scout, but left after the 1913 season to scout for the Chicago franchise in the Federal League.

Malloy became a footnote in the battle between the Federal League and the American and National Leagues, when in April of 1914 according to The Chicago Examiner he filed a $2000 lawsuit against the Cubs claiming he was not paid by the team for helping to sign Zip Zabel and Fritz Mollwitz.

It appears the suit was settled amicably and Malloy returned to the Cubs scouting staff after the Federal League folded.

He stayed with the Cubs with several years, but after World War I entered the business for which he was best known.

Throughout the 1920s and 30s Malloy was one of the most prominent boxing promoters in Chicago.  Malloy, Paddy Harmon, the man responsible for building Chicago Stadium, and Jim Mullen had a piece of every major fight that took place in Chicago.

1930s poster featuring promoters Mique Malloy, Jim Mullen and Paddy Harmon, and some of their stable of fighters.

1930s poster featuring promoters Mique Malloy, Jim Mullen and Paddy Harmon, and some of their stable of fighters.

In August of 1930, The Chicago Daily News said Malloy offered Washington Senators First Baseman Art Shires “(A) guarantee of $50,000 (and) two-thirds of the gate over expenses,” if he returned to the ring–Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis had ruled that no Major League player would be permitted to box after Shires’ five fights  in December of 1929 and January of 1930—Shires, at the height of celebrity failed to cash in on the offer and found himself broke and returning to the ring for two much less lucrative fights in 1935.

John Michael "Mique" Malloy, 1922

John Michael “Mique” Malloy, 1922

Malloy, at various times, was closely associated with champions Primo Carnera, John Henry Lewis and Henry Armstrong.  It was a rift with Armstrong that led to the worst publicity of Malloy’s career.  After a February 1938 bout Malloy promoted at the International Amphitheater, Armstrong vowed never to fight for Malloy again and claimed that the promoter had seated fans in segregated sections.  There is no record of whether or not Malloy responded to the charges.

Malloy continued to promote boxing and wrestling cards in Chicago until he retired in 1947; he died in Chicago in 1952.

Another Malloy story tomorrow.