SABR

Bunny Madden

This article was written by Bill Nowlin.

Tom Madden may have been the first ballplayer ever farmed out by the Boston Red Sox per se. “Young Madden May Be Loaned to Portland, Or.” read a sub-headline in the February 19, 1908 Boston Globe. Team owner John I. Taylor had just adopted the name “Red Sox” in December, 1907.  There were no formal minor league affiliations at the time, but the Red Sox apparently worked out an arrangement in Madden’s case with the Portland Beavers of the four-team Pacific Coast League:

Tom Madden, the rattling good young catcher taken from Lynn, who is wintering in Roxbury, was also a caller [at “American League headquarters” in Boston]. He had a long chat with Tom Raftery of the Portland, Or. club. The chances are that Boston will have no place for Madden the coming season, as Criger, McFarland, Carrigan and Donahue are slated for the backstop work. Raftery would like to see Madden go to the Portland club, which would give him the place made vacant by Pat Donahue coming to the Red Sox. The matter may be put to Madden later, as the Boston club is on friendly terms with Judge McCredie, the Portland magnate. Young Madden will not be disposed of by sale, as the Boston management feels confident that it has a comer in the Roxbury boy, who will be a better man with one year’s experience in a class A organization.” [Boston Globe, February 19, 1908. Raftery was another Boston ballplayer, a friend of Madden’s.]

Thomas Francis Madden was born in the Roxbury neighborhood of the city of Boston on September 14, 1882. Both of Madden’s parents had been born in Ireland. His father Andrew (Andy) is listed as head of household in the 1900 Census, a 63-year-old janitor. Andrew’s wife Bridget (Murphy) was no longer listed, but his daughters and sons were: Julia (27), Mary (24, a shoe finisher), Andrew (19, a salesman groceries), Thomas (17, a machine driller), and John (14). Ten years later, in 1910, Andrew was working as a landscape gardener. Andrew Jr. was a conductor for the street railway. Thomas was a baseball player. John was a porter in a store. Neither of the girls was working. We don’t know what became of Bridget Madden.

Thomas attended Villanova University, but his career in organized baseball began in 1906 in the New England League, playing outfield for the Lynn Shoemakers. He appeared in 44 games, batting .177. The next year he moved behind the plate for most of the games, but did play some right field. Though getting into fewer games, he made his at-bats count and hit for a .297 average – and caught the eye of the nearby Boston Americans, in particular scout Fred Lake. [Boston Globe, January 20, 1909] It’s interesting to note, parenthetically, that in April 1907 the Lynn team played a couple of exhibition games against a visiting team of Cuban national all-stars.

On August 22, Madden was sold to John I. Taylor’s Boston Americans. A special report to the Washington Post termed him “one of the best catchers in the New England League.” [Washington Post, August 23, 1907] He apparently reported to the team and was issued a uniform, and it was anticipated he’d at least get into a September 8 exhibition game against the Providence Grays, but the contest was rained out.

There was some talk in December of his being loaned out to the Columbus, Ohio club. Whether he was the Madden who played first base in January 1908 for a Lynn indoor baseball club isn’t clear; a team from Boston beat Lynn 16-12 in a game featuring several professional ballplayers.  

On March 10, Madden and Raftery left South Station, heading for Santa Barbara where the Portland club planned spring training. Madden’s friends presented him with a “beautiful watch job” and also a live rabbit which wore a tag marked “Our Bunny” – Madden’s nickname. [Boston Globe, March 11, 1908]

Madden played a solid season for Portland in 1908, hitting .273 in 118 games. The Red Sox moved in August to protect their rights to the catcher who was “showing good form” with Portland. [Boston Globe, August 8, 1908] He was a “husky young player” according to the February 28, 1909 Los Angeles Times, and “may develop into a first class man.” Madden was a 5-feet-10 right-hander and weighed 190 pounds.

He signed with the Red Sox on January 19, 1909 and traveled from Boston to Hot Springs, Arkansas for spring training. One player not joining the team was Cy Young, traded in February, the last player from the original 1901 Boston Americans to leave the club. Madden needed the baths and a workout; he’d “grown quite heavy this winter, but is showing the proper spirit” and was apparently a favorite of manager Fred Lake. [Boston Globe, March 3, 1909]

He traveled north with the Boston club and was in uniform starting Opening Day, though he did not debut until June 3, when he pinch-hit for pitcher Eddie Cicotte in the bottom of the ninth inning and delivered a triple to left, driving in the final run of a 5-3 loss to Detroit. He appeared in 10 games, with 17 at-bats. He hit .235, with just the one run batted in. Nonetheless, he received a “handsome raise” for 1910. [Boston Globe, January 8, 1910]

With Bill Carrigan and Red Kleinow ahead of him, Madden was the third catcher on the Red Sox squad. He appeared in just 14 games in 1910, driving in four runs, but hitting with a .371 average when given the opportunity. In 1911, he traveled across the country to spring training in Redondo Beach, California. This time he  got in a lot more work during the springtime as the Sox split into two squads played an astonishing 64 exhibition games in California and on their trip back across the country. Madden played in 21 consecutive exhibition games and looked to be hitting his stride when an April 19 accident hampered his progress. That day’s game had been called due to rain but Madden and pitcher Larry Pape decided to work out on their own. One of Pape’s throws broke a small bone in the index finger of Tom’s right hand. [Boston Globe, April 20, 1911] Madden could only play in four games for the 1911 Red Sox, hitting .200 and driving in two runs.

Early in the 1911 season Boston and Bunny parted ways, and though he had a chance to play for Toledo but he refused to go. On June 24, he was selected off waivers by the Philadelphia Phillies. In what remained of the 1911 season, he appeared in 28 games, and he hit .276 and drove in four runs. When the Phillies came to Beantown to play the National League’s Boston Rustlers (soon to be the Braves), a sizable welcoming party greeted him with a basket of flowers.

Unfortunately, leaving the Red Sox in 1911 meant that Madden wasn’t on the 1912 world champion team. Instead he was in Louisville, then Montreal, and never appeared in another major-league game – though he played 10 more years in the minors. His final major-league stat line showed him with a .287 average in 150 plate appearances, with 11 RBIs to his credit.

The rest of his time was all spent playing Double-A baseball (at the time the highest minor league classification)--from 1912 through 1917 with the Montreal Royals, then 1918 and 1919 with the Newark Bears and 1920 and 1921 with the Syracuse Stars. Over the course of those 10 seasons, he hit for a .251 average in 1,985 at-bats, his best season being the one in which he got into the most games: 1918 with Newark, when he batted .297. In 1920, he was the last of four managers who skippered Syracuse in 1920. Busy as manager, he only appeared in 11 games in that final year, 1921, replaced during the season by Frank Shaughnessy.

What he did in 1922 is unclear but a brief report in the April 3, 1923 New York Times reported that he had signed with the Springfield, Massachusetts ballclub – then managed by Patsy Donovan, Madden’s manager with the Red Sox in 1910 and 1911. He never played for Springfield.

His World War II draft registration form indicated that he was living in Cambridge at 2 Inman Street with Mrs. Helen (Fahey) Madden. He worked for the New England Telephone Company on Harrison Avenue in Boston.  By this time he had grey hair, blue eyes, and retained his ruddy complexion.

Tom Madden died of mesenteric thrombosis (a blood clot in the intestinal area) at Cambridge City Hospital on January 20, 1954. He’s buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in West Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Sources

In addition to the sources cited in this biography, the author consulted the online SABR Encyclopedia, retrosheet.org, Baseball-Reference.com, and Bill Lee’s Baseball Necrology.

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