Stay Home With SABR: Dispatches from the Boston Chapter

Editor’s note: During our Stay Home With SABR initiative, enjoy these light-hearted Dispatches From the Mudville Bureau by Joanne Hulbert of SABR’s Boston Chapter to stay engaged with baseball until the games return. Check out what’s new and keep up with all the news in the Boston Chapter on Facebook at BostonSABR or on Instagram at @sabrboston.

Fenway Park

Click here to view all 2020 entries in this series. Click on a link below to scroll down to a post from 2021:

 


MARCH 26, 2021 — April 1 is Opening Day in Boston this year, the first Thursday of the month. The traditional Boston Opening Day in the 19th century was Fast Day, also held on the first Thursday of the month. Tradition continues, even if everyone, including those perhaps at the Red Sox front office, is unaware of the old tradition. April 19 replaced Fast Day, and few people know that fact either. Baseball that was so important on Fast Day became just as important on April 19 and continues to be today.

Anticipation for the baseball season in and around Boston was at a fever pitch one hundred years ago. The Boston League of Women Voters announced that their baseball season “will be open on Saturday, when recruits from the various circles of the club will present themselves at Wellesley Farms and will be enrolled in squads. Mrs. Gertrude Meehan will be in charge of the formation of the club teams. Supper will follow an afternoon of strenuous exercises.” – “Women’s Clubs” page, Boston Herald, March 27, 1921:26.

*****

REMINISCENT OF OLD TIMES

“President John I. Taylor of the Boston American Club, writes us from Chicago that the magnates and friends he met in Chicago were much pleased with the name “Red Sox” for the Boston Americans. Charley Comiskey commenting that the White Sox of Chicago and Red Sox of Boston would sound like the real thing in base ball. In the early ‘70s the Chicago White Stockings and the Boston Red Stockings held the front rank as great base ball teams, and the old time fans will welcome the Boston Red Sox as sincere followers of the old Red Stockings, who could win pennants like breaking matches.” — Sporting Life, August 1, 1908.

“Braves” is certainly the right name for Stallings’ boys. They must be.” — Ring W. Lardner, In the Wake of the News, Chicago Daily Tribune, May 21, 1914:12.

*****

“Mike Regan, the world’s champion traveler saw the slugging battle from Ben Shibe’s hurricane deck. The Boston rooter has just arranged to have a patented device invented by Tim Murnane, veteran player and scribe, to mark permanently the limits of the batsman’s box without danger to base runners sliding to the plate. The problem is one which has puzzled many to find a substitute for the evanescent chalk lines. Umpire Connolly and others who have seen the model say the new device will do it. Regan has an interest in its manufacture and Robert Young, son of the former National League president has been engaged as patent attorney.” – By Sy, “News From the Sox for the Home Folks.” Chicago Daily Tribune, June 5, 1907:11.

“Tim Murnane has invented and patented a batter’s box, which will stand the wear and tear of feet and the rush of water. The lines are made of rubber, sunken deep into the earth, the top showing.” – Boston Journal, December 28, 1908:9.

To whom it may concern:

Be it known that I, Timothy H. Murnane, a citizen of the United States, residing at Boston, in the county of Suffolk and State of Massachusetts, have invented a new and useful Improvement in Base-Ball-Field Markers, of which the following is a specification:

Tim Murnane batter's box patent

How much did the patented design for home base influence permanently the home base we see today?

*****

BASEBALL RIOT ON THE COMMON

Colored baseball fans who congregated on the Common yesterday afternoon got their money’s worth when the Allen Street “Snowballs” beat the “Lillie Whites” of Cambridge street by a score of 10 to 9. The winning run came on a close decision by the umpire at third base.

“The player scored the winning run by reaching the home bag on a single slammed into the left garden. He won the game and the rooters for the Cambridge street contingent, as if by common consent, rushed for the umpire. That unhappy official, who nearly turned pale if a negro ever did, started to make good his escape.

“Down Charles street he sprinted, running like mad and turned into Chambers street, pursued by a howling mob. A legislator turned the corner just as Mr. Umpire dashed around. They collided.

“When the legislator brushed the soil off his clothes he took one long, lingering look at the fleeing colored man and asked, “What is it, a lynching?”

“By that time the angry mob had choked the thoroughfare. In each man’s hand was something from the Common, ranging from a fistful of mud to a brickbat.  The umpire at this stage was 20 yards to the good. The legislator endeavored to act as peacemaker. With a flourish of his arms he tried to still the mob. He gave them a few minutes lecture on the beneficence of peace and he received a variety of replies.

“With an expressive wave of his hand he pointed the way taken by the fugitive umpire.

“Without delay the bunch hastened to Allen street. By this time the umpire, thinking he had cleared himself, came leisurely sauntering along. With a rush and a roar that would put the mob scene in Julius Caesar out of business, the angry colored men, with fire in their eyes, loomed into sight. The moment they turned the corner and the umpire got a glimpse of them he bolted for the hill.

“The ammunition from the crowd quickly followed him. One brick smashed the window of Mrs. William Pierce, 21 Fruit street, and another crashed through the show window of Mrs. O’Brien’s little candy and cigar shop at 72 Chambers street.” — Boston Journal, April 27, 1904:5.

*****

“You cannot give the fans of this country too much baseball, and you and I will always be in favor of seeing an increased interest in the great pastime. I am also on record for believing that a colored man has as much right to engage in amateur and professional sports as a white man, but methinks that there may be some fans on the proposed circuit of the United States Baseball League who may not coincide with my views. There is some difference in having an amateur colored athlete represent his college and varsity team and having him engage publicly for money. This shouldn’t be so, and if the league is to exist, even temporarily, the colored man should be given a show.” – Bob Dunbar’s Sporting Chat, “Every Knock is a Boost,” Boston Journal, February 14, 1910:10.

*****

If you have not heard about the history of William Clarence Matthews, read this Harvard Crimson article or other stories about the star shortstop and captain of the Harvard team. There are many out there all over the Internet. He led the Harvard team in batting average for the 1903, 1904 and 1905 seasons, and was called “the greatest big league prospect” on the team.

When Georgetown refused to play Harvard because of the presence of Mathews on the team, Harvard struck Georgetown off their schedule instead of striking Mathews off their team. Of course, his chance at becoming a “major league prospect” was denied him by his skin color. He graduated from Harvard and went on instead to be the first African American Assistant United States Attorney.

1905 Harvard baseball team. William Matthews is in the middle row, third from left (HARVARD.EDU)

*****

RANDOM BASEBALL ITEM

“BRAVES CRIPPLES COMING ALONG — Galveston, Texas, March 20 – Some of those on the Braves’ casualty list are returning to work. John L. Sullivan, who was hit on the hand by a pitched ball in Sunday’s exhibition game, was back yesterday and played first base for the Yanigans against the Regulars. He made two triples and two singles in his four chances at bat and so it may safely be assumed that his hand is now all right.” – James C. O’Leary, Boston Daily Globe, March 30, 1921:29.

No, not THAT John L. Sullivan. THIS John Lawrence Sullivan, born in Williamsport, PA, played 81 games at second base for the Boston Braves in 1920 and was a pinch hitter in five games in 1921, and was traded to the Chicago Cubs where he played 76 games in the outfield. No fancy nickname for him. John L. was moniker enough even if he was loaned it by sportswriters who saw the literary opportunity to celebrate one of the greatest sports icons ever bequeathed to the world by Massachusetts. The original John L had died just three years before on February 2, 1918, and now, let us wax poetic:

“I tolled the bell for old John L., and wept while I was tolling; ah, yes, my dears, the briny tears down my fat face were rolling. Big, brave old John!  So you are gone, to join the phantom bruisers, to meet dead pugs with spectral mugs, past winners and past losers! Jack Dempsey waits at Jordan’s gates, with freckled Bob, to greet you; you climb the stairs with Mace and Sayers, and Heenan, too, will meet you. In No Man’s Land the specters stand of mighty men and brawny, and of such lads who scrapped for scads, you were the greatest, Johnnie! A mule can kick, but not so quick as you could swing your mauley, nor yet so hard; you smashed through guard, and science seemed like folly. Ten years you reigned, and nearly brained all pugs who crossed your orbit; then, tower of strength, you fell at length, before the wily Corbett. But fallen, John, you still lived on, a mighty man and famous; we swore by you in seasons blue, when pikers came to shame us. We used to yell for old John L., when fighters side-stepped fighting; when fakers fought with language hot, or spent their days in writing. Good-by, John L., I toll your knell, you bring a rose, a red one; you’ve quit the strife, while you had life, you never were a dead one.” – Walt Mason, Boston Post, February 21, 1918:12.

*****

ANOTHER RANDOM HISTORICAL ITEM

“A novel feature of European immigration is reported. A steamer from Havre, France, which arrived at New York the other day, had on board eight large bears, brought by a party of French laboring men, who had caught them in the Pyrenees. The bears are to be taken West, where they will be put to the drawing of agricultural vehicles, and the performance of other farm work. As the animals passed up Broadway the “bears” of Wall street rushed out to take a look at them.” – Boston Journal, March 24, 1882:2.

*****

Happy Birthdays

  • Jesus Tavarez, born 1971, outfielder, with Boston 1997
  • Bill Zuber, born 1913, pitcher, with Boston 1946-47
  • Alex Mustaikis, born 1909 in Chelsea, MA, pitcher, with Boston 1940, 6 games- no wins, one loss

Reporting from the Mudville Bureau of the Boston Chapter: I started writing the Mudville Dispatches one year ago, hoping that the weekly routine would fill those hours of self-distancing, no face-to-face meetings, cancelled programs and conferences, and provide me with a replacement for no pilgrimages to Fenway Park.

I intended to file a “report” each week – not to re-visit the usual places and prominent names of baseball icons – but to dig into local Boston and Massachusetts history that would uncover stories of people who left their mark on baseball history, one way or another  – and a few other oddball historical curiosities thrown in.

The past 52 weeks barely scratched the surface. So many people and events affected local history, and I left many of them on the cutting room floor. Eugene J. O’Connor, Timothy Murnane, Ed Martin, Lizzie Murphy, Hoss Brown, Bill Stewart, Yucka Kelliher are only a few I featured. Other events such as suffrage, Sunday Blue Laws, spring training,  the Massachusetts game of base ball, and events of one hundred years ago were recalled.

One thing for sure, baseball permeated and significantly affected every aspect of life in Boston and Massachusetts.  That effect certainly has been experienced by all other cities and regions of America.

So, is this, perhaps, the last Dispatch to be filed? Might be that some readers will breathe a sigh of relief!  We all certainly expected that the pandemic would have been over by now, but it is not quite – although we are getting much closer. Getting a COVID-19 shot in Massachusetts is a tricky endeavor – so many want the jab and so few jabs are available. Our governor is attempting to quell the anxious, unvaccinated masses, that the supply of vaccine will improve. I hope so. So many waiting, so little vaccine available.

And finally, I hope readers have been entertained by the Mudville Dispatch. As the last one rolls off the computer screen, I do hope a few baseball souls have found something edifying, entertaining and inspiring and who may now take a look at how baseball left its imprint on their local, state and national history. Perhaps others will be inspired to write about baseball and other interesting historical items found around their town, city and state.  So for now, “Play Ball!” Please!

— Joanne Hulbert
jhulbert49@gmail.com

 


MARCH 19, 2021 — March is the month when baseball hearts beat with renewed anticipation of the upcoming season, and it also gave time to fans, players and promoters of the game to impart encouragement, anticipation and a chance to complain about how, who and where the game was heading and a chance to give opinions about how to improve it all.

Complaints and criticism extended all the way from the ground keepers, players who wouldn’t sign the contract and to the United States Congress. Why Boston postponed the official “opening day” in 1894 in order that the Governor could attend, and all the concerns about players’ injuries, abilities and willingness to join the team at spring training are still nothing new.  Today is no different, and yesterday and a century, or longer ago, also found March  a convenient  time to express their, ahem, opinions.

 

Franklin Collier, Boston Herald, March 22, 1921:10.

Franklin Collier, Boston Herald, March 22, 1921:10.

*****

A LATE OPENING

“The Bostons will play their first game April 19 with the Brooklyns, but it will not be the official opening day for the Hub, for Private Secretary Thomas has notified the management that the Governor will not be able to attend. The official opening will therefore be on May 10.

“One wild, red wave of knickerbocker enthusiasm seems to be welling over N.Y all on account of the baseball team. Nick Young prepared a list of batting averages that proved the men to be veritable Samsons with the stick, the real and only giants, while the baseball men have been writing spring pastorals on how it is better to be a Giant for $1500 than anything else at $5000. Boston men are not making any bones about it, but the trolley cars have taught them to jump almost as fast as the New Yorker does after the L,  and preserve their ice cream demeanor too.

“The Boston men have a batting percentage to be proud of. It is just 13, an unlucky number, but it won the pennant last year. So the fight goes on.” — Boston Daily Advertiser, March 20, 1894:6.

*****

AGAINST SUNDAY BALL

Petition with 300 Signatures Received by Springfield Club

“Springfield, Mass. – The directors of the Springfield baseball team received tonight a petition with 300 signatures, many of them women, asking that the nine refrain from playing Sunday games. It was voted to receive the petition and place it on file.

“Messrs Ezekiel, Shean and Perkins were appointed a committee to report upon the advisability of fencing off that part of Hampden park used for ball grounds.” – Boston Daily Globe, March 10, 1897:7.

*****

CRIGER MAY HAVE TO LEAVE HOT SPRINGS

“Hot Springs, Ark., March 1- The past week has been one continual story of rain and inclement weather, precluding the possibility of practice by the visiting ball squads. However, the storms seem to have passed and the silvery lining in the way of summerlike weather is again prevailing. 

“Criger is no better, and it seems but a few days until he will be forced to leave here for a more wholesome atmosphere. The doctors, who all along have maintained that they could pull him through, today stated that with such weather prevailing it was beyond their poser to cope with the trouble which has afflicted American’s greatest backstop, and have recommended him to leave for a dryer atmosphere. The convulsions have reduced the great catcher to a mere skeleton. Today while taking a bath he tipped the scales at 119 pounds. The convulsions are a great deal more frequent than when he first came here and seem to grow in intensity and length. However, Criger remains hopeful and fully expects to again be able to be seen in a Boston uniform.” – Boston Journal, March 19, 1906:5.

*****

“It has always puzzled me why the owners of ball clubs have not made greater efforts to have their grounds more attractive. A broad sward of green grass is most  restful to the eye, and I believe that the club that eliminates the bare spots and produces a field with a turf rivaling that of the cricket fields abroad will make a ten-strike with the fans. On most grounds there is no turf in front of the grand stands, and on windy days the dust is very annoying.

I understand that Jerome Kelly, ground keeper at the Huntington avenue grounds, has already made plans for radical improvements. The bare ground in front of the grand stand will be sodded and all beaten paths will be covered with tanbark and trimmed like the walks on a private  estate. It is a good move.” – “Random Talks on Sports, by ‘Old Grad’,”  Boston Herald, March 19, 1907:11.

*****

“Treasurer Gaffney of the Boston Nationals and Charles B. Meyers, architect of the remodeled grandstand at the South End grounds will be in Boston today. Also Harry M. Stevens, who is to replace the popular Joe Waul this year (Joe had the peanuts and tonic last season.) The time is getting short. Only three weeks from day after tomorrow is opening day.” — Bob Dunbar’s Sporting Chat, Boston Journal, March 19, 1912:8.

*****

PLENTY OF TIME TO SIGN, “TRIS” SPEAKER SAYS

“Marlin, Texas – There was a visitor at the Giants’ camp this afternoon. Tris Speaker, the famous center fielder of the world’s champion Boston Red Sox, who motored over from his home in Hubbard City, Texas with a party of friends to pay Manager McGraw and other old friends of the Giants a short visit.

“Speaker was asked if he had signed to play with the Red Sox and replied: “No, not yet; but they don’t report until March 19, so I have plenty of time.”

“His answer implied that he would join the champions in Hot Springs, Ark., where they are to train, on that date. He appears to be much overweight.” — Boston Daily Globe, March 14, 1916:7.

*****

IT’S THE “KID” WHO IS HIT BY THAT TAX

“Will anybody fight for the kids? Will anybody champion their cause in Congress? Well, just watch the smoke!

“And now a movement has been inaugurated by friends of athletics, and the American boy in particular, to have our astute National statesmen revise the law, already in effect. Not only are sporting goods manufacturers up in arms against what is considered an unjust imposition upon the youngsters, but the movement is being heartily supported wherever athletics, and especially baseball and general outdoor sports are fostered.

“Here in Boston the opposition to the new tax law is being led by Joseph F. Conway, president of the N.E.A.A.U. and first vice president of the A.A.U. Mr. Conway, because of his prominence in the governing body of athletic, is being deluged with letters from every section of the country and he has begun a canvass for signatures of all opposed to the tax.

“I don’t want to criticize Congress, especially during war times, but it would appear that the Congressional committee which recommended the bill thought it was hitting professional sports and ‘rich sportsmen,’” said Mr. Conway. “As a matter of fact, however, the tax hits the kid athletes of the United States. All professional baseball, which Congress wanted to tax, buys less than one half of one percent of the total sporting goods manufactured in the United States.

“More than 60 percent of all the athletic goods sold are purchased by boys under 18 years of age. In other words, more than 60 percent of the tax will fall on the youngsters. The kids can’t stand it. I don’t think for a minute Congress would have made such a law had it known the facts.

“Athletics are a necessity, not a luxury, and the Government need only refer to its own records to prove this. Our Government spent more than a million and a half dollars to buy sporting goods for our soldiers and sailors. It appreciated the value of athletic and statistics in Washington prove that athletics were largely responsible for the development of our forces. For instance, out of one regiment 200 men who had been rejected for some slight physical defect were subjected to a two-weeks’ course in athletics. In two weeks [all] but 17 were back doing line duty. That shows whether athletics are a luxury or a necessity.”

“No, the Congress of the United States could never have intended to work a hardship on the boys. Our own New England Congressmen could not have meant to deprive our youngsters of the pride they take in wearing their cheap little uniforms for gala occasions. Reports indicate that lads who ordinarily earned enough money to buy their uniforms from the sale of rags or junk of newspapers will have difficulty  enough scraping together money to buy the goods at the present high cost of materials, but with an added 10 percent in the cost – well, Congress can be depended upon to take care of our kids.” – Boston Evening Globe, March 27, 1919:4.

*****

“Looks like the Red Sox soon will be looking for some sand lot on which to stage their league games. I see where Col. Ruppert of the Yankees is hobnobbing with Frazee at the Springs and since Harry has little more to trade but his park, and as Ruppert needs a home for the Ruths, the stage seems to be set for the deal. Boston probably will get one of the Babe’s busted bats in the swap.” —Bob Dunbar, Boston Herald, March 19, 1921:8.

*****

FRICASSEED

“Mike Menosky want to play centre field. He believes he is the fastest outfielder on the team and says that he was limited and handicapped in the short left field at Fenway Park last season.

“I believe I could do my best work in centre field,” Michael continued, “and I intend to speak to Manager Duffy about it as soon as I have had a business talk with Frazee. There is a little question of salary to be considered. I will operate under a new contract and believe I am entitled to an increase. I do not anticipate any trouble in this direction, however.”

“It is evident that Frazee does not intend to talk business with the dissatisfied players until all are here. The Sox owner went up to Little Rock today on something that is not connected with baseball, so it was said.” – Boston Herald, March 22, 1921:10.

 

Franklin Collier, Boston Herald, November 1, 1921:14.

Franklin Collier, Boston Herald, November 1, 1921:14.

 

“Franklin Collier’s very excellent cartoon in yesterday’s Herald on that spineless creature, the booer, made such an impression on Head Master Snow of English High that he asked for the original drawing, which he will have framed and hung in one of the corridors at the high school.” – Boston Herald, November 2, 1921:14.

*****

RANDOM BASEBALL ITEM

“I have often heard it asked why there are no really clever baseball players at Harvard. The reason is simply this: When a youngster shows up cleverly at his high or prep school, he is besieged by a half-dozen delegates from colleges, asking him to go to their particular college.

“Big inducements are offered, such as a free course, a sure chance to play on the freshman nine and very often a bonus. Any youth would be foolish if he did not accept one of those offers.

“That is against Harvard ethics, however, and a man has to go to Harvard of his own free will or not at all. I have known several star athletes who went to Andover to prepare for Harvard and were switched off to Yale, because of their baseball abilities.” – Bill Bailey Says, Boston Post, March 23, 1907:12.

*****

ANOTHER RANDOM BASEBALL ITEM

“It took the Cubans to invent a new way of betting on a ball game. They are inveterate gamblers and want to bet on every angle. And no such rooters are seen in America. They root with hands, feet and lungs. Every Cuban has a bet on the game.

“The favorite method is to write all the players’ names on slips of paper, place them in a hat, each man chipping in a certain amount, as in a raffle.

“Each man then draws out a slip and the one who draws the player who makes the last run of the game wins the pot. There wouldn’t be enough action in that game for the do and don’t bettors around here. It’s a nice, friendly game, though.” – Boston Sunday Post, March 24, 1907:14. 

*****

Happy Birthdays

  • David Ross, born 1977, catcher, with Boston 2008, 2013-14
  • Ivan Calderon, born 1962, outfielder, with Boston 1993
  • Pete Smith, born 1940 in Natick MA, pitcher, with Boston 1962-63
  • Joe Gonzales, born 1915, pitcher, with Boston 1937, 8 games
  • Bill Wambsganss, born 1894, second base, shortstop, with Boston 1924-25
  • Clyde Engle, born 1884, outfielder, first & third Baseman, with Boston 1910-1914

*****

Reporting from the Mudville Bureau of the Boston Chapter, according to the Boston Sunday Globe Baseball Page, there are new rules – everybody is suspicious of “new rules” way back then and now – but it is announced that Triple A will have larger bases, 18 inches square instead of 15, in the hopes of reducing collisions It also will give runners at least a slight advantage and perhaps encourage more small ball. Also, Double A will require four players to have both feet on the infield dirt as a pitch is delivered. The rule could be further amended to require two of those players be positions on either side of second base.” – Boston Sunday Globe, March 14, 2021:C9.

And Single A teams are in for a lot of new stuff. And another warning? Robot umpires and timers are coming to the majors, it’s just a matter of when it happens. That fight is over … yikes!

The Boston Chapter will hold a Zoom meeting on March 23 with Rico Petrocelli. Don’t miss it! Sign up at: https://bit.ly/3v5cES6

— Joanne Hulbert

 


MARCH 12, 2021 — Spring training is supposed to convince us that the Red Sox are in good shape for the upcoming season, but the announcement that Jackie Bradley Jr. is no longer with the team, and will now be with Milwaukee, does not make us feel at all great about the future.

I remember when JBJ started with the Sox in 2013. I was up in the Green Monster on a cold night during the first week of the season. I was sitting alone in the first row seats, huddled under a blanket that didn’t provide much cover nor warmth.  Jackie was patrolling the field just below where I sat. During the game several guys came down to the ledge and yelled various rude epithets at the visiting outfielder. They would then retreat back up the stairs behind the seats.

When the inning changed and JBJ returned to the field, I cringed as the Monster chorus returned to the ledge, and I prepared for another round of offensive language to be heaped upon the new Red Sox outfielder. Instead, they yelled encouragement – “You’re OK, Jackie! Don’t let them get you down! You’re gonna’ be alright!”

As the innings progressed they returned each time to heckle the visitor outfielder (and apologize to me about the offensive language, nice guys, they had principles), and also they continued to welcome JBJ to Fenway Park with welcoming words of encouragement.

*****

Harry Frazee (NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME LIBRARY)Kevin Paul Dupont published another “On Second Thought” article in the Boston Sunday Globe on March 7, 2021. This week he wrote about Joe Lannin, sole owner of the Red Sox from 1914 until he sold the team to Harry Frazee in 1917, having revealed that his doctors told him this baseball business was affecting his health. Lannin is credited with purchasing Babe Ruth and the rest is history we all know well.

As Dupont said, “No Lannin, no Ruth, and, ultimately, no Curse of the Bambino.” Dupont’s article recalled Lannin’s  greatness as an owner, a well-deserved two World Series wins to his credit, and the mystery surrounding his death from a fall from a hotel window in 1928. 

There was another man who recorded an interview with Joe Lannin from the other side of his years with the Red Sox. Julian Hawthorne, son of author Nathaniel Hawthorne, had secured a job with the Boston American, part of the William Randolph Hearst newspaper chain. Hearst had recruited Hawthorne as early as 1895 as a sort of roving reporter to seek out interesting, and he hoped, controversial stories.

*****

“Julian Hawthorne in declaring that the “wonders of the old days are not in the class of the baseball stars of today” is going to find himself in a peck of trouble. If there is any one thing the old timers are touchy about it is an intimation, much less any direct assertion, that the ball players of today, whether individually or collectively, are one whit better than those of a generation ago. Some of these old timers, too, will almost convince a fellow that what they say is dead right.” — Boston Herald, March 8, 1915:6.

*****

Not that Julian Hawthorne hadn’t found himself in “a peck of trouble” in the past. He found himself entangled in a promotion for a mining company in Ontario, when he inserted his name and family reputation by writing stock-selling brochures. He was accused of mail fraud, tried and convicted, and sentenced to one year and a day in the federal prison at Atlanta. He served nearly eight months and was released in October 1913.

After his release Julian became an advocate for prison reform, and wrote The Subterranean Brotherhood., where he complained about poor prison conditions, the maltreatment of prisoners and also praised the warden for encouraging baseball games in the prison yard.  He immediately returned to newspaper work thanks to Hearst. Hawthorne wrote about articles about his life growing up in Boston and Concord and also interviewed newsworthy citizens. He attended spring training with the Red Sox and the Braves in 1915, wrote about the Sunday baseball controversy, and he also interviewed Joe Lannin in September 1915 for the Boston American, just as the team was heading for the World Series.

Joseph Lannin (Boston American, September 26, 1915)

Boston American, September 26, 1915.

*****

In part, Hawthorne elegantly and dramatically wrote:

“At the final stages of the titanic struggle which has been in progress since last March, during every hour of which he has been working at top speed, he looked competent to begin all over again if necessary. To be sure, he has got to the summit of the hill and success being a vigor of its own, he was neither weighed down by the heaviness of defeat, nor even rent by the strain of being within possible striking distance of the goal. He had arrived; or if we must be precise, only a semi-miracle could dispossess him. But when I congratulated him on his good looks and great achievements, he smiled and shook his head. The responsibility was still upon him; the reins of that mighty team which he was driving, nine-in-hand will still be guided down those last thrilling moments of the home stretch, amid the thunder and the uproar. He was not yet ready to relax and say, ‘It’s done!’ The Lannin of a few weeks hence will wear a different aspect.” – Boston American, September 26, 1915.

*****

PLAY BALL

(Atlanta Penitentiary, June, 1913)
Eight hundred dead men, hopping from their graves
(For the sun shines fair on the high graveyard wall),
Each in his shabby shroud, all we mouldy knaves,
Blinking like a swarm of bats, to see a game of ball!
Baseball, corpses all! Limber up and shout again!
Every jolly stiff of us yelling like a mut!
Hey, Jack! Hi, Jim! Glad to see you out again!
Watch him pitch! He’s a witch! Chase him off, the scut!

Eight hundred “con” fans, all come back to life again!
(Bright shine the sun on the day that we go free!)
Play ball, maties, all! Up and line ‘em out again!
Never weaken – fight it out, whate’er the score may be!
Who said we were dead! The game has put a soul in us!
Whack the horsehide on the nose and scoot for home base!
We’ll get there, never fear; you and I and all of us!
God’s our umpire, and it’s up to us to hold the pace!

— Julian Hawthorne, Boston Sunday Post, December 28, 1913:37.

*****

Hawthorne, erstwhile Number 4435,  when released from prison found employment writing for the Boston American and the Boston Post,  newspapers that sent him out to interview various prominent citizens and to tell about his memories of growing up in Boston and Concord. He also dispensed advice about the benefits of physical exercise – as long as the man is less than 60 years old, of course, and he advised a leisurely game of tennis should be their limit of physical exertion.

*****

RANDOM HISTORICAL ITEM FROM 100 YEARS AGO

“SMALLPOX PATIENTS MOVED TO HOSPITAL – The contagious hospital at Salem Neck was opened yesterday for the first time since 1912, following four cases of smallpox in Salem within the last few days. Three of the patients were removed to the institution last evening because of a shortage of nurses and police officers with whom to guard the quarantined homes. About  750 persons in the city have been vaccinated recently to comply with a suggestion of the board of health.” – Boston Herald, March 10, 1921:4.

*****

DENIES COMPULSORY VACCINATION CHARGE
Salem Board of Health Agent Speaks at Academy Hall
         

“John J. McGrath, agent for the Salem board of health, defended that body vigorously at a meeting held last night in Academy Hall, Salem, by the Medical Liberality League. Speakers for the league declared that the board had used the four cases of smallpox discovered in Salem within the last 10 days as a means of spreading propaganda for compulsory vaccination. Mrs. Jessica Henderson of Boston, secretary for the league, declared that a board doctor had said to the mother of two of the patients: “If I did not know the history of the case I would have to pronounce it measles or chicken pox.” She said this was an unscientific diagnosis and that the board could call an illness any disease.

“Other speakers for the league were Alliston H. Bell of Boston and William Bassett of Lynn. Dr. Lyman A. Jones of Swampscott denied that the doctors favored compulsory vaccination because of their fees. A resolution was passed unanimously, with the exception of three doctors and Mr. McGrath, petitioning the Legislature to make vaccination optional with the parent or guardian of all public school children.” — Boston Herald, March 16, 1921:10.

*****

ANOTHER RANDOM BASEBALL ITEM

Last week I mentioned Francis Mortimer “Yucka” Kelliher who appeared in one game with one at bat with the Washington Senators on September 19, 1919.  Searching that date and places, revealed next to nothing about Kelliher’s fleeting appearance as recorded in the Baseball Encyclopedia. Searching for “Yucka” turned up barely a clue, as a word search between 1900 and 1930 only turned up one “Yucka,” a second baseman who played for the Chicopee Falls Red Men in 1921:

“Three hits and a wild pitch gave Turners Falls five runs in the first inning, enough to win over the champion Chicopee Falls Red Men nine, yesterday the final score being 5 to 2. … The Redskins, counted  for two in the sixth. Driscoll bunted down the third base line, and caught Brazeau napping. Yucka drove one at Brazeau who threw wild to second, the ball going to center, and both men advanced a base.” — Greenfield (MA) Recorder, July 25, 1921:6.

Yucka scored a run, also completed a double play – Yucka to first baseman Padykula. The box score did not record the second baseman as “Kelliher,” only as “Yucka.” Possibly, “Kelliher” was too long for the box score , and “Yucka” fit better. Another trivial, interesting fact: Frank Kelliher debuted with Washington on September 19, 1919. The date, 9/19/1919 is a “mirror date” – the same if read frontward or backward.

*****

ANOTHER RANDOM BASEBALL ITEM FROM THE PAST – WITH HINTS OF THE FUTURE

BAKER FATHER OF TWINSPhiladelphia, February 2, 1914: Frank Baker, the big batsman of the Athletics, was presented with twins, a robust boy and an equally vigorous and winsome girl, by Mrs. Baker on Sunday at their home at Trappee, Maryland. The twins were reported to be doing well today, and Frank was the recipient of congratulations from many of his admirers, while all Trappee appeared almost as proud of the youngsters as does the popular papa.

 “Too bad only one of them will be able to play ball,” remarked one of Frank’s friends.

 “Oh, by the time the girl has grown up,” replied Frank, “women may be playing ball as well as voting.” – Boston Herald, February 3, 1914:10.

*****

Alex Gaston (TRADING CARD DB)Happy Birthdays

  • Alex Gaston, born 1893, catcher, with Boston 1926, 1929

Read all about Alex and Milton Gaston in the SABR BioProject articles by Bill Nowlin. Alex Gaston and his brother Nathaniel Milton are truly among the relatively obscure players who have histories well worth remembering.

*****

Reporting from the Mudville Bureau of the Boston Chapter, the Boston Sunday Globe baseball page on March 7, 2021 had scant reports from Fort Myers about the progress of the Red Sox.  It feels like we are all trying to become acquainted with a new and unfamiliar list of players. Now with JBJ gone the way of the other team icons, who will rise above the chatter?

There are some familiar names still on the roster — Vazquez, Bogaerts, Devers, Verdugo, Martinez — J.D., Rodriguez, Eovaldi. The new, unfamiliar names stand out — Renfroe, Arroyo (Christian not Bronson), Pivetta, Perez, Sawamura (already called the “great unknown”), Whitlock and Brice (Fanny? Beware, nicknamers!)  

This week’s edition of Time magazine has a great article about Kim Ng of the Miami Marlins, the first female general manager in Major League Baseball.  The best article about the Red Sox on March 7 was a full-page story by Juliet Macur in the New York Times about Bianca Smith, hired by the Red Sox, the first Black woman to coach professional baseball. She arrives with an impeccable resume and will be working at the Fort Myers facility. Home Run Baker was on to something. Read it and cheer, “Huzzah!”

Also, the Boston Chapter will hold a Zoom meeting on March 23 at 8 PM with Rico Petrocelli. Don’t miss it! To sign up, go to: https://bit.ly/3v5cES6

— Joanne Hulbert

 


MARCH 5, 2012 — “Mayor John F. Fitzgerald has accepted an invitation to be present at the opening game at Huntington Avenue. The Mayor has always been a baseball lover, and made a home run hit last fall against Second Baseman Frothingham.” — Boston Sunday Post, March 4, 1906:28.  

Honey Fitz? Home run? Stay tuned for the rest of the story.

*****

BOSTONS BEGIN MOVING SOUTH

Advance Guard of Collins’ Club Starts for Training Grounds Tonight

“The glad season is here. Local fandom will celebrate, and on the boat train to New York this evening Hugh McBreen, Trainer Green, Harry Murch, Joe Hartis and Timothy Kenney, the advance guard of the Collins team, will start for Washington.

“Tomorrow McBreen will round up his other players and start them for Macon, Georgia. Jimmy Collins will be in Washington waiting for the Boston delegation. The other players expected to report are Peterson, Grimshaw, Josslyn, Glaze, Rising, Godwin, Hughes, Barry, Freeman, Unglaub and Winter.

“Hugh McBreen is hopeful regarding the coming season. “I can’t see why the team won’t be in the race at all times. Criger’s place will be hard to fill, I’ll admit, but I still think that Criger will be on deck.” – Boston Post, March 9, 1906:3.

*****

Jimmy Collins had gathered up all the usual suspects for Spring Training, 1906 – the returning veterans, a handful of new prospects, and a few looming problems that needed to be solved. One of those big problems was Lou Criger and his health issues. As Collins and the players headed south to Macon, he collected prospects for the catcher position in anticipation of having to make a change in the lineup. Those backstops came from everywhere, not only from the suburbs of Boston, but also from the Pacific Coast. Charley Graham looked like a probable replacement. Would the Boston Americans start the 1906 with a catcher in good condition – or must they search for a replacement? The issue was a major subject of conversation among Boston baseball fans as well as the Boston American front office.

*****

TIMOTHY KENNEY AND HIS EXCELLENT BASEBALL ADVENTURE

“The Boston American Baseball club began the trip to their spring training camp on Thursday, March 8, 1906. The new prospects along with a few veteran players from 1905 joined the team owner John I. Taylor and headed south by train.

 “Management’s main concern was the catcher position, as Lou Criger was possibly out for the season with illness and injuries. Report from Macon stated the concern, that Lou was fine one day and in debilitating pain the next. Retired catcher Charley Farrell, the “Duke of Marlboro” also added his recommendation for a tryout. He was a 20-year-old kid who played for local teams in Marlboro, South Framingham, Milford and Holliston, Farrell knew the kid’s father and uncle who had played baseball in Marlboro all the way back to the 1880s.

“Timothy Kenney was born in Marlboro, son of Martin and Maria – nee Mahoney –  Kenney. His family moved to Holliston in 1891 when Tim was 4 years old.  The Kenney family lived at the corner of Winthrop and Exchange Streets, right across from Shea’s field, the location of most of the town’s baseball games at that time. He also inherited baseball knowledge from his father and uncle who turned him into a capable backstop at an early age. Now, he was given the chance of a lifetime with the Boston Americans, courtesy of a recommendation from Duke Farrell, a player who knew a thing or two about a backstop prospect.

“Timothy Kenney was described by the Boston sports pages as 5 feet , nine inches, 150 pounds and “rangy, proportionately constructed.” Also he was young, photogenic, just the right combination to spark interest in fans looking forward to the 1906 season. In one photograph , he is dressed in formal wear, clothing that certainly would not have been de rigueur around Marlboro or Holliston on any given day. Writers called Kenney “the idol of local fans,” and his good looks and image as the wide-eyed country kid rubbing elbows with the pros delighted readers in Boston, Marlboro and Holliston.

“Tim Kenney appeared in a few games at Macon, but his tryout would have been considered stunted by today’s standards. He was the batterymate for a couple of pitching prospects, and his progress was reported as improving daily but he “looked unfinished for a catcher, with no signs of a second Farrell in his offhand work,” He was considered a good addition for a minor league team, and that brief stint with the Americans would certainly enhance his reputation.

“Spring training in 1906 was not all baseball all the time, and Tim was the victim of a hazing stunt. One day, Chick Stahl, Buck Freeman and Kip Selbach approached Kenney and asked him now good he was at skating and Tim confidently answered he was highly experienced having spent enough winters on Lake Winthrop sharpening his skating skills. They ushered him down to the local roller skating rink and told him that if he was such a great ice skater, then roller skating is the same thing only without the ice, and Stahl said he didn’t believe he could skate. Tim was mad and had something to prove. He put on the roller skates while the three challengers urged him on. The owner of the rink had been clued in about the bluff and he announced, “Professor Timothy Kenney of Holliston will give an exhibition of fancy skating.”

“The exhibition did not go well. He lasted just 15 feet when one foot went to one side, the other went askew much to the amusement of Stahl, Freeman and Selbach.

 “Throw me a line!” yelled Tim, as his hands grabbed air and his feet went skyward. He didn’t wait for the attendant to remove the skates as he ripped off the straps, crawled off the ice and fled the building. The co-conspirators stuck close together the next few days anticipating some sort of retaliation.

 “They told me roller skating was the same as ice skating. There is more difference than the playing of the Milford team and the New York Giants!” said Tim.

Stahl, Freeman and Selbach had to admit Tim was right.

“Timothy Kenney returned to Holliston after his spring training adventure and signed with a minor league team in Leominster. The Boston Americans became known as the Boston Red Sox in 1907. His minor league baseball career lasted several more years and he became a regular fixture and captain of the North Adams team in 1910. He did not suffer financially, as many minor league players earned as much as many major league players, and Tim had also the support of Arthur A. Williams, a shoe factory owner in Holliston who was also a baseball fan. Tim was allowed to play during the season and return to his job during the off-season. In North Adams, he also married a local girl.

“He eventually gave in to the demands of work and family, and quit baseball, returning to working in shoe factories in Holliston and Natick. He bought a house in Framingham on Freeman Street in 1923, and all was well. He occasionally umpired a game and lent his expertise to a new generation of aspiring ball players. In January 1924 he hitched a ride home with a co-worker who stopped to let him out at Freeman Street, and while alighting from the car, he slipped on the ice, struck his head on the curb and fractured his skull. He died later that night at the hospital. He was remembered for the baseball he played and for his one fleeting moment in the big leagues.

“At first I was a bit apprehensive about our catching staff with Lou Criger out of the game, but there is nothing to it now. After seeing Graham and person work I was satisfied there would be no weakness in the catching department. I never saw two new men in a club show to better advantage than this pair. They are tall and rangy, and their work is entirely natural. Back stopping comes as easy to them as walking. They throw without effort, and they are both unusually good batsmen.” – Jimmy Collins. – Boston Herald, March 26, 1906:10.

*****

“Bill Armour has invented a dummy to be used in baseball practice. Armour’s dummy is different. Many pitchers who can cut the plate when no one is batting can’t control themselves when the batting box is occupied. Armour’s dummy, which is the same size as an ordinary man, is driven into the ground in the batter’s box. Instead of having his regular players shot to pieces by his wild pitchers Armour will have them shoot at the dummy, which will never squeal when he is hit.” — Boston Post, March 9, 1906:3.

*****

FRANK V. DUNN UNDER THE KNIFE

Piece of Skull Presses on Brain as Result of Blow Received When a Boy

“HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Frank V. Dunn, who is reported to have recently purchased the Boston National Baseball club, is here to undergo an operation which has been pressing on his brain as a result of a blow sustained when a boy, and which affected him only in recent years, will be removed.” – Boston Herald, March 4, 1906:17.

*****

WHAT THEY WERE THINKING – OR SAYING – ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO

“The Red Sox soon will have an alumni association that will almost approach some New England colleges in point of membership. . .  

“. . . It’ll be harder than usual to whoop ‘er up out at Fenway park this season.” — Bob Dunbar, Boston Herald, March 5, 1921:9.

 

Boston Post, March 2, 1906.

Boston Post, March 2, 1906.

****

Happy Birthdays

  • Erik Bedard, born 1979, pitcher, with Boston 2011
  • Chad Fonville, born 1971, second baseman, shortstop, outfielder, 1999
  • Steve Ontiveros, born 1961, pitcher, with Boston 2000 (3 games)
  • Doug Bird, born 1950, pitcher, with Boston 1983

*****

A EULOGY FOR THE BASEBALL ENCYCLOPEDIA

Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Sunday Globe this week wrote a lament, a eulogy for the Baseball Encyclopedia and its slow demise as laptops overtake the printed pages of the once – and still – indispensible paper versions of baseball history, statistics and lore.

Dupont celebrated the way the Baseball Encyclopedia and Total Baseball became the books that fed us so much information. The Internet just doesn’t fulfill all that the books provided. I will not jettison my editions. There’s a couple of things the books provide that a screen cannot as easily. For one, randomly scanning the pages we  can spot players who were one hit or one game wonders, careers that lasted a fleeting moment.

Makes a historian wonder – why? What happened? The stories behind them are often as interesting and essential to know as the famous players who have have stack of books written about them. Also, the wonderfully  time-consuming fun scanning the pages, seeing intriguing nicknames – how’d they win those monikers? Another good story often hides behind those names too. For example, I opened to a random page in the Encyclopedia (2005 edition) and found Frank “Yucka” Kelliher, born in Somerville May 23, 1899, died in Somerville on March 4, 1956. One game. One at bat, with the Washington Senators.

Surely there’s more than one story behind that entry, and if not for my random turn to that page (354), I might never have met up with him. Lucky for me, I suppose, I spend most of my baseball wanderings among the long past history. The books will still sustain and encourage me in my literary wanderings.

No need to consult the Baseball Encyclopedia: Frothingham, second baseman for the Harvard team of 1892 and 1893, opposed Honey Fitzgerald in the 1905 Boston mayoral election when Fitzgerald hit that so-called homer. The Honorable Louis A. Frothingham of Ward 11, at that time the speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, announced he was the Republican candidate for mayor of Boston with the endorsement of the Good Government Association:

“The call is for Mr. Frothingham. He is a clean cut Republican, who has rendered splendid service for the party, and as there can be no doubt of his high sense of civic duty it is anticipated that although assured of a re-election to the speakership of the Massachusetts House of Representatives he will be a courageous fighter, to wage a contest for clean government in Boston.” — Boston Herald, October 24, 1905:1.

*****

The Boston Herald headline on November 9, 1905 stated Mr. Frothingham was “Born Lucky.” The Boston Herald, December 10, 1905, told a different story.

“In speaking of athletics, said Street Commissioner James Gallivan, if we are going to have a second baseman as mayor of Boston, I am going to sign Hobe Ferris. I was much amused to see the large posters in Boston bearing in letters not less than two feet long this inscription: ‘Louis A. Frothingham. He never broke his word and he never will.’

Says Frothingham Broke His Word at Harvard.

“I am going to tell you this story at the request of John F. Fitzgerald, the party candidate. Mr. Frothingham was once the captain and second baseman of the Harvard baseball team. On that team was a young fellow from South Boston, named Dave Scannell. He was the best catcher that Harvard ever had. For three long years he was right with the team that Frothingham captained. This young fellow stood in the breach when Yale was fighting hard. With Scannell behind the guns, Harvard never lost a game. He was promised by Frothingham that when he was through Scannell should be captain. Frothingham got through in 1893, and the entire student body of the college arose en masse and said that the fellow who was good enough to play on the team for three years was good enough to captain the Harvard nine. But Louis A. Frothingham was the Harvard coach and had the word to settle the question. He said: ‘No. I am going to give that job to Jimmy Dean of Brookline.’ David Daniel Scannell of South Boston was not good enough for Louis A. Frothingham, and I am not going to tell you why.” — Boston Herald, December 10, 1905:1,16.

GALLIVAN TAKES IT BACK

“The one bright feature of the day, the one thing which pleased Frothingham the most of all, was the full and complete retraction by Street Commissioner Gallivan of the cruel story which he began to circulate on Saturday night, to the effect that Louis Frothingham had turned down Dave Scannell, the old Harvard catcher, for the captaincy of the team for the purpose of putting in James Dean.

“Gallivan told the story on the stump with the idea of making out that Frothingham was narrow, and that it was a drive of some sort at Scannell, because Dean was of a more select set, perhaps. This is the story which stirred Frothingham to a Sunday statement of denial, and Gallivan admitted his facts were wrong, and in his apology declared that he would publicly retract the story at every place he might speak.” – Boston Herald, December 12, 1905:12.

*****

So, only so much political mud slinging? The mayoral election vote was called the heaviest ever known in Boston. Fitzgerald’s winning “home run” over Frothingham was a minority vote victory as other candidates combined to siphon votes away from Frothingham. The Democrats had stuck together as a solid voting block. The number of strong Republican wards in Boston was growing smaller each year, and it was a problem in politics confronting not only the Republicans, but also organizations like the Good Government Association – known as the “Goo-Goos” – who promoted Republican candidates. It was then demonstrated that when united, Wards 8 and 11 – the solidly Republican political strongholds – could not alone elect a Republican candidate for mayor.

“It was the most expensive campaign ever waged for the office of mayor of Boston up to that time.  Estimates placed expenditures for both campaigns at not less than $75,000. The annual salary of the mayor of Boston at that time was $10,000, the term was for two years, and the position was not legitimately profitable above the salary limit.” – Boston Journal, December 13, 1905:2.

Boston Post, December 1, 1905:10.

Boston Post, December 1, 1905:10.

Reporting from the Mudville Bureau of the Boston Chapter –the Boston Chapter will hold a Zoom meeting on March 23 with Rico Petrocelli. Don’t miss it!

— Joanne Hulbert

 


FEBRUARY 26, 2020 — The Red sox are now at Fort Myers, spring training has begun. A century ago, the theme was the same: bring in the rookies and the old-timers, toss them out on the field  and see what comes of it all. The challenges the managers faced in past decades are not much different than today’s, even with the advantage of sabermetrics all the baseball analytics we call upon to day to make decisions. While today, players send in their agents to haggle over contracts, a century ago, players disagreeing with their contracts would send them back unsigned – and then the negotiations began.

Boston Post, February 27, 1906:3.

Boston Post, February 27, 1906:3.

*****

THE LAST STRAW

“As this spring President Taylor sent [Bob Unglaub] another contract, calling for $2000. Bob considered this the last straw, and jumped to the Outlaws. Capt. Collins told me today that as long as Unglaub had signed a contract with Williamsport, the Boston club would make no further negotiations with him unless they were instituted by Unglaub himself.

“I offered Bob a contract calling for a salary of $2000,” said Capt. Collins, “and that is the best we can do I would like to have him with the team, as he fits in very nicely as a utility man, but I do not think we ought to give him $2400, which he demanded, because that figure is too near the sum that men who have done better work are getting. It is not too late for him to join us, but he must fix matters up himself, and it is plain to see by his letter that he would like to do so.” — Boston Journal, March 20, 1906:3.

*****

SOUTHWORTH SAYS HE IS A HOLD-OUT BRAVE

“ARDMORE, Oklahoma – William H. (Billy) Southworth, former Pittsburgh National outfielder, who was recently traded to the Boston National League Club, has returned his contract with the latter team unsigned, he said here today. He declared the salary offered was not sufficient. A semi-professional team at Oil City, Penna., has made him an offer which he is considering, he said.

“At Braves Field austere silence is the rule on contracts, but Owner Grant says Southworth will be in line on time.” – Boston Herald, February 26, 1921:7.

*****

“Jesse Burkett and his son Howard left Worcester yesterday for San Antonio, where the Giants train again this spring. Howard is an infielder. If he is a chip of the old block, of course he will make good. His dad will be one of his coaches. And this is how Jesse feels about his kid:

“About a year ago three or four old-timers got together and told young Burkett he ought to go to a big prep school and get some experience in baseball. Jesse, then coaching Holy Cross, heard of this and said: “Keep away from them college coaches. I ain’t going to have you spoiled!” — Boston Herald, February 26, 1921:7.

*****

RED SOX ANNOUNCE WAR ON GAMBLERS

“The Red Sox office announced this morning that steps will be taken this year to prevent gambling at Fenway Park. The club later will endeavor to have a special anti-baseball-gambling bill presented to the Legislature.” – Boston Evening Globe, February 26, 1921:7.

*****

Random Baseball Items from Bob Dunbar

“Connie Mack is going to have his ball players wear the patented skull caps which protect against the “bean ball.” They ought to be safer and more dignified than the dunce caps the A’s have been wearing since 1913.

“Wonder if the representative of the University of Tokio baseball team, now in America booking games with our college nines for the spring campaign, has looked up Clyde Engle at the University of Vermont. The Green Mountain collegians had one of the best college teams in the country last year and look for even better things this spring. A contest with Tokio would be welcomed by Vermont and bring bundles of visitors to Burlington.” — Boston Herald, February 26, 1921:7.

*****

Another Random Baseball Item from a Century Ago

“DUFFY DOESN’T NEED TO LOOK ANY FARTHER – Manager Hugh Duffy now has a chance to solve the outfield problem with which the Red Sox are confronted. All he had to do is to grab up this candidate, whose letter is a sample of a flood which is flowing into the American League headquarters these days. The writer of this one lives with in 50 miles of Boston. It follows:

 “Dear Friend Duffy – I can’t stand it no longer, reading the sport pages about you yelling yourself hoarse for an outfielder. I’m the outfielder you are looking for, and if you want to win the pennant next year sign me up. I am 20 years old; height 5 feet 9 inches; weight 150 pounds, and I can run 100 yards in 10 seconds flat. I bat and throw right handed. I played fast semi-pro ball all last year. In the major leagues it’s just the same. Only the lucky guys get in. Well. Hugh, that’s all I got to say. My address is _____________”

“Now Hughie’s troubles should all be over.” – Boston Evening Globe, February 26, 1921:7.

*****

Happy Birthdays

  • Kevin Plawecki, born 1991, catcher, with Boston 2020
  • J.T. Snow, born 1968, first baseman, with Boston 2006
  • Jack Brohamer, born 1950, infielder, with Boston 1978-9, 1980
  • Bill Conroy, born 1915, catcher, with Boston 1942-1944
  • Stew Bowers, born 1915, pitcher, with Boston 1935-36
  • Rip Collins, born 1896, pitcher, with Boston 1922

Reporting from the Mudville Bureau of the Boston Chapter, with Spring Training in full swing, and Opening Day ahead of us, the 2021 season will start out like last year, but we all certainly hope that the season will end up with in-person attendance, everyone with their shots up to date, and even wearing masks (Red Sox logo of course) will be a small price to pay on the way to getting back to normal.

At this moment, I am sitting on the Covid vaccine queue, with 126 minutes to go, an improvement as I started at 571 minutes to go, so I hope this time I get in!

Also, the Boston Chapter will hold a Zoom meeting on March 23 with Rico Petrocelli. Click here to register in advance for the Zoom details. Don’t miss it!

— Joanne Hulbert

 


FEBRUARY 19, 2021 — Baseball – what a riot. When the news came out in June, 1949 that Eddie Waitkus had been shot by an obsessive, delusional female fan, the editorialists weighed in on the issue of “Ferocious Females a Baseball Menace” as Bill Cunningham described it in his August 7, 1949  Boston Herald article condemning the behavior of female fans. Besides commenting on the Waitkus shooting and also about the numerous love letters that Joe DiMaggio amassed every season, Bill also took the story to the local level. In part, he wrote:

BEDLAM IN FRONT OF THE KENMORE

“The last time the Yanks were due to arrive in the city, I chanced to be in the vicinity of the Kenmore where the visiting ball players stop, and decided to wait and seek a chat with Casey Stengel. ….. As the hour of the scheduled arrival began to approach, the horde of junior trollops began to arrive. They seemed to be crawling out of the cracks of the cement. They were giggling, screaming, running back and forth…… Two or three were wearing fancy slacks and sweaters.

“When the taxicabs bearing the athletes finally began to arrive, the scene turned into screaming bedlam. With a speed and agility some of the ball players could use, the mob darted back and forth through the traffic, practically hurling themselves at another cab as the one they’d just charged was emptied…….. Some say it’s the frustrated Sinatra influence, now that Sinatra seems to have faded. Others try to blame it on the sports pages, the radio, the post-war baseball frenzy in general. But all agree it’s not good. There’s something healthy and traditional about a boy’s love of baseball and his awe stricken adoration of the great stars who play it best, but there’s nothing even explainable about the stage door johnnying of these shrieking little blisters who can go crazy and shoot.” – Bill Cunningham, Boston Herald, August 7, 1949:23.

Bill Cunningham next walked up to Fenway Park to see what was going on there:

PROUD OF ITS FEMININE FOLLOWING

“Baseball, which started going after feminine customers long ago, with “Ladies Days,” made a successful move and is very proud of its feminine following. The radio broadcasts have done a great deal more to make housewives and homekeepers baseball wise, to convert them into enthusiastic fans and to whet their curiosity to see the actual contests. This discussion has nothing to do with that admirable type of wholesome and welcome following. The complaint here is against something new, a rabid, ferocious, and in many ways repulsive, teen-age following, thinly smeared with sex and apparently running completely loose from any supervision or control.

“A recent night game at Fenway Park ran late, …… It was well after midnight when I  started to leave, walking toward the under-stand entrance near the one the players use to reach their cars parked in the enclosure immediately behind the stands. Some of the players were leaving too, by then.

“Suddenly I was met by a mass charge of girls in their teens who came leaping and screaming like skirt and sweatered Comanches … we turned to see what set off the charge. It was the gangling appearance of the new Red Sox high-school-aged pitching star, Maurie McDermott, who chanced to be coming along just behind. It was hard to tell from what happened whether they were trying to kid him or were trying to adore him. ….. And on the outside, there must have been 250 more dawdling out there in the dark street of a shut part of town after midnight. Most of these hanger arounders were well enough dressed. Some were extremely well dressed. Most had professional hair dos. All wore lipstick and fingernail polish. Yet most of them were as wild as if they’d been chewing Benzadrine, as maybe they had been.

“They must have had homes; they must have had parents, but the street was still full of them the last I saw.” – Bill Cunningham, Boston Herald, August 7, 1949:23.

*****

How interesting it is to look back and see how Bill Cunningham commented upon the behavior of post-World War II women – their sweaters and pants, their professional hair styling and, last but not least, his ability to discern at a distance, nail polish. This certainly was not the first time that women had been accused of behaving badly around baseball games. The controversy goes way back, way back, to much earlier times.

*****

“Governor Garvin has had a narrow escape from a very great peril. He was menaced by the intention of “the lady baseball players” to visit him and demand his protection from the assaults of the pulpit, which had been quite savage against the “lady baseball players.”

“This baseball club, composed of Amazonian young women, is traveling over the country, with the avowed purpose of teaching young men how to play ball by beating them out of their boots.

“The club was advertised to play in a small country town which boasts of having the best amateur team in Rhode Island. The pulpit of the place declared against the game and warned all members to stay away.

“All creeds joined in the outcry. Catholic and Calvinist, Baptist and Unitarian, Methodist and Episcopalian, joined hands in the determination to keep these stalwart lasses from engaging in such an unfeminine performance as baseball. Those who have seen them say they can’t play ball.

“Learning of these fulminations, the young women players sent some of their number to demand the protection of the governor. The female delegates were ponderous in muscle, if not in mind, and they at once sought to counteract the work of the clergy by declaring themselves to be devout Christians, notwithstanding that their game was scheduled to take place on a Sunday. One declared that after the baseball season is over she is to enter a convent and become a sister of mercy; another gave out that she is a Sunday school teacher on leave of absence, and a third stated that she had been elected to a high office by the Christian Endeavorers. The clergy ridiculed these declarations and threatened to cast out any who should profane the Lord’s day by going.

“Then the lady baseball players set out for Providence in quest of his excellency. A sinister light shone in the eyes of each. A friend telephoned to the governor of the pending peril, and when the Amazons reached the state house Gov. Garvin was gone, leaving them to wrestle with his secretary, a newspaper man, better able to cope with such a danger.” – Boston Sunday Globe, July 5, 1903:90.

*****

BASEBALLISTS SAY THAT ONLY ROOTERS PARTICIPATED IN ROSLINDALE RIOT

“The four Roslindale policemen who were set upon during the riot of baseball rooters Saturday night declared that it was the toughest experience they ever had in their own town. It developed yesterday that several girls were mixed up in the trouble.

“Results of the game between the All Saints’ team of Roxbury and the Somersets of Roslindale, which was the deciding game in the Interclub Baseball League championship series, caused the riot.

“The riot was brought about by the attempts of 300 Roxbury rooters to rescue from the police one of their number who was charged with the larceny of a Somerset club banner. In the row bricks, stones, baseball bats and fists were freely used and much blood flowed.

“The young man arrested gave his name as John Ryan of 5 Batchelder terrace, Roxbury. He was taken to the Jamaica Plain police station and he was later bailed out by his friends.

“The game at Pearce Field playground was won by the All Saints’ nine by a score of 12 to 8, and with the victory went the championship for the league, a cup, pennant and cash prize. All through the game bad blood was in evidence between the rival rooters. The Somerset supporters all wore the club colors, orange and blue, which proved a thorn in the side of the Roxbury crowd.

“I never saw such rude men in my life,” said Miss Lulu Galle of Brook street, Roslindale, one of the fair Somerset supporters. “When a Roxbury fellow tried to steal my colors I struck him in the face with my cane. Then he hit me with his fist.”

“Out on the first base line the Somerset club displayed a large banner bearing an orange and blue S. At the end of the game John Ryan is said to have seized this emblem and hidden it under his coat,

“At the depot, where the Roxbury crowd went to take the 6:26 train for home, George Brown of Roslindale demanded the banner, Ryan refused to give it up and then the trouble began.

“A free fight was in progress when Patrolman Gemmel appeared on the scene. Soon Patrolmen Ryan, Noonan and Dawson came to his aid and together the four arrested Ryan, who refused to give up the banner, and started away with him.

“The trip to the police station was a continuous struggle, Ryan’s 300 friends doing their upmost to rescue him. The police narrowly escaped serious injury from bats and other weapons. At last, after a liberal use of their clubs, they succeeded in getting their prisoner into a cell.

“Never, in all the time I have been on the force, have I had a harder struggle than that, said Officer Ryan to a Post reporter yesterday.

“Just before the trouble at the depot there was a lively feminine scrimmage on Robert street, near the railroad bridge. Some Roxbury maidens robbed several Roslindale girls of their colors, but the latter stood their ground bravely and gave battle. When the fair contestants were separated by male friends they were much the worse for wear.

“James W. Gibbons, manager of the All Saints’ team, and Oscar W. Johnson, manager of the Roslindale team, say that none of the players took part in the fighting and that the trouble was due wholly to rooters.

“The Roslindale police think they know the man under arrest, and say that he has been in trouble before.” – Boston Post, July 7, 1902:3.

*****

CUB RIOT QUELLED BY POLICE

“Brooklyn, July 8, 1907 — During today’s Brooklyn-Chicago Cubs game Police Captain Maude and 30 men were rushed to the bleachers to quell a riot, started by the throwing of mineral water bottles.

“Manager Chance of the Cubs, who was playing at first, picked up one that had been thrown on the diamond and hurled it back into the bleachers, hitting a boy in the leg.

“Immediately there was a uproar, and it was necessary to call the police before the game could be resumed.” – Boston Post, July 9, 1907:8.

Boston Post, August 7, 1897:1.

Boston Post, August 7, 1897:1.

*****

Random Sports Item

“The place for the girls need not necessarily be “in the home,” but it’s certainly not up at the Arena playing hockey. – “Live Tips and Topics, By “Sportsman.” – Boston Evening Globe, February 1, 1921:12.

*****

Another Random Social Item from a Century Ago

BROWN MEN OUT TO REFORM “MORALS OF YOUNGER SET” – “Petting Parties,” “The Toddle” and “Similar Extreme Dances” Are Under Ban

“Providence, R.I. – By inaugurating a reform of the manners and morals of the younger set, leading representatives of the undergraduate body of Brown University have afforded this city a subject for more debate than anything that has happened since Samuel P. Colt ran for the United States Senate. Manners and morals, especially morals, are the general objective of the movement. Among the specific reforms aimed at are abolition of:

The bare knee kiss.

Petting parties.

The toddle and “similar extreme dances.”

Parties continued until after breakfast time.

“Already something has been achieved by the denunciation by the Mothers’ Club of dances for children of 16 years and younger which last later than 11 o’clock. The next step is setting a 2 o’clock limit for college dances, whether “proms” or in fraternity houses. If this rule is not adopted by the student body the fraternity alumni are expected to take prompt action.

“A state of affairs declared to exist in practically every college town and every city of any size in the country was dragged into the light of day by the Brown Daily Herald in an editorial: “Quite a distance this side of Paradise,” which declares:

“The modern age of girls and young men is intensely immoral, and immoral seemingly without the pressure of circumstances. At whose door we may lay the fault we cannot tell. Is it the result of what we call “the emancipation of woman, with its concomitant freedom from chaperonage, increased intimacy between the sexes in adolescence, and a more tolerable viewpoint toward all things unclean in life? This seems the only logical forbear of the present state. And are the girls causing it now, or the men? Each sex will lay the blame on the other, and perhaps both sexes are equally at fault.” – Boston Evening Globe, January 31, 1921:14.

*****

Happy Birthdays

  • Josh Reddick, born 1987, right fielder, with Boston 2009-11
  • Juan Diaz, born 1974, pinch hitter and first baseman with Boston 2002 (4 games)
  • Bob Sadowski, born 1938, pitcher, with Boston 1966 (11 games)
  • Russ Nixon, born 1935, catcher, pinch hitter, with Boston 1960-65 & 1968
  • Welden Wyckoff, born 1891, pitcher, with Boston 1916-18
  • John Morrill, born (Boston) 1855, infielder, with Boston 1876-1888, & 1890(PL)

Reporting from the Mudville Bureau of the Boston Chapter – if anyone can enlighten us as to what “the bare knee kiss” is, please let us all know. Also, the Boston Chapter will hold a Zoom meeting on March 23 with Rico Petrocelli. Don’t miss it!

— Joanne Hulbert

 


FEBRUARY 12, 2021 — WINTER JOYS. Old winter has its calm delights which I enjoy on stormy nights. It’s nice to sit beside the fire and read a book or twang a lyre, and listen to the tempest rave, and wonder why it won’t behave. It’s nice to have the neighbors call, and line them up against the wall and tell them chestnuts old and sere until they groan and disappear. And now and then, with some good soul, I play a game of crokinole, or other thrilling games like that; I feed rat poison to the cat, slide down the railing of the stairs, and break the rockers off the chairs, and try a hundred kinds of play to pass the winter hours away. And all the time I’m yearning sore to see the winter season o’er, to seek again the baseball ground, and fill the air with joyous sound; to see the stately umpire ump, to watch the players on the jump. These winter joys are stale and tame; I long to see the good old game, to hear the rooter’s strident call, to watch the batsman swat the ball, to help to get the umpire’s goat, and yell until I bust my throat. Oh, winter, chase yourself away, and let the boys get out and play!” — Walt Mason, The Patriot, (Harrisburg, PA), pg. 8, February 10, 1911.

Walt Mason was a Canadian-American humorist and poet famous for his “Rippling Rhymes,” a syndicated column, one of the most widely read newspaper columns of the era. He wrote about many subjects – patriotic, social ills, romance, but he often turned to baseball, one of his favorite topics. His columns were set as prose, but were actually poems. He once stated that the reason for that format was to get it by his editor who despised “newspaper poetry.”  His “prose-poems” are still available, thanks to the internet. Several of his books can be found – and read- on Google Books. The topics are sometimes vintage early 20th century themes – and often timeless, and they are fun to read.

Crokinole – a board game of Canadian origin similar in various ways to pitchnut, carom, marbles, shove ha-penny, with elements of shuffleboard and curling reduced to table-top size. The World Crokinole Championship tournament has been held annually since 1999 on the first Saturday of  June in Tavistock, Ontario, chosen as the host city because it was the home of Eckhardt Wettlaufer, the maker in 1876 of the earliest known board.

The February 14, 2021 edition of the Boston Sunday Globe – pages C1-C9 – offered thoughts and opinions by Dan Shaughnessy about the “pick-up pieces while wondering who’ll be the next Boston athlete to leave town . . . . Dan was speaking about Andrew Benintendi who joined the conga line of players slipping away from Fenway Park “that has sucked almost all the blood and color from the Boston baseball franchise. Benintendi joined Mookie Betts, David Price, Brock Holt, Mitch Moreland, Brandon Workman and ominously, Dan added Jackie Bradley, Jr. Dan said, “there are times when It seems as if the Red Sox front office is trying to turn fans against the hometown team. I can’t remember anything like it. But there has been something like it…”

*****

DAMN YANKEES!
WALLIE IS CLEVER

“When the time came for Ed Barrows’ team to hit the Southern trail last March Schang announced that he had retired from baseball. And although he was tied up to the Boston team by a three-year contract at a generous salary Wallie gave it out that he intended to follow the business of aviating. Ostensibly he was the proprietor of a flourishing hangar in Philadelphia.

“It took him fully a couple of months, and it required a number of conferences between him and the Red Sox officials to convince Schang that there wasn’t so much money in the aviation line after all. Ultimately he came back to the Boston club at an increased salary. And he finished out a very indifferent season.

“The other day, however, he paid a visit to New York, and calling at the Yankee offices desired to make it plain that he was delighted to be with the New York club, and fairly wild to start South for spring training. He also added that he  was not keen about the baths at Hot Springs, and assured Manager Huggins that he could get into shape without taking any unnecessary time.

“All of which goes to prove that Wallie, like many another player on both Boston teams, has been decoyed from the Hub largely by New York propaganda, and that too much “inside baseball,” always in the past a real menace to the harmony of winning clubs, has been especially active in his case. It was outside influences that first started to work on [Carl] Mays, and made him dissatisfied here. The same sort of propaganda paved the way for the passing of big Babe Ruth. It is not hard to conceive that  the same relentless purpose hurried along the departure of Schang for undoubtedly Carl Mays worked to this end a good part of last season. And there remains but little doubt that in the case of Walter Maranville the lure of the big city and the working of active New York agents went far towards making him eager to  get away from the Hub.

“For the past two decades the money offered by New York, and the desire to pose in the limelight there, has raised havoc with all other clubs. Mattern, Barnes, Nehf, Lewis, Leonard, Ruth, Mays, Schang, Hoyt and Harper are among those players of the past decade who have been grabbed off from Hub teams and added to teams that were constantly recruiting from the strongest rival outfits. It will be a happy day for baseball if Judge Landis or somebody else can enact a piece of baseball legislation that will prevent such continuous transfer of star players to teams already stronger than their strongest rivals.” — Paul Shannon, Boston Post, February 11, 1921:32.

*****

“Burlington, Vermont, September 16, 1905 – Mr. and Mrs. F.D. Willis of this city announce the engagement of their oldest daughter, Miss Mabel May Willis, to George Winter of New Providence, Penn., one of the star pitchers on the Boston American baseball team, The wedding date at present not being fixed.

“The engagement ends a romance that began in the City Hospital at Boston three years ago. Miss Willis entered the hospital in 1902 to study for a trained nurse. Winter became a patient at the hospital, suffering from typhoid fever. Miss Willis was assigned the task of nursing him and attended faithfully to her duties for 10 long months. The ball player’s condition became low several times, but the hard and persistent care and work of his faithful nurse he in the end brought him out of his fever. Then he concluded he would need his faithful nurse always.

“The engagement was first announced at a dinner party given by Charles Ellis of Boston, at his summer home at Winthrop beach.

“Miss Willis received her education in this city, being a graduate of the high school and the University of Vermont. Her father is superintendent of the Yale Cigar Clock company in this city.” — Boston Sunday Globe, September 17, 1905:68.

*****

THE PITCHER

“I’d like to be a Pitcher, and on the  Diamond stand, a cap upon my forehead, a Ball within my Hand. Before Applauding Thousands, I’d throw the Curving Sphere, and From the eyes of Batsmen, bring forth the Briny Tear. I’d make my Occupation a thing of Pomp and Dread, I’d tie Myself in Bow-Knots, and stand upon my Head; a string of wild Contortions would mark my Every Throw, and all the Fans would Murmur: “Oh, Girls, ain’t he a Jo?” And when I left the Diamond, on Rest or Pleasure bent, the Kids would trail behind me, and Worship as they went; and all the Sporty Grownups would say: ”He’s Warm Enough!” and fair and Cultured Ladies would cry: “He is the Stuff!” I’d like to be a Pitcher, while I Remain Below; by day to Gather Garlands, by night to Count the Dough.” – Walt Mason, Walt Mason, His Book. 1916.

To be fair, Walt Mason wrote occasionally about other sports.

FOOTBALL

“The game was ended, and the noise, at last had died away, and now they gathered up the boys where they in pieces lay. And one was hammered in the ground by many a jolt and jar; some fragments never have been found, they flew away so far. The found a stack of tawny hair, some fourteen cubits high; it was the half-back, lying there, where he had crawled to die. They placed the pieces on a door, and from the crimson field, that hero then they gently bore,  like soldier on his shield. The surgeon toiled the livelong night above the gory wreck; he got the ribs adjusted right, the wishbone and the neck. He soldered on the ears and toes, and got the spine in place, and fixed a gutta-percha  nose upon the mangled face. And then he washed his hands and said: “I’m glad that task is done!”  The half-back raised his fractured head, and cried: “I call this fun!” — Walt Mason, Walt Mason, His Book. 1916.

*****

Happy Birthdays

  • Adam Stern, born 1980, outfielder, pinch runner, with Boston 2005-06
  • Brian Denman, born 1956, pitcher, with Boston 1982 (9 games)
  • Dom DiMaggio, born 1917, center fielder, with Boston 1940-1953 ((3 years military service 1943-45)
  • George Cochran, born 1889, with Boston 1918, third baseman, shortstop

Reporting from the Mudville Bureau of the Boston Chapter, I’ll continue to play catch up on the February dispatches. Stay tuned.

— Joanne Hulbert

 


FEBRUARY 5, 2021 — We cannot exit February without  tributes to ”The Silver King” and to Nuf Ced McGreevy, mournful, quiet remembrances of  two great Boston baseball legends.

Tim Murnane (NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME LIBRARY)The headline would be considered rather stark and abrupt by today’s editorial standards:

“TIM MURNANE DROPS DEAD.
Was Noted as a Professional Player and Baseball Writer”

That headline was published in newspapers throughout America. At least, the Boston Globe added a slight touch of finesse:

“Murnane Drops Dead in Theatre”

The shocking news of Murnane’s demise was above the fold on the February 8, 1917 edition of the Boston Globe – as it should have been.

“Timothy H. Murnane, baseball editor of the Globe for 30 years, died very suddenly at 8 o’clock the evening before as he was entering the Shubert Theatre. He had been at his office until after 7 pm. Then he ate a hasty dinner and hurried off to join Mrs. Murnane. He had seemed perfectly well, and had stopped to talk with ”an unusual number of men, both in the office and on his way to the theatre.” He met Mrs. Murnane at the Boylston Street entrance to the subway (take note, Bostonians, next time you pass by the Boylston Street station – a tip of the hat and nod of acknowledgement will suffice) and together they walked to the Shubert Theatre. Once inside, Mrs. Murnane descended the stairs to the ladies’ room to check her coat, leaving her husband at the checking window in the foyer. She was gone less than three minutes and as she came up the stairs she saw a little crowd around a man lying on the floor of the ladies’ room. Three physicians happened to be at the theatre and were summoned along with a priest who came from the German church nearby. Dr. Leary, medical examiner, was also summoned and declared Mr. Murnane dead. Tim’s body was then taken to his home at 12 Manchester Road, Brookline.

“Thus went away the “sunniest man in all the newspaper world, and one of the best-known writers of sporting news in the country.” – Boston Daily Globe, February 8, 1917:1,7.

*****

Tributes to Tim Murnane filled the Boston newspapers for several days. The story of his life can fill a book. From small-town kid from Naugatuck, CT, to baseball player, to writer for the Globe where his columns contained the requisite reportage of sports of all kinds, but he also tossed in some fiction, and perhaps, one of those pseudonyms under some of the poetry just might have been his, too. He was sort of a renaissance man. He had other interests, such as, he was an inventor – with two baseball-related patents to his name.

Francis Eaton, sporting editor of the Boston Journal paid tribute to Tim Murnane – “Tim was always a beautiful figure to me, and in the 10 years that I knew him well he never spoiled the picture by any discourteous or ungraceful word or action. He was always sunny and urbane, and surely this was the outward expression of innate kindliness and a generous attitude toward his fellows. His appearance was impressive, and could be imperial. To the younger writers he seemed to represent the historical background of baseball, the personification of the professional sport, and we knew him for past master both in knowledge of the game and in ability as a writer.” – Boston Daily Globe, February 8, 1917:7.

Six children by two wives survived him, including four children between the ages of 7 and 18. A charity game for the benefit of his family was held at Fenway Park on September 27, 1917. The two teams, the Red Sox  and  the “All-Stars” included current players as well as a few who joined in for the honor to participate: Walter Johnson shared pitching with Howard Ehmke and Urban Shocker. Ty Cobb was there too. John L. Sullivan occupied the coaching line. Will Rogers rode around Fenway Park on his horse swinging his lasso attempting to rope in the teams in one swoop much to the delight of the 17,000 people in attendance. An initial report the day after the game reported $13,000 had been received with more expected to arrive from all parts of the baseball and sporting worlds.

Boston Daily Globe, September 28, 1917:7.

Boston Daily Globe, September 28, 1917:7.

*****

For an excellent biography about Tim Murnane, you can look it up on SABR BioProject. Charlie Bevis has written a great portrait of one of baseball’s greatest combination of player, writer, truly an all-round renaissance man.

*****

Nuf Ced McGreevy (BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY)“Michael (Nuf Ced) McGreevy, originator of the Boston Royal Rooters, died in Boston last week [February 2, 1943]. He hit the front pages as far back as 1897, when he led the Boston delegation of rooters to Baltimore for the Temple Cup batting. Seventy-seven years old, McGreevy had been confined to his home by failing health for the past four years.

“Beginning with that invasion of Baltimore, McGreevy had been active as a fan in Boston, at the old Walpole Street grounds, Braves Field and Fenway Park, where he was well known to the players. He was a leading figure when the Red sox played Pittsburgh in the 1903 World’s Series; in the Giants-Red Sox Series, 1912, and the Braves memorable victory of the Athletics in 1914. He also led the big cheering section from the Hub when the Red Sox met the Phils in 1915 and took on the Dodgers the following year. In 1918, McGreevy made the song “Tessie” famous when the Red Sox and Cubs played in the World’s Series.” — The Sporting News, February 11, 1943:1-6.

*****

BASEBALL AS IMPORTANT AS THE SUN

“People’s Editor:

“Last week we laid to rest one of the greatest baseball enthusiasts old Boston ever knew, “Nuf Ced” McGreevy.

“His love of baseball was to him life itself, and in this present baseball crisis, his voice, if he could speak, would be the first to challenge the words of Judge Landis, “let the issue be put to the fans, and the soldiers. We want to satisfy them all. Let them speak or else.”

“Baseball to the American boys is what the sun is to the earth – indispensible. Every soldier is a baseball fan, and every baseball fan is a soldier, when it comes to fighting for a game that will never die while both live.” — John J. Driscoll, Dorchester – Boston Traveler, February 16, 1943:26.

Peter Nash has written a great biography of Nuf Ced for the SABR BioProject.  I direct you there to read all the pertinent information therein, as there is very little mention of Nuf Ced beyond the Royal Rooter years with just a scant mention in 1943 of his passing, but Peter Nash has corrected for that omission.

*****

Happy Birthdays:

  • Devern Hansack, born 1978, pitcher, with Boston, 2006-08, 9 games
  • Vic Correll, born 1946, catcher, 1972 – G1, PA4, AB4, R1, H2, RBI1, SO1
  • Lee Thomas, born 1936, right fielder, first baseman, 1964-65
  • Al Worthington, born 1929, pitcher, with Boston 1960 – 6 games
  • Jack O’Brien, born 1873, outfielder, third baseman,  with Boston 1903
  • And we will not forget: Henry Aaron, born February 5, 1934.

Reporting from the Mudville Bureau of the Boston Chapter with slightly shorter Dispatches this month due to “unforeseen circumstances” where a big part of the month escaped me, I endeavor to make up for lost time.

— Joanne Hulbert

 


JANUARY 29, 2021 — Henry Aaron almost played for the Boston Braves. He signed with the Boston Braves in 1952 and was sent to play in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, in the Class C Northern League. The Braves moved to Milwaukee for the 1953 season. Aaron appeared in his first game in Boston on April 8, 1975, when he was with the Milwaukee Brewers near the end of his career. Boston baseball missed out on many African-American players, their own fault most of the time. Rest in Peace, Henry, you are the greatest.

Latest news about the Triple-A Worcester Red Sox reports that although there is no schedule yet, there is a ballpark there. The field is down at Polar Park, and the light standards and the seats have been installed. The expectation is everything will be ready for Opening Day – whenever that will be – to welcome a sold-out crowd of 10,000 fans.

*****

“While some players carry on for years, others face retirement head-on. Boston fans remember Jeff Tesreau, that New York Giant on the mound during the 1912 World Series. He was a highly valued player with the Giants, but a salary dispute ended his relationship with the team, vowing he would rather quit than accept the final salary offer from the Giants.

 “And do what?” John J. McGraw cracked at him in scorn.

 “Well, I gotta chance to coach a college team,” Tesreau reported, “at a place called Dartmouth.”

 “You won’t last a month,” McGraw snorted.

“Jeff Tesreau lasted 26 years, and then only the Lord called that particular game.” — Boston Herald, September 26, 1946:10.

*****         

“Jeff Tesreau has made a hit at Dartmouth as a baseball coach. A professional ball player starting to coach a college team has many angles to learn. Occasionally the coach will be successful in one year, and through efficiency, material and good fortune, but as a rule it takes time to shift the professional’s point of view to college standards. Tesreau already has show enough to indicate that he eventually will have a string of winning nines up at Hanover.” – Boston Evening Globe, January 29, 1921:7.

Jeff Tesreau spent the last 26 years of his life in Hanover, New Hampshire. He died there on September 24, 1946. Check out the SABR BioProject article about Jeff Tesreau by R. J. Lesch.

*****

TWO MORE STATES START IN TO GET GAME FIXERS

“St. Paul, Minn. – A bill to make it a felony to bet on the outcome of a baseball game and another measure making it a felony to give or offer a baseball player anything except his salary to win or lose a game were offered in the Minnesota House today and referred to a committee.

“Harrisburg, PA – A bill designed to make it unlawful to accept or offer inducements to procure a defeat in any athletic contest was before the Legislature today. The penalty is fixed at $10,000 and imprisonment of not loess than one year or more than five years.” – Boston Evening Globe, February 8, 1921:13.

 

Boston Daily Globe, January 12, 1921:9.

Boston Daily Globe, January 12, 1921:9.

 

Could this be in response to all that stuff going on in Chicago about those baseball players and Judge Landis? Does the Massachusetts Great and General Court desire to be pro-active? Will umpires need to pass the Massachusetts State Bar exam in order to work behind the plate?

*****

Boston Sunday Globe, January 30, 1921:116.

Boston Sunday Globe, January 30, 1921:116.

*****

Another baseball icon joined the ranks of the college coaches. Tommy McCarthy, the “Heavenly Twin” became the Boston College baseball coach in 1921. McCarthy, born in South Boston in 1863, was brought up in a city deeply entrenched with baseball fever. He learned from sandlot games to watching Tim Murnane. After sharpening his skills on teams supported by his employment in the clothing manufacturing and piano “finisher,” he teamed up with Hugh Duffy, and their joint venture with the Beaneaters. A partnership, and popularity as “phenoms” according to the Boston press, settled their fame for posterity. Hugh Duffy would also take up coaching after his career. In 1920, he coached the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League and, he became the manager of the Boston Red Sox in 1921.

Other baseball players became coaches. Like Bill Stewart, in 1920, who took on the Boston University baseball coaching, and in 1923, Smoky Joe Wood went to Yale. Jesse Burkett coached at Holy Cross. Ira Thomas found a coaching job at Williams College. In 1921 he returned there after a year absence granted that he used to develop his oil property in Louisiana. The year 1921 would complete his five year contract with the college. Even the lure of oil couldn’t keep the retired Athletic catcher from his tie to baseball. Many former players managed or coached minor league teams, extending their connection with baseball, sometimes, for some, it was the only marketable skill they possessed.

*****

THE BALL GAMERS DON’T GO IN VAUDEVILLE ANY MORE, AND THAT HELPS!

“One of the biggest improvements of baseball is that the boys don’t go into vaudeville now. The modern ball gamers are so busy holding out in the winter, they’ve got no time for the two-a-day. A variety fan with a yearning to see a ball player act has to wait for the season to open. Then Nick Altrock steps out and the laughs begin to pile up. Nick is the star of the Washington team. He keeps his club next-to-closing on the second division bill.

“McGraw was an actor once – and he’s got suspension cards from an actor’s club to prove it. Mac went over the big tent circuit telling how the Giants won the flag. That was one of the years they did. He copped $3000 a week for his monologue in that pennant-winning year. The darby was divided in just one way, and went to the manager of the Giants. But that was some time ago Mac no longer pals round with actors.

“George Stallings also spoke a piece in vaudeville. That was in 1914 when George recited how the Braves snatched the banner. He was never booked in that act again. Hughie Jennings headlined one consecutive season as the Auburn Thrush of Scranton, Penn. The vaude fans liked Hughie so much, he practiced law in the following season.

“Maranville also peddled solos in front of the spotlight a couple of seasons back. The Rabbit was not an animal act. He got his bookings on his merit. But B.F. Keith never offered Tanguay, Caruso or Friganza in exchange for the Springfield kid. There were many other baseballers in vaudeville, but they never lasted long. It was too much to play double-headers every day and split weeks every week.” — Neal R. O’Hara, Boston Post, February 2, 1921:15.

*****

In 1921, the Boston sportswriters – and fans – had not lost interest in news about what Babe Ruth was up to one year after his exit to New York:

“Babe” Ruth looks like a gladiator in that basket-ball makeup. He must be a rough customer on the floor and if he takes the chances he does in baseball, the Yankee ball club owners must be glad that George intends to come up to South Sudbury soon for a fling at pickerel fishing.” — Boston Evening Globe, January 5, 1921:9

*****

GUNMEN BEWARE! BABE RUTH TOTES GAT

“New York – Babe Ruth, well known Yankee base-cleaner has been tendered full privileges and the withal for bandit swatting. The “Bambino” Wednesday sought and procured without the usual red tape, a permit to tote a gun. Officials thought he’d probably be able to do more damage if he carried a bat around but hoped he’d be as effective against any stray bandits as he is against pitched ball that stray near the home base.” – Boston Post, January 6, 1921:15.

*****

MEMORIAL FOR RUTH PROPOSED
Cardinal Gibbons refuses to Accept Honor

“New York – Cardinal Gibbons has proposed a memorial to “Babe” Ruth, champion home-run hitter, instead of accepting a similar honor himself.  In a letter from his sick bed in Baltimore, read today at a meeting of the supreme board of directors of the Knights of Columbus, the cardinal urged that St. Mark’s Industrial School of Baltimore, which Ruth once attended and which recently was destroyed by fire, be replaced by the Ruth School for Dependent and Wayward Boys. Brother Paul, head of the institution, informed the directors that the citizens of Baltimore had proposed to erect a new cathedral in honor of the cardinal, but that he suggested their efforts be diverted to rebuilding the school.” – Boston Post, January 10, 1921:12.

*****

Another Babe?

DETROIT SIGNS CRUMPLER, A “BABE RUTH” COMBINATION

“San Francisco –  Pitcher Crumpler, a left-hander, has been obtained from the Detroit Americans for the San Francisco Club of the Pacific Coast League, it was announced today. Crumpler, according to Ty Cobb, has the reputation of being a second Babe Ruth when it comes to hitting.” – Boston Daily Globe, January 6, 1921:2.

(Roy Crumpler- pitcher, Detroit, 1920, 2 games, one win; Philadelphia Phillies 1925,3 games, no wins. I guess you could say, his pitching career crumpled.)

*****

Boston Herald, January 30, 1921:32.

“The Original “Babe” and Grand Old Man of Baseball”
Boston Herald, January 30, 1921:32.

 

After their lives, long or short, on the ball field, many ballplayers moved on to invent themselves anew. While many players extended their commitment to baseball by taking on coaching jobs at colleges, others chose different paths. Adrian Anson chose vaudeville. He appeared on stage and on screen, and in his later years his daughters  joined him in an act that also included firing off paper-mache baseballs made by the Spalding Sporting Goods Company into the cheering audience. The appearances in 1921 were his farewell tour. He died on April 14, 1922.

*****

BASEBALL IN JANUARY

Trot out your creepy scandals,
Your disquieting reports,
Your mucking accusations,
And your peppery retorts;
Stir up your sleepy magnates
And set them by the ears,
Take a sortie into fandom
And provoke its hopes and fears.

Take a little bit of gossip,
Multiply it sevenfold –
The bugs wax apathetic,
Their attention you must hold.
Haven’t anything to give them?
Well, then, give them what you’ve got.
They won’t question what is in it
If you serve it good and hot.

Any little fleeting fancy
Will be good enough to try;
It doesn’t have to flourish
Till the ink on it is dry.
Any little thing in baseball,
Be it genuine or queer,
Serves the January purpose,
For the silly season’s here.

— Hugh E. Keough, Chicago Daily Tribune, January 25, 1911.

*****

Random Baseball Item

“TEXAS “BUSHER,” NIXON, IS A BRAVES HOLDOUT — Beaumont, Texas – Al Nixon, outfielder, sold last Fall by the Beaumont, Texas League Club to the Boston Nationals, said today he was dissatisfied with the salary offered him by the  Braves and had returned his contract unsigned.” – Boston Evening Globe, February 5, 1921:7.

He eventually signed. Al “Humpty Dumpty” Nixon wore a Boston Brave uniform for three years.  At spring training in Galveston, Texas, he “looked like a real ball player, is 27 years of age, and a powerfully built fellow, has had all sorts of experience. Al is a left-handed fielder, but swings from the right side. He reminds one a great deal of Ping Bodie at the plate, but in the field is much smarter and faster.” — Boston Sunday Post, March 16, 1921:15.

*****

Another Random Baseball Item

“YANKEES’ STADIUM WILL HOLD 80,000 – Plant to Cost $2,500,000, to Be Ready in 1923 – The New York club of the American League will have its own home in 1923 on Manhattan Island in a steel and cement stadium to accommodate 80,000 persons, it is stated in plans of a construction company disclosed today. The field is located between 136th and 137th streets, east of Broadway. The Yankees have held an option on the property more than a year,  but the transaction was delayed pending the finding of new quarters by the Hebrew Orphan Asylum now located there. It is expected the deal will be closed next week. The entire cost of the project is estimated at $2,500,000. The report of the company says that if work is begun next June, the new field will be ready in April 1923.” — Boston Sunday Globe, January 30, 1921:32.

*****

More Random Baseball Items

“BABE RUTH STRIKES OUT IN FILM SUIT – Albany, NY – “Babe” Ruth today lost his suit to restrain a film corporation from showing pictures of him in action. The Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal from a decision of the appellate division, which held that the exhibition of these films did not inflict any personal injury or damages upon him.” – Boston Post, February 2, 1921:15.

*****

Happy Birthdays

  • Morgan Burkhart, born 1972, DH, first baseman, with Boston 2000-01
  • Dick Mills, born in Boston 1945, pitcher, with Boston 1970, two games (career)
  • Bobby Bolin, born 1939, pitcher, with Boston 1970-73
  • Mose Eggert, born 1902, PH, second baseman, with Boston 1927, 5 games (career)
  • Esty Chaney, born 1891, pitcher, with Boston 1913, one game, and one game with Federal League, 1914 (career)

Follow up on the stories of Mose Eggert and Dick Mills by reading Bill Nowlin’s BioProject biographies, about the 5-game and the 2-game Red Sox players. As many well know, the “cup of coffee” players are often the most interesting.

Reporting from the Mudville Bureau of the Boston Chapter, beginning February 1, Fenway Park will serve as a mass vaccination site for eligible Massachusetts residents in priority groups under the operation of @CIC_Health. Full details: https://bit.ly/39g5sd5. That is good news from Fenway Park.

— Joanne Hulbert

 


Rabbit Maranville (LIBRARY OF CONGRESS)

JANUARY 22, 2021 — January 1921 marked the one-year anniversary of Babe Ruth’s trade to the Yankees. One year after, the fans and the press had not forgotten and their wounded hearts had not healed. On January 23, 1921, the Boston Sunday Post published an interview with Rabbit Maranville. They caught up with him as he was about to appear in his other “off-season pursuit,” a basketball game, with his Springfield quintet against the State Legion stars at the East Armory on East Newton Street in Boston. The Rabbit was hopping mad. He was caught up in the panic and frenzy that had been building for several years, culminating in the loss of Babe Ruth as well as several other baseball stars, and the fans were thinking, “not another one gone!?!”

Maranville said he was “sick and tired of the yarns telling of his anxiety to get away from the Braves and of his desires to become a New York Giant, and he wanted to tell his side of the story. Rumors had been circulating that he would welcome a change in uniform, but Maranville himself had not expressed his opinions about his fate. He was bothered by the stories being spread about his being traded “to almost every club in the senior major circuit of baseball.” He informed the Post reporter he would have his side of the story tomorrow.

But the interview didn’t happen. The baseball trade news beat him to it. The Boston Post explained to the disgruntled fans how the management needed a way to dig the Braves out of the second division and build up a team that could once again be a pennant contender. Maranville, “the kingpin of the Braves,” became expendable. Now, the fans knew how the Red Sox fans felt one year ago.

Tomorrow came, and the lead story on page one of the Boston Daily Globe, January 24, 1921 announced that the “Rabbit”, star shortstop of the Boston Braves for eight years, was traded to the Pittburgh Pirates for Fred Nicholson, Billy Southworth and Walter Barbare. So, Maranville was being bounced out of Boston, losing a great infielder and a powerful drawing card, but was gaining – the Braves hoped – three fine players that would strengthen the team?

Perhaps, the trade might not be disagreeable to Maranville himself, although also perhaps, he might have been happier heading to New York. Also, perhaps, he could be, gossip speculated, more popular in Pittsburgh than in Boston. Braves manager Fred Mitchell said he was sorry to part with the Rabbit, and that “no one loves the “Rabbit” more” than he did. And yet, the Braves were in process of rebuilding the outfield, and it took selling Maranville to reach that goal.

Rabbit Maranville spent four years in Pittsburgh, a year with the Cubs, another year with Brooklyn and two years with the St. Louis Cardinals, before returning to Boston in 1929 until 1935, fittingly, his last stop around the ball parks. He found out he could come home again.

“Barney Dreyfuss will offer the Rabbit to Pittsburg fans as a pocket edition of Honus Wagner. Maranville has everything but the bow legs. So far as size goes, he will shape up with Honus like a vest pocket alongside a Kentucky hip pocket. But otherwise the kid is clever. Any kid is clever that can get himself traded from the Braves.” – Neal R. O’Hara, Boston Post, January 27, 1921:23.

*****

“Baseball Spies will Be as Popular as Prohibition Officers.”

Boston Post, January 23, 1921:44.

Boston Post, January 23, 1921:44.

*****

BOSTON LOSES PRESTIGE AS PRODUCER OF BALL PLAYERS

A baseball writer’s lament in print by Paul Shannon of the Boston Post expressed some of the frustration of fans who were watching many baseball players that they had been accustomed to rooting for were now leaving for greener pastures, or for the complaints  listed above in the headline on the Boston sporting page one hundred years ago. Shannon lamented:

“The sandlots of Greater Boston or the old rocky diamonds of New England are no longer the schools for future big league ball players. There was a time, even within the memory of the present generation of baseball fans, when old Massachusetts and the whole of New England was looked upon as the breeding ground of big league stars – when the very boys who played at scrub on Boston Common or on the South Boston flats where destined to make their mark in the big show. But that time is long since gone by.

“As the training field for major league stars the old Hub seems to have completely lost its prestige. New England contributes hardly more than one in ten of the players who make up the rank of the American and National leagues. When one considers that Greater Boston developed and furnished such great ball tossers as Tim Keefe, John Clarkson, John Morrill, Jimmie Manning, Tom McCarthy, Ed Crane, Mike Sullivan and Paul Radford; that stars like Tenney, Sexton, Tucker, Burkett and Hamilton all came from the old Bay State, and real headliners of the Hughie Duffy class were products of little Rhody, only an hour’s ride from the Hub, one cannot help but wonder why the supply, at least locally, has run short, and that the big leagues can no longer look to Boston and the surrounding country for promising recruits.

“At the present time Massachusetts has but few representatives in the big leagues. McInnis of the Red Sox, Perkins of the Athletics, Maranville and Ford of the Braves, Janvrin of the Cardinals and Shono Collins of the White Sox seem to be the only big leaguers from Massachusetts, although Eddie Ainsmith of the Tigers originally came from Cambridge. For years fans have been wondering over this unexplainable local decline.

“Some were inclined to ascribe this to the passing of the old New England league and the abolition of a circuit that annually sent a dozen or more to the big show. Others figured that scouts and managers preferred to pass up sand-lot prospects for the more highly cultured products of the colleges. A few of the wise ones were disposed to argue that the encouragement of Sunday and semi-pro baseball in the Middle West was partly responsible for New England’s passing as a ball players training ground. It remained for Hugh Duffy, the Red Sox manager, to explain just why the major league clubs are drawing their recruits from other spheres of activity.

 “It’s a question of the almighty dollar and the entrance of commercialism into the game that has kept good ball players from around these parts getting into the leagues and ultimately to the top ranks,” said the astute Hugh. “I believe that there are just as good players in and around Boston as ever wore a spiked shoe but they are not showing the same disposition today as in the past and they will no longer spend the time or exhibit the patience that they used to climb to the top.

 “Look at the situation right now. Here we are, getting ready to go away for the spring trip to the South, and while I have the usual number of regular players booked for the journey, there are just twice as many recruits who want to go South with me and show what they have got there. They don’t consider what a tremendous expense that means to a club and they don’t appreciate what a wonderful opportunity this tryout on a Southern training field means.

 “In the old days only a limited number of men were taken on the training trip and then we didn’t start until March was well underway. Here we are, with 50-odd men on the roster, and if I try to unload before the start and ship any of these youngsters to a minor league club the chances are they will refuse to play ball. That’s the keynote of the whole matter. The young ball player of today wants too much. He wants too much salary, too much of a tryout, and he isn’t willing to go through the same struggle that I and a bunch of other old-timers had to contend with. Years ago, when I broke into the game down at Valley Falls, R.I., I used to go to mass on Sunday morning with my uniform under my clothes, and in the afternoon we were glad to play ball for the fun of it. When we got a couple of dollars apiece it was a red letter day in our existence. It was hard sledding before I got to the Lowell club of the New England league. If you talk to a promising youngster now and suggest that he go to some minor league and show first, he gets up on his high horse. He won’t consider any league smaller than the American.” – Paul Shannon, Boston Sunday Post, January 23, 1921:44.

*****

Little did the sports writers and the fans of Boston, who had once become accustomed to winning world series games and been able to attract some of the best baseball talent in the country right from their own front yards and town commons, suspect in 1921 of the looming championship drought that would haunt Fenway Park and watch the Braves move to a greener pasture – in Milwaukee.

*****

Random Baseball Item

On the Braves-fueled Rocket to the Rookies, equipped with parachute and portable typewriter, is John Gillooly of the Daily Record sports staff, writing a sky diary of the 10,3000-mile [sic] trip to interview 18 prospects spread from San Juan to Spokane. Here’s [an excerpt from] the page marked Saturday, January 26:

“It’s a small world, and it didn’t take the Braves’ two-motor Rocket with a cruising speed of 240 mph to make it thus. In Weehawken you meet the high school coach, one of Jack Cusick’s mentors, who was born in Providence, played for the old Abbot Worsted nine and told of games with the Lynn Cornets and the checker Taxi of Boston. He’s Les Purvere and once he was up for a try with the Tigers and nearly got a face-full of spikes for hanging a jacket in Ty Cobb’s locker. Naturally he was startled by the attention the Braves are paying to their rookies.

“In Wilmington you bump into Bill “Yankee Doodle” Yancey of the old Philadelphia Colored Giants, discoverer of Bill “Streak” Bruton, who could remember a dozen old semi-pro stars, including the late Boots Hayes of Dorchester. And away off in Cuba up pops Tom Inglesby of Ware, Mass., where, when he tried out for the football team he was coached by Tom Dowd, Red Sox secretary. Inglesby is now administrative director for the American embassy at Havana. Furthermore, the ambassador, whom he was representing, is Willard Beaulac of Woonsocket, R.I.” — John Gillooly, Boston American, January 27, 1952:17.

*****

Boston Post, January 27, 1921:24.

Boston Post, January 27, 1921:24.

*****

Happy birthdays

  • Jimmy Anderson, born 1976, pitcher, with Boston 2004, 5 games
  • Ramon Aviles, born 1952, infielder, shortstop, with Boston 1977, one game, (died January 27, 2020, Manati, Puerto Rico)
  • Amos Strunk, born 1889, center fielder, with Boston 1918-19, 162 games
  • John O’Neill, born 1880, outfielder, with Boston 1904, 17 games

Reporting from the Mudville Bureau of the Boston Chapter – if you missed it, this past week the Boston Chapter held a Zoom meeting with Curt Smith, author of The Presidents and the Pastime. The video is available at YouTube or SABR’s virtual event archive page.

Joanne Hulbert


 JANUARY 15, 2021 — The baseball page of the Boston Globe’s Sunday edition of January 10 reminded readers of the Mookie Betts trade of one year ago.  Trading an iconic and much-loved Red Sox player upset many fans, reminding us once again of the often heartless aspect of the business of baseball. There have been other similar trades and fan upheaval in Boston’s baseball history. One writer, the Boston Herald’s Burt Whitman, expressed the same sentiment one hundred years ago.

*****

SALE OF BIG LEAGUERS SHOULD BE ELIMINATED ALONG WITH MOGUL GUSH

Babe Ruth (NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME LIBRARY)“The have put a muzzle on the baseball magnates, and now let us hope that they stop selling  big league players from one big league to another. Silly, almost childish, public quarrels among the magnates hurt public interest in baseball as much as, if not more than, the White Sox crookedness scandal. But this selling of stars from one team to another will kill the professional game as sure as shootin’, if allowed to continue.

SHAME TO HURT FAN PRIDE

“Take the case of Boston and Babe Ruth. He was the whole thing here in 1919. He was to Washington street and Greater Boston what he became to Broadway and Greater New York last year. Only with the difference that he was discovered here. He was sold to the Yankees by Frazee between seasons. It was a slap in the face of Boston fanatics and enthusiasts. It did not make so much difference if the Red Sox were knocked out of the first division. What did count was that this sale hurt their inmost feelings and cold blanketed their highest enthusiasms.

“After the Ruth sale nothing has much mattered in big league baseball to a lot of good fans in this city. The biggest asset in the pro game is confidence and enthusiasm and both these priceless things were shattered when Ruth was handed over to the Yanks.

“Boston is dying, so far as big league baseball enthusiasm and confidence are concerned. Of course, if a winning team should come along this year every thing would be forgiven and forgotten. That is the way of the world, particularly when it wants to be entertained and amused and thrilled. But at the present writing it does not look like a first division team for the Hub, let alone a pennant contender.

“Boston fans got the thumbs down through a sale – the Ruth sale. The same thing will happen in other cities if the rich New York clubs are allowed to buy players. If Hornsby goes from St. Louis or if Groh goes from Cincinnati the wail will be loud and long. It will die down after a time, but the enthusiasm and the confidence of the fans will be hurt sorely and big league ball will have received another black eye.” – Boston Herald, January 18, 1921:6.

*****

CHICK DAVIES GETS BIG LEAGUE SALARY WITHOUT GIVING UP HIS BUSINESS
By Burt Whitman

“Consider the case of Chick Davies of Peabody, all you baseball magnates. It is worth your attention and shows one of the things with which you must contend, probably more so in the coming season than every before. Lloyd G. Davies is a natural athlete and just as naturally a good hitter. He starred all over the place for Peabody High and was a chum of Stuffy McInnis. Naturally, then, he went to the old Athletics. He was primarily a pitcher, but was good for the outfield when he was not in the box. He was with the A’s six years ago when they were licked four straight in the world series by the Braves. He did not get a full share, only a fractional part.

BUSY SUMMER FOR CHICK

“He became a little disappointed and a trifle discouraged at the way he was going in the big league game. He could not get a big salary from the A’s.  And eventually he decided to get out of the grind of pro ball and did. He decided that he could pick up a good lot of money pitching semi-pro around eastern Massachusetts.

“He combined these semi-pro games with business. Right now it has taken the line of an elastic belt. He is doing well. But the particularly interesting part is the way he picked up so many semi-pro games of ball to pitch last simmer. He worked in 59 of them, and the chances are that he averaged at least $75 a game, which gives him a salary during the baseball season of $300.

“Pretty good business, this playing ball at odd times, usually Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, and piling up a total like that and yet keep busy with a regular business. It gives the baseball men something to think about. It shows just how sound the game of baseball is outside the big leagues and that the average good player is not absolutely compelled to hook up with an American or a National league team to make his salt and sugar.

“Many high-class, ambitious young men have this objection to big league ball. “After the brief time that I’m in it, I’ll come out without any business and have to start way down, at the bottom of the line.”

“Davies is an inspiration, then, to the independent young athlete of rare baseball attainments. And he gives the magnates something over which to think. Also, he gives the impression that the talk about the big leagues being a combination in restraint of trade, and that no player of real ability can make money unless he is in with the combine, is a lot of junk. And it is a sign that baseball really is the national game when a young man can go out, ignore the major and the strong minor leagues and do what Davies has done.” – Boston Herald, January 15, 1921:7.

*****

“Frank Burton “Burt” Whitman, sports editor of the Boston Herald for 31 years, died at St. Louis after suddenly stricken while in the press box during a Red Sox-Browns game. A former president of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, he collapsed during the 13th inning after complaining of a “terrible headache.” He was rushed to the hospital where he died of a cerebral hemorrhage at age 62. Respected by baseball writers and players as the Number One of Boston sports writers, Whitman’s accounts of Red Sox and Braves games had been sports masterpieces for years. His clear and concise reporting of the contests indicated a deep knowledge of the lives and habits of the players and of the whole history of the game.” — Boston Herald, May 9, 1949:1.

“We know that sports fans everywhere were shocked to learn of the untimely death of our Burt Whitman, who passed away early last night in St. Louis. Burt had been Sports Editor of The Herald since 1917 and during those 32 years won the admiration and respect of athletic notables, both great and small, throughout the nation. We feel fortunate that we were able to be associated with such a recognized sports authority and a grand gentleman for so many years and feel sure that the end came just as he would have wanted it – while watching his favorite sport – baseball.”  – Bob Dunbar, Boston Herald, May 9, 1949:10.

*****

TED CALLS HERALD TO EXPRESS REGRETS

“Ted Williams made a personal phone call from St. Louis to The Herald Sports Department last night to express his deepest regret over the sudden passing of Burt Whitman, the late Sports Editor of The Herald.

“The two had been close friends ever since the slugging Red Sox outfielder broke into the major leagues in 1938 and many times it was Whitman who took Williams aside and counseled him when things were not running too smoothly. Ted called the St. John’s Hospital in St. Louis when he learned that Whitman had been rushed there in an ambulance and then broke down and cried when he received the news that Burt had passed away.” –Boston Herald, May 9, 1949:10.

*****

Not So Random Baseball Cartoon

The Boston Herald commemorated the one year anniversary of Babe Ruth’s sale to the Yankees. The fans’ memories still ran deep.

Boston Herald, January 6, 1921:10.

Boston Herald, January 6, 1921:10.

*****

Random Sports Item

“The Longwood Cricket Club announced on January 18, 1921 that they would be moving their clubhouse to Hammond Street, Chestnut Hill.”

*****

RECIPE – Lost in Translation?

From Crowding the Plate, Favorite Recipes of the Boston Red Sox, 2001. Pedro Martinez submitted his recipe for Lemon Chicken With Rice (Arroz Con Pollo Lemon). There’s something lost in translation. In the English version it calls for “4 limes, juiced.” The Spanish version: “4 taza de juego de lemon.” It is up to you, the cook, apparently.

4 boneless chicken breasts
4 limes, juiced
1 whole garlic, mashed
¼ bottle soy sauce
½ tsp. oregano
1 cup oil
1 tsp. sugar
1 pound cooked white rice

Marinate chicken in lime juice for 15 minutes. Add oregano, soy sauce and garlic to chicken. In a frying pan heat oil and sugar until brown. Add chicken and cook for 20 minutes. Apply lime marinade gradually during cooking time to keep chicken moist. Serve over rice.

Spanish language lesson: Lemon = limon. Lime = lima.

*****

Happy birthdays

  • Wayne Gomes, born 1973, pitcher, with the Red Sox 2002, 20 games
  • Luis Alvarado, born 1949, shortstop, second & third baseman, with Boston 1968-70
  • Tom Oliver, born 1903, center fielder, with Boston 1930-1933

Reporting from the Mudville bureau of the Boston Chapter – the world of baseball has allowed an albeit small crack in the ceiling. New minor-league coach Bianca Smith is understandably, and deservedly, getting a lot of attention for becoming the first Black woman to land a coaching job with a big league organization. She will be based in Fort Myers, and will be working with position players. Great news! Congratulations, and we wish her the greatest success.

— Joanne Hulbert

 


JANUARY 8, 1921 — There’s always been a rivalry between Boston and New York. Competition between the two cities began before anyone took to ball parks to settle their perceived differences. Boston – the Hub of the Universe! Take that, New York! – considered itself superior intellectually, culturally, and nurtured an in-bred attitude of self-righteousness that irritated – and often amused – New Yorkers. Gotham! That den of iniquity where all things criminal and grimy festered! The stories about New York found in Boston papers glorified dark tales of  all sorts of sin and depravity and confirmed Bostonians of their superiority over the wickedness of New York. But it certainly did sell newspapers.

Baseball only added to the rivalry. When the Knickerbockers established the “New York Game” at Elysian Fields, Boston was playing by the Massachusetts Game rules on Boston Common. The dominance of Gotham’s game would deepened the divide, although there are a few vestiges of Boston’s game that survived. Overhand pitching and the high fly out were standard for Boston before New York’s modern game relinquished the one bound out.  Also, even local cuisine weighed in on the issue.

ONE CHOWDER DENOUNCED

“What passes for clam chowder in New York is not chowder. It is soup, and poor soup. It is soup without pride of race or strength. Usually it is watery, as if prepared originally as a swimming pool for living clams. Tomatoes you will always find therein. You cannot tell a New York clam chowder by the clams, but you can always identify it by the tomatoes. If you order clam chowder and get something that resembles a cross between tomato soup and chicken gumbo, say nothing that you will  be sorry for. Eat what you get, or not, as your hunger demands and your fastidiousness permits. You are face to face with that evil, misnamed concoction, a New York clam chowder. If you find a clam therein, or a section of a clam, let it alone. It is not the kind of clam which enters into the real clam chowder of these shores. It is large, tough and aged, chopped with a hatchet into little bits, and used sparingly, but not sparingly enough. The best way to eat a New York clam chowder is to throw it out of a window or send it back.” – Boston Journal, July 27, 1909.

New York was not going to remain silent. From time to time, just to keep Boston alert, they sent out a tease.

GOTHAM CHIDES HUB FOR LACK OF PRIDE

“In the Boston Post of Tuesday morning Paul H . Shannon, the baseball editor, wrote a story in which he commented on the way the New York teams were buying players right and left in order to land pennants.

GOTHAM’S POINT OF VIEW

“Here is the way Daniels in the New York Herald comments on this story:

“Up in Boston a baseball writer the other day came through with a blast to the effect that everything was not on the up and up in the major leagues – that the Yankees and the Giants were getting strangle holds on the pennants. The acquisition of Dugan would just about hand the flag to the Yankees, he averred. That may be true, and then again it may not. If the Yankees get Dugan they will have to give up some pretty able ball players. There will be nothing ever resembling a half guarantee that Dugan will continue to hit or that the Yankees will finish even as good as third again. Baseball is a peculiar game, and the best laid plans of men in it aft gang agley*. As for the Giants, how crooked are things when $250,000 will not buy them an infielder?

“Howsomever, it is decidedly mischievous to cast any aspersions at the grand old game, particularly at this time. If Boston does not like the way things are going with its major league clubs why does it not show some civic pride, and pride in its own teams, and see that they are owned in Boston? Why does it permit both the Braves and the Red Sox to be run from offices in New York?” — Boston Post, January 8, 1921:10.

*Language lesson: “aft gang agley.” Scottish : “often go wrong” – from the poem “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns, 1785.

*****

LAUNCH OUTLAW LEAGUE
Continental Baseball Organization Formed by Andy Lawson

“Yesterday a new baseball league was organized in Boston by George Herman Lawson of Boston, more familiarly known as “Andy” Lawson and organizer of the old United States league and various other leagues of years ago. The new league, which Mr. Lawson admits is an “outlaw organization,” will be known as the Continental Baseball league with offices at 27 School Street, Boston, Mass.

FIVE STATES NAMED

“At the first meeting held at the club’s headquarters yesterday it was reported that Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Indiana and possibly Ontario, and possibly other states, had given assurances that they would enter the new organization. Fred Lundy of Boston was given the Massachusetts franchise.

“President Lawson stated that there was no question about the success of the new baseball league. He also stated that he is contemplating the purchase of the Red Sox team of the American league, and in the event of Harry Frazee not wanting to sell the Red Sox the Continental Baseball league would organize an independent team. Already he has looked over suitable sites with the idea of constructing baseball parks, one of the sites being near the Elevated station at Forest Hills. It is also the intention of Mr. Lawson to secure the best available big league stars.

 “I am going to New York at once,” said Mr.  Lawson, “where I will be in conference with some of New York’s biggest theatrical men, who are interested in the new project.  It is also his plan to have as nearly as possible each state team composed of players from that state. Of course, he will not recognize the national agreement. The Continental baseball league was incorporated with $60,000, it was announced at the State House. The owners were given as Mr. Lawson, J.M. Barry and George M. Riley, all Boston men.  The next meeting of the league will be held at the Astor House in New York on January 21.” – Boston Post, January 5, 1921:27.

*****

Thomas Whelan, Boston Herald, January 8, 1921:6.Thomas Whelan: One game, one at bat, one strikeout, one walk, four putouts, on August 13, 1920:

“McQuillan fielded his position in grand style, making one phenomenal assist to third. Walter Holke contributed the glaring fielding gem when he raced over to the grand stand and grabbed Long Cy Williams’ foul with two Phils on the bases and two out Holke got a shaking up, bumping against the concrete base of the stand and gave way for the remainder of the first contest. His withdrawal made it possible for First Baseman Whalen (sic), a former Worcester Academy and Lynn athlete, to make his debut as a Brave. He handled himself well afield and although he fanned on his initial trip to bat he drew a pass in the eighth.” – Frank Gaffney, Boston Post, August 14, 1920:6.

WHALEN TO GET A REAL TRYOUT

“Johnny Evers promises to provide Tommy Whalen (sic) with a real tryout with the Cubs next Spring. He did not get much of a chance last season at Braves Field, but “Sportsman” recalls one day when he certainly looked mighty good.” – Boston Evening Globe, January 8, 1921:7.

*****

Boston Sunday Herald, January 3, 1915:32.

Boston Sunday Herald, January 3, 1915:32.

*****

Random Baseball Item

“No one regrets the passing of Dick Rudolph more than Fred Mitchell, manager of the Braves, who was the “right eye” in the glorious year of 1914. Speaking of Rudolph yesterday, Mitchell said: “Dick used to want to go home over week-ends and on one Thursday, after beating Cincinnati 4 to 2, he was refused by George Stallings. “If I beat them tomorrow, may I go home?” Dick asked, and on being given consent, he defeated the Reds 3 to 0, the next day, allowed them three hits and had his suit case all packed. He was a great pitcher.” – Bob Dunbar, Boston Herald, January 8, 1921:7.

Heavens, Bob! Upon reading the story, I checked out Dick Rudolph in Total Baseball, thinking, good grief! Rudolph had died, what with that “passing of Dick Rudolph” remark. But he had not. Although he did not play in 1921, he did return to the Braves from 1922 until 1927. Rudolph died on October 20, 1949.

*****

Another Random Baseball Item

“Gee, here’s Branch Rickey with an announcement that the St Louis Cardinals refused to allow Rogers Hornsby to go, even for $300,000 cash and four players besides. This is better press-agent stuff than two “Babe” Ruth sales.” — “Live Tips and Topics’” by “Sportsman,” Boston Evening Globe, January 8, 1921:7.

*****

Happy Birthdays

  • Geremi Gonzalez, born 1975, pitcher, with Boston 2005
  • Mike Cameron, born 1973, center fielder, with Boston 2010, 2011
  • Willie Tasby, born 1933, center fielder, with Boston 1960
  • Jim Busby, born 1927, center fielder, with Boston 1959, 1960
  • Jackie Tobin, born 1921, third baseman, second baseman, with Boston 1945. Born 100 years ago on January 8. Read his SABR BioProject article by Bill Nowlin.

*****

Reporting from the Mudville Bureau of the Boston Chapter, where we are hearing that Gov. Charlie Baker says mass COVID vaccination sites will likely be available to the general public. Baker announced that the Commonwealth plans to make the regional state-run sites – capable of administering 2,000 vaccine doses a day. Multiple news outlets recently reported that Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium and the Big E fairgrounds are among the locations the officials plan to use. Although Baker has yet to officially confirm the locations, it is a heartwarming thought that we may be able to attend something at Fenway sometime around April.

— Joanne Hulbert

 


JANUARY 1, 2021 — SABR HQ has taken the week off, and This Week in SABR will return on January 8, 2021. This week’s email post will be entirely print, as usual, but an edition will be posted on the 8th, with photos and illustrations available there.  In keeping with my interest in featuring personalities who reside at the periphery of baseball history, but who contributed a great deal to the game’s history – and there are many in that category – this week I met Neal O’Hara, who began writing for the Boston Post as campus correspondent while at Harvard until he graduated in 1915.

Although Neal R. O’Hara began his newspaper career writing about sports, it soon became apparent that he excelled as the staff humor and gossip columnist. Here, he could indulge in a wide range of subject matter, sports, politics and society’s foibles from women suffrage to Mayflower ancestry and well beyond the usual matters that were of interest to readers. He also won fame as an author of the play “Sixes and Sevens” – an amateur production featured at the Colonial Theater in April 1922. The play featured a cast and chorus of 78 – and dancing ponies.

In 1924 he left the Boston Post and joined the Boston Traveler staff. “One day it’s wit he writes. The next day satire. Not to mention humor, wise cracks, parody and burlesque.” Neal was good at everything he tackled – master of ceremonies at a Boston Pops concert, after dinner speaker in a hundred clubs, script writer for Clover Club of Boston of satires and sketches, movie writer, columnist, guest commentator on the radio on WBZ in 1924, author of two books, script writer to the World Series press box where he used to turn out smooth prose that could make the dullest of baseball games sound like a carnival of sport. Neal O’Hara acquired many friends among the rich and famous, and knew the ranges of interest of his audience very well.

*****

“William Jennings Bryan once got in the way of the O’Hara wit. That happened when Neal was covering a Republican National Convention in Chicago, and found himself seated in the press section between Bryan and Will Rogers.

“I suppose you’re covering the humorous aspects,” said Bryan crustily. “If I see anything funny, I’ll let you know.”

“Neal and Rogers similarly agreed to keep Bryan informed – if they saw anything serious.” – Boston Traveler, October 4, 1962:5.

*****

UMPS MUST FILL OUT QUESTIONNAIRES SAME AS THE OTHER FIGHTERS

By Neal R. O’Hara

“They made the draftees sign questionnaires before they’d blow ‘em to inoculation, and now the umpires are next. No major league ump can fight this season until he’s filled out his queries fuller than a chest protector. The big league exams for the umps are as follows:

  1. Full name (only one answer required)
  2. What are your favorite flowers besides lilies?
  3. Are you a member of the Lambs Club or have you ever been in any other fight?
  4. Do you believe in tipping waiters more than 10 cents?
  5. Do you believe in tipping them less?
  6. Have you always led a peaceable life or do you know Johnny Evers?
  7. Who is your favorite author in addition to the guy that writes your checks?
  8. How long have you been blind?
  9. Have you ever umpired before 10,000 people or is your experience confined to St. Louis?
  10. Are you afraid of Connie Mack’s ball players?
  11. Is anyone afraid of Connie Mack’s ball players?
  12. Is baseball your favorite game next to poker?
  13. Do you consider a bag of Braves Field peanuts dangerous, providing you do not eat them?
  14. Can you pronounce Ping Bodie’s real name?
  15. Do you know anybody that can? (Reward offered for his answer.)
  16. What do you do in the winter season?
  17. Doesn’t your wife get tired of seeing you around?
  18. Did you ever buy a world’s series ticket from Rube Marquard?
  19. Have you ever been to Bonesetter Reese for your head?
  20. What city has the best pop bottle artillery next to Brooklyn?
  21. Can you read?
  22. In case of accident, have you any protection except a flask of brandy?
  23. Have you ever ridden to Chicago?
  24. Have you ever been ridden anywhere else?
  25. Are you a friend of Ban Johnson’s? If so, state who are his other two friends?
  26. Have you ever been in a minor league except when umpiring in Boston?
  27. What is your salary?
  28. Is your wife satisfied with it?

Boston Post, January 1, 1921:8.

*****

NEW YEAR’S GREETINGS TO THE FANS FROM BOSTON BASEBALL PRESIDENTS

By Percy D. Houghton:

“Happy New Year. Let me at this time wish all you fans a full measure of health, happiness and prosperity during the coming year, and I want to add that I thoroughly appreciate the loyal support and good feeling that has been accorded the Braves by the Boston public. Boston fans have a country-wide reputation of being loyal and this fact has been substantiated on hundreds of occasions by the wonderful attendances at the games here. The outlook for 1917 is bright, and with Manager Stallings at the helm and each individual working hard for the success of the team it is with a feeling of confidence I greet you this New Year’s day. I want to assure the Boston baseball public that the management of the Braves will leave no stone unturned in effort to produce a club of championship caliber – the sort of team the city of Boston justly merits. At the conclusion of the 1917 season I believe Boston will have seen one of the biggest years in baseball history.

“By Harry H. Frazee:

Happy New Year from H.H.Frazee. On behalf of the Boston Red Sox I want to thank the fans for their loyal support to the Red Sox in the past and hope that the same good feeling will prevail in the future. I further wish to assure the Boston fans that everything that can be done to maintain the high standard set by Mr. Lannin in the past will be done in the future. We have great hopes of inducing Mr. Carrigan to once more assume the leadership of the world’s champions, and I hope to be able to make this announcement as one of the first of the New Year to the Red Sox fans.” – Boston Journal, January 1, 1917.

*****

Boston Herald, January 1, 1920:1.

Boston Herald, January 1, 1920:1.

*****

The old year’s gone the destined way of time and all mortality,
With all its good and all its bad, its woe and comicality,
With all its love and hate and strife, its loafing and its laboring,
Its placid victories of peace, its warriors fiercely savoring;
We’ve left it all behind us and we’re not at all regretting it,
The old year’s very, very, dead, so let us be forgetting it!

But now the new year claims the stage – and what shall be our attitude?
Shall fellowship have larger room, shall love have greater latitude?
Will YOU make life a sweeter thing, the world a place more lyrical
With laughter and with joyous song; or selfish and satirical?

Will you go grumbling thorough the days with sullen thoughts and smouldering,
Or trample through the crowded ways your fellows roughly shouldering?
The Old Year’s finished, ended, done! To speak of it is vanity!
How will you serve throughout the NEW – for Gold or for Humanity?

— Berton Braley, Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader, January 1, 1914:10.

*****

Boston Post, January 29, 1921:8.

Boston Post, January 29, 1921:8.

*****

BABE RUTH SHOULD WORRY IF HE PUTS ON AVOIRDUPOIS

“If Babe Ruth is still worth his weight in gold, he assays at a higher valuation this springtime. The Babe is reported as carrying more beef than one of Armour’s refrigerator cars. The only thing he’s reduced this spring has been his income tax.  Ruppert and Huston are so worried about his bulky condition they have O.K.’d the plans for a $2,000,000 park.

“Babe should weigh something less than 200 pounds with his bunions naked. That’s when he lams ‘em at his best. But the Bambatterer is no sacrifice bunter even when he hits the scales at speculator’s prices. Flesh may show up a guy after he’s reached his original quota, but here’s an item to be remembered in Babe’s case: When our hero hoists the cordovan over the fence, there is no necessity for making the circuit in 20 seconds flat. A home run over the bleachers is legal so long as you lope o’er the base paths before the ump suspends on account of darkness.

“Mr. Ruth is a chap that cares not for scale statistics so long as he rates as the Abou Ben Adhem of the home run guild. It makes no diff to that baby whether his belt buckle is in the correct or wrong posture so long as the right field fence is in its customary place. Call it indifference if you will, but Babe refuses to froth at trifles. When flapjacks get into his system, a pound amounts to 16 ounces. But when his ashen baton meets the horsehide apple, that’s when a pound amounts to four bases.

“So don’t worry if Babe has an awful surplus. A bank is safest when it’s in the same fix. And Samson was at his best when his hair was eight pounds overweight.”

— Neal R. O’Hara, Boston Post, April 1, 1921:24.

*****

Note: Abu Ben Adhem, was a poem written by Leigh Hunt in 1834, a short, fable-like poem that suggests people can best express love for God by simply loving their fellow human beings. By the power of Google, you can look it up.

*****

THE WINTER LEAGUE

When spring comes dancing down the lea
   As lightly as a rabbit
Each sporting sheet I chance to see
   Most eagerly I grab it;
I read the dope from A to Z;
   It is, in fact, a habit.
But, oh, this blooming winter league
Infuses me with vast fatigue.

I know that sporting news is scant
   Upon this well known planet,
But all this winter baseball cant –
   There should be laws to ban it;
It makes me rave, it makes me rant;
   Why can’t the writers can it?
But, no – they make us blindly grope
Through reams and reams and reams of dope!

When play begins I’m always there
     Upon the bleachers squirmin’,
But till that time I do not care
     How Tinker fares with Herrman;
Let magnates loudly rare and tear;
     My attitude I’m firm in;
This pother fills me with fatigue –
Please take away your winter league!

— Berton Braley, January 1, 1914.

*****

Random Baseball Item

“TOSS CUSHIONS AT BALL GAME – Dodger-Yank Contest Breaks Up in Near Riot – The baseball game today between the New York Americans and the Brooklyn Nationals was broken up by the fans in the ninth inning, with New York leading by a score of 7 to 5. With two men down in the first half of the ninth, Wheat of Brooklyn took a “break” shot at one of Ferguson’s groove balls, driving it into the overflow crowd in right field. Under ground rules, Umpire George Moriarty ruled it a two-base hit, but the crowd apparently did not understand, and when Wheat was sent back to second a pillow barrage was laid down, after which a battle between those on the ground and those in the bleachers broke out. Policemen figuring that there was no law against cushion throwing, watchfully waited. Umpire Moriarty, when one of the cushions caught him on the jaw, called the game.” — Boston Post, April 1, 1921:11.

*****

Not So Random Baseball Item

“BASEBALL WAR SURE – American League Decides to Fight National. Will Break Agreement in Force Since 1896. Competing Teams in Seven of national League Cities. – Chicago, December 31, 1899 – Prospects of a base ball war of real purport developed here today when, at a secret meeting of the American league magnates, it was decided to wage war on the National league during the coming season, and to break the agreement existing since 1896, and to place competing teams in seven National league cities. The points spoken of are Boston, Philadelphia, New York and St. Louis or Chicago.” — Boston Herald, January 1, 1900:2.

*****

Random Sports Item

“Birmingham, England, May 21, 1890. – Our American newspapers are very fond of dwelling on the subject of the great development of baseball in comparison with all other games, but they never mention the wonderful hold football, as it is played today in England, has on the majority of sport-loving Englishmen. The present game of football, with its beautiful scientific points, bears as much resemblance to the game of the same name of 50 years ago as the present game of baseball bears to rounders. The origin of the game dates back to the time when it was the custom to throw a leather ball into the market place at St. Albans (one of the oldest town in England), and one class of people tried to carry it to one side of the street and another class to another. Of course this was rather a crude game, and there were no rules and no restrictions as to the number of players on each side, the game generally ended in a free fight.

“The public schools of England, such as Rugby, Harrow, Eton and old Westminster; then began to play the game, but each school had its own set of rules, and the result was that very few interchange matches could be played on account of each school wanting to adhere to its own particular style of play.” — Pittsburgh Dispatch, June 1, 1890:16.

*****

Random Sports Item for the Girls

“NEW WALKING RECORD MADE BY LITTLE GIRL — Panama, December 31, 1921 – A new record for women pedestrians in Panama has been established by Alma Mann, 12, who walked through the Canal Zone from ocean to ocean, a distance of approximately 50 miles, in 16 hours and 26 minutes. Actual walking time, an average of about three miles an hours. Miss Mann, who is the youngest girl to undertake the feat, also holds the Canal Zone women’s championships for high and fancy diving and swimming.” – Springfield (MA) Republican, January 1, 1922:4.

*****

Happy birthdays

  • Al Stokes, born 1900, catcher, with Boston 1925-26
  • Frank Fuller, born 1894, second base, pinch runner, shortstop, with Boston 1923
  • Hack Miller, born 1894, left fielder, with Boston 1918 (12 games)
  • Jeremiah J. (Miah) Murray, born 1865, catcher, first base, with Providence (NL) 1884. Born Boston, died Boston 1/11/1922. Buried Holyhood Cemetery.
  •  Bill McGunnigle, born 1855, died 1899, right fielder, pitcher, with Worcester 1880: one game, four at bats.

Reporting from the Mudville Bureau of the Boston Chapter – the big baseball news this moment is the re-naming of the Cleveland Indians. I am interested in how this might turn out. Should Cleveland look to recent history, pick something contemporary? Or shall they reach back into history?

Now, baseball teams have clever names honoring footwear, fish, birds, snakes, priests, sailors and pirates, among other things. No team in history embraced an insect – until Cleveland adopted the spider. How unique, historically-minded and also this might be a chance to redeem the unfortunate history that the name conjures up in Cleveland- that is, for the few people who know about this bit of baseball history. I could say that the Cleveland Spiders would put a sting on the field, but that would be inaccurate – spiders bite. Just think of the readily available songs, the chants that could be heard!

Somehow, the fans may work in that drum in the outfield seats, and the concessions will switch from faux Native American trinkets to all things arachnophiliac (and a new nickname for Cleveland baseball fans!) And what is a group of spiders named? – A cluster, or a clutter. There’s some literary opportunities! One corporate roadblock – or maybe a mutually advantageous marketing venture – Arachnophilia is a web page development and general programming tool. There you go – a built-in sponsor.  Just think of the possibilities.

— Joanne Hulbert

 

 

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