This article was written by Al Kermisch
This article was published in 2002 Baseball Research Journal
DAN SWEENEY WAS A SMALL MAJOR LEAGUE PLAYER
Trying to determine who was the smallest player in major league history is a difficult task. In the old days statistics on the height of major league players were usually inaccurate. Of course, Eddie Gaedel, the 3 foot, 7 inch midget who was used in one game in one of Bill Veeck’s weirdest promotions on August 19, 1951, must be excluded.
The smallest player in major league history may have been Dan Sweeney, who played 27 games with Louisville, National League, in 1895. At that time the Louisville papers listed him as being 4 feet 10 inches tall. When Sweeney played for San Francisco in the California League in 1890, the San Francisco Alta stated that Sweeney was only 4 feet, 8 inches tall. Sweeney is listed as 5 feet, 5 inches tall in the Total Baseball Encyclopedia.
PITCHER HAL CARLSON DIED IN CHICAGO HOTEL IN 1930
The shocking death of Cardinal pitcher Darryl Kile in a Chicago hotel on June 22 brought to mind another pitcher who died in a Chicago hotel on May 28, 1930. Hal Carlson, veteran Cub hurler, died suddenly in a Northside hotel where he had an apartment. He arose at 2:00 A.M. after a sleepless night. Dr. John Davis, the club physician, was called when Carlson complained of stomach pains. He had been suffering from stomach ulcers for two years. He died 35 minutes later as plans were being made to move him to a hospital.
Teammates Kiki Cuyler, Riggs Stephenson, and Cliff Heathcote were at Carlson’s bedside. Mrs. Carlson was at home in Rockford, Illinois, where Carlson was born. Besides the widow, a three-year-old child survived. The scheduled game with Cincinnati on May 29 was postponed. Carlson had been in the majors since 1917. As a rookie pitcher with Pittsburgh in 1917, Carlson pitched in 34 games and did not give up a home run. In 1918 he gave up a homer, although he pitched in only three games before being drafted into the U.S. Army.
BOSTON BEES HIT JACKPOT ON TWO LONGTIME MINOR LEAGUE PITCHERS IN 1937
When major league clubs bring up longtime minor league players, the hope is that some of them will be successful. But it is doubtful that any club could match the record of the Boston Bees in 1937. T he Bees brought up two pitchers from the American Association — Jim Turner and Lou Fette. Both had toiled many years in the minors and both were listed as being 30 years old, but years later it was discovered that Turner was three years older.
Fette, at St. Paul, was the leading pitcher in the American Association in 1936, with a record of 25 victories and only eight defeats. Turner won 18 games and lost 13 for Indianapolis. Turner and Fette surprised the baseball world by winning 20 games each for a fifth-place Boston club that finished with a record of 79 wins and 73 losses. Only Carl Hubbell, great southpaw of the pennant-winning New York Giants, won more with 22. In addition, Turner had the best ERA in the National League, 2.38, and tied with Fette for most shutouts, each having five.
After his pitching days were over, Turner became a successful pitching coach for the Yankees, from 1949 through 1959, when the Yanks, under Casey Stengel, won nine pennants and seven World Series.
TWO PLAYERS NAMED HOUSEHOLDER IN THE 1880s CAUSE CONFUSION
There are two players with the name Charles Householder in the baseball encyclopedias. Charles F. is listed as having been born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1856. He played with Chicago and Pittsburgh, Union Association, in 1884.
Charles W. is also shown as having been born in Harrisburg in 1856, and died there on October 26, 1908. However, my research shows it was Charles F. who was born Harrisburg and died there on December 26, 1908. He played with Baltimore, American Association in 1882, and with Brooklyn in the same league in 1884. He was one of Harrisburg’s early professional players. On October 11, 1884, Charles F. was seriously injured when he fell off a roof in Harrisburg. He eventually recovered and played several more years in the minors. He died at his home, 415 Pear Street on December 26, 1908. He was survived by his wife, five children, three brothers, and his father.
There was not much information on Charles W. except that he was from Philadelphia and not Harrisburg.
CAP ANSON WAIVED LAST TWO INNINGS OF GAME
According to baseball lore, there was a game in the 1890s in which the home team gave up its last two innings and let the visiting club take its last two innings instead. No details were given about the game. Of course, baseball rules do not allow it, so it could have happened in an exhibition game. I found such an exhibition game that was played in Chicago on Friday, April 13, 1894, with Chicago playing Minneapolis of the Western League at Chicago. The Chicago Tribune noted, “Anson’s hard-working Colts played and won their fourth exhibition game yesterday, defeating Minneapolis in a fairly well-played contest and established a queer precedent by playing seven innings to the visiting team’s nine.”
The Tribune finished its story thus: “Anson waived the formality of playing the last two innings and gave the visitors their halves instead. They failed to score and the game terminated with Chicago three runs to the good.”
The weather left much to be desired and, besides, Minneapolis had a train to catch. The line score:
|— 3 3 4
|— 6 8 4
Frasier and Wilson. Donnelly, W. Camp and Kittridge. Time: 1:55. Attendance: 577. Umpire: Jevne.
RED DOOIN, PHILLIES MANAGER, PUT AD IN PAPER FOR A CATCHER
On April 2, 1912, manager Red Dooin of the Philadelphia Phillies, who were in the midst of their annual preseason series with the crosstown Athletics, put the following ad in the Philadelphia Press:
“WANTED-A CATCHER. Manager Dooin would like one or two husky backstops report at the Phillies’ clubhouse to assist in warming up the large squad of pitchers. Dooin says it is a good chance for some youth to ‘show the goods.’”
Dooin was impressed with Ed Irvin and wanted to sign him and farm him out. But Irvin was not interested in going to the minors.
Irvin turns up again on May 18. On that day the Tigers had gone on strike when league president Ban Johnson refused to reinstate Ty Cobb after he had been suspended for going into the stands and hitting heckler Claude Lueker in a game at New York on May 15. Lueker had heckled the Detroit star unmercifully until Cobb lost his cool. If Detroit failed to field a team at Philadelphia on May 18, they were facing a $5,000 fine.
Manager Hugh Jennings was ordered by owner Frank Navin to corral a team of amateurs and college players. Irvin was one of the players recruited. He did not get into the game until the third inning, when he replaced Bill Maharg at third base. It was Maharg who gave a Philadelphia reporter the clue in September 1920 that linked certain White Sox players with gamblers.
Getting back to Irvin, he was the star of the misfits. He registered two hits in three trips to the plate. Both of his hits were triples, and he became the first player in major league history to hit two triples in his first (and only) big league game. The contest was a farce with the Athletics winning by a score of 24-2.
MIKE MENOSKY, FORMER MAJOR LEAGUE PLAYER, CALLED UPON TO SETTLE COURT CASE
Mike Menosky played in the majors for nine years with Pittsburgh, Federal League, and Washington and Boston in the American League. Menosky, 57, a probation officer, helped decide a court case against a Detroit man.
Because Menosky, an outfielder in his playing days, could not throw a rock 250 feet, 21-year-old Robert Melson, of Detroit, was acquitted of a charge of malicious destruction of property. He was charged with throwing a rock through a Detroit terminal caboose window. The judge, O.Z. Ide, who played first base for Kalamazoo College in his youth, doubted whether Melson could throw a rock that far. That’s when the judge called on Menosky for help. Mike threw a baseball that far but couldn’t throw a rock that distance. The judge said that if Mike couldn’t do it, then the average man wouldn’t have a chance, and the case was dismissed.
Since the inception of the Baseball Research Journal, AL KERMISCH’s “From a Researcher’s Notebook” has been its most well-respected and longest running feature. Kermisch, a SABR member since 1971, was an ardent baseball researcher for over 60 years. Sadly, he passed on in November 2002. This, Al’s last article, was submitted by him shortly before he died. He will be missed by all of us in SABR.