Pajot: A Pete Dowling story, as recalled by Barney Dreyfuss

From SABR member Dennis Pajot at on January 20, 2014:

I have always enjoyed reading reminisces of old ball players (and owners in this case). When time permits and I have enough information, I check on some of them—-many times finding baseball people’s memories are not that much better than my own weak ones.

I came across this story in the Milwaukee Daily News of February 11, 1903:

Barney Dreyfuss is out with an interesting story about Pete Dowling, who formerly pitched for the Milwaukee club. It shows Pete up in an unenviable light. Dreyfuss says:

“Pete was drunk. That has always been his fault. He went into the box and made Boston look like bad money. Pete would look at the batter, curse him a bit and then let fly a ball that had all kinds of fancy things to it. If the umpire did not call it a strike Pete let loose on him for everything he could think of. He told the umpire, who was Latham, that if he did not call everything strikes he would cut his d—d throat. Latham was bluffed and he obeyed orders. Dowling would rap balls around the Beaneaters’ necks and throw them over their heads. It was all the same—they were strikes according to Latham.

“The ninth inning proved exciting. Dowling was now so drunk that he could hardly see the home plate. He had a bottle of whisky in his shirt and had been drinking from it all through the game. There was a man on second base, one on third and one out. The score was 2 to 1 in favor of Pittsburg. The man at the bat swatted one of Dowling’s shoots so hard that it looked good for a homer, and I thought for sure it would go over the fence. I says, ‘I don’t want to see it,’ and turned my head in the opposite direction. I thought there was no use, we are beaten. All at once I heard vociferous yelling and turned to see that [Hans] Wagner had caught the ball about three feet over his head right at the fence. [Jimmy] Collins, who was on third, had started for home and was near the plate, when Wagner pulled the ball down. He fired it to third and the game was over.

“I discharged Dowling, you bet, after the game. During that awful finish Dowling actually pulled his bottle and took one. Pete is still one of the best pitchers in the business if he would let whiskey alone.”

So is this story true?

Read the full article here:

Originally published: January 21, 2014. Last Updated: January 21, 2014.