There was a Class E league in 1943. It was called the Twin Ports League and had teams called Superior, Duluth Heralds, Duluth Dukes and Marine Iron. No team played more than 19 games before the league disbanded July 13.
This pitcher reported to Catalina Island for spring training in 1943. Trouble was, his employers, the Cubs, were training in French Lick, Ind., because of wartime travel restrictions.
Eaves was an interesting fellow. He was 24 when he broke into OB, starting at the top (in a way), with the 1935 Philadelphia Athletics. He pitched some for the '39-42 Cubs between stints in the minors. In all he totaled 4-8 in the majors. He then crisscrossed the country pitching in southern bush leagues as late as 1957. Son Jerry was a teammate that final year, in Hobbs of the Southwestern League.
WILLIAM DOLE "SPIKE" ECKERT
"The Unknown Soldier" had retired from the Air Force as a lieutenant general when picked to succeed Ford Frick as baseball commissioner in 1965. Nobody in baseball had heard of him, occasioning many jokes. He had the job into 1969. Oddly, he was born in Freeport, Illinois, and died in Freeport, Bahamas (while playing tennis).
Here's a somewhat typical resume of an old-time big leaguer: He began pro ball in Evansville, Ind., in 1886. That winter he played in El Paso, then in 1887 he pitched for St. Joe of the Western League. After that team folded, he signed with Denver of the same league. Then it was on to Austin of the Texas League in 1888. When the league folded in July he went to the Western Association. In 1889 he went 0-7 during the Louisville team's record 26-game losing streak. (During that streak Toad Ramsey was 0-8, Scott Stratton 0-6, John Ewing 0-4 and Guy Hecker 0-1.) When Ehret died broke in 1940, Cincinnati politicians paid for his funeral.
Ballplayers began as fans, of course, and grew up with favorite teams. Here are some:
●Bill Dickey: Cardinals
●Bob Feller: Cubs
●Orel Hershiser: Indians
●Tom Poholsky: Tigers
●Vic Wertz: Tigers (although he lived in York, Pa.)
The Indians won their opener in 2002 then lost the second game. Then they won 10 in a row to lead all of the majors by a country mile. Next, Finley started against the White Sox April 16 in Chicago. He gave up nine runs (eight earned) in 1 2/3 innings. He was charged with the 10-5 defeat.
There’ve been countless releases but few out-and-out firings. They result from disputes; the owners cost themselves money, of course, by getting angry and actually firing someone. The trick is, don’t fire the player in front of witnesses. That way you can still try to trade him. Here are some notable firings and quasi-firings:
● Albert Belle by the 1991 Indians; he wasn’t running out grounders. He wasn’t formally released, so he was farmed to Colorado Springs, then brought back.
●Jack McCarthy by the 1903 Cleveland Naps/Indians; he led teammates in quest of pay for postseason play (an upcoming exhibition series against the Reds). He signed with the Cubs and likely profited from the fiasco.
●Nelson Potter: Connie Mack, who owned and managed the Philadelphia A’s, embarrassed pitcher Nels Potter, firing him for blowing a game in the ninth inning in 1948. The official line was that Potter argued with Mack in the clubhouse, demanded his release and got it. Whichever, the Boston Braves gave him a bonus, and he proved helpful, indeed, in their pennant race, going 5-2. (Potter is well-remembered as the guy caught throwing spitters for the St. Louis Browns July 20, 1944. Umpire Cal Hubbard ejected him and the AL suspended him for 10 days.)
●Hawk Harrelson: While playing for the Oakland A's, he called club owner Charlie Finley "a menace to baseball." Finley fired the Hawk on the spot, in front of witnesses. The player got a $73,000 bonus for signing with the Red Sox, one of seven teams that did want him. (A definite hot dog, he was the first to wear batting gloves, in 1964. . . See Lew Krausse Jr.)
●Mickey Haefner: Senators owner Clark Griffith angrily announced to reporters that he was firing Haefner, a knuckleballer, in mid-1949. Haefner won five big-league games thereafter.
FIRST BLACKS BY TEAM (20TH CENTURY)
●Brooklyn Dodgers: Jackie Robinson on April 15, 1947.
●Cleveland Indians: Larry Doby on July 5, 1947.
●St. Louis Browns: Hank Thompson on July 17, 1947. (Willard Brown signed, too, but Thompson played first.)
●New York Giants: Hank Thompson (again) on July 8, 1949.. (Monte Irvin played later same day.)
●Boston Braves: Sam Jethroe on April 18, 1950.
●Chicago White Sox: Orestes Minoso in 1951. (TSN erroneously said Sam Hairston on July 21, 1951.)
●Philadelphia A’s: Bob Trice on Sept. 13, 1953.
●Chicago Cubs: Ernie Banks on Sept. 17, 1953..(Gene Baker, other half of DP combo with Banks, played a tad later in same game.)
●Pittsburgh Pirates: Curt Roberts on April 13, 1954.
●St. Louis Cardinals: Tom Alston on April 13, 1954.
●Cincinnati Reds: Nino Escalera on April 17, 1954. (Chuck Harmon played later same game.)
●Washington Senators: Carlos Paula on Sept. 6, 1954.
●New York Yankees: Elston Howard on April 14, 1955.
●Philadelphia Phillies: John Kennedy on April 22, 1957. (Does anybody remember him?)
●Detroit Tigers: Ossie Virgil on June 6, 1958. (He was light skinned enough to anger people, who thought Tigers were ducking integration.)
●Boston Red Sox: Pumpsie Green on July 21, 1959.
The first black regular on the present Baltimore Orioles franchise was Bob Boyd in 1956 . . . David Nemec has a great list, going into further depth, on page 182 of his nice little book called Great Baseball Feats, Facts & Firsts. This isn’t one of those familiar little rip-off books. He notes some confusion: some sources erroneously credit Sam Hairston with being first on the White Sox. TSN printed its list on page 344 of the ‘60 Guide.
He was 217-146 in the majors in 1925-43. He was on the '45 Phillies spring roster but confined himself to coaching. On Aug. 4, 1952, the Boston Red Sox and New York Giants played a benefit game for the Hospitalized Veterans Fund. A crowd of 22,560 turned out a Fenway Park. Leo Kiely, on special leave from the Army, pitched for the Red Sox. The Giants' Monte Kennedy pitched the first eight innings, then Fitzsimmons, a coach, finished. The Giants had three hits, the Bosox four. Johnny Lipon's homer off Kennedy in the fifth inning provided the Red Sox a 1-0 victory.( Oddly, the last regular-season homer Lipon hit was in 1950. He was homer-less in 129 games in 1951, 118 in 1952, and 68 games thereafter in the majors.)
Fitzsimmons managed Magallanes of the Venezuelan League during fall 1954. After he quit in November, the team went on to win the pennant under Lazaro Salazar.
Jim Bottomley and Mark Koenig refused to fly when they were with the 1934 Reds. They went by train.
FOOTBALLERS IN BASEBALL
Long before Bo Jackson, there were George Halas, Jim Thorpe, Ernie Nevers, Ace Parker, Charlie Trippi, Kyle Rote, Vic Janowitz, etc. Rote, a highly publicized All-America from Southern Methodist, tried minor league ball in 1951. In 22 games with the Corpus Christi team of the Class B Gulf Coast League he batted .348. On April 26 he hit three homers in one game. He'd totaled seven homers by the time he departed for the New York Giants football camp. (TSN's '52 Guide ran a squib on page 274.
Ace Parker, a triple-theat at Duke, played pro baseball and pro football. He was a utility infielder in the Piedmont League, for instance, in 1937.
Trippi played minor league ball in 1947 but couldn’t hit the curve.
Sometimes people just don’t remember you. Here are some players, regarded as major stars in their day, who’ve been virtually forgotten:
●George Stone: Top hitter in the majors in 1906, he was considered better than Cobb, comparable to Lajoie. But he hit .300 only one more time.
●Emmett "Snags" Heidrick: He batted over .300 his first four seasons, but never again. He was considered an all-around star because he could run and field well, too.
●Nig Cuppy: He was considered about even-up with teammate Cy Young and is said to have been the first pitcher to use a glove. Arm trouble cut short his career.
●Bill Bradley: He was considered the best third baseman of his era, superior even to Jimmy Collins. But then his batting dropped off, partially because of the foul-strike rule.
●Ted Breitenstein: Considered the best lefty of his era, he was one of those guys who could pitch a no-hitter anytime out. He finished 168-169, but mainly with bad teams.
●Ted Kluszewski: He personifies the star of his era who never quite made the HOF.
●Vern Stephens: This was the guy who batted cleanup behind Ted Williams.
●Ed McKean: He drove in at least 112 runs in each of four straight seasons. He averaged .302 in 13 seasons in the majors (1887-99.)
●Cupid Childs: McKean’s DP partner averaged .306 in 1888-1901.
●Dave Orr. He averaged .342 in the majors, but mostly for the old American Association, which is long gone and somewhat forgotten nowadays.
The U.S. hasn't had a military draft in a generation, so young fans might not realize that a person accorded 4-F status was unwanted by the military. During wartime, baseball teams try to collect as many good 4-F's as possible. A person classed 1-A was at the other extreme; he was facing induction. There were other classifications in between. Here are some noted ballplayers and their classifications.
● Morrie Arnovich was 4-F because of bad teeth.
● George Binks was 4-F because he was deaf in his left ear.
● Lou Boudreau was 4-F because of bad ankles.
● Skippy Byrnes was 4-F because of a bronchial condition.
● Phil Cavarretta was 4-F because of an ear problem.
● Ben Chapman was reclassified 4-F in early 1945.
● Russ Christopher had a bad heart, which soon killed him, and likely was 4-F.
● Atley Donald was 4-F because of back and eye ailments.
● Bob Elliott was 4-F because of an old injury; he'd been hit by a batted ball.
● Bob Feller had a 3-C deferment as sole support of his family; he enlisted anyway.
● Dave Ferriss served but was discharged early because of asthma.
● Al Gettel was 4-F because of a bad back as a result of being thrown from a horse as a child.
● Steve Gromek was 4-F because of a spot on a lung.
● Mickey Haefner was 4-F.
● Lee Handley was deferred in 1944 because of a knee injury the previous season.
● Tommy Holmes was 4-F because of severe sinus problems.
● George Kell was 3-F because of bad knees.
● Jack Kramer served in the Seabees briefly but was discharged because of asthma.
● Whitey Kurowski was 4-F because his right arm was 4 inches shorter than his left.
● Dutch Leonard was 4-F.
● Danny Litwhiler was 4-F because he had so many physical problems it seemed unlikely he could live, let alone play baseball.
● Frank Mancuso was discharged in 1944 after hurting his back training to be a paratrooper.
● Marty Marion had a trick knee.
● Eddie Mayo was 3-A because of a wife and two children.
● George McQuinn was 4-F because of a bad back.
● Hal Newhouser was 4-F because of a congenital heart defect. He tried four times to enlist.
● Johnny Niggeling was 4-F because of a bum knee that frequently popped out of place.
● Ron Northey was 4-F because of a punctured eardrum, heart ailment and high blood pressure. But he eventually was reclassified and drafted.
● Fritz Ostermueller was 4-F because of arthritis.
● Nels Potter was 4-F because of a bad knee and botched surgery.
●Allie Reynolds was 4-F.
● LeRoy Schalk had injured his back.
● Howie “Stretch” Schultz was 4-F because at 6 foot 6 1/2 he was too tall.
● Vern Stephens was 4-F because both kneecaps had been broken.
● George Stirnweiss wasn’t taken because he supported his mother and sister, and he had an ulcer.
● Emil Verban was 4-F because of a ruptured eardrum.
● Les Webber was 4-F because of a heart murmur.
● Hank Wyse was 4-F because of a back injury.
● Al Zarilla was 4-F because of a broken ankle that never healed fully.
● Sam Zoldak was 4-F.
Minor leaguer Tom Ananicz was classed as a conscientious objector. (He pitched for the Kansas City Blues of the American Association but never made the majors.)
During WWII, teams didn’t try to get as many good players as possible. The military would just draft the good players. Teams wanted as many good 4-F players as possible. Of course, those players would get some bad press: if they were good enough to play ball for a living, why weren’t they good enough to fight?
A few teams, especially the Washington Senators, employed Cubans on the premise that the U.S. wouldn’t draft them.
The most coveted players of all were those rare birds who’d already been discharged: Ferriss, Kramer, Mancuso, etc. Apparently 1-C was the classification for those who’d been honorably discharged.
One other player of particular importance in late 1945 was Virgil Trucks: Just after the end of the war the Navy sent him home with a bad back. But he was fit enough to pitch in the Tigers’ pennant drive and in the World Series.
The height limit, incidentally, was 6 feet 6. Schultz was half an inch over; the Indians' Mike Naymick was two inches over and Johnny Gee of the Pirates and Giants was three inches over. The baseball careers of these too-tall players obviously benefitted during WWII.
Fred Hutchinson, while managing in Cincinnati, got sick of his players griping about the heat. He announced angrily he'd fine the next complainer $250. Next day, Fowler was pitching amid 100-degree temperatures. After the sixth inning, he came to the bench waving his arms, and yelling: “My God, it's hot.” Catching himself as Hutchinson came over, Fowler added: “Just the way I like it.”
The Philadelphia A's gave him a quick look-see during WWII as, of all things, a 16-year-old first baseman. Some players swore he sometimes wore a Boy Scout lapel pin. He didn't get into a game, though, until 1947.
Once, while he was being walked intentionally, he griped so much about earlier calls that umpire Ken Kaiser ejected him.
First, you have to understand that he didn’t call himself “FRAY-zee.” He was “fruh-ZEE,” which gives an indication of what he was like. He looked like pompous movie actor Edward Arnold with constipation. He came from Peoria, Ill.
He was one of the promoters of that notorious tank job in Havana, Jack Johnson versus the Great White Hope, Jess Willard, for the heavyweight championship.
Although a sports fan, he was more interested in Broadway shows. His Frazee Theater was on 42nd Street in NYC, two doors from the Yankees' office. And it is to fruh-ZEE that the Yankees owe their tradition of "dynasty."
This came about because he bought the Boston Red Sox from Joe Lannin just after the team had won the AL pennant in fall 1916. Hard-pressed for operating money, fruh-ZEE plastered Fenway Park's walls with ads for his productions in NYC. He especially needed dough for a musical called No, No, Nanette, that he wanted to produce. So he started selling players.
He sold so many to Col. Jacob Ruppert that the Yankees actually became an amalgamation of the Red Sox and Yankees. Besides Babe Ruth, he sent them Carl Mays, Waite Hoyt, Everett Scott, Wally Schang, Herb Pennock, Mike McNally, Joe Bush, Sam Jones, Joe Dugan and George Pipgras.
It wasn't coincidental that Ruppert, a super-wealthy beer baron, held the mortgage on fruh-ZEE's Red Sox. (The note was transferred to Tom Yawkey when he bought the team in 1933.)
"That Frazee was pretty cheap anyway,” Ruth once said. “They had a Babe Ruth Day for me last year and I had to buy my wife's ticket. Fifteen thousand fans show up and all I got was a cigar."
Fruh-ZEE died at his NYC apartment in 1929. The Red Sox were about as dead until 2004. Fruh-ZEE’s act might not have played well in Peoria but New Yorkers have loved it ever since.
It doesn't make much sense today, but old-time players often inherit nicknames. Take Jerry Freeman of the 1908-09 Washington Senators, for example. People called him “Buck” because of old Buck Freeman, who also was a first baseman, and a very good hitter in the 1890s and early 1900s. Buck II and the genuine Buck played on the 1907 Minneapolis Millers, along with another Freeman, who also was nicknamed “Buck.” When Alex Freeman pitched for the 1921-22 Cubs, he naturally was called “Buck.”
Likewise, if your surname was Dolan, you'd be called “Cozy” after the original. Ditto for Young. At one time there were three “Cy” Youngs in the majors, but only one was the genuine article. The others were “Cy the Second,” “Cy the Third,” or “Young Cy Young.” Another “Cy” came along in 1915. There were no reasonable facsimiles.
Odell Hale often was called “Sammy” because the real Sammy Hale had preceded him in the majors.
Jeff Pfeffer tops even that. He pitched much of the time between 1905 and 1910. When brother Edward made the majors in 1911, he also was called “Jeff.”
Perhaps there's another reason but there were two players called “Dixie” Howell in the majors in the mid-1900s, and a third was in the minors.
He hit .395 for the El Paso Diablos in 1987, just missing becoming the first Texas Leaguer to hit .400 since 1923, when Ike Boone hit .402 for San Antonio. (Danny Clark hit .399 in 1925.) Despite Freeman's average, Texas League managers voted Greg Jefferies (.367) of the Jackson Mets MVP. Freeman never made the parent Milwaukee Brewers, or any other big league team. Being a bad outfielder didn't help.
Willard Roland "Nemo" Gaines played for the Senators in 1921 while on military leave. He was 23 and a career naval officer. He'd never been in the majors before but he gave up no runs in four games, returned to the service and never played again.
He ran away from home at 17. After a couple of brief trials with teams in the Pacific Coast League, he hopped a freight for Amarillo, Texas, to play semipro. When that didn’t work out, he joined a team in Cananea, Mexico, a tough mining town near the Arizona border. He supplemented his income by working in copper mines and by fighting as a heavyweight for $150 a bout. He got married at 19.
He first played OB under the name of Chic Arnold with Shreveport of the Texas League in 1908. A first baseman, he hit .269 in 116 games, many as the team's cleanup hitter. After a salary dispute he returned to California in 1909. Joining the Fresno team of the outlaw California State League, he resurrected his trade name of Chic Arnold. He then jumped to OB's Sacramento team after breaking into the Fresno clubhouse to recover his suitcase. The Fresno team had him arrested the day after he arrived in Sacramento; he was charged with beating the Fresno Raisin Growers out of $250 in advance money. His new team had to settle to get him out of jail. He hit .282 in Sacramento in 1909, but led the PCL with 214 hits in 206 games.
The Chicago White Sox bought him in July of 1909, allowing him to finish the season in Sacramento. But the owner of the Shreveport team got wind of this and sold "Chic Arnold" to the White Sox for $3,000. Somehow this bizarre problem was resolved.
Gandil was a slow runner but hit and fielded well enough to make the White Sox, which he helped turn into the "Black Sox."
A third baseman for the American Association's Minneapolis Millers, he had a bad season in 1935. First he ran into a clothesline, damaging an eye, then he sprained an ankle stepping off a train. He hit .294 in 71 games.
Thus Cuban-born pitcher for the Washington Senators is believed to have had the last crosshanded hit in the majors–and perhaps the last within a century. He did it April 25, 1948 in his only at-bat in the majors, slapping the ball to rightfield. Bob Savage of the Philadelphia Athletics was the embarrassed victim. (Who’d have guess that a pitcher batting crosshanded could even hit the ball?) The Senators won 7-3.
Shirley Povich, the sports editor of the Washington Post, publicly labeled the hit unprecedented. Some old-timers must have written him, though, because he soon backed off. In his retraction, he wrote that old Ezra Sutton and Bob Unglaub had batted crosshanded. He didn’t say how often. (Infielder Sutton played in the National League in 1876-88. Unglaub, mainly a first baseman, was in the AL most of the time from 1904 through 1910. He spent 1909-10 with the Senators. Both batted righthanded.)
After the Brooklyn Dodgers trained in Cuba in 1941, their manager, Leo Durocher, told reporters: “The Cubans beat our brains out in the first four games we played at Havana. They had a shortstop named Garcia who was the best I ever saw. He can do everything Marty Marion can do and he can do it better.” Silvio's career was already winding down when Jackie Robinson broke the color line in 1946. He did play OB one season, batting .283 for the Class B Havana Cubans in 1952. He was just about finished by then.
The Naval Air Station at Lakehurst, N.J., was where the dirigible Hindenburg exploded May 6, 1937, killing 36 people. The New York Giants trained there in 1944 because of wartime travel restrictions. On a cold and windy day that April, the navy flew a blimp 400 feet overhead and dropped some baseballs. The Giants waited below, and it's a wonder some of them didn't get killed. Only first baseman Phil Weintraub and outfielder Danny Cardella caught a ball. That was especially remarkable because Gardella had trouble with even routine flies in the outfield. He's the fellow who jumped to Mexico in 1946.
Danny's brother Al, a first baseman, batted .293 for the Peekskill Highlanders of the Class D North Atlantic League in 1946. The Highlanders made him playing manager the next year. He hit .298 as the team finished third. He had played on three title teams: Beckley of the Mountain State League in 1937 and '38, and the Highlanders in 1946. He played 16 games for the ‘45 New York Giants, batting .077. That was the extent of his major-league experience.
Although he hit only three homers in 1920, he drove in 118 runs for the world champion Indians. That's said to be an AL record of sorts (for extremes, I guess). In 1921 he hit three more home runs, this time driving in 115 runs. Teammate Joe Sewell also hit three homers, and he drove in 109 runs.
In 1951 he went he went 20-12 for a team that won 52 games. In other words, he won 38% of the St. Louis Browns’ victories. Moreover, his .305 batting average led the team. Also see Murry Dickson.
Garvey and wife Cyndy were regarded as baseball's ideal couple--just too perfect to be true. A school was even named for him. When the couple split in the early 1980s, he began fielding paternity suits. Cyndy did a tell-all book and Steve was revealed as one of great swingers of all time.
Virgil was a tall, lean Texan who was quick with a knife or gun. Once, he squabbled with his manager in Reading, Denny Long, over salary while the team was in Richmond. When Virgil drew a knife, other players disarmed him. He claimed Long owed him salary (and other players verified that Long has had many similar narrow escapes). Some years later, Garvin shot a man in Chicago. In another notable performance, this on the diamond, he pitched a 13-hit shutout Sept. 22, 1899, enabling the Chicagos to beat the Beaneaters 3-0.
He became sheriff of Navasota County, Texas. One newspaper observed: “They called him ‘Bullet Proof Ned’ down there. He's from Bleeding Gulch, Texas, and has a private burial ground of his own in Navasota County. Virgil is the quickest man in baseball with a gun. He's 6 feet 3 and weighs about 150, or two pounds to the inch.”
Miguel (Pilo) Gaspar hit 29 homers and batted .335 for Laredo in the Class C Rio Grande Valley League in 1950. He and the team moved up to the Class B Gulf Coast League the next year. He helped celebrate the Apaches' home debut, April 13, 1951, with four homers and a double, good for nine RBI. That provided a 13-2 victory over the Texas City club and made the Apaches 3-0. His homers came on his last four at-bats, in the fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth innings. He ended with 15 homers and batted .318 as the Apaches came in sixth of eight.
He was catching semi-regularly at age 44 in the Mexican League and ended with a record 2,291 minor-league games behind the plate. He played 20 seasons in Mexico.
While playing for the Pacific Coast League’s Spokane team in Vancouver on Aug. 4 1958, he brought home two runners by hitting into a double play. Yet he wasn't charged with a time at bat.
With the bases loaded and one out in the third inning, he lined a ball down the rightfield line. Joe Durham leaped and caught it. Bill George easily tagged up and scored from third base. Tom Saffell, the runner from second base, crossed the plate just before first baseman Buddy Barker caught Durham's throw to double Glen Gorbous off first base for the third out. Plate umpire Sam Carrigan allowed Saffell's run, although he hadn't tagged up. Manager Charlie Metro of the Mounties squawked loudly but later admitted he should have made an appeal play at second base before leaving the field. Gentile was credited with a sac fly and, yes, he was credited with two RBI despite hitting into the DP. Spokane won 4-3.
He was notorious for his temper. While catching for the Philadelphia A's in September 1945, he punched umpire Joe Rue during a game in Philadelphia. Rue turned on George and, wielding his mask, began chasing George. Other umpires intervened, as much to keep Rue from clobbering George as anything else. Despite a bloody eye, Rue stayed in the game. AL president Will Harridge put George out of the league for good, at least according to Rue. Officially, George was suspended 90 days carrying into the next season. The A's quickly released him, which was no loss--he was hitting .174. He signed with the Chattanooga Lookouts June 20, 1947, and went two for five that very day. He never again played in the majors.
Years later, Rue told author Larry Gerlach that George had been jerking, or framing, the ball all day: "He was a habitual bellyacher, a real crybaby, a busher of the worst sort," Rue said. Incidentally, Rue was one of the umpires in the film The Stratton Story.
Just a few months later there was a nasty fracas in the American Association. Nemo Leibold, a former major leaguer managing the Louisville team, punched umpire Forrest "Frosty" Peters after the first game of a doubleheader June 16, 1946. The next day league president Roy Hamey suspended Leibold indefinitely.
Oddly, fans in Scranton, Pa., came to his aid. They got up a mile-long petition and sent it to Judge W.G. Bramham, the minor league czar, asking Nemo's reinstatement. The reason: he’d been a local favorite in the Eastern League in 1939-43.
Here's what Peters later claimed: “Louisville was trailing Milwaukee at Louisville in the last of the ninth, 4-2, two out with [Strick] Shofner on first. The batter hit to the second baseman. It was going to be a force at second on Shofner. The second baseman threw to the shortstop, who hit the bag with the ball, and Shofner was out, like that. Meanwhile, the shortstop saw Shofner coming into the bag hard, so after making the force he leaped into the air to avoid being hit by Shofner. There's no demonstration from the fans. They take it like a clean out. But I'm walking off the field and suddenly I'm jerked around, and there's Leibold, swinging on me. He takes a swipe at my chin, but he's a short guy and, when I pull back my chin, his fist lands on my neck. I tell him he's out of the second game. He comes out for the second game, and I tell him he's chased but he won't go. We hold up the game seven minutes before he leaves. Nemo's hot because he's lost some tough ones. He's usually a mild guy, wears glasses, never bothers you much.”
After Hamey resolved the matter by fining Leibold $100 and suspending him five days, Peters and his umpiring partner, Milt Steengrafe, quit in protest. They said Leibold got off too easy.
Hamey had to beat the bushes for amateur umps to work some games thereafter. Peters, who'd been in the league seven seasons, was hardy a patsy; he’d starred in football at the University of Illinois.
Judge William G. Bramham, the minor-league czar, obviously agreed with Peters. He suspended Leibold the remainder of the season. Leibold appealed and the minor leagues' executive committee, meeting in Chicago on July 31, cut the suspension to 45 days.
Among other similar run-ins:
● Jack O'Connor of the Cleveland Spiders admitted years that he decked umpire Stump Weidman in Louisville in 1896. At the time everyone thought Jesse Burkett did it.
● White Sox shortstop Frank Shugart punched John Haskell, a notoriously bad umpire, in the mouth in Washington on Aug. 21, 1901. Haskell went down; the crowd could see him bleeding. He was a better fighter than umpire, though. Arising, he clamped Shugart in a headlock and prepared to pummel him with his free hand. Police intervened, arresting Shugart and rushing him from the field before a full-scare riot could start. He got out on bail for $20. AL president Ban Johnson expelled Shugart forevermore. But he was back playing by Sept. 17; apparently the White Sox had flummoxed Johnson.
● Ben Chapman punched umpire I.H. Case on Sept. 16, 1942, while managing the Richmond club of the Class A Piedmont League. He was suspended all of the 1943 season. Chapman, a longtime AL outfielder, returned to manage the Richmond team in 1944 and, of all things, was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers as a wartime pitcher. The Phillies made him their manager June 29, 1945.
● Eric “Boob” McNair, a former major leaguer (1929-42), was managing the Zanesville team in 1945 when he punched umpire Maurice Green in an Ohio State League game in Middleton. On Aug. 24, 1945 Judge Bramham suspended him for 138 playing days.
● Pepper Martin choked umpire Clem Camia in the Class B Florida State League on Aug. 26, 1949, in Havana. Fortunately for all, police kept him from doing serious harm. Martin, the former major league star, was managing the Miami Sun Sox. He was suspended the rest of the season.
He pitched for the York (Pa.) team during WWII at age 57. He'd debuted in the majors in 1911.
A notoriously bad pitcher, he tried to save his career by becoming a third baseman in 1898. He couldn't keep hot ones from caroming off his shins. Released in the minors, he went home to Maryland.
Giebell, who clinched the pennant for the 1940 Tigers by outpitching Bob Feller in a showdown game, was ineligible for the World Series. He was a September recall. (He died April 28, 2004.)
He was a top prospect in the mid-1900s. He was doubly unfortunate: not only did he fail, he died of a heart attack at age 38.
The Giants and Twins liked his aggressiveness, but teammates sometimes didn't. One conscientious teammate, realizing he liked everyone on the team except Gladden, visited Gladden's home, hoping to make friends. They got into fight.
Nineteenth-century opponents often complained about Pebbly Jack. Runners who passed his shortstop position often tripped and fell or got sore ribs. As one reporter noted: "Jack was always as genial a gentleman as ever slit a throat or wielded a lead pipe."
Until 1954, infielders and outfielders left their gloves on the field when their team batted. Infielders flipped them onto the outfield grass.
The 1952 Indians got him to caddy for bum-legged first baseman Luke Easter. After Easter's departure, Glynn caddied for Vic Wertz at first base. A fancy fielder, he was a notoriously poor hitter who played in late innings or in case of injury. In the first game of a doubleheader in Detroit on July 5, 1954, he hit three homers in a 13-6 victory. He hit a grand slam in the third inning, homered with one on in the fifth, then led off the seventh with a homer. Then he batted with the bases loaded in the eighth. He drove centerfielder Bill Tuttle nearly to the wall and got his eighth RBI. In the nightcap, he was his normal self, going 0 for five. He ended the season with five home runs.
Before becoming the Flushing Flash, he was a hot dog vendor for the Mets. He epitomized the fringe pitcher of his era; although the record books say he pitched in the majors 1975-83, he spent only one full season in the majors.
Leaving Havana after finishing winter ball, he reported to spring training with the 1944 Washington Senators. Trouble was, the Senators were training at the University of Maryland because of wartime travel restrictions. February in College Park was not pleasant. Gomez got a heavy coat and tried to work out in that. Manager Ossie Bluege tried to tell him, in English, that he couldn't wear the coat, but Gomez didn't understand. Gomez remembered later: "Finally, Gil Torres came over and explained that, if I tried to train this way, I wouldn't be able to move."
As a big-league manager in later years, he twice lifted pitchers during no-hitters. He did it July 21, 1970 while managing the Padres, lifting Clay Kirby for a pinch hitter in the eighth inning. The Mets got a hit off the reliever and won. Gomez did it again with the Astros, lifting Don Wilson for a pinch hitter Sept. 4, 1974, also in the eighth inning. The Reds got a hit in the ninth.
He marched into Havana with Fidel Castro's rebel army in January 1959. A former Washington Senators farmhand, he'd last played in OB with Roswell of the Southwestern League in 1953.
A Canadian outfielder, he was with the Omaha Cardinals on Aug. 1, 1957, when he set the record for throwing a baseball. He threw one 445 feet 10 inches in an exhibition before an American Association game in Omaha. In beating Don Grate’s record by nine inches, he threw from the rightfield corner to the leftfield corner of Omaha Park to capitalize on a three mph breeze. He took a six-step running start and threw four balls. These facts are recounted on page 178 of 1958 Sporting News Guide.
Who’s Who in Professional Baseball details that throw but says he broke the record of Sheldon LeJeune. The book says LeJeune threw a ball 426 feet 9½ inches at Redland Field in Cincinnati Oct. 9, 1910. The book says LeJeune’s third throw of the day reached 401-5½, about 15 feet further than his first two throws. Then he set his record on the fourth throw.
The Biographical History of Baseball says Gorbus (sic) threw a ball out of Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia in 1957, and that the distance was estimated at 445 feet 10 inches.
Glen pronounced his surname “GOR-bus. See Don Grate.
This superstitious infielder was easy prey to jokers. Opposing infielders would leave crossed pop-cycle sticks on second base. Upon taking the field, Gotay would be horrified at the apparent voodoo symbol and avoid the bag.
He was the first to play in a game while wearing a number. That is, he led off the day the Indians introduced uniform numbers. He also was the first pitcher to face Babe Ruth in the majors. Unsuccessful as a pitcher, Graney became an outfielder.. Later, he became the first former player to go into broadcasting. He was especially adept at “re-creating” games. That meant that his employers were too cheap to send him on the road; instead, he sat in a studio in Cleveland and faked like he was at the game. He’d get the play-by-play from Western Union, add in some sound affects, then “re-create” it for listeners. Lots of other stations and teams did it, too.
He spent most of his four years in the Army as a POW. He was a sergeant when the Germans captured him in North Africa. He spent three years, four months and nine days in German camps in North Africa. To pass the time, he set up an eight-team baseball league among POWs; they played a regular schedule.
The Washington Senators drafted him from Seattle in 1949. With the ‘52 Senators he caught 25 runners stealing and picked off 14 runners. Umpires didn’t like working behind him; he held various records for ejections. In high school he played the three majors sports but won awards as a dancer. See Phil Marchildon.
Everybody wanted to sign this pitcher when he got out of Ohio State in June 1945. On June 23 he picked the Phillies. He got into seven games with them in the mid-1940s (1-1) but gave up pitching in 1951. He just missed making the Washington Senators as an outfielder.
He was best-known for his strong arm. He set a world’s record by throwing a ball 443 feet 3 ½ inches while with the Chattanooga Lookouts in 1953.
On July 1, 1956, Rocky Colavito of the PCL’s San Diego Padres tried to break the record before a game in San Diego. Standing at home plate in Lane Field, Colavito threw balls over the centerfield wall. But his longest was 435 feet 10 inches.
Grate was with the Minneapolis Millers on Aug. 27, 1956 when that team held a Fan Appreciation Night complete with field games. This took place before a night game in Metropolitan Stadium with a crowd of 10,620 watching. The idea, of course, was to see if Grate could break his record. A gate was opened in the wire fence in centerfield, giving him running room. The fence was 405 feet from the plate. He took six steps on each of several throws toward home plate.
His longest throw landed just in front of the box seats and was measured at 445 feet and one inch. The 1957 Sporting News Guide carried a short story on page 202 about the contest. Later that same year, though, outfielder Glen Gorbous of the Omaha Cardinals broke Grate's record by nine inches. See Gorbous.
He's the first major leaguer born in Viet Nam. Some other players from unlikely places: Bert Blyleven (The Netherlands), John Anderson (Norway), Bobby Thomson (Scotland), Elmer Valo (Czechoslovakia), Victor Cole (USSR), Tom Mastny (Indonesia) and Marino Pieretti (Italy)..
Lefthander William Denton Gray pitched for the 1909-11 Washington Senators. If there was a way to lose, he'd find it. He once lost a one-hitter because he walked seven straight on 3-2 counts. He got his nickname from a Spanish-American War song called “Goodbye, Dolly Gray.”
The famed one-armed outfielder had five hits against the Indians in a doubleheader on June 10, 1945. His first extra base hits came in the same series: he got a triple June 8 and a double June 10. Incidentally, it’s not often remembered that he was MVP of the Southern League in 1944.
This pitcher seemed to be missing a vowel. Headline writers had fun: “Grba Ptchs 4-Httr,” etc. He pronounced it “GRRR-buh.”
GREAT LAKES NAVAL AIR STATION
The Cardinals, Yankees and Tigers notwithstanding, Great Lakes had the best baseball team of 1942-45. Bob Feller, Schoolboy Rowe, Tom Ferrick, Denny Galehouse, Johnny Gorsica, Bob Harris, Virgil Trucks, Si Johnson and Johnny Rigney were around to pitch at one time or another. Position players, at one time or another, included Walker Cooper, Mickey Cochrane, Billy Herman, Pinky Higgins, Ken Keltner, Dick Wakefield, Gene Woodling and Johnny Mize. Trucks says the '44 team could have won either the AL or NL pennant. That team was 48-2, beating 12 big league teams. Great Lakes lost only to the Brooklyn Dodgers and to a Ford semipro team in Dearborn. The latter defeat gave manager Mickey Cochrane a fit. He threatened to court martial a pitcher for clowning. Another great team, the Norfolk Naval Station of 1942, went 98-8 behind Feller and Fred Hutchinson.
GRIFFITH FAMILY TREE
Clark Griffith, the Hall of Fame pitcher who owned the Washington Senators, had a partner and brother-in-law named Jimmy Robertson, who died relatively young, leaving seven kids. Griffith and his wife, with no children of their own, took in their nephews and nieces. One was Sherry Robertson. Griff formally adopted only two, giving them his surname. They were Calvin and Thelma. Calvin later ran the Twins. Thelma married pitcher Joe Haynes of the Senators. Thelma's sister, Mildred Robertson, married shortstop Joe Cronin of the Senators.
Now, going back to Calvin Griffith. He was born Calvin Robertson in Montreal. After moving in with his uncle Clark in D.C., he was batboy on the pennant-winning Senators of '24-25. In ‘35 Clark sent him to Chattanooga as president and treasurer of the Lookouts. In 1938, Calvin was switched to similar posts with the Charlotte team of the Piedmont League, which sounds like a bit of a demotion. But Calvin even managed that team some. In 1942, Clark brought him to D.C. as manager of concessions at Griffith Stadium. He worked subsequently as traveling secretary and P.R. director, and even sneaked into a few box scores now and then. Then he became administrative assistant to his Clark.
Calvin’s known minor-league record:
G AB H HR RBI PCT.
1939 Charlotte, Piedmont (Fewer than 10 games)
1940 Charlotte, Piedmont (Fewer than 10 games)
1941 Charlotte, Piedmont 1 1 1 - - 1.000
1943* Trenton, Inter-State (fewer than 10 games)
* Records give no first name, but longtime Senators scout Joe Cambria owned this team, indicating the player must have been Calvin.
Clark liked to promote rivalry with "the other league." Not till 1949 did Griffith Stadium even post NL scores. Oddly, his Senators' official name was "Nationals."
Clark died Oct. 27, 1955. Calvin became president of the Senators five days later. Ann Robertson Griffith, widow of Clark, died Oct. 13, 1957 in Washington, D.C. She was 82.
Calvin had met his wife, Natalie Niven, when he was working at Charlotte. They had daughters Corinne and Clare and son Clark II. The boy graduated from Dartmouth and went into the Twins' front office.
Sherry Robertson was an infielder for the Senators. He was the most booed player in Washington because of the obvious nepotism. He wanted his uncle to trade him because of all the abuse, thinking he'd do better with another team. Once he overthrew first baseman Mickey Vernon so badly that the ball hit a fan's head in the stands. The fan left the park, walked to nearby Garfield Hospital and died. At least that's the legend. Robertson died in a car wreck in 1970 in South Dakota.
Thelma Griffith married Joe Haynes, a pitcher with a good curve, on Nov. 11, 1941. Haynes came up with the Senators but Griff sold him to the White Sox before the wedding (on June 4, 1941). Periodically, Griff would try to get him back and eventually did. Haynes was 7-9 for the 1946 White Sox, but was 4-1 vs. Bob Feller. Sixteen of his 23 starts that season were against 20-game winners. Thelma eventually became VP and co-owner of the Twins.
He threw the last legal major-league spitters in 1934.
He and Allie Reynolds were the Indians' wartime aces, but Gromek was never more than a spot starter with the postwar Tribe. Yet he was the team's best bet to beat the Yankees, even more so than Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Early Wynn, etc. Gromek was 17-10 against the Yankees. Overall, his career ERA, 3.41, was lower than Hall of Famer Wynn's (3.54).
Gromek was a "fly-ball pitcher." Batters popped up or hit flies, hopefully, to outfielders. In the first game of two on July 4, 1945, he beat the Yankees 4-2 in Cleveland without benefit of an assist. Fifteen Yankees flied out, four struck out, four popped to infielders, two popped to catcher Frankie Hayes and two grounded to first baseman Mickey Rocco unassisted. Gromek was 5-0 against the Yankees that season.
(The Reds played one of those no-assist oddities April 20, 1997, in Cincinnati against the Rockies. Stories at the time said that the official records showed only three previous such games: Gromek's, a game in which the Yankees made no assists in Cleveland on Sept. 11, 1995, and a game in which the Mets made no assists against the Phillies June 25, 1989. Not surprisingly, all these games involved New York teams. The stories overlooked a game in the 1890s and one in which the St. Louis Browns made no assists against the Indians Aug. 8, 1943, in the second game of a doubleheader. In that latter game, though, the Browns were in the field only eight innings.)
He lost games in two leagues, in cities 1,100 apart, on July 14, 1991. As a starter for the Reds he lost to the Pirates in Cincinnati 10-6. He also was scored as the loser of a AAA game in Denver. It was the completion of a game that had been suspended because of rain on May 15. He'd been with the Nashville team when that game began. He also was a loser twice in robberies that summer. First his apartment in Nashville was burgled, then he and several players were stuck up walking to the team hotel in Richmond.
Everybody remembers Lefty Grove. Orval was the forgotten Grove of his era. A skinny pitcher, he had control problems that delayed his arrival in the majors. Once he got there, he looked like he'd be top-notcher. But eventually a knee injury led to a sore arm. Moreover, the hitters came home from WWII and caused Orval lots of trouble. He won 43 games in 1943-45; he won 16 over the next four seasons.
The way the story goes, a 15-year-old Dominican once told Guerrero he’d give him 1 percent of all his major league earnings if Guerrero would help him with his hitting. Who would have thought the kid would grow up to be big-leaguer Raul Mondesi? Maybe Guerrero. Whichever, in 2004 he sued for 1 percent of what Mondesi had earned. A Dominican court awarded Guerrero $640,000. Mondesi appealed, then jumped the Pittsburgh Pirates to go back to the Dominican Republic because he supposedly feared for the safety of his family. The Pirates then dumped him for losing interest in his job. Later, he returned to the U.S. and signed with the Angels. He said he’d win the appeal. “I never signed a paper, and he says I said to him I got to give you 1 percent,” Mondesi said. “Seventeen years ago, and I was like 15 years old.” That’s the way things stood in June 2004.
He didn't start the game but ended up seven for seven. It happened in the second game of two against the Indians June 21, 1970. He batted .243 that season.
A catcher for the Veracruz team, he died in Monterrey May 17, 1966, five days after being shot in an off-the-diamond brawl. He had batted .423 in 32 games.
The proofreading of the old Sporting News Guides was, and is, exemplary but the covers were tacky and usually came off. VIPs were mailed free hard cover versions; other people had to buy paper-covered copies. In the 1960s, TSN started inserting those pesky little cards that make modern magazines so hard to read. They were bound in and you couldn’t get them out.
The publisher wasn't above tooting his own horn. The 1948 Guide calls T.G. Taylor Spink's Judge Landis and 25 Years of Baseball a “classic” and says it “led the national Best Seller lists for many months in 1947.” Apparently it was up there with Gone With the Wind.
Kids who couldn't afford the Guide bought a cheap imitation, the Dell guide. There were no minor league stats (hence lots fewer pages) but the covers were cardboard, colorful and well-attached.
This notorious mayor of Jersey City threw out the first ball in 1917 for the city's International League team and didn't miss a year until 1947, when he had to go to Washington to see President Truman on official business. He sponsored an annual opening day ticket drive that led to many records; 61,164 tickets were sold for the 1941 opener. Obviously the ballpark could accommodate only a fraction of the ticket holders, but the project was a great civic gesture.
Relievers lounging in bullpens need something to do. Hall amused (and sometimes sickened) teammates by eating moths and bugs.
HANDICAPPED MAJOR LEAGUERS
●Pitcher Jim Abbott had no right hand.
●Pitcher Gene Bearden, wounded in WWII, had metal plates in his head and in one leg. His lame leg helped him pitch better. His jerky motion was hard to follow.
●Outfielder Bingo Binks was hard of hearing although some people thought he heard what he wanted to hear.
●Pitcher Lou Brissie, wounded in WWII, had 21 surgeries on his left leg and pitched with a leg protector.
● Three-Finger Brown was missing two fingers on his pitching hand.
● Childhood rheumatic left Russ Christopher with a weak heart. The Indians feared in 1948 that he'd die on the mound. He retired after that season and soon died.
● Pitcher Jack Creel had slightly deformed hands.
● One-Arm Daily pitched well with that one good arm..
● Pitcher Whammy Douglas' right eye was glass.
● Outfielder Pete Gray had only one arm, his left.
● John Hiller pitched in the majors after having a heart attack.
● Outfielder Danny Hoffman was nearly blind in his right eye.
● Outfielder Dummy Hoy was deaf.
● Pitcher Bill Irwin was blind in one eye.
● Pitcher Hi Jasper was blind in one eye.
● Third baseman Whitey Kurowski fell as a kid, cutting his arm on glass. Osteomyelitis set in. Some bone had to be removed, making his right arm four inches shorter than his left. This kept him out of WWII and eventually ended his career.
●Pitcher Dummy Leitner was deaf.
●Outfielder Bris Lord’s right pinky had been amputated.
●Outfielder Paul O'Dea was blind in one eye.
●Pitcher Claude Passeau had arthritis in his pitching hand. Some batters thought that was an excuse for throwing what looked like a spitter.
●Outfielder Hal Peck was missing two toes from his left foot because of his poor marksmanship.
●Outfielder Curtis Pride is deaf.
●Toad Ramsey had a great drop because of an injured finger.
●First baseman Eddie Robinson had serious orthopedic problems.
●Pitcher Bryan Stephens of the Indians was missing a fingertip on his left hand. He threw righty.
●Pitcher Luther Taylor was deaf.
●Pitcher Bob Wickman is missing the tip of his right index finger.
●Bert Shepard, an army pilot, was shot down May 21, 1944, while strafing a German truck convoy. After Shepard was captured, a German doctor amputated one of his legs. He became a symbol of courage by eventually pitching for the Washington Senators on an artificial leg. And he could run 100 yards in 12.2 on it. The Chattanooga Lookouts released him (along with Rip Radcliff) in early October 1946. The Elmira club released him in late May 1947.
●Outfielder Dick Sipek was deaf.
●Pitcher Bob Spade had a slightly deformed pitching hand.
●Pitcher Tom Sunkel was blind in his left eye.
He had a very successful football career at Ol' Miss. Toward the end of it, he married Evelyn Pevey of Jackson, Miss. Not long afterward, the manager of the Jackson baseball team, Travis Jackson, signed Hapes to play baseball.
Hapes became a utility man and pinch hitter for the Jackson Senators of the Southeastern League in 1946. He was in 13 games in four months with the team. He played in the outfield three times and pinch hit the other times. In 18 at-bats he had four singles and two doubles for a .333 average.
He soon turned to pro football. In December 1946 his testimony helped convict Alvin J. Parris on two counts of trying to fix the New York Giants-Chicago Bears football game. But the NFL suspended Hapes for hanging around with seedy characters. He was still persona non grata in April 1947, when he took a job coaching and teaching at Byram Consolidated near Jackson. His wife coached the girls' teams there.
Emmett Vaughey, president of the Jackson baseball team, released Hapes upon his own request, apparently after the gambling stink. “We'd take him back in a minute,” Vaughey said, “as we consider him a perfectly honest boy, confused and abused by ill-chosen associates in New York.”
Charles A. Comiskey II was named president of the White Sox as a 21st birthday gift.
Mel Harder threw the first and last pitch in Cleveland Stadium. The last one was strictly ceremonial.
He was the last of the old expansion Washington Senators in the majors. He last played for the 1986 Texas Rangers, which were in fact the old expansion Senators. He'd been with the Indians and Yankees in between.
A journeyman reliever, he got short shrift after WWII. Connie Mack released him rather than abide by the G.I. Bill guaranteeing that returning servicemen would get their old jobs back. Under pressure from veterans groups, Mack coughed up two-thirds of what Harris was due, turning the presentation of the check into a photo op. Harris smiled in the photo as Mack shortchanged him. Granted the fellow wasn’t a very good pitcher, but he was a WWII vet.
When he ended his 31-year career as an ump, he warned the players in his final game, on Oct. 4, 1992, that he was going to call the actual strike zone, the one in the rules. The result was a 1:44 game in which the Dodgers beat the Astros 3-0. There were 13 hits but no homers, 21 strikeouts and two walks.
"He told us he was going to do it that last day," Jeff Bagwell of the Astros remembered. "But he did a good job. He got us to put the ball in play. He made it a lot of fun."
ERWIN “ZAZA” HARVEY
A red-haired pitcher-turned-outfielder, he played in the majors in 1900-02. He was a genuine star by the time stomach trouble permanently sidelined him. He was sometimes called "Silent" Harvey, but people began calling him “Zaza.” Was it because of his hair? We can only speculate.
Two French playwrights, Berton and Simon, created “Zaza” in the late 1890s. She was a wickedly irresistible redhaired music hall singer. David Belasco adapted an English dramatization and Charles Frohman produced the show Zaza, which opened Jan. 9, 1899 at the Garrick Theatre in NYC. It starred a leading actress, Mrs. Leslie Carter. As a red-haired and temperamental Chicago divorcee, she fit the role nicely.
The play did so well that it was revived at the opening of the next season, Oct. 1, 1900, at the Criterion Theatre on Broadway. It ran 42 performances there.
Zaza Harvey fits into the time frame nicely. He likely saw the play on Broadway, somehow leading to the nickname.
Incidentally, Gloria Swanson starred in the silent film version in 1924, then Claudette Colbert did her own singing for the 1939 sound film. The cast also included Bert Lahr. Reviewer Leonard Maltin gives it only two stars; he saw it, but it's apparently not on tape now.
His drop was as good as Tom Ramsey's. He pitched a no-hitter against the Senators in 1894, the first one from the present distance. After baseball, he ran a feed store in Wilmington, Delaware.
He signed his name "Emerson P. Hawley," the P standing for Pink. His parents bestowed the odd name because Pink was one of identical twins. A pink ribbon was tied on one baby, a blue on the other. That way, the parents could tell them apart. Pink's brother Elmer Blue Hawley died. Pink holds the NL record for hitting batters, 195 of them in nine seasons. Walter Johnson holds the major league record--206--but it took him 21 years to do it.
Although Bob Feller's pet catcher and the starting catcher in 1946 all-star game, he was waived to the White Sox during the all-star break. He was out of majors at 32, dead by 40. He never reached his potential. He could get all the pop fouls but runners stole on him.
He was playing left field for the Boston Braves in Wrigley Field on Aug. 26, 1948. The Braves were leading 1-0 in the third inning. Emil Verban was on second and Hal Jeffcoat on first when Phil Cavarretta cut at Vern Bickford's first pitch and hit the ball against the leftfield wall. Heath saw the ball drop into the vines, then reappear inches from the ground near his right foot. Why pick it up, though? He had a better idea. The ground rules call for a double if a batted ball is lost in the vines. Pretending he couldn't find the ball, he frantically tore vines from the walls. Cavarretta circled the bases and the Cubs seemingly led 3-1. But the umps fell for Heath’s ruse, ordering Cavarretta back to second and Jeffcoat to third. That made it a 1-1 game. Cubs manager Charlie Grimm threw a fit, of course, and fans threw debris on the field. Heath took refuge in the dugout before the real trouble started, fans pouring onto the field. Umpires threatened to forfeit the game, which cooled passions, but Braves manager Billy Southworth wouldn’t put his players back on the field until it was cleaned. It took 15 minutes to pick up the raw fruit, beer bottles, straw hats and paper, and for the cops to get the fans back in the stands. Then the Braves took their positions in the field again. Fans were still booing and jeering when Bickford walked Andy Pafko to load the bases. When Peanuts Lowrey hit the ball into the leftfield corner, Heath had to chase it. This time he picked it up, but not before Lowrey had a triple. The Cubs justifiably won 5-2.
Heath had hit .343 as a rookie with the 1938 Indians but was a notorious loose cannon. He held most hitting records for Canadians until a generation or so ago. In 1941 he became the first AL player to get 20 doubles, triples and homers in one season. He did it in 1941.
Known for brawn, not brains, he once staged mock fight in the dugout so he could sneak in a swing at unpopular manager Ossie Vitt. Then there was the union movement that began in the majors in 1946. Jeff, who always had contract troubles, swore he'd never join a union or waste his money on dues. "The union isn’t worth $72 a year to me," he observed.
He's the only pitcher to win a batting title (in 1886). Charlie Hickman came close in 1899. Both filled in some at other positions for the obvious reason: they could hit.
The Reds once sold him for $75,000, then bought him back at the waiver price.
He scored 1,122 runs in the 1980s, more than anyone else in the decade.
This Kansas City Royal pitcher marked the 1,000 game in Jacobs Field in Cleveland by getting into a memorable fight with his catcher, John Buck. It happened Sept. 12, 2006, just after Hernandez struck out Ryan Garko with two Indians aboard to end the home third. He jogged to the dugout, then pointed to Buck and began yelling. Then the two charged each other and went to it. Teammates and coaches finally separated them. Hernandez won 5-3.
The Yankees’ “old reliable” was playing rightfield when he was spiked on a triple play although he never touched the ball. It happened May 22, 1946 in Detroit. Jake Wade was pitching for the Yankees. He opened the Tigers eighth by walking Eddie Mayo. After Jimmy Outlaw singled Mayo to third, Dick Wakefield grounded to first baseman Nick Etten. He threw home to Bill Dickey, who got Mayo in a rundown. Third baseman Snuffy Stirnweiss applied the tag, turned and saw both Outlaw and Wakefield at second base. This started the fiasco.
When Outlaw started for third, Wakefield headed for first. Both benches cleared, the players lining the foul lines and shouting advice. Umpires Charlie Berry, Cal Hubbard and Hal Weafer were dashing thither and yon, too, and it looked like the Russian army was on the field.
Stirnweiss threw to second baseman Joe Gordon, who threw to shortstop Phil Rizzuto. Rizzuto’s return throw to Gordon retired Outlaw. Gordon threw to Etten, who threw to Rizzuto cutting across the diamond. Rizzuto, who was tagging everybody–teammates and umpires included–finally tagged Wakefield for the third out. That added up to 10 chances involvng five players.
Naturally outfielders Charlie Keller, Joe DiMaggio and Henrich had rushed in to help. As everybody calmed down, they saw Henrich sitting on the grass and removing his right shoe and sock. As he later recalled: “I was in there covering first base and minding my own business when Wakefield hollered, `Who asked you to get into this thing? Gangway!' When I looked down to find out why my foot felt wet, I saw I had been cut by Wakefield."
Henrich was rushed to Ford Hospital for three stitches. Jokers said the only thing lacking in the Keystone Kops misadventure was a custard pie.
HENRY WILLIAM HERBERT
This aristocrat fled Britain to escape bill collectors. He became the first U.S. sportswriter, laboring under the name Frank Forester. He championed fair play and sports-for-their own sake. When he went bust again, he committed suicide.
While with the Dodgers he once tried to bean his manager, Leo Durocher, in the dugout. He had it set up for the first baseman to miss the ball during warmups. (Durocher lacked admirers.)
Players on the bench were always in danger when Tommy “Buckshot” Brown or Butch Hobson was playing third base.
One player who accidentally did bean his manager was Dummy Taylor, and it had lifelong consequences for John McGraw. After Taylor’s errant warm-up hit him, McGraw had sinus trouble the rest of his life.
Then there was Bryan Taylor of the Indians, who beaned his own centerifelder, Brett Butler, with a warmup ball from the bullpen. The Orioles had legal problems in the 1980s when a ball from the bullpen hit a female fan According to folklore, Sherry Robertson of the Senators once killed a fan with a wild throw. I’ve never seen documentation.
This millionaire club owner helped his team win the Sunset League pennant. He batted .255, driving in 74 runs in 103 games as president and principle stockholder of the Mexicali Aguilas. He was 32. There’s a story on page 353 of the 1949 Guide.
Ex-minor leaguer John E. Roschle prevented what newspapers called “a dastardly train derailment” in Meadville, Pa. on May 27, 1903. Outfielder Dave Orr once was credited with saving a girl from death. More recently, catcher Dave Duncan rescued a drowning swimmer.
RAMON "MIKE" HERRERA
He was one of a few Cubans who played in both the Negro leagues and the majors. He was with the Jersey City Cubans and Long Branch (NJ) Cubans in 1916 and Cuban Stars (West) in 1920-21. He led off and played second base for the Cuban Stars in the Negro National League's debut season of 1920. He played for Almendares that winter, hitting well against the touring the New York Giants. He was in the majors in 1925-6. See Jose Acosta.
In 1959, outfielder Art Herring of the Rochester Red Wings was in a movie theater during spring training in Daytona Beach when a spider bit him. With his right elbow swelled to double size, he missed the final stages of training.
Among major leaguers who weren’t high school stars were Walker Cooper and Brett Butler. Cooper was too busy working on the family farm to try out. Butler did play some, but very little. His coach considered him too small. Butler never forgave the guy.
The controversy goes on: did he make the first unassisted triple play? On May 8, 1878, he was playing leftfield for the Providence Grays. After making a shoestring catch, he continued to third base, which he tagged. That retired the runner from third base, and, supposedly, the runner from second base had also passed third. Under the rules, both runners were out, along with the batter. But Hines also threw to second base to be sure. That accounts for part of the confusion.
For years various professed witnesses wrote newspapers offering varied accounts. Some say Hines made all three outs; some say he threw to second base for the third out.
Some say, also, he was the first to win a triple crown. The confusion there arises because modern-day statisticians are continually fiddling with the old figures. Nowadays, Abner Dalrymple is credited with the batting title in 1878.
He’s also said to have been the first outfielder to wear sunglasses, beginning in 1882. And the Milwaukee cops also said he was a pickpocket. Bond was set at $1,000 when they arrested him in 1922. He was 69 and said he worked for the post office division of the Department of Agriculture. “I have played my last game and lost,” the Milwaukee Journal quoted him (although that surely sounds like the figment of an overwrought reporter’s imagination).
He was a journeyman infielder who went on to manage in the majors. He also was a scout and a minor league coach and executive. In all, he spent more than 40 years in baseball. Long before that, though, he’d been a football star. A single-wing back, he ran 40 yards for Auburn’s only touchdown in the Bacardi Bowl in Havana on Jan. 1, 1937. His regular-season running had helped Auburn into that bowl game, its first He also led the baseball team to its first Southeastern Conference title. He died April 9, 2006, at age 89.
Back in the quaint days when the Register listed hobbies and national origins, almost all ballplayers listed their hobbies as hunting and fishing. Occasionally someone would admit to collecting stamps. Some other oddballs are worth noting:
● Cal Abrams: dancing and cartooning.
● Terry Whitfield: assembling toys and working puzzles.
● Al Gerheauser: He didn’t list it in the Register, but he liked to fly model airplanes.
● Earl Averill Jr.: He was another model airplane buff.
● Pitcher Tex Hughson: reading and movies.
● Ralph Hodgin: He was another who admitted he liked to read.
● Pitcher Jocko Thompson: He collected stamps.
● Pitcher Jim Bagby Jr.: cartooning
● Marv Rickert: wildlife drawing
● Pinky Woods: He collected antiques.
● Sandy Consuegra: cockfighting. (This tidbit of information didn’t pass unnoticed.)
●Rufe Gentry: He held out the whole 1945 season, which was lousy strategy. Not only did he miss a year’s pay, his team, the Tigers, won the World Series. He returned in 1946, along with all the servicemen, and couldn’t make the team.
●Don Heffner: When the Los Angeles Angels acquired him from Detroit in 1944, he refused to report. He was suspended and was out until early 1947, when he played one last game for Aberdeen of the Northern League. A veteran second baseman, he eventually became a coach and manager.
● Joe Azcue: He held out in 1971 and worked construction.
● Johnny Kling: He held out all of 1909.
●Amos Rusie: He held out in 1896, causing a season-long sensation. Rival club owners offered to pay his salary, if only the New York Giants would sign him. His absence hurt attendance that much.
Everybody knew he had the smallest feet in the majors. An outfielder during his years in the big leagues, he became fine minor league pitcher.
He once wrote a magazine story headlined "I Batted Against Fidel Castro." Supposedly it happened one winter in Cuba when Castro was a law student. It was Hoak's Hoax, of course. It was probably the most outlandish of all the screwy stuff written about Castro: he’s said to have written Clark Griffith for a tryout, the Giants pursued him, if only his curve had been better he would have stayed out of politics, etc.
ELON "CHIEF" HOGSETT
He had a reputation as a mean lefty who threw at batters when he was with the Tigers in the 1930s. He denied he was part Indian. One teammate, Rudy York, was part Indian.
Only twice in his 11 seasons in the majors did he break double figures in home runs. He hit 13 in 1944, then led the majors with 28 the next season. It really wasn’t that much of a fluke. The Braves had moved the rightfield fence in from 345 to 320 feet in 1945. They also doubled Holmes’ pay for leading the league. Then, perhaps thinking better of it, they moved the fence back.
And while leading the league in homers, he also was its toughest batter to strike out. Only nine times did he fan. Mostly he was a line drive hitter, averaging .302 in the majors. He hit .352 in 1945 but lost the batting title to Phil Cavarretta by three points.
HOMERS (CHEAP ONES)
Catcher Tom Kinslow of the Washington Senators once reminisced: “Cliff Carroll was given his ticket of leave from the St. Louis Browns, and fined $50, and I was the innocent cause of it. In '91 when I was with the Brooklyn Association team, we played a series in St. Louis . . . In the opening game, Cliff was playing leftfield and I was at the bat. I hit a bounding ball to left. It was good for a clean single but I pulled up at first base and Dave Foutz, who was on the coach lines, ordered me to take another base because Carroll had lost the ball. As I ran to second I noticed that Cliff was prospecting the pockets of his shirt and so I skipped to third. When I pulled up there, Cliff was still giving his shirt the half Nelson and I ran home with a run that won the game. After the game I went to the Browns' dressing room out of curiosity just to find out why Cliff was wrestling with his shirt. He showed me the shirt pocket. The ball had somehow bounced into the pocket. While I was talking with Cliff, in bounced [club owner] Chris Von der Ahe. `Carroll,' gurgled Chris, `Vot vas der madder? I hear dot der ball got twisted in your pocket. I know vot kind uf an outfielder you are. You vant to carry an alarm clock arount in your pocket. Dot pocket vill cost you $50!' But the fine and release proved a lucky stroke for Cliff. He was signed by Selee for the Boston club and had the honor of participating in one championship.”
On May 3, 1899 the Louisville Colonels took a 6-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth in Pittsburgh. By the time Jack McCarthy batted, three runs were home and the Pirates had Heinie Reitz and Jesse Tannehill on base.
When McCarthy lined the ball over first base, most everyone thought it was merely a loud foul. But the umpire called it fair. Certainly the ball was far into foul territory after clearing the infield. Then it hit a clump of grass or a pebble. A right-angle bounce sent it far into foul territory.
The ball neared the fence, where a small boy leaned against the gate to the players dressing room. As the ball neared, the boy opened the gate, and the ball bounded through. The boy then slammed the gate and lit out after the ball.
Rightfielder Charlie Dexter reached the gate fairly quickly. But he couldn't open it. The latch was on the far side. By then, of course, McCarthy had circled the bases, giving the Pirates a somewhat incredible 7-6 victory. The Colonels protested wildly, claiming fan interference. But, as the boy hadn't touched the ball, the umpire let the Pirates' victory stand. The Colonels protested formally, leaving the matter to the National League office.
On June 5 the NL ordered the game replayed. But McCarthy's bizarre homer, though unofficial, became legendary. For many years afterward, umpires made sure the gate was locked before beginning a game.
HOMERS (EVEN CHEAPER ONES)
Writer Arthur Daley liked to say the 1916 Dodgers won the NL pennant because of George Cutshaw's freak homer, which, supposedly, defied the law of gravity. Cutshaw lined the ball to right in Ebbets Field. The ball rolled to the base of the fence, then, as if lifted by a string, crawled up the wall. It teetered on the top, then fell over.
Tim Keefe reminisced in 1903: “I once umpired a game between the Twin City and Lima teams. The rivalry was a fever peak and in the deciding game the most peculiar play was pulled off that I ever witnessed in a game of ball. It was in the ninth inning when Lima was two runs ahead and Twin City had one down and three on base. Hughey was pitching for Lima and the next man up rapped a hard drive in his direction, which he gobbled up. Hughey thought the side retired and promptly put the ball in his pocket and started for the dressing room. The players yelled for him to come back but Hughey thought they wanted to save the ball, and kept on at a dead run. Meanwhile three men were busy scoring. When the pitcher refused to give up the ball his teammates overhauled him and tried to take the ball away. He refused to surrender it. A free-for-all scrap followed. Hughey was knocked down and the players almost tore his clothes off trying to get the ball, while the crowd was yelling like a lot of madmen. Twin City won, and no one ever did get the ball from Hughey. For all I know he has it yet, but it was the last game of ball he ever tossed for Lima.”
John McGraw: “Some years ago there was a catcher playing named Tug Arundel. Tug was a short heavy-built man as slow as New Orleans molasses. Nevertheless, Tug thought he was faster than he got credit for being and often challenged his tormentors to footraces, in which he always was beaten. One day the opposing team had three men on the bases with two out and a man at the bat who had beaten Tug in a race. The batter had two strikes on him when Tug remarked, "You strike at the next one and I'll drop it and catch you before you get to first." "I'll go you," said the batter. He hit at the ball and missed it. Tug dropped the sphere, picked it up and then went after his man. Of course, all the baserunners started for home. Tug chased the four runs in ahead of him and he never did get near enough to the runner to tag him.” (McGraw was speaking in 1903.)
HOMERS (SO CHEAP YOU WON'T BELIEVE)
According to newspapers of late August 1886: “Chicken Wolf of the Colonels hit a drive that outfielder Abner Powell of the Reds chased. A dog did, too. The dog had been sleeping by the fence. The dog bit Powell's leg before Powell could get the ball. The dog held on and Wolf got a homer.”
The Washington Post reported in 1905: “A few years back on the Baltimore grounds, General Jim Jackson, who afterward became one of the star hitters of the Pacific Coast League, was playing rightfield for Baltimore when a long fly was knocked between him and the centerfielder. Both players started after the ball and just as it dropped a big bulldog grabbed it in his teeth and dashed across the field with it. Three runs came in. Jimmy says the dog was the greatest outfielder that he had ever seen and was a wise guy because he was mascot for the opposing team.”
George Mullin reminisced in 1903: “I was pitching a game for Fort Wayne in the old Inter-State League when George Hogriever was in all his glory. Doggie Miller was our captain and he was hitting them out in great shape those days. There were two of us on base with a tie score along about the 11th inning and Doggie got the ball hard on the end of his bat. It hit the short fence back of Hogriever on the fly and the rest of us chased around the bases like mad. Before I turned third I saw Hogriever standing up against the fence and clawing away with all his might. It looked as if he was trying to make a hole in the boards with his fingernails. Doggie saw there was something doing, and he kept right on running. It went for a home run and we all looked around at Hoggie. He was still clawing at the fence with his back turned to the crowd. Finally he looked around and saw that the bases were clear. Then he quit and came in with the information that the ball had hit a hole cut through the fence by some kids who wanted to see the game. It had fitted in so nicely that its speed had wedged it tight, and Hoggie couldn't budge it. For a long time that ball was left in the hole.”
Jimmy Ryan, also in 1903: “Once when I was managing the St. Paul team of the Western League, we played a game in Colorado Springs. I noticed an embankment in the outfield behind me when I went out but I never thought to look at what was behind it. Pretty soon a high fly was hit and I started back and ran right over the bank and into a creek, going up to my neck. The ball fell in the water and floated away. The crowd gave me the laugh for getting wet, but two innings hadn't passed before one of those mountain thunderstorms broke, and the whole crowd was drenched. Then I had the laugh on them.”
Jake Beckley in 1903: “The longest hit on record was one which carried the ball from Staten Island to Liverpool, [England], though all the wide Atlantic rolled between. Chicago was playing New York one day. The 120th Street Park had been ruined by the opening of a street and, temporarily, a park had been built on Staten Island, right on the shore of the bay. The centerfield, in fact, was built out of boards over the water and the man who fell out of the centerfield bleachers had nothing before him but an ignominious death in the ocean. With the score a tie in the last inning, Jimmy Ryan came to bat. He hit the ball a ponderous swipe and it went sailing out over the centerfield fence into the vasty deep. Ryan's hit and his ensuing home run were forgotten, when one day a month later he got a letter and a small package by mail from Liverpool. The writer said he had sailed for Europe the day of the ballgame and had been struck by the ball as he stood on deck of the liner. After he got to Liverpool, he read an account of the game in the New York papers and concluded that he had found the missing ball. Ryan still has the much-traveled sphere to show as proof of his holding the record on long hits.”
Nelson Leopold, who owned the Galveston club in 1920-24, said that he saw a game in the 1890s when the Sandcrabs played the Houston club at Beach Park at high tide. A Galveston player hit the ball over the leftfield plank fence and leisurely trotted around the bases. A wave washed the ball back under the fence and the leftfielder threw out the hitter at the plate. There was a terrible argument but the homer finally stood and Galveston won.
When you think about, it’s not particularly remarkable that some people named Jones come from Jonestown. Whoever founded the town must have descendants, some of whom play ball. Among those players hailing from towns that bear their name: Beau Bell from Bellville, Texas; Charlie Gassaway from Gassaway, Tennessee; Flint Rhem from Rhems, South Carolina; and Rob Butler from Butlerville, Newfoundland.
Rogers Hornsby's son Bill tried baseball. In 1946 he played with Oneonta of the Canadian-American League and Milford (.150 BA) of the Eastern Shore. The Lynn club of the New England League released him in camp in 1947.
As a young man he was reputedly so fast he once chased a fox two miles, tiring it out and throwing his coat over it. The 1928 Phillies called him up without giving him a chance to get into a game. After 10 years in minors, he got quit baseball and went to work for the Boeing plant in Wichita. He kept in shape by playing semipro ball. The Tigers, short of players in 1944, signed him; he became a major-league rookie at age 40. He was hitting .444 after three weeks. He became infamous as the old-timer who fell rounding third base in Game Six of the World Series. Writers sometimes magnify the importance of his swoon. It likely did cost the game, but the Tigers won the Series, anyway, the next day.
HOUSE OF DAVID
Most fans have heard of the famous semipro baseball team of the early 1900s, before WWI. Players wore full beards and had long shaggy hair. But little is remembered about the cult, based in Benton Harbor, Mich. Leader Benjamin Purnell, self-proclaimed “Seventh Angel,” amassed a fortune. About 1910, former cult members charged him with debauching young girls. Thousands of pages of testimony culminated in summer 1927 with a court declaring that Purnell and his wife were running a public nuisance.
Playing for the Victoria team of the Texas League on June 8, 1959, he homered in three consecutive innings of a 19-4 victory over the Senators in Austin.
Years later, after the Tigers released him, he signed with the Taiheyo Lions for $80,000 in 1974. He packed the stadiums for exhibition games--the Japanese had never see n anyone so big--but he hurt a knee. When the season began, he batted twice, going hitless in his only official game in Japan.
The troubled ex-pitcher was killed April 28, 2006, when his pickup truck rolled about 5:55 a.m. in Coachella, California, about 130 miles east of Los Angeles. He was 48.
Millard "Dixie" Howell was an All-America halfback at the University of Alabama in 1932-34. In those days, halfbacks sometimes threw passes, and Dixie certainly did; future pro legend Don Hutson caught many of them. In spring 1935 the Tigers signed Howell as an infielder and optioned him to Birmingham. After a liner hit him in practice, he was sent to Beaumont (.313 in 28 games). He quit the Beaumont team late that season to coach football, apparently as an assistant at the University of New Mexico. He later played for teams in Portland, Oklahoma City and other smaller spots, before going into the military in 1943. In March 1947 he became head football coach at the University of Idaho.
Pitcher Millard Fillmore “Dixie” Howell was in the majors in 1940 and again in ‘49 and in ‘56-58. Catcher Homer “Dixie” Howell was in the majors much of the time from 1947 to ‘56.
GABRIEL "PETE" HUGHES
He walked 193 times in his 133 games with the Phoenix team of the Arizona-Texas League in 1947. He also set a league record of 38 home runs that season. He batted .371 with 167 RBI. But teammate Billy Martin, the future Yankee, won the batting title at .392 and led in RBI with 174.
In 1898 a Baltimore actor named Cooper told this story: "Eight years ago I was in a stock company at the Sacramento Theater in Sacramento, California. On a vacant lot back of the theater the lads in the neighborhood chose sides, played three old cat, scrub and the other juvenile games in the ABC of baseball. The property man in the theater used to tell us that one of the lads in the three old cat games had an ambition to outshine Tim Keefe, Rusie and Clarkson. I heard so much about this future phenom that I took the pains to study him.
"The lad had the speed of a catapult and I never saw him without a ball in his hand. One morning I tried to keep a tab on the number he struck out. I counted at least 20 and then was called into the theater to rehearsal. I am something of a rooter myself and have chewed peanuts in many a heart-disease finish at the Polo Grounds. Though I have no practical knowledge of baseball, I realized that this lank, wiry youth had all the earmarks of a pitcher. When he wasn't pitching to a batsman, he tacked a slice of canvas on a fence, measured off the pitching distance and threw the ball at the canvas mark on the fence. He could hit that mark 18 times out of 20."
Hughes did turn pro, signing with a team in Victoria, British Columbia that played in the Pacific Northwest League. The league soon folded, and Hughes, who hadn't shown much promise, had trouble finding a new team. Finally, he signed on with the Gilt Edge team of Sacramento.
Jesse Burkett of the Cleveland Spiders batted against Hughes in exhibitions during the winter of 1897-98 in California. He told everybody that Hughes had "nothing."
Hughes and his Sacramento team beat the touring Baltimore Orioles in an exhibition on Thanksgiving Day in 1897. The Orioles soon signed him.
He was a sensation in the National League. On April 22, 1898, he pitched a no-hitter against the Boston Beaneaters, winning 8-0. He went 23-12 as a rookie that season, then led the majors with a 28-6 record for the ‘99 Brooklyn club.
But he didn't like the East. Tight with his money, he sent most of his paycheck to his California bank. He soon followed. He died in Sacramento in 1924.
While playing for the Indians, he was arrested in the dugout for alleged back alimony
He had a sore arm at the University of Texas, but the team carried him along on road trips anyway because he provided so many laughs. He couldn't throw hard until his senior year, then the Red Sox gave him $600 after he finished school. He had so much stuff that complicated signals were needed to call all of his pitches. Catchers just didn't have enough fingers. Control, though, was his strong suit. Teammates swear he once pitched a whole season in Fenway without anybody clearing the Green Monster against him.
Conversely, on May 19, 1946 he nearly threw three homers on three pitches before a record crowd in Detroit. It happened in the sixth inning of the second game of a doubleheader. With one out, Jimmy Outlaw and Dick Waklefield homered on consecutive pitches. Hank Greenberg hit the next pitch onto the leftfield pavilion, just a few feet foul. He then flied out.
Hughson's arm went bad in 1947.
The Republican National Convention forced the 1992 Astros out of the Astrodome. Transferring a stretch of home games to the road, the team took a 26-game, 28-day trip from July 27 to Aug. 23. By going 12-14 on the tour, the team braced up and finished .500 (62-82). They’d been 44-45 when it began the trip.There was considerable press notice of the trip, apparently the longest in the majors since the NL’s virtually homeless Cleveland Spiders of 1899.
In 1961 outfielder Ken Hunt of the Angels broke a collarbone flexing a bat behind his shoulders while on the on-deck circle. That was in early April. He didn’t play till late September. He went from 25 homers to one, and he was out of baseball by age 30.
Juan Monge, catcher manager of the Guayamas club of the Sonora League in Mexico, injured his right eye and gouged his forehead by fouling a ball off his face. It happened during the league's all-star game on Jan. 1, 1959.
Few teams had more rowdies than the 1887 Indianapolis team when it was in the National League. Horace Fogel, who tried to manage that zoo, thought he at least was getting his men to bed on time. One night he and captain Jerry Denny set out from the Quincy House in Boston about midnight to meet a new player at the depot. Leaving the hotel, Fogel and Denny passed the fire escape, on which they spotted several of their players. Horace fined each $25. He soon resigned, saying he'd rather handle a bunch of Texas steers.
CBS's popular radio show got muddled on March 12, 1047. The question: “On what leg does a righthanded pitcher end up after he's thrown the ball?” Former sports editor John Kieran replied: “Well, he pitches off his left leg and ends up on his right.” Clifton Fadiman disagreed: “Not according to my information. He ends up with his left foot.” Oscar Levant said: “He pitches off his left leg and forgets about the right leg,” Kieran added: “He has to keep his left foot on the rubber when he's delivering the ball. That's the pivoting foot.” Franklin P. Adams said: “A righthanded pitcher stands on his left leg and vice versa.” Kieran interrupted, insisting “he pitches off his left leg,” and Levant agreed. These guys should have stuck to rocket science.
The New York Yankees thrive on excess. In 1949, Big Apple scribes, apparently lacking any real angles, decided that the Yankees had had more injuries than any other team in baseball history. So the soap-opera script of the year was: Yankees win despite 71 injuries! They counted every aching muscle.
THE INTERCHANGEABLE INFIELD
The Cleveland Spiders of the late 1890s had a fluid infield. Only second baseman Cupid Childs was a fixture at his position. Ed McKean was usually the shortstop and Bobby Wallace the third baseman. Manager Patsy Tebeau could play any infield position. McKean could play first or third base, and Wallace ended up as a Hall of Fame shortstop in St. Louis. A lot was written about McKean's errors at short, but Tebeau didn't judge players by statistics. McKean was a solid hitter.
He was one of the most unusual characters of his day. He was among the first Canadians to do much of anything in baseball, among the first to use a glove, he was a bigamist and he was might or might not have drowned at sea.
He first used the glove in 1882. The Draper-Maynard Company of Plymouth, N.H. made it, and some say it was the first padded glove.
In 1884 he shortstopped the champion Providence team. Then in Philadelphia, he established himself as a fielder second only to Johnny Ward. In 1889 he played for the Washington team at the Capitol Street grounds. After the Brotherhood movement broke up that team, Irwin went to Boston's championship Brotherhood team, a group that turned a nifty $125,000 profit. In 1891 he managed that city's championship team in the Association. In 1892 he succeeded Bald Billy Barnie as manager of the Washington team during midseason. The team didn't do well and Irwin soon took over the managerial job in Philadelphia, succeeding Harry Wright. After managing for owner Andy Freedman in New York in 1896, he headed for Toronto, where he managed a good team. On Sept. 13, 1898 he took over the Senators, having invested in them.
In 1899 he appraised the notorious owner of the New York Giants: “The trouble with Freedman is that he has no time to devote to a study of the game, and has no more knowledge of the ins and outs of baseball than the most superficial spectators. When I was manager of the Giants in 1896 I spent half my time in useless arguments with him. One afternoon during a game with the Orioles, Jouett Meekin was touched for three hits in the first two innings. He was pitching steady ball, but the Orioles had luck with them. Freedman sent a note to me demanding the removal of Meekin. I paid no attention to Andy’s request, and his messenger wore out a pair of shoes that afternoon in delivering me notes. Meekin won his game, but Freedman was sore. He claimed that I disobeyed orders and humiliated him before his friends in his private box. I gave him to understand that I was running the club and the upshot was that I resigned."
Irwin recalled another time Freedman showed his ignorance: “Mike Tiernan had one of his off spells at the bat and went three games without making a hit. Freedman called him in his office and said: ‘See here, Mike, you haven’t made a hit for three days, so I see by the scores in the paper. I want you to understand that you can’t do that to me; you’ve got to make two hits today.’”
When the NL gave Irwin an umpiring job in 1902 he was the butt of jokes about his girth.
He managed the Washington team in the abortive Union League of 1908. By the time he managed the Rochester team in 1918 he was known as one of baseball’s oldest men. He was 60.
He was managing the Hartford team the year he died. He entered a hospital June 21 with abdominal trouble and severe nervous attacks. This forced him to quit his job. One June 19, he went to New York, where he boarded the steamer Calvin Austin for Boston.
“I’m going home to die,” he told a friend.
When the steamer docked in Boston, he was not aboard. His baggage and some of his clothes were found in his stateroom. Police concluded that he had jumped overboard, an apparent suicide. Everyone appeared astounded when it turned out he'd left two families to mourn him. Neither family knew about the other. As a traveling man, he'd lived a double life for years.
Even more strange: some old friends reported seeing him later in Florida and Oklahoma.
Two Red Sox teammates, pitcher Gene Conley and infielder Pumpsie Green, became part of folklore in 1962. They got off the team bus amid a traffic jam and tired to emigrate to Israel. That’s what they said later, anyway. The team had trouble tracking them down, leading to many jokes about them being too hard to spot: Conley is 6 feet 9 and white; Green was a skinny guy, the first black to play for the Red Sox.
A grounds crew clown named Gene Mathews was known as the "Gator man" at Chain O'Lakes Park. He taped alligators’ mouths shut, then put them in lockers or threw them into team meetings. He especially scared Tomohito Ito, a Japanese righthander from the Yakult Swallows who was rehabbing his sore arm with the Tribe in 1996.
SHOELESS JOE JACKSON
He batted .408 in 1911, a record for a rookie. It's also the highest anyone ever hit without winning a batting title. (Ty Cobb won at .420.) Jackson batted .395 in 1912 and, again, he finished second. (Cobb hit .410.) Jackson stole three bases in one inning for the Naps/Indians on Aug. 11, 1912.
He led the AL with 222 hits in 1923 and teammate Speaker was second with 218.
Red Sox scout Ernie Johnson signed Jansen in 1939 at the family farmhouse in Oregon. The youngster collected his bonus and Johnson sent the contract to Boston, where the front office lost it. When Jansen received no notice to report to the Red Sox, he asked the minor league czar, Judge Bramham, what to do. Bramham discovered that the contract never had been filed. He declared Jansen a free agent, fined the Red Sox $500 for their stupidity and declared that they couldn't dicker with Jansen for three years. He promptly signed with the Pacific Coast League’s San Francisco Seals and went 30-5 in 1946. Imagine that happening today! He'd have been in the majors by the time he won his 10th game.
"I was born and raised in Oregon,” he said in 1995, “and out here on the coast the papers had very little about the major leagues. When I was sold to the New York Giants I didn't even know what league they were in. Because we didn't pay that much attention, I really never thought about the majors." He was 21-5 for the 1947 Giants.
The 1948-51 Registers show his autograph, which for some odd reason reads "Larry Janson."
Why do the Japanese leagues use the English alphabet so extensively? Well, the Japanese recognize and preserve the American origins and traditions of the sport.
Incidentally, the U.S.-Japanese tradition goes further back than many fans realize. Japan’s Waseda University team toured the U.S. in May 1905. And there were earlier contacts.
Sporting Life ran a Terre Haute dateliner dated Aug. 20, 1901: “Ora Jennings, who was umpiring a game of base ball at Farmersburg . . . was struck over the head with a ball bat by Marcellus Forbes, one of the players, who was incensed by one of the decisions. Jennings' skull was fractured, and he died shortly. Forbes was lodged in jail at Sullivan. He is an ex-convict, and served a term in the penitentiary from this county for attempted manslaughter.”
He hit the first official major-league homer in any November. It came in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, which began Oct. 31. But it went past midnight. He homered at 12:07 Nov. 1. It didn’t help the Yankees, who lost to the Diamondbacks.
This moody star created problems wherever he went. On May 28, 1974, manager Ken Aspromonte of the Indians fined him for profanity and insubordination against traveling secretary Bob Gill on a May 26 flight from Detroit to Dallas. A delay in Detroit set him off. He complained about seating arrangements to several stewardesses during a stopover in Indianapolis. He didn't re-board the plane there and flew to Dallas at his own expense. Not till July 1 did the Indians sell him to the Rangers on waivers. After fading to the minors, he quit drinking in October 1975. He sold real estate in 1976, then tried to come back with the '77 Braves. "I was schnockered," he admitted later about the trouble on the plane. He admitted getting into it with GM Phil Seghi and Aspro. . . He was an avid cyclist.
BOB “WOLFMAN” JOHNSON
He struck out 206 batters as a rookie with the 1970 Kansas City Royals. Never again did he strike out even half that many in any one major-league season. At 6 feet 4 and 220, the Wolfman was not to be trifled with. The Indians kicked him out of their rotation and off the team in 1974 for nasty behavior on a team flight. Ken Reitz of the Cardinals once made headlines, too, by being put off a flight. (See Lew Krausse Jr.)
This longtime Tiger outfielder was known as the "fast guy with the high soprano voice." He averaged .270 in 14 seasons.
JONES VS. JONES
Bobby M. Jones, a lefthander for the Rockies, faced Bobby J. Jones, a righthander for the Mets, in the late 1990s. New York papers, of course, reported this was the first time pitchers of same name opposed each other. They overlooked the Jack Taylors in 1899. Both were actually named John, and neither pitched for a New York team. Incidentally, the lefthanded Jones was dealt to the Mets on Jan. 14, 2000 and the Mets briefly had both Bobby Joneses.
He wore glasses, had a lousy temper, was immature and seldom hit above .250. Well, he overcame the temper and maturity problems, becoming a fine major leaguer. A fancy fielding shortstop with a great arm, he did lots of things right..
As a youngster, managers couldn’t put up with him. He yoyoed up and down in 1936-40. He got to play in the ‘40 World Series only because the Reds’ regular second baseman, Lonny Frey, was hurt. The '41-42 Reds used him as their regular shortstop, then, after he led the NL with 45 errors, dealt him to the Boston Braves for another slick-fielding shortstop, Eddie Miller.
With the Braves, Joost batted .185 in 1944, when wartime baseball was at its worst. The records list him as voluntarily retired in 1945 but that likely had more to do with his draft status than his baseball ineptitude. When he resumed playing it was in Triple-A in 1946.
The Philadelphia A's, always interested in damaged goods, took a chance, gambling that he’d grown up a bit. In early October 1946 they traded outfielders Russ Derry and Vern Benson, shortstop Jake Caulfield and cash to bring in Joost from the Rochester Red Wings.
In 1947 Joost led the AL in strikeouts (110) and batted .206. But he'd found a home with the parsimonious Athletics, who had little money to spend on marquee players. Not only had he overcome his temper, the fans loved his fielding. They voted him the city’s MVP, not bad, considering Harry Walker of the NL’s Phillies won a batting title.
Joost was the Athletics’ shortstop through 1952. Although his career BA was .239, he was especially good with men on base, and for six straight seasons he walked at least 101 times. This made him a fine leadoff man, and he hit with power, too. In 1949 he had 138 hits, 23 of them homers, and he walked 149 times. He and second baseman Pete Suder, another unheralded player, set various double play records.
Joost was the Athletics' playing manager in 1954. Later he sold sporting goods in Honolulu. Suder became a prison guard.
Billy was a young shortstop for the Cubs when showgirl Violet Popovich Valli shot him on July 6, 1932, in the Carlos Hotel in Chicago. She was freed on bail and the case was dropped for lack of prosecution. Jurges, wounded in the chest and hand, recovered in two weeks.
He was known for hard takeout slides at second until a beaning shaped him up.
He was the last of the AL's original Washington Senators to play in the majors (with the 1983 Cardinals). He's also memorable for winning 16 straight Gold Gloves.
It was deja vu all over again. He pitched four straight 3-0 victories in 1900, putting him in Believe It Or Not. On June 8, he beat Billy Hart and the Cleveland Blues, then on the 14th and 17th he beat Bill Dammen of the Indianapolis team, and finally on June 22 he beat Casey Patten of the Kansas City team. He gave up five hits the first time, then yielded four, six and three.
His reward for working the last 16 innings of a 21-inning Eastern League game was a 5-4 victory. Catcher Bud Hoscheit’s squeeze bunt provided it for the Binghamton team May 10, 1946. The Wilkes-Barre.club’s Joe Pennington went the route, giving up 12 hits, walking three and striking out eight. He took a one-hit shutout into the ninth, then gave up four runs that tied the game. Bob Revels went the first five for the winners, then Keegan provided shutout relief in the game, which took 4:35.
A crowd of 14,640 watched the Syracuse Chiefs score six runs in the fourth inning to take a 10-2 lead in an International League game in Montreal Sept. 20, 1946. But in the bottom half Lew Riggs hit a grand slam and the old Montreal Royals pulled within 10-8. Then Kehn, pitching in relief, hit a three-run inside-the-park homer in the home eighth. Even with a two-run ninth, the Chiefs lost 14-12. Kehn gave up three hits in 3 1/3 innings to get a deserved victory, although Ol' Coonskin Curt Davis finished for the Royals. Riggs had seven RBI. Among other Royals in the game were Jackie Robinson and Al Campanis.
Managers considered him a bad influence. Once a teammate, a reformed drunk, made several errors in a game. Kel consoled him and gave him money to get drunk. Kel said: "When sober you are the rottenest ballplayer I ever saw."
Kel was once asked if he drank during games. He replied: "It depends on the length of the games."
Considered the best AL third baseman of his era, he looked at the ball before throwing it to first base. Oddly, he hit worse during the war than he did before or after. Back in the days when all players had to work in the off-season, he once applied for unemployment compensation. He was turned down, and the story made the newspapers, bringing him much unwanted publicity. He was especially sorry when the next season began. Opposing infielders would leave pennies and nickels for him on third base.
Here’s an excerpt from a nice clipping of 1896: “Lefthander Frank Killen led the League with 34 victories three years ago. He's slipped since then, but he's only 25 and still is capable of pitching as well as anybody. The rules have changed, of course, and he can't use the old skip motion. But he throws with a tricky motion that still has a little of the old skip left in it, just enough to keep within the rules. Batters say he gets away with throwing from closer to the plate than any other pitcher. One thing he detests: pitching against the Spiders. Patsy Tebeau and Jack O'Connor know that, and they know why, too: Killen can't stand being called obscene names while he's trying to pitch.”
It was Killen who stopped Willie Keeler's batting streak in 1897. Keeler went one for five in the opener of the series against the Pirates in Baltimore, setting the NL record of 43 games. Keeler faced Pink Hawley in the 44th game, getting a triple, double and single. Killen pitched the third game of the series. Killen won a five-hitter 7-1 on June 19, ending Keeler's streak.
Bill Dahlen had hit in 42 straight in 1894. But, of course, numerical streaks weren't very important in those days. Not many people or newspapers kept track. Oldtimers would have been amazed about the publicity surrounding Joe DiMaggio, Pete Rose and their streaks.
His real name was Charles Frederick Koenig. He simply translated Koenig to King. He originated the crossfire curve. Earl Moore, who came along a few years later, refined it.
TOM KINSLOW AND THE PURLOINED ST. BERNARD
For Tom Kinslow, spring 1894 was the best of times amid the worst. He was having the time of his life.
Never mind that the Panic of 1893 had plunged the nation into depression. He had a steady paycheck and a measure of national acclaim. At 28, he was catching in the NL, hitting well over .300 and helping propel the Brooklyn Bridegrooms toward a possible pennant.
Further good fortune awaited June 28 at the end of a three-game series in Tom's hometown, Washington, D.C. He knew his way around the capital, and that night he found a good uptown saloon not far from the White House. There, he encountered Dr. Joseph A. Thompson, who lived nearby.
Kinslow and Thompson didn't fret about the 600 banks that had closed, or about the soup kitchens or Coxey's "Army." Just down the avenue on May Day, Jacob Coxey and 500 unemployed men had tried to demonstrate near the U.S. Capitol. They'd wanted public works jobs; instead, they got trouble. The local cops beat up 50 marchers, leaving them badly bloodied.
Coxey had gotten 20 days in jail for walking on the Capitol grass. He'd served his time and headed home for Massillon, Ohio, by the time Kinslow and Thompson enjoyed their night of good fellowship.
Before the liquor stopped flowing that night, Thompson offered Tom a young and very valuable St. Bernard. The two men went to Thompson's place at 2114 Pennsylvania avenue, where the generous doctor handed over the animal. Tom walked it home, then next morning put it on the train with him and headed for Brooklyn, where the Grooms were to play the New York Giants that afternoon.
By July 4, the Grooms were 33-21. Although they were fourth in the 12-team race, they were only 4 1/2 games from the top and expecting better things. After their holiday doubleheader in Cincinnati, they headed to St. Louis for games on Thursday July 5, Saturday July 7 and Sunday July 8.
St. Louis was one of the league's liveliest stops. Chris von der Ahe, who owned the Browns, had built a racetrack around his ballpark, and he'd installed new-fangled electric lights. He'd even switched them on late one afternoon so his Browns could finish a long ballgame, thereby inadvertently creating baseball's first night game.
Not surprisingly, many ballpark patrons and players tarried for a night of racing and a portion of Chris' liquor. Tom stayed one of those July nights, along with teammates Con Daily, George Treadway and Tommy Corcoran. With them was John Gaffney, the king of the umpires when he was sober. Gaff wasn't having near the season Tom was; he'd overslept a few games.
Besides betting the horses, the five men significantly dented Chris' supply of alcoholic beverages.
Kinslow and Daily were longtime pals and the closest coworkers imaginable. They'd split the team's catching since 1891. Each got a full check for half-time work. Even in 1890 they'd done likewise for Brooklyn's Players League team. Most teams alternated catchers in that era, and Kinslow and Daily made an especially good pair. Daily batted lefthanded, Kinslow righthanded. And both could hit a bit, albeit erratically. Tom had slipped from .305 in 1892 to .244 in 1893, but he was making up for that in spring 1894.
Daily, 29, of Blackstone, Mass., was not without eccentricities. Once, he learned the hard way that swimmers shouldn't dive headfirst from any seashore, even if it's the mighty Atlantic Ocean they're aiming at. Teammates rescued him, but his neck injury required a long convalescence.
Just who started the trouble that night in St. Louis is unclear. Likely, even the combatants didn't know. At 6 feet and 192 pounds, Daily had a size advantage. But Kinslow's inflamed passions made up for his 5-foot-10 stature and 160 pounds.
Some newspapers reported that Con attacked Tom. Others said no. Whichever, Grooms manager Dave Foutz blamed Tom for the brawl. Foutz suspended Tom and sent him home in disgrace.
Con accompanied the Grooms to their next stop, Louisville, where he enlivened a game by raising such a commotion that bloodthirsty patrons chased him from the field. He saved himself by vaulting the rightfield fence.
Meanwhile, Gaffney was playing dumb about the fight in St. Louis. "That is a nice way to use a man who is doing his best to do what is right," he scolded nosy reporters. "I have not touched a drop of intoxicating liquors since last Christmas and did not see the row between Daily and Kinslow. I was with them early in the evening. Treadway, Corcoran, Daily, Kinslow and myself went out to the electric light races. I came from the races back to the hotel and went to bed. The next morning I heard that Kinslow and Daily had a fight. This is all I know of it. I did nothing to bring myself into trouble."
As for Tom, he headed home little better off than one of Coxey's marchers. Not only was he sore and bruised, he'd lost his job and his income, albeit temporarily. Worse, the man he'd fought had taken that job.
More trouble awaited in Washington. The cops were waiting for him. They arrested him, just like one of the marchers.
The St. Bernard was the problem. Thompson had had a change of heart. His generosity of June 20 had paled when he arose on the morning after. He'd written Tom in Brooklyn asking that the dog be returned. Too late, Tom had written back; he'd already given away the animal. So Thompson had sworn a warrant charging Tom with grand larceny.
The case came to police court, appropriately, on Bastille Day--July 14, 1894. Thompson told the magistrate that he'd entrusted the dog to Kinslow so that it could be sold. Thompson wanted the dog or $50, which he said was the dog's value.
Tom maintained Thompson had given him the dog in a fit of generosity. Tom claimed he'd thanked the doctor profusely. He denied selling the dog in Brooklyn.
The magistrate believed Tom and nolle prossed the case. Tom swore he'd never accept another gift, or at least that's what he happily told reporters.
But Tom's life went to the dogs. His batting average to fell to .305 by season's end, and the Grooms finished fifth, 20 1/2 games behind the pennant-winning Baltimore Orioles. Never again did Tom play more than 19 games in any major league season. His paychecks were meager and few, and he was dead at 35.
He was perhaps the best-known umpire of his era. After he retired, he lived in Miami Beach. He turned 72 on Feb. 22, 1946, which, of course, was also George Washington's birthday.
Here's one of his stories: "The year before I came up to the National League to stay, I went out to the American Association and reported at Indianapolis. They were playing Columbus and Derby Day Bill Clymer, one of the most colorful men in baseball and a great favorite with the fans, was managing and playing center for Columbus. He was tough on umpires. The day I arrived he made it so bad for an umpire by the name of Holliday that the poor fellow got sick. I told Holliday to go on to Louisville, where he was to work in two days, and let me handle the game the next afternoon. It was a tough one. Went 12 innings. In the 12th Indianapolis got a man on second with one out and the batter drove a single to leftfield. As the base runner rounded third, the Columbus third sacker gave him the hip, sprawled him off his feet and he was tagged out. Of course it was interference and I permitted the run to count, and Indianapolis to win. Well, Clymer rushed at me like a wild cow. I turned away and kept walking off the field, paying no attention to him. ‘Why, you old --, you old --,’ he sputtered. ‘You old catfish,’ he finally shouted. ‘You can't talk, you can't smile, you can't do nothing but move your gills.’ After that, Clymer used to tell his players, ‘If you can make that old catfish smile, I'll buy you a new suit.’ No player ever got the suit.”
As a rookie with the 1997 Indians, Steven James Kline was 3-0 by April 17. The Indians had only won six games at that point. Still, he was soon optioned and traded.
In 1987 the Cubs beat the Astros 22-7. Even through Knepper yielded nine runs in the first inning, he plugged onward and he even batted in the second and singled. After Knepper finally showered, Julio "Grando" Solano gave up his second grand slam in two days, punching his ticket to the minors.
The Washington Senators are remembered for having four knuckleballers in the mid-1940s. Roger Wolff and Dutch Leonard threw mostly knucklers. Mickey Haefner didn't throw his nearly as much and it wasn't a good knuckler. It was the straightest of the lot. He mixed it nicely, though, with a fastball and curve, and he was lefthanded, making him a rare bird, indeed. He drove some hitters crazy, and some whole team, too. The Indians tried to trade for him for years simply because they couldn’t hit him.
Johnny Niggeling, the fourth knuckleballer, was basically a wartime pitcher, as was Wolff. Niggeling hung on, just barely, after the war; the Braves released him in mid-September 1946. (Early Wynn didn’t learn the knuckler until he was traded to the Indians.)
A lefty with the Leesburg Braves of the Florida State League, he turned in what perhaps was the best relief job ever. It happened May 27, 1956, in Daytona Beach. He began the day by pitching all 12 innings of a day game. He lost 4-0. Then the same teams played a seven-inning night game. In the last inning of that one, Komisar relieved Bill Bergstraesser with the bases loaded and none out. He threw one pitch. It was lined to third baseman Richie Myers, who stepped on third and threw to manager Tom Giordano at second base for a triple play that gave Leesburg a 6-3 victory.
Infielder Chuck Koney was with the Red Sox' Triple-A farm in Louisville in 1949, when he ducked home to Chicago for a couple days to see his wife. A water heater exploded there, burning his left leg so badly it had to be amputated. TSN's 1950 Guide had a squib on page 312.
Officially, he was 5 feet 6. Some teammates swore he was 5-2. He batted .260 for the 1952-53 Pirates.
HANDSOME JACK KRAMER
Unfortunately for him, the Sporting News once called him “Handsome Jack,” saying he was “one of baseball's best looking players.” Opposing benches gave him lots of grief about it. Once the Indians gave him a thorough going over, with coach Del Baker leading the abuse. In the second inning, Kramer plunked manager Lou Boudreau in the ribs with a fastball. As Boudreau moved toward first base, rubbing his side, Kramer came over and said: “If you don't keep those guys quiet on the bench the next time you come up I'll knock your head off. You're the boss. Now let's see you shut them up.” Boudreau did. “What's the use of throwing at those other mugs?” Kramer said to teammates after the game. “The manager is the boss, ain't he?”
HARRY “MOOSE” KRAUSE
A catcher for the Hollywood Stars of the PCL, he was married in a hospital in Hollywood, Calif. Aug. 5, 1945. The wedding was scheduled for church but Krause was beaned Aug. 4 in a game against the Portland Beavers. Rather than put off the ceremony, the bride, Marie Houser, and groom had it moved from Hollywood Lutheran Church to Sante Fe Hospital.
LEW KRAUSSE JR.
A young second-generation pitcher, he was in Washington, D.C., with his team, the Kansas City A's, when he got a call from club owner Charles Finley Aug 18, 1967. Finley fined him $500 and suspended him indefinitely for rowdyism aboard the team flight of Aug 3, from Boston to Kansas City. Finley also criticized the team publicly and barred liquor from flights. In the ensuing player rebellion, Finley sought backing from his manager, Alvin Dark. Dark sided with the players and was fired. First baseman Ken Harrelson then called Finley "a menace to baseball." So Finley fired Harrelson, too. (see Fired). The '68 Guide devoted five pages to this long soap opera. (see page 191)
A long-time AL first baseman, he was a good magician. He became interested in it when recovering from a broken ankle in 1934. He pronounced his name “cool.”
WON KUK LEE
The 1964 San Francisco Giants signed Kuk, an ambidextrous Korean pitcher, and Masanori Murakami, a Japanese pitcher. Lee caused a stir in spring training by throwing with either hand, but the Giants weren't impressed. They released him. He gave up throwing lefthanded, went to the Mexican League, married a Mexican, grew a handlebar mustache and changed his name to Ernesto. He won more than 150 games in Mexico.
He hit .300-plus before he collapsed while training with the San Antonio Missions of the Texas League in 1947. He died May 5 in a hospital in Arlington, Mass. A French Canadian, he could speak no English until arriving in the U.S. with his family when he was 11. He was cut from his high school team because he weighed 84 pounds. While spending 17 months in a CCC camp, he gained 56 pounds. During the winter of 1946-47 he got pneumonia, which apparently led to his collapse in camp. He spent eight days in a hospital, then drove home to Massachusetts. Hospitalized again, he died. Former major-league pitcher Millard "Dixie" Howell actually died during camp in 1960. He was trying to make the Indianapolis team.