For one reason or another, many trades have been canceled. Here are some:
●The Pirates traded veteran Johnny Hopp and $25,000 to the Brooklyn Dodgers on May 18, 1949. The Pirates received outfielder Marv Rackley, 27, on a conditional basis. Hopp, 32, was a handy ballplayer. He could run fast enough to be known as “Hippedy Hopp.” He could play first base and the outfield, but most of all he could hit: .296 in 14 major league seasons. Frank McKinney, president of the Pirates, soon protested to the National League office that Rackley had a lame arm. McKinney said Rackley had hurt it in training camp and hadn’t told anyone. The Dodgers promptly said they’d happily take Rackley back. On June 7, 1949, the deal was canceled. The odd part was that Hopp had gone 0 for 14 in eight games with the Dodgers. Rackley had batted .313 in 11 games for the Pirates. Some people thought the deal looked like a steal. Counting before and after the trade, Hopp hit .318 in 105 games for the Pirates in 1949. Rackley batted .300 in 63 games for the Dodgers.
●On April 28, 1950, the Yankees traded outfielder Dick Wakefield to the White Sox for outfielder Johnny Ostrowski and cash. Deal was voided when Wakefield refused to report. Such deals, of course, are not rare; this is important only because Wakefield was a prominent player.
●On March 16, 1960, the Red Sox traded veteran catcher Sammy White to the Indians, along with first baseman-outfielder Jim Marshall. The Red Sox received catcher Russ Nixon. White retired rather than report, so the deal was voided March 25. That left Nixon feeling unwanted in Cleveland; he was dealt to the Red Sox that June 13 along with outfielder Carroll Hardy. The Indians received pitcher Ted Bowsfield and outfielder Marty Keough.
●The St. Louis Browns traded infielder Johnny Berardino to the Washington Senators for second baseman Jerry Priddy late in 1947. Berardino, eager to avoid going to another low-pay team, said he'd take up acting rather than report. The trade was canceled. So on Dec. 9, 1947, the Browns traded him to the Indians for outfielder Catfish Metkovich and about $25,000. Berardino, gladly reporting to a pennant-bound team, deferred his TV acting career (General Hospital, etc.) for a few years. There was a glitch in the deal, though. The Browns complained during spring training in 1948 that Metkovich's throwing arm was injured, so the Indians took him back and gave the Browns $15,000 more. They then traded Metkovich and pitcher Les Webber to the Oakland Oaks for pitcher Will Hafey (who never made the majors).
●On June 15, 1955, the Indians' general manager, Hank Greenberg, traded outfielders Wally Westlake and Dave Pope, plus about $20,000, to the Baltimore Orioles for third baseman Billy Cox and outfielder Gene Woodling. Cox retired rather than report. Commissioner Ford Frick mediated the ensuing dispute. The basic deal stood, the Orioles returning the $20,000 and throwing in more cash, variously reported as $10,000 or $15,000. Cox and Greenberg had been teammates on the '47 Pirates; scuttlebutt had it that Cox wouldn't play for Greenberg, a former teammate from the Pirates.
●On Sept. 8, 1965, the Kansas City A's claimed outfielder Lu Clinton from the California Angels on waivers. He played one game for them, on Sept. 8. Then the AL ruled that the Indians had prior claim. On Sept. 9, Clinton was waived to the Indians. He didn't help anybody very much. He hit .243 for the Angels, went 0 for one for the A's and batted .176 for the Indians.
● The Phillies traded pitcher Harry Shuman to Oakland Oaks for first baseman Les Scarcella in the winter of 1944-45. The deal was canceled because neither player wanted to report to his new team.
● The Phillies traded pitcher Andy Karl to the Pacific Coast League’s Los Angeles Angels on Sept. 16, 1943, for infielder Glen “Rip” Russell. The deal was canceled, though, on March 11, 1944, because Russell, who lived in L.A., wouldn’t come east. The Phillies, stuck with Karl, figured they might as well put him to work in earnest in the bullpen. He became the NL’s busiest reliever in wartime 1945.
●On March 6, 1948, the Boston Braves swapped outfielder Bama Rowell to the Brooklyn Dodgers, along with first baseman Ray Sanders and $40,000, for second baseman Eddie Stanky. That April 19, the Dodgers decided they didn’t want Sanders, so they returned him and got $60,000 more in cash. They apparently didn’t think much of Rowell either, because he opened the season with the Phillies.
●The Brooklyn Dodgers traded infielder Jackie Robinson to the New York Giants for pitcher Dick Littlefield and $35,000 on Dec. 13, 1956. Robinson retired rather than report, and the deal was called off Jan. 5, 1957. Littlefield was dealt to the Cubs that spring.
●The Philadelphia A’s traded outfielder Wally Moses to the Tigers for second baseman Benny McCoy and pitcher George “Slick” Coffman on Dec. 9, 1939. Commissioner Landis canceled the deal Jan. 14, 1940 because he declared McCoy a free agent.
● On June 15, 1976, owner Charlie Finley of the Oakland A’s sold outfielder Joe Rudi and pitcher Rollie Fingers to the Red Sox for $1 million each. He also sold pitcher Vida Blue to the Yankees for $1.5 million. On June 18 Commissioner Bowie Kuhn nullified the deals, saying they’d harm baseball.
He, Ramon Herrera and possibly a few others played in the U.S. Negro leagues and in the U.S. majors long before Jackie Robinson did. The difference was that Acosta, Herrerra et al were known as white Cubans. In 1915, Acosta was the best pitcher on the Long Branch Cubans team in Long Branch, N.J. That was his only year in black ball. In 1916 he signed with Vanoucer of the Northern League. Twice he led the Cuban winter league in victories. The first time he won 16 in 1918-19 and the second time he won six in 1920-21. He played against the New York Giants during their fall tour of Cuba in 1920. He pitched in the majors for the '20-21 Washington Senators and '22 White Sox. See Herrera.
As youngsters, Johnny Berardino and Pea-Nuts Lowrey played bit parts in movies. Kevin "Chuck" Connors, briefly a major-leaguer, became a full time actor. He had his own TV series: The Rifleman. Second baseman Kurt Russell batted .313 in 86 minor league games in 1971-73 before becoming a leading man in Hollywood. He even had hit .563 during six games in the AA Texas League. His father Bing Russell also was a ballplayer-turned actor.
ACTRESSES AND BASEBALL
●Rose Coghlan: One of Broadway’s top stars, she sometimes threw out ceremonial first pitches.
●Helen Dauvray: She married Johnny Ward. She donated the Dauvray Cup to the winner of the postseason series in 1887. No one seems to know what happened to the cup.
●Camille d’Arville: She treated the Senators and Giants to free tickets to “The Magic Kiss” at the Lafayette Square Theatre on April 16, 1896. She was the star of this Broadway production, of course.
●Laraine Day: she was married to Leo Durocher from 1947 to 1960.
●Mamie Fields: Turkey Mike Donlin tried to pick her up on a Baltimore street. When her boyfriend objected, Donlin socked him, and, perhaps by mistake, Mamie too. She had him arrested, and he served a short stretch.
●Jane Fonda was married to Ted Turner, onetime owner of the Atlanta Braves.
●Mabel Hite: She was the vaudeville actress the aforementioned Turkey Mike married.
●Louise Kellogg: Pitcher Pete McNabb killed her, then committed suicide 1894 in Pittsburgh. Her real name was Mrs. Louise Rockwell, nee Lewis.
●Tawny Kittean: She punched out hubby Chuck Finley, who took matters like a gentleman.
●Elsie Lombard: She married club magnate John Brush in 1894.
●Marilyn Monroe: She and Joe DiMaggio were married from January to October 1954.
●Louise Montague: The burlesque actress was advertised as the “$10,000 Beauty.” So was baseball’s Mike Kelly, and he bet Gen. Hi Hi Diswell a case of wine he could wrangle a meeting with her at her Chicago hotel. Kel won by sending her a note playing on the “$10,000 Beauty” theme..
●Mabel Schloen: She parlayed baseball and stage abilities into a career as a minor celebrity and even an occasional movie actress. While with the semipro East Rutherford (N.J.) Cubs, she caught Walter Johnson for three innings of an exhibition. In October 1926, she announced she'd catch a ball that Johnson dropped from the Washington Monument. When officials refused to grant her permission, she raised a cause celebre, earning nearly as much publicity as she'd have gotten had she succeeded in her announced endeavor. She was called "Lefty" although she war righthanded.
●Mamie Van Doren: Bo Belinsky’s ex-girlfriend married Lee Meyers, 19, a pitcher in the Cubs system.
His eight straight hits for the Wenatchee Chiefs in a series against the Salem Senators in July 1946 included three homers and three doubles. In one of those Western International League games, the Chiefs beat the Senators 25-18 at Wenatchee. That was a league record for runs, and the game took 3:15 (despite nine pitchers). But on July 27, Vancouver beat Yakima 28-15, tying the record of 43 runs.
A redhead, she was 30 when she met Red Sox third baseman Wade Boggs in a bar after a night game in Anaheim, California in 1984. He then went on such a hitting streak that he came to regard her as a good omen. Soon she was traveling with him. She made more than 60 trips with the Red Sox over two years. Boggs' wife Debbie and their two children knew nothing of Margo until Boggs dumped her. She sued for $12 million, claiming she'd given up her career as a mortgage broker to become Boggs' road secretary and manager. When Boggs denied everything, she produced incriminating photos. During the ensuing battle in the press, Margo appeared in a Penthouse layout and provided the magazine with a two-part interview (February and March 1989). The affair was settled out of court.
Like most actors and actresses, players fib about their ages. Among those notables who admitted it--but only after they'd played their last game: Connie Marrero, Luke Easter and Birdie Tebbetts. The ages of countless others--Herb Score and Julio Franco for instance--depend upon which record book is consulted. Tebbetts hit .310 for the 1950 Bosox when he was at least 40.
No Clevelander, upon first seeing Al Rosen in 1947, believed the silver-haired third baseman was 24. And few people who knew outfielder David Green believed he'd been born in 1960, as claimed. No one could prove otherwise, though, because he'd been born in Managua.
As a rookie, Easter fibbed about his age, taking the Indians' first base job from a veteran, Mickey Vernon. It turned out Vernon was younger than Easter and outlasted him in the majors.
Tom Waddell, a nonconformist who pitched for the Indians in the mid-'80s, was born in Dundee, Scotland. Lacking a U.S. birth certificate, he admitted while still in the majors that his official age was, as he said, a “business age."
Pitcher Hank Borowy of the Cubs said about the same thing when his military draft classification became public in summer 1945. It was revealed he was 29. He admitted that 27 was his "baseball age."
The most successful known beneficiary of such confusion was pitcher Roland Sheldon. He was at least 23, had been in the military service and had been to college when he first signed with the Yankees. They thought he was barely 20. He never told them otherwise and collected a youngster's bonus.
Recent immigration restrictions revealed that many Latin American players had fibbed. The Braves had billed shortstop Rafael Furcal as a teenager. (He wasn’t.)
WILLIE MAYS AIKENS
After playing in the majors most of the time from 1977 to 1985, he became a legend in Mexico. He led the Mexican League with a .454 BA in 1986. That league's Leon Braves team drafted him in the dispersal of the Jalisco Charros (Jalisco is a state; the team was in the city of Guadalajara) in early 1989. The Mexican League had suspended the Charros for failing to pay dues promptly. Leon also took the Charros' best pitcher, Jaime Orosco. In all, 30 players were drafted, as well as one masseuse and a batboy. Charros owner Francisco Eguiarte Anaya sought an injunction against the draft. The dispute began in March 1988 when the league claimed the Charros were in arrears. They were suspended in August 1988, after the season ended. The owner claimed the league violated its bylaws by not notifying him in writing of anything.
Despite his big league record (.091 in seven games for the '37 Indians), he was an outstanding prospect with good speed, good power and he fielded well enough to play center. He hit .348/28/102 for the Tribe's Fargo-Morehead farm of the Northern League in 1936, then moved to the Mid-Atlantic League in 1937, hitting .344 with 29 homers in 79 games for Springfield. That got him his seven-game trial with the Indians.
In December 1937 his left hand was mangled in an oil-field mishap and had to be amputated. The Indians hired him as a scout, which paid off, because Allie Reynolds and Dale Mitchell were among his signees. He moved to the White Sox in 1952 and to the Dodgers in 1956. He signed, among others, Steve Garvey, Ron Cey and Bill Russell for the Dodgers. He headed the Phillies' scouts starting in 1979, becoming something of a legend. Dallas Green took him to the Cubs in 1987 as a consultant.
Righthanded pitcher Jack Haupert was another whose career was cut short. He won nine games for Lamesa of the West Texas-New Mexico League in 1946. He cut off his right index finger in a buzz saw accident that winter.
A foul ball near a batting cage ruined Paul O'Dea's career. He did squeak by in the majors during WWII, though, as a one-eyed centerfielder. (Think of that: he judged flies with one eye! Lots of guys can’t do it with two.)
Chuck Koney had a shot at the Red Sox' third base job in 1947 but ended up with the Louisville affiliate. A stove explosion ended his career.
Catcher Hal Finney of the Pirates quit after the 1937 season because of an accident that impaired his vision. He managed a semipro team in West Point, Ga., in 1946.
He has six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. Growing up in the Dominican Republic, he was known as "the Octopus." One of his grandfathers also had six digits. But Antonio said the extra finger provided no advantages. He signed with the Montreal Expos in 1991 at age 18. The Yankees had offered him a contract but only if he had his extra fingers removed. He wouldn’t go for that. "They're God's gift to me," he said. He went 3-3, 3.88 in the Gulf Coast Summer League in 1991. He was 6 feet 4.
ALL-STAR TEAMS OF 1945
The game was canceled well ahead of time because of wartime travel restrictions. No official all-star teams were picked. The Associated Press, needing a story, polled the 16 managers, asking them to pick hypothetical teams. The Yankees’ Joe McCarthy, the Browns’ Luke Sewell and the Boston Braves’ Billy Southworth declined, but the other 13 voted.
The AP announced the “mythical” team July 11. The Indians and Cubs led with five players each. Hank Greenberg, just back from the military, made the list. Here are the teams, with stats at the time of the voting:
Pitchers: Mort Cooper of Braves (8-1), Hal Gregg of Dodgers (10-5), Claude Passeau (10-2) and Hank Wyse (10-5) of Cubs, Rip Sewell (9-7) and Preacher Roe (6-6) of Pirates, Red Barrett (10-6) of Cardinals and Van Lingle Mungo of Giants (9-4).
Catchers: Ernie Lombardi (.296) of Giants, Phil Masi (.225) of Braves and Ken O’Dea (.263) of Cardinals.
Infielders: Phil Cavarretta (.372), Don Johnson (.309) and Stan Hack (.327) of Cubs, Emil Verban (.281), Marty Marion (.253) and Whitey Kurowski (.330) of Cardinals, Frank McCormick (.293) of Reds and Bob Elliott of Pirates (.281).
Outfielders: Tommy Holmes (.401) of Braves. Dixie Walker (.299) and Goody Rosen (.363) of Dodgers, Mel Ott (.325) of Giants, and Andy Pafko (.301) and Bill Nicholson (.259) of Cubs.
Pitchers: Hal Newhouser (13-5) of Tigers, Boo Ferriss (14-2) of Red Sox, Russ Christopher (11-5) of A’s, Allie Reynolds (8-7) and Steve Gromek (9-5) of Indians, Hank Borowy (11-5) of Yankees, Thornton Lee (9-8) of White Sox and Dutch Leonard (9-3) of Senators.
Catchers: Rick Ferrell (.238) of Senators, Mike Tresh (.253) of White Sox and Frankie Hayes (.240) of Indians.
Infielders: Nick Etten (.294), Snuffy Stirnweiss (.309) and Oscar Grimes (.276) of Yankees, Eddie Mayo (.292) of Tigers, George McQuinn (.265) and Vern Stephens (.318) of Browns, Lou Boudreau (.274) of Indians and Tony Cuccinello (.328) of White Sox.
Outfielders: George Case (.327) of Senators, Doc Cramer (.278) and Hank Greenberg (.286) of Tigers, Bob Johnson (.297) of Red Sox, Wally Moses (.278) of White Sox and Jeff Heath (.315) of Indians.
AL LANG FIELD
The famous field in St. Petersburg, Fla., was dedicated March 12, 1947, when the Cardinals played the Yankees in a spring training game.
In 1933 he became the first Mexican to make the majors. He batted .284 in seven seasons. He was raised in Los Angeles and spoke fluent English. (Pitcher Bert Gallia, who debuted with the 1912 Washington Senators, was half Mexican. He was from Beeville, Texas.)
He was called "Soldier Boy" because he was one of the few major leaguers of his era who was a war veteran. He'd served several years in the Philippines and in the siege of Tientsin during the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900. He was among the troops who marched to Peking. Teammates thought him an expert on all things oriental and he spoke pidgin Chinese.
He didn't believe in banks, so he stashed his money in books and similar places. He was razzed greatly for misplacing $1,400 in the winter of 1907-08. He was considered a dumb player, too. Many people thought his skills diminished when Cy Young beaned him seriously in 1906.
As far as the military goes, Jimmy Barrett was reputed to be the major leagues' only regular army vet of the era. Otto Hess had been a volunteer, and apparently Altizer was, too.
Dave Ferriss, the Red Sox ace in the 1940s, had sometimes warmed up lefthanded in college. Opposing coaches who didn't know him would stack their lineups with righthanders. Ferriss could play first base right or lefthanded, and he could hit, too.
Sleepy Bill Burns, the man who helped fix the 1919 World Series, could pitch with either arm, but did so only for exhibitions. He pitched lefthanded in games, then would work out righthanded between starts. He said that kept him in better shape than most pitchers.
Other ambidextrous players included Kid Elberfeld, Moxie Manuel, Jerry Denny, Yank Robinson, Greg Harris, Ed Heusser and George Brett. Two oldtime Washington Senators players, Winnie Mercer and Kip Selbach, could throw about as far with either arm.
Amos Rusie claimed to be a natural lefty who could throw with either arm. But when his right arm went bad he didn't switch. Pitcher Max Lanier, a natural righthander, injured that arm twice as a youngster. Amazingly, he made the majors as a lefty.
Ralph Ketcher, a pitcher from Stilwell, Okla., had an odd career. He signed with the Marshall team of the Class C Lone Star League early in 1948. Throwing with either arm he was 2-0 in 31 2/3 innings in seven games. A natural lefty, he'd injured his arm and learned to throw righthanded. When he regained his health, he threw with either arm. His downfall came when he was dealt to Lubbock of the Class C West Texas-New Mexico League that summer. He was 0-2 when released. (See Bert Campaneris and Deacon Jones)
He was known as the crosseyed catcher. He'd fallen as a youngster, damaging an optic nerve. Thereafter he carried his head slightly at an angle to try to focus his eyes. People mistakenly thought he had a wry neck (like pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm). He played football at the University of Kansas, captaining the team as a senior. Originally a Yankee farmhand, he was with their affiliates in Binghamton, Augusta, Hagerstown and Newark, all in 1941. He was sold to the Dodgers before the '42 season. They tried to farm him to Montreal but his draft board wouldn't let him leave the country, so he had to play in Durham, N.C. Then after three years and four months in the army he was free to play in Montreal after the war ended. He spent most of his career in AAA. He hit .261 in 97 major league games, with the '46 Brooklyn Dodgers and '53 Cardinals.
He was a one-year regular in the majors: he played 152 games for the '59 Phillies in his only big-time season. He batted .218. Similar one-year major league regulars include Hector Rodriguez and Herm Reich. Rodriguez played about every place. He began in the Mexican League in 1943, then joined the '44 New York Cubans in the Negro league. He was a veteran minor leaguer when the '52 White Sox used him as their regular third baseman (.265). He was active in Mexico in 1966 at age 46 but never again played in the majors. (See vol. III of Minor League stars for his full record.)
Reich, 31, a longtime Pacific Coast Leaguer, played 108 games for the '49 Cubs, mostly at first base (with Phil Cavarretta moving to the outfield). Reich was the first baseman on the Sporting News all-rookie team (.280), but was back in the PCL the next season.
Don Lang came close. He filled in for injured Whitey Kurowski at third base for the '47 Cardinals. He hit .269 in 117 games. His only other major league experience was 21 games with the '38 Reds. Jack Graham, Charlie Kress and Tony Lupien were other short-term fill-ins.
He was known as the first white child born in Marshallville, Iowa. The Chicagos dumped him before the 1898 season, shocking the baseball world. He managed the New York Giants that season and wanted to play. But his contract was for managing only, and club owner Andy Freedman didn't want him playing. Pop lasted only 22 games with Freedman, who probably couldn’t have gotten along with even his dog, if he had one. If Pop had remained in NYC, he likely would have played eventually.
He was famous for waiting for the pitch he liked. He'd foul off most everything else. According to folklore, he once went to the White Sox office and asked for a box of a dozen balls he could sign for friends. The team wouldn't give him even one. So in that afternoon's game he fouled about 27 balls into the stands. The front office later begged him to take a free box.
RINALDO “RUGGER” ARDIZOIA
A pitcher from Oleggio, Italy, he played in one major-league game, for the 1947 Yankees. Some editions of the Macmillan Encyclopedia erroneously credit him with 10 games.
A Washington Senators third baseman in 1899, he was a proficient organist who played in many prestigious churches. Years later, infielder Eddie Basinski was a violinist with the Buffalo Philharmonic.
Atlanta Fulton County Stadium stood until its replacement, Turner Field, was finished. Meanwhile, when you drove past, Fulton County Stadium looked newer than Turner Field. Fulton County Stadium lasted about 2,000 years less than the Roman Colisseum, or about .015 times as long.
John Jacob Zimmerman was his real name. He claimed to have changed it after standing in pay lines and watching the money run out. But he was a former vaudevillian and likely was joking. He quit vaudeville to take a $125-a-month offer to play ball in 1902. He once took one of Walter Johnson's fastballs on the hip "for the team." He claimed that that eventually crippled him. He managed the Fort Worth Cats to six Texas League pennants and five Dixie Series titles in the 1920s.
Joe Quinn became the first Australian-born player in 1884 and first Australian-born manager in 1899. But he'd grown up in Iowa. He married an undertaker’s daughter and eventually took over the business. Instead of looking for the bright lights on his baseball road trips, he sought out funeral parlors; he was scouting for the latest in styles. Not till recent years did the majors get more Aussies.
EARL AVERILL JR.
Expecting to spend the game on the bench in the early 1960s, he wore a football jersey under his California Angels warmup jacket. When Manager Bill Rigney told him to pinch hit, he absentmindedly strode onto the field in the football jersey. Teammates quickly called him back.
He was Mexico's first major league star. When he won the '54 AL batting title, his .341 was among the best for righthanders since WWII. After Avila played second base for the generally fine Cleveland teams in 1950-58, Trader Frank Lane dealt him to the Baltimore Orioles. Lane told reporters he'd improved the Indians by getting rid of Avila. "Oh, Lane has a loud mouth,” Avila retorted. “When did he ever play baseball?" Avila planned to retire before the '59 season but the Orioles talked him into playing. Free-thinking manager Paul Richards tried him as the regular rightfielder. After finishing in the majors in 1959, Avila spent a season in the Mexican League. He was 80 when he died in 2004.
As a rookie catcher with the Tulsa Oilers of the Texas League, he retired a runner at first base. It happened April 21, 1947 in Oklahoma City. Pitcher Len Gilmore, batting for the home team, hit a roller past pitcher Tom Warren. Second baseman Jim Shilling and first baseman Jack Richards both charged the ball. Aylward, running toward first base to back up the play, realized the base was uncovered. Sprinting ahead of Gilmore, he got to the base first and caught Richard's toss for the out, scored 3-2. The Oilers won 6-4.
There’s been a lot of controversy about how the candy bar got its name. The story that it was named for President Cleveland’s daughter doesn’t hold water. One alternative is actress Ruth Roland (1892-1937), queen of the silent screen serials. When she went on stage as a child star, she was billed as “Baby Ruth.” More than likely the candymaker was looking for a way to capitalize on Babe Ruth’s fame without paying royalties.
Writer Charley Dryden of the Philadelphia North American described the Baltimore Orioles' new 1901 uniforms: "We don't know whether Muggsy [McGraw] designed them himself or engaged a cake walker to twist his intellect on the job. From the knees down the Orioles look as if they had waded in raw omelet, which adhered in streaks. The yellow legs fade away into two black bags, supported by a yellow belt. Then comes a black shirt, with an immense yellow O on the left breast. Over this harmonious whole is worn a double-breasted coat with wide yellow collar and cuffs of the same, and two rows of white pearl buttons as large as oyster shells down the front breadths. All that is needed to complete the ensemble of the hottest bunch in Dixie is a pink plug hat. If Muggsy wishes to add the hat, he is welcome to this tip."
In spring 1946, the Cardinals management bought red satin uniforms for night games. But manager Eddie Dyer rejected them as too gaudy. They were sold to Fred C. Steffans, described as a St. Louis sportsman. He donated them to the North Side Teen Town team of the St. Louis Muny League.
The Brooklyn Dodgers played their first night game of the 1944 season in St. Louis on May 12. They wore robin's egg blue uniforms made of jockey silk. They were similar to the uniforms worn by the Cubs a few years before that. The Dodgers planned to wear the uniforms for all their night games. "Imagine dressing up the Dodgers like softball girls," commented columnist Rud Rennie. Another comment: "What will those tough Flatbush rooters say when they see Leo the Lip, Chuck Dressen, Frenchy Bordagarey and those other bums in that getup?"
In a memorable semipro game June 5, 1938, Venezuelans Julio Baez of Club Pastora and Lazaro Salazar of Gavilanes pitched scorelessly for 19 innings in Maracaibo. Pastora won in the 20th, 1-0. The game lasted 6 1/2 hours. Baez faced 65 batters, Salazar 67.
Ralph, a groundskeeper at Community Park in Bradford, Pa., was covering the pitching mound June 27, 1946, when wind picked him up, turned him over and set him down, feet first, on the foul line. He was unhurt. The wind also knocked over 100 feet of the park's leftfield fence.
1) Who was the first manager of the Milwaukee Brewers?
2) When Babe Ruth his 60 homers in 1927, whose record did he break?
3) Who held the record before that?
4) Who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Rangers and New York Knicks in the same year?
See answers below.
Charles Barrett of the Boston Braves threw 58 pitches in a complete game Aug. 10, 1944. The Elias people say that’s a record low.
Frank Charles Bates went 1-19 for the 1899 Cleveland Spiders. He called himself Creed N. Bates when he got married in 1900 in Newport, Ky. The couple lived in Cincinnati for a time. In 1909 he was convicted of disorderly conduct in Quincy, Ill., and sentenced to 104 days in the workhouse.
Delay and Haste: The Chattanooga Lookouts had the interesting battery of lefty Henry Delay and catcher Bill Haste in camp in 1947.
Black & Decker: In the 1990s the San Francisco Giants had Bud Black and Steve Decker.
Lewis and Clark(e): The old Boston Beaneaters had Parson Lewis and Bill Clarke.
The Brooklyn Dodgers tried them March 10, 1941 but didn’t stick to them. The Pirates introduced the modern helmet in 1952. Starting in 1958 all batters were required to wear them. Ear flaps became mandatory in 1974. Bob Montgomery was last man in the majors to bat without a helmet. Incidentally, before helmets there were fibre inserts. They were flat pieces of fibre that slid into pockets in the sides of the caps. This is why you'll see some strangely shaped caps in photos of players in the '40s and '50s. The caps look too wide. Occasionally you’ll see photos with little devil’s horns sticking up; those are the inserts.
BATTING RACE, TIE
What are the odds of a batting race ending in a tie? Here’s one, from the Class C Southwest International League in 1952:
G AB R H TB HR RBI BB K PCT.
Gabriel Hughes, Tijuana 123 377 123 138 256 28 131 180* 41 .366*
Walter V. Tyler, Porterville 20G, Yuma 88 108 377 86 138 177 3 82 46 44 .366*
1953: Al Rosen won the homer and RBI titles but lost the batting title to Mickey Vernon by one point. Some thought Rosen should have protested. It’s said that two Senators committed baserunning mistakes to keep Vernon from coming to bat one more time. Rosen had three genuine hits the last day, although he ignored the Tiger infielders’ invitations to bunt. He was retired twice, losing one hit by missing first base as he passed by.
1954: Ted Williams would have won, rather than Avila, under the previous rules.
1969: Pete Rose and Roberto Clemente were tied on the last day of the season. Rose bunted for a hit his last at-bat, thereby winning the title.
2003: The NL batting race was the closest in league history. On Sept. 28, Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals won his first batting title, beating Todd Helton of the Colorado Rockies. Pujols went two for five in the last day’s 9-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, ending at .35871. Helton, the defending champion, hit .35849. He went two for four with a walk as the Colorado Rockies beat the San Diego Padres 10-8. Pujols struck out in the eighth inning of his game in San Diego, giving Helton a chance to win. He was batting in Phoenix with a runner on second base, also in the eighth inning. With the count 3-0, catcher Gary Bennett called for an intentional walk. At 23, Puhols became the youngest NL champion since Tommy Davis, 23, in 1962, and the first righthander since Andres Galarrage in 1993. The Elias Sports Bureau said the .00022 differential made this the third closest race in NL history. The ‘45 AL was closest, followed by ‘49 AL. Previously, the closest NL was in 1931.
Padres manager Bruce Bochy apologized for the intentional walk, saying he had no idea at the time that it could cost Helton the title.
The AL race was up for grabs on the last day, too. Bill Mueller of the Red Sox began the day one point ahead of Derek Jeter of the Yankees and two points up on teammate Manny Ramirez. Only Jeter was in the starting lineup. He went 0 for three against the Baltimore Orioles to end at .324. Mueller grounded out as a pinch-hitter in Tampa, ending at .326. Ramirez didn’t play and ended at .325.
Although a catcher by profession, he sometimes filled in in the outfield while playing for the Lynn, Mass., team in 1946. He was out there in Lynn on July 27 when a dog ran past. Batts threw his glove at the dog, which quickly outsmarted Batts by grabbing the glove and scurrying off. The New England League game was delayed 15 minutes while Batts pursued the dog throughout the outfield before retrieving his glove. That’s what you get for throwing something at a dog. Batts became a longtime backup catcher in the majors. He gave Billy Martin a tough match, incidentally, when they fought on the diamond in July 1953.
Some of the worst of the nonfatal variety:
● Bob Allen of Phillies by Iceberg Chamberlain of Reds in Philadelphia June 15, 1894. (The pitch broke Allen’s cheek. The injury didn’t appear serious at first but by late June it was obvious surgery would be needed and that his career might be over. It was. Fortunately, he was from a wealthy family.)
● Billy Nash of Phillies by Tom Smith, a pitcher who was trying out with the Louisville team. This mishap, on May 15, 1896, ended Nash’s days as a star.
● Bobby Wallace of Cleveland Spiders by Chick Fraser of Louisville Colonels in 1898. (Fraser soon joined Spiders.)
● Hughie Jennings of Baltimore Orioles (in face) by Jouett Meekin of Giants, Oct. 6, 1898.
● Jimmy Sheckard of Orioles by Pete Dowling of Colonels in Louisville on Aug. 24, 1899.
● Otto Krueger of Spiders by slowballer Bill Reidy of Trolley Dodgers, late in 1899 season. Krueger, unconscious for two days, never played regularly again in the majors.
● Dave Altizer of Washington Senators by Cy Young of Boston Americans in 1906. (Ball left impression in Altizer’s forehead, cured him of habit of edging up on pitches.)
● Roger Bresnahan of Giants by Andy Coakley of Reds, June 18, 1907. On the next pitch, Coakley broke Dan McGann's right wrist. When Bresnahan returned to action that July 12, he wore a special helmet. The first pitcher he faced was Coakley, off whom he singled. (Coakley had pitched in 1902 for the Philadelphia A's. He used the name McAllister to preserve his eligibility at Holy Cross.)
● Jack Doyle of Baltimore Orioles by always-dangerous Chick Fraser of Colonels in Louisville in 1897.
● Bill Hoffer of Des Moines club in Western League game in July 1903. Newspapers reported “his life now hangs in the balance. His recovery is doubtful.” Hoffer, who’d been a longtime major leaguer, did recover.
● Danny Hoffman of Philadelphia A’s by Jesse Tannehill of Boston Americans in 1904. He was hit in face, blinding right eye.
● Charlie Carr of Cleveland Naps in 1905.
● Ollie Pickering of Senators by Doc Newton of Highlanders on April 18, 1908 in New York
● Chick Fewster by Ed “Jeff” Pfeffer. This might or might not be the same beaning that felled Fewster in Jacksonville, Florida, during spring training of 1920, when he was a utility man with the Yankees. He missed the early weeks of that season.
● Ken Williams by Byron Speece in August 1925. Hit behind the right ear, he was sidelined seven weeks.
● Buddy Myer by Whit Wyatt on May 6, 1933. A stretcher was needed.
● Hank Leiber of Giants by Bob Feller in a spring exhibition in 1937. Leiber’s skull was fractured.
● Mickey Cochrane of Tigers by Bump Hadley of Yankees on May 25, 1937. (Cochrane’s skull was fractured in three places. He didn’t play again. Most everybody viewed this one as strictly accidental. Hadley didn’t throw very hard and didn’t have a reputation for throwing at batters.)
● Lee Handley of Pirates by Johnny Allen in exhibition in New Orleans April 9, 1939. He was hospitalized and was unable to play until May 2.
● Billy Jurges of Giants by Bucky Walters of Reds on June 23, 1940. Jurges was sidelined remainder of season. The beaning was viewed as retaliation for Jurges’ take-out slides at second base.
● Ducky Medwick of Brooklyn Dodgers by Bob Bowman of Cardinals in June 1940. (These two had had problems earlier. The district attorney pondered charges in this questionable mishap.)
● Dolf Camilli by Hi Bithorn.in 1941.
● Hank Leiber by Cliff Melton on June 24, 1941. He was sidelined until Aug. 6 because of this, his second serious beaning.
● Terry Moore of Cardinals by Art Johnson of Boston Braves, Aug. 20, 1941. (Moore was out till Sept. 14.)
● Willie Wells by Bill Byrd in black ball in 1942.
● Jimmy Wasdell had a metal plate in his head as a result of a beaning in the Southern Association.
● Johnny Hopp of Cardinals by Pop Prim of Cubs, June 24, 1945.
● Danny Litwhiler of Braves by Dick Mauney of Phillies, Aug. 31, 1946. He was hospitalized with broken cheekbone.
● Ralph Hodgin of White Sox by Hal Newhouser of Tigers, April 21, 1947. (A stretcher was needed and he never played as well thereafter.)
● Elmer Valo by Sid Hudson in 1947.
● Jack Graham of San Diego Padres by Red Adams of L.A. Angels July 25, 1948. (Graham, who’d hit 46 homers in PCL, was hospitalized several days.)
● Hank Majeski by Early Wynn, Aug. 7, 1949, just below the left ear in the fourth inning of a game in Philadelphia. He was taken off on a stretcher with a concussion. He was hospitalized until Aug. 17 and didn’t play again until Sept. 8. Some people said Majeski was gunshy ever after.
● Pitcher Bob Porterfield of Yankees by Paul Calvert of Tigers, seventh inning June 9, 1950 in NYC. He was hospitalized several weeks, dizzy a long time after that.
●Walt Dropo of Red Sox by Hank Wyse of A’s on Aug. 15, 1950. Dropo, who’d homered previous at-bat, was hit above left ear and removed on stretcher.
● Roy Campanella of Dodgers by Turk Lown of Cubs in early 1950s. (A stretcher was needed but Campanella played the next day.)
● Andy Seminick by Max Lanier in May 1951; he was hospitalized two days.
● Jim Delsing of Browns by Allie Reynolds of Yankees, apparently in 1952; a stretcher was needed.
● Cass Michaels of White Sox by Marion Fricano of the Philadelphia A’s on Aug. 27, 1954. (Hit above the left ear, he had a fractured skull; his vision was impaired and career soon ended. He’d been wearing some sort of “plastic protective cap.” It was reported that the devise saved him from worse injury.)
● Billy Martin of Indians by Tex Clevenger of Senators, 1959. (Hospitalized for weeks.)
● Tony Conigliaro of Red Sox by Jack Hamilton of Angels, Aug. 18, 1967. (Although a spitballer, Hamilton always claimed the pitch wasn't a spitter. His catcher, Bob Rodgers, and some of Conigliaro's teammates concurred.)
● Don Mincher of Angels by Sam McDowell of Indians in 1968.
● Tom Egan of Angels by Earl Wilson of Tigers in 1969. Egan’s jaw was broken; he never regained full sight in left eye.
● Dickie Thon of Houston Astros by Mike Torrez of Mets, 1984. (Thon suffered a broken cheekbone and impaired vision. He didn’t hit well thereafter.)
● Kirby Puckett of Twins by Dennis Martinez of Indians on Sept. 28, 1995; Puckett had broken jaw and badly cut mouth, but it was the eye injury that ended his career.
Lou Boudreau, who crowded the plate, was often hit. Dom DiMaggio was beaned in the 1941 All-Star Game. Billy Jurges had years of problems after a beaning.
Some other players suffered serious head injuries but not as a result of pitched balls. Moose Solters eventually went blind because of a beaning. A batted ball hit him in pregame drills Aug. 1, 1941 in Griffith Stadium.
Players left gunshy include Carl Furillo, Charlie Spikes and Stan Rojek (beaned while with Pirates). Among the countless pitchers who kept batters loose: Larry Jansen, Sal Maglie, Bob Shawkey, Don Newcombe, Firpo Marberry, Jim Coates, Wes Ferrell, Johnny Allen, etc.
Here are some pitchers who’ve been hit with line drives:
●Jim Wilson late in the 1945 season.
●Bubba Church in 1950. Ted Kluzewski’s line drive caved in Church’s face.
●Herb Score of Indians in 1957.
Pitcher Art Fowler lost sight in his left eye when Ed Sadowski hit him with a liner in batting practice Aug. 6, 1962 in Boston; Fowler was walking in outfield at the time. Infielder Oscar Grimes of the Indians was severely injured in pregame drills in 1940. Ollie Tucker, an outfielder in the late 1920s, died in 1940 as a result of a head injury.
A second baseman, he was playing for the Cleveland Blues/Indians when he hit the AL's first home run in 1901. His six homers were exactly half of his team's total that season.
BAD FEET BECKER
Heinz "Bad Feet" Becker was born in Berlin during WWI and played baseball in the U.S. throughout WWII. He backed up Phil Cavarretta with the Cubs, then hit .299 as a part time first baseman for the '46 Indians. He was released the following spring; signing with the Milwaukee Brewers, he won the '47 American Association batting title. He was known for his horrible bunions.
He stood out in a crowd, like Hollywood film villain Jack Palance. Although a Hall of Famer, he had such an up-and-down career that he was released at least once midway through it.
He was a first baseman who threw and batted lefthanded. While with Triple-A Louisville in 1956, he filled in for an injured third baseman for 19 games, which created a stir. He said he had no trouble throwing. The novelty did lead him to make six errors, though, and finish last in the American Association in fielding at .857. In seven years in the majors, he played 240 games at first base, six in the outfield, and he pitched twice.
This notoriously zany pitcher was pleased when the California Angels optioned him to Hawaii, where everyone loved to swim and party. But he went blind for three days after warming up facing into the setting sun.
Despite his 200 hits for the '79 Indians he batted .299. Incidentally, some blame Buddy for once getting his father Gus traded. It happened because Buddy’s mother used new-fangled disposable diapers. Aghast at such unheard-of extravagance, Pirate GM Branch Rickey decided Gus had to go. Dad was given to the Reds Oct. 14, 1952 in exchange for catcher Joe Rossi and outfielders Gail Henley and Cal Abrams. It wasn’t Buddy’s fault, of course.
In 1997 the Pirates' team payroll was less than what the White Sox paid Albert. He came up, incidentally, as Joey Belle.
He was the only major leaguer to pitch to both Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. (Bobo Newsom overlapped Ruth and Mantle but never pitched to the latter.) Announcers and writers always called him "Big Al," an appellation also accorded Big Johnny Mize and Big Johnny Lindell. Benton was one of toughest relievers to score against.
A catcher for the Boston Beaneaters, he murdered his family with an ax in 1900, then took his own life.
The only major leaguer born before 1835, he played for the 1871 Philadelphia A's. This guy was so old he was born when Andrew Jackson, the seventh president, was in office. James Madison, the fourth president, was still alive. Victoria wasn't even queen of England yet. Her uncle, William IV (de classe "Sailor Billy") reigned.
When Pat Freehan, wife of catcher Bill Freehan, came upon Yogi Berra on a hot day before the all-star game, she greeted him: "My, Yogi, you look cool today." He responded: "You don't look too hot yourself." Of course, New York writers are suspected of making up many Yogi-isms.
He was named Christian Frederick Albert John Henry David Betzel because his parents didn’t want to slight any of his six uncles. Where did he get the “Bruno”? That was the name of a St. Bernard dog that followed him around as a kid. Neighborhood boys nicknamed him after the dog. Betzel was an infielder with the Cardinals in 1914-18.
As British foreign secretary, he saw his first baseball game (and presumably his last) in Paris on Aug. 11, 1946. A friend talked him into watching the Paris staff of Time-Life magazine beat the Paris edition of the Herald-Tribune 21-10. He left after an hour, complaining it was "a bit complicated."
Like most pitchers, he had his ups and downs. He liked to tell about the employer who hired him in the offseason, paying him $600 a month to drink beer with patrons. This was when things were going well, of course. Later, after his career waned and he really needed a job, the same company hired him for half as much and made him load the beer.
BIG SPRING BRONCS
This Texas team began the 1947 season by going 19-5 in the Class D Longhorn League. They batted .362. On May 21, each starter, plus four pitchers and a utility man, was hitting .300 or better. Tiny Humberto Baez, a pitcher/second baseman, was batting .446. Tony Traspuesto, Bobby Martin, Pat Patterson and Harold Ellington were also above .400. The only player on the team under .300 was pitcher Jose Traspuesto.
The Broncs won the pennant but lost the playoffs. The team finished second in batting at .325. Pat Stasy, the manager and part owner, batted .416 and lost the batting title by 13 points. Baez ended at a modest .305. He was 17-10 pitching.
I have no clue who L.H. Addington is, or was, but he wrote this limerick:
The Dodgers have Del Bissonette,
No meal has he ever missed yet;
The question that rises
Is one that surprises;
Who paid for all Del Bissonette?
He was born Hiram Gabriel Bithorn in Santurce, Puerto Rico, and was Danish and Spanish. At 6 foot 1 he usually weighed about 204 pounds. He pitched for the San Juan Senators and at 22 became the youngest manager ever in the Puerto Rican winter league. He broke into the majors with the 1942 Chicago Cubs, then went 18-13 for them in wartime '43, leading the NL with seven shutouts. He went into the U.S. Coast Guard in November 1943. Assigned to patrol duty in Florida, he couldn't stay in pitching trim. He weighed 225 pounds when he rejoined the Cubs Sept. 5, 1945; he was no help in their pennant drive. Although eligible for the World Series, he didn't pitch. With WWII over, he found competition lots tougher in 1946: he went 6-5, then was sold to the Pirates, for whom he never pitched. They sold him to the White Sox in early April 1947. He won once for them before a sore arm ended his major league career.
He was trying to come back in the Mexican winter league when police in El Mante or Ciudad Victoria, Mexico, shot and killed him Jan. 1, 1952. Just what happened wasn't clear. He apparently was driving to visit his mother when he became embroiled with police in a dispute over his car. Police claimed he was trying to sell it for $350--apparently far below its value. They claimed they asked him for proof of ownership--the documents he would have needed to have brought the car into Mexico--and that he said he didn't have them. They alleged that when they tried to take him to police headquarters he hit a cop and tried to escape. A cop fired a .45 calibre pistol into Bithorn's stomach and he died a few hours later. He had $2,000 on him, so it appeared that he didn't have to sell the car to raise cash. A story circulated that, before dying, he told police he was a member of a Communist cell on an important mission.
In 1962 Hiram Bithorn Stadium, the biggest ballpark on the island, was built in San Juan. There’s an eight-foot-high statue of Bithorn. The Montreal Expos played there part-time in 2003.
A pitcher, he batted .184 during his career. He had no official homers--the only one he did hit in the majors was washed out.
Often drunk, he was little help to the '46 Indians. During the winter of 1946-47, Bill Veeck got him to join Alcoholics Anonymous. On July 10, 1947, he no-hit the Philadelphia A's. He finished the season 10-12, 3.92. He lost his starting job in 1948 and was only 2-2 on Sept. 13, 1948, when he broke a blood vessel in his brain batting against the St. Louis Browns. He nearly died. He was in and out of coma for three weeks, then had surgery Dec. 7, 1948. He tried a comeback, pitching two innings against the Pirates in an exhibition game Sept 21, 1949, but never again pitched a regular-season game. Veeck paid the medical bills and provided Black's full salary in 1949, then held a benefit game for him. The turnout of 76,772 provided Black $40,380. He died in 1959 while watching the Indians on TV. (Jimmy McAleer died while listening to the team on a radio, although he was ailing and committed suicide.)
The old Macmillan Encyclopedia incorrectly listed his place of birth as Bridgeport, Conn., instead of Bridgeport, Ohio. Even worse, it listed him as "deceased" all the while he was living in Lansing, Ohio (not Michigan). "I went down three or four years ago to an alumni reunion in St. Pete," he said in January 1993. "We were all wearing name tags. Some lady came up to me and said, `I'd ask for an autograph, but you're supposed to be dead.'"
The Sporting News goofed April 2, 1947 in reporting the death of former catcher Arthur Wilson. The paper rescinded that the next issue, saying: "The Arthur Wilson who died in Chicago March 19 was not the former catcher who was with the New York Giants, Chicago Cubs, Pirates, Braves and Cleveland as erroneously related in the necrology column of the April 2 issue. According to relatives, the Wilson who died March 19 claimed to be the former catcher but the real Arthur Earl Wilson still lives, also in Chicago." (He died in Chicago in 1960.)
Buck "Leaky" Faucett somehow got placed on role of deceased former minor leaguers in the early 1940s. But he was playing third base for Little Rock of the Southern Association. An interesting fellow, he’d begun in the minors in 1929, according to some records. (The Minor League Register says he began in 1931.) He was playing for Galveston of the Texas League in 1935 when Connie Mack bought him for the Philadelphia A's. Not everyone liked to be bought by Mack, or by Clark Griffith of the Senators. Mack offered Faucett less money than he was making in Galveston, when you counted in his offseason job there. So Fausett got Mack to sell him back to Galveston. Fausett hit .362 at Little Rock in 1944. Although he was 36, the Cincinnati Reds needed wartime players so they tried him out. He hit .097 in 13 games, the only games he ever played in the majors. He was then sold to the Hollywood Stars. In 1947 he batted .409 for Amarillo of the West Texas-New Mexico League. He last played in 1949, nearly a decade after he supposedly died. (He did die in 1994 in College Station, Texas.)
Half a century ago, pitchers “blew up.” They’d sail into the fifth or sixth inning, then bang! They suddenly lost their stuff. Later, people said pitchers “lost their concentration.” I think the old “blow up” terminology came from the term of 1900, that a pitcher “ascended” like “a balloon.”
Many young people today haven’t heard of “Blue Laws.” Colonial America regulated morals and conduct through such laws. Remnants linger even today, affecting work, entertainment and commerce on Sundays. Many games were called because of these laws.
The '40 Crybaby Indians revolted against manager Ossie Vitt, making him nearly as infamous as Captain Bligh. But there've been less-publicized player revolts. Take Senators manager Ossie Bluege. He looked like a genius in 1945; the baseball writers voted him the best manager in the majors. Then the war ended. In ‘46 he had a problem with wartime holdovers who were sore about sitting on the bench. Gil Torres jumped the team and Mike Guerra nearly did. Billy Hitchcock wanted an extra $1,500 for playing shortstop instead of third base. Second baseman Gerry Priddy squawked about having to work with a different shortstop every day. Roger Wolff, a 20-game winner in wartime '45, wasn't even in the rotation, and Bingo Binks, the '45 team's RBI leader, was gathering splinters. Nearly everybody had a gripe. There were some similar problems on the '46 New York Yankees, who ran through three managers. Bill Dickey made few friends, and second baseman Joe Gordon was a special problem.
He was Kent State University’s best-ever hitter–even outhitting Thurman Munson–but he pitched professionally. He got one hit in the majors.
His real name was Francesco Pezzollo. He and his 15 siblings took the name Bodie from the California mining town where their father worked. It's a ghost town now. The family didn't want to be discriminated against for being Italian. Another player who took the name of a town was pitcher Pete Jablonowski. He pitched under that name in 1927-33, then became Pete Appleton in 1936-45. He chose the name because he'd enjoyed Appleton, Wisconsin, while playing minor league ball there.
While with the Yankees Aug. 10, 1946 in Yankee Stadium he retired the side on four pitches, despite giving up two hits. The Red Sox' Wally Moses hit the first pitch to left for a single. On the next pitch, Johnny Pesky missed a bunt and Moses was out at second. Pesky singled to left on the next pitch, then Dom DiMaggio hit into a double play. Nobody reached second base, either, and no one was stranded.
MRS. ERNIE BONHAM
She drew the first death benefits under baseball’s pension plan. She received $90 monthly for 10 years beginning in 1949. Her husband had died of complications of an appendectomy.
The owners have concocted various rules (obviously all unethical in a free society) to keep salaries down. The Bonus Rule of 1953-57 required kids signing contracts for $3,000 or more to remain on big league rosters for two years. Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew and Sandy Koufax survived the early inactivity, but lots of others languished. Bob Powell and Kenny Kuhn were examples.
BOOKS ABOUT BASEBALL
Rule No. 1: If you want to write a successful one, you have to write about the Yankees. (Lots of New Yorkers read.) If you don't want to write one about the Yankees, put a New York spin on what you write. Fool the publisher and the readers.
Harvey Frommer showed how to do it in one of the greatest "homer" books. It was called Baseball's Greatest Streaks and Feats and came out in 1983. Out of 20 photos, 16 of them depicted players who played with a New York team at one time or another.
Cult Baseball Players was a potpourri of some nice stories by good writers and some truly awful stories by would-be writers, plus a few stories by good writers who didn't want to take more time.
Respectable reliever evolved into a comedic character during a series of silly misadventures in the late 1970s. In early May 1979 he was accused of fighting in a Cincinnati disco. John Topitz, a disco employee, told police he tried to break up a fight between Borbon and another patron. Topitz said Borbon responded by punching an biting him. Also, Borbon’s former landlord said somebody gnawed on his furniture, and Pedro didn’t even have a dog. Newspapers nicknamed Pedro “Dracula.”
A righthanded pitcher, he was with the 1888 Chicagos and 1895 Louisvilles briefly. He was in the Pacific Coast League much longer, and he was, most of all, a longtime and quite notorious drunk. He had a terrible temper on the diamond and his managers were scared of him. With G&M Atlas in 1887 he went 6-10 in the California League. That July 21 he no-hit Haverly 7-0. That winter he was 1-1 against the New York Giants in exhibitions. In May 1888 he was 4-1 when the Oakland team sold him to Pop Anson's Chicagos. After 10 games in the majors, he was back in California in 1889, where he accepted a $100 advance from the Stockton team. He failed, though, to sign a contract, which led to his arrest on a charge of obtaining money under false pretenses. That July he demanded money from his mother in Sacramento. When she refused, he set her barn afire. He was arrested while drunk. He admitted setting the fire, saying he'd done it accidentally. Before the year ended he was acquitted of assaulting a policeman but convicted of disturbing the peace.
He vowed to shape up but on May 12, 1889, the Sacramento Bee reported he'd arrived in Stockton for a Sunday game drunk and riding a horse. He was unable to warm up, leading to a near-fight with a conscientious teammate. Sporting Life reported that in late May, "as the finale of a big spree, he tried to clean out a restaurant in Stockton." He was arrested and fined $10. The Stockton team fined him $100 and suspended him the rest of the season. (His record was 6-4.) Sympathetic teammates anteed up, raising enough cash to send him home to Sacramento. Foolishly, they gave him the money for the ticket. Naturally, he got drunk on it. The Stockton team sold him to Portland, but he apparently left the state. He turned up in October and went 3-2 for Sacramento. He was with Stockton from the outset in 1890 but no record survives.
About that time he got married and, it seems, he settled down. In October 1891 he signed with Oakland and his bride attended all the team's games. Although he went only 5-11, he swore he'd reformed, and he had! In 1893 he won 22 games for Los Angeles. He pitched once in the majors in 1895 (for the Louisville Colonels), and in 1897 was with George Stallings' Nashville team in the Southern League. In 1899 he managed San Jose of the California League. Oakland signed him for 1900; despite losing seven of his first eight starts, he finished 16-15. He was off the scene by 1910.
A free spirit with a unique sense of priorities, he once lost his cap while chasing a fly ball. Stopping, he retrieved the cap, then resumed pursuit of the ball. Incidentally, his said his father was a bootlegger.
You wouldn’t think many people would share the name, and you’re right. But there was a minor leaguer in the 1940s named Leemon Bostick.
They existed in 1936-40. The nickname never caught on and the club reverted back to “Braves” after the 1940 season.
He had 1,578 hits in the '40s--more than any other major leaguer--but he was far down the list in batting averages for the decade. He had 199 hits in 1948, the most he ever had. (Don't forget Ted Williams and Stan Musial were in the military in the mid-'40s; Boudreau wasn't. He ended his career with 1,779 hits and likely could have played longer if he hadn't eaten so much. The banquet circuit after his big '48 season left him puffy and slow.
A pitcher, mainly with the Cincinnati Reds, he was known as the "Merry Mortician." He was in the majors in 1933-37 but never won more than five games in any season. Infielder Joe Quinn also was an undertaker.
He threw the best curve of his era and mixed in some spitters. He finished 194-138 in the majors, not quite enough for the Hall of Fame. He was in the military in 1944 and almost all of 1945. Except for nine games with the '46 Tigers, he pitched in the Pacific Coast League after the war. He rejected chances to return to the majors, not unusual in those halcyon days in California.
The accent peculiar to Brooklyn led to some fancy names there. Carl Erskine was "Oisken" and Kirby Higbe was "Koiby." Anyone named Earl was "Oil."
This country singer appeared in leftfield in 15 of the Padres' exhibitions in spring 1999. He and the team claimed they were benefitting a charity, but skeptics noted that he could have raised more money with a benefit concert. He went one for 22.
Vince, least successful of the three ball-playing DiMaggio brothers, had the highest lifetime fielding average in the family.
On Sept. 10, 1963, the Alou brothers -- Matty, Felipe and Jesus -- first played in the same outfield, helping the San Francisco Giants win 4-2 in Shea Stadium.
Another set of three brothers played in the majors about the same time. They made no headlines and are barely remembered. All were utility players. Outfielder Marshall Edwards of the Brewers and infielder Mike Edwards of the Oakland A's were twins. Brother Dave wasn’t a twin, but he was an outfielder with the Twins. There was an interesting fight involving one of the brothers. He got help from his brother on the other team!
The Pavliecivich brothers played under the surname of Palica. Erv was in the majors most of the time in 1945-56 and is best remembered for his years with the Brooklyn Dodgers. During much of the '40s he had three brothers in pro ball. Ambrose was 5-3 for the '46 Oakland Oaks and trained at least once with the Cleveland Indians. Alex was 16-14 for Durham of the Class A Carolina League in 1947. Outfielder Nick Palica batted .299 for Anaheim of the Class C Sunset League for 1947. But only Erv made the majors. Incidentally, Esquire magazine named Erv to its schoolboy All-America team of 1944.
Pitching for Asheville of the Class B Tri-State League in early 1946, Erv is said to have made eight errors on 18 chances. That's folklore; the record shows that he made six errors in 28 games, fielding .893. He won 15 and lost six.
Everyone knows about the Delahanty and O'Neill families, of course, but what about the Fleitas family? Only Angel, an infielder, made the majors (briefly with the '48 Senators). Brother Andres, a catcher, topped out in AAA. Fellow Cubans remember that there were two or three other Fleitas brothers in the lower minors.
An outfielder for the 1901-02 Boston Beaneaters/Braves, he went into politics. His name was placed in nomination for president of the United States at the 1924 Democratic convention. John W. Davis got the nomination. Brown was then governor of New Hampshire, the first Democrat elected there in 65 years. He was in the U.S. Senate in 1933-39 and later was comptroller general of the U.S.
Tom Brown, who was born in 1860 in Liverpool, England, spoke American–not English--while playing ball, except when he got excited: then he dropped his H's. He was one of the best-known players of the 1880s and '90s. He never hit much and led the NL in strikeouts five times in 1890-95. He was a fine all-around player, though. He stole 106 bases in 1891. He played centerfield very well and threw well.
He was the original Louisville Slugger. He lived with his widowed mother all his life. Besides playing baseball he was an expert skater and marbles player. Mastoiditis bothered him all his life, impairing his hearing, and, some said, causing him to quit school and, later, to drink (but only during baseball season). He was almost illiterate and, well, not very bright. When told that President James Garfield had been assassinated, he replied: "Yeh? What league was he in?" He regularly stared at the sun believing it would improve his eyes, or, as he called them, his "lamps."
He began playing local semipro ball in Louisville in the late 1870s, then signed with the city’s big-league team for $60 a month in 1882. He led the American Association in batting that season at .378.
In 1884 he sought out Bud Hillerich, 21, son of a local craftsman who made farm implements. (J.F. Hillerich & Son specialized in butter churn handles, hand rails and bed posts.) Browning asked Bud to make him two bats. Bud did, and that led to more, and more. Eventually the company specialized in bats.
Browning's original bats were 37 inchers that weighed 48 ounces. Over the years, he collected more than 200 of them. He named each and could recite the hits therein.
Righthanded all the way, he batted .343 in his 13 seasons. Some people figure he was the 13th best hitter ever. But he remains identified with the American Association, not the NL, and he was strictly a one-dimensional player. He fielded .880. In 1886 he made 44 errors in fielding .791.
He was also an eccentric, and Pete Browning stories circulated freely. Here's one manager Patsy Tebeau of the Cleveland Spiders told in 1898:
"Of course we all know that Pete Browning covered as much ground in the outfield as a stationary washtub. But Pete was shifty afoot if he felt gingery. And Pete always felt gingery when the long drives from his bat fell into safe spots. Pete was especially fast in breaking ground from home base and, to tell the truth, he got to the first sack in a hurry. Pete supplied more comedy than Dad Clarke on a jag, and Pete's comedy came off on the bases. He was foxy enough in stealing a lead off a pitcher and he made the next base in an above-average speed. But he positively refused to hit the dirt, to slide, to contort around the man who covered the base. Pete often had the base pilfered but a Westinghouse brake couldn't pull him up. He had to overrun the sack. He got credit for the steal but his base running killed many a chance for scoring.”
In 1890, Pete played for the Cleveland team in the Players League. Tebeau, who managed it the last 35 games, had this story: “During Brotherhood year I had Pete out every morning with bat in hand for bunting practice. About two weeks' practice made a fair bunter out of Pete. But he had that batting average of his whirring around in his gray matter. ‘See, yar, Cap,’ he would say to me in bluegrass dialect, ‘I reckon that a right smart hitter like old Pete can't afford to bunt and sacrifice and all that stuff. Good hitters like you and old Pete ain't got any business to sacrifice. Let a bum sticker like Jimmy McAleer do the sacrificing for the team.’ Of course Pete was trying to work me with his jolly by calling me a good hitter. ‘Pete,’ said I, ‘after the game I'm going to tell McAleer that you said he is a tacky guy, and he might hand you a swift punch.’ ‘I'll sacrifice anytime you say, Cap, if you don't tell McAleer,’ said Pete. So whenever Pete made a kick about sacrificing, I blackmailed him by threatening to tell McAleer.”
Pitcher Gus Weyhing told this tale in 1898: “Of course Pete Browning had his betters in the old Association as a batsman but the Association never produced a better natural hitter. Pete seemed to have a prejudice in favor of hitting to rightfield. Though Tom McCarthy, Hughey Nicol and the other right gardeners invariably placed themselves for Pete, Old Lamps generally fooled them by tearing off a hard, sharp bounder good for a single or two sacks. I always attributed Pete's natural hitting abilities to his mania for batting continuously during the practice. Every morning in our practice on the home grounds Pete would be found at the home plate, bat in hand, tossing and hitting the ball. He never cared about ramming puny grounders to the infielders, but pushed all his muscle against the ball and sent it to the deep outfield. On the trip Pete would sneak off to the grounds early of mornings and practice with the players of opposing teams. Had he devoted a reasonable share of his time to fielding and bunting he would have been one of the most valuable all-around outfielders in the Association.” (It's interesting that Browning apparently fungoed balls, something modern hitters don't do, lest they ruin this swings by uppercutting the ball. See Weyhing.)
When Pete earned $4,800 playing in Cleveland during the Brotherhood Year he led the Players League in batting and in doubles. Those who think the Association got a bad rap noted that Browning and Dave Orr outhit the NL stalwarts when they were all together in the PL.
After leaving the majors Browning played some for King Kelly's Killers in Allentown in 1894 and he played briefly for the team in Columbus, Ohio in 1896. Then he opened a saloon in Louisville. After drinking up any profits, he tried selling cigars.
In June 1905 he was committed to an insane asylum at Lakeland, Ky. He was released about two weeks later, some say, but he soon died in a Louisville hospital. Besides being an alcoholic, he had cirrhosis, mastoiditis, cancer and, some said, syphilis. His alcoholism was so severe that he had "lost weekends."
His original tombstone spelled his name Lewis R. Browning. It gave his dates properly as 1881-1906. Baseball record books had the dates wrong for more than a century, and some still say 1905. In 1984 a much larger tombstone was dedicated by Mayor Harvey Sloane of Louisville and John A. Hillerich III, the president of the bat company.
J.F. Hillerich & Son became Hillerich & Bradsby in 1916 after Frank Bradsby came into the business. He'd been a buyer for Simmons Hardware of St. Louis, the first national outlet for the bats.
A righthander, he was with the Cubs in 1923-34, then knocked around a bit before quitting with 176 victories. A showman, he fell to his knees on his follow through, and, it was joked, simply fell all over the mound when he pitched. He also kept batters ducking.
An outfielder with the Blue Jays in the early 1990s, he’s from Butlerville, Newfoundland, a town of 1,500. About 1,000 of the residents are named Butler.
He was born in Savannah, Georgia in 1860 and remained a minor league outfielder until he was 35. His belated chance in the majors came in 1895 when manager George Stallings of the Nashville team sold him to the New York Giants for $1,200. He hit .273 in five games, but played so erratically he was nicknamed "Goldbrick" Butler. After he was released to Columbus in 1896, he played so well that it appeared he might get another chance in the NL, despite his age.
Alas, he was still playing leftfield for the Columbus team in 1909 when he sought to celebrate the Fourth of July by setting off a huge firecracker after the Western League's holiday game in Indianapolis. At his age he should have known better. The firecracker blew off part of one hand. Teammates rushed him to a hospital, where doctors amputated what was left of the hand. That of course ended his long career. Newspapers noted that he lived in Savannah, where his wife was seriously ill. He died in Jacksonville, Florida in 1945.
Although an outfielder, he had trouble judging flies. Still, he was a valuable wartime fill-in for his hometown team, the St. Louis Browns. He averaged .274 as a regular outfielder in 1943-45, the only seasons he played in the majors.
As a spring training joke, he developed a "kimona pitch," which he flipped behind his back. Management was not amused. Some gullible reporters thought he was serious.
A journeyman lefty in the early 1950s, he did something no other major leaguer ever did: he pitched to a midget. He was with the Tigers then and the midget, Eddie Gaedel, was of course Bill Veeck's famed St. Louis Brown pinch hitter. Cain walked Gaedel on four pitches. Although he never met Gaedel otherwise, Cain traveled from his home in Cleveland to Gaedel's funeral in Chicago, simply because he figured it was the right thing to do. (Gaedel had been beaten to death.) Cain, a SABR member since 1992, died in Cleveland April 7, 1997 of cancer.
He did pitch one other memorable game: on April 23, 1952, he and Bob Feller matched one-hitters, Cain winning 1-0. Feller still groans about that one: leftfielder Jim Fridley didn’t chase Bobby Young’s routine fly ball, which went for a first-inning triple that led to the run.
He considered his fastball his best pitch. He also threw a curve and knuckler. He wore glasses, had a college degree and was downright scholarly. It was said he could converse brilliantly on any subject. He grew up in Canada speaking French, then he learned Spanish almost as well. He learned English, too, but he spoke it with a slight accent. He also was a bit of a free thinker.
Grandfather Calvert, an English sailor, had visited Canada, among most other places. He’d told his family in Middlesex, England, that Canada was a fine place. After the old man had been killed in a brawl in Port Said, a son decided to take a look at Canada. He liked it and soon married a French Canadian. Although desperately poor, they had eight children, or perhaps they were desperately poor because they had eight children. Whichever, the youngest was Paul.
Paul first played professionally with the Sherbrooke team of the unaffiliated Provincial League in Canada in 1938. He spent the last week of that season with the Montreal Royals. He pitched three times, beating the Rochester Red Wings in relief and losing to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was lucky to get off that easy he was so wild. He was released by prior agreement, he said later.
Cy Slapnicka signed him for the Indians in 1940. He split that season and the next between Cedar Rapids of the Three-I League and Wilkes-Barre of the Eastern. A 17-7 season in Wilkes-Barre in 1942 earned him late-season promotion to Cleveland. He pitched two hitless innings in his one game, on Sept. 24. He was optioned to Baltimore of the IL on June 11, 1943. He spent all of '44 with the Indians (1-3, 4.56 in 35 games) and opened the next season in Cleveland. But on May 15, 1945, he was released to Baltimore to complete a trade for outfielder Felix Mackiewicz.
After the '46 season began, he was sold to the Toronto Maple Leafs of the IL. A 4-7 record didn't help his career. He jumped to Tampico of the Mexican League in 1947 but broke a wrist and feared he'd never pitch again. He wrangled reinstatement to OB (Most jumpers weren't reinstated until June 6, 1949) and pitched four innings for the 1948 Maple Leafs. Senators scout Joe Cambria then suggested Calvert buy his contract and try out with the '49 Washington Senators.
With the help of friends, he bought himself from the Maple Leafs for $1,500 in fall 1948. He played in Cuba that winter--verboten for Organized Baseball’s players. Then he walked into the Senators training camp in Orlando in 1949--he had the proverbial battered glove--and asked for a job. His conditions: if the Senators wanted to employ him, they'd have to give him a $5,000 signing bonus, plus at least that much in pay. They did sign him for $6,000, earning him a tidy profit. (He'd smoothed over his adventure in Cuba–after all, he’d been a free agent.) He was 6-17 for the Senators that season, losing 14 straight at one point.
By then he was learning Italian. He planned to learn German and Russian. Moreover, he was saving his money for his life's ambition: a trip to Paris.
He was sold on waivers to the Tigers for $10,000 on Feb. 15, 1950. They sold to the Seattle Rainiers on May 14, 1951. In his first game in the Pacific Coast League, on May 27, he no-hit the Sacramento team 4-0. He returned to the Provincial League in 1953.
A few other players are known to have “bought themselves.” Infielder Lou Klein did, but that was more a case of being honest rather than jumping from a Canadian league to Organized Baseball.
During his extraordinarily long pro career (1926-54), he was in and out of the majors a few times without much success, then, suddenly, at age 41 he went 13-4, 2.08 as a reliever for the 1946 White Sox. In 91 innings he gave up 60 hits.
In 1953, he was 48 and pitching for the Lafayette team of the Class C Evangeline League. Son Earl Jr. was his catcher. Dad was 11-10 and led the league with a 2.07 ERA (and batted .247). Son hit .231 in 39 games.
Dolf Camilli's brother boxed under the name of Frankie Campbell. On Aug. 25, 1930 he fought Max Baer in San Francisco in what was billed as the heavyweight championship of California. Baer, in his first year of pro boxing, knocked Campbell out in the fifth round. Campbell died that night. Baer became world heavyweight champion in 1934.
On Aug. 13, 1962, he relieved against the Ft. Lauderdale team in a Florida State League game. Playing for the Dayton Beach team, he pitched righthanded to the righthanders, and lefthanded to the lefties. He gave up one run in his two innings. Although a future all-star shortstop in the majors, he pitched three times that season, giving up two runs on five hits in six innings and striking out six.
Only once in his 19-season big-league career did he hit more than eight home runs. That was in 1970, when he hit 22.
He’s the only player known to have led two leagues in homers the same year. He’d hit a league-high three in the International League before it folded in July 1890. He finished the season with the St. Louis Browns of the American Association, and hit a league-best 10.
The 1940s brought an array of Canadian-born pitchers, most of whom worked for the Philadelphia A's: Phil Marchildon, Bob Hooper and Dick Fowler did, but the Senators and Indians employed Joe Krakauskas. Fowler was 6 feet 4 1/2, weighed 215 and, as the joke went, didn't throw hard enough to break glass. He had a nice array of breaking balls, but batters seemed to know what to expect. Bursitis eventually ruined him. He ended up shot-putting the ball and trying to get by on junk. Marchildon and Krakauskas were in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and Marchildon was a prisoner of war. Hooper was only 40-41 in the majors but had a great claim to fame: he was a member of the best pitching staff ever, the 1954 Indians', although he was the mop-up man. Later, Reggie Cleveland and Fergy Jenkins, two other Canadians, succeeded in the majors.
He had to suffer through his career with everyone reminding him that he couldn't outhit his mother. Mom, the former Helen Callaghan, had played in the All-American Girls Baseball League. She hit .299 to win the batting title in 1945.
On May 28, 1930, pitcher Hal Carlson told Cubs teammates he wasn't feeling well. He retired to his hotel room, where he died of a stomach hemorrhage. Other players who died during active careers include:
● Catcher Amos Cross of the Louisville team in 1888.
● Catcher Jim Duncan in 1901. (He’d been with 1899 Cleveland Spiders; he drowned.)
● Pitcher Kitten Prentiss of Orioles in 1902.
● Catcher Tim Donahue of Senators in 1902.
● First baseman Ed Delahanty of Senators in 1903. (He washed over Niagara Falls.)
● Pitcher Addie Joss of Cleveland Naps in 1911.
● Shortstop Simon Nicholls in 1911. (He’d been with Cleveland Naps in 1910.)
● Infielder Joe Leonard of the 1920 Senators.
● Catcher Willard Hershberger of Reds in 1940. (suicide)
● Infielder Ty LaForest in 1947. (He was a minor leaguer who'd been with the '45 Red Sox.).
● Pitcher Ernie Bonham of Pirates in 1949.
● First baseman Harry Agannis Red Sox in 1955.
● Pitcher Dixie Howell in 1960. (A former major leaguer, he was in camp with the Indianapolis Indians.)
● Outfielder Lyman Bostock of Twins in 1978. (He was shot to death.)
● Pitcher Steve Olin of Indians. (He died in boating accident in 1993.)
● Pitcher Tim Crews of Indians. (He died in boating accident in 1993.)
● Pitcher Darryl Kile of Cardinals in 2002.
● Pitcher Josh Hancock of Cardinals in 2007.
He looked like a nervous breakdown on the mound. His big year came in 1987, when he won 13 games for the Phillies while fiddling with his cap and uniform, grimacing and hopping around on the mound. Maybe he worried about giving up homers. He gave up a club-record 34 in 1987.
On April 24, 1954, Joe Carolan, 21, of Detroit went to the ballpark on game day in Columbus, Ga., to ask for a tryout. He had to buy a ticket to get in. Then he bought a scorecard so he could learn the name of general manager Jim Greaves. Carolan identified himself as an outfielder and asked Greaves for a tryout. At 230 pounds, he was impressive. Manager George Kissel who told him to take batting practice with the team. Carolan hit three out of the park. Kissell and Greaves immediately arranged a contract and one hour later, Carolan was in the lineup. He batted in the second inning with the bases loaded. He homered off Macon’s Calvin Howe, giving the Cardinals a 4-3 lead. But Macon won in 13 innings, 7-5. Carolan played 33 games that season, hitting four homers and batting .231.
BOB M. CARPENTER
He was born Aug. 31, 1915. After playing football at Duke he went to work for the du Ponts and married into the family. He bought the Phillies in 1944 for $400,000 after Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis expelled the previous owner, Bill Cox, for betting on the team, which usually lost. (Actually young Carpenter’s father came up with the money, saying he wanted to find something for his son to do.)
Carpenter staged a contest to pick a new nickname for the perennially inept team. "Bluejays” won, but it never caught on.
The Army drafted him in May 1944. During his 20 months of service he was a physical conditioning instructor at, first, Fort Niagara in New York State, then Camp Grant in Illinois and Camp Upton in New York State. (As a member of the du Pont family, which began its U.S. fortune by making gunpowder for the War of 1812, he could hardly have been sent to combat.)
He was discharged in time to take over running the club officially in January 1946, but he’d already been spending money bringing in better players. He bought:
● Pitcher Johnny Humphries from the White Sox on Dec. 7, 1945.
● First baseman Frank McCormick for $40,000 from the Reds on Dec. 10, 1945.
● Infielder Skeeter Newsome from the Red Sox on Dec. 12, 1945.
● Infielder Roy Hughes from the Cubs on Jan. 21, 1946.
● Third baseman Jim Tabor from the Red Sox on Jan. 22, 1946.
● Pitcher Al Jurisich and outfielder Johnny Wyrostek from the Cardinals on Feb. 5, 1946.
“You can’t buy a pennant, no matter how much money you have to spend,” he said just before buying
Tabor. He said the new players were stopgaps to make the club decent until the farm system could provide some worthy youngsters. He also brought in Herb Pennock from the Red Sox as farm director, and the Phillies improved with the Bosox’ surplus talent.
The Phillies’ bean counters in the front office noted that the team had gone out of pocket “100 percent” for the new players. This is tax-accountant’s figuring, of course; they knew the Phillies were losing money either way. The Giants, it was noted, had shown a profit despite spending $175,000 for Walker Cooper. Thus, the Giants actually spent only 30 percent of that amount; if the dough hadn’t gone to the Cardinals for Cooper it would have gone to IRS.
The Phillies had been eighth and last in wartime 1945; with the purchases they finished fifth in ‘46. They were seventh in ‘47, sixth in ‘48 and third in ‘49. When the won the pennant in 1950, the stopgap players were long gone.
After the 1972 season Bob Carpenter turned the team over to son Ruly (Robert Ruliph Morgan Carpenter Jr.).
This former major league first baseman was managing the Indianapolis team of the Western League in 1907 when he tried to keep his players' wives from sitting together at games. He said the women gossiped too much, then went home and told hubby what they'd heard, causing animosity among their husbands. His moves were not well received. One newspaper commented: "One of the prerogatives of a woman is to talk and she will keep on talking, whatever Mr. Carr says about it."
An outfielder, he was one of many returning servicemen whom the club owners treated shamelessly after WWII–despite the GI Bill of Rights. The San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League quickly sent him packing in spring 1946. But he went to court, winning a $3,500 judgment March 1, 1947. Federal Judge George B. Harriss ruled that Carroll was improperly discharged and was entitled to his 1946 salary. Seals president Charles Graham had contended that Carroll was hired only as a temporary player before going into the military. (See my book Baseball Goes to War for many more details.)
A lefthander on the Clearwater (Florida) team, he threw half a double no-hitter Aug. 23, 1992, in Jack Russell Stadium in Clearwater. He beat righthander Scott Bakkum of Winter Haven 1-0. The run scored in the seventh on two walks and two sacrifices. Ken Sirak put down the second sacrifice, scoring Phil Geisler on a safety squeeze. It was thought to be the first double no-hitter in the minors since 1952.
At 5 feet 10, he weighed somewhere in the 216 to 220 range, making him one of the heaviest players of the 1890s. Fans, who considered him downright gigantic, were amazed at his dexterity. He leaped and scooped well at first base, saving a lot of errors, and he ran amazingly well. But fans said he also scooped the ball with his bat, hitting too many pop flies. He liked to play checkers before games, often squaring off against Honest John Anderson.
Ohio State’s football star won the Heisman Trophy in 1955. He also played centerfield on the baseball team under former Red Soxer Marty Karow. He was still coaching first base for the Columbus Clippers in Triple-A ball into the 2000s. He lives in Tampa.
On Monday April 6, 1896, first baseman Pete Cassidy of the Louisville Colonels had a wrist photographed with the famous new X-ray process. He was the first player to try it. Doctors Vance and Stucky took the photograph with cathodic rays, which showed Cassidy had a loose piece of bone. Every time Cassidy jarred the wrist, the splinter moved elsewhere. The doctors immediately removed the splinter surgically.
In 1903 a doctor talked infielder Lave Cross into having his hands X-rayed. The doc detected 17 old fractures in the right hand, then moved on to the left. He found seven old breaks in the index finger, whereupon Cross said he'd had enough and walked out.
A superstitious fellow, he pitched an especially good game when he was with the Philadelphia A's back in the 1930s. He noticed that the A's trainer was wearing a blue gabardine suit. Each day that Caster was to start thereafter, he called Tadley, the trainer, and insisted he show up in the blue suit.
Caster was also temperamental. On June 20, 1945, when he was with the St. Louis Browns, he precipitated a nasty fracas in a game against the White Sox in St. Louis. Manager Luke Sewell went to the mound to lift Caster with two down in the eighth. Refusing to give the ball to Sewell or to reliever Tex Shirley, Caster instead flung it into the White Sox dugout. Everybody seated there ducked briefly, then charged onto the diamond to get Caster. When the Browns and their rowdiest fans surged onto the field, the White Sox retreated. In the ensuing riot, Sig Jacucki and Ellis Clary of the Browns entered the Chisox dugout, where the beat up the visiting team's batting practice pitcher, an especially vociferous bench jockey.
In 1989 the Cuban leader somehow asked the California Angels for Jim Abbott's autograph. The Angels complied, sending, somehow, an autographed ball. In 1987 Abbott had become the first U.S. pitcher in 25 years to beat the Cubans in Havana. Castro saw that amateur game, which preceded Abbott's entry into the pros.
LOUIS "JUD" CASTRO
An infielder with the 1902 Philadelphia A's, he was rumored to be a nephew of Cipriano Castro, dictator of Venezuela. Jud's parents lived in Medellin, Columbia. He had the impossible job of replacing Larry Lajoie at second base after he moved to the Cleveland team.
The 1940 and '41 Registers show his record under the heading "Philip Joseph Cavarretta." Directly underneath the heading is his purported autograph. It reads: “Philip Cavaretta.” Subsequent issues spell it right, and the signatures are virtually identical otherwise. Incidentally, he played in his first World Series at age 18. The same spelling phenomenon pertains to Larry Jansen. Some of his autographs in old Registers say “Larry Janson.” The Sporting News, which publishes these books, likely had an artist gifted in forgery but deficient in spelling.
In 1974 a Dominican court convicted him of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a girlfriend. He paid a $100 fine.
It cost him 50 times that much to attack a fan in the Astrodome. It was his team that levied that $5,000 fine; there was no legal action. That happened in 1985, the same year he paid $7,400 for drunk driving and damaging property.
In 1988 he attacked a girlfriend and was accused to trying to take their child. When police arrived, he gave them a battle royale. Otherwise, he’s a great guy.
He was pitching for the team in Columbus, Ohio, in 1890 when he tried to make some extra dough. He got a sucker to bet $7,000 on a prize fight. A pug named Gorman would "lay down," Chamberlain assured the sucker. But Gorman, likely not involved in the shenanigans, knocked out his rival, whereupon the sucker went to the police. The Columbus team had had enough of Iceberg and fired him.
Bob Rodgers called pitcher Dean Chance “the dumbest I ever caught.” Rodgers should know.
He thought he could be a part-time baseball commissioner. He took the job April 24, 1945, succeeding the late Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. But he also retained his other job as U.S. senator from Kentucky. He declined his baseball pay until Nov. 1, 1945, when he resigned from the Senate and went to work full time for baseball. Apparently he really did believe, at first, that he could run baseball in his spare time.
He could make his fastball ride in or out, but success eluded him until he added a slider. He was the Yankees' ace in 1946, winning 20 and losing eight, but arm trouble finished him; he was out of baseball by 1948. His 109-43 career record remains remarkable.
The Yankees traded him to make room for Joe DiMaggio. He once fought Birdie Tebbetts and lost. For details of Chapman's year-long suspension, see Greek George.
After starring in football at the University of California in 1938, he went directly to the Philadelphia A's. He looked like a major star, although he struck out too often when he first came up. After spending three years as a navy flyer, he never quite lived up to his potential in baseball. But he was always a reliable hitter, excellent centerfielder and a popular, classy fellow. After finishing with the '51 Indians, he played in the Pacific Coast League. It was his first experience in the minors.
Pity the young player in the '80s who called his wife and told her to meet him in Charleston, where he'd been optioned. One spouse went to West Virginia, the other to South Carolina.
In 1898, George W. Shaw, editor of the Daily News in New Castle, Pennsylvania, reported that the many tales about the origin of the term “charley horse” are bunk. He said he had the real story. He said Joe Quest, the ballplayer from New Castle, originated the term. “Joe was employed in the establishment of Quest & Shaw in this city, learning the machinist's trade” said Shaw. “The elder member of the firm was his father Jacob. An old white horse named Charlie was used by the firm in a wagon utilized for hauling material around the works. Charley had drawn so many heavy loads and was so advanced in years that he had a peculiarly wobbly gait, occasioned by his strained tendons. When Joe noticed the ballplayers limping around, he recalled Charley's walk, and he named the condition after the old horse at his father's works.” Ballplayer and manager Scrappy Joyce disagreed: “Mike Kelly was the author of the expression ‘charley horse.’ In the '80s, when Kel was with the Chicago Whites, he had a friend who owned a string of race horses. In the stable was an old breadwinner named Charley. White was the name of the owner. He entered Charley in a selling race one day and tipped Kel to play the animal. Charley went to the post as long as 20 to one, and he was hammered down to even money. He led into the stretch, stumbled and fell, and the fall cremated a hundred of Kel's money. For a year after Charley took that twister in the stretch, White told Kel of Charley's hind leg. ‘If that Charlie horse of mine didn't take that crimp in his hind leg, bookies wouldn't have taken that crimp in your roll, eh, Kel?’ was White's lament. Kel applied the phrase ‘White's Charley horse’ as the name of a strained muscle in the ballplayer's leg.”
He once told a teammate: "I'd give a hundred dollars to be a millionaire." He’s said to be the only player to throw lefty and bat righty to win a batting title. He was eventually barred for dishonest play.
Ken, the pitching milkman from Oneonta, New York, had a good fastball and a lousy curve. Still, he gave Ted Williams fits. The Red Sox traded for him before the 1942 season mainly so Williams wouldn't have to bat against him.
Former pitcher Deacon Philippe observed in 1946: “When Babe Ruth broke in he pioneered the long ball. He hit for distance. Instead of outfielders having plenty of room to roam for fly balls and help pitchers, the magnates built stands in the outfield to aid Ruth's home runs and take care of the overflow fans. They brought the fences in. All this hurt the pitchers and produced the cheap home runs. Teams quit playing smart baseball and went in for slugging. I once saw a man score from second base on a bunt! But when Babe Ruth came along, the home run ruled. I think that's what's wrong with baseball today. Everybody is swinging for the fences. The batter isn't particularly looking for base hits. He goes for the works.”
This Hall of Fame pitcher, who pronounced his name “cheese-boro,” was a wrestling fan. After seeing the world-famous Hackenschmidt wrestle in spring 1905 in NYC, Chestro decided to take up the sport. He challenged Honest John Anderson, a player who also wrestled, that winter. Apparently nothing came of it.
He's remembered as the worst No. 1 draft choice of all time. (Naturally the Yankees or Mets have to have the best or worst ever. The Mets claim Chilcott.) He was a lefthanded hitting catcher from Lancaster, Calif., when the Mets picked him June 13, 1966. He was 17. The Oakland A’s, who had second choice, took Reggie Jackson, 20, who'd been at Arizona State.
Chilcott was playing for Winter Haven in the Florida State League in 1967 when he slid into second base. An infielder landed on Chilcott’s shoulder, necessitating surgery. Chilcott later broke a hand, then a kneecap. Not surprisingly he soon became a carpenter. Even 20 years later, he was the only No. 1 choice never to play in the majors. Some people think this is a bum rap, that he could have made the majors if he hadn’t been hurt.
“He was the clubhouse joker,” Larry Gardner said, “always laughing.” Gardner and Cicotte were teammates on the Red Sox. After he was barred in the Black Sox scandal, Cicotte became a security guard at the Ford plant. A nephew, Al Cicotte, later pitched in the majors. Eddie pronounced his last name “suh-COAT-ee.” The nephew was “SEE-cot.”
When this minor leaguer trained with the California Angels, his roommate was Charlie Pride, who went on to become an entertainer.
A manufacturer of old-time uniforms actually had Reds uniforms made up in the 1980s that had Cincinnati misspelled. Photographs appeared in catalogs.
Wealthy John Brush owned both the Cincinnati team of the NL and the Indianapolis team of the Western League. He operated the latter as a farm, stocking it with players (such as Jack McCarthy) of big-league quality. The Hoosiers beat two big-league clubs the same day in October 1898, and were humorously called “Cincinnapolis.”
The people who owned him sold him for $123,000. He ended up starving to death. It’s true. The White Sox bought him for the 1930 season, paying more than they'd ever paid for a minor leaguer--$123,000. The owners of the Pacific Coast League team in Portland, Oregon pocketed the money.
Billy was a big-league regular seven of his nine seasons. But he was back at Chicago's Comiskey Park in 1947 as park electrician. Newspapers showed photos of him polishing floodlights. Before long, he was a part-time groundskeeper in Comiskey. An alcoholic, he starved to death in a Chicago slum in 1949. Owner Chuck Comiskey of the White Sox paid for the funeral.
"The ballyhoo I got when Portland sold me for that sum was the greatest burden any player ever carried in the majors," Cissell once said.
When he he filed for bankruptcy in federal court in Santa Ana, Calif., in 1992, he owed $37,000 to Nordstrom’s, $55,955 to American Express, $19,820 to Visa, and $200,000 in back California and federal taxes. He also had $1 million in losses for his drag racing team. In the previous year he had bought three Mercedes cars at $100,000 each and owed a Ferrari dealership another million.
BOILERYARD BILL CLARKE
He was the last of the old Baltimore Orioles of the 1890s when he died at age 90 in 1959. (Teammate Bill Hoffer had died eight days earlier.) Clarke was born in New York City but his family soon moved to New Mexico. Although he gave his year of birth as 1868, records now say 1867. He had a scholarly streak and read fiction, sometimes even Shakespeare.
He began pro ball in 1889 with Puebla. He next played for Ottumwa of the Illinois-Iowa League. In 1891 he moved up to the San Francisco team. He was with the '93-98 Orioles during their glory years, then played for the Senators. He subbed for Ed Delahanty when Del went on his fatal bender in 1903. Bill coached baseball at Princeton for 30 years.
An infielder, he played in the Negro and Mexican leagues in 1937-50, except for a stint in the Provincial League. Then, starting in mid-1950, he played Organized Ball, mostly in the minors. He did get into 14 games for the 1952 Boston Braves. He was 34 when he joined the Braves; integration had come too late. He also was called "Buzz."
He was Organized Ball’s first black in the 20th century. He pitched briefly in 1916 for the PCL’s Oakland Oaks.
He pitched briefly for the 1992 Pirates. His father, from Sierra Leone, studied in Leningrad, Soviet Union, where he married a Russian. Victor was born there in 1968 while his father was a medical student. Victor attended Santa Clara in the U.S. His fastball was near 90 mph but his change-up was his best pitch.
JOE COLEMAN SR.
He showed extraordinary perseverence when a sore arm befell him. After totaling 27 victories for the 1948-49 Philadelphia A's, he ailed for five years. It took him three years to win four more games, not counting time spent in Savannah. He surfaced with the 1954 Baltimore Orioles, feeling reasonably well, and went 13-17. Son Joe Jr. also pitched in the majors.
She was the Cubs' ball girl until posing for Playboy in 1986 wearing her birthday suit, plus a smidgen of a Cubs uniform. The team fired her. She needled them about double standards, noting that if they didn't want a sexy retriever of baseballs, "Why didn't they just have a boy do it?"
For a slugging outfielder he did fine as a mop-up pitcher. He pitched once for the 1958 Indians and once for the 1968 Yankees. In a total of 5 2/3 innings he gave up no runs on one hit and struck out five. He even got a victory when the Yankees rallied.
COMIC STRIP CHARACTERS
Infielder Boob McNair got his nickname from Rube Goldberg’s comic strip character “Boob McNutt.” Pitcher Paul Erickson was called “Li’l Abner” for the character in Al Capp’s comic strip. Scott Erickson is called “Superman.” Pitcher Hal Newhouser was called “Prince Hal,” because of the famous old Foster comic strip, Prince Valiant. Edward Bumstead, who pitched for the Williamsport Grays of the Eastern League in 1946, couldn’t escape being called “Dagwood.” Outfielder Gus Zernial was called "Ozark Ike" for an old comic strip about a ballplayer. It was just the opposite for catcher Yogi Berra. Cartoonists named Yogi Bear with Berra in mind.
He pitched for UCLA and never had a hit in college. After he was drafted, in the 58th round, the Royals were horrified to see that his fastball was the straightest they'd ever seen. They made a position player of him. He's also a world class racquetball player.
He was 19 and a catcher for Twin Falls of the Pioneer League when he died June 29, 1952, after a ball hit his chest in warmups.
JOSEPH N. COOPER
He was the notorious "Marshmallow Man" whom Billy Martin punched in October 1979.
Although considered the “picture catcher” of his era, he hadn’t played sports in high school. Instead, he’d worked on the family farm. Outfielder Brett Butler did play in high school, but not regularly. His coach thought he was too small. Butler never forgave the fellow.
Cooper’s daughter Sara was Miss Missouri of 1957.
Lots of old-time players walked beats after quitting baseball. Among them: Hank Gastright, John Anderson and Harry Stovey. Phil Hennigan of the 1970s became a state cop in Texas. Jim Bagby Sr. and Jim Greengrass were lawmen in Georgia. Mickey Owen was a sheriff in Missouri. Pitcher Ned Garvin, known to be fast with gun or knife, became a deputy.
Pitcher Joe Corbett quit the old Baltimore Orioles at the height of his career--he'd gone 24-8 in 1897. One major reason he quit: people taunted him about brother Gentleman Jim's loss of the heavyweight boxing title. Bob Fitzsimmons' solar plexis punch had knocked out Jim Corbett on March 17, 1897. Jim, incidentally, didn't like to see Joe associate with such a bunch of rowdy mugs as the Orioles.
The Phillies fired him July 18, 1983, when his team was in first place in the NL East. Granted, the team was only 43-42. (That’s the kind of screwy record you get with divisional play.) Replacement Paul Owens managed the team to a pennant.
"Costello" played two games for the old Cleveland Naps. On July 9, 1908, he replaced Dusty Rhoads on the mound in Boston, pitching a hitless eighth inning in the Naps' 2-0 defeat.
Presumably, he was idle until July 4, 1912, when he pinch hit for outfielder Joe Birmingham in Chicago and struck out. Presumably, he never again played anywhere.
But the Naps never had a player named Costello. Actually it was Gulfport Jack Ryan who mopped up in that '08 game and Ken Nash who pinch hit in 1912. "Costello" was merely a gag.
In 1908 it did little more than enrage Boston newsmen, who complained bitterly that Naps catcher Nig Clarke had engaged in needless humor when he told umpires that the new pitcher was "Costello." The gentlemen of the press obviously were sore that they'd erroneously put "Costello" into their stories and box scores.
But for years, the '12 gag perplexed people who care about statistics and records. Could "Costello" have been Dan Costello, a very busy pinch hitter for the '15 Pittsburgh Pirates? It seemed likely because he was the only major league Costello of his era.
But researchers discounted him, apparently because he played elsewhere in 1912.
Then one industrious fellow pored through the minor league records and found J.A. Costello. Merely a name in one of the old guides, J.A. never made the majors. But the overzealous researcher "recalled" J.A., put him in a Naps uniform, and there he was, albeit decades tardy.
And there he remained until 1958, when Nash told a newsman he was the "Costello" of 1912. You had to take Nash's word for it because by then he was a prominent judge in Massachusetts.
He'd just followed orders, he said. Naps manager Harry Davis had been having an especially nasty afternoon, bickering constantly with umpire Gene Hart. Finally, Davis disgustedly told Nash, then a green kid, to grab a bat and announce himself to Hart as "Costello."
Darned if he ever knew why, Nash said in 1958. Davis was in such a funk that Nash hadn't wanted to inquire.
But the purpose of both gags remains a mystery.
Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First" routine was years off. Perhaps the name "Costello" figured in an old vaudeville joke. Perhaps it had something to do with the famous actor, Maurice Costello, or vaudeville entrepreneur Dan Costello, a big noise a century ago. Or perhaps "Costello" was like the omnipresent "Kilroy" of WWII, or Jimmy Durante's "Mrs. Callabash," or "Yehudi, the little man who wasn't there."
Costello certainly wasn't there, and, more than three-quarters of a century later, nobody seems to know why he was supposed to be there.
Until the 1950s the major leagues had occasional courtesy runners--short-term replacements for temporarily indisposed baserunners. Say a pitcher plunked a batter's knee. Rather than await the victim's recovery, the game could continue with a temporary sub, if both teams agreed. Usually the defensive team picked the other team's backup catcher as the pinch runner. As soon as the fellow with the sore knee felt better, he'd return to the game. The box score wouldn't show there'd been a courtesy runner and the backup catcher was free to enter the game later.
Chris von der Ahe's old St Louis Browns were so cheap that each of his infielders had to serve as their own groundskeepers. Only third baseman Lave Cross was diligent enough to keep his spot tidy. Otherwise the infield was the rockiest around. Incidentally Lave had been a catcher; he and bother Amos had both caught for Louisville in 1887. (Amos soon died.)
Ramon Garcia, a pitcher for the 1949, Washington Senators, batted once in the major leagues and singled to rightfield. He hit the ball cross-handed.
When the Washington Senators discovered that their Cuban pitchers (especially Connie Marrero) could win in the majors, other teams began trying veteran Cubans from the Florida International League. Charlie (actually a Cuban-American) got a chance with the 1950 White Sox. He was clobbered (0-0, 33.75). But he was great in the minors: 253-130 in '35-50. On July 23, 1947, he pitched a no-hitter in the Class C Florida International League. He died Oct. 11, 1994 in Tampa at 77.
A member of the Red Sox in the 1940s, he made an unassisted doubleplay while playing centerfield against the St. Louis Browns. It was in 1945 when he caught a short fly and continued on to tag second base. But he's best remembered as the fellow who fielded Harry Walker's hit in centerfield at the tag end of the 1946 World Series. Shortstop Johnny Pesky, known for “holding the ball while Enos Slaughter scored,” blamed Culberson: “He really lobbed the ball to me. Remember I had gone out to short leftfield to get it. I would have needed a rifle to nail Slaughter. The film shows I didn't really hold it at all. But it really doesn't bother me.” The misconception is that Slaughter scored from first base on a single. It was a double.
In 1889, while pitching for the Baltimore Orioles, he gave up 24 hits in a game in St. Louis. That included Jack Mulligan's three homers. Afterward manager Billy Barnie told him to call a coin toss. Heads he went, tails he stayed, but on probation. Tails came up. He matured into one of baseball's best, going 28-15 in 1898. He was one of baseball's junkballers.
Some say he was the first pitcher to wear a glove. One thing’s for sure. As the slowest worker of all pitchers, he was the bane of Cleveland wives. When Cuppy pitched, hubby got home late. He missed supper. He was lucky to get anything to eat. Some wives would re-heat it, and have it ready at 6:30.
An interviewer sought out Cuppy in 1913, when he was the portly proprietor of a billiard hall in Elkhart, Indiana. He said Hugh Jennings was the best ballplayer ever and that old partner Cy Young was the best pitcher ever.
“The only improvement I can see in the game is Ty Cobb,” he said. “Otherwise it is no faster than in the Nineties.”
He was amazed that pitchers complained about having to throw 150 pitches a game. “When I was in the business I used to pitch that many to four Orioles, McGraw, Jennings, Keeler and Kelley.” He reminded the reporter that foul balls weren’t strikes when he was pitching, and, besides, there was a lot more arguing to slow down games.
He said he began professionally in Dayton in 1890, then spent the next season in Meadville, Pa. He joined the Spiders in 1892.
He replaced Lou Gehrig at first base for the Yankees in 1939. He was let go after the ‘40 season because his arms were too short for a first baseman–at least that’s what clubowner Jake Ruppert decided. Dahlgren played through WWII but lasted only one postwar season. The St. Louis Browns released him in early October 1946.
He's generally considered the first pitcher to wear a glove. Otherwise, he's mainly forgotten. Too bad. He and Cy Young were considered about even-up when they pitched for the Cleveland Spiders in the 1890s. Arm trouble shortened Cuppy's career, while Young pitched on, and on, and on.
He’s a baseball legend, despite never pitching in the majors. A lefty, he was perhaps the fastest and wildest pitcher ever. Some baseball people said he threw 120 mph.
"Fastest ever," Ted Williams said.
"Nobody else was close," said his minor league catcher, Cal Ripken Sr.
"The best arm in the history of baseball," said former pitcher and pitching coach Harry Brecheen.
Yet he was 5 foot 10, weighed 170, wore glasses and said little.
In nine years in the minors he averaged 13 strikeouts and 13 walks every nine innings. In a complete game in Aberdeen of the Northern League he threw 283 pitches. Shortly thereafter it took him 120 to get through two innings. Once he pitched a no-hitter, striking out 18 and walking 21.
He was with Elmira of the Eastern League in 1963 when he suddenly began throwing strikes. The Orioles took him to camp in 1964, and he proved a celebrity. Everyone gathered around the batting cage to see him throw batting practice. He threw the ball past Ted Williams, who stopped past for a look, and he struck out the side in two outings in camp games. But in fielding Jim Bouton's sacrifice, he hurt his arm throwing to first base--so the story goes--and he was soon back in Elmira.
Not only did he never make the majors, he won only twice at the AAA level. His career was spent traipsing between such places as Stockton, San Jose and Elmira.
The Orioles once took him to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, a military installation in Maryland. That was before Jugs guns, and they had him throw at a contraption that timed projectiles. He threw at it for 40 minutes before he could hit it. Eventually he eased up and was timed at 98.6 mph, and he wasn't throwing from a mound.
In Wilson, N.C., he threw a wild pitch through the backstop. The hole in the mesh screen was left there at least 30 years. Some people claimed he nearly ripped an ear off a batsmen and that it had to be surgically reattached.
The groundskeeper in Stockton preserved, like a shrine, the hole Dalkowski put in the rightfield fence. Once he and teammates were standing in street clothes in centerfield in the ballpark in Stockton. They bet each other they could throw on one bounce to the plate 450 feet away. Only Dalkowski succeeded, and he didn’t worry about the one bounce. The ball cleared the backstop and went into the stands.
He finished with a 46-80, 5.56 record in the minors. Then he returned to Stockton, got married and divorced. He worked in his mother-in-law's pet shop, as a forklift driver, a bartender, and had many other jobs, which he usually lost. He married and divorced again, and became a cotton picker among Mexican migrants.
The cops around Stockton and Bakersfield looked after him. Many times they arrested him for drunkenness and disorderly conduct. He hung out at the ballpark in Bakersfield, where people thought he was just another drunk. Baseball reporters frequently sought him out, and he stood them up. See Martin Duck/Duke for another not-so-large fastballer.
Cubs fans called him "Dim Dom Dal." The "Dim" presumably was short for "dimunitive," as he was 5 foot 6. Reporters said he looked like a "fire hydrant" or called him such corny things as "the tree that walks like a man." According to folklore he once lunged into Wrigley Field's ivy trying to catch Paul Waner's fly, only to be left dangling there. Rightfielder Bill Nicholson had to dig Dom out of the vines, and Dom was still clutching the ball. No one knows just when this happened, but both Dom and Nicholson swear it did.
Tom Daly, Red Sox coach and former catcher, tried to shut up Bobo Newsom, one of baseball's most notorious loudmouths, by saying: "C'mon Bobo, I'll warm you up barehanded." And he did. Newsom shut up temporarily. Outfielder Frank Thomas of the Pirates used to bet pitchers he could catch them barehanded, and he did. He once broke a thumb doing it, though.
A longtime New York sportswriter and Sporting News correspondent, he was a notorious and insufferable “homer.” New Yorkers loved him, but he offended--even infuriated--generations of other Americans who read the Sporting News back in the days when it really covered baseball. An example: he made the Cardinals appear unpatriotic for beating the Yankees in the 1942 Series: " . . . many of the Bombers went into the classic fighting the war and not the Cardinals . . . The Cardinals conceivably were not bothered as yet by the wartime considerations."
Tropical storm Danielle hit Philadelphia Sept. 25, 1992, forcing the Phillies to play three straight doubleheaders, They played two of them against the Cardinals Sept. 26 and 27, then played the Mets twice Sept. 28. The Phillies were 5-1 in the games but finished sixth and last.
He earned many admirers by winning games for the Mets and by appearing occasionally on Sesame Street. But on Feb. 1, 1984, William Weld, a U.S. attorney in Massachusetts, identified Darling as one of the top 10 college federal loan debtors in that state. Weld, trying to collect, sued Darling and 70 others in Boston and Springfield. He alleged that Darling owed $4,991.88. Darling wasn't happy about the notoriety. “It isn't like no one knows where I work,” he griped. On Feb. 6, Weld received a check. Darling soon signed a $165,000 contract.
A righthander, he pitched for the 1912-26 Tigers. His fastball and curve were average, and he never led the league in much of anything. He was steady, not spectacular, and was effective as both a starter and reliever. All this added up to a 220-183 career record. Another Tiger, Hal Newhouser, made the Hall of Fame with a 207-150 record.
When Charlie Carr failed at first base for the 1901 Philadelphia A’s, Connie Mack brought in Harry. He ended that first decade of the century with more homers than any other major leaguer: 66. Charlie “Piano Legs” Hickman was next with 58.
While catching for the Cubs, he picked the Mets' Barry Lyons off second base during an intentional walk. It happened with two outs in the ninth inning.
THE DEAN BROTHERS
Paul threw harder than brother Dizzy but was mainly just a thrower. Dizzy had a good curve, and knew how to pitch. Paul won 19 games each season for the 1934-35 Cardinals before hurting his arm. He last pitched in the majors with the 1943 St. Louis Browns (0-0 in three games). Both brothers pitched somewhat after WWII. Paul, who'd gone on Little Rock's National Defense list in 1944, trained in 1946 with the Browns. They sent him to Little Rock of the Class AA Southern Association that March. He was in four games and had a somewhat lucky 2-1 record. In 19 innings he gave up 14 earned runs on 29 hits and four walks. Dizzy was the Browns' broadcaster. In a publicity stunt, he came out of the broadcast booth for the last game of the 1947 season. It was an entertaining and memorable event; he gave the White Sox no runs on three hits and a walk in four innings. He singled his only time at bat.
A catcher for the San Francisco Giants, he once sprained a foot evading autograph seekers. When he caught Bud Black, the Giants had a Black-and-Decker battery.
Everybody does dumb things sometimes. Baseball people are no different from the rest of us. In 1932, Clark Griffith decided prize farmhand Jake Powell should bat lefthanded instead of righthanded. Griff optioned Powell all the way down to Youngstown, Ohio, to learn. He never did, and two years later was playing for the Senators as a righthander.
Then there was Rich Thompson, a mediocre reliever with the 1985 Indians. In midseason, manager Pat Corrales decided Thompson had to become a sidearmer. The poor fellow never had thrown sidearm, and now Corrales was putting him into major league games and making his throw that way. It was like sending a novice to them mound. Thompson was reduced to a wreck.
His 16-11 record helped the Cubs win the 1945 pennant. Like many longtime players, he was out of work the following spring because the military vets came home. Released, he signed with the Indianapolis Indians of the American Association on Jan. 8, 1946. He went 9-11, 2.65, which gives some idea of how baseball improved after the war. He gave up baseball when Indy released him early that October.
JOHNNY “UGLY” DICKSHOT
A former major-league outfielder, he gained headlines in May 1947 when he batted with gloves on. There were no batting gloves in those days; these gloves were to keep his hands warm. He was playing for the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association and they were in Minneapolis, where it was so cold the Brewers' Joe Bestudik, a pinch runner, ran the bases with his hands in his pockets. Both managers wanted to call the game, but Rosy Ryan, the Millers' GM, wouldn't do it. He watched the action from his heated office.
He pitched for the Cardinals and Pirates, and he was atypical: he was a little righthander--not a little lefty--and he was very successful. He won 35% of the '51 Pirates' victories, then 33% in '52. He scooped a handful of dirt after each pitch and often turned his back to the hitter to motion his fielders into position with his glove.
He was named for the doctor who delivered him; the name often was misspelled “Murray.” As a teenager, he played an American Legion game in Kansas State Penitentiary. It was on Memorial Day in 1933, and shooting broke out during the game. Two notorious convicts, Wilbur Underhill and Harvey Bailey, were leading a jailbreak. Non-involved prisoners shielded the youngsters against a wall while the shooting was going on.
He sanded his bats flat on the hitting side, which of course was cheating. Otherwise, he was best known for generating many corny headlines because of bank robber John Dillinger.
He saved a game in 1987 despite being lifted. It was rained out while his replacement, Lee Smith, was on the mound warming up.
Cities with big league teams have 23 percent fewer divorces than cities without. So says the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver. Apparently the latter cities were Buffalo, Denver, Indianapolis, Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix, Washington and Tampa, none of which had a team during the study.
As far as players getting divorces, times have changed. The media reports such gossipy tidbits nowadays. They tell us why Mark McGwire or whomever had a bad season. In the old days, newspapers didn't mention players’ divorces. Fans didn't know that, say, Mike Garcia was having a bad second season in 1950 because of his divorce.
He had one of the AL's best curves. If Ted Williams needed batting practice, he’d get Dodson to throw him a morning’s worth of those benders. Despite all those breaking balls, he was the only Red Sox starting pitcher who didn’t have arm trouble in 1947. Boo Ferriss, Tex Hughson and Mickey Harris were all ailing.
A third baseman, he played for the Phillies in 1912-13 and finished the latter season with the Reds. He batted .215 in his 127 games in the majors. He was killed by a pitched ball in a Southern Association game in June 1916.
One of the Pirates' top pitchers, he was hospitalized for mental problems just before the 1903 World Series and never pitched again in the majors.
Some claim he threw harder than Bob Feller. But he threw out his arm and ended in the majors with a 65-33 record. He was a notorious bench jockey.
An outfielder, he was very religious and didn't cuss. Teammate Larry Gardner once described him: "Oh he was a character--very, very religious. Whenever the boys would use profanity on the bench, which was quite often, Patsy would just shake his head and go, `Tish, tish,' or `Tut, tut, boys, please don't say those words.'"
Two righthanders, Ramon Salgado of the Texas City team and Bill Guthrie of the Harlingen team, matched no-hitters in the Gulf Coast League for six innings in a Class B game of Aug. 26, 1951. Then a midnight curfew interrupted the game. When it was resumed on the 27th, Salgado again took the mound. But Bob Ramsey came out for Harlingen. Salgado completed his no-hitter, winning the seven-inning game 1-0. Salgado was 21-14 that season, Guthrie 9-11.
DIRTY JACK DOYLE
Doyle had the first pinch hit, and was also one of the few who played for three New York teams. Sal Maglie was another.
Pitching for the Cubs, he nursed a 2-1 lead into the fifth inning on April 24, 1957, then he walked four straight. Jackie Collum walked three more. Jim Brosnan walked two to make a record nine for one inning. The Reds scored seven runs on one single, plus those nine walks, in the inning. Moe, incidentally, was from Ozanna, Poland.
As a rookie first baseman with the 1950 Red Sox, he out-hit Ted Williams. He batted .322, hit 34 homers and tied teammate Vern Stephens for the major league lead with 144 RBI. He began 1951 so badly he was optioned to San Diego of the Pacific Coast League for 33 games. After batting .286 there, he was summoned back to Boston. But he finished the season at .239. He had some good seasons thereafter but never again approached his numbers of 1950.
On June 14, 1952, he went five for five off Jim McDonald and Bobby Hogue in Yankee Stadium. Then in the first game of a twinighter in Washington he got four singles in four at-bats against Walt Masterson. In the second game, he tripled his first at-bat against Bob Porterfield. Two innings later, he singled off Porterfield, giving him 11 straight hits. Next he doubled off Lou Sleater, tying Pinky Higgins' record of 12 straight in 1938. But next time up, he fouled to catcher Mickey Grasso.
Howard Freigau, an infielder from Dayton, Ohio, played in the majors seven seasons. He was the Cubs’ regular third baseman in 1925-26, and at age 29 was still playing for the Knoxville club of the Southern Association when he drowned July 18, 1932. He jumped from the 20-foot high tower at the Chattanooga Golf & Country Club and hit his head on the bottom of the pool. Bystanders couldn’t reach him in time. He’d also played for the Cardinals, Dodgers and Braves in the majors. He’d played minor league ball with Kansas City and Toledo in the American Association and Buffalo in the International League.
Some other drownings:
●Jim Duncan: A catcher, he drowned in 1901 while still an active player. He’d last played in the majors in 1899.
●Arky Vaughan: He drowned while fishing in 1952. He’d last played in the majors in 1948.
●Tom Gulley: He drowned in 1966. He last played in the majors in 1926 but had played long after that in the minors.
His real name was Martin Duck but he pitched as Martin Duke for understandable reasons. Here's what Tom Brown had to say about him: “Stivetts and Whitney were stalwart athletes and ideal pitchers to look upon. But there was a stocky, round, plump little chap in the Association back in the 1880s whose speed was a mystery to all of us. I refer to Martin Duke, who pitched for Billy Watkins when Watty managed the Kansas City team in the American Association. Duke stood about 5 feet 5, and when I first batted against him he had as much speed up his sleeve as Grasshopper Whitney. But Duke couldn't stand the strain, and he fell by the wayside after a couple of years in the Association."
The Los Angeles Dodgers approximated Chinese water torture in 1987 when they used five pitchers in an inning in which there were no hits or runs.
Just because you’re a good ballplayer doesn’t mean you’re smart. The Washington press, for example, frequently called Ed Delahanty a dummy. One story said that he played “about as headless ball as could be imagined." The paper described an instance when the St. Louis Browns had Barry McCormick on first base in the fourth inning of a 1-1 tie. Dick Padden bunted to Delahanty at first base. Del, ball in hand, awaited Padden. As the Post told it: "Padden streaked it down the baseline, but, before reaching Del, changed his mind and legged it back toward home with hypnotized Delahanty in close pursuit. Padden dodged, Del followed suit. Ditto, ditto. Finally, Del succeeded in dropping the ball, and Padden scooted back toward first. Delahanty then made a dummy of himself by throwing the ball to [pitcher Casey Patten], who had gone over to cover the initial sack, and Padden was put out for the third time. While this edifying spectacle was in progress, McCormick had leisurely wandered around to third . . . If Del had utilized the supposed contents of his think-tank, he would have known that as soon as Padden turned away from the initial sack he was out by the rules of the game, and the one-ring circus was entirely superfluous.” McCormick scored on the next play, and the Senators lost 8-1. That happened Aug. 11, 1902.
Catcher Charlie Dexter of the Cubs once knocked Ollie Pickering. They'd been teammates on the Louisville Colonels in 1896-97. Dexter told a reporter in 1901: "I guess nobody is trying to steal Pickering from the American League. There is a good ball player in a mechanical sense. He is a great batter, fine fielder and fast runner, but the Lord was not good to him in the matter of baseball skull. In fact, Pick's skull is a wonder. Suppose you have reached second and Pickering is on first--suddenly and without warning you'll see a cloud of dust and here comes Pickering full split for second, entirely forgetting that you hold the base. Yell 'Go back!' at him and he will slowly flounder back into a certain putout, growling meanwhile, 'I didn't know that feller was ahead of me.'"
The Post also scolded Walter Johnson and Dave Altizer for stupidity in losing twice to the Browns on July 12, 1908. In the first game of two in Washington, pitcher Johnson fielded Danny Hoffman's seventh-inning bunt and tried to get Bobby Wallace at second base. Everybody was safe, the Browns went on to score two runs and Johnson had cost himself a 3-2 defeat despite 11 strikeouts. In the second game, a two-run fifth inning gave the Browns a 4-2 victory. This time, second baseman Altizer held the ball 10 feet behind first base while two runners advanced. The Post called it "the most stupid play seen on the local grounds in years."
Then there was Honest John Anderson, who was accused of trying to steal second base with the bases loaded.
Every fan has a story about how dumb one manager or another is. Bobby Cox' detractors remember how his mishandled his 1985 Blue Jays in the playoff against Dick Howser's Royals. Howser fooled Cox into too-early, left-right pinch hitters. Cox even lifted Al Oliver in the fourth inning. (Yet Cox continues to win and win and win . . . )
And who can forget Don Baylor of the Rockies running out of players in the playoffs?
Lou Boudreau, a shortstop by trade, had to catch three times while managing the Indians. He ran out of catchers and didn't have the heart to force anyone else into catching.
Mike Hargrove of the Indians ran out of pitchers in the 1996 playoff against the Orioles and had to use closer Jose Mesa for 3 2/3 innings.
Pat Coralles of the 1985 Indians made journeyman reliever Rich Thompson switch to sidearm. Thompson had never thrown sidearm in a game. The results were likened to putting a beginner into a major league game. It was gruesome.
Alvin Dark and Maury Wills are among many managers who cost themselves their jobs by mouthing off.
This bespectacled pitcher was a nasty drunk who, the joke went, suffered more knockouts than Joe Louis' opponents. He could drink a lot better than he fought.
LOUIS "BULL" DURHAM
He won doubleheaders five times for Indianapolis’ minor league team in 1908, but won only once during his several trials in the majors.
The 1954 Cleveland Indians were so good they looked like a dynasty. Not only did they win an AL-record 111 games, they had perhaps the best pitching staff ever (Bob Feller, Early Wynn, Bob Lemon, Mike Garcia, Hal Newhouser, Art Houtteman, Don Mossi, Ray Narleski, etc. Moreover they had arguably the best minor league team ever (the Indianapolis Indians). The farm system included Herb Score, Rocky Colavito, Roger Maris, Sam Jones, Bud Daley and Harry Simpson.
But more than 40 years passed before the Indians won another pennant. Lemon’s elbow gave out; so did Garcia’s back. Newhouser retired and Feller soon did. Score got hurt. The ownership and management kept changing, then Trader Frank Lane dismantled the remnants, dealing Score, Colavito, Maris, Mossi and Narleski.
Answers to Bar Bets:
1) Hugh Duffy in 1901.
2) His own, of 59 in 1921.
3) His own, of 54 in 1920.
4) Organist Gladys Gooding in the 1940s and early ‘50s.