Friday, November 16, 2007

Jack Brennan Was A Piece Of Work

It seems that Jack Brennan had a nose for trouble. Just a few months after getting out of jail in St. Louis, Brennan returned to the city and had a sordid tale to tell in the December 4, 1886 issue of The Sporting News.

"Jack Brennan, the catcher for the old St. Louis Union team, has just returned from Little Rock. He tells quite a story of how a gambler down here gave him $50 to throw a game. As soon as Jack had the money in hand, he told the manager of the Little Rocks about the offered bribe, and then went in and instead of helping to throw the game, he helped win it. And he was able to do that, because he was catching. The Madisons, of Edwardsville, were playing in Little Rock at the time. After the disposal of three games they were about to leave town for St. Louis, when a man named Rich approached the manager of the Madisons and asked if he would stay over and play a fourth game. The manager asked what there was in it. Rich replied that he had bet the Little Rock Club $500 that the Madisons could beat them and he had put up a $200 forfeit. The manager replied: 'I will play if we get half of the gate receipts.' After talking the matter over with the manager of the Little Rock Club it was decided to give the Madisons half of the gate receipts in order to keep them over to play for the $500 bet.

"The same night a certain person approached Rich, saying: 'Why don't you get somebody to sell the game?'

"Rich replied: 'Who can I get?'

"The other person (who, by the way, pretends to be an honest player) said: 'Why not get Jack Brennan? If you get him to sell the game, we will have them, for he is the 'kingpin' of the team.'

"After some further conversation, it was agreed to get Brennan to sell the game that night. While Brennan was passing the Capital Hotel he was approached by Rich, who asked Brennan to take a buggy ride with him. After riding around awhile and taking a few drinks, Rich said: 'Jack, how would you like to make fifty dollars?'

"'That would hit me were I live,' said Brennan, 'but how am I to make it?'

"'I can put you on to a scheme that will work to perfection,' said Rich, at the same time giving Brennan a poke in the ribs.

"'Well, spit it out,' said Jack.

"'Well,' said Rich, 'if you will throw this game for me to-morrow, I will give you fifty dollars.'

"Brennan said: 'All right; give me the fifty.'

"Rich replied: 'I have not got it just now, but if you will meet me at the Capitol Hotel in about five minutes, you can have it.'

"Brennan went around to the hotel and there met Zlick Alexander, the assistant manager, and Douthett, the centre fielder of the Little Rock Club.

"After standing there about three minutes, who should come out of the door of the hotel but Rich, who called Brennan to him, and walking along side of him said, 'Here is your money,' and slipping it into Brennan's hand, walked away. After Rich had gone, Brennan went up to Alexander and Douthett and said: 'Let's take a walk in the park. I want to tell you something.'

"When in the park they seated themselves, and Brennan said: 'Zlick, a man approached me and asked me to sell to-morrow's game and gave me fifty dollars to signify that he meant business.'

"'Well, are you going to sell the game?' asked Douthett.

"'No, you fool; what do you take me for? I'm no chump,' said Brennan. 'I only want to show the sucker how easily he can be bled.'

"The next day, as already stated, Brennan went in and played like a good fellow, his side winning the game easily. Of course the gambler was enraged and threatened to shoot Brennan, but that was all. The fifty dollars was turned over to the Little Rock management, who in turn gave it to one of the local charitable institutions."

I have to give a big hat tip to Jason Christopherson, who sent me a bunch of information on Brennan, including the above piece.

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