Friday, February 29, 2008

Schmelz Gets Fired

Last night the board of directors of the St. Louis League Club released manager Gus Schmelz, and that gentleman will return to Columbus. From this time forward Jack Glasscock will have charge of the team both on and off the field, President Stromberg attending to the business interests. Mr. Schmelz carries with him the good will of all with whom he has come in contact. He will probably manage the Cincinnati Club next year, although he has made no contact with any club so far.
-From The Sporting News, October 18, 1886

David Nemec writes in The Beer & Whiskey League that Schmelz full name was Gustavus Heinrich Schmelz and that his only credentials for taking over the Columbus Association team, Schmelz' first managerial job, "was his flaming red beard, which gave him a rather fierce look." Interestingly, the only reason Schmelz got the job in Columbus was that, according to James Tottle in Baseball in Columbus, "(local) favorite Jimmy Williams had already taken the job as manager in St. Louis, so ownership hired Gus Schmelz of Columbus to manage the Buckeyes in 1884."

He never won a pennant, but Schmelz was a highly respected manager. He believed the most important factor in success was the players' confidence, in themselves, one another, and the manager. He had a big, thick beard and supposedly gave signals by pointing with it. An opponent of the Brotherhood League, he advocated banning for life all who played in it. Schmelz gave John Heydler his start in baseball. When an assigned umpire failed to appear for a game, Schmelz called Heydler out of the stands to substitute. Heydler went on to become a regular umpire and eventually rose to NL president.
-From Baseball

There are much better photos of Schmelz then the one I posted above but they're mostly team photos, like this picture of the 1886 Maroons. I had never seen Schmelz' Old Judge card before I found it today and, even though it's pretty rough, I like it.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Yank Robinson

William Robinson, the second baseman of the four-time winner St. Louis Browns, was one of the most brilliant second base players of his day.

Robinson was one of the old "Stonewall Infield," the infield that included Comiskey at first, Robinson at second, Latham at third, and W. Gleason at short field.

Robinson covered a fine lot of ground. He was especially good at backing up quickly and grabbing the short flies that were hit just over second base. He was a fine fielder and thrower and a fine emergency batsman.

-From The National Game

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cliff Carroll Is The Reason

Among the abnormal incidents that figured in the earlier history of the national game, perhaps none is as well known to old-timers as the one which happened to Cliff Carroll, on the St. Louis grounds, when he was a member of the famous "Browns." Perhaps you have wondered why baseball players have plain shirt fronts, and why so few players have breast pockets. Cliff Carroll is the reason. He was running forward to take a base hit on the first bound. The ball bounced crooked and hit him on the chest. He grabbed at the ball hastily and, as he clutched it, he shoved it down into the handkerchief pocket on his shirt front. The runner saw Carroll tugging and straining to tear the ball out of the pocket and instead of stopping at first, he sprinted on to second while Carroll, still trying to dislodge the ball, ran to second. The batter passed the fielder and turned for third with Carroll in pursuit. At third Carroll stopped and tried in vain to release he ball, and the runner kept on across the plate and scored the winning run. Chris Von der Ahe, who at the time was at the head of the euphonic trio, Von der Ahe, Muckenfuss, and Diddlebock, which operated the club, was furious and ordered all pockets removed from baseball shirts. Other teams followed and the pockets never have been restored, except by a few players who are willing to risk the repetition of the accident.
-From Freak Plays That Decide Baseball Championships by Hugh Fullerton

Fullerton's article appeared in Volume LXXIV of The American Magazine in 1912. Al Spink, in The National Game, tells much the same story under the heading Why Von Der Ahe Would Not Allow His Players To Wear Pockets in Uniforms:

Way back in '89 Cincinnati was playing one afternoon with Chris Von Der Ahe's aggregation on the St. Louis grounds.

Cincinnati had a man on first base and two out, and needed two runs to win.

Cliff Carroll was playing center field for the St. Louis nine.

The Cincinnati batter hit a slow grounder to center and Carroll ran up to gather it in.

The situation was ticklish and Carroll prepared to field the ball carefully. He squatted down to meet it and got his hands in position. Just before it reached him the ball hit a clump of dirt and bounded high.

Carroll grabbed for it with both hands, just as it hit him in the chest.

Somehow in the struggle the ball was wedged into the pocket of Carroll's uniform shirt. It got in there, and Cliff had a terrible time trying to get it out.

The runner stopped at second long enough to see that something was the matter. Then he started for third, with Carroll running fast after him still digging away at his shirt pocket.

From third the runner started home, Carroll still close behind him and still unable to seperate himself from the ball.

The result was that the runner got home safely and Cincinnati won the game.

Von Der Ahe almost had a fit. He fined Carroll fifty for putting the ball in his pocket and made a rule that thereafter no pockets of any kind should be allowed in the uniforms of his team.

Cliff Carroll is probably best remembered for two things. First, he was a switch hitter at a time when switch hitting was still fairly rare (although becoming more common). Second, Carroll, along with Paul Hines, was one of the two men that Tim Keefe hit to start the 1884 "World Series" between Providence and New York. I guess he's also remembered as a member of the Providence championship club of 1884 and as the guy who got a ball stuck in his pocket. So Cliff Carroll is probably best remembered for four things.

If the "ball stuck in the pocket" story is true (and I have no reason to doubt it other than it smacks of the tall tale), it couldn't have happened in 1889 as Spink stated. In 1889, Carroll was not actually in the major leagues. His only season with the Browns was in 1892.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sportsmans Park & Club Letterhead

I found a picture of the letterhead used by the Sportsmans Park & Club Association at the CollectSportsOnline Sportsman's Park Web Site. The site has a couple of interesting articles by Richard Leetch about the evolution of baseball in St. Louis and the 1886 Championship.

It appears that the letter this image was taken from was dated May 26, 1896. The offices of the Association is listed on the letterhead as being located at Vandeventer and Natural Bridge. This, of course, was the location of New Sportsmans Park, Von der Ahe's great sports complex that was built in 1892 and burned to the ground on April 15, 1898.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Maroons Visit Little Rock

After the Maroons finished the city series with the Browns in October of 1886, the team traveled to Arkansas in early November for a series against the Little Rock club. It was a hodge-podge group of players that made the trip. Jack Glasscock, who ran the team after manager Gus Schmelz was fired in October, did not travel with the team. The only regulars who went to Little Rock were Emmett Seery, John Healy, and Joe Quinn. Henry Boyle (the team's third pitcher) and Joe Murphy (a nineteen year old pitcher who had appeared in four games) also made the trip.

This motley group of Maroons had their hands full with the Little Rock nine. In the first game, played on November 2, the Little Rocks got two runs in the ninth to upset the visitors by a score of 3-2. The next day, the Maroons jumped out to a 5-1 lead and won 5-2. On November 5, the series concluded as the Maroons were able to hold on for a 3-2 victory.

As far as I can tell, these were the last games ever played by the St. Louis Maroons.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Whether I Play Or Not I Will Receive The Amount Called For

Fred Dunlap, the great second baseman of the Detroit Club says that if he has his way he will not play in Pittsburg next year. Talking of the scheme to force him to play with Pittsburg he says: "The directors of the Detroit Club are probably unaware of the fact that I am in possession of a contract with the club for 1888. If they release me I will not join any other club, but report at Detroit for duty. It is pay or play with me. I will do the playing and the Detroits the paying. My contract will hold good, and whether I play or not I will receive the amount called for in my contract, $4,000...

-From The Sporting News, January 7, 1888

For more on Dunlap's contract difficulties, I refer you to this post.

And The Maroons Are No More

The agony is over. The National League has met and to-day Indianapolis is a member of that body. Kansas City has been paid $6,000 for her club and franchise. The St. Louis League club has been paid $12,000 for her players and franchise and now all things are lovely. The clans gathered at the Fifth Avenue Hotel on Monday last...

The Indianapolis delegates offered the committee (of John Day, Nick Young, and Al Spalding who were meeting to select an eighth club for the NL) $12,000 for a franchise, and the League then offered the St. Louis club the same sum for its resignation. The St. Louis delegate (W.S. Stromberg) thought the amount too small, but said he would consider it and give an answer on Tuesday at the 10 o'clock session. On Tuesday morning as soon as the meeting was called to order Mr. Stromberg, on behalf of the St. Louis Maroons, accepted the offer of $12,000 made by the Indianapolis men, and arrangements were at once made to transfer the players. It was thought that his price would not suit the St. Louis men, and the delegates were somewhat surprised when, after the articles had been signed Mr. Stomberg remarked: "Why, I would have taken $6,000 for the players. I am perfectly satisfied...

The Maroons have sold their players, but still hold their franchise...

-From The Sporting News, March 12, 1887

A couple of notes:

-It appears that the death of the Maroons was not foreordained. Prior to accepting the League offer, the Maroons had been planning for the 1887 season. They had been fighting in League meetings for the right to play games on Sundays and a compromise had been reached were they would be able to play Sunday games against non-League teams. This was a big victory for the Maroons who were at a competitive disadvantage in St. Louis due to the ban on Sunday games (as well as because of the higher ticket prices they were forced to charge). The team had lost money in 1885 and most likely in 1886 as well (although the sale of Fred Dunlap to Detroit in 1886 probably had them close to breaking even). The team had been arguing for some time that it needed Sunday games and 25 cent ticket prices to compete against the Browns and it appears that the League was beginning to heed their call and offer some relief. In the end, the Maroons were offered a deal that they couldn't refuse. "I would have taken $6,000 for the players," Stromberg said after accepting twice that amount.

-The statement at the end of the article about the Maroons still holding their franchise is interesting. With the acceptance of the League offer, the Maroons were no longer part of the National League. However, at this time, Al Spink was involved in the reorganization of the Western League and The Sporting News was full of news about the WL and the possibilities of placing a team in St. Louis. In later issues of the paper, it was mentioned that the Maroons would likely join the WL. With the end of the St. Louis League club, Spink most likely saw an opportunity to place a WL team in the city under the Maroons name and have them play at the Union Grounds. In the end this never happened and Spink identifies Chris Von der Ahe as the reason. It's ironic that Von der Ahe blocked a St. Louis WL team in 1887 because of his involvement with the Whites the following season. It's unknown if Von der Ahe already had plans to place a "minor league" club in St. Louis or was inspired by Spink to do so. Either way, the city would be a part of the Western League in 1888.

-The transfer of the club's players was a little more complicated than it would appear. While nominally it was a simple transfer from St. Louis to Indianapolis (or Washington, in the case of Billy O'Brien), there were several issues that muddied the waters. The players themselves had some say in the matter. "During the progress of the meeting," The Sporting News wrote, "communication was received from (Jack) Glasscock, (Jerry) Denny, and (Henry) Boyle, who insisted that the Indianapolis club give them a guarantee that they shall receive their salary for one year before they will sign a contract. Indianapolis has a bad reputation among ballplayers. Mr. Newberger said that he did not propose to pay any of his men over $2,000. Glasscock got $3,000 last season, and there are reasons to believe that he, Denny, and Boyle would not sign for the amount stated." The Sporting News also reported a rumor "that the brotherhood of professional base-ball players would take some action in the matter if the demands of the men are not complied with." To further complicate matters, it appears that the League clubs were fighting among themselves for the rights to some of the Maroons. The services of Glasscock and Denny were specifically valued. Washington wanted Glasscock and other teams were making bids for the players that "went up as high as $16,000, but no one was able to secure their services as the league had given them to Indianapolis with the understanding that they must not be sold." Some of the players, while not assigned to League clubs, were "reserved by the league in case some of the other clubs (needed) their services." To top it off, Von der Ahe stepped in and offered $500 for Joe Quinn.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Reaper Comes For The 1888 Browns

Another VEB All-Time Sim Tournament Update With Video!

Bads news first: the reaper came for the 1888 Browns in the form of Steve Frackin' Carlton and the 1968 Cardinals. Game seven wasn't even close with El Birdos jumping out to a 6-1 lead and winning 6-3. Wait a minute! El Birdos! Viva El Birdos! Oh, okay-I think I'm starting to understand some things now. Like we don't know who's going to win this little tourney now. The fix is obviously in. Shenanigans! Shenanigans! El Birdos even wasted Bob Gibson by using him in relief in extra innings in game six and they still won game seven. Shenanigans, I say! How in the world did the '67 Cards lose a game in this tourney, let alone get eliminated?

And after that little rant, we have the good news: Silver King (v. 1888) finished the tournament 7-4 with a 1.66 ERA and a WHIP of .983 in 97.2 innings pitched. If the Browns hadn't been booting the ball around behind him (and, of course, if the fix hadn't obviously been in), the 1888's would have won this series. Four unearned runs in game seven sealed the deal. But in all seriousness, I think King and the Browns have made an impression in this tournament and you have to tip your hat to everybody involved over at VEB for including the Four Time Champions and exposing them to a new generation of baseball fans. Good job, fixers.

So all we have left is the 1886 Champions of the World. If they go out, I guess I start rooting for Whitey's Boys or maybe the 2006 Evil Mojo Cards.

Anyway, what this craptastic post needs is more cowbell. Don't fear the reaper, baby!

And I really should give the old hat tip to Hot Air for stealing their reaper thing. Every time Hillary losses a primary to the Divine Avatar of Hope and Change they post the Blue Oyster Cult video. Funny stuff.

The First Trade

While the Shomberg/McKinnon deal was the first trade between NL teams, it wasn't the first trade between major league clubs. Looking at David Ball's work on 19th century player transactions, I noticed that the first trade between two major league teams most likely took place on November 12, 1886.

Ball wrote that on that date "(the) St. Louis Browns traded Hugh Nicol to Cincinnati for catcher Jack Boyle and $350. This was the first trade between major league teams, unless the transfer of Tim Keefe and Tom Esterbrook in exchange for two Metropolitans players is considered as such." Since the Keefe and Esterbrook transaction took place between two teams that had the same ownership, at the very least the St. Louis/Cincinnati deal was the first trade between two major league teams with independent management.

A Rattling Bargain

I wrote a short post awhile back about the Otto Shomberg/Alex McKinnon trade. This transaction between the Maroons and Pittsburgh was the first trade ever made between two National League teams. Obviously there had been sales, tranfers, releases, and whatnot but this was the first straight-up trade between NL clubs.

While browsing through the December 4, 1886 issue of The Sporting News, I found their report of the trade:

The Maroons have traded McKinnon, teir first baseman, for Shomberg, the left-handed batsman and lightning fielder of the Pittsburg Club. A few weeks ago the Sporting News notified the base ball public that McKinnon would not be found with the maroons next season. We said then: "McKinnon has not given satisfaction to the management. He has a very good record as a batsman, but certain players on the team have complained that he bats solely for his own record and without regard to the runs he man bring in. Besides this they claim that he never hits the ball when a hit is most needed and that he is never willing to sacrifice. They also say he is a poor runner as well as a very poor fielder in his position"

We had hardly made this statement when the Maroons received several offers for that player.

Horace Phillips, manager of the Pittsburgs, came here and offered Shomberg and $400 in cash for McKinnon. This offer was satisfactory and as a result Phillips, who is in Boston, this morning signed McKinnon for Pittsburg, while an agent of the St. Louis Club at the same moment signed Shomberg for St. Louis.

All St. Louisians having the interest of the local team at stake will rejoice over the dicker. Shomberg is a young and magnificent player and last season had a batting record of .295 and standing eighth on the list. With him, Ake, Denny, and Glasscock the Maroons will have the grandest infield in America.

Of course, the Maroons did not have the grandest infield in America and Shomberg never played in St. Louis because, in March of 1887, the Black Diamonds dropped out of the National League and sold their team to Indianapolis.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The 1886 Madisons Of Edwardsville

The Madisons of Edwardsville finished their 1886 season with a record of 18-5. The Sporting News, in their November 13, 1886 issue, stated that "No team of semi professionals in or around St. Louis have done better work this season..." They also published the batting and fielding stats for the team, which I'm posting below.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Old King Pitcher

To-day at Alameda the Altas came down from Sacramento to cross bats again with the Pioneers, and as it was known that Sweeney would make his first bow before a San Francisco gathering since his arrival from St. Louis, every ferryboat that crossed the bay for hours before the game was loaded down with human freight. So when Umpire De Witt Van Court called game a perfect sea of faces was met on every side. When Chatley stepped into the box a storm of applause greeted him on every side, which goes to show that our city by the Golden Gate still has a warm spot in her heart for her favorite son. But fate was against him and his men, for the Pioneers won the game by a score of 4 to 2.
-From The Sporting News, September 27, 1886

In charity I would draw the veil of silence around California's favorite son, were it not as a reflex of what is going on in dear old Frisco. The truth at all times must be told. On the pinnacle of fame Charley Sweeney has posed as the king of all pitchers, and he would still enjoy that distinction were his poor right arm but able to act in unison with his mighty will; but his overwork was too much for him, and he came home only to learn among those that loved him best that our idol, which was only clay, had been shattered and broken, and that many weary months must pass ere we can again point with pride to the work which has made him famous amongst his fellow (players). What his intentions are for the future I can not state, but certain it is that he will not occupy the box for any club after the present schedule is ended, but will take a long and much needed rest in hopes of restoring his arm to its old-time vigor and skill.
-From The Sporting News, October 25, 1886

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Jack Clements

Jack Clements played with the Browns in 1898 near the end of his long career. David Nemec wrote that Clements "was a twenty-one year old rookie with the Philadelphia Keystones. One of the few UA graduates to go on to a long major league career, Clements stayed in Philadelphia with the Phillies when the Keystones folded. He was one of the first catchers to use a chest protector (originally called a "sheepskin") but is best known for being the top lefty receiver in big league history."

In The Historical Baseball Abstract, Bill James wrote that Clements was "(the) only left-handed catcher to have a real career in the major leagues, also the first man to wear a chest protector. Also the only 19th-century player (at any position) who hit more home runs than triples in a career of a thousand or more games. In modern baseball about 80% of players hit more homers than triples-but Clements was the first." James ranks Clements as the fifty-eighth best catcher of all time.

Too indifferent to play for the best that was in him and get into proper shape, Jack Clements, the erstwhile crack backstop of the Phillies, is under contract to do the catching for the Springfield team of the Connecticut State League...Clements had all the qualities of a great catcher, but refused to use them.
-From The Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 14, 1902 (as quoted in The Historical Baseball Abstract)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Foutz's Sharp Trick

I had read about Dave Foutz's unassisted pick-off of Pete Browning before and while browsing through The Sporting News archive I found their report of the play.

(During) Sunday's game between St. Louis (and) Louisville, and in the presence of 6,000 persons, Foutz played the sharpest trick ever seen on the ball field. Browning was on first base and Kerins on second, with no one out. Pete played far off from the base, while Comiskey took a stand back into right field. Pete had his back turned toward second base, and was keeping an eye on the movements of Comiskey, while he eagerly pranced back and forth to show the crowd that he was not afraid to steal off a bag. Foutz pretended not to watch Browning, but suddenly Bushong signaled, and Foutz dashed over toward first base with the ball in hand, touching Browning before the latter knew what had happened. Such a play was never before seen, and the spectators howled with delight. Pete was mighty mad, and, as he has a faculty for being caught napping, the play was doubly embarrassing.
-From The Sporting News, September 13, 1886

First of all, that's a great play. If memory serves me correctly, that's the only time a pitcher has ever recorded an unassisted pick-off. And what was Browning doing? With a man on second, it's not as if he was going anywhere.

I'm surprised that this play isn't better remembered. It's was a fantasticly unique play. It should have been remembered for the intelligence and athleticism of Foutz as well as the fact that it hadn't been done before and hasn't been done since. Foutz's unassisted pick-off should be remembered as the greatest play in the history of 19th century baseball.

A Nice Picture Of John Clapp

I've written about John Clapp, who played with the Brown Stockings in 1877, before but I found this picture in the Spalding Collection and thought I'd share it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

James H. Devlin

I love this picture of Jim Devlin. And, of course, this is James H. Devlin, who pitched in a total of 20 games for the Browns in 1888 and 1889, and not James Alexander Devlin, who was signed to play for the Brown Stockings in 1878 but for various and sundry reasons never played in St. Louis.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Life In St. Louis: The Matthews Family Exhibit 1851-1933

I wanted to take a minute to mention a great website called Life In St. Louis: The Matthews Family Exhibit 1851-1933. While I've mentioned the site before in passing or as a source, I really want to give it a nice plug. The website is part of the Western Historical Manuscript Collection/University of Missouri-St. Louis website and combines material from archival collections, books, newspapers, and magazines to present the history of one St. Louis family. I've been using it as a source for information about members of the Cyclone Club as well as a general source for information about life in 19th century St. Louis.

I recently got an email from Patricia Boykin, Leonard Matthews' great granddaughter, who has done some work on the site. We were exchanging emails and I was gushing about how fantastic the website was before I even knew she had done any work on it.

I really just want to take this opportunity to thank Patricia and everyone involved with Life In St. Louis for the wonderful work they've done. They've created an extraordianry online source for 19th century historians everywhere.

Silver King (v.1888) Drops The Hammer

Another VEB's All-Time Sim Tournament update (with video!)...

Okay, I'll get this out of the way first. The 1885 Browns were swept, four games to nothing, by the frackin' 2006 Cards. It's entirely possible that I picked the 1885's as a final four team (tough to remember; hopefully there's no evidence of this on the internet). I stand by my assertion that Tony LaRussa sold his soul to the Devil in late September of 2006. The results of this transaction could be seen in the performances of Jeff Weaver, So Taguchi, and Yadier Molina in the post-season. That evil mojo has carried over into the Sim Tourney. In making my final four picks, I simply forgot to take into account TLR's dalliance with black magic and the possibility that he owns a copy of the Necronomicon. If at some point this season, Albert Pujols has his bum arm removed and replaced with a chain saw, my suspicions will have been confirmed. Of course, who doesn't want to see Pujols hold up a bat and yell "This is my boomstick!"

While the 1885's are done (and the 1886's have yet to begin play), 1888 Silver King has come to chew bubblegum and kick butt...and he's all out of bubblegum. Going into his last game, King (v.1888) was 6-2 with an ERA of 1.96 and a WHIP of .942. He's allowed 65 base runners in 69 innings and has given up only one home run. So with his team down two games to nothing against the 1968 Cards, what does he do? He dominates. An eleven inning, complete game, four hit shutout. Oh, I almost forgot-he also hit the game winning home run in the top of the eleventh. WhatIfSports described it this way: "Silver King crushes a solo homer to LCF." The man is all out of bubblegum.

Speaking Of Wee Davy...

Here's a link to Davy Force's obituary from The Deadball Era. The grave photo above also comes from The Deadball Era.

Force played in St. Louis for one season, in 1877, with the Brown Stockings.

Mike McGeary

Mike McGeary, a Philadelphia boy, was the captain and second basemen of St. Louis' first team in the National League.

This was away back in 1876 and in 1879 McGeary was playing this same position for the Providence Club, that year the Champions.

On this Providence team with McGeary were such great players as John Ward, Robert Matthews, Em. Gross, George Wright, Tom York, Paul Hines and Jim O'Rourke. And among these great players McGeary held his own.
-From The National Game

Mike McGeary, of course, was involved in the scandal that rocked the Brown Stockings in 1877. According to Jon David Cash, in Before They Were Cardinals, McGeary "had been a target of gambling rumors since 1875." The Chicago Tribune certainly considered him to be guilty, along with Joe Blong, Joe Battin, and Davey Force, of laying down against the White Stockings in the August 24, 1877 game that was at the center of the scandal. Henry Chadwick, Cash wrote, "joined the Tribune in insisting that the Brown Stockings discipline Blong, Battin, Force, and McGeary."

The Brown Stockings' board of directors emphaticly defended Battin against the charges. When the board became aware of the possibility that ceretain players were colluding with gamblers, they took this information to McGeary. On August 25, "McGeary 'made a judicious change' when it appeared that one of the players 'attempted to duplicate his errors (of the previous day).'" McGeary transferred the suspected player "to a position where, as luck happened, he had little to do..." The player in question was Joe Blong. The fact that McGeary took actions in the face of a possible gambling scandal is what led to both the board and Al Spink defending McGeary against charges of corruption.

While the National League took no official action against the four Browns' players, none played in the League in 1878. McGeary played with the Interregnum Browns before joining the Providence NL club in 1879.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The 1886 St. Louis Maroons

I found the above photo last year in the Albert G. Spalding Collection of Early Baseball Photographs. It's labled "St. Louis Athletic Association" and dated 1886. I saved it thinking that I'd figure out what the "St. Louis Athletic Association" was at a later date. Looking at it today, I realized that the photo is actually the 1886 St. Louis Maroons. Then it dawned on me that I had actually seen the photo before. This exact same picture appears in David Nemec's The Beer & Whiskey League. After finding the photo in Nemec's book, I then proceeded to smack myself in the head for being so obtuse.

Neither Nemec or the Spalding Collection identifies everyone in the photo. Nemec names a few. The Spalding Collection identifies most although it misidentifies one, spells some names wrong, and leaves three players unidentified. However, all the players in the photo are numbered and their names appear, hand written, at the bottom of the photo. While a few names are rather faded, I believe that I've identified everyone in the picture.

In the back row, from left to right, is Al Bauer, Charlie Sweeney, Jerry Denny, Emmett Seery, Tom Dolan, and Jack Glasscock.

In the middle row, left to right, is Henry Boyle, Frank Graves, John Healy, Manager Gus Schmelz, John Cahill, Jack McGeachy, and Alex McKinnon.

In the front row, left to right, is Joe Quinn, Fred Dunlap, and George Myers.

Note the large black diamond on the front of the uniforms that the Maroons wore. They weren't called the Black Diamonds for nothing. And I don't know how comfortable I'd be if I was Jerry Denny and had be standing between Sweeney and Seery.

Done With Base Ball Forever

On last Wednesday night Henry V. Lucas who on that afternoon had resigned the presidency of the St. Louis League Club and forsaken base ball for good, was met at the Union depot. He had his satchel in his hand and chatted pleasantly with old friends just as though nothing had happened. He greeted the Sporting News representative warmly and said: "I shall always remember the News for its fair and impartial treatment of the Maroons and myself. I will also give you the real figures of the losses I have incurred in base ball. In 1884 while in the Union Association I lost $17,000. That loss was incurred, however, not by my own team, but by others whom I had to keep afloat. In 1885, my first year in the League, I lost $10,000. This year I have not lost a dollar. Had I continued in the business until the close of the season, however, I would have lost probably as much money this year as I did last. The money I received for Dunlap's release offset all my losses of this year."

"Have you really turned your back on the game for good?"

"Yes, for good. I have sold out every penny of the interest I held in the club to my brother-in-law and L.A. Coquard. I am now done with base ball forever."

"What will become of the club and the grounds?"

"The lease on the grounds runs until the middle of November. They will probably be dismantled then."

"Where are you bound for now?"

"I am going to Minneapolis on a pleasure trip."

Just then the Wabash train pulled out and Mr. Lucas bade his friends adieu from the rear platform of the sleeper...

The announcement that Mr. Lucas had withdrawn from the club fell like a wet blanket on the numerous cranks who had stood by the Maroons through good and bad report.

They know that his withdrawal meant that the St. Louis League team would in a day or two be a thing of the past.

Mr. Coquard knows nothing about base ball. Mr. Espenschied has had but little if any experience. It is not likely therefore that they will continue in the business and the probability is that the team will soon be sold to the highest bidder. With the team the Union Grounds will in all probability disappear.

-From The Sporting News, August 23, 1886

Charley's Gone West

Charley Sweeney has returned to his home in California. He left St. Louis last Monday forenoon. Not long before Sweeney was released from the St. Louis club, Mr. Lucas drew him aside and said: "Charley, I have been a good friend of yours. I have been paying you a salary of $3,000 for seven month's work or nearly $500 per month. I paid you this money to pitch. Experience has proven that you can't pitch. Now I am perfectly willing to retain you on the nine as a fielder, but I cannot afford to pay you at the rate of three thousand a season. Suppose we split the difference and for the balance of the year I will pay you a salary at the rate of $1,500 for the season. You can then play out in the field."

Sweeney, who believed he could make a lot of money in the East, refused this offer of Mr. Lucas and he was released from the St. Louis club. Subsequently he signed with Syracuse. Hes career while with that club is already pretty well known.

There is no doubt in the world that sweeney, in his best days, was the king pitcher. He broke down, however, while training for the inaugural season of the St. Louis League team, and his arm has been of little if any use to him since. There have been cases where rest and quiet have mended a pitcher's arm so that he could play as well as ever. The again there have been other case, notably those of Derby and Goldsmith, where the use of the pitching arm was never recovered.

It may be that Sweeney's case is not as serious as theirs, and that he will be able to resume his position in the League in a year of two. On the other hand, the injury to his arm may be of the permanent kind, and we may never see the once king pitcher in the arena again-at least not as a pitcher.

-From The Sporting News, August 23, 1886

Friday, February 15, 2008

The New And Improved TGOG

So after almost destroying the website the other night, I got the new template installed and I think the new layout looks pretty good. I think it's cleaner, crisper, and a little more professional looking.

It's also a rather unique look for a blog. I've certainly never seen anybody using this layout. The template is called RedHoax and was designed by Dzelque. I like it a lot and have to thank Dzelque for the great job he did on it.

I still have a bit of work to do tweaking the layout to get it to were I want it to be. The links should be back up by tomorrow and hopefully I'll have everything finished by the end of the weekend.

Let me know what you think.

The First Game At The Union Grounds

The Sporting News, in an article that appeared in the August 23, 1886 issue, reported Henry Lucas' sale of the Maroons. Lucas stated that the both the team and the Union Grounds would most likely be "dismantled" after the season. To commemorate the sad occasion, The Sporting News published the box score from the first game played at the Union Grounds on April 3, 1884. I've posted on the game before but I had never seen the box score (which appears below).

One of the more interesting things about this game was that Joe Blong was still kicking around St. Louis playing baseball. It's entirely possible that he was trying to play his way onto the Maroons. Jack Brennan, who played in the game with the picked nine, did just that. "Brennan played so well in this game," The Sporting News article stated, "that at its conclusion he was given a regular position on the Union team and remained with it during its first season."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sam Crane

Sam Crane appeared in thirty-nine games for the Black Diamonds in 1886, all at second base. One would have to assume that most of these games were after August 6th when the Maroons sold Fred Dunlap to Detroit. Interestingly, Crane had played for the Wolverines in 1885 and 1886, prior to coming over to St. Louis. While there doesn't seem to be any record of an official transaction between St. Louis and Detroit with regards to Crane, it's possible that Crane was released by Detroit after the Dunlap sale and then picked up by the Black Diamonds.

David Nemec tells an interesting Sam Crane story in The Beer & Whiskey League. In 1884, Crane was acquired by the Cincinnati Outlaw Reds of the UA to play second base and manage the team. The team felt it needed to replace "Hustling" Dan O'Leary, who was a bit crazy. Nemec writes that "Sam Crane was looked upon by his Outlaw Reds teammates as a welcome change from the unpredictable O'Leary, and the club played accordingly, winning 36 of its last 43 games under his command. Later, Crane would become a respected New York sportswriter, but first he took a page from O'Leary's dossier. In the summer of 1889, Crane ran off with Hattie Fraunfelter, who worked as the head cashier for her husband, a Scranton merchant, and was later arrested in New York City on a larceny charge when Fraunfelter swore out a warrant, saying that his wife had made off with $1,500 at Crane's urging. Crane maintained that the money was Hattie's and that Fraunfelter was bankrupt, yet he never quite explained why, if all that was true, he and Hattie lived in New York prior to his arrest under the name of Morrison."

Staving Off Disaster

Okay, things look a bit different around here today but it could be worse. I was trying to put in a new template for the site this morning but it didn't go as planned. For some reason I couldn't make it work. So I tried to go back to the old three column template I was using before but for some reason I couldn't save the code. So here we are stuck with this boring, cookie-cutter template. For the moment.

Lessons to be learned:

1. Don't mess with HTML code at 4:30 in the morning when you haven't slept in almost two days.
2. Get some frakin' sleep.

The new template is pretty neat and I think you're going to like it. I just have to get the code right. But I have to be at work in three hours and it's going to be a 12 hour day. I might not get this done until the weekend. Bear with me.

Is It Too Early To Be Despondent?

So I come home from work to find round three of VEB's All-Time Sim Tournament in full swing. Actually it started yesterday but the results were not exactly what I was hoping for. I was trying to ignore the fact that the 2006 Cards beat down Bob Caruthers and the 1885 Browns. Carp was pitching and Caruthers doesn't know that he's not supposed to pitch to Pujols. Why would he? The man's been dead for almost a hundred years. Dave Foutz was scheduled to pitch today for the 1885's and there was no way the frackin' 2006's were going to beat Parisian Bob and Scissors back to back. Right?

I guess at this point before I begin to speculate on the state of Larussa's immortal soul I should say hello to all the folks from Viva El Birdos. Welcome to TGOG. Feel free to look around while you're here. There's plenty of stuff on the Browns (not to be confused with 1875-1877 Brown Stockings). We have some original research, photos, Old Judge Cards-all kinds of good stuff. And a big thank you to Larry for the link. VEB is by far the best Cardinals site out there and everybody involved should be very proud of what you've built.

So exactly what kind of deal did LaRussa make with the Devil before the 2006 post-season? Whatever it was, that mojo has carried over into the tournament. In game two of their series with the 1885's, Jeff Suppan shuts out the Browns and the Miracle Cardinals are suddenly up two games to nothing. Since I already used up my entire supply of speechless indignation, all I'm going to say is that if Jason Marquis pitches in this series and beats the 1885 Browns I may have a full-on cerebrovascular accident.

And to top it off, the 1888 Browns lost to the 1968 Cards. Silver King versus Bob Gibson didn't exactly live up to the hype as the Browns committed six errors and threw the game away. I've said it before but I'll say it one more time: Will somebody please go out and buy these guys some gloves! Here's hoping that the series goes seven games so we can have a King/Gibson deciding game duel (and so that St. Curt can slip in center field as he goes after a ball hit by Jack Boyle into the left-center gap, costing the 1968's yet another series win).

Anyway, you can see all today's results here. And we have the 1886's, out to defend the honor of the Four Time Champions, going tomorrow against the Gashouse Gang. Foutz against Dean I would suppose.

And by the way, I was only kind of kidding about Flood. I apologize to the memory of St. Curt and to the whole Curt Flood family.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bill Gleason

According to Baseball Reference, Bill Gleason was traded with Curt Welch to the Philadelphia Athletics on November 21, 1887 for Fred Mann, Chippy McGarr, Jocko Milligan, and $3,000. This, of course, was part of the Browns' big fire sale. The image above is Gleason's Old Judge Card from 1888, the only season he played with Philadelphia.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I added a couple of links today that you might enjoy.

Baseball Guru
is a fantastic site that contains a treasure-trove of information. The Major Leagues, Japanese and Latin baseball, the Negro Leagues, original research, downloads-all kinds of good stuff can be found at Baseball Guru. I've had the site bookmarked for well over a year and just forgot to link to it. Consider the situation rectified.

Bill Burgess is one of the Gurus (and I checked and the genitive plural of guru is gurua but give me a break). If you want to know anything about Ty Cobb, check out Bill's page.

By the way, in case you're interested, the nominative plural of guru is gurui.

Happy Jack Stivetts

Pitcher John Stivetts, known to baseball patrons as "Happy Jack," hails from Ashland, Pa., where he was born on March 31, 1868. He began his career with a club at Ashland, Pa., in 1886, and remained with that team until July, 1888, when he joined the Allentown (Pa.) club, pitching a number of games with success. In April, 1889, he signed with the York (Pa.) club, officiating in eighteen championship games and winning fifteen. In a half dozen exhibition games he won all. He was always regarded as one of the hardest hitting pitchers in the East, and when Chris Von der Ahe sought to strengthen the St. Louis Browns in 1889 he signed Stivetts. He was with St. Louis in 1890 and 1891. In the fall of the latter year he signed with Boston for the season of 1892...Stivetts is a giant in size, a terrific batter and a good outfielder as well as pitcher...In luck or out, Stivetts is the same happy-go-lucky individual, ready at all times to jump into the gap, and playing always for the club instead of individual aggrandizement.
-From A History of the Boston Base Ball Club

In The National Game, Al Spink also mentions that Happy Jack Stivetts was an outstanding hitter who "often played the field, his good batting in the pinch often proving useful." He also refers to the 6'2" Stivetts as "a fine big fellow" who "much resembled the veteran Cy Young in build and delivery."

Monday, February 11, 2008

Shorty Fuller

Just a quick post today as I've spent most of the afternoon answering your emails. And that's not a complaint; I enjoy talking to all you folks. It's just that time has kind of gotten away from me this afternoon. Anyway, enjoy this picture of Shorty Fuller.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Apollo Of The Box

I've been meaning to post some pics of Tony Mullane for a while (and a hat tip to Bill Burgess and his great 19th Century Historic Photographic Archive thread over at Baseball Fever for the first photo). Mullane pitched for the Browns in 1883, going 35-15 with an ERA of 2.19, an ERA+ of 160, and a WHIP of .968. Not too shaby.

Jon David Cash, in Before They Were Cardinals, writes the following about Mullane:

Born in Cork, Ireland, Mullane emigrated to the United States as a child. In 1880 he attracted the attention of the National League's Detroit Wolverines with his pitching exploits for a top-flight semi-professional ball club from Akron. After winning only one of five pitching decisions for Detroit in 1881, he jumped to the American Association for its debut season, joining the Louisville Eclipse. In 1882 he pitched the Association's first no-hitter, struck out more batters than any other pitcher in the league, and logged a 30-24 record-the first of what would become five consecutive thirty-win seasons. Thanks to the absence of a reserve clause in the American Association at the time, he had no trouble in joining the Browns in 1883. Flaunting a handlebar mustache and occasionally wielding an unusual ambidextrous pitching style, Mullane played the game with a flair that marked him as one of the most popular nineteenth-century players.

The Browns lost Mullane in 1884 after Henry Lucas offered the Count a $2500 salary to sign with the Maroons. After the adoption of the Day Resolution, Mullane thought better of jumping to the Union Association. Cash tells the story:

When the Day Resolution passed, Mullane panicked. He feared that his major-league future would become tied to the survival of the fledgling Union Association. Unwilling to accept such a risk, Mullane decided to return to the American Association.

Chris Von der Ahe had included Mullane on the St. Louis Browns' reserve list, and the Browns still held the American Association rights to the pitcher's services. However, Von der Ahe did not want to re-sign Mullane. To do so would have meant matching the lucrative $2500 contract Mullane had signed with Lucas. Most significantly, Von der Ahe wanted to avoid a possible legal battle with Lucas over the issue of player rights. Therefore, he worked out an arrangement with the other owners of American Association and National League teams. He released Mullane from the Browns, and they allowed the pitcher to be claimed by the new American Association club in Toledo. The Toledo Blue Stockings then offered Mullane the same $2500 contract that he had signed with Lucas' St. Louis Maroons, and he jumped back into the American Association.

Tip O'Neill In 1911

Combing through Bill Burgess' great collection of 19th century baseball pics at Baseball Fever, I came across this photo of Tip O'Neill. It was taken at Comiskey Park in 1911 just three years before O'Neill's death.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The New Bracket

VEB has the new bracket up for the All-Time Sim Tournament. The 1885 Browns have the number one seed and take on the 2006 Miracle Cardinals. The 1888 Browns are in their half of the bracket, are seeded fifth, and get the 1968 Cards. I think you have to root for that series to go seven games so that we can see Bob Gibson versus Silver King in the deciding game. The 1886 Browns are in the other side of the bracket, seeded sixth, and are taking on the 1934 Cards. Good luck to the various incarnations of the Four Time Champions.

Looking at the bracket, my final four picks are the 1885 Browns, the 1943 Cards, the 1985 Cards (Go Crazy, Folks!), and the 1886 Champions of the World Browns. While I'd love to see a final between the 1885 and 1886 Browns, I think the more interesting final would be between the 1885 Browns and the 1985 Cards.

If you're looking for a dark horse pick (and do I really need to say that if you're gambling on VEB's All-Time Sim Tournament, seek help immediately), I think both the 13th seeded 1926 Rogers Hornsby/Pete Alexander Cards and the 14th seeded 1964 Ken Boyer/Bob Gibson Cards could both make some noise. Yankee Killers both are they.

Another Picture Of Silver King

In honor of his fine work so far in VEB's All-Time Sim Tournament, I'm posting this picture of Silver King. I found it originally at Bill Burgess' 19th Century Historic Photographic Archive thread at Baseball Fever. The picture shows King while he was with the Chicago Pirates of the Players League in 1890.

Update: I talked to Bill and he told me that he got this photo from Mike Shatzkin's book The Ballplayers.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Things Are Going Well For The Four Time Champions

With two rounds in the books, the Four Time Champions have shown their mettle and placed three teams in the round of sixteen at VEB's All-Time Sim Tournament. While the 1887 Browns stumbled and fell to the 1996 Cards in the first round, the 1885 and 1888 Browns won their second round series and join the 1886 Browns in the final sixteen.

After falling into despair after the 1888 Browns threw away a series clinching game against the 2004 Cards, I was glad to see them right the ship on the strength of another complete game victory by Silver King and win the series four games to one. I would think that King must be the tourney MVP at this point.

The 1885 Browns had a much tougher time with the 2000 Cards, with the series going the full seven games. The 1885 Browns could have swept the series but dropped game two in extra innings. The Cards came back to tie the series by winning game five 11-9 and game six 4-3. The Browns won game seven 5-4 when Curt Welch hit a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth and Bob Caruthers set down the Cards in order in the top of the ninth.

With the play-in phase of the tournament over, all the teams will be re-seeded, one to sixteen, based on winning percentage. This means that the 1885 Browns will be the number one seed in the tournament and the 1886 and 1888 teams should both be in the top half of the bracket. The Four Time Champs have done very well for themselves so far and with the way things are shaping up, I expect them to continue their success.

Do I expect one of the Browns teams to win the tournament? Not really. But I'd be shocked if they didn't place at least one team in the final four.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Perfectos

I found a team photo of the 1899 St. Louis National League Baseball Club over at The Deadball Era (and if I haven't mentioned it, The Deadball Era is a fantastic site that you should really check out). Pat's Perfectos finished 84-67, good for fifth place and the first winning record for the franchise since 1891. One of these days I'm going to write up a post on all the machinations that went on in 1899-the change in ownership, the Cleveland/St. Louis player shuttle, the great start the team got off to, and all that. But not today.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ferdinand Garesche And The Democratic Machine In St. Louis

As noted previously, Alexander Garesche stated, while attempting to explain their actions at Camp Jackson in May of 1861, that he and his brother Ferdinand were not Secessionists but, rather, Democrats. After the war, it appears that Ferdinand Garesche was heavily involved in Democratic machine politics in St. Louis.

Bill Kelsoe, in A Newspaper Man's Motion-Picture of the City, notes that in 1874 Garesche was serving as the chief clerk of the St. Louis County Court. He also covered the St. Louis County Democratic Convention in September of 1874 and stated that Garesche was nominated to stand for re-election to that position as part of the Democratic ticket. In the November election of that year, Garesche won re-election.

J.A. Dacus and James Buel, in A Tour of St. Louis, wrote in 1878 that Garesche was serving as Commissioner of Supplies for the city of St. Louis and had an office at City Hall. According to documents from the mayor's office, Garesche was serving in this position as late as 1880. Based on these documents, it appears that Garesche oversaw a budget of over $280,000.

In 1877, Garesche was part of an election-fraud scandel investigated by the United States Congress. It seems that Garesche, in his capacity as county clerk, may have tampered with ballets in a congressional election and thrown the race to Lyne Metcalfe, the former mayor of Alton, Illinois and a member of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. While nothing came of the investigation, it's interesting to note that the Democratic machine in St. Louis may have been involved in election-fraud while trying to elect a Republican congressman. It's certainly odd but Kelsoe noted in his book that in 1874 the Democratic machine had thrown some contests to the Republicans in exchange for their support in other contests.

It seems likely that Garesche, as a result of the scandel, was moved from the clerk's office to city hall.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sickly Looking Young Boys And The Divine Presence Of The Ladies

Paul Conley was kind enough to send me this article from the September 18, 1860 edition of the St. Louis Daily Bulletin.

A couple of things to note:

-Merritt Griswold, in his letter to Al Spink, mentions four baseball clubs by name (the Cyclones, Morning Stars, Empires, and Commercials) that were in existence in 1860 and this article states that there are "five or six clubs in existence" with more forming.

-The article states that the clubs had "from thirty to forty members" which, to me, seems to be within historical norms. My understanding is that most Eastern clubs had two or three nines, which would mean twenty-seven members. Add in a few subs, extras, or non-playing members and you easily get to thirty members. Forty members, which seems a bit large, would get you four nines plus.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ferdinand Garesche Writes To His Brother

Ferdinand Garesche's brother, Julius Peter Garesche, was a Colonel in the United States Army during the Civil War. He graduated from West Point in 1841 and rose to be chief of staff of the Army of the Cumberland under Gen. William Rosecrans.

It seems that most of the Garesche family in St. Louis had Secessionist sympathies and this was an embaressement to Col. J.P. Garesche. In a biography of Col. Garesche, his son Louis writes the following:

His brothers had all been reported in Washington as being Secessionists and when Ferdinand and Alexander where taken at Camp Jackson, St. Louis, by Capt. Lyons and his men it was thought to admit of no doubt. Still it was not entirely true; for Alexander had resisted every persuasion to adopt those views, though all his intimate friends held them; and Ferdinand, though Southern in sympathy, was yet no partisan. At any rate, Julius was informed that they were all rank Secessionists.

Col. Garesche wrote letters to his family hoping to learn the truth and informed them that if his brothers fought for the South, he would resign his commission rather than take up arms against his brothers. He stated that in that event he would go to Europe and remain there until the conflict was over. Alexander Garesche wrote back to his brother stating that he and Ferdinand were not Secessionists but, rather, Democrats. While they were oppossed to the war, they also abhorred Secession. He stated that Col. Garesche need not resign and could fulfill his duties because his brothers would not take up arms against the Union.

Ferdinand Garesche also wrote his brother in July of 1861:

You must not, dear Julius, grieve so much for us. Your heart is too good and too tender. War is a hard thing and entails many miseries. We are men and must expect to meet our fate in whatever shape it comes. We have chosen our side and you know us well enough to know that we will stand or fall with it. They can invent no oath that conveys allegiance to the Federal Government which I would take, because I think that feeling as I do I would perjure myself in doing so. I have given my parole not to take up arms nor to aid the South during the Civil War.

The most interesting thing to note from all of this is that Ferdinand Garesche was at Camp Jackson in May of 1861. His brother Alexander was also there, serving as Judge-Advocate with the First Regiment of the Missouri State Militia. Both were captured, imprisioned, and then paroled. Neither took up arms again during the Civil War.

The divisions that the Civil War brought about in the Cyclone Club could not be better illustrated than by the capture of Camp Jackson in May of 1861. On one side was Ferdinand Garesche, serving with the Missouri State Militia. On the other was Merritt Griswold, serving with the Home Guard.

Note: The picture at the top of the post is of Col. J.P. Garesche, who died at the Battle of Stones River in December of 1862. Interestingly, I have photos of pretty much the entire Garesche family but I haven't found one of Ferdinand Garesche.

Update: I want to thank Betty Torno, the great granddaughter of Ferdinand Garesche, for pointing out some of the things in this post that needed correction. Betty also rightly mentioned to me that "Garesche" needs an accent mark on the final "e" and I'm still trying to figure out how to make that happen.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Griswold And The Henson Gun

I've written before about my belief that Merritt Griswold was an engineer by trade based on the fact that he had worked for the Knox Railway Clamp Company and two patents that he held for a "ventilating apparatus" and a type of window glass. Since then I've discovered that Griswold, while living in St. Louis, worked for the Missouri Glass Company, which also seems to fit the profile of an engineer. Another piece of information that supports the idea that Griswold was an engineer is his involvement in 1872 in an attempt to sell a new type of gun to the United States government.

In the records of the United States Congress there is a document entitled Proceedings And Recommendations Of The Board On Heavy Rifled Ordnance, Instituted Under the Act of June 6, 1872, For The Selection Of Breech-Loading and Muzzle-Loading Rifled Ordnance For Experiments and Tests. The Board on Ordnance met in the summer of 1872 in New York City and it appears that one of the things they were doing was attempting to select a new type of artillary gun for the army. Merritt Griswold is mention in the minutes from the board's August 14, 1872 meeting.

New York, August 14, 1872

The board met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10.30 a.m., all members being present.

A letter from the Chief of Ordinance was read, transmitting the report on an 8-inch gun of Mann's pattern.

The board then proceeded to a consideration of the propositions of Nathan Thompson...of Brooklyn, New York, and, after discussion, they were laid over for the present.

A letter was received from Merritt W. Griswold, of New York, calling attention to the breech-loading and breech-recoiling gun inventedby Mr. Henson. The letter was accompanied by a drawing. Mr. Griswold was present, was invited to meet the board on Monday next.

The board then discussed the feasibility of a plan of converting cast-iron smooth-bores into rifles. No conclusion being reached, the board adjourned to 11 a.m. of the 15th instant.

Griswold is mentioned again in the minutes from the board's meeting on August 19th:

August 19, 1872

Messrs. Merritt Griswold and Henson, being present, exhibited a model of the Henson gun, and described its mode of performance and its construction. After the withdrawal of these gentlemen, the gun was discussed and the following resolution was passed unanimously:

Resolved, That the board does not recommend for experiments and tests,under the provisions of the act of June 6, 1872, Henson's breech-loading and breech-recoiling gun, presented by Merritt W. Griswold.

In the appendix of the Board's report, two letters that Griswold wrote to the Board are reproduced, along with the drawings of the Henson Gun submitted by Griswold:

Office of Merritt W. Griswold & Co.,
104 Chambers street, New York, August 14, 1872

Dear Sir:

I beg leave to submit herewith a drawing (a gun will be also submitted if desired) of "Henson's breech loading and breech-recoiling gun,"that in actual practice has given results superior to a solid gun of the same caliber, and accomplishing much beyond the impressions formed by a theoretical examination.

At each discharge the butt recoils from the barrel proper, which latter does not appear to receive the least shock, thereby leaving a clear open space for reloading.

A trial was made of placing an independent paper wad between the powder and breech, and it was left in the same position after the discharge that it occupied prefiously, though the shot had been projected with great force and the breech recoiled to its proper position for reloading.

Hoping to hear from you, I remain yours, &c.,

Merritt W. Griswold

The second letter gives more details about the specifications of the Henson gun.

I think several things can be learned from this information. First, this is more confirmation that Griswold was a mechanical engineer. Second, he was living in New York in 1872. This is important because it's difficult to track Griswold's movements in the 1870's and 1880's. Finally, this gives us the name and address of Griswold's company-Merritt W. Griswold & Co. on Chambers St. in New York.

A Little Of This And A Little Of That

A couple of quick notes:

-No, Salty Parker's Cup Of Coffee isn't 19th century baseball in St. Louis but it was a worthwhile post. Parker just so happened to have lived in my hometown and graduated from the same high school that I did. A friend of mine lives next door to his brother, Charlie Parker, and it was my pleasure to meet the gentleman and talk to him about Salty's career. I was more than happy to do the research and put together something on this longtime baseball man. People like him deserve to be remembered. And it's kind of what I do.

-My post on Merritt Griswold And The Civil War In St. Louis is included in this month's History Blog Carnival, which is being hosted at Historia i Media. As always, its a collection of interesting and varied stuff (excluding my meager contribution, of course) so head over and check it out.

-And it's not true that I've developed an unhealthy obsession with VEB's All-Time Sim Tournament. I just find it interesting. And it's not like we have any other baseball going on right now. And if the sim computer just recognized Foutz and Caruthers as pitchers the 1887 team would have advanced and if they had bothered to buy some gloves (it's called a sporting goods store, fellas, and the brand you're looking for is Rawlings) the Browns wouldn't be booting the ball all over the field and fracking Nat Hudson has developed a bad case of Juan Acevedo Disease and Silver King can't pitch every inning of every game and, okay, maybe I'm just a little obsessed. But only a little. Seriously, though, what kind of evil computer virus turned Nat Hudson, a 25 game winner in 1888 with an ERA+ of 128, into Jeff fracking Tabaka?

Salty Parker's Cup Of Coffee

Francis James Parker was a baseball lifer. Spending fifty-eight years in the professional game as a player, coach, minor league instructor, scout, and manager, Salty Parker gave his life to baseball. It’s men like Parker who, unsung and without fanfare, make baseball the game of games. They don’t make all-star teams, they don’t have a plaque in Cooperstown, and most fans don’t know their names. But the game doesn’t exist without the Salty Parkers of the world.

Parker was born on July 8, 1912 in East St. Louis, Illinois. As a young man, Parker was an outstanding multi-sport athlete and upon graduation from high school in Granite City, Illinois, he received an offer for an athletic scholarship at Purdue University. Rather than pursue a collegiate education, Parker signed to play baseball with a club in Moline, Illinois, beginning his long life in the professional game. The Moline club, which was affiliated with the Detroit Tigers, was managed by Reese Parker, Salty’s uncle, and this certainly must have been a contributing factor in his decision.

Parker, a slick-fielding shortstop, played three seasons in Moline before moving up to the Beaumont club in the Texas League. By February of 1935, The Sporting News was reporting that Parker was a contender for a roster spot on the defending American League champion Tigers. The big league club was not particularly impressed with the young infielder’s hitting and advised Parker that since he “would never develop as a right handed batter…he try hitting left handed.” In April of 1935, Parker was farmed out to the Toledo Mud Hens.

In 1936, Frank Buckley wrote in The Sporting News that “When Parker joined the Toledo club in the spring of 1935, Manager Mickey Cochrane of the Tigers told Fred Haney, Mud Hen pilot, that if the youngster could develop as a hitter, he would make the grade to the majors in a season or two. Since then, Salty not only has become one of the best defensive shortstops in the American Association but this season has been hitting at a satisfactory clip, only recently falling below the .300 mark.” The youngster made the grade and was called up to the major leagues in July of 1936. Salty Parker was about to get his cup of coffee.

“On July 19, 1936,” Parker told Chuck Hershberger, “I reported to the Tigers from their Toledo farm club. I was put up at the Wolverine Hotel. Marv Owen and a few other players stayed there.” Joining a loaded Tiger club that had won the World Series in 1935, was still in contention for the AL pennant in 1936, and included future Hall of Famers Charlie Gehringer, Goose Goslin, Al Simmons, Mickey Cochrane, and Hank Greenberg, Parker had to wait almost a month before he got into a game.

In a game in Cleveland against the Indians on August 13, 1936, Salty Parker saw his first big league action. A late inning replacement for Tigers starting shortstop Billy Rogell in a game in which the Tigers were losing 8-0, Parker went 0-1 at the plate and registered an assist.

In a double hitter against the Browns in St. Louis on August 18th, Parker started at first base for the Tigers in both games and recorded his first major league hit, scored his first run, and drove in his first RBI. On the day, Parker went 2-10 with two runs scored and the lone RBI.

Salty Parker’s best game in the major leagues came on September 13th at home against the Red Sox. Facing Rube Walberg, Parker went 2-3 with two runs scored and an RBI. He turned two double plays for good measure.

In December of 1936, after the season had ended, Salty Parker was sent by the Tigers to Indianapolis of the American Association, along with Red Phillips, to complete the deal that sent Dizzy Trout and Bob Logan to Detroit.

Parker would never play in major leagues again. His entire big league career consisted of eleven games with the Tigers in 1936. For his career, Parker went 7-25 for a batting average of .280. He hit two doubles, scored six runs, and drove in four RBI. He was caught stealing twice, drew two walks, and struck out three times. In the field, Parker played seven games at shortstop and two at first base, turning six double plays and committing three errors.

Salty Parker told Chuck Hershberger an interesting story about his introduction to big league life. On his first day in the major leagues, the Tigers were playing the Yankees at home and the new rookie sat on the bench. After the game, Parker was invited by new teammate Marv Owens to a “Chevy banquet.” “At the banquet, there were six Tiger players: Schoolboy Rowe, Goose Goslin, Gerald Walker, Jack Burns, Marv Owens, and myself.” Mr. Haller, the head of Chevrolet, stated at the banquet “that each of us players would get a 1936 Chevy of our own choice.” While Parker was skeptical, Owens assured the rookie that this was how things were in the major leagues. Haller was true to his words and Parker soon found himself in the possession of a new, black, four-door 1936 Chevy. “What a first day I had in the major leagues. It wasn’t a home run my first trip up, but a free meal and a new car.”

While never getting another chance in the big leagues, Salty Parker continued to play professional baseball into the 1950’s. His 1940 season with Marshall in the East Texas League was probably his finest. That year he hit .349 and led the league in batting, doubles, fielding percentage, putouts, and defensive double plays.

Parker began a new career in 1939 when he managed Lubbock in the West Texas-New Mexico D League. Over the course of his minor league managerial career, Salty Parker would compile a record of 1308-1183. He managed three minor league pennant winners and was named Midwest League Manager of the Year in 1976 when he was with the Cedar Rapids club.

Salty Parker did get an opportunity to return to the big leagues as a coach with the San Francisco Giants in 1958. From 1958 to 1973, Parker coached in the majors with the Giants, Indians, Pittsburg, Angels, Mets, and Astros. In 1967, when he was a coach with the Mets, Parker was named interim manager after the firing of Wes Westrum and compiled a 4-7 record. He got another opportunity to manage in the majors in 1973 with the Astros after Harry Walker was fired. On August 26, 1973, the Houston Astros defeated the Montreal Expos 6-5 under the guidance of their interim manager. The next day, Leo Durocher took over the club and Salty Parker holds the distinction of being the only undefeated manager in the history of the Houston Astros.

In his last decade in the game before his retirement in 1987, Parker served as a minor league instructor for the Giants and Mariners. Over the course of his career, Parker spent time in twenty-four different major or minor league cities.

Salty Parker, who passed away in 1992, was inducted into both the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame and the Granite City Sports Hall of Fame. In the last years of his life, Parker coached youth baseball in the Houston area and the Salty Parker League in the Granite City Park District’s youth baseball program is named after him.