Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Devinney's Testimony

The St. Louis Times gives the following as the statement of Devinney, the umpire at Louisville, concerning an attempt made by McManus, the manger of the St. Louis Browns, to bribe him: "When I lived in St. Louis two years ago I was employed by the St. Louis management to take the Browns through a course of gymnasium practice. I am intimately acquainted with most all of the Brown Stocking players, and went to the Fourteenth Street Depot to meet them on the 10:50 train Tuesday morning. McManus came to me and said: 'I want to see you at the hotel' and wished me to ride up with him in his hack. I declined and walked up to the Louisville Hotel where I met him in the lobby. He asked me to his room, where he first treated me to a nice cigar. He then told me that if I would do the square thing for the Browns and wanted to make anything he would give me $250. If I would throw the two games to be played with the Louisville in their (the Browns) favor and if I would do the same thing in the two games to be played by the Browns in Louisville later in the season, he would give me $400, or $100 for each game. He said: 'I will give you $50 on the grounds after the first game and the rest at the hotel at night.' To accomplish all this he stated that all strikes must be called off Blong that were possible; that Devlin should be dealt with very strictly as regards called balls, so as to work him and the rest of the nine up so as to throw all the points in the Browns favor. McGeary, so McManus stated, was afraid of me, and so left him to do all the talking. McManus then took out a $100 bill and showed it to me, asking if it was not a big pile. I said, 'Yes, about as big as I've seen for some time.' He said: 'You might as well make it and come back to St. Louis well fixed; you can come there next year; I'll get you in as League Umpire and see that you are well taken care of.' I did not commit myself either one way or the other and after some further talk he said, 'Well, I expect you had better leave me now, Champman may catch you here, and it would not be safe for him to see you.' I did not come to any understanding with him. As I left he remarked, 'You do as I tell you and everything will be all right. All it requires is a little cheek.' After coming from McManus' room I meet Blong in the hotel rotunda, who said to me, 'Burtis is quite a sport and bets his money on the Browns. He told me to tell you that he had his money up on them in the Louisville games, and for you to do the fair thing by St. Louis' which simply amounted to my doing the unfair thing toward Louisville. I am willing to make a sworn affidavit to anything I have stated. The Louisville people have treated me so kindly that I did not have the heart to give them away, although to a poor man the temptation in the shape of so much money was very great."
-The New York Times, August 6, 1877

Devinney, one would assume, is P.H. Devinney, who David Nemec lists in The Great Encyclopedia of 19th Century Major League Baseball as a National League umpire in 1877. Of course, Joe Blong and Mike McGeary would get into a great deal of trouble over allegations of throwing games against the White Stockings later in the month. The irony of this situation is that the alleged victims of the fix was the Louisville club who were rather familiar with the culture of gambling and game-fixing.


Davdi Ball said...

He's always referred to in contemporary reports as Dan Devinney. The part I like is the end, where he says he wouldn't necessarily object to selling a game but didn't want to harm a club that had treated him exceptionally well. That's the attitude you really like in an umpire.

Jeff Kittel said...

Thanks for the information, David. I appreciate it.

Richard Malatzky said...

Dan Devinney is actually Daniel H Devinney. he was a gas fitter born 1852 in Ohio and was from St Louis at times. according to the Canton Repository in 1884 the 2 teams playing thought that the current umpire could not call balls and strikes and sent a telegram to the league president to have St Louis resident Dan Devinney umpire the next game.

I found a listing for D H Devinney in the 1882 St Louis city directory as a fitter. P H is an error never Corrected. he was last mentioned in Sporting Life in 1890 when he was umpiring in the Texas League.

Daniel H Devinney was living in Chicago working as a gas fitter born 1852 in Ohio wife Frieda married in 1889 first child born in Texas in 1890. The others were born in Missouri and Kentucky..

Richard Malatzky
Biographical Committee SABR