Tuesday, December 16, 2008

St. Louis Players Wanted At Ludlow, Kentucky

Mr. J.H. Gifford, manager of the Ludlow club, which is being reorganized, writes that he is anxious to engage first-class players. He says that the club will not pay any fancy salaries, but that the men will be sure of their money as fast as it falls due. The organization is in need of a catcher, change pitcher, short-stop and third baseman. Manager Gifford would like to hear from Seward, Pearce, Redmond, Gleason, McCaffrey and other players now in St. Louis. If they will write, stating their lowest terms, an agreement may be arrived at. Out of the material mentioned above a very strong team could be placed in the field.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 5, 1877

At first glance, I was rather dismissive of Gifford's attempt to land the mentioned players for the Ludlows. I particularly liked the part about how he wanted the players to mail him their lowest terms and thought it was funny. But if you look at it, the players that Gifford was targeting were certainly attainable. Dickey Pearce was 41 years old and at the end of the line. George Seward and Billy Redmon weren't big stars and neither played more than seventy big league games. The Gleasons and Harry McCaffrey were youngsters. There was no reason, given enough money, that Gifford couldn't have signed all five.


David Ball said...

Pearce actually did join the Ludlows very briefly, then jumped the club to play in Rhode Island. A considerable controversy followed as to whether Pearce had violated his contract, keeping advance money, or the Ludlows had failed to live up to their promises to him.
As always, these teams that look like mere semipro clubs actually turn out low-level professional clubs bringing in players from considerable distances. I think this version of the Luds had Silver Flint as well; the previous one in 1875 featured Charley Jones.

The business about asking the players to send terms seems to be pretty The business about asking the players to send terms seems to be typical of the times, at least below the highest level: the player made an offer to the club rather than the other way around. The part that strikes me is what Gifford says to the effect that we offer no fancy salaries, but what we agree to pay, we really will pay. That he would say that is a tipoff to what happened to a lot of players in those days, probably including the Ludlows in their previous incarnation. However, the Luds quickly ran into trouble because political interference prevented their playing Sundays and they went out of business. Besides the fuss with Pearce, a Philadelphia catcher (Ritterson?) was hired by the Luds and then released immediately and reportedly left stranded with no money and no way to get home. Probably the team as a whole was shorted salary when it disbanded, in spite of Gifford's promises. I believe Silver Flint and one or two other St. Louisans (McSorley?) went from Ludlow to a very strong team at Indianapolis.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

I didn't know that Flint played with the Ludlows. There are some (non-contemporary) sources that had him playing for the Stars late in 1875 but there is no evidence to support this. But if he was playing for the Ludlows in 1876 then it's easy to see how that information got confused.

Flint, McSorley, and Charlie Houtz (all former Reds) ended up playing in Indy in 1877. Packy Dillon was with the club the previous season.

One day I'm going to have to make a chart laying out all the playing movement between StL, Cincinnati, and Indy during the 1875-1877 period.

David Ball said...

I was talking off the top of my head about Flint and no doubt was mistaken.

A lot of players moved from St. Louis to the Cincinnati area in these years, but I didn't believe their was much traffic the other way.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

Flint was in StL in 1876 playing with the Reds but with the way these guys moved around I had no problem believing that he could have played some games with the Ludlows. It's a shame if it's not true because it fits the StL/Cin/Indy pattern nicely. Oh well.