Friday, November 13, 2009

The World's Champion Fielder

East Liverpool in Major Leagues.-Curtis Welsch played with the Crockery City team in 1877, '78, '79, '80, '81, '82. Then he was sent by Manager W.J. Calhoun to Toledo where he played two years. He went to St. Louis in 1885 and remained there for three consecutive years as a member of the great St. Louis Browns, owned by the famed Cris Von Der Ahe and managed by Charles Comiskey. Welch became the "World's Campion Fielder." He was finally sold to the Philadelphia Americans and finished his career with the Cincinnati Nationals. He passed away in East Liverpool in 1896.
-Harold B. Barth, History of Columbiana County, Ohio

Curt Welch was twenty-two years old during his first major league season with Toledo in 1884. Therefore, if I'm doing the math correctly, he was fifteen when he started with the Crockery City club. I've stated a few times that most of the guys that Von der Ahe sold off after the 1887 season had peaked as players. Welch was not one of them. He was only twenty-five when he was sold to Philadelphia and was a very good everyday player through 1891.

Barth leaves out a few of the clubs that Welch played for, including Baltimore in 1890 and 1891, Brooklyn in 1892 and Louisville in 1893. Welch was still a young man when his major league career ended, being only 31 years old. However, he was an alcoholic and basically drank himself out of baseball. His drinking cost him jobs with both Baltimore and Cincinnati. In 1894 and 1895, he played with Syracuse of the Eastern League but by then he was already showing signs of the consumptive illness that took his life in 1896.


David Ball said...

When Welch was traded, Joe Pritchard, the St. Louis correspondent for Sporting Life, wrote that Von der Ahe and Welch disliked each other because each thought the other one drank too much -- a senseless reason to quarrel, Pritchard observed, because he himself had undertaken the experiment several times with friends and had ascertained there was more whiskey in St. Louis than any two men could drink up.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

That's funny. I figured Welch getting shipped out had to have something to do with his drinking. He was probably one of the "stars" whose attitude Comiskey had had enough of and he probably recommended that Welch go.

I like the idea that "attitude problem" can be a euphemism for alcoholism. In tomorrow's post about the Brown Stockings/Reds game of May 16, 1876, the Globe uses "demoralized" as a euphemism for crappy baseball team.