Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The 1886 World Series: Latham's Coaching

The following comments from the leading Chicago dailies show what Latham's style of loud-mouthed coaching is thought of in the Windy City:

Times:-"Latham, of the visitors, made an antiquated idiot of himself in a vain attempt to rattle the veteran players of the Chicago team by continual loud-mouthed and useless 'coaching,' and the crowd got even with Latham by jeering at his bat plays, which were conveniently frequent."

Tribune:-"It was a good game, well played by both clubs, and chiefly remarkable for the coaching of Latham, a sawed-off Brown, with a voice that would put to shame the most ambitious fog-siren on the lakes. His incessant howling, a meaningless jumble of catch phrases, was funny for about fifteen minutes. Then it grew tiresome, and before the fourth inning he was universally conceded to be the worst nuisance ever inflicted upon a Chicago audience..."

News:-"We have purposely refrained from comment upon Mr. Latham's bar-room manners, because we knew that the Chicagos had undertaken to defeat the Browns at the Browns' own game, and had accepted the noisy, clamorous, jockey features permitted by the American Association as one of the inevitable penalties of meeting the representatives of that Association. Mr. Latham is a capital base ball player; he gains nothing but an evil reputation for himself by his tiresome exhibitions of alley wit-he certainly does not disconcert his opponents, and as certainly he does hurt base ball as a profession every time he emits his yawp."
-Sporting Life, November 3, 1886

Sporting Life also included the Inter Ocean's opinion of Arlie Latham, which we've already seen. It certainly appears that Latham made an impression on his Chicago audience during the series.

Peter Morris has much of this information in A Game of Inches, in the chapter about coaching. He writes that the American Association "was characterized by a brashness that contrasted dramatically with the more businesslike National League. One of the most conspicuous manifestations of this in-your-face attitude was the loud and annoying style of coaching. Many of the players who filled this role made little pretense of the fact that they went 'in line to disconcert the opposing players-generally the pitcher-not to 'coach' or assist the base-runner' (Sporting News, December 23, 1893)." He also writes that this "style of coaching became increasingly associated with the St. Louis Brown Stockings...Some went so far as to attribute the club's success to its style of coaching: 'It is a well-known fact that St. Louis won the pennant twice through this rowdyism on the field' (Philadelphia Press, reprinted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 7, 1887)."


Cliff Blau said...

Man, when someone invents a time machine, I'm going back to hear Latham's coaching for myself.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

It would be interesting to see but I think I'm with the Trib when they said it'd be funny for about 15 minutes and then get tiresome. I don't like all the distractions at today's ballparks and just want to watch a game in peace.