Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lucas Returns From The East, Part One

Henry Lucas returned from the East yesterday morning, looking hearty and cheerful, and expressing perfect satisfaction over the results of his trip. In the afternoon a Globe-Democrat reporter had an interview with him and obtained the following story of his work for the new ball club while away:

"First of all, I want to say three things that I want distinctly understood, because of a mass of contradictory reports that have been given general circulation by the press. They are: The club that I am interested in will belong to the Union Association, and not the Union League. I have signed Mike Mansell and I have signed Dave Rowe. The Union League will form an Eastern circuit and none of its clubs will come West, while the Union Association will have Western and Eastern members, and, consequently, will play games in both sections. I signed Mansell as I went East, at Buffalo, where he met me in response to a telegram that I had previously sent him. From Buffalo I went to New York. I signed Rowe at Baltimore. I see it stated that Secretary Williams has officially reported Rowe as signed with the St. Louis Club, but I can assure you that he will play with my nine. A contract with the St. Louis Club was sent on to Baltimore for Rowe to sign, but when it arrived he was under contract to me, and sent it back without his signature. Now that fact makes it imperative on Mr. Williams to rise and explain why he reported that he had signed Rowe for the St. Louis Club. In all my negotiations with players I have neither talked nor written to any one of them after he had informed me that

He Was Under Contract

or had made a verbal agreement to sign a contract. After signing Rowe I went back to New York, where I closed a contract with Dunlap. Rowe brought him there to meet me, at my request. While I remained in New York the only local ball players that I saw were Clapp and Kennedy. I was informed that Kennedy was not engaged, and asked him his terms. I had previously obtained terms from Schaffer, and when Kennedy gave me his terms it became a question which I would take. I finally decided to take Shaffer, and did so. I have not yet signed him, but have made a verbal contract with him before witnesses, which is just as good. I did not at any time ask any of the Philadelphia players to sign with me. I telegraphed Gross asking his terms. He answered that he would not decide until January, and after that I paid no further attention to him.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 25, 1883

Lucas had a rather productive trip East and returned to St. Louis with a ball club in place. In the second half of the interview, which I'll post tomorrow, he mentions all the players that he had under contract. Even more exciting, of course, is this gives us our first mention of Fred Dunlap and the some of the details of how he signed with the Maroons.


David Ball said...

Jeff, is it your sense that Von der Ahe actually was looking for another outfielder such as Mike Mansell or Dave Rowe, setting aside the question of whether Lucas wanted the player in question?

I know the Browns had had a lot of trouble with their outfield the previous season or two, and they had left Tom Mansell unreserved after a big half season with them, but then tried and failed to sign him.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

I don't have any real evidence to base this on but I'd say that the Browns were probably looking to upgrade the OF position going into 1884. They had Lewis and Nicols in 1883, both of whom were young and had decent years, but after that their best guy was Tom Dolan. In general, I'd say they were looking to improve a club that fell a bit short of the pennant.

I'm not sure why they left Mansell unreserved. The guy had a good season in 1883 and the Globe, on a few occasions, called him the best left fielder in baseball. I'm thinking that there may have been some off-field issues with him. Again, I don't have evidence of this but Detroit released him in the middle of the season, saying that they had too many guys on the club. Then StL doesn't researve him after he was crushing the ball in the second half. I know that he was late for a game and VdA talked generallly about the need for the club to "stay in better shape," meaning that a lot of the guys were out drinking all night. Mansell also had a short career so maybe he had a drinking problem. Of course, other than the second half of 1883, he definitely had a hitting problem.

Regardless, there were a lot of changes in the Browns roster from 1883 to 1885, as they built the championship club. By 1885, the OF had Nicol, Welch, O'Neill, Robinson, Caruthers and Foutz. That was certainly an upgrade over what they had in 1883.