Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Where In The World Was Fred Dunlap?

So Dunlap missed two games in Altoona.  The Globe reported that he was in Philadelphia on personal business but the Cleveland Herald has a more interesting take on all of this:

There is a pretty well defined trail behind Mr. Fred Dunlap, the man who breaks promises.  His mission East is understood to be for the purpose of meeting Bushong and making a last effort to induce him to break faith with the Cleveland Club.  But it is a pretty hard job, as the man of the double tongue will find.
-Cleveland Herald, May 7, 1884

Bushong, during the time Dunlap was gone from the Maroons, was in Providence and, then, Boston, playing with Cleveland.  Dunlap was gone for basically four days.  Was it possible for him to travel from Altoona to Providence or Boston on the evening of April 30, meet with Bushong and then get back to Altoona for a game on May 5?  I imagine that it was and I also image that the trip would have taken him through Philadelphia.

The rumors about Dunlap's trip most have reached St. Louis because on May 7, the Globe reported more details about the second baseman's activities:

Dunlap left the St. Louis Union on Friday night to visit his brother in Philadelphia, and rejoined the team on Monday morning.  There was no truth in the rumor that he went to secure players for his team.

I don't know.  I wouldn't put it past Dunlap to say he's taking a few days off to go visit his brother but the club was only a week into the season, he was the captain and he was getting paid a lot of money to show up for work.  If what the Globe reported is true, that couldn't have went over well with the Maroons, unless there was something rather serious going on with the brother.

However, I'm more inclined to believe the Globe's report for one simple reason: Lucas would not have signed Bushong unless Cleveland released him.  And there was no way that Cleveland was going to release Bushong so that he could sign with the Maroons.  In fact, Lucas reiterated this point in the May 7, 1884 edition of the Globe:

President Lucas, of the Union Club, has recently received applications for engagements from members of American Association nines.  His reply to each has been: "Get your release and then we will talk business."

Lucas, to the detriment of his new league, did not attempt to sign players who were under contract with AA or NL clubs.  Bushong had a contract with Cleveland.  Therefore, I don't believe that Lucas was going after Bushong and using Dunlap as an intermediary.      


Cliff Blau said...

Plus there is the fact that the Maroons hadn't lost a game yet, so they didn't seem to be in need of strengthening.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

That's a fair point but I'm not sure that Lucas was ever particularly happy with the catchers and pitchers that the Maroons had entering the season. There was constant talk in the off-season that he was looking to sign another catcher or pitcher (especially after he lost Mullane) but it never happened. Also, remember that he picks up Sweeney in late July when the club was 10+ games up in the standings.

You have to think that if Bushong was able to obtain his release, Lucas would have signed him but I don't see any evidence that the club was actively looking to make that happen. And you have to consider the source. The Herald was anti-UA and was carrying a bit of a grudge against Dunlap. So in the end, you have to figure that the paper was just reporting a rumor trying to make Dunlap look bad. It makes for a better story than the one the Globe reported but you have to take it with a grain of salt.