Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The 1884 Maroons: Whitewash

The St. Louis Unions whitewashed the Keystones yesterday, in the presence of about 1,500 spectators.  Hodnett's pitching was so effective that the visitors made but three safe hits, and his support was perfect in every respect, excepting an excusable muff by Dickerson after a long run.  Bakely was batted by the home team for eleven hits, including two-baggers by Gleason and Shafer.  Out of a total of seven errors charged to the Keystones Luff was guilty of three.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 1, 1884

Charlie Hodnett was obviously the star of this game, throwing a three hitter and shutting out the Keystones.  Early biographical information on Hodnett is a bit sketchy and while sources agree that he was born in 1861, the exact date is unknown.  Also unknown is his place of birth, with some sources stating he was born in St. Louis and others that he was born in Dubuque.

According to his entry in Major League Baseball Profiles, Volume One, which was written by David Nemec and David Ball, "Charlie Hodnett came to the Browns in the spring of 1883 from the St. Louis sandlots.  His brother Jack was also a prominent local amateur, and his father, John, helped found the St. Louis Times, a Democratic organ, in 1866.  Both brothers worked as printers at their father's paper early in life...[In 1884,] Hodnett started for the St. Louis Maroons on Opening Day...More than a month later he sustained the UA club's first defeat after it had sprinted to a ML-record 20-0 start when he lost 8-1..."  So there's a good bit of trivia for you:  Hodnett won the Maroons' first game and suffered their first loss.

Hodnett pitched his last game for the Maroons on July 4, 1884, taking the loss in a 12-1 defeat.  The Davids write that "Though kept on Maroon's payroll until September 1884, Hodnett never pitched in another official game.  The likelihood is that he was already suffering from the rheumatoid condition that reduced him to a cripple within a few years.  By 1886 Hodnett was able to walk only with the aid of a cane and relied on occasional benefit games as his main source of income...[He] died  a pauper in the St. Louis poor house, where he had been sent after his family could no longer care for him."

Hodnett died on April 25, 1890, at the young age of 29.  His major league career lasted only twenty-two games.  With the Browns and the Maroons, he started eighteen games, going 14-4 with a 1.88 ERA and an ERA+ of 165.  He accumulated 3.4 WAR in his brief career.  Breaking into the majors at the age of 22, it appears that Hodnett was a fine, young talent who had a decent career cut short by illness.

And as to the What Did Dunlap Do portion of our program:  Fred went 0-5 and only had three chances in the field, proving that the King of All Second Basemen was human.        

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