The Millers’ Hobe Ferris and the Bull

Continuing with the theme of American Association players hitting pitched balls near, at, or over the Bull Durham tobacco sign in the outfield at American ballparks at both the major league and minor league levels:

The Minneapolis Journal for September 9, 1911 reports that Millers’ third-sacker Hobe Ferris was particularly adept at swatting the sign with the bull on it (this is quoted exactly as it appears):

“Hobe Ferris of Providence, R. I., found the day a highly profitable one. In the eighth inning of the first game he slapped a double against the ribs of Taurus in the left feld. The effort netted him $50, through an agreement of a smoking-tobacco firm. It was the third fifty that Hobe had earned in similar manner this season.”

The first place Minneapolis Millers were entertaining the Milwaukee Brewers at Nicollet Park in Minneapolis. Ferris made the aforementioned clout off right-handed Wisconsin native Clarence Short who was appearing in relief of the infamous (and ageless) Brewer righty Ulysses Simpson Grant “Stoney” McGlynn. Hitting in the sixth spot that day, Ferris’ double went for naught, as the Millers were apparently satisfied with their jacked up run total of 13 and left him stranded on the cushions.

One might say Mr. Ferris’ hitting was inclined to be “full of Bull”…

Hitting the Bull Durham Tobacco Sign

The June 16, 1910 issue of the Minneapolis Journal clarified what has long been lore in baseball history: players who hit the Bull Durham tobacco sign earned a fair stipend of $50.00. Included in the article was an illustration of the check, drawn from the Morton Trust Company, in the amount of $50.00 awarded to Minneapolis Miller pitcher Nick Altrock who hit the bull sign with a batted ball on May 1, 1910 at Kansas City’s Association Park. According to the article, Blackwell’s Tobacco Company “has erected large cut-out signs in many of the baseball parks throughout the United States, and is offering $50 to any player who hits the bull with a fair fly batted ball in a regular scheduled game. They also offer a five pound carton of tobacco to any player making a home run on any grounds where one of their signs is erected.” Please see earlier blog for additional information.

1911 Minneapolis Millers Season Record Reconciled

The Minneapolis Millers 1911 American Association record was 99 wins, 66 losses.

This fact is once again being officially confirmed. And I’m glad it is.

As my project examining the Millers’ three consecutive championship seasons continues, it took a trip to the “Big” library to sort out the knotty problem I was confronted with as a result of my attempt to create a game-by-game reconstruction (wins, losses, opponents, pitchers, etc.) of their 1911 season.

As I’ve discussed in previous blogs, after an examination of a collection of box scores, such as I’ve developed for the years 1902-1913 using Sporting Life magazine, a researcher is actually likely to come up with a record of wins and losses that differs from the official record. In my case, I had come up with 98 wins, 67 losses.

Today I found out why. Sporting Life gave the Millers the loss in game two of the September 16 doubleheader against the Columbus Senators played at Nicollet Park in Minneapolis.

But the Millers actually won that game by a score of 5-4 as Otto “Rube” Peters squared off against Eugene “Lefty” Packard, giving the Millers a sweep and virtually clinching the pennant for the second year in a row, according to the Minneapolis Journal. A closer examination of the record found in Sporting Life shows that the run totals presented for each team is accurate, but the line score is reversed. This is a valuable lesson for the baseball researcher to learn, but it presents a unique challenge. In the case of such incidents, where conflicting information is found within a single box score, how is an accurate determination made for which element of the box score to trust?

I contend that any box score presenting conflicting information must be set aside for an accuracy check until it can be determined which element is accurate using a separate, preferrably local, source. Using a syndicated source (such as one found in a publication deriving its info from wire services) can lead to finding information which is taken from the same erroneous source it may have originated with. A local source is more trustworthy. It takes extra time to conduct this kind of search, but the amount of satisfaction which comes from finding the “glitch” and correcting it cannot be overestimated.

Yes, Virginia, the Millers really did win 99 games in 1911! And incidentally, Peters was the winner of the 11-inning contest, striking out 5, while Packard took the loss, striking out 9. It was the Millers’ 89th win of the season against 63 losses.

St. Paul Sets Record: Gets $22,500 for Marty O’Toole: 1911

The St. Paul Saints had a diamond in the rough on their hands. Martin James O’Toole, southpaw spitballer, bounced back and forth between various leagues for a time prior to being recalled by St. Paul in 1910. Seems the youngster had found his stride while pitching with the Sioux City Packers of the Western League, so the Saints brought him back into the fold. As a result, O’Toole performed well for Mike Kelley‘s St. Paul club in 1911, leading the American Association in strikeouts with 199 while posting a 15-11 record for the 4th place Saints. Turns out the Pittsburg Pirates were looking for pitching help, so they paid the largest sum in the history of major league baseball to that point: $22,500.

According to Sporting Life magazine, O’Toole’s “light remained hidden under a bushel for some years until the 1911 season when his winning work for St. Paul attracted national attention and caused the lively competition which forced his price up to unprecedented proportions.” (October 7, 1911)

Apparently O’Toole was quite the multi-talented prospect, as the hurler was experienced as a song-and-dance man on the vaudeville circuit. Soon after accepting the grand contract with the Pirates, O’Toole sensibly turned down “two or three” offers from various vaudeville managers, but had not been definitive in his refusals. Some guys just thrive on the lime-light…

O’Toole’s big league career never took off, however. You can view his record at:

1910 Home Run Log: Miller LF Gavvy Cravath

1910 HOME RUN LOG FOR
MINNEAPOLIS MILLERS’ LEFT FIELDER
GAVVY “CACTUS” CRAVATH,
THE 1910 AMERICAN ASSOCIATION’S
LEADING HOME RUN HITTER

1. Game 1…April 13…vs. Kansas City Blues’ Billy Campbell (L) at home
2. Game 16…May 4…vs. Toledo Mud Hens’ Hi West (R) at home
3. Game 28…May 16…vs. Louisville Colonels’ Bill Fisher (L) at home
4. Game 41…May 30 (g. 2, inn. 4) vs. St. Paul Saints’ Louis LaRoy (R) at home
5. Game 41…May 30 (g. 2, inn. 6) vs. St. Paul Saints’ Louis LaRoy (R) at home
6. Game 58…June 16 vs. Louisville Colonels’ Walter Slagle (R) win at home
7. Game 60…June 18 (g. 1) vs. Louisville Colonels’ Frank Decanniere (L) at home
8. Game 76…July 1 vs. St. Paul Saints’ Jack Ryan (R) at St. Paul
9. Game 103…July 25 vs. Louisville Colonels’ Jack Halla (R) at Louisville
10. Game 118…August 9 vs. Columbus Senators’ George Kahler (R) at home
11. Game 121…August 12 (inn. 4) vs. St. Paul Saints’ Elmer Rieger (R) at St. Paul
12. Game 121…August 12 (inn. 9) vs. St. Paul Saints’ Elmer Rieger (R) at St. Paul
13. Game 127…August 19 vs. Louisville Colonels’ Jack Halla (R) at Louisville
14. Game 164…September 21 vs. Milwaukee Brewers’ Jack Gilligan (R) at home

The Ballparks:

Minneapolis: Nicollet Park
Louisville: Eclipse Park
St. Paul: Lexington Park

Note 1: Cravath’s third and sixth home runs were inside-the-park homers.
Note 2: Cravath’s home run hit the Bull Durham Tobacco sign on June 18 and August 12 on his second homer (9th inning) for a $50 bonus in each instance.
Note 3: Cravath’s first home run (4th inning) on August 12 was reportedly the longest ball ever hit at St. Paul’s Lexington Park which had one of the most expansive outfields in the league.
Note 4: Cravath drove in a total of 26 runs with his 14 home runs.
Note 5. The Millers won 11 of the 12 games Cravath homered in, losing only the first one, Opening Day, 1910 against Louisville.

Missing 1910 Millers Game Found

As previously published in this blog, I’ve undertaken to reconstruct the 1910, 1911, and 1912 seasons of the American Association’s Minneapolis Millers. This process involves recording the game-by-game results of each season, including the pitcher, opposing pitcher, and other pertinent information. The hope is that after completing the document, the won-loss record reconciles with that of the official record. I was unable to make such a reconciliation for 1910 until I was able to visit Wilson Library (where I do most of my microfilm research) on the University of Minnesota campus, which I did last Friday.

Not only was I able find the game I’d missed (I’d found 106 wins, as opposed to the official 107 wins the Millers earned in 1910), I discovered that the game itself was significant of its own accord. As it turns out, the absence of the box score was my own error; I had simply neglected to include the game’s record in my compilation. This can be a humbling process.

The game was played at Milwaukee’s Athletic Park (later known as Borchert Field) on July 10, 1910. It was the front-end of an unscheduled doubleheader (resulting from a postponement the day before).

According to the report in the Minneapolis Journal for July 11, 1910, the game drew perhaps the largest crowd in Milwaukee American Association history, as an estimated throng of 15,000 were in attendance on that Sunday. This was substantially beyond the capacity of the park. Secondly, this game featured the first triple play to take place in Milwaukee at Athletic Park, according to the Journal. It happened in the fourth inning of the contest. Here is how the play developed:

With the Millers up 1-0 by virtue of their single tally in the first inning, Brewers’ shortstop Phil Lewis and first baseman Dan McGann, the number four and five hitters in manager J.J. McCloskey‘s batting order, singled and were perched on first and second base. Brewer veteran third-sacker Harry “Pep” Clark came to the plate intending to sacrifice, but the result of his attempt was to send a soft line drive to Miller shortstop Dave Altizer who grabbed it and fired across the diamond to Dr. Warren Gill at first, doubling up McGann. Gill fired it back to Altizer at second, nailing Lewis. Score that 6-3-6 if you’re keeping score along with us.

Joe Cantillon‘s Millers wound up with the win on that sunny Sunday, 3-0, as 34-year-old southpaw Nick Altrock blanked the Brewers on while the grand old man of the American Association, 39-year-old Stoney McGlynn, took the loss. Minneapolis took the second game of the double decker as well, 8-1. With these wins, numbering 55 and 56 on the Millers’ season slate, the club ended their four-game skid and increasing their mid-season hold over St. Paul. By the end of the week of June 18, the Millers stood atop the American Association with a record of 61-31 while their crosstown rival St. Paul Saints were in second-place at 53-36.