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”…

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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.

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.

June 18, 1910: A Strange Day in A.A. Baseball

They say things happen in three’s.

Well, who’s to say. But on Saturday, June 18, 1910 there was a concurrence of events in the baseball world suggesting the influence of a cosmic crease.

The day started sadly with the death of former Milwaukee Brewers’ catcher Charles E. Moran. The 23-year-old catcher was struck full force and broadside by a baseball bat the previous day in LaPorte, Indiana. He died the morning of June 18, 1910 while surgeons were attempting to repair his massive internal injuries.

Then an event took place which, although rare enough, did not parallel the gravity of the first tragic occurrence. Californian Gavvy “Cactus” Cravath was the regular left fielder for the front running Minneapolis Millers in 1910. During the second game of a twin bill being played against the Louisville Colonels on June 18, Cravath struck a ball off Frank Decanniere, a young lefty out of Greeley, Kansas. Cravath was known for his long, strong line drives, many of which he turned into home runs and extra bases. One of 13 Miller hits that day, Cravath’s swat in the seventh banged against the Bull Durham Tobacco sign at Nicollet Park. The feat earned him two bags on the diamond and a $50 bonus. He scored two hitters later after Ollie “Dad” Pickering doubled off Decanniere. Cravath’s tally capped the Miller scoring with their seventh run. The first game was decided by the Millers, 7-3 as “Long Tom” Hughes earned the win en route to a sweep over the Louisvilleans.

Thirdly on that memorable Saturday was a game which landed Toledo Mud Hen right-hander Karl Robinson in the American Association’s eternal annals, as he tossed a no-hit, no run game against a veteran Kansas City Blues team. Four Kansas Citians worked Robby for a free pass, and four found the pads via the error route. But the Mud Hens prevailed at Association Park in Kansas City by a score of 8-0 as Robinson achieved his feat with little early run support. All told, the Toledo men racked up 15 hits on the day, scoring their final five runs in the last three innings. The loss put the struggling Blues one notch deeper into the mire with their 33rd loss of the season as “Vinegar Bill” Essick took the loss. Meanwhile, Robby and his Hen teammates were showing the league-leading Millers that they were hot on their tails with their 38th win against 21 losses.

All in all, it was a day containing a variety of dramatic events which directly impacted American Association fans across the midwest during the season of 1910.

Louisville’s Stansbury Sustains Fracture at Minneapolis

Here is the story according to Sporting Life magazine, May 25, 1912:

Jack Stansbury, the Louisville third-baseman, is out of the game with a broken arm. The accident happened while Jack was seated on the bench, while the Louisville Club was playng in Minneapolis. Second baseman Lynn Bell of the Colonels fouled one into the Louisville dugout. Stansbury threw up his arm to guard his head and the ball struck him on the bone, fracturing it. He will be out of the game for a month or six weeks.

If you think about it, it’s amazing that there weren’t more injuries of this fashion in those days, back when “men were men” so to speak, considering the comparatively small foul area. But it was a real rough and tumble crowd in those days, those players…I’m sure Stansbury would have winced once and said, “Hell, I ain’t goin’ to no damn doctor for this…”

Reilley Robs Barbeau at Association Park!

From the Indianapolis Star:

Jap Barbeau got no joy out of the victory for Duke Reilley robbed him of another $50 piece of change this afternoon. Barbeau aimed one at the bull in the eighth and it started all right, but Reilley got in the way of it and made a putout. This is the second time Reilley has turned the trick against Barbeau this year on the Kansas City grounds, and it may be said there is no love on Jap’s side.

THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR
MAY 18, 1913
GAME OF SATURDAY, MAY 17, 1913

Note: It is interesting to note this event in American Association history for a few reasons. Both Jap Barbeau and Alexander “Duke” Reilley were two of the most diminutive players in the league at that time. Also, the fact that the Bull Durham Tobacco “bull” sign was a marketing gimmick which added excitement to the games, from both a defensive aspect as well as an offensive one…Association Park in Kansas City had a very deep center field; Reilley was playing right field at the time; Barbeau was a right-handed hitter, so his drive was an opposite field poke. This dual factoid is also relevant here: Barbeau’s grave is located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he died; it is marked by a modest headstone. Reilley is buried in Indianapolis, Indiana where he died; he lies in an unmarked grave. One final blurb: Both Reilley and Barbeau are among elite American Association company, belonging to the 42 select players who had 10 or more seasons of American Association experience. Funny what you can find out when you just start searching!

By the way, Kansas City defeated the Indianapolis Indians in the game that Saturday by a score of 5-1.

Mogan Reads the Almanac

I got your latest Almanac and obviously it is great from my standpoint living in the area all my life. Through my research on 19th century Columbus it has always been fun to drive by the sites where the ball parks were…including Neil Park. You did a great job on the Columbus Parks issues.

Jim Mogan
Circleville, Ohio

Published in: on March 31, 2007 at 12:20 pm  Leave a Comment