Grave Markers for Dan Marion and Dan Lally

Perhaps I am overly sentimental about such things, but as a grave hunter I find it particularly annoying when I stumble upon an unmarked grave. During the past several years of searching out the graves of former American Association players, I’ve been fortunate to have found only a minimum of unmarked graves.

Two such graves are noteworthy, for they lie within the same cemetery, Mount Olivet in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And each plot is located within a few hundred feet of one another — in a line! These are the graves of Dan “Bud” Lally, an accomplished outfielder and Donald “Dan” Marion, a pitcher, both deadball era players, Lally having started his career in 1887 in New England while Marion’s heyday was from 1910-1915. Both were American Association players at one time; Lally hit .400 for the 1895 Western League Minneapolis Millers, quite an extraordinary accomplishment!

This past September while in Milwaukee I made it a point to determine the exact location of each of these graves, taking twine and wooden pegs for roping off the plot site with the aid of one of the office managers at Mount Olivet named Matt. It was an unusually warm day for the third week of September, as the temperature climbed past the 90˚ mark with a blustery wind. But we accomplished our goal and I took multiple photos of each site (now if I could only get WordPress to publish my photos!).

I resolved to have grave markers installed at the sites of these two graves. As a member of SABR’s Ken Keltner Chapter in Milwaukee I emailed each member of the Keltner group asking only who might be interested in having more information about the project. One person replied. I was dejected.

My next plan was to submit a letter to my Almanac subscribers with the Fall issue which went out about 10 days ago. The results have been impressive. One subscriber immediately came forward and promised to donate the money for the entirety of Lally’s grave. As the result of a second substantial donation, I am 80% of the way toward funding a marker for Marion.

It gives me a great deal of satisfaction knowing that these two graves will soon have markers so these old-time ballplayers will never be forgotten. I do wish there was a philanthropic society dedicated to such things. If anyone knows of an organization which might be willing to work with me, I know of other graves which could use a headstone.

And please feel free to leave a comment, question or suggestion!

Fall Almanac Proceeding Apace

Wish I’d been doing a better job keeping current with the blog here, but life intervenes.

On the front burner is work on the American Association Almanac for Fall 2007. It’s another big issue, will wind up at least 31,000 after the death notices are added. There are multiple topics, all dealing with the 1910-12 Minneapolis Millers. I didn’t have room to include 1912 in the Summer issue so the Fall issue starts off with the 1912 team and its offensive characteristics. The pitching of the 1910-12 Millers will occupy the remainder of the issue. For the 1910 team I include a comparison with the league’s top pitching team, the Toledo Mud Hens. While I don’t expect another issue of the Almanac to surpass the Summer issue in overall quality, this will be a very solid issue, maybe a bit heavy on the statistical angles. Either way, it will fill a nice of baseball history that will hopefully lead to further inquiry. Baseball during the deadball era was an especially fascinating subject of American culture that had a host of fascinating aspects.

A few of the starting pitchers that are examined in this issue include “Long Tom” Hughes, Nick Altrock, Roy Patterson and the Big Finn, Lou Fiene, all of whom contributed to the 1910 Miller team. The legendary Chicagoan Hughes led the league in wins (31), winning pct. (.721) and bases on balls (129) and strikeouts (222).

The 1910 American Association Champion Minneapolis Millers

Getting into the Cracks of History

Recently I made cool little discovery using an internet search site called NewspaperArchive.com, a subscription service which has been worth the cost, especially lately. It allows people who are interested in using old newspaper accounts to really get into the cracks of history. This service provides access to many smaller newspapers around the country (The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette) and some of the larger ones as well (The Wisconsin State Journal, The Indianapolis Star).

As part of my 1910-12 Minneapolis Millers project, I’m studying the performance of the Millers against left-handed starting pitchers. Finding out which pitchers were left-handed was easy for the vast majority of them, but the other 20% weren’t as easy. At first I employed the services of Ray Nemec, a sort of guru of baseball research who assists people with locating files on the more obscure players. Then I learned how to use NewspaperArchive.com to conduct searches on obscure ballplayers, some of whom I don’t even have a first name for. After entering search criteria (which varies, depending on the success I have), a listing of several articles appears. Often, way too many articles are listed, so I refine my search, a process that is made easy on the website.
For example, take the pitcher John Schultz who played for Toledo. He started in one game against the Millers in 1911, performing well, according to local newspaper accounts which did not, however, mention whether Schultz was a lefty or a righty. By default, it is likely that if an article which has any notable discussion of a pitcher in its text does not mention him being left-handed, he probably was not. But this can be a difficult presumption to make. It’s best to find a direct quotation. In the case of Schultz, I was able to find a rare quote stating he was a right-handed pitcher. At the time the article was written (July 11, 1911) Schultz was a star performer for Zanesville (OH) of the Central League, a prominent feeder of the American Association. The irony is that the quote was written with respect to the center fielder of the opposing team who had been in a hitting slump. The article mentions it was a good thing he was facing a right-hand pitcher. I had my evidence. John “Red” Schultz was definitively a righty and I could now enter that elusive “R” into my record. Had I relied only upon references to pitcher Schultz and not read the entire article, I would have missed this vital fact. Another irony in the Schultz case stems from the fact that he was with Toledo. In 1944 Ralph LinWeber published a book containing the complete (and I mean complete) rosters of each Toledo team from 1883 until 1944 called the Toledo Baseball Guide of the Mud Hens. This book was one of my principal motivators for getting started on serious baseball writing. LinWeber has Schultz was listed as a pitcher for 1911, but his throwing arm stats was omitted, the only pitcher of some two dozen pitchers the Mud Hens used all season for whom LinWeber did not provide a record of his lefty or righty persuasion. Ralph!!!!!
Taking the time to go through each article was rewarding. The Schlutz search took roughly an hour. I’ve spent up to two hours on one search. I’ve also had some incredible luck and found the info I was looking for within five minutes. It can actually become very addicting. To date I’ve discovered the throwing arm of virtually all of the 15-20 pitchers who were in question. This has been another “project within a project” and I hope it gives a constructive dimension to my study of the Millers and their three-straight pennant winning years. This allows my research to be as complete as possible, which can only enhance my writing. And besides, it’s fun!

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.

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.