Happy Birthday, Billy Clingman

Today is the birthday of an American Association star. William Frederick Clingman was born November 21, 1869 at Cincinnati, Ohio. The switch-hitting righty stood 5’11, and weighed in at 150. He was 32 years of age in 1902, his first year in the American Association. As club manager and regular shortstop for the sixth-place Milwaukee Brewers that year, he hit a resounding .308 in 530 at-bats, delivering 20 doubles, 7 triples and 3 home runs. By that time, Clingman was a seasoned veteran, starting his major league career in 1890 with the Cincinnati Nationals. Rounding out his tenure in the American Association with the Columbus Senators in 1903, St. Paul Saints in 1904 and Toledo Mud Hens in 1904-06, Clingman found a home in this league, a place where he could utilize his talents while entering into the twilight of his career as a ballplayer. Clingman died at Bethesda Hospital in Cincinnati on May 14, 1958, but he’d lived a good portion of his final years in Louisville, Kentucky where he owned a print shop and an engraving business called Clingman Engraving Company, retiring in 1947. He is buried at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville. Happy Birthday, Bill.

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).

Dominic Castro

John Castro of Phoenix, Arizona emailed me the other day to mention that his grandfather, Dominic Castro, was a catcher in the old American Association. Here are Dominic’s numbers with the first American Association team he played for, the 1944 St. Paul Saints, which finished in 4th place with a record of 85-66 under Ray Blades:

Games Played at Catcher: 127 (84%)
Games Appeared In: 128
At-Bats: 389
Runs: 35
Hits: 80
RBI: 42
2B: 9
3B: 3
HR: 3
BB: 23
SO: 55
SB: 1
BA: .206

Castro would have caught for Otho Nitcholas, Ernie Rudolph, Loy Camp, Cy Buker, Bill Webb, Walt Tauscher, Art Herring and the like. Look ’em Up!

Castro’s number with the 1945 Kansas City Blues (seventh place, 65-86, under Casey Stengel):

Games Played at Catcher: 31 (21%)
Games Appeared In: 34
At-Bats: 95
Runs: 5
Hits: 16
RBI: 11
2B: 2
3B: 0
HR: 0
BB: 7
SO: 10
SB: 0
BA: .168

Some of the pitchers Castro may have pitched against were Clarence Marshall, Edson Bahr, John Orphal, Elmer Singleton, John Moore, Gale Pringle, Joe Valanzuela, Fred Pepper, Charlie Cozart, etc. Marshall led the league in complete games with 15 while sharing the league lead in walks allowed with his moundmate Ed Bahr with 107. Look ’em Up!

The 1910 American Association Champion Minneapolis Millers

Summer 2007 Almanac Nearly Complete

The Summer 2007 issue of the American Association Almanac is in the middle of being produced and is just about done. Content came to 31,000 words on the topic of the 1910-11 Minneapolis Millers with a focus on the offense. Had originally planned to include 1912 in this issue, but ran out of room and so will cover that year in the Fall issue. The Millers won the American Association pennant three straight years, so the purpose of this work is to highlight/chronicle their accomplishment. In the Fall I will also cover the pitching and defense. Had to skip the Necrology section this time around because I just plain ran out of room. One new feature of this issue is the centerfold which is printing as of right now. I wanted to consolidate the photographs onto one sheet instead of putting them on different pages, as I have six color photos digitally colorized by Matt Fulling who does such stupendous work. Because of the slowness of my inkjet printer, doing different pages on the inkjet just isn’t feasible. So until I have a color laser printer I’m going to either skip the color or just use color on one sheet plus the cover. If I can get a photo up here I will, but I haven’t had luck with posting photos in the past. If you have not yet subscribed to the American Association Almanac I hope you will consider doing so. This issue sells for $8.00 including postage which costs me $1.00, for a net cost of $7.00. Subscribers pay $6.00 per issue, or $18.00 per year, or you can save by going with the two-year plan at $32.00 per year. Plenty of solid, entertaining baseball history writing in this issue, which is by far my best work to date.

Published in: on July 11, 2007 at 9:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

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.

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: