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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 10-28-2020

Norwich Bulletin, October 28, 1920:

The Chicago American League club, in a statement issued tonight through its secretary, Harry Grabiner, denied that Harry Redmond or anyone else had given the club positive evidence prior to the grant jury baseball investigation that Chicago players had “thrown” games to Cincinnati in the 1919 world’s series.
...
“Redmond never gave anyone connected with this club any evidence upon which the club could act,” said the statement…“He had only rumors, only hearsay stories. He could not name or furnish anything which could be called evidence.”

I’m trying to think about what would happen in 2020 if someone went to, say, the Rays’ front office this offseason with a story that a third of their team was in on a World Series fix. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t shrug and say ‘Welp, it’s just a rumor so whatevs’, which is what it looks like the Sox did.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: October 28, 2020 at 10:41 AM | 10 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: black sox, dugout, history

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   1. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: October 28, 2020 at 10:42 AM (#5986072)
Today's Birthday Team is going to need everything it can get from that pitching staff because it's not going to get much from the offense.

C/Manager: Bob Melvin (2.5 WAR)
1B: Tommy Tucker (25.3 WAR)
2B: Tim Bogar (1.9 WAR)
3B: Ed McDonald (1.5 WAR)
SS: Doc Lavan (9.2 WAR)
LF: Hurley McNair (Negro Leagues star)
CF: Nate McLouth (6.5 WAR)
RF: Lenny Harris (1.7 WAR)

SP: Juan Guzman (24.3 WAR)
SP: Bob Veale (21.9 WAR)
SP: Piano Mover Frank Smith (22.1 WAR)
SP: Johnny Rigney (20.0 WAR)
SP: Braden Looper (8.2 WAR)
RP: Sammy Stewart (10.0 WAR)

Jumped from the Florida State League at age 19 to the 2003 Tigers at age 20, which went about as well as you'd expect: Jeremy Bonderman (4.9 WAR)
Fun names: Rudy Rufer, Hank Boney, Roxy Snipes, Liz Funk, Benny Bowcock
In the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame for building the Tokyo Dome: Makoto Hosaka
   2. The Mighty Quintana Posted: October 28, 2020 at 12:37 PM (#5986126)
Also, born today: Bowie Kuhn, commissioner from 1969-1984. His tenure was not boring...Free agency, Strikes, Steinbrenner, Finley, Turner, Ball Four, etc.
   3. caspian88 Posted: October 28, 2020 at 03:27 PM (#5986209)
It has been 136 years since the city of Providence has enjoyed a World Series championship.

I was looking around at Old Hoss Radbourn this morning, after falling down a BBRef rabbit hole, and I read that he debuted professionally with Dubuque of the Northwest League in 1879, when he was 24.

Does anyone have an idea of about how strong the Northwest League might have been in 1879? Radbourn obviously became an excellent pitcher within a couple of years, but who else might have been playing in the Northwest League that year who later became major league regulars?
   4. vortex of dissipation Posted: October 28, 2020 at 04:37 PM (#5986250)
3B: Ed McDonald (1.5 WAR)


Ed McDonald was the inspiration for Francis Phelan, the protagonist of William Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Ironweed. McDonald was Kennedy's great uncle, although Kennedy points out that, "The difference was that Francis becomes a wino, and [McDonald] never drank and was a teetotaler right to his dying day...He was a wonderfully likeable guy. He wound up back in Albany, coaching kids' game in the South End, Arbor Hill. A much beloved figure. Great guy in the family too. I can remember he got me for a Christmastime when I was a real little kid."

McDonald seems like an interesting player. He hit only .244, but his lifetime OBP was .362, which I think would have got him more attention these days than it probably did back them. His only year as a regular, 1912, he led the NL in strikeouts, and was seventh in walks. At the end of the season, he was sold to Sacramento of the PCL - Boston finished in last place and lost 101 games, but the idea of a major league team just selling a regular to a minor league team takes a bit getting used to, for someone in 2020. McDonald refused to report, and ended up getting traded to the Cubs before the 1913 season started, but got into only one game for them before being sent to Birmingham in the Southern Association. He played in that league until 1922, except for for a handful of games with Indianapolis in the AA in 1918. But he never batted in the majors after the 1912 season. He was "...an exceptionally fine base runner. He was also a strong defensive player, alternating between third and second bases the greater part of his career. He was strictly a third baseman when he was a major leaguer," according to sportswriter Charles Young. Good defensive infielder, good baserunner, .362 OBP - you'd think somebody could have used him.
   5. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: October 28, 2020 at 05:31 PM (#5986275)
BB-ref indicates that the 1879 Northwest League had 4 teams and the Dubuque team was clearly the best of them, based on their record of 19-5 and historical accounts like this. Maybe they were the only professional team in it. They were run by Ted Sullivan who had discovered both Radbourn and Charlie Comiskey and brought them to Dubuque.

Somewhat surprisingly there's no roster information on BB-ref. Only surprisingly when you can see that there's clear evidence of who was on the roster (see the 2nd to last image in the MLBlogs link above).

Here's an article from the Dubuque newspaper where Cap Anson reminisces about playing an exhibition against them.

"Every man of the Dubuque club was a star," said Anson. "The great Radbourn was pitching, with Sullivan behind the plate. The clever Lapham assumed the responsibility at first base, while Charley Comiskey performed brilliantly at the keystone station. Side by side were the Gleason brothers, Billy covering short and Harry on third. The late Tom Loftus, your former townsman, was in left field. Alvaretta played center, and Reis performed in the right garden. Our club came to your city sure of victory. A score similar to 12 to 0 in our favor was a foregone conclusion. Why, pools were even sold in Chicago the day before the game, with the odds 13 to nothing on the white-hosed club."

"But the great Radbourn's pitching was a revelation to us. We were whitewashed because of better pitching, better support and better discipline on the part of the Dubuque players. Dubuque made more errors than Chicago, but not a single one at a critical moment. Three times we had a man on third base and also on second, and twice with only one out, but Radbourn's pitching and his faultless support prevented a score."

"An accident to Flint, our catcher, also served as an added handicap, necessitating the substitution of Williamson, an outfielder, with little experience as a backstop. Schaffer was on third for Chicago, and played a wonderful defensive game for our club. Hankinson was on the firing line, and kept Dubuque pretty well guessing, with the exception of W. Gleason, who carried off the batting honors with three of the four hits secured off the pitcher's delivery. Radbourn's most effective ball was a deceptive down shoot, and only four scattered hits came from our efforts with the willow. Despite the fact that I topped the batting list, I failed to connect safely while facing Radbourn. Besides this, I contributed two errors in the field, which does not serve to illuminate my side of the box score any too brilliantly."


Tom Loftus was also a major leaguer and major league manager.

Neither of the "Gleason brothers" were Kid Gleason, who was only 12 at the time.
   6. Itchy Row Posted: October 28, 2020 at 05:35 PM (#5986276)
Does anyone have an idea of about how strong the Northwest League might have been in 1879? Radbourn obviously became an excellent pitcher within a couple of years, but who else might have been playing in the Northwest League that year who later became major league regulars?
There was at least one other Hall of Fame player (Bid McPhee) plus Radbourn's teammate Charlie Comiskey. McPhee and Comiskey both became major league (American Association) regulars in 1882.
   7. Itchy Row Posted: October 28, 2020 at 05:48 PM (#5986283)
The SABR bio for Ted Sullivan calls him "The Johnny Appleseed of baseball" and says he used Dubuque players to seed the roster of the team that became the St. Louis Cardinals.
   8. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: October 28, 2020 at 05:59 PM (#5986289)
Looks like more of that Dubuque team became major leaguers than didn't. Comisky, Radbourn, Cliff Carroll, Loftus and both of the Gleason Brothers. The only ones who I can't find any record of are "Lapham", "Reis" and "Alvaretta".

Tom Loftus had already played in the NL for the St. Louis Brown Stockings, who got kicked out of the NL after 1877 in a match-fixing scandal. That team also contained a guy named "Joe Blong" who was kicked out of the NL himself and then played for Davenport in the Northwest League. Today Davenport contains something called the Blong Technology Center which is part of Eastern Iowa Community College. Surely this can't be a coincidence.

Finally, if you look up a photo of the 1876 St. Louis Brown Stockings, or just Joe Blong's Wikipedia page, you will see their jerseys have a Greek Key pattern at the collar, which looks bizarre to say the least.
   9. Itchy Row Posted: October 28, 2020 at 06:09 PM (#5986293)
The only ones who I can't find any record of are "Lapham", "Reis" and "Alvaretta".

bb-ref lists ten players and eight of them are bolded as major leaguers.

Laurie Reis pitched for the Cubs the two years before he was a Dubuque Red Stocking. The Sullivan behind the plate was Sleeper Sullivan, and not Ted.
   10. caspian88 Posted: October 28, 2020 at 10:16 PM (#5986344)
So, two Hall of Fame players (Radbourn and McPhee), one Hall of Fame manager and pioneer who was also a good regular (Comiskey), at least one other good player (Jim Whitney, 3500 innings of 105 ERA+ pitching plus above-average hitting, 56 career WAR, virtually all in the National League), several other regular players, and several players with brief major league careers (mostly in the American Association or occasionally Union Association).

It sounds like the Northwest League may have been a stronger league than the Union Association. The top-end talent was very good for a league with maybe 50 players and there was plenty of talent good enough to sniff NL/AA rosters. Makes me wonder if there are statistics for this league somewhere. Also kind of puts the state of baseball in the late 1870's and early 1880's in perspective.

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