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Friday, December 16, 2011

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 12-16-2011

New York Times, December 16, 1911:

Irwin M. Howe of Chicago was to-day appointed official statistician of the American Baseball League by President Ban B. Johnson. The office of statistician was created by President Johnson for the purpose of securing timely and complete figures regarding all phases of the league’s affairs.

Oh, brilliant, Ban. As if 100 years from now, people are going to be looking at baseball statistics from 1912.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: December 16, 2011 at 01:51 PM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dugout, history

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: December 16, 2011 at 01:52 PM (#4017638)
   2. Rants Mulliniks Posted: December 16, 2011 at 02:00 PM (#4017644)
I've always wondered how and guy with the last name Phillips ends up being called Adolfo - it turns out he's Panamanian. I went to school with a guy named Lorenzo Porter, and he was as white as white could be, with red hair. His brother's name was Zebediah, so I think their parents might have been a bit off.
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 16, 2011 at 02:39 PM (#4017674)
Billy Beane should have never appointed Irwin Howe.
   4. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 16, 2011 at 04:15 PM (#4017749)
Cuddyer to the Rox - 3/$31.5. They'll regret it by next year.
   5. Tom Nawrocki Posted: December 16, 2011 at 04:28 PM (#4017766)
Bleah. Why the Rockies seem determined to jettison Seth Smith in favor of an older, more expensive version of Seth Smith is something I don't understand at all.
   6. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: December 16, 2011 at 04:34 PM (#4017772)
They'll regret it by next week.

Nice enough ballplayer and everything, but $10.5M a year on a guy whose bat is utterly unspectacular for a starting corner OF and whose glove is fair-to-middling? What am I missing here? BB-Ref has him at an average of almost exactly 1.5 WAR a year over the past five seasons.

edit to add: ...and he'll be 35 at the end of this contract.
   7. salvomania Posted: December 16, 2011 at 04:42 PM (#4017784)
SP: Tony Kaufmann

I was checking out Kaufmann on bb-ref, as I'd never heard of him, and I noticed he was listed as a "Pitcher and Outfielder."

He was a decent starter with the Cubs in the first half of the '20s, the bounced around after that, mostly with the Cardinals.

But he was also a pretty decent hitter for a pitcher, homering in six straight seasons with the Cubs. As a big leaguer he made 9 starts in the outfield, all in the same year---1929---his lone season with the Giants and his only MLB season in which he didn't pitch.

Through the magic of Google's digitized periodicals, I found a February 1929 article in the Milwaukee Journal that describes Kaufmann heading down south to spring training with the Giants to try to make the team as an outfielder. A player is quoted saying the reason there aren't many good-hitting pitchers is that as soon as they show they can hit "the outfielders draft them."

1929 turned out to be Kaufmann's worst season as a hitter, as he went just 1-for-32 with six walks in 40 plate appearances before being let go. He is described in the article as being fast, which must have been the case, because despite having just one hit on the season he scored 18 runs, as most of his appearances must have come as a pinchrunner.

One of the most interesting parts of the article is a mention of what we would come to know as the DH: "About 95 percent of the pitchers' batting averages are found at the lower extremity of the table. Nevertheless, they do not agree with Mr. Heydler's idea of a substitute batter for them...He feels his importance in the box and does not want to be left out of the batting picture just because he bat ninth."

Kaufmann had stints with the Cardinals as a pitcher again after his attempt as an outfielder, and stayed in the organization as a minor-league manager (Stan Musial's last minor league manager---more Google docs) and a scout.

Of course I then had to check out Heydler, who was unknown to me. Turns out he was the NL president from 1918-34 (as I'm sure at least 20% of primates know---did you know he was?); he was the one that hired the Elias brothers to be the league's statisticians (1919), pushed for the hiring of Kenesaw Landis in 1921; helped establish the Baseball Hall of Fame; and in 1929 "proposed permitting a tenth player to bat in place of the pitcher – a rule which came about with the creation of the designated hitter in 1973."

EDIT: I see Kaufmann batted over .400 (in 112 ab) in 1928 as an outfielder with the Cardinals minor-league team in Rochester; the Giants selected him in the Rule V draft before the 1929 season. From 1930 on he pitched almost 1000 innings as a Cardinal minor leaguer, mostly with Rochester, before taking over as manager in 1938.
   8. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: December 16, 2011 at 07:40 PM (#4017962)
Bonds with 30 days house arrest and 2 years probation
   9. vortex of dissipation Posted: December 16, 2011 at 07:40 PM (#4017963)
Kaufmann is mentioned in Bill James's book on managers, in the section about John McGraw. Long before Charlie Finley, McGraw would often have players on his team whose role it was specifically to pinch run. After mentioning several players whom McGraw used as pinch runners going back to 1913, James notes (leaving the final "n" from Kaufmann's name),

Most intriguingly of all, one year he had Tony Kaufman. Tony Kaufman was a veteran pitcher, had been in the league for years, but his arm went dead and he was released by St. Louis in 1928. McGraw took him on and used him in 1929 as a pinch runner and defensive replacement in the outfield, just killing time hoping his arm would come back. It never did.

As salvomania noted, that isn't quite right. He never again pitched effectively in the majors, but pitched in the minors for almost a decade after his year with the Giants.
   10. esseff Posted: December 16, 2011 at 08:16 PM (#4017996)
Kaufmann also coached in the majors for the Cardinals in the late '40s.

A Musial story from his brief time playing for Kaufmann with Rochester:

One game stands out in my mind, as it does in Kaufmann's. Hank Majeski, Newark's third baseman, had a habit of charging fast whenever he anticipated a bunt and, therefore, it was difficult to move a runner along with a sacrifice. When I came up in the eleventh inning with a man on first, Kaufmann, coaching third base, called me aside and said: "I'm giving you the bunt sign, kid, but if Majeski charges, try to push the ball past him."

I squared around to bunt, a lefthanded hitter facing third base. Majeski charged, as expected, and swinging instead of bunting, I pushed the ball past him into left field for a double. However, we failed to score.

In the thirteenth inning, the game was still 4-4 and once more there was a runner on first base when I came up. This time Kaufmann falshed the bunt sign from the coaching box. Figuring we wouldn't try the same trick twice, Majeski charged with the pitch. Again faking a bunt, I swung away and lined the ball past Hank's ear and into the left-field corner for a run-scoring double. We won the game.

I learned later, when I played for the Cardinals and Kaufmann coached for us, that Tony had glowed over those two improvised offensive plays in a written report to the St. Louis office. Funny thing, though, in the more than 20 playing seasons that followed, I don't recall ever again faking a bunt and banging one past a charging third baseman.

From "Stan Musial: The Man's Own Story," as told to Bob Broeg
   11. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: December 16, 2011 at 08:43 PM (#4018023)
Pretty shaky birthday team:

They have been stinkers lately. I looked up the next few days and they aren't much better. Well, a little better because there are a couple of all starts and one HOFer, but the pitching is just awful. Sunday (Dec 18), has only one guy with a career winning record, and it's 13-12.
   12. Mike Emeigh Posted: December 16, 2011 at 09:06 PM (#4018035)
Mine is next Tuesday, and I know mine is awful. Branch Rickey is probably the one person who contributed the most value, and essentially all of his was off the field.

-- MWE
   13. salvomania Posted: December 16, 2011 at 09:34 PM (#4018055)
I got Carl Crawford, Dave Rozema, and, going back a little further, Guy de Maupassant.
   14. Mike Emeigh Posted: December 16, 2011 at 09:42 PM (#4018063)
Actually, mine isn't quite so bad (I hadn't looked in a couple of years) - David Wright and James Shields help it quite a bit.

-- MWE
   15. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: December 16, 2011 at 10:03 PM (#4018088)
My team is a complete wasteland except for Gus Bell and the enigmatic Pat Ragan, born in 1885 Iowa with the given name of "Don Carlos Patrick Ragan". John "80 mph fastball" Stephens is my fourth starter. Any team in the last 50 years has probably had a better bullpen than Kevin Gryboski, Pedro Borbon Jr., Craig Hansen, Darwin Cubillan, Greg Jones, Daryl Irvine, and Rick Luecken.
   16. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 17, 2011 at 06:32 PM (#4018492)
Roboth al reporting Padres deal Mat Latos to Cincy for package involving Yonder Alonso.
   17. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 17, 2011 at 06:40 PM (#4018493)
Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Edinson Volquez, and P Brad Boxberger
   18. JJ1986 Posted: December 17, 2011 at 07:40 PM (#4018539)

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