Tagged: Philadelphia Athletics

The Fix Is In

Eddie Cicotte takes the sign from Ray Schalk, winds and fires. OUCH! Cicotte drills the first Cincinnati Red, signaling the Chicago White Sox will throw the 1919 World Series. Baseball fans know what happened next. Eight White Sox players were accused, brought to trial, found not guilty, and then banned by new Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Chick Gandil, Eddie Cicotte, Happy Felsch, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Fred McMullin, Swede Risberg, Buck Weaver, and Lefty Williams were placed on the ineligible list, where they have remained ever since. 

The Black Sox scandal overshadowed the 1919 World Series. The Reds were largely ignored. So too was Cincinnati Second Baseman Morrie Rath who received the painful signal. Rath played for four teams in six seasons between stents in the Minors from 1909 to 1920. Connie Mack bought Rath from the Reading Pretzels of the Tri-State League on August 21, 1909. A month later, Rath went hitless in his Major League debut against the Cleveland Naps. On July 23, 1910, after playing just 18 games for Philadelphia, Rath and a Player To Be Named Later, Shoeless Joe Jackson, were traded to Cleveland for Bris Lord. Rath played 24 games for the Naps before his demotion to the Baltimore Orioles of the Eastern League. He stayed in Baltimore through the 1911 season, when the White Sox selected him in the Rule 5 Draft. He played 249 Games for Chicago before he was sold to the Kansas City Blues of the American Association in August 1913. He was again traded to the Salt Lake City Bees for Dutch Ruether in November 1915. The Cincinnati Reds selected Rath in the 1917 Rule 5 Draft. He finally joined the Cincinnati Reds in 1919 after spending 1918 in the Navy.

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Morrie Rath was the recipient of the most famous Hit By Pitch in baseball history. (www.sabr.com)

Rath played 565 Games for the Philadelphia Athletics, Cleveland Naps, Chicago White Sox, and Cincinnati Reds. He posted a career .254 BA, .342 OBP, .285 SLG, 521 Hits, 36 Doubles, 7 Triples, 4 Home Runs, 92 RBI, 291 Runs scored, 83 Stolen Bases, 258 Walks, 112 Strike Outs, and 14 Hit By Pitch. Defensively, Rath was a good, not great, Second Baseman. In 4,518 Innings he had 2,817 Chances, made 1,167 Putouts, 1,565 Assists, turned 200 Double Plays, 85 Errors, for a .970 Fielding %. Baseball history is littered with players like Rath. Playing for multiple teams with a few successful seasons, before fading into history. 

October 1, 1919 was Rath’s most memorable game. The Reds hosted the heavily favored White Sox at Redland Field in Game 1 of the World Series. Reds Manager Pat Moran inserted Rath in the leadoff spot against Eddie Cicotte, who was 29-7 with a 1.82 ERA in the Regular Season. Rath waited as Cicotte fired his first pitch. SMACK! Rath trotted to First. Jake Daubert followed, singling to Right Center, Rath took third. Heinie Groh then  flew out to Left, allowing Rath to score. 1-0 Reds. 

Black Sox
The Black Sox lost the 1919 World Series and were then banned from baseball. (www.worthpoint.com)

Reds pitcher Duth Ruether allowed an unearned run in the Second. Cicotte walked Ruether to lead off the Bottom of the Third. Rath dropped a sacrifice bunt to Cicotte moving Ruether to Second. However, Daubert and Groh failed to drive Ruether in, stranding him at Second. The game remained tied 1-1. 

The wheels came off for Chicago with two outs in the Bottom of the Fourth. Runner on first when Greasy Neale reached on an infield hit. Ivey Wingo then singled to Right, scoring Larry Kopf. Dutch Ruether tripled to Left Center, scoring Neale and Wingo. Rath Doubled to Left, scoring Ruether. Daubert singled to Right scoring Rath. Chicago’s frustrated Manager Kid Gleason pulled Cicotte for Roy Wilkinson who retired Groh. 6-1 Reds. 

Morrie Rath
Morrie Rath was a good player that would have faded into history if Eddie Cicotte did not hit him to begin the 1919 World Series. (www.cincinnati.com)

Rath lined into an inning ending double play in the Sixth and grounded out to Short for the second out of the Eighth. The Reds won Game 1, 9-1. Rath went 1 for 3, 1 Double, 1 RBI, 2 Runs scored, 1 Hit By Pitch, and 1 Sac Bunt. Defensively he had 4 Putouts and 2 Assists. In Rath’s only Fall Classic, he played all 8 Games, with a .226 BA and .333 OBP. He collected 7 Hits, 1 Double, 5 Runs scored, 2 RBI, 4 Walks, 2 Stolen Bases, and 1 Hit By Pitch. In the field, he played 72 innings, in 40 Chances he had 21 Putouts, 17 Assists, 2 Errors, and 4 Double Plays.

Morrie Rath played his final Major League game a year after the 1919 World Series. He went 1 for 5 in a 6-3 Reds defeat on the final day of the season. Cincinnati finished third in the National League, 10.5 games behind the Brooklyn Robins. On January 4, 1921, Rath was one of three Players To Be Named Later and $10,000 traded to the Seattle Rainiers of Pacific Coast League for Sam Bohne. He ended his career playing 124 games for the San Francisco Seals in 1921. After retiring from baseball, Rath returned to suburban Philadelphia to run a sporting goods store. 

DJ

Thanksgiving Baseball

Thanksgiving is most closely associated with football not baseball. The cool weather, football on television, and pick up games before the Thanksgiving meal. Baseball is over and Spring Training is months away. Thanksgiving is the best holiday, in my opinion. It is simple, come together with family and friends, enjoy each other’s company, and appreciate all the good in your life while stuffing yourself until you can barely move. The irony is obvious. 

My family’s Thanksgiving menu usually looks like this: turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce, corn on the cob, macaroni and cheese, rice, dinner rolls, pudding, cookies, brownies, pies including apple, pumpkin, and rhubarb, followed by a nap. My brain wanders after the sudden halt of baseball. Lost in my thoughts, I wondered, could I create the ultimate Thanksgiving team out of players with food names? The players would return for one game in their prime. The only catch is their names must be on the menu. 

This Thanksgiving game will take place in Philadelphia on November 23, 1899 against the Phillies. The Phillies complete their best season playing in the Baker Bowl, finishing 94-58, third in the National League, 9 games behind the Brooklyn Superbas. Our menu team will  assume the identity of the Boston Beaneaters, there is no greater food inspired team name. 

Diamond
Every baseball field is beautiful. The Baker Bowl has been lost to history, but there is never a bad place to play baseball. (The Winning Run/ DJ)

Phillies owner John Rogers wants to capitalize on the teams’ success and put a few extra dollars in his pockets. Manager Bill Shettsline is looking for one more victory in his sophomore campaign with the Phillies. Shettsline submitted the following line up. 

Philadelphia Phillies Starting Lineup

2B: Nap Lajoie (Hall of Fame)

RF: Elmer Flick (Hall of Fame)

LF: Ed Delahanty (Hall of Fame)

1B: Duff Cooley

CF: Roy Thomas 

C: Ed McFarland

3B: Billy Lauder

SS: Monte Cross

SP: Wiley Piatt

Philadelphia Phillies Bench 

C: Klondike Douglass

1B: Billy Goeckel

2B: Joe Dolan, Harry Croft

3B: Red Owens

RF: Pearce Chiles

P: Red Donahue, Chick Fraser, Al Orth, Bill Bernhard, Jack Fifield, Bill Magee, George Wheeler

Partnering against the Phillies this Thanksgiving is future San Diego Padres owner Ray Kroc. Kroc and General Manager Billy Beane lured Philadelphia Athletics Manager Connie Mack to Boston. Mack submitted this line up: 

Boston Beaneaters Starting Lineup

RF: Billy Hamilton (Hall of Fame)

CF: Ty Cobb (Hall of Fame)

1B: Hank Greenberg (Hall of Fame)

LF: Jim Rice (Hall of Fame)

3B: Pie Traynor (Hall of Fame)

SS: Barry Larkin (Hall of Fame) 

C: Spud Davis 

2B: Cookie Rojas

SP: Rube Waddell (Hall of Fame)

Boston Beaneaters Bench

C: Mike Napoli 

1B: Stuffy McInnis

2B: Pumpsie Green

SS: Luke Appling (Hall of Fame)

RF: Sam Rice (Hall of Fame)

LF: Zack Wheat (Hall of Fame)

CF: Turkey Stearnes (Hall of Fame)

P: Smokey Joe Williams (Hall of Fame), Catfish Hunter (Hall of Fame), Bob Lemon (Hall of Fame), Rube Marquard (Hall of Fame), Rube Foster, Pud Galvin (Hall of Fame), Rollie Fingers (Hall of Fame), Jeurys Familia, Brownie Foreman

Baseball is unpredictable. The Beaneaters and their delicious lineup appear to have the edge over the Phillies. However, even the best teams lose. Simulating the game would never perfectly create such a game. Instead take a moment to appreciate the long history of baseball, the men who have played, their strange names, and be thankful for everything good in your life, especially baseball. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

DJ

Baseball Lifer: Connie Mack

Baseball lifers are bridges that connect different eras and players to each other. The majorifoty of players, coaches, and managers spend just a few years in the Majors before their time is over. Not everyone walks away from the game willingly, often due to injury or poor performance. Then there are those that spend their lives living, breathing, and working in baseball. These baseball lifers come to the game young and leave when they are old. One such baseball lifer is Connie Mack and we may never see a lifer of his significance ever again..

Cornelius McGillicuddy, shortened to Connie Mack in childhood, spent 65 years in baseball as a player and manager. He played for 11 seasons from 1886 to 1896 with three different teams: the Washington Nationals, the Buffalo Bisons of the Players League, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. A career .244 BA, Mack was primarily a catcher during the days when catchers truly took a beating. He logged 5,186 innings behind the plate and an additional 985 in the field. Mack led the Majors in a statistical category only three times during his playing career: two he would have rather not (1890- 20 HBP and 1887- 76 Passed Balls) and one he should be proud of accomplishing (1892- 47% CS (base stealers were 136 for 257)). While not a remarkable playing career, Mack parlayed his career on the field into one in managing.

Connie Mack HoF
Connie Mack saw it all in his life in baseball. (www.baseballhall.org)

Late in the 1894 season, Connie Mack was named the player-manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates went 149 and 134 under Mack, with a winning record each season, but fell short of ownership expectations. He was fired following the 1896 season. Retired as a player and recently fired from his Major League managing job, Connie Mack went to the minor leagues to manage and occasionally catch for the Milwaukee Brewers over the next four seasons.

In 1901, Connie Mack embarked upon his legendary career as the manager of the Philadelphia Athletics. He began managing the A’s in 1901 at the age of 38 and finally retired in 1950 at the age of 87. During Mack’s 50 years managing in Philadelphia, the A’s record was 3,582 and 3,814, a .484 Winning Percentage. The A’s won nine American League Pennants (1902, 1905, 1910, 1911, 1913, 1914, 1929, 1930, and 1931) and five World Series titles (1910, 1911, 1913, 1929, and 1930). Mack’s Winning Percentage can be misleading, as many agree he managed for 18 years too long. In his first 32 seasons in Philadelphia, the A’s went 2,517 and 2,253 with a .527 Winning Percentage. In the final 18 seasons of his career, the A’s went 1,065 and 1,561 with a .406 Winning Percentage. As he got older, Mack was unable to keep pace with the tactical and financial changes in baseball. The financial changes also meant that the A’s were no longer viable in Philadelphia, and by 1955 the team moved to Kansas City. Mack did not know when to walk away from the game. Like a player hanging on for too long, managers also have to know when their skills have declined and when it is time to call it a career.

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Connie Mack wanted to win baseball games and build better men. (United States Library of Congress)

Connie Mack saw the development of baseball through the good times and the bad. From the early rough and tumble years in the late 1800’s to the Black Sox Scandal to the rise of Babe Ruth and the Yankees to integration. Mack saw it all from the dugout. He demanded from his players that they play to the best of their abilities, but he was not overbearing. Mack let his players be who they were, but he wanted them to be smart and make intelligent decisions when they were on the field. Unlike the other hardened men of the time, Mack went beyond the results on the diamond; he wanted his players to be better people. After the 1916 season, Mack created a Code of Conduct for his players.

  • I will always play the game to the best of my ability.
  • I will always play to win, but if I lose, I will not look for an excuse to detract from my opponent’s victory.
  • I will never take an unfair advantage in order to win.
  • I will always abide by the rules of the game—on the diamond as well as in my daily life.
  • I will always conduct myself as a true sportsman—on and off the playing field.
  • I will always strive for the good of the entire team rather than for my own glory.
  • I will never gloat in victory or pity myself in defeat.
  • I will do my utmost to keep myself clean—physically, mentally, and morally.
  • I will always judge a teammate or an opponent as an individual and never on the basis of race or religion.

Mack’s rules came at a time when the Major Leagues excluded African-Americans. While not necessarily pushing for the reintegration of baseball, the Code of Conduct helped change baseball from a game played by rough men to a game that families could enjoy.

Connie Mack’s career has left an indelible mark on baseball. He was ahead of his time with his attitude about race, religion, and playing customs in baseball. He disliked small ball and would rather play for the big inning instead of sacrificing for a single run. The rise of playing for the big inning became more common when home runs became more plentiful. Mack however decided his team had a better chance to win when putting multiple runs in an inning rather than a single run here or there. In the first 35 years of his managerial career, few could argue otherwise.

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Connie Mack is forever immortalized in Cooperstown. (www.phillymag.com)

In 1937, Connie Mack was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame even though he was actively managing. He would conclude his managerial career with the most wins (3,731), losses (3,948), games managed (7,755) for any manager in baseball history, and tied for second for most Pennants (9 with Joe McCarthy). He won 968 more games than John McGraw, who is second on the list for most career wins. Mack managed 2,658 more games than second place Tony LaRussa. If he had retired after the 1932 season, Mack’s .527 Winning Percentage would be higher than that of fellow Hall of Fame managers Tommy Lasorda, Red Schoendienst, Dick Williams, and Casey Stengel among others. If Connie Mack had only know when to walk away.

Understanding Connie Mack’s impact on the game of baseball goes beyond the numbers. He was with baseball during the good times and the bad. His story connects modern baseball to its historical roots. In 1886, 34-year-old Cap Anson was playing his 16th season of professional baseball and 31-year-old Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn was still pitching, just two seasons removed from winning 59 games for the Providence Grays. In 1950, Duke Snider was a fourth year outfielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers and Whitey Ford won the American League Rookie of the Year award with the Yankees. Connie Mack was the commonality between those events that took place over nearly a lifetime apart. This week marks the 60th anniversary of his death. Connie Mack saw just about everything there was to see in baseball. By connecting us to the past, let us not forget the baseball lifers in the game today who are important in helping maintain our perspective where the game has come from and where the game is going.

DJ

The Fallen

Memorial Day is when we, collectively as a nation, pause to remember and honor the men and women who have given their lives to protect our freedoms.  The impact of war goes beyond the soldiers who fought; it impacts their families and friends.  When soldiers are deployed overseas, they not only miss anniversaries and birthdays, but they also miss the daily life events.  If you have ever had the opportunity to walk the length of the Vietnam Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. you begin to understand the toll which war has taken on our nation. Every name on the wall is a brother, husband, father, son, grandson, uncle, cousin, and friend who never came home.  The void their deaths have left behind cannot be filled.  So this Memorial Day weekend, and every other day throughout the year, we should slow down from our busy lives and honor the brave men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.

Vietnam War Memorial, Washington DC (www.history.com)

Vietnam War Memorial, Washington DC (www.history.com)

Among the many individuals who we honor this Memorial Day for their sacrifice,we allow six individuals to stand out here.  These men are the only six men who have played in Major League Baseball and died during combat.

Eddie Grant- WWI

“Harvard Eddie” Grant played 10 seasons in the Majors for the Cleveland Naps, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds, and New York Giants.  He compiled a career .249 batting average, stole 153 bases, hit 30 triples, all while playing all four infield positions.  After his retirement in 1915, Grant opened a law firm in Boston before enlisting in the military in April 1917.  Grant fought at the battle of Meuse-Argonne and assumed command after all his superior officers were killed during the four day search for the Lost BattalionGrant was killed during the search by an exploding shell on October 5, 1918.  He was the first Major League player to die in combat during World War I.

Robert “Bun” Troy- WWI

Troy was a German born pitcher who started his only career game on September 15, 1912 for the Detroit Tigers.  In his only Major League appearance Troy went 6 2/3 innings, allowed nine hits, four runs, three walks, struck one batter out, and hit one batter.  The Tigers lost to the Washington Senators 6 to 3.  After several more years in the Minors Troy joined the United States military.  He was shot during the battle of Meuse-Argonne.  He would later die of his wounds at an evacuation hospital on October 7, 1918.

World War I Memorial, Washington DC (phototourismdc.com)

World War I Memorial, Washington DC (phototourismdc.com)

Tom Burr- WWI

Burr played in his only Major League game on April 21, 1914 for the New York Yankees. He was a late inning replacement in the Yankees 10 inning 3 to 2 victory over the Washington Senators.  He did not have any fielding chances or plate appearances.  He returned to Williams College but left for the Army Air Force before graduating.  Burr was killed when the plane he was in collided with another plane on October 12, 1918 over Cazaux, France.

Elmer Gedeon- WWII

Gedeon played in five games for the Washington Senators in September 1939.  He collected all three of his career hits as the starting Centerfielder in the September 19th victory over the Cleveland Indians.  He was recalled from the minors again in 1940, but did not appear in any games.  Gedeon was drafted by the Army in January 1941.  He was later reassigned to the Army Air Force after being accepted into pilot school.  He flew bombing missions over France until April 20, 1944, when his B-26 was assigned to take out a V-1 Buzz Bomb site which was under construction.  Gedeon and five other crew men were killed after their plane was shot down by Germany anti-aircraft guns.

Harry O’Neill- WWII

O’Neill appeared in only one game for the 1939 Philadelphia Athletics.  He caught two innings (8th and 9th inning) after replacing Frankie Hayes during the A’s 16 to 3 lose against the Detroit Tigers.  O’Neill enlisted in the Marines in 1942 and saw action in Saipon were he was injured when he was hit in the shoulder with shrapnel.  After recovering, he was sent back to the Pacific.  He fought on Iwo Jima where he shot and killed by a sniper on March 6, 1945.  He was the last player from Major League Baseball to be Killed in Action during World War II.

World War II Memorial, Washington DC (The Winning Run)

World War II Memorial, Washington DC (The Winning Run)

Robert Neighbors- Korea

Neighbors appeared in seven games in late September for the 1939 St. Louis Browns. He hit .182, with one home run and one RBI.  He entered the Army Air Force in 1942 and remained in the service after World War II ended.  Neighbors flew combat missions in Korea, including a night mission on August 8, 1952, during which his plane was shot down inside North Korea.  No further contact was made with Neighbors or his crew.  His status remained as Missing in Action until July 27, 1953 with the Korean Armistice Agreement and prisoner exchange.  Neighbors status was changed to Killed in Action.  He remains the last Major League Baseball player to die in combat.

Korean War Memorial, Washington DC (www.winnipesaukee.com)

Korean War Memorial, Washington DC (www.winnipesaukee.com)

These six men are among the thousands who have sacrificed their lives to protect the freedoms we all enjoy. They are the only former Major League players to die in combat.  However they are not the only ones associated with the game of baseball to have died serving our country.  Former baseball players from every level have given their lives during their service in the military during in Pre-World War IWorld War IWorld War IIKoreaPeace time, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

This Memorial Day take some time to remember these men and the other men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for the nation.  To those who have served or are serving, thank you for everything you have done.  To those who have served and given the ultimate sacrifice, as well as the families they have left behind, we are forever in your debt.  On this Memorial Day we thank you and honor the sacrifices you have made.

D