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  #101  
Old 08-05-2022, 04:22 AM
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Default Doc Gessler

Player #52: Henry H. "Doc" Gessler. "Brownie". Right fielder with the Washington Senators in 1909-1911. 831 hits and 142 stolen bases in 8 MLB seasons. He debuted with the Detroit Tigers in 1903. He led the AL in OBP in 1908. He led the AL in hit by pitches in 1910. One of his best seasons was his last in 1911 as he posted a .406 OBP with 78 RBI's and 29 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances. His career OBP was .370.

Gessler's SABR biography summarizes his career and goes on to explain how he became a Senator: Doc Gessler was also known as Brownie – a right fielder and left-handed first baseman who played in 880 major-league games over eight seasons for a total of five teams. He hit only 14 home runs in his career, but was the first man wearing a Boston Red Sox uniform to hit a homer in a regular-season game, and his three home runs in the 1908 season actually led the team in homers.

While Gessler was ill during some of the early 1909 season, confined to his room with tonsillitis in early May, Harry Lord assumed his duties as captain. There were a number of rumors in May and June that Gessler might be trade bait, and some significant offers were floated, but nothing seemed sufficient for (Boston Red Sox owner John I.) Taylor. He was looking for a solid pitcher, as much as anything (in part because he’d traded Cy Young away in February). Washington manager Joe Cantillon in particular talked with Taylor for several months. In midyear, Lake began to play young Harry Hooper as his right fielder, and Lord took over as captain for the remainder of the season. Chicago’s Charlie Comiskey was reportedly looking to acquire both Gessler and Speaker, but Taylor was more interested to build the Boston team, not sell off assets. Doc’s hitting began to pick up considerably in August and by the end of the month was tops on the team.

Then came a bizarre day. On September 9 Joe Cantillon finally got his man. The Washington manager traded pitcher Charlie Smith to the Red Sox and acquired Doc Gessler. The trade occurred while the Sox were in the capital playing the Senators, and was executed just prior to that day’s game. Cantillon, for whatever reason, agreed with Boston manager Fred Lake that Gessler could suit up with the Red Sox. He did, and sat on the bench throughout most of the first nine innings. But the score was tied, 1-1. Harry Lord doubled to start the top of the 10th, but was erased at home after Tris Speaker’s fly ball was dropped by Washington’s center fielder and Speaker (sic) tried to make it all the way home after having to hang close to the second-base bag. Gessler, who had been inserted in the game a bit earlier, came to the plate for his first at-bat of the day – and singled to center, driving in Speaker with the go-ahead run. Four batters later, a bases-loaded single scored him from third – a ballplayer who was Senators property had played for the opposing team and driven in the run that beat them. Not only did the Red Sox get Smith, but they got $2,500 – and one last win from Gessler’s bat. “Guess that’ll give you something to remember me by,” Gessler said to Lake as he picked up his glove to play right in the bottom of the 10th. The Boston Globe offered a headline: “THANKS FOR THAT LITTLE LOAN, MR. CANTILLON.”

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  #102  
Old 08-06-2022, 04:15 AM
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Player #43B: William D. "Dolly" Gray. Pitcher for the Washington Senators in 1909-1911. 15 wins in 3 MLB seasons. Holds MLB record for walks allowed in an inning (8) and for consecutive walks allowed (7). In 1911, he threw the first pitch in Griffith Stadium.

Gray's SABR biography explains his nickname: Known as Will Gray on the diamonds in Arizona, he did not earn the moniker of “Dolly” until he joined the Los Angeles Loo Loos of the California League in 1902. The song “Goodbye, Dolly Gray” had become popular at the turn of the century and the Los Angeles Times was quick to apply the name to the Loo Loos’ newest pitcher. During Gray’s career the nickname Dolly was applied to almost any player named Gray.

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  #103  
Old 08-07-2022, 04:28 AM
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Default Clark Griffith

Player #28C: Clark C. "The Old Fox" Griffith. Pitcher for the Washington Senators in 1912-1914. Debuted with the St. Louis Browns in 1891. 237 wins and 8 saves in 20 MLB seasons. Was 1898 MLB ERA leader. Managed the Chicago White Stockings (1901-1902), the New York Highlanders (1903-1908), the Cincinnati Reds (1909-1911), and the Washington Senators (1912-1920). Was principal owner of the Washington Senators from 1920 until his death in 1955. In 1946, was inducted to the MLB Hall of Fame.

Deveaux recounts Griffith's earliest days: Clark Griffith's life began 31 years before the founding of the American League, in which he had had a leading organizational role along with Ban Johnson and Charles Comisky. Griffith first saw the light of day on the morning of November 20, 1869, in Vernon County in southwestern Missouri, about 15 miles from the Kansas border. His parents had come from Illinois on a covered wagon train bound for the more fertile Oklahoma panhandle.

Griffith's father, Isaiah, came from proud Colonial Virginia stock and his mother was the descendent of one of the original purchasers of Nantucket, Mass., in the midseventeenth century. Isaiah Griffith decided to leave the wagon train early and had staked out 40 acres to farm. He quickly turned to hunting for a living, supplying railway companies with food for their workers. Two-year old Clark was orphaned when his father was accidentally shot by his neighbor's teenage son, who had mistaken him for a deer. . . .

. . . By the age of ten, Clark's brother Earl was stalking game with a shotgun. Clark, six years his junior, soon followed Earl as a provider for the family. As a ten-year old, he was making his own traps and catching coon, skunk, and possum for very good pay -- up to $1.25 per hide. At 11, he hired himself out to a local farmer, chopping corn and doing chores all summer long. His pay at the end of the summer was two little pigs.

Much later in life, Griffith -- who had by then met U.S. presidents, been a pitching star in the major leagues, owned a big-league club, and been elected to the Hall of Fame -- insisted that his greatest thrill in life had nothing to do with any of those accomplishments. He instead told Washington Post reporter Shirley Povich about an experience he'd had in the company of his proudest possession as a child, his dog Major. The dog had been half bulldog, half hound. In Griffith's estimation, purebred hounds were too lazy to make excellent coon hunters. Clark had trained Major to bark only twice if he was on to something. The usual modus operandi was for Major to chase their bounty up a tree, where Clark would climb and shake limbs until the animal would lose its grip. Major would take over on the ground and bring an end to the proceedings. On this one occasion, Clark noticed that Major was having an awful time of finishing his job. When he got back down, he clubbed Major by mistake before finally subduing the coon. While walking home, he met a farmer who told him that what he had over his back wasn't a coon at all, but a wildcat. When Clark got in better light, he saw that the farmer was right, and that he had licked a wildcat that was as heavy as he was at the time, about 60 pounds. (The Washington Senators by Tom Deveaux.)

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  #104  
Old 08-08-2022, 12:15 AM
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George, I'm greatly enjoying all of your posts re Washington players - both your narratives and the pics of your cards. Knowing how much you like/prefer cards which show the subjects as being with Washington, I figured you wouldn't mind my showing a couple of cards that aren't seen very often and that show Griffith with Washington. Hope all is going well for you.
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Seeking very scarce/rare cards for my Sam Rice master collection, e.g., E210 York Caramel Type 2 (upgrade), E220 National Caramel with Type 2 & Type 3 backs, 1931 W502, W504 (upgrade), W572 sepia, W573, W575-1 E. S. Rice version, 1922 Haffner's Bread, 1922 Keating Candy, 1922 Witmor Candy Type 2 (vertical back), 1926 Sports Co. of Am. with ad back, etc. Also T216 Kotton "NGO" of Hugh Jennings. Also 1917 Merchants Bakery & Weil Baking of WaJo.
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  #105  
Old 08-08-2022, 05:15 AM
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Default Bob Groom

Hi Val. Thanks for posting the unusual Griffith cards, which are outstanding. You are correct that I (try to) limit my collection to cards of players while they played (or managed) with Washington. One of the (few) exceptions to this policy is Griffith -- I do collect Griffith cards (and photos) from before he joined Washington. I am very glad to hear you are enjoying this thread.

Player #44B: Robert "Bob" Groom. Pitcher for the Washington Senators in 1909-1913. 119 wins and 13 saves in 10 MLB seasons. For the St. Louis Browns in 1917, he pitched a no-hitter in the second game of a doubleheader after pitching 2 innings of no-hit relief in the first game. With Koob, only teammates to pitch no-hitters on consecutive days. His best season was 1912 as he went 24-13 with a 2.62 ERA and Washington finished second in the American League. In 1909, his 7-26 record included 15 consecutive losses, during which his 42-110 Senator teammates mustered a total of 19 runs. Walter Johnson's record that year was 12-25.

Groom's SABR biography explains his early Washington experience: In his five years in the minor leagues, Bobby had won 99 games and lost 107. When he went to Washington, he was no longer “Bobby” but “Bob,” and occasionally dubbed “Sir Robert.” In 1909, the 24-year-old Groom joined 21-year-old Walter Johnson on the woeful (42-110) Washington Nationals. Bob did his share, losing 26 and winning only 7, but future Hall-of-Famer Johnson had a strikingly similar record, losing 25 and winning just 12. Debuting in relief against the Yankees on Tuesday, April 13, Bob pitched two innings, and the report was that he “displayed good control.” The April 14 game was rained out, and Bob started the game on April 15. He was described as “wild as the proverbial Texas pony.” After he walked or hit the first three batters and the fourth batter smacked a double, scoring two runs, Groom was unceremoniously removed. One local sportswriter quipped that Groom “could not find the plate with a search warrant.”

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  #106  
Old 08-09-2022, 04:44 AM
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Default Long Tom Hughes

Player #53: Thomas J. "Tom" Hughes. "Long Tom". Pitcher with the Washington Senators in 1904-1909 and 1911-1913. 132 wins and 15 saves in 13 MLB seasons. 1903 World Series champion with the Boston Americans. His career ERA was 3.09. He debuted with the Chicago Orphans in 1900-1901. He went 20-7 for the 1903 world champion Boston team, but his best season may have been 1908 with Washington despite a 18-15 record as he posted a 2.21 ERA in 276.1 innings pitched.

Hughes' SABR biography tells us about his up-and-down pitching career in Washington: Long Tom Hughes mixed a happy-go-lucky lifestyle with a Chicago-tough pitching moxie. Tall for his time at 6-foot-1, he stayed at about 175 pounds throughout his career. A heavy smoker and drinker, he took no particular care of his body, yet managed to stay in the major leagues until nearly age 35, and in the semi-pro ranks past age 40. Hughes loved being on the mound, at the center of the game. He had an outstanding drop curveball, a good change of pace that helped his fastball, and a rubber arm. After throwing 200 or more innings every year from 1903 to 1908, Hughes’s arm finally gave out, and he spent the 1910 season in the minors. Yet, in this age before reconstructive surgery, Hughes then succeeded in doing what few pitchers of his era could: he came back from a lame arm, and pitched three more seasons in the major leagues, winning 28 games for the Senators from 1911 to 1913. “Prize fighters might not be able to come back,” Alfred Spink observed prophetically in 1910, “but good, old, sturdy, big-hearted athletes like the grand old man, Hughes, can.”

In 1905, Hughes enjoyed one of his best seasons in Washington, finishing the year with a 2.35 ERA in 291⅓ innings, though his 17 wins were offset by 20 losses. He pitched six shutouts, five over the same team, the Cleveland Naps. “His one ambition this season has been to be the master of that team of heavy-hitters at Cleveland,” the Washington Post reported. “And now that he has succeeded…the baseball world is talking about his achievement. Hughes is regarded by ball players as one of the most skilled pitchers in either big league. They claim he has no superior when he wants to exercise all his pitching talents. But Tom doesn’t always feel that way.” At season’s end, one Washington paper collected money for a fan testimonial for ‘Long Tom.’ In appreciation for his efforts, the fans presented Hughes with a diamond scarf pin in the shape of a fleur-de-lis.

But the love affair was not mutual. Frustrated by pitching for the league’s doormats, Hughes slumped in 1906, as he posted a 7-17 record with an awful 3.62 ERA. Late in the season, Hughes quit the team, declaring, “The American League is a joke. I am tired of being the scapegoat of the Washington club for the last two years…. Rather than come back to Washington, I will join an amateur club or play with the outlaws. This proposition of being the fall guy for the bunch is not what it is cracked up to be. No more of it in mine. I am through with Washington for good.” The Washington Post reported that manager Jake Stahl had already suspended Hughes, for “being too friendly with the cup that cheers.”

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  #107  
Old 08-10-2022, 04:21 AM
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Default Walter Johnson

Player #54A: Walter P. "Barney" Johnson. "The Big Train". Pitcher for the Washington Senators in 1907-1927. 417 wins and 34 saves in 21 MLB seasons. 1924 World Series champion. 1913 and 1924 AL Most Valuable Player. 3-time triple crown. 6-time AL wins leader. 5-time AL ERA leader. 12-time AL strikeout leader. He had a career ERA of 2.17 in 5,914.1 innings pitched. He pitched a no-hitter in 1920. He holds the MLB record with 110 career shutouts. MLB All-Time Team. Inducted to the MLB Hall of Fame in 1936. One of his best seasons was 1913 as he posted a record of 36-7 with a 1.14 ERA in 346 innings pitched.

We go to Deveaux's account of Johnson's 1910 season: Of his 14 opening-day starts, Walter Johnson would win eight of them, an incredible seven by shutout. This one (1910) was the first -- a one-hit masterpiece against the Athletics in front of 12,000 partisans. The no-hitter was lost in the seventh inning when rightfielder Doc Gessler, never known for his prowess with the glove, got tangled up with a fan at the edge of the roped-off outfield and dropped the ball. Gesler, who hit .259 and .282 as the Nats' regular rightfielder in 1910 and '11 before retiring at age 30 to become a physician, apologized to the Big Train. He need not have.

Walter Johnson never, ever, noted errors behind him. He also never spoke of any lack of offensive support behind him. Nor did he ever complain about the vagaries of umpires and the effects their calls might have had on his fate. Johnson was also a rare specimen in the rowdy early years of the century in that he was genuinely concerned about the safety of batters. The fact that he hit a record 205 batters during the course of his career seems illogical. . . .

. . . Walter Johnson's 1910 ERA was a minuscule 1.35, and for a while it ws thought his 313 strikeouts had established a new all-time mark. He had indeed shattered Rube Waddell's mark of 302 set in 1903, but it was later found that Waddell had registered 349 K's in '04. Amazingly, the editor of the Spalding Baseball Guide refused to heap any praise upon the Nats' wunderkind. Among other things, it was written that Johnson "made a better record than he did in some other years, but there is still room for improvement in his pitching . . . he lacks that control which is necessary to place him with the leaders in the Base Ball world." Yet, Johnson was considered enough of an asset that, just after the 1910 World Series, won by Connie Mack's A's, there were rumors flying about that he might be traded for Ty Cobb who, two months shy of his 24th birthday, had just won his fifth consecutive A.L. batting title. When asked about the rumor, Tigers president Frank Navin expressed the opinion that Washington would never consider trading Walter Johnson for anyone, even Ty Cobb.

The Big Train was something of an idler on the mound, meaning he never gunned for strikeouts. He was of a humble nature, and there was evidence that he was the kind who had no use for records and was content to just win, without regard for how that was to be accomplished. This may never have seemed so true at this early stage of his career as in the anomalous July 8 game at St. Louis. Barney struck out the first seven men he faced and eight of the first nine. However, buoyed by a large lead when the Nats scored ten runs in the fifth inning, he didn't strike out anyone else among the anemic Browns over the course of the rest of the game. (The Washington Senators by Tom Deveaux.)

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  #108  
Old 08-11-2022, 04:43 AM
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Default Jimmy McAleer

Player #55: James R. "Jimmy" McAleer. "Loafer". Manager with the Washington Senators in 1909-1911. As a center fielder, he had 1,008 hits and 262 stolen bases in 13 MLB seasons. He debuted with the Cleveland Spiders in 1989-1998. His best season was probably 1892 with Cleveland as he posted a .318 OBP with 92 runs scored and 40 stolen bases in 638 plate appearances. He finished his playing career with the St. Louis Browns in 1902 and 1907. He also managed the Cleveland Blues in 1901 and the St. Louis Browns in 1902-1909. He was also a major shareholder in the Boston Red Sox in 1911-1913. The Red Sox won the World Series in 1912, but his ownership was brief, fraught with conflict, and ended amid acrimony.

Deveaux explains McAleer's introduction to Washington and the benefits for Walter Johnson: Now that Cantillon was on his way out (as manager of Washington following the 1909 season) because of the poor quality of his ball club at Washington, the league president (Ban Johnson) stepped in and suggested the hiring of Jimmy McAleer, most recently the manager of the St. Louis Browns who had finished an awful seventh in 1909. The affable McAleer had finished out of the second division only three times in eight years with the Browns, so although Washington was becoming known as a burial ground for managers, he couldn't afford to be choosy. The marriage was consummated, and the former stylish outfielder of the Cleveland Spiders took over the helm of the Washington Nationals for 1910. . . .

. . . It seemed that Jimmy McAleer played a role in turning Walter Johnson around in 1910. From then on, the Big Train could count on being a starting pitcher only, and not having to drive himself to the point of exhaustion with frequent relief appearances. Also, with McAleer, Walter would be given normal rest time between starts. McAleer also offered advice from an opposing manager's viewpoint -- he felt that Johnson could be beaten whenever he began to rely too heavily on his curveball. The tip proved invaluable. (The Washington Senators by Tom Deveaux.)

McAleer's SABR biography covers his tumultuous first year as "owner" of the Boston Red Sox: The 1912 season, McAleer’s first as club president, was an unqualified success. The team opened its new stadium, Fenway Park, on April 20, coasted to the pennant by 14 games over the second-place Senators, and defeated the New York Giants in the World Series. However, McAleer and Stahl, who was not McAleer’s choice to manage the team, clashed often. The team was also divided by friction between Irish Catholic players, led by catcher Bill Carrigan, and the Protestant contingent headed by stars Tris Speaker and Joe Wood. McAleer was an Irish Catholic, while Stahl, a Protestant, was a close friend of Speaker and Wood. The two factions engaged in petty bickering and the occasional physical altercation, while Stahl and McAleer battled openly. The feuding on the Boston club provided much fodder for local newspaper columns and marred an otherwise successful season.

The differences between Stahl and McAleer came to a head during the World Series. With the Red Sox leading the Series three games to one (with one tie), Stahl chose Joe Wood to pitch Game Six at Fenway Park. McAleer, however, ordered his manager to send Buck O’Brien, an Irish Catholic, to the mound instead. McAleer had his way, and the Red Sox lost 5-2, with all five runs scored off O’Brien in the first inning. Wood was so angry with the outcome that he reportedly attacked O’Brien with a bat before the seventh game. Teammates broke up the ugly fight, but Wood pitched so poorly afterward that many believe to this day that he lost the game on purpose. He faced only nine batters in Game Seven, allowing six runs and seven hits before giving way to a reliever. He appeared to be merely lobbing the ball across the plate, perhaps to show his disgust with McAleer, or possibly because he was exhausted from the pregame fight with O’Brien. Though the Red Sox eventually prevailed in the eight-game Series, questions about the integrity of the seventh game of the 1912 World Series have lingered ever since.

McAleer’s popularity in Boston was further damaged by a ticket fiasco before Game Seven. The Royal Rooters, Boston’s boisterous, mostly Irish fan club headed by Mayor John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, paraded on the field at Fenway Park before the game and proceeded to their usual block of seats in the left-field stands, only to find that club management had sold the seats out from under them. A near-riot ensued that delayed the game for nearly an hour before the police could gain control of the situation. McAleer blamed a “clerical error” for the mix-up, but the outraged Rooters called for a fan boycott of the eighth game the next day. As a result, only about 17,000 people, half of Fenway Park’s capacity, saw the Red Sox win the world championship.

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  #109  
Old 08-12-2022, 05:04 AM
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Default Pinch McBride

Player #56A: George F. "Pinch" McBride. Shortstop for the Washington Senators in 1908-1920. 1,203 hits, 7 home runs, and 133 stolen bases in 16 MLB seasons. Debuted with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1901. Has the lowest batting average of any player with 5,000 MLB at-bats. Managed the Washington Senators in 1921 but was struck in the face by a line drive during batting practice and forced to retire.

Deveaux introduces McBride to the Senators: To further reinforce the middle of the infield for 1908, a 27-year-old shortstop named George McBride was brought in from Kansas City of the American Association, and he would provide stability for a good decade. McBride was the league's premier defensive shortstop during his time. He led the American League at fielding his position four straight years between 1912 and 1915, and led in double plays six years between '08 and '15. His offensive credentials were something quite different. For players with more than 5,000 at-bats, McBride holds the record for the lowest career batting average (.218), and slugging average (.264), testimony to the superior defensive skills which kept him in the game long enough to attain such an ignominious record. (The Washington Senators by Tom Deveaux.)

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  #110  
Old 08-13-2022, 04:39 AM
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Default Deerfoot Milan

Player #39B: J. Clyde "Deerfoot" Milan. Outfielder for the Washington Senators in 1907-1922. 2,100 hits and 495 stolen bases in 16 MLB seasons. 1912 and 1913 AL stolen base leader, including a then record 88 in 1912. His career OBP was .353. Managed the Washington Senators in 1922. His best season was probably 1911 for the Washington Senators as he posted a .395 OBP with 58 stolen bases and 109 runs scored in 705 plate appearances.

Milan's SABR biography summarizes his time in baseball: He was a left-handed hitter who batted .285 over the course of 16 seasons, and Clark Griffith called him Washington’s greatest centerfielder, claiming that he played the position more shallow than any man in baseball. Yet Clyde “Deerfoot” Milan achieved his greatest fame as a base stealer. After Milan supplanted Ty Cobb as the American League’s stolen-base leader by pilfering 88 bases in 1912 and 75 in 1913, F. C. Lane of Baseball Magazine called him “Milan the Marvel, the Flying Mercury of the diamond, the man who shattered the American League record, and the greatest base runner of the decade.” It was hyperbole, of course; Cobb re-claimed the AL record in 1915 by stealing 96 bases and went on to swipe far more bases over the decade than Milan, but Deerfoot stole a total of 481 during the Deadball Era, ranking third in the AL behind only Cobb (765) and Eddie Collins (564).

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  #111  
Old 08-14-2022, 04:45 AM
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Default Flossie Oberlin

Player #57: Frank R. "Flossie" Oberlin. Pitcher with the Washington Senators in 1907 and 1909-1910. 5 wins and 227 innings pitched in 4 MLB seasons. He debuted with the Boston Americans in 1906-1907.

Oberlin's SABR biography summarizes his meager MLB accomplishments: Frank Oberlin’s major-league pitching record was 5-24. He was 2-8 for the Boston Americans and 3-16 for the Washington Senators. As a batter, he hit for a .104 average, again somewhat better for Boston (.154 in 26 at-bats) than for Washington (.078 in 51 at-bats.) He drew one base on balls for both teams, bumping up his career on-base percentage to .138 over the four years of his career in the big leagues. Defensively, Oberlin was a little lacking, too, with 12 errors in 85 chances, for a lifetime .859 fielding percentage. He was much more successful in the minors, with a won/loss record of 81-85.

And his final days with Washington: He achieved the best earned run average of his career in his eight appearances for the Senators in 1910, but one’s ERA can be deceiving. His won/loss record was 0-6, and the real story rests in the runs allowed figure. In 57 1/3 innings, Oberlin only allowed 19 earned runs, but in actuality he allowed 32 runs. Though he lost a 2-1 game to Boston on April 19, there were times when once the runs started scoring, on an error, Oberlin was unable to plug the dike. On June 24, he bore another hard-luck 2-1 loss, again to Boston, but he had only himself to blame for the wild pitch he uncorked in the tenth inning. His last major-league appearance was in relief on June 28, a game Washington dropped to New York, 9-7. On July 1, he was released.

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  #112  
Old 08-15-2022, 02:58 AM
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Default Doc Reisling

Player #58: Frank C. "Doc" Reisling. Pitcher for the Washington Senators in 1909-1910. 15 wins in 4 MLB seasons. He debuted with the Brooklyn Superbas in 1904-1905. He had a career ERA of 2.45 in 311.2 innings pitched. His one almost full season was his best and his last as he posted a 2.54 ERA on 191 innings pitched in 1910.

Reisling is perhaps most remembered as the manager of Tecumseh in 1914 when he successfully scheduled a triple header on the last day of the season in an attempt to win the pennant. In the early days of baseball, travel was difficult (expensive) and rain outs were common, often due to unplayable conditions caused by rain that fell days earlier. Teams did not play the same number of games, no matter how long it took; instead, the season ended at a predetermined date, and each team's win/loss percentage determined the winner. Teams could make-up previosly-postponed games late in the season, provided they could corral their opponent, who typically had little incentive to play, let alone win. 1n 1914, Tecumseh needed to win three games on the last day of the season to capture the best winning percentage in their league, and thereby the pennant. Reisling managed to get the triple-header scheduled, his team won all three games and appeared to have won the pennant. Doc's plan failed, however, when the league's president invalidated Tecumseh's third victory.

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  #113  
Old 08-16-2022, 03:39 AM
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Default Germany Schaefer

Player #45B: Herman A. "Germany" Schaefer. Infielder for the Washington Senators in 1909-1914. 972 hits, 9 home runs, and 201 stolen bases in 15 MLB seasons. His "steal" of first base prompted rule making it illegal. Popular as a baseball "trickster" and "on-field clown", often in tandem with Charley O'Leary and, later, with Nick Altrock. Altrock eventually perfected the art with Al Schacht.

Schaefer's SABR biography describes his eccentric approach to baseball: Always willing to entertain the crowd, Germany Schaefer’s antics as a player and coach helped pave the way for later baseball clowns. An infielder with decent range and an average bat, Schaefer had impeccable timing, and more than once delighted fans with clutch performances, including legendary homers off Rube Waddell and Doc White. He gained his greatest notoriety for “stealing first base,” a maneuver that led to a rule change. . . .

. . . “The Prince,” as he (Schaefer) was often called because of his flashy showmanship on the field, always enjoyed performing in front of his hometown crowd, and on May 24, 1906, he turned in one of the most memorable games of his career. Schaefer was called on to pinch hit with two outs in the ninth, a runner on base, and his Tigers down by a run. According to teammate Davy Jones in The Glory of Their Times, Germany announced to the crowd: “Ladies and gentlemen, you are now looking at Herman Schaefer, better known as ‘Herman the Great,’ acknowledged by one and all to be the greatest pinch-hitter in the world. I am now going to hit the ball into the left field bleachers. Thank you.”

Facing Chicago’s Doc White, Schaefer proceeded to hit the first pitch into the left field bleachers for a game-winning homer. As he made his way around the diamond, Germany supposedly slid into every base, announcing his progress as if it were a horse race as he went around. “Schaefer leads at the half!” and so on. After hook-sliding into home, he popped up, doffed his cap, bowed, and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, this concludes this afternoon’s performance. I thank you for your kind attention.” Newspaper accounts of the game confirm the dramatic baseball details but not the fanciful embellishments offered by Jones.

Once while facing Rube Waddell, one of his favorite targets for verbal abuse, Schaefer reportedly launched a long home run out of Philadelphia’s Columbia Park and razzed the left-hander as he trotted around the bases. Carrying his bat with him, Schaefer pretended it was a gun, “shooting” Rube as he moved from bag to bag. Among Schaefer’s other supposed antics: during a steady rain he once appeared at the plate wearing rubber boots and a raincoat, and he once ventured to the plate sporting a fake black mustache. In both instances, his outlandish behavior reportedly resulted in his ejection. In addition, Schaefer was a master of the hidden-ball trick, which he performed in the 1907 World Series.

Schaefer did not reserve his pranks for players alone. According to one story, umpire Jack Sheridan wandered into his favorite Chicago watering-hole for a few drinks one evening. After tilting back a few too many spirits, Sheridan fell asleep on his table, located near a drainpipe. When Schaefer ambled in and saw the ump snoozing, he hopped upstairs and knelt on the floor. Cupping his hands, he moaned into the drainpipe, “Jack Sheridan, your time has come…” After Schaefer’s creepy warning was repeated, Sheridan shook himself awake and streaked from the saloon, frightened sober. The incident so spooked Sheridan that he reportedly gave up drinking for a time. Later, Schaefer let the cat out of the bag during a game that Sheridan was working in New York. When Germany strolled to the plate, he couldn’t resist moaning, “Jack Sheridan, your time has come…” Sheridan’s neck snapped toward Schaefer, “You Dutch so-and-so, you’re out of this game!” . . .

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  #114  
Old 08-17-2022, 03:11 AM
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Default Gabby Street

Player #33C: Charles E. "Gabby" Street. "The Old Sarge". Catcher for the Washington Senators in 1908-1911. 312 hits and 2 home runs in 8 MLB seasons. Debuted with the Cincinnati Reds in 1904. Caught ball dropped from top of Washington Monument. Holds MLB record for longest gap between MLB games at 19 years -- 1912-1931. Managed the St. Louis Cardinals in 1929 and 1930-1933, including the 1931 World Series championship. Managed the St. Louis Browns in 1938.

Here is Deveaux's account of Street's most memorable performance: Gabby Street is associated with baseball lore because of his connection to one particular incident. In Washington, D.C., the prospect of catching a ball dropped from the 555-foot high Washington Monument was always a hot topic. Made of Maryland white marble and shaped like a hollow shaft, the structure had been erected to commemorate the first president, George Washington. The government had begun building it in 1848, but it wasn't completed until 1884 due to delays caused by the Civil War and other political wrangling. When it was finally finished, it offered a breathtaking view at the top of an iron stairway of 898 steps.

In 1894, a catcher named Pops Schriver had attempted to catch a ball dropped from the top of the monument. Some said Schriver was successful on the first try. Other accounts said it never happened at all. It seems certain that other old-time catchers, Charlie Snyder and future Hall of Famer Buck Ewing, were not successful. Outfielder Paul Hines met with the same result. So Street, a Southerner who earned his nickname "Gabby" for obvious reasons and who may have been baseball's precursor to Ted Turner as "The Mouth of the South," became determined to give it a try. The idea came about because two well-to-do Senators fans had been discussing the topic and had made a $500 bet. They then prevailed upon Street to settle their wager. Things were done right this time, unlike in 1894 when police had had to shoo Schriver and the interested onlookers away from the site. Formal permission for the attempt was obtained from the superintendent of parks. (The Washington Senators by Tom Deveaux.)

On the morning of August 21, 1908, the two bettors, Preston Gibson and John Biddle, climbed to the top of the Washington Monument with a basketful of baseballs and a wooden chute designed to slide the balls beyond the wide base of the structure. Signals were given from above, but the first ten balls which came down caromed off the base of the monument. Gibson then discarded the chute and threw the balls out. Finally, on the 15th try, Street made the historic catch. It was completed with both arms high above his head, as if he'd caught a foul pop. There the similarity ended. The impact drove the mitt that caught Walter Johnson's fastball almost down to the ground, but Gabby held on.

It was reported at the time that mathematicians had calculated that Street's hand had resisted 300 pounds of force. Street said afterward that he hadn't caught sight of the ball until it was halfway down. The toss previous to the one he had caught had hit the tip of his mitt, and he knew at that moment that he was risking breaking his arm if he didn't catch the ball cleanly. The ball had dropped an estimated 504 feet. This would stand as the record for all mankind until 1930, when Charles Hartnett, the Chicago Cub catcher, coincidentally also nicknamed "Gabby," would catch a ball dropped from the Giidyear blimp from an altitude of about 550 feet. On the same afternoon that he'd completed his oddball stunt, Gabby Street caught a 3-1 Walter Johnson victory over the Detroit Tigers. (The Washington Senators by Tom Deveaux.)

We will now pause this progression. Expected restart date: 21 August.

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  #115  
Old 08-18-2022, 02:28 PM
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This card depicts the ball whizzing by Gabby in one of the failed attempts, with a bonus sweaty 'stuck together' Sweet Caporal back visible on the front, and a remnant Clark Griffith batting on the back.

Brian
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  #116  
Old 08-21-2022, 04:50 AM
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Default Jesse Tannehill

Thanks for the post, Brian.

Player #59: Jesse N. Tannehill. Pitcher for the Washington Senators in 1908-1909. 197 wins and 7 saves in 15 MLB seasons. 1901 NL ERA leader. Pitched a no-hitter in 1904. Debuted with the Cincinnati Reds in 1894. Pitched over 2,750 MLB innings with a career ERA of 2.80.

Tannehill's SABR biography covers his success with Pittsburgh and his end in Washington: Every year from 1897 to 1904, Tannehill ranked among his league’s top five in fewest walks per nine innings pitched. He wasn’t a big strikeout pitcher, either–he recorded only 940 strikeouts in more than 2,750 career innings–but his low walk totals still ensured him an annual spot among pitchers with the best strikeout to walk ratios. In 1901, he fanned a career-high 118 batters while walking just 36, and led the National League with a 2.18 ERA as the Pirates captured the pennant. Pittsburgh’s dominance continued the following season as the Pirates won 103 games and clinched the pennant with a month left in the season. The Pirates’ staff (Deacon Phillippe, Tannehill, Sam Leever, Ed Doheny, and Jack Chesbro) threw twenty-one shutouts, led the league in strikeouts, walked the fewest batters, and threw back-to-back two-hitters and back-to-back three-hitters.

Amidst Pittsburgh’s success, rumors surfaced about players secretly negotiating with Ban Johnson to join the American League, with Tannehill believed to be one of the main catalysts. After a game in August, Jesse got into an altercation with reserve Jimmy Burke. A scuffle occurred resulting in Tannehill dislocating his pitching shoulder. Tannehill went to a local hospital where the doctor's administrated ether so his arm could be popped back into place. While under the anesthetic Tannehill told Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss about conversations he had with Johnson. He even dropped the names of the other Pirates involved. Five days later at Tannehill’s apartment, six Pirates were promised a $1,000 bonus for jumping leagues in 1903. Word got out and suspected ring-leader Jack O’Connor was suspended even though Tannehill reportedly told a friend that he was behind the meeting. When an All-Star game was set up after the season between the Pirates and a group of American League All-Stars, Tannehill did not participate. Dreyfuss, knowing Tannehill had already received a bonus from the American League, handed the pitcher his unconditional release and told him to take his baggage from Exposition Park at once. Along with teammates O’Connor and Jack Chesbro, Tannehill signed with the New York Highlanders. . . .

. . . Unhappy in New York, after the (1903) season Tannehill expressed interest in joining his hometown Cincinnati Reds. Instead the Highlanders traded the unhappy hurler to the Boston Americans for pitcher Tom Hughes. Critics questioned the trade, arguing that the sore-armed Tannehill was in decline. Hughes was four years younger than Jesse and had won 20 games for Boston in 1903. Nonetheless, Boston manager Jimmy Collins assured critics that Hughes would not be missed. “I am more pleased than ever with my trade for Tannehill,” stated Collins. “We need a left-hander and I don’t know a better one in the business. He is in great shape and will be Johnny-on-the-spot with that stick of his and that helps a team wonderfully, I tell you.” Collins was right–the trade proved to be a winner for Boston. Tannehill went 21-11 with a 2.04 ERA in 1904 while Hughes struggled to a 7-11 mark before New York traded him in midseason. Boston, powered by a stalwart pitching rotation which established still-standing American League records for complete games (148) and fewest walks (233), won a second consecutive American League pennant. On August 17, Tannehill pitched the third no-hitter in American League history when he blanked the White Sox, 6-0. . . .

. . . A sore arm limited Tannehill to just six wins the following season (1907 with the Boston Americans) and after pitching in one game in 1908, he was traded to Washington. Boston management had become unhappy with him. On numerous occasions Tannehill mentioned that he would rather play in Washington for his hunting companion Joe Cantillon than anywhere else. Once Tannehill arrived in the nation’s capital he wasn’t shy about his happiness in leaving Boston. “I could not pitch in Boston. The weather there is hard on my arm and I could not get it going right,” stated Tannehill. “It feels better already, though I have only been out of the town for a few hours.” Despite the change in climate, Tannehill was unable to stay healthy for the Nationals, as a dislocated shoulder and displaced ribs limited him to two wins in 1908. The next season Tannehill pitched in only three games before being sold to Minneapolis of the American Association.

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  #117  
Old 08-22-2022, 04:43 AM
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Default Bob Unglaub

Player #42B: Robert A. "Bob" Unglaub. Infielder for the Washington Senators in 1908-1910. 554 hits and 5 home runs over 6 MLB seasons. Debuted with the New York Highlanders in 1904. Managed the Boston Americans in 1907.

We go back to Unglaub's SABR biography and his end in Washington and his tragic demise: Unglaub’s influence on the (Washington) team may not have always been positive. In May of 1909 it was reported that the cause of an injury that kept Unglaub out of the lineup came when Bob Ganley broke his ribs when he struck him with a bat in an altercation. This incident was denied, saying the sore ribs were an old injury, but Ganley, who happened to be captain of the team, was conspicuously released around this time.

After two and a half seasons with Washington, Unglaub was sold to Lincoln, Nebraska of the minor leagues. He was a player-manager for Lincoln in 1911 and his contract was sold to Baltimore of the Eastern League prior to the 1912 season. He finished that year in Minneapolis. In 1913 he went to the Northern league as manager and he usually finished the seasons playing a handful of games for Minneapolis of the American Association. It was a routine he followed through the 1916 season.

During the off-seasons Unglaub utilized his engineering degree by hiring on with the Pennsylvania Railroad shops in his hometown of Baltimore. On November 29, 1916, “While superintending repair work on a locomotive an accident occurred which crushed and mangled him so that all efforts to save his life failed.”

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  #118  
Old 08-23-2022, 03:06 AM
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Default 1911 Washington Senators

The 1911 Washington Senators won 64 games, lost 90, and finished in seventh place in the American League. They were managed by Jimmy McAleer and played home games at National Park. (Standby for a guest appearance by Natty Boh!)

We go to Deveaux for an account of the tumultuous runup to the season: (Prior to the 1911 season, Washington) Team president Tom Noyes was summoned to Atlanta by a jittery (Washington manager, Jimmy) McAleer, who did not relish starting a new season without his two most valuable commodities, who were threatening to hold out for more money. Noyes quickly gave Clyde Milan what he was asking for, and offered to raise Walter Johnson's pay to $6,500. Barney made what was a characteristic speech for him, and told Noyes, "Nothing doing." When Johnson showed he meant it by catching the next train to his father's dairy farm in Coffeyville, Kansas (Walter also raised purebred birds and won prizes at county fairs), the Washington media and fans became riled. Accused of stinginess, and amid rumors that he was considering trading Johnson to Detroit or Philadelphia, Tom Noyes steadfastly held to his position that Walter Johnson would be the highest-paid pitcher in the league if he accepted the Senators' offer.

The stalemate over money between the Big Train and team president Noyes had resulted in manager McAleer ordering Johnson to leave training camp because of his refusal to sign. The league's best pitcher had been asking for $7,500 a year, and eventually he did settle for a three-year arrangement at $7,000 per. Because of the holdout, Johnson lost the opening-day assignment to southpaw Dolly Gray, who was embarking on a season in which he would go 4-14, 5.06.

Not only was Walter Johnson not present for the 1911 opener, but Washington's shabby wooden ballpark wasn't there either. Except for a small bleacher section, it had burned down 18 days before. There was considerable scrambling to erect a concrete and steel structure. Somehow, it was ready for baseball on April 12, despite the fact that wooden forms were still protecting drying concrete. The only box seats were for the President of the United States. The dimensions of League (or National) Park would change little in the years to come. From left to right they were established at 407-421-328. The right-field distance was reduced to 320 feet in 1926. The right-center field scoreboard was 41 feet high, and it mushroomed to an unreasonable 56 feet in 1946 when enhanced with the omnipresent sign advertising the "National Bohemian" beer company. Needless to say, this ballpark would be the kiss of death to would-be home run hitters. (The Washington Senators by Tom Deveaux.)

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  #119  
Old 08-24-2022, 04:38 AM
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Default George Browne

Player #48B: George E. Browne. Right fielder for the Washington Senators in 1909-1910. 1,176 hits, 18 home runs, and 190 stolen bases in 12 MLB seasons. Led the NL in runs scored in 1904. 1905 WS champion. Debuted with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1901. His best season was 1903 for the New York Giants as he posted a .364 OBP with 27 stolen bases in 652 plate appearances. In all he had 7 seasons with more than 500 plate appearances.

Browne's SABR biography: After leaving the Giants following the 1907 season, Browne played one season with the Boston Doves and was sold to the Chicago Cubs; the Washington Senators then purchased him early in the 1909 season. He remained there until mid-1910, when he was sold to the Chicago White Sox. For his career, he compiled a .273 batting average, 303 runs batted in, 614 runs scored, and 190 stolen bases.

In 1920, Browne became sick with tuberculosis right as former teammate Christy Mathewson was recovering from the illness. Newspaper accounts highlighted the differences in financial capacity between the former star Mathewson and the lesser-known Browne. While Mathewson had been able to afford the best treatment, Browne's friends had to help ensure that he was admitted to a hospital in the Bronx. The New York Giants raised $1,825 for him in a benefit baseball game. On December 9, 1920, Browne died of tuberculosis at his home in Hyde Park, New York, at the age of 44.

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  #120  
Old 08-24-2022, 06:27 AM
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I'm also a vintage Washington collector and just wanted to say that this thread is amazing! Thanks for getting it started.
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  #121  
Old 08-24-2022, 07:33 AM
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Hey jbro! Welcome to the club. I thought it was just Val and me. It is good to hear you are out there. Thanks for the kind words.
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Old 08-25-2022, 04:06 AM
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Default Wid Conroy

Player #35C: William E. "Wid" Conroy. Utility player for the Washington Senators in 1909-1911. 1,257 hits, 22 home runs, and 262 stolen bases in 11 MLB seasons. Debuted with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1901. He had at least 384 plate appearances in each of his 11 MLB seasons. He was the first-string SS on the NL champion Pittsburgh Pirates in 1902. He moved to 3B in 1903 with the New York Highlanders, twice leading AL third basemen in total chances per game. He was an opening day starter for the Highlanders for the first five years of the team's existence. In 1907 he swiped 41 bases second only to Ty Cobb. He finished his career with Washington and in one of his last games set an AL record with 13 total chances at 3B.

Conroy's SABR biography summarizes his career and the origins of his nickname: An adept base stealer known for taking unusually large leads from first base, Wid Conroy used his raw speed and acrobatic skills to earn a reputation as one of the most versatile defensive players of the Deadball Era. During his eleven-year major league career, Conroy played a significant number of games at third base, shortstop, and left field, eliciting praise for his keen intelligence, sure-handedness, and leaping catches. One writer declared that Conroy’s movements around third base were “as graceful as a dancing master,” while another observed that “no matter in what position he is played, Conroy is generally recognized as a heady, hard-working ball player of much natural ability.”

From an early age, William demonstrated a love for baseball, spending much of his free time playing on Camden’s sandlots, and earning the nickname “Widow,” which would later be shortened to “Wid” during his playing career. Conroy pleaded ignorance as to the origin of his peculiar moniker, but fellow Camdenites asserted that he earned the name because of “his motherly interest in youngsters smaller and younger than himself, who used to number themselves in his ‘gang.’”

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  #123  
Old 08-26-2022, 04:29 AM
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Default Kid Elberfeld

Player #47C: Norman A. "Kid" Elberfeld. "The Tabasco Kid". Shortstop for the Washington Senators 1910-1911. 1,235 hits, 10 home runs, and 213 stolen bases in 14 MLB seasons. Fiery temper involved him in numerous ferocious arguments and assaults on umpires. Managed the New York Highlanders in 1908. Debuted with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1898. Had a career OBP of .355 and 7 MLB seasons with at least 500 plate appearances.

Elberfeld's SABR biography picks up his career following his 1903 trade from Detroit to the Highlanders: Over the next three years with New York, Elberfeld solidified his reputation as one of the best hitting shortstops in baseball. From 1904 to 1906, he had the highest batting (.275) and on-base-plus-slugging (.688) percentages of any shortstop in the American League, and second in the majors only to Honus Wagner. But injuries and suspensions continued to dog him; the Highlanders might have won pennants in 1904 and 1906 had Elberfeld not missed 89 games during those years. In late 1906 he also had two memorable run-ins with umpire Silk O’Loughlin. The first, on August 8, occurred when Elberfeld was denied first base by after being hit by a pitch, prompting him to menace the umpire with a bat. Then, on September 3, the two went at it again in a brawl described by the New York Times as “one of the most disgraceful scenes ever witnessed on a baseball field.” The Highlanders were in a close pennant race with Chicago, and when Elberfeld was suspended for only a total of eight games by President Johnson, some viewed it as an act of favoritism toward the Highlanders.

On May 1, 1908, with the New Yorkers tied for first place, Elberfeld was severely spiked by Washington outfielder Bob Ganley, essentially ending Elberfeld’s season. The team continued to play well without him through May, but won only seven games during June. On June 25, Farrell finally forced Griffith to resign, and Elberfeld got his chance to be manager. His tenure was a disaster. New York lost 15 of their next 18 games and the Washington Post soon quoted an unnamed Highlander saying: “We are … playing under the direction of a crazy man. It won’t take Elberfeld more than two weeks to make us the most demoralized ball team that the American League has ever known. He thinks he is a manager, but he can’t convince anyone but himself that he has the first qualification for the place. It’s a joke.” But Elberfeld himself apparently did harbor doubts about his qualifications; some years later Baseball Magazine reported that he wouldn’t select the team’s starting pitchers without first consulting his wife. Regardless of who picked the pitchers, the Highlanders sank to last place, Chase jumped the team in early September, and Elberfeld’s sole stint as a major league manager ended with a dismal 27-71 record.

We will pick this account up again when Elberfeld next surfaces in our progression.

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  #124  
Old 08-27-2022, 04:34 AM
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Default Dolly Gray

Player #43C: William D. "Dolly" Gray. Pitcher for the Washington Senators in 1909-1911. 15 wins in 3 MLB seasons. Holds MLB record for walks allowed in an inning (8) and for consecutive walks allowed (7). In 1911, he threw the first pitch in Griffith Stadium.

Gray's SABR biography walks us through his MLB career: Gray batted .205 in 1907 but that figure does not include his best day at the plate. On November 10 the Angels faced the San Diego Pickwicks, a strong semipro team that had added Walter Johnson. Gray smashed a double and a home run off the Washington hurler as the Angels won, 9-2. Gray nearly duplicated his performance (In 1907 he won a league-leading 32 games.) the following year, as did the team. Gray went 26-11 with a 1.71 ERA and the Angels won 110 games. In October 1908 his contract was sold to Washington.

Gray went to 1911 spring training as the veteran lefty on the team. McAleer made it known to the press that Gray needed to establish himself during the spring camp if the team was to be successful. Gray arrived in Atlanta with his new bride and weighing about 10 to 15 pounds more than normal. He told reporters that he thought the extra weight would make him more effective.

Gray revealed late in camp that he had a new pitch, an “ointment curve.” He supposedly could get it to break down and either left or right. Whether the pitch actually involved adding a substance to the ball was unclear. Meanwhile, McAleer and Walter Johnson were embroiled in contract negotiations while Johnson tended his farm in Coffeyville, Kansas. He (Johnson) did not report until just before Opening Day.

We will pick up the account of Gray's final season when he next surfaces in our progression.

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  #125  
Old 08-28-2022, 02:54 AM
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Default Clark The Old Fox Griffith

Player #28D: Clark C. "The Old Fox" Griffith. Pitcher for the Washington Senators in 1912-1914. Debuted with the St. Louis Browns in 1891. 237 wins and 8 saves in 20 MLB seasons. Was 1898 MLB ERA leader. Managed the Chicago White Stockings (1901-1902), the New York Highlanders (1903-1908), the Cincinnati Reds (1909-1911), and the Washington Senators (1912-1920). Was principal owner of the Washington Senators from 1920 until his death in 1955. In 1946, was inducted to the MLB Hall of Fame.

We return to Deveaux's account of Griffith's development: At age 13, Clark Griffith became sickly, a victim of malaria, then prevalent in the Missouri lowland country. His mother was advised to move him out of the area, which she did. Resettled with relatives in Bloomington, Illinois, Clark, who had been the mascot of the local Stringtown, MO., team, got more serious about baseball. The sport had been invented only about 40 years earlier -- this was at a time when the batter needed seven balls for a walk, and a strikeout was achieved even if the catcher, who was the only player who wore a glove, caught the ball on a bounce. The Illinois climate worked wonders for Clark's health, and at 16 he had already earned a local reputation in Bloomington, hometown of big-league pitching ace Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn.

In 1888, Griffith signed to play for Bloomington, which held a franchise in the Inter-State League of the era. He lost his first game in bizarre fashion -- he gave up just five hits but himself committed five of his team's ten errors. Nonetheless, he did become the top pitcher in the league, and at age 18, Clark Griffith was already about to get his big break. An exhibition game was arranged with Milwaukee of the superior Western League. As the winner of that game, Griffith was offered a $225-a -month salary with Milwaukee, and his professional career took off. He joined a team which featured Jimmy McAleer, who 23 years later would create a vacancy with the Nationals that would bring him to the capital and alter the face of baseball in Washington, D.C.

By the end of the following season, Griffith was the best pitcher Milwaukee had, finishing the season with a record of 25-11. Charles Comiskey, then managing the major-league American Association's St. Louis Browns, signed him, starting Griffith on a protracted tour that would include seven big-league stops. He won 14 games as a rookie for the Browns in 1891, but then was traded to the Boston Americans for a pitcher named Jack Easton who would win just five more games in the major leagues. Now a teammate of future Hall of Famers Hugh Duffy, Mike "King' Kelly, and Dan Brouthers, Griffith went 3-1 and played on a pennant winner. However, the seven games he pitched in for Boston were his last for the team. The American Association disbanded, and for 1892, the National League would be the only game in town. (The Washington Senators by Tom Deveaux.)

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Last edited by GeoPoto; 08-29-2022 at 04:10 AM.
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  #126  
Old 08-29-2022, 04:13 AM
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Default Bob Groom

Player #44C: Robert "Bob" Groom. Pitcher for the Washington Senators in 1909-1913. 119 wins and 13 saves in 10 MLB seasons. For the St. Louis Browns in 1917, he pitched a no-hitter in the second game of a doubleheader after pitching 2 innings of no-hit relief in the first game. With Koob, only teammates to pitch no-hitters on consecutive days. His best season was 1912 as he went 24-13 with a 2.62 ERA and Washington finished second in the American League. In 1909, his 7-26 record included 15 consecutive losses, during which his 42-110 Senator teammates mustered a total of 19 runs. Walter Johnson's record that year was 12-25.

Groom's SABR biography continues his story: During the 1911 season Ty Cobb named Bob Groom — not even yet in his prime — to his list of the dozen pitchers he had the most trouble hitting. Indeed, Cobb’s lifetime batting average against Groom (.275 compared with Cobb’s overall lifetime average of .367) bore out Cobb’s assessment. Cobb’s difficulty may have had something to do with what Billy Evans had described as Groom’s typical demeanor.

(Let's briefly jump ahead to the end of Groom's time in Washington.) After five years with Washington, in 1914 Bob jumped at the chance to play homestands in St. Louis. Federal League (Handlan) Park was just a trolley ride from his home in Belleville. He signed on with the St. Louis Terriers, for whom he pitched 280 innings in 42 games, going 13-20 and tying a teammate for the dubious distinction of most losses in the league. The Terriers were hardly an offensive powerhouse, finishing last (62-89) by managing to score the fewest runs per game in the league. The following season, with their hitting bolstered by fresh players, the Terriers made a run for the 1915 pennant. They finished second, nosed out by Chicago by the closest pennant margin in baseball history, .001. Bob’s record that year was 11-11; he pitched 209 innings in 37 games.

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  #127  
Old 08-30-2022, 04:05 AM
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Default Walter Johnson

Player #54B: Walter P. "Barney" Johnson. "The Big Train". Pitcher for the Washington Senators in 1907-1927. 417 wins and 34 saves in 21 MLB seasons. 1924 World Series champion. 1913 and 1924 AL Most Valuable Player. 3-time triple crown. 6-time AL wins leader. 5-time AL ERA leader. 12-time AL strikeout leader. He had a career ERA of 2.17 in 5,914.1 innings pitched. He pitched a no-hitter in 1920. He holds the MLB record with 110 career shutouts. MLB All-Time Team. Inducted to the MLB Hall of Fame in 1936. One of his best seasons was 1913 as he posted a record of 36-7 with a 1.14 ERA in 346 innings pitched.

Deveaux reports on how 1911 went for Walter Johnson: When he did make his first start (after missing opening day due to a salary holdout), on April 15, Walter Johnson again brought attention to his unusual talents. On this particular day, he turned the trick of striking out four Red Sox batters in the same inning. Even more unlikely, Boston scored during the inning. Washington catcher Eddie Ainsmith missed the third strike on the second strikeout. Larry Gardner stole second when Johnson fanned future Hall of Famer Harry Hooper, and then scored on a double by Tris Speaker, another Hall of Famer to be. ("Spoke" happens to hold the all-time record for doubles -- 792 according to Total Baseball, but it's been 793 for so long that the number has become synonymous with Speaker.)

Despite another slow start, Walter Johnson would win 16 of his last 20 decisions and put together a record of 23-15 for 1911, leading the league in complete games and placing in the top three in most of the other important categories. (The Washington Senators by Tom Deveaux.)

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  #128  
Old 08-30-2022, 08:57 AM
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Couple of Walter Johnson items for this stellar thread's inventory.
Keep up the great work, George.



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  #129  
Old 08-30-2022, 01:01 PM
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Thanks for the post, David, particularly the outstanding CJ, which is one of my white whales.
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  #130  
Old 08-31-2022, 04:29 AM
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Default Jack Lelivelt

Player #60: John F. "Jack" Lelivelt. Outfielder with the Washington Senators in 1909-1911. 347 hits and 46 stolen bases in 6 MLB seasons. His career OBP was .353. He finished his MLB career in 1913-1914 with the Cleveland Naps. He held the International League longest hitting streak (42 games) from 1911 until 2007. He is a member of the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame.

Lelivelt's SABR biography recounts his 1911 and 1912 seasons: In 1911 Lelivelt batted .320 in 72 games for Washington. He missed time at the end of the season with a “badly sprained tendon” in his left leg. In July the Senators had agreed to trade “players to be named later” for three players on the minor-league Rochester, New York, team. At the end of the season, Rochester manager John Ganzel demanded a pair of quality players from Washington, including Lelivelt, and the Senators complied, although a .320 hitter was clearly undeserving of a demotion. After Clark Griffith became the Washington manager, he tried to reacquire Lelivelt in February 1912, but Ganzel would not give him up. Griffith blamed his predecessor McAleer for making a foolish deal.

As a member of the 1912 Rochester Hustlers of the Double-A International League, Lelivelt feasted on minor-league pitching. On Opening Day, April 19, he hit a three-run homer in a 4-1 victory over Providence. From April 23 to June 3 he had a 33-game hitting streak during which he batted .444. In a game against Toronto on May 31, he hit a ball to left field that went “out of sight.” Since no one could find the ball, he was awarded a home run. Lelivelt batted .351 in 125 games for Rochester and was traded on August 23 to the New York Highlanders.

In his return to the American League on August 27, Lelivelt played center field and went 5-for-8 in New York’s doubleheader sweep of Cleveland. Four days later, Washington fans cheered him and Griffith fumed as Lelivelt hit a “smoking double to left field” to drive in the only run in New York’s 1-0 defeat of the Senators. In a 6-1 victory over Mack’s Athletics on September 4, Lelivelt “robbed Baker of a home run in the eighth, with two on bases, when he jumped into the air and pulled down a drive with one hand.” Two days later Lelivelt’s daring baserunning in New York made headlines. He was on third base when Philadelphia’s great second baseman Eddie Collins caught an easy pop fly.

“There was no chance in the world for Lelivelt to score on the catch. Anyway, he ran far up the line in an effort to make Collins throw the ball to the catcher. Then just when Collins, who was looking directly at him, was about ready to toss the ball to the pitcher, Lelivelt kept going and headed for the plate. Collins was so astounded at this unexpected display of nerve that he made a wild throw to [catcher Jack] Lapp, and Lelivelt crossed the plate in safety. Fans and players roared with laughter and Collins kicked himself all over the diamond.”

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  #131  
Old 09-01-2022, 04:11 AM
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Default Pinch McBride

Player #56B: George F. "Pinch" McBride. Shortstop for the Washington Senators in 1908-1920. 1,203 hits, 7 home runs, and 133 stolen bases in 16 MLB seasons. Debuted with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1901. Has the lowest batting average of any player with 5,000 MLB at-bats. Managed the Washington Senators in 1921 but was struck in the face by a line drive during batting practice and forced to retire.

McBride's SABR biography summarizes his career: Like his contemporary in the National League, Mickey Doolan, George McBride was the prototypical “good-field, no-hit” shortstop during the Deadball Era. Widely viewed as the best defensive shortstop in his league, McBride struggled mightily at the bat. A relatively large shortstop, standing 5’11” and weighing 170 pounds, McBride was described in the press as an “aggressive, alert, and quick-witted” fielder. He led the AL in fielding percentage five times, including four times consecutively from 1912 to 1915, and was near the lead in most other years. Meanwhile, he achieved only a .218 lifetime batting average, never exceeding .235 for a single season. He was an iron man during his days as the regular shortstop for the Washington Senators, and was recognized as one of the headiest players of his day.

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  #132  
Old 09-02-2022, 04:24 AM
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Default Deerfoot Milan

Player #39C: J. Clyde "Deerfoot" Milan. Outfielder for the Washington Senators in 1907-1922. 2,100 hits and 495 stolen bases in 16 MLB seasons. 1912 and 1913 AL stolen base leader, including a then record 88 in 1912. His career OBP was .353. Managed the Washington Senators in 1922. His best season was probably 1911 for the Washington Senators as he posted a .395 OBP with 58 stolen bases and 109 runs scored in 705 plate appearances.

Deveaux talks about Milan's standing in Washington: Clyde Milan was the Nats' second (after Walter Johnson) Bonafide star, a fielder in the class of Cobb and Tris Speaker. Jimmy McAleer, likely the best outfielder of his time, had taught him how to play an even shallower center field than the great Speaker. Milan was durable as well, appearing in the outfield in 511 consecutive games from 1910 to 1913. (The Washington Senators by Tom Deveaux.)

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  #133  
Old 09-02-2022, 09:37 AM
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George, I continue to greatly enjoy this thread and all of your posts.

Sadly, unless my memory has failed me again, WaJo and Milan were the only two Senators who achieved sustained excellence, until the 1920's. Hence, I'm really looking forward to your posts about players from this era.
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  #134  
Old 09-02-2022, 09:55 AM
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Delete.

Last edited by Hankphenom; 09-02-2022 at 09:57 AM.
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  #135  
Old 09-02-2022, 09:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kawika View Post
Couple of Walter Johnson items for this stellar thread's inventory.
Keep up the great work, George.



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  #136  
Old 09-03-2022, 04:12 AM
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Default Germany Schaefer

Thanks again Val. There's a lot of ground to cover.

Player #45C: Herman A. "Germany" Schaefer. Infielder for the Washington Senators in 1909-1914. 972 hits, 9 home runs, and 201 stolen bases in 15 MLB seasons. His "steal" of first base prompted rule making it illegal. Popular as a baseball "trickster" and "on-field clown", often in tandem with Charley O'Leary and, later, with Nick Altrock. Altrock eventually perfected the art with Al Schacht.

We go back to Schaefer's SABR biography to pick up his career: . . . In 1907, Schaefer was named captain of the Tigers, whom he helped to back-to-back pennants. Germany was one of the few Tigers who befriended Ty Cobb, and he was a key figure in the Tigers late-season drive to win the 1907 pennant. Despite his popularity in Detroit, late in 1909 Schaefer was traded to Washington, for whom he played through 1914. In 1911, he enjoyed his finest offensive season, batting .334 in 125 games. During his last few years with Washington, Germany spent more time in the coach’s box than on the field. He was an accomplished sign-stealer and heckler, qualities integral to coaching during the era. One publication described Schaefer as “next to Hughie Jennings, the best grass-puller in captivity.”

On at least one occasion Schaefer stole first base. On August 4, 1911, in the bottom of the ninth, Schaefer stole second, hoping to draw a throw and allow teammate Clyde Milan, who was on third with the potential winning run, to steal home. White Sox catcher Fred Payne didn’t fall for the gambit, however, so Schaefer, now on second, took his lead toward the first-base side of the bag and promptly stole first on a subsequent pitch. Sox manager Hugh Duffy came out to argue, and while Duffy jawed with umpire Tommy Connolly, Schaefer scampered for second again. This time Schaefer got caught in a rundown, as had been his intention, and Milan dashed for home, where he was nipped to end the inning. Schaefer and his teammates then argued unsuccessfully that the play should be nullified because the White Sox had ten players on the field, although Duffy hadn’t been an active player since 1908. The official scorer credited Schaefer with only one stolen base, but he “had a perfect right to go from second back to first,” umpire Connolly insisted after the game. It has been widely reported that Schaefer also stole first base on another occasion, against Cleveland in 1908, although the details usually given are contradictory and the incident is almost certainly a fabrication. . . .

We will now pause this progression. Expected restart date: 13 September.

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  #137  
Old 09-13-2022, 04:52 AM
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Default Gabby Street

Player #33D: Charles E. "Gabby" Street. "The Old Sarge". Catcher for the Washington Senators in 1908-1911. 312 hits and 2 home runs in 8 MLB seasons. Debuted with the Cincinnati Reds in 1904. Caught ball dropped from top of Washington Monument. Holds MLB record for longest gap between MLB games at 19 years -- 1912-1931. Managed the St. Louis Cardinals in 1929 and 1930-1933, including the 1931 World Series championship. Managed the St. Louis Browns in 1938.

Street's SABR biography explains his role in an early version of an All-Star game: On April 14, 1911, Cleveland pitcher Addie Joss died at 31 of tubercular meningitis. Joss, who was one of the great pitchers of the Deadball Era, or any era for that matter, was also well-respected and well-liked by his peers. His Cleveland teammates began to canvass other American League players to play in a game to raise funds for Joss’s widow, Lillian, and her two children. The game was played on July 24, 1911, at Cleveland’s League Park. It was an unofficial “All-Star Game” that predated Arch Ward’s concept by 22 years. It was also one of the greatest collections of baseball talent as the Cleveland Naps took on the American League stars. The Naps were led by Joe Jackson, Napoleon Lajoie, and Jack Graney. The All-Stars were rightly named; they included Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Sam Crawford, Frank Baker, Eddie Collins, Hal Chase, and Walter Johnson.

Street volunteered to participate. “As far as I am concerned, that outfit can stand as the all-star team of all time, outside of the backstop of course,” He said. “I didn’t need to be good with that bunch. Cy Young started on the mound for Cleveland as I recall it and he was still pretty good for an old fellow, but these fellows just blasted him.” Attendance for the game was reported to be 15,270, and $12,914 was raised for Lillian Joss.

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  #138  
Old 09-14-2022, 03:07 AM
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Default 1912 Washington Senators

The 1912 Washington Senators won 91 games, lost 61, and finished in second place in the American League. They were managed by Clark Griffith and played their home games at National Park.

Deveaux addresses the runup to the 1912 season: (When he took over before the 1912 season) Clark Griffith wanted a young team to replace the previous season's 64-90 entry. The regular lineup he was about to assemble would stay together for four years. Only the reliable George McBride at shortstop, a .235 hitter in 1911, and centerfielder Jesse Clyde "Deerfoot" Milan, who had just completed his .315 campaign and was stealing nearly as many bases as the great Cobb, were retained as regular position players.

Griffith got rid of Walter Johnson's catcher, Gabby Street, insisting that the two youngsters the Nats already had, John Henry and Eddie Ainsmith, would fill the bill between them. He cut loose a pair of sidekicks from his Highlander days, infielders Wid Conroy and Kid Elberfeld. All told, Griffith released or sold ten players -- veteran outfielders Jack Lelivelt and Doc Gessler, and pitcher Dixie Walker (whose two sons would one day become stars in the National League), were among those set adrift.

To replace them, Griffith brought in youngsters. Eddie "Kid" Foster, 24, would play third and Ray Morgan, just 20, second. Morgan would supply a dependable brand of second base for this ballclub for seven years, and hit .238 as a rookie and .254 for his career, spent entirely in Washington. At 25, Clyde Milan would anchor an outfield also featuring 22-year old holdover Clarence "Tilly" Walker, 21-year old rookie Howard Shanks, and an older newcomer, Danny Moeller, 27, a fleet outfielder who had last appeared in the big leagues with the Pirates in 1908. The 1912 pitching staff wasn't deep -- the bulk of the work would go to Walter Johnson, Bob Groom, and Tom Hughes. (The Washington Senators by Tom Deveaux.)

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  #139  
Old 09-15-2022, 05:17 AM
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Default Dorf Ainsmith

Player #61A: Edward W. "Dorf" Ainsmith was born Edward Anshmedt. Catcher with the Washington Senators in 1910-1918. 707 hits and 22 home runs in 15 MLB seasons. His best season was 1919 with the Detroit Tigers as he posted a .354 OBP with 42 runs scored and 35 RBIs in 419 plate appearances. He finished his MLB career with the New York Giants in 1924. He later managed the Rockford Peaches in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

Ainsmith's BABR biographical info includes: Eddie, born Edward Anshmedt, is one of only five major leaguers (through 2020) born in Russia, although he came to the United States at a very young age and grew up in Cambridge, MA. As a youngster, he wanted to be a boxer, but his parents discouraged him from that dangerous pursuit, and he became a ballplayer instead. He was scouted and signed by Mike Kahoe and broke into the majors as one of the youngest players in the league in 1910 when he was 20 years old.

Eddie spent his first nine years with the Washington Senators in the dead-ball era, never hitting higher than .226 and only once getting over 300 at-bats. He was a teammate of pitcher Walter Johnson all nine years, and he was Johnson's personal catcher as he was particularly good at catching the hard stuff that the young fireballer could dish out at the time. He caught 48 of the "Big Train"'s career 110 shutouts. He had some speed, stealing 17 bases in 1913 and 16 bases in 1917 in spite of getting only limited playing time.

In 1917, Buck Herzog and Ty Cobb had a major fight in a hotel room for half an hour. The SABR biography of Herzog says Ainsmith was the only other person present. He had a feisty temperament and was fined or suspended a number of times for various unsportsmanlike actions towards umpires. He and pitcher Joe Engel once beat up a man, earning Eddie a 30-day jail sentence that was suspended through the intervention of Senators owner Clark Griffith. He was drafted to serve in the United States military during World War I, but again owner Griffith intervened to get him special treatment. Instead of going overseas, he played on a Baltimore shipyard workers team.

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  #140  
Old 09-16-2022, 04:48 AM
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Default Kid Elberfeld

Player #47D: Norman A. "Kid" Elberfeld. "The Tabasco Kid". Shortstop for the Washington Senators 1910-1911. 1,235 hits, 10 home runs, and 213 stolen bases in 14 MLB seasons. Fiery temper involved him in numerous ferocious arguments and assaults on umpires. Managed the New York Highlanders in 1908. Debuted with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1898. Had a career OBP of .355 and 7 MLB seasons with at least 500 plate appearances.

Elberfeld's SABR biography describes his time in Washington: Though replaced by George Stallings as manager (of the New York Highlanders) after the (1908) season, Elberfeld remained with the team, reluctantly, as a player in 1909; his nasty reputation, high salary, and history of injuries made him difficult to trade. His battered legs forced him to play more at third base, a familiar position from his early days and one for which he was well-suited because of his strong arm. Rusty from his long lay off, Elberfeld batted only .237 that year, but showed enough life to enable Stallings to sell him to Washington in December. The next spring, he began coaching young players from D.C.-area town and high school teams, an occupation that would dominate his activities after his playing days ended. “[Kids are] the future players, future fans, and future owners,” he later said. “We need to teach them the game from the time they are old enough to swing a bat.”

Elberfeld remained with Washington for two years, and manager Jimmy McAleer twice selected Elberfeld to play on post-season “all-star” teams formed to keep the pennant-winning A’s sharp for their upcoming World Series appearances. In 1911, Elberfeld played through ankle, hip, and back injuries. Though he batted a solid .272 and posted a career high .405 OBP, in 1912 the new Nats manager Griffith was determined to go with younger players, and, prior to the season, Elberfeld was sold to Montgomery of the Southern Association. He batted .260 in 78 games for the Rebels, then moved on to the Chattanooga Lookouts in 1913 as player-manager where he batted .332 in 94 games. He was then hired to manage New Orleans, but after a change in team ownership left him jobless, Brooklyn signed him as a coach and utility player. Elberfeld played his final major league game on September 24, 1914, entering the game, ironically, as a late-inning defensive replacement when starting shortstop Dick Egan was ejected for arguing a call.

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  #141  
Old 09-17-2022, 04:17 AM
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Default Dolly Gray

Player #43D: William D. "Dolly" Gray. Pitcher for the Washington Senators in 1909-1911. 15 wins in 3 MLB seasons. Holds MLB record for walks allowed in an inning (8) and for consecutive walks allowed (7). In 1911, he threw the first pitch in Griffith Stadium.

We return to Gray's SABR biography as the 1911 season begins: It would be Gray's last in MLB: Johnson’s issues (Walter's arrival was delayed until just before opening day by contract negotiations.) opened the gate for Gray to pitch on Opening Day, April 12, against the Red Sox and Smoky Joe Wood. Before the game, Gray was on the receiving end of President William Howard Taft’s “straight and true” first pitch from his box in the stands. The Red Sox took a 4-1 lead as Gray allowed four hits and two walks, and committed an error. Washington rallied in the sixth, with Gray removed for a pinch-hitter, to take a 7-4 lead. Dixie Walker finished the game for Washington and was given the 8-5 win.

Gray earned his first win a month later with a 6-5 victory over the White Sox. He struggled with consistency and was shuffled between starting and relieving. His second win came on June 28 versus the Athletics. He struck out a season-high six and did not allow a walk in the 4-3 win. It proved to be the last win of his major-league career; he closed out the season 2-13 with a 5.06 ERA that was the worst in the league for a pitcher with 100 innings or more.

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  #142  
Old 09-18-2022, 04:22 AM
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Default The Old Fox

Player #28E: Clark C. "The Old Fox" Griffith. Pitcher for the Washington Senators in 1912-1914. Debuted with the St. Louis Browns in 1891. 237 wins and 8 saves in 20 MLB seasons. Was 1898 MLB ERA leader. Managed the Chicago White Stockings (1901-1902), the New York Highlanders (1903-1908), the Cincinnati Reds (1909-1911), and the Washington Senators (1912-1920). Was principal owner of the Washington Senators from 1920 until his death in 1955. In 1946, was inducted to the MLB Hall of Fame.

Deveaux explains how Griffith came to be the largest stockholder in Washington: Now coming upon his 42nd birthday (in 1912, after resigning during the previous season as manager of the New York Highlanders), Clark Griffith had thoughts of becoming a stockholder himself. Having pitched for 16 years in the majors and been manager for 11, he undoubtedly considered the fact that only he, of the three main founders of the American League, had yet to achieve the kind of financial success enjoyed by Ban Johnson and Charles Comiskey. Even his old teammate, Jimmy McAleer, was becoming an owner at Boston. Although he couldn't afford to back himself up financially, Griffith made an offer to buy as large a piece of the team as the stockholders were willing to sell. The deal fell through when many of the stockholders tried to jack up the share price to turn a quick profit.

Then, Griffith's pal, club president Tom Noyes, and Edward Walsh offered to sell their shares to Griffith for what they had cost them. They also drew their partner, Ben Minor, in on the same deal. Noyes was suggesting selling their combined 1,200 shares at $12.50, and that Griffith should also shell out the $15 per share the other shareholders wanted for another 800 shares. A total of 2,000 shares would give Griffith a tenth interest in the Washington Senators and also, more impressively, make him the largest single shareholder in the club.

Griffith turned his energies toward finding the money to do the deal. Ban Johnson had promised a $10,000 loan when Griffith had first heard of the Washington possibility, but now Johnson balked. Relations between the two became strained as a result. Clark Griffith got no support from Charles Comiskey. The Chisox owner told him he would be crazy to sink any money into a club located in "that baseball graveyard" known as Washington.

Griffith nonetheless proceeded to give Noyes all of his own cash assets, an amount of $8,000. He needed $19,000 more, and Noyes agreed to wait two weeks for it. Years before, the Old Fox had invested in a ranch at Craig, Montana. His older brother Earl had been running it for him, and now it was Griffith's salvation. The First National Bank of Montana consented to a $20,000 mortgage on the ranch. Griffith rushed back to Washington with the cash, and signed a three-year contract on October 27, 1911, which would pay him the grand sum of $7,500 a year. Thus began the career in Washington of the man whose name was to become synonymous with Senators baseball. (The Washington Senators by Tom Deveaux.)

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  #143  
Old 09-19-2022, 04:09 AM
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Default Bob Groom

Player #44D: Robert "Bob" Groom. Pitcher for the Washington Senators in 1909-1913. 119 wins and 13 saves in 10 MLB seasons. For the St. Louis Browns in 1917, he pitched a no-hitter in the second game of a doubleheader after pitching 2 innings of no-hit relief in the first game. With Koob, only teammates to pitch no-hitters on consecutive days. His best season was 1912 as he went 24-13 with a 2.62 ERA and Washington finished second in the American League. In 1909, his 7-26 record included 15 consecutive losses, during which his 42-110 Senator teammates mustered a total of 19 runs. Walter Johnson's record that year was 12-25.

Groom's SABR biography addresses his 1912 season: With Clark Griffith at the helm in 1912, the Nationals improved dramatically, winning 91, losing 61, and finishing in second place. Pitching a career-high 316 innings, Groom won 24 games and Johnson won 33, combining for over 60 percent of Washington’s victories. A major highlight of the 1912 season was the Nationals’ 17-consecutive-game winning streak. Bob started and won four of the games in that streak, his most impressive win being the last, on June 18. Only after that game was over did the Nationals’ fans learn the grit it had taken for Bob Groom to win that game. Before the game, he discovered a painful abscess on his back between his shoulders. The Nationals’ team physician recommended a debilitating operation, but Bob refused, and instead had the doctor insert a drainage tube. With the tube in his back, he put on his uniform and pitched a complete game, giving the Nationals a 5-4 victory over Philadelphia.

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  #144  
Old 09-20-2022, 04:14 AM
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Default John Henry

Player #62A: John P. Henry. Catcher for the Washington Senators in 1910-1917. 397 hits and 55 stolen bases in 9 MLB seasons. He ended his career with the Boston Braves in 1918. His best season was 1916 with the Washington Senators as he posted a .364 OBP with 46 RBIs in 376 plate appearances.

A native of Amherst, Massachusetts, Henry was a classical light-hitting, good defensive catcher. He entered the majors in 1910 with the Washington Senators, playing for them seven years before joining the Boston Braves (1918).

Heading into the 1912 season, Senators owner Calvin Griffith traded catcher Gabby Street to the New York Highlanders for third baseman John Knight. Then Henry shared duties with Eddie Ainsmith, serving as the personal catcher for pitcher Walter Johnson. His most productive season came in 1916, when he posted career-numbers in games (117), batting average (.249), runs (28), extrabases (15) and runs batted in (46). Henry would manage to stick around in a part-time role until 1917, when he was sold to the Braves.

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  #145  
Old 09-21-2022, 04:26 AM
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Default Walter Johnson

Player #54C (Part 1): Walter P. "Barney" Johnson. "The Big Train". Pitcher for the Washington Senators in 1907-1927. 417 wins and 34 saves in 21 MLB seasons. 1924 World Series champion. 1913 and 1924 AL Most Valuable Player. 3-time triple crown. 6-time AL wins leader. 5-time AL ERA leader. 12-time AL strikeout leader. He had a career ERA of 2.17 in 5,914.1 innings pitched. He pitched a no-hitter in 1920. He holds the MLB record with 110 career shutouts. MLB All-Time Team. Inducted to the MLB Hall of Fame in 1936. One of his best seasons was 1913 as he posted a record of 36-7 with a 1.14 ERA in 346 innings pitched.

Deveaux recalls some of Johnson's 1912 exploits: Naturally, though, the team's top performer in 1912 was again Walter Johnson, who broke the 30-win mark for the first time. His slate was 33-12 (according to Macmillan's The Baseball Encyclopedia), and led the league with a 1.39 ERA. The Big Train held the opposition to a pathetic .196 batting average, and in this regard, Johnson would do better in just one other season over his 21-year career: 1913. The 1912 season marked the beginning of Walter Johnson's most glorious era. . . .

. . . On August 20, Barney pitched 8.2 innings of relief in the first game of a doubleheader and beat the Indians 4-2; it was his 15th consecutive win, which broke Jack Chesbro's 1904 record. In the second game of the August 20 doubleheader, big 21-year-old righthander Jay Cashion, enjoying his only decent season in the big leagues, took the focus off Johnson for the moment when he no-hit the Indians to earn a 2-0 shutout in a game called after six innings. Three days later, with an 8-1 conquest of the Tigers, Walter Johnson brought his season record to 29-7 by winning his 16th in a row. He set this record in 51 days, nearly averaging a win every three days -- a truly amazing accomplishment, considering that as often as not, he had no more than two days' rest between starts. . . .

. . . On September 6, 1912 Walter Johnson faced the ace of the Boston Red Sox, Smokey Joe Wood, before a crowd of 30,000 a Fenway Park. When asked to compare his own fastball with Wood's, the modest one had once replied, "Listen my friend, there's no man alive who can throw harder than Joe Wood." Wood, for his part, later in life told Lawrence Ritter for Ritter's wonderful The Glory of Their Times that Walter Johnson had been the only pitcher he'd ever hit against who, whenever he swung and missed, left him no clue as to whether he had swung over or under the ball. Back on June 26, the two had engaged in quite a battle, won by Boston 3-0, in which Wood had allowed three hits and Johnson four. (The Washington Senators by Tom Deveaux.)

We will finish this account tomorrow.

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  #146  
Old 09-22-2022, 04:24 AM
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Default Walter Johnson

Player #54C (Part 2): Walter P. "Barney" Johnson. "The Big Train". Pitcher for the Washington Senators in 1907-1927. 417 wins and 34 saves in 21 MLB seasons. 1924 World Series champion. 1913 and 1924 AL Most Valuable Player. 3-time triple crown. 6-time AL wins leader. 5-time AL ERA leader. 12-time AL strikeout leader. He had a career ERA of 2.17 in 5,914.1 innings pitched. He pitched a no-hitter in 1920. He holds the MLB record with 110 career shutouts. MLB All-Time Team. Inducted to the MLB Hall of Fame in 1936. One of his best seasons was 1913 as he posted a record of 36-7 with a 1.14 ERA in 346 innings pitched.

Back to Deveaux: Clark Griffith, showman that he was, had really stirred the pot for this matchup (Johnson versus Wood in Boston). Ironically, Joe Wood at this point was only three wins short of Walter Johnson's all-time record of 16 consecutive victories. The Old Fox gave the word to the press that Red Sox manager Jake Stahl had been holding Wood back for the easiest opponents. Griffith made it clear that when the Nationals came to Boston, Wood would have to face Walter Johnson, and that Johnson would be held back until such time as Wood was ready to pitch. To make sure that there was no mistake about there being a challenge issued, the Old Fox said that Wood was going to be considered to be nothing more than a true coward if he didn't start against the great Walter.

If ever there was a game which fulfilled its promise, this was the one. Wood was in trouble in four different innings and the Big Train got by unfettered until the sixth. Alas, this was the year of the Red Sox, and with two outs, back-to-back doubles courtesy of Tris Speaker and Duffy Lewis brought in the game's only run. Speaker's double into a roped-off area would have been an out had there not been an overflow crowd. Lewis' hit was really a pop fly at the foul line that Danny Moeller got his glove on but couldn't hold.
For the record, Smokey Joe Wood did go on to win two more games to tie the Big Train's record, but he failed to break it. There was indeed not a lot to choose between the outstanding performances rendered by Johnson and Wood in 1912 -- Johnson's ERA (1.39) and strikeouts (303) were better, whereas Wood led in complete games (35) and shutouts (10). Walter held the opposition to the .196 composite average already mentioned; Wood limited batters to .216. Wood won 34 and Johnson, with an inferior offensive alignment backing him, 33. Gracious sportsman that he was, Johnson, covering the World Series for the Boston Herald, predicted that Joe Wood would not lose a game. He did, but won three as the Red Sox took the Series in seven over the New York Giants, making a world champion of ex-Washington boy-manager Jake Stahl. (The Washington Senators by Tom Deveaux.)

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  #147  
Old 09-23-2022, 04:24 AM
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Default Jack Knight

Player #63: John W. "Jack" Knight. Infielder with the Washington Senators in 1912. 636 hits and 14 home runs in 8 MLB seasons. He debuted with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1905-1907. His best season was 1910 with the New York Highlanders as he posted a .372 OBP with 58 runs scored and 23 stolen bases in 472 plate appearances. His career ended with the New York Yankees in 1913.

Knight's SABR biography: There was another August deal done; on the 20th (of August, 1908), the New York Highlanders purchased his (Knight's) contract from Baltimore, but let him complete the season with the Orioles. In Buffalo, they called him “the handicap man” because he was a major-league player working in the minors; Sporting Life praised his defense: “While not a great hitter, Knight kills more hits than he makes. He is not a showy fielder, but like Lajoie, he covers a vast amount of ground without apparent effort. On account of his height, Knight gets balls that many of his contemporaries never could reach.”

It was back to the major leagues for three seasons with New York (1909-1911), determined to prove his worth, and he became a distinctly-improved hitter (.236, then .312, and .268, with a career-best 62 RBIs in 1911). . . . He’d long been considered an excellent fielder, adept at any infield position – with even some debate as to which position he played best – but why did he suddenly start to hit? Sporting Life shrugged, “[H]e seems to have suddenly discovered the elixir of swatology.” Two weeks later, the publication somewhat unhelpfully added that he appeared to have changed his style of batting. In his final year with New York, Knight began to show some inconsistency in his fielding, but manager Hal Chase (for whom Knight had filled in at first) thought there wasn’t a better first baseman in the business.

Clark Griffith of the Washington Senators had been inquiring about Knight throughout much of 1911; he finally landed his man and consummated a trade on February 17, 1912, sending Gabby Street to New York and, five days later, including Rip Williams in the deal as well. The Highlanders had a new manager, Harry Wolverton, and he wanted someone who he believed would be more reliable in the field. His contract with Washington was a high $4,000 a year, and he was said to have not reported in good physical condition. He hit .161 in 32 games and on June 28, having not used him that much, he was sold to the International League’s Jersey City Skeeters. He had been “unable to get into his stride. He could not play up to his standard, and caused the loss of games instead of the winning of them. When a man agrees to deliver a ton of coal and then offers a pint of peanuts instead there is not much chance for him to collect the price agreed upon for the coal. Knight should get in shape for next year’s start, and it is to be hoped that he will ‘come back’ if he does so.”

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  #148  
Old 09-24-2022, 04:16 AM
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Default Frank LaPorte

Player #64: Frank B. LaPorte. Infielder with the Washington Senators in 1912-1913. 1,185 hits and 16 home runs in 11 MLB seasons. He debuted with the New York Highlanders in 1905-1907 and 1908-1910. His best season was 1911 with the St. Louis Browns as he posted a .361 OBP with 82 RBIs in 565 plate appearances. He finished his career with the Federal League's Indianapolis Hoosiers/Newark Peppers in 1914-1915, including the Federal League pennant in 1914. He was the 1914 Federal League RBI champion. He was the first player to play for both the New York and Boston rival teams from the American League.

LaPorte's SABR biography: In the annals of the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, there aren’t too many players who started with New York, then played for Boston, and then played for New York again. Frank LaPorte wasn’t the only one, but he was the first. . . .

. . . The year 1911 was the first time in LaPorte’s career that he had the opportunity to play consistently at his preferred position, second base. He appeared in 136 games (with the St. Louis Browns), 133 of them at second, and he hit .314 (almost 50 points higher than anyone else on the team) and drove in 82 runs, 20 more than any other Brown. The team itself fared poorly (45-107, in last place in the American League and 56½ games out of first place.

LaPorte was on the same pace in 1912, and things were proceeding well enough through his first 80 games. The Browns were an improved ballclub on offense, and LaPorte was hanging right in there, hitting .312 and having knocked in 38 – when he was suddenly sold to the Senators on August 6. George Stovall had taken over as manager 39 games into the St. Louis season, but why would the Browns dump a player who’d been doing so well? Sporting Life had an answer, if a bit of a brusque one: “It didn’t take George long to realize that LaPorte was a drone. And, as a natural result, he lost his job. LaPorte didn’t fit into Stovall’s scheme of play. Neither does any other man who isn’t a fighter and a hustler.”

Clark Griffith was now the manager in Washington and sought LaPorte, whom he knew from when he was managing in New York. He acquired him as a utility player, however, not to use him as a regular. “It is not intended to play LaPorte regularly unless someone is hurt,” stated Washington Post columnist Joe S. Jackson the morning after the trade. As it turned out, work was found and LaPorte got into 40 more games, hitting .309. While with the Senators, he was one of several players who saved many men and women during a hotel fire in Detroit on September 15.

It was a disappointing year for LaPorte in 1913; he appeared in just 79 games and batted only .252, but the Senators’ starting infielders each played fairly full seasons and Griffith wasn’t about to mess with matters, given that the team was in the pennant hunt all year long, finishing second – though LaPorte’s bat might have helped give them a boost in the middle months when things weren’t looking quite as good. About a week before the end of the season – on September 27 – Griffith sold LaPorte’s contract to the Kansas City Blues of the American Association.

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  #149  
Old 09-25-2022, 04:24 AM
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Default Pinch McBride

Player #56C: George F. "Pinch" McBride. Shortstop for the Washington Senators in 1908-1920. 1,203 hits, 7 home runs, and 133 stolen bases in 16 MLB seasons. Debuted with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1901. Has the lowest batting average of any player with 5,000 MLB at-bats. Managed the Washington Senators in 1921 but was struck in the face by a line drive during batting practice and forced to retire.

McBride's SABR biography follows his time in Washington: McBride’s nomadic baseball wanderings ended following the 1907 season, when he was purchased by the Washington Senators of the American League. Beginning in 1908, McBride played 13 seasons with the Nats, holding down the regular shortstop position for the first nine of those years. He was considered an iron man for his time. From 1908 to 1914, he played at least 150 games a season, including every Senators game during the 1908, 1909, and 1911 seasons. He was the AL leader in fielding percentage in 1909 and in each of the four seasons between 1912 and 1915, and always among the league leaders in putouts, and assists. His defense was such that he received votes for the Chalmers Award in 1913 and 1914 despite batting .214 and .203 in those respective years. In addition to his superior glove work, McBride was also noted for the good head he had for the game, and was named field captain of the Nats in 1909, a title he held throughout the remainder of his playing days. . . .
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Old 09-26-2022, 04:30 AM
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Default Deerfoot Milan

Player #39D: J. Clyde "Deerfoot" Milan. Outfielder for the Washington Senators in 1907-1922. 2,100 hits and 495 stolen bases in 16 MLB seasons. 1912 and 1913 AL stolen base leader, including a then record 88 in 1912. His career OBP was .353. Managed the Washington Senators in 1922. His best season was probably 1911 for the Washington Senators as he posted a .395 OBP with 58 stolen bases and 109 runs scored in 705 plate appearances.

Milan's SABR biography picks up his career story: Milan’s peak was from 1911 to 1913 when he played in every game but one, batted over .300 each season, and averaged almost 74 stolen bases per season. In 1912 he finished fourth in the Chalmers Award voting, and his American League record-breaking total of 88 steals would have been 91 if Washington’s game against St. Louis on August 9th hadn’t been rained out in the third inning. Running into Milan on a train that summer, Billy Evans, who had umpired Milan’s first game back in 1907, remarked on his wonderful improvement in every department of the game, base running in particular. “When I broke in, I thought all a man with speed had to do was get on in some way and then throw in the speed clutch,” Milan told the umpire. “I watched with disgust while other players much slower than me stole with ease on the same catcher who had thrown me out. It finally got through my cranium that a fellow had to do a lot of things besides run wild to be a good base runner. I used to have a habit of going down on the second pitch, but the catchers soon got wise to it and never failed to waste that second ball, much to my disadvantage. Now I try to fool the catcher by going down any old time. Changing my style of slide has also helped me steal many a base that would have otherwise resulted in an out. I used to go into the bag too straight, making it an easy matter for the fielder to put the ball on me, but I soon realized the value of the hook slide.”

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