Cobb Says Rain Delay Favors Giants

(October 21, 1911) PHILADELPHIA– Writing yesterday for the Toronto World, Ty Cobb said that the rains that have rendered Shibe Park unplayable are a positive for the Giants. Cobb thought the Series was over after the Athletics won Game 3, but says that the Giants have been handed a reprieve by the rains. Says Cobb:

McGraw has Mathewson, who has been rested four full days, and should be in even better condition than he was when the Mack men defeated him. Marquard has rested five days, and should be fit…The big point is that McGraw can send Matty or Marquard in…feeling certain that they have been rested sufficiently to be physically strong.

The opportunity to use Mathewson in two straight games undoubtedly works to the Giants advantage. This is definitely a team with two great pitchers and then three guys who are second tier. Had the game been played as scheduled, they would have had no choice but to use Red Ames, Hooks Wiltse, or Doc Crandall. None of them duds, but none of them Matty either. Now Mathewson, who went 3-0 in the 1905 World Series against these A’s, can aim for his 2nd win of this Series, and if he does so, tie this Series at 2.

As for Cobb? Well, the 24 year old center fielder is coming off a season for the ages. He hit .420, knocked in 127 runs, and stole 83 bases.

Everything You Need to Know About Philadelphia and the 3,000 Hit Club

The most exciting chase in baseball right now is Derek Jeter’s chase of 3,000 hits. I am certainly not a Yankees fan, but I am appreciative of what is going on in New York. It’s been a few years since we had a real record to cheer for (I’m pretty sure Jeter didn’t do steroids) and 3,000 hits for one team is remarkable. Of the 27 players in the 3,000 hit club, only 12 players have hit 3,000 for one squad in history, and Jeter’s name will soon be mentioned in the same exalted breaths as those of Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, and Ty Cobb.

No player in Philadelphia has ever hit 3,000. Not for the Phillies or for the Athletics. To show you how impressive 3,000 is, consider this:  Mike Schmidt was a very good hitter, he played in Philly for 18 years (playing in 140 or more games 13 times), and he is the Phils all time leader with 2,234. Not even close to 3,000. The most career hits by a member of the Philadelphia A’s is 1,827, set by the great Al Simmons. Furthermore, no player has ever gotten his 3,000th hit while a member of a Philadelphia team.

But that doesn’t mean that the city of Philadelphia hasn’t had a few brushes with greatness. One Philadelphia pitcher gave up a 3,000th hit, one gave up a 4,000th hit, and we almost had the 4,000 hit mark passed by two Philadelphia players. Furthermore, six members of the 3,000 hit club spent part of their careers in Philly. These are those players, plus the pitchers that gave up the milestones.

Pete Rose. (4,256 career hits. 826 with the Phillies). The Phils got a hold of Rose not long after #3,000. He would get 826 hits for the Phils over the next 5 years, leading the league in hits during the strike shortened 1981 season. He finished his Phils career with 3,990 hits. He would get his 4,000th hit against the Phils Jerry Koosman just 9 games into his tenure with the Expos in 1984.

Ty Cobb. (4,191 career hits. 289 with the Athletics). Yes, Cobb got 3,000 hits with the same squad (Detroit), but a lot of people don’t realize that he didnt end his career in the Motor City. He spent the last two years of his career in Philadelphia (pic of him in an A’s uniform above). And while no player has ever gotten his 3,000th hit while a member of a Philadelphia team, Ty Cobb did get his 4,000th hit while a member of the A’s. Ironically, that hit was recorded in Detroit against the Tigers. It wasn’t a big deal at the time. No mention of it was made in the papers.

Tris Speaker (3,514 career hits. 51 with the A’s) Not much to say about Speaker’s time with the A’s. Ty Cobb’s long time arch rival came to Philadelphia in the twilight of his career, strangely enough, to team up with Cobb. It was a failed experiment. Speaker suffered an injury in an outfield collision in May, played sporadically off the bench, and struck out in his final at bat on August 30th, 1928. Both the first and last games of his career were played in Shibe Park.

Cap Anson (3,418 career hits*. Maybe. Controversy about his total with the Athletics). Cap Anson was a racist jerkoff but a hell of a good baseball player, and he spent his formative baseball years in Philly. From 1872-1875, he was a member of the Philadelphia Athletics. (Not the Connie Mack-led team that is the forerunner of the Oakland Athletics, but the initial Philadelphia Athletics who were members of the American Association. We’ve written about them before). Stats were all kind of crazy back then, with walks counting as hits one year, batters requesting where they wanted the ball thrown, and pitchers throwing from a box. So while Cap Anson is credited with being the first ever member of the 3,000 hit club, nobody can honestly say they have any damn clue exactly how many hits he had. Plus the Majors until recently didn’t count National Association stats, so his stats for the Athletics previously didn’t count (they were in the NA, not the NL). But for some reason MLB reversed field, allowing NA stats. Anyway, who the hell knows how many hits Cap Anson had? And who cares? He was a certifiable a-hole who spent most of his career in Chicago anyways.

Eddie Collins. (3,315 career hits. 1,308 with the Athletics).  Lalli wrote an excellent piece on Collins a few weeks ago. Not much to add, but how about this for consistency: for 5 years in Philly between 1910 and 1914, he hit between 181 and 188 hits each year. That’s a pic of him to the right. He wore a popped collar. What a douchebag.

Nap Lajoie. (3,242 career hits. 721 with the Phillies. 233 with the Athletics.) Once again, Lalli has beaten me to the punch, telling the ridiculous story of how the rivalry between the Phils and Athletics allowed the great Lajoie to slip out of town and become a superstar in Cleveland. Our deals with Cleveland never seem to pan out.

As for the only Philadelphia pitcher to surrender a 3,000th hit, that would be Erskine Mayer considered one of the greatest Jewish pitchers of all time. He surrendered #3,000 to Honus Wagner on June 9th, 1914 at the Baker Bowl.


Very Cool Photo from 1901

Here’s a rather unusual photo of Matty McIntyre, who played for the A’s in 1901. Funny how it looks like he has shattered the glass with the throw. Matty played just one season for the A’s before he was shipped to Detroit.  The photo was possibly taken at Columbia Park at what is now 29th and Cecil B. Moore.

McIntyre had a few fairly successful seasons in Detroit, but he is best known for leading the Tigers players in their relentless hazing of Southern superstar Ty Cobb. McIntyre and Cobb hated each other, and refused to speak even when playing in the outfield together. There were several fistfights between the two men in the dugout. McIntyre hated Cobb so much that when Nap Lajoie edged Cobb for the batting title one year, Matty and a few other Tigers sent Lajoie a telegram congratulating him. McIntyre died in 1920 of kidney failure at age 39.

Part 3 of Our Interview with Bruce Kuklick: Booze, Rowdy Fans, and the Phils’ Roman Colosseum

Had a chance to sit down with local author and Penn prof Bruce Kuklick recently and ask him about his excellent book, To Every Thing a Season. To read Part One of that Interview, where Bruce talks about who was better the 1929 A’s or 2011 Phillies, click here. To read Part Two, where he talks about Connie Mack and the best and worst things about Shibe Park, click here. Today we present part 3, where Bruce talks about why Connie Mack couldn’t serve beer at the ballpark, when Philly fans first got their reputation as being rowdy, and how Penn’s former President prevented Citizen’s Bank Park from being built downtown.

JGT: One thing I found interesting about the book was Mack’s fight to serve alcohol at the ballpark. And that was something that went on for decades. And he never got it done. They wouldn’t let them serve beer in the ballpark until after the A’s left town. Why was their so much pushback to serving beer in ballparks?

KUKLICK: Well first of all, you’ve got to understand, it’s Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is not a dry state, but it’s one in which there are enough rural Protestant Republicans who really want to control drinking to the extent that they can. And this has been true long before the 20th century and it has nothing to do with sports per se.

Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. What do they represent? They represent bad things to a lot of these people. Because they’re urban, there’s a lot more liquor, women, and things like that. And another thing, there are a lot more Catholics in the big cities in comparison to the rest of the state. Mack is a Catholic. And so when he starts agitating for liquor at the ballpark, this represents to the powers-that-be something that is off-color, it’s vulgar, it’s nasty.

JGT: So is Mack fighting more the state or the city?

KUKLICK: He’s fighting the state. There’s a whole series of blue laws which not only control drinking but control your behavior on a Sunday. You know what they say today. They say today, “You’ve got Pittsburgh and you’ve got Philadelphia, and in between you’ve got Alabama.”

I don’t think that Mack saw this as a Catholic drinking issue, which a lot of people have accused him of. He saw it as a revenue stream. And (when it came to drinking laws) from the 1930s to 1970s (They allowed sales of beer in the ballpark starting in 1961, but no beer on Sundays until 1972) it was always politicians in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia against the rest of the state, and the politicians in the big cites get their biggest support from professional sports teams.

JGT: So other ballparks in the country were serving beer well before Shibe?

KUKLICK: Yeah. I don’t know what the exact history of the other ballparks is, but Philadelphia was particularly noted for its dryness. One of the things I didn’t put in the book is that you have so much smuggling of beer into the ballpark. Which is one reason why a place like Kilroy’s (The bar located behind right field where Phillies relief pitchers sometimes snuck into to grab a drink during games.) does so well, because people just grabbed beer there and put it in a bag. So there was a lot of technically illegal beer drinking. Which I think in football contributed to a lot of this rowdy behavior. There’s this history of people smuggling stuff into the parks.

JGT: Speaking of rowdy behavior, Philly fans have a reputation of rowdyism. Does that go back to the Shibe Park days?

KUKLICK: Yeah. Well it first starts in the first decade of the 20th century when the A’s are battling the Detroit Tigers and Ty Cobb (“Sliding” into home, right). And Philadelphia fans hate Cobb. And I find out that they send a death threat to him. And at one point he’s riding on a subway to get to the park and fans come and topple over this subway and he runs scared and runs out. Now, I don’t know that that’s the beginning, but that’s the earliest time I could trace it. They say that today this (CBP) is the only stadium where the crowd can really rattle an opposing pitcher because the fans get so boisterous and angry. There’s a tradition of it here, it goes back over 100 years. Why we got it? I don’t know.

JGT: A guy I interviewed a few weeks ago who was a fan of the A’s in the 20s said that Al Simmons, one of the stars of that team, couldn’t catch a break from the fans. Then you had Del Ennis in the 50s…

KUKLICK: And then you had it with Mike Schmidt.

JGT: So this strange phenomenon of Philadelphia fans beating up on their own is nothing new.

KUKLICK: There’s a story of one guy, Gus Zernial, who was a slugger kind of like Ennis but he didn’t have that long of a career in Philadelphia (note: he played here from 1951-1954). He fell and broke his leg trying to catch a fly ball, and they all cheered when he broke his leg. They’re out for blood.

JGT: Getting back to the ballpark. Looking at what’s happened in the neighborhoods surrounding Wrigley and Fenway since the teams decided to stay, and how those neighborhoods have come back up, had they decided to rehab Shibe instead of tear it down, do you think that neighborhood would be different today?

KUKLICK: I absolutely do. My wife and I went on vacation one time to Club Med, and we were talking to some people, and we said, “Where are you from?” and this guy said “Wrigleyville.” He didn’t say Chicago. And we knew exactly where he was talking about. That ballpark is known all over the Western World. And every once in a while, I think, “Gee if they had only had the foresight.” But basically that area went through a really terrible period. It’s now come up considerably on its own. It’s a lot less nasty and dangerous than it was.

But Carpenter (The Phillies owner at the time) was just not interested.  He didn’t think in those terms at all.

JGT: Like the guys in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, he thought, “I can save a fortune by not having to grow grass.”

KUKLICK: When I teach Vietnam, I’ll say, “Those ballparks that they are now tearing down (Riverfront, The Vet, Three Rivers, etc.), they were all built during that period, and it’s kind of our Roman period. The United States thinks it’s going to conquer the world. And we have these ballparks that look like Roman Colosseums.”  So Carpenter isn’t alone.

JGT: So now they’re at Citizen’s bank. Not in a neighborhood. Are you a fan of Citizen’s Bank?

KUKLICK: Oh yeah. I’m not overwhelmed by it, but I do like going there. I’d like it a lot better if it were in the city. I was one of the people who, well, I’ll tell you this story. The previous President at Penn was a woman named Judy Ronin, who had no sense of baseball or sports at all. And then there were plans to put a stadium on stilts next to the Walnut Street Bridge, so that a home run would go into the river. They had all of these terrific downtown urban plans, and she said, “I don’t want those baseball drunks pissing in my University.” And she vetoed it. I wanted it right there.

You know, Philadelphians have never wanted to build their ballparks right in the middle of the city. When they built Shibe, it was the countryside. I think you have to have more of an urban mindset more so than these planners have had in Philly.


Baseball’s First Strike

On May 18, 1912, the Detroit Tigers were in Philadelphia facing the Athletics at Shibe Park.  Just after warm-ups when the umpire called for the game to begin, the Tigers players walked off the field in unison into their clubhouse and refused to play.  In doing so, they effectuated the first strike in the history of major league baseball.

The reason for the work stoppage, which lasted only 3 days, is peculiar to say the least.  The strike was a showing of support for Ty Cobb, who was just as legendary for his talent and toughness as he was for his racist asshole douche-baggery.  Cobb had been suspended indefinitely by the league on March 16th and the Tigers didn’t think the suspension was warranted so they boycotted play.

Anyone supporting Ty Cobb for anything is shocking.  He was the guy two teams conspired against to cock block from the batting title; the guy who sharpened his spikes in the dugout and deliberately cleated other players, like “Homerun” Baker; the guy who drop-kicked catchers; and the  guy who used a knife on a hotel watchman which resulted in an attempted murder warrant.  Even the guys in Field of Dreams hated him.  So in order for players to rally around Cobb, his suspension had to have been a miscarriage of justice, right?  A completely baseless and patently unfair decision, right?  Well, you be the judge:

Three days prior to the boycott, Cobb’s Tigers were playing the New York Highlanders (they’d be renamed the Yankees one year later) at Hilltop Park in Washington Heights.  In the stands, seated in the 3rd row along the third base line, was Claude Lucker.  Lucker was an overzealous heckler and especially despised Cobb.  Lucker, who was maimed in a machine press injury as a youth which cost him one hand and three fingers on his other hand, relentlessly berated Cobb from the time he took the field.  Lucker got under Cobb’s skin quickly, and after the Tigers got out of the 2nd inning, Cobb stayed out in the field and sat in foul territory instead of returning to the dugout with the rest of his teammates.  He did so because he didn’t think he’d get a chance to bat in the 3rd and because he didn’t want to pass Lucker on his way back into the dugout.

Two innings later, Cobb sat on the bench with Lucker continuously yelling obscenities.  Teammates asked Cobb why he was letting the fan call him names, to which Cobb replied “I don’t know how much more I can take.”  When the Tigers were retired, Cobb got off the bench to return to the field when Lucker allegedly called Cobb a racial epithet.  That was it for Cobb, and as it turns out, for Lucker too.  Cobb turned around and jumped the barrier into the stands where he unleashed a beating on Lucker.  The Times described the scene as follows:

Everything was very pleasant…until Ty Cobb johnnykilbaned a spectator right on the place where he talks, started the claret, and stopped the flow of profane and vulgar words…Cobb led with a left jab and countered with a right kick to Mr. Spectator’s left Weisbach, which made his peeper look as if someone had drawn a curtain over it…. Jabs bounded off the spectator’s face like a golf ball from a rock.

Lucker’s account, found here, doesn’t include words like “johnnykilbaned” or “Weisbach,” but it is just as entertaining:

Cobb vaulted over the fence where I was sitting in the third row and made straight for me.  He struck me with his fists on the forehead over the left eye, and knocked me down.  Then he jumped on me and spiked me in the left leg and kicked me in the side, after which he booted me behind the left ear.  I was down and Cobb was kicking me when some one in the crowd shouted, “Don’t kick him, he has no hands.”  Cob answered, “I don’t care if he has no feet!”

Ban Johnson, president of the league, was actually at the game and suspended Cobb immediately.  Cobb was upset he didn’t get to tell his side of the story, and his teammates sided with him.  They sent a message to the league on May 17th, which read, in part “We want him reinstated for tomorrow’s game, May 18, or there will be no game. If the players cannot have protection we must protect ourselves.”  Johnson replied to team owner Frank Nevin threatening a $1,000 fine for each game the Tigers did not field a team.  Under the direction of Nevin, the Tigers coach Hughie Jennings went on a hunt for local amateur players as backup just in case the regulars did not take the field.

Jennings contacted St. Joseph’s College and recruited 7 bodies: Al Travers, Dan McGarvey, Jim McGarr, Vince Maney, Jack Smith, Hap Ward and Ed Irvin.  He also added the services of 2 local boxers: Bill Leinhauser and Billy Maharg; and rounded out the replacement squad with members of his coaching staff.  Jennings had the “misfits,” as they were described in the press, arrive to the ballpark early on May 18th and sit in the bleachers.

When the Tigers regulars walked onto the field for game, the umpires called Cobb in from center field and advised him that he was barred from playing.  As he walked off the field, the rest of his team followed and changed out of their uniforms in the clubhouse.  With that, the replacements were called in from their seats, quickly signed one-day contracts, and donned the uniforms of the regulars.  A bunch of college kids and 2 amateur boxers had just become major league baseball players.

The game turned out as one would expect, with the Athletics pummeling the Tigers 24-2.  Taking a look at the box score reveals the A’s didn’t take it easy on the “Tigers” with their lineup or with their play.  They started most regulars including Homerun Baker, Jack Barry, Eddie Collins, Amos Strunk, Hal Maggert and Stuffy McGinnis; and pitched aces Jack Coombs and Herb Pennock.  The A’s stat line included 4 doubles, 7 triples and 9 steals.  Taking a look at the box score also reveals that Jennings was forced to insert himself late into the game; he went 0-1.

Al Travers

Al Travers, who played violin in the student orchestra at St. Joe’s and who would be ordained as a priest a few years later, agreed to be the starting pitcher for Tigers when he was offered $50 (the position players received $25).  Up until that day, Travers baseball experience consisted wholly of  “some stick-ball” in his youth.  Pitching to the HOF caliber A’s lineup, Travers gave up 24 runs on 26 hits with 7 walks.  He did manage one strikeout.  Decades after the game, Travers discussed it in an interview:

I was throwing slow curves and the A’s were not used to them and couldn’t hit the ball. Hughie Jennings told me not to throw fast balls as he was afraid I might get killed. I was doing fine until they started bunting. The guy playing third base had never played baseball before. I just didn’t get any support…no one in the grandstands was safe! I threw a beautiful slow ball and the A’s were just hitting easy flies…trouble was, no one could catch them.

After this travesty and seeing that his teammates, coach and owner would be financially burdened with fines if the strike continued, Cobb urged the Tigers to get back on the field.  And on May 21st, they did, ending the first strike in baseball history.