Sunday August 28 200
The First Research Problem of the Day
Several weeks ago, I finished compiling stats for the 1899 California League, but discovered that I had come up two games short of the games played in the league. Because I used San Francisco Examiner box scores, and because the Ex didn’t publish standings, I only found out I that I had missed two box scores when I got finished with my compilation. The San Francisco Chronicle is my paper of choice, but one reel was out on interlibrary loan, so I went over to San Diego State to copy the Ex box scores.
For those who don’t know much about the early California League, the 1899-1902 Cal League changed its name over 1902-03 winter, added two franchises in the Pacific Northwest, and began the 1903 Pacific Coast League
The California League, in 1899, scheduled games on Saturdays and Sundays, and on holidays: Decoration Day, Fourth of July, Admission Day, etc. I assumed— wrongly as it turned out— that I had all the possible games played, because I made sure that I knew what happened every Saturday and Sunday from the beginning of the season on April 1, 1899 to the last day of the season on November. I knew if the game took place, where, if it was a doubleheader or not, if it was rained out— or the morning game in Oakland could not be played because of wet grounds, which happened one Sunday in November when it rained overnight in Oakland but not in San Francisco.
Boy, I was sure the guides were wrong! I even told John Spalding (the great Cal League researcher, whose Always on Sunday remains the best book ever written on California baseball), I was so sure! No matter, these two missing games that bothered me, and I knew I’d have to go back and check to see if any off-day games were played. That meant checking every off day (i.e., every Monday through Friday) for the whole season.
I found the two games after three hours at the library: One game was played on Monday, September 11, and the other on Friday, November 17, 1899. I began with the April reel of microfilm, so went through most of the season before I found my first game.
Strangely enough, both games had the same pitchers, Jimmy Whalen for the Santa Cruz Beachcombers, and Mike Steffani for the Oakland Dudes. Whalen, one of the greatest minor league pitchers of all time, and who never pitched a game in the majors, lost both games.
Tomorrow, I’ll write some more on the 1899 California League season.