Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A Research Request Made & Answered, 8-31-05

A Research Request Made & Answered, 8-31-05

You've done it again - the site is just what's been needed  for a long time!!  It'll be one of the first things I check every  day. Now I want some guidance from you - going to be in Sacramento  for a few days in a couple of weeks and would like your opinion of  the State Library. Think you told me in the past that their microfilm  newspaper collection is vast (is it better that Cal-Berkeley?). Will  I have to make prior arrangements to use the facility and am I  limited in the amount of time I can use the viewers? Gotta go now and  check "The Minor League Researcher." Bill Williamson
Bill, The State Library is my favorite in California.  Berkeley  microfilm seems to have been organized by someone who was more conversant with "lids of grass" than microfilm research.
The State Library has microfilm for most medium-sized towns and up, and they tend to be complete runs.  (Cal Berkeley starts and stops).  It really is one stop shopping, though copies cost 25 cents, rather than the thin dine at Cal.  They don't have copy cards, so stop by a bank before you go to pick up a roll of quarters. There are two other problems with the State Library: Hours & organization: Hours: They are only open from 9:30 to 4:30, Monday through Friday, and are closed on weekends.
Organization: Newspapers are stored by county, and then alphabetically.  So bone up on which cities are in which counties.  Up north, they have many more counties than we have down here.  What I did myself was sit down the day before I left and made a chart of counties, and the possible baseball cities within each county.  I did that in front of a map.
One suggestion:  Park away from downtown; i. e., on the other side of 30th Street, near L Street, I believe, cross under the expressway, and take the bus downtown.  It will leave you only a couple of blocks way from the library, and costs less than a buck, I think.
Good luck, Carlos

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

This Week in the California League, April 16-22, 1900

This Week in the California League, April 16-22, 1900

The league schedule calls for games on Saturdays & Sundays, with a doubleheader played in the Bay Area, the Sunday morning game played at Golden Gate (Freeman’s) Park in Oakland, followed by an afternoon tilt at Rec Park in San Francisco.

That week saw the Oakland Dudes travel to the state capital, where they split the two game set with the Gilt Edges (the team sponsored by the beer company), winning 5-1 on Saturday, and losing to Jay Hughes on a three-hitter on Sunday. The 26-year-old Hughes refused to report to the Dodgers that season after having been a 20-game winner his first two seasons in the big leagues.

After losing a 9-8 heart-breaker to Stockton on Saturday, the Wasps split a doubleheader on Sunday. The morning game across the Bay featured two early California pitching stars, Ham Iburg— adored by the Jewish community of San Francisco— and Jimmy Whalen, who would put together more than 200 win in his minor league career. Iburg gave up a game-winning single with one out in the ninth off of his famous slow ball. The score was 3-2.

After taking the ferry back across the Bay, manager-pitcher George Harper of Stockton lost to Tom Fitzpatrick of the Wasps, 4-2 at Rec Park.

To get a better view of the Standings & Leaders, click on image.

The 1900 California League Recap

The 1900 California League Recap

At the present time, I’m compiling statistics for the 1900 California League. Some people might ask why, aren’t they already done and published in the guides? When I began working on my Pacific Coast League, I thought the same thing. Even in a league as important as the PCL, one finds the not every stat compiled (for instance, in 1903 PCL pitching stats, compiled by the league, and appeared in the various baseball guides only listed wins and losses. Many seasons extra base hits are left out of stats from early leagues, and didn’t even carry players who appeared in less than ten games. Also, in my compilation of the 1899 California League, I found errors all over. For one example, Julie Streib is listed in the guides as having hit .324, when in actuality he hit .336. Those types of errors happen more often than not. That was how the ICI group found state of affairs when the began compiling statistics for the first Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia. Those of us who are working in the minor league area are ostensibly doing the same thing, only 100 times (perhaps) larger. And a thousand times more difficult because of the smaller cities and towns we are dealing with.

Beginning tomorrow, I will be giving updates on my compilation as it happens. I hope to update with standings, and top ten lists as I continue through the season. It will, I hope, be like reading your morning paper. As you have seen, I have been playing around with posting standings. First I tried to post an embedded excel chart, but that didn’t work, so I tried to just align margins, but those were screwed up when I published a note on the 1899 California League. I think I got it as right as I can with my third attempt by printing out the stat page, then scanning it as a photo, then posting it as a photo. To enlarge, you can just click on the photo.

Tomorrow I will publish the standings and leaders for the week of April 16-22, 1900. Until then.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Another Great Researcher Joins Up

Great. Count me in. I am very tired of the "sabrmetric revolution" and a great minor league site that I can check daily will hit the spot.
Let me fill you in on my latest project. I hope it will turn into a full biography on Negro League pitcher Bill Jackman. He was born in Texas in either 1894 or 1897, depending upon which set of conflicting data you wish to believe. He began pitching professionally/semipro in Houston in 1917. He slowly moved north. By 1924 he was pitching for the Boston Monarchs and settled in Boston, where he spent the rest of his life.
Starting in 1925 he toured New England with the Philadelphia Colored Giants. While they roamed all of the New England states, New York and Canada, they performed mainly in southeastern Massachusetts, playing in the old New England League industrial cities like Worcester, New Bedford, Brockton, Fall River, Taunton and Quincy. They also showed up a lot in Rhode Island.
While Jackman made a brief stop in the formal Negro Leagues in 1935 and 1936, he usually stuck to Massachusetts and was still pitching in the Boston Park League in the 1950s when he was in his 60s.
He was a legend in his day, and while the Philly Colored Giants would have to be classified as semipro, they often faced intact New England League squads, Cape Cod League all-star teams, and the best teams from the Boston Twilight League.
So far I have about 150 Jackman pitching boxscores ranging from 1925 through 1947. I have him pitching in both Braves Field and Fenway Park; likely the first African-American to do so.
I have 18 of his games from 1925, 24 from 1926, 15 from 1927, 20 from 1928 and 23 from 1929. Those are the seasons I have been focusing on lately. It wasn't unusual for him to face team semipro squads with as many as five or six guys with big league experience. It also wasn't unusual for him to fan 10-15 batters virtually any time out.
Jackman was a true hybrid. Likely 90% of his work was versus white opponents. Thus far I have him 11-1 in decisions in which the opposing starter had major league experience. So far I have him pitching versus the following major league pitchers: Bump Hadley, Chippy Gaw, Buck O'Brien, Cyril Morgan, Earl Hansen, Al Pierotti, Bill Vargus, King Bader, Haskell Billings, John "Lefty" Shea, Charlie Caldwell, Steve White, Frank Bennett, Vito Tamulis, Allyn Stout and Pat Scantlebury. Needless to say, the list of offensive major league players he faced is much larger.
He was also a teammate of Hank Greenberg on the 1929 East Douglas, Massachusetts team in the Blackstone Valley League. Jackman in 1929, like Lefty Grove in 1927, was brought in by the East Douglas management for big games. Wes Ferrell, Bump Hadley, Foster Edwards, Billings, Shirt Smith, Bots Nekola and Tim McNamara -- all with big league experience -- pitched for East Douglas in that period.
I expect his to be a lengthy project but a fun one. Every Saturday morning I am pouring over the old newspapers. I have found plenty of great material along the way, most recently a full obituary of Henry Gero who pitched in the New England, Canadian, Colonial, Eastern and Michigan-Ontario Leagues from 1911-1919. He died in the Cushing Veterans Administration Hospital in Framingham, MA. on April 4, 1951. He lived all of his adult life in New Bedford, MA.
So feel free to post this to the new site in its entirety. I would greatly appreciate any information anyone might run across on the Philly Giants and Jackman. His longtime batterymate was catcher Burlin White.
Dick Thompson

April 15, 1900 California League

The standings & leaders after the second week of the season.

The 1899 California League

The 1899 California League

By 1899, the State of California had pulled itself out of the deepest depression this country has ever faced, and baseball— which had virtually died out here in California— began its slow rise out of the ashbin of history.  Baseball had been very strong through the 1892 season, with the California League the premier league on the Pacific Slope.  The first California League began play in 1879.  In 1893, the league stumbled through the first half of the season, but gave up the ghost on August 14, when two clubs of the four-team league disbanded, making the league unsustainable.

There were two failed attempts revive baseball in California over the following four years.  In 1894, many players waited around all season for owners to get their act together, but none wanted to throw good money after bad, and in mid-September, the players organized a league of their own, the California Players’ League.  That “league” lasted all of six weeks.  Two years after that, Col. Tom Robinson, long-time owner of the Oakland franchise in the previous Cal League, organized a six-team league, with four teams in the Bay Area, and two “in the country,” as they used to say.  The league got off to a late start, June 28, but managed to finish the season with only one club, San Jose, failing.   But, as  it turned out, most— if not all— club magnates took a financial bath, and none wanted to repeat the same exercise in 1897.

By 1898 the economy on the Pacific Slope had improved so much that two rival leagues were formed.  The Pacific States League battled the new California League for nearly a month before the two leagues combined, jettisoning the weaker franchises.  That league was called the Pacific Coast League.  The eight-team league finished the season with only one club having to be replaced.  

For 1899 the league was reorganized into a more compact six-team circuit. Four of the six clubs remained financially strong during most of the season.  But then disaster struck:
San Jose disbanded on August 28, and Watsonville— which had been supported by the league all season— was dropped for scheduling purposes.  The California League finished the season as a four-team league, and remained a four-team circuit until it created two more franchises in the Pacific Northwest, and changed its name to the Pacific Coast League.

Final Team Standings    Games Played   Wins  Lost    Ties  Games Behind
Sacramento Gilt Edge          81             46      31          4            ….
San Francisco Wasps                 89                45      41       3              5½
Oakland Dudes                       95                45      47       3               9½
Santa Cruz Beachcombers     85                35      48       2             13

The Two Team that dropped out:

Team Record              Games Played   Wins  Lost    Ties  
Watsonville Babies/Hayseeds           49              25      24       0
San Jose Prune Pickers                51             23       28       0
Until Allan T. Baum became president of the Pacific Coast League, league officials dated the formation of the PCL to the 1899 season, when President Baum changed it to 1903.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

A Research Request from A Master

A Research Request from a Master

Phil Lowry, whose seminal book on ballparks, Green Cathedrals, still stands head & shoulders above any of the newer ballpark books, just sent me this request for help on an ongoing project of his, & if anyone can add to his list:

“Hi Carlos,

Congratulations on your new website. I sure appreciate the assistance it will give to all minor league researchers.

My project is finding all unusually long and short, late-ending and early-beginning minor league games and doubleheaders. I have been working on this since 1963, and would be very interested in hearing about any such events. So far, I have found the following number of such events in the minor leagues:

42 games with a time of game of 6 hours or more;
16 games with an elapsed time (including rain delays) of 7 hours or more;
12 rain delays of 3 hours or more;
29 games with a time of game of 60 minutes or less;
11 doubleheaders with a combined time of game of 7 hours or more;
nine doubleheaders with an elapsed time (including intermission and rain delays) of 8 or more hours;
four doubleheaders with an elapsed time (including intermission and rain delays) of 3 or less hours;
182 games lasting 20 or more innings;
32 doubleheaders lasting 25 or more innings (I PROBABLY AM MISSING A HUGE NUMBER OF THESE);
12 tripleheaders;
two quadrupleheaders;
one sextupleheader;
105 games ending at 1 AM or later;
six day games ending at 9 PM or later;
ten night games starting at 11 PM or later;
three day games starting at 10 AM or earlier.

Phil Lowry
4323 Woodhill Road, Minnetonka, MN 55345
e-mail is

Sunday August 28 200

Until we get completely up to speed (hopefully by the first of September), I will post on a daily basis about what I am working that day, or what I did the day before.

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.