Friday, June 23, 2006

1900 California League Final Pitching

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

1900 California League Final Batting

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

1900 California League Final Standings

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

This Week in the California League, November 26-December 2, 1900

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

This Week in the California League, November 26—December 2, 1900.

Games this week were scheduled on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, November 29, and on Saturday and Sunday, December 1—December 2.

After rains swept the Pacific Slope over the past weekend, the league looked forward to finish up the season on a high note.

On Thanksgiving Day there were games in Sacramento and at Rec Park.

At Oak Park in Sacramento, the Gilt Edges won by a 10-3 score over second place San Francisco. Jay Hughes won another game, and Tom Fitzpatrick took the loss. Demon Doyle hit a home run, though almost nobody saw it: “The game merits no description,” wrote the Examiner reporter, “The day was dark and dreary, but several hundred cranks kept warm and staved off pneumonia by yelling at and joshing “Uncle Hank’s” [owner Henry Harris] hirelings as they vainly endeavored to overcome the tide of defeat…”

The game at Rec was battle of two halves: Oakland winning 5-0 contest through five innings, and Stockton scoring seven in the remaining four frames. Unfortunately for Oakland all nine innings had to be counted together, and Stockton prevailed 7-6. Chief Borchers pitched the complete-game loss for Oakland. Youngy Johnson pitched the first part of the game, but was relived by George Babbitt in the sixth, and who picked up the win.

On Saturday, December 1, both games were called early because of darkness, in San Francisco after eight innings, and in Sacramento after seven.

In San Francisco, Oakland and San Francisco faced off, with Ham Iburg and Doc Moskiman pitching, but not a well-pitched game. The final score at dark: 6-6. Abe Arellanes, second baseman for the Dudes, went 3 for 5, including a double and a home run.

At the state capital, Sacramento walloped Stockton 9-1. Demon Doyle beating Manager George Harper.

The final game of the season, had local boy Jay Hughes pitch one of his best outing of the season, giving up but three hits a not a run. Youngy Johnson pitched for the Pirates, and gave up five runs on seven hits.

The last game in Oakland, saw the home club prevail over San Francisco, 6-5, with Chief Borchers and Tom Fitzpatrick facing each other. Borchers gave up five runs on nine hits; Fitzpatrick, six run on only five hits, runs being the more important number.

In the final game of the season, at Rec Park, San Francisco sent former major leaguer Phil Knell out to face Doc Moskiman, who had pitched the day before in that 6-6 tie.

After three innings, the game stood at 3-2 in San Francisco’s favor. Then Moskiman settled down, giving up no more runs the rest of the way. Lefty Knell, on the other hand, gave up three runs in the fourth inning, making the score 5-3 Oakland. At that point, Hienie Krug went in and pitched fine ball until the eighth, when he gave up a pair of runs. Final score 7-3. And that brought the curtain down on the 1900 season.

John Spalding, In Always on Sunday, summed up the 1900 California League season with a quote from the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Base Ball in California has reached a popularity unknown in fully 10 years,” the Chronicle said. “There are thousands of people in San Francisco who delight to witness clean and scientific ball playing.”

The newspaper proclaimed the season the most successful since 1889.

Monday, June 19, 2006


Because I will be going away on my yearly research trip, this time to Las Vegas, I will give you the schedule of what I'm planning to post in the next few days:

Tomorrow: I will posted the final recap of the 1900 California League season.

Wednesday: I will begin posting the 1900 California League final league averages, which will include standings, team batting & pitching, plus batting & pitching at each ballpark.

Thursday: Individual batting for the 1900 season.

Friday: Individual pitching for the 1900 season.

That will be the last post until I return. My plans for my trip include attempting to find and copy all the 1903 Pacific National League box scores. This is a league that never has been completely studied, or had complete averages compiled. Additionally, I plan on getting all the box scores out of the Seattle Times for the 1903 PCL. About half of my box scores from games played in Seattle were from the Post-Intelligencer, and in compiling averages for that league, I discovered that the Post-Intelligncer's summaries were very spotty about carring stolen bases, so I believe I will be adding to the 1903 Stolen Bases totals after checking out the Times for stolen bases.

This Week in the California League, November 19-24, 1900

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

This Week in the California League, November 19—November 25, 1900.

Games this week were scheduled on Saturday and Sunday, November 24—November 25.

Rains swept the Pacific Slope over the weekend, and the league managed to only squeeze in one game on Saturday.

At Rec Park on Saturday, Oakland and Sacramento managed to get in seven innings before darkness stopped the game. Demon Doyle started on the mound for the league leaders, and Doc Moskiman pitched for the Oaklands.

Oakland drew first blood with a run in the second frame, and added another in the following inning.

In the fourth, the game turned around, as the Doctor came unglued, with Truck Eagan hitting a three-run homer, to raise his totals for the season to 11. All in all, Moskiman gave up four runs on two hits in the inning, and making the score at that point, 4-2 in favor of Sacramento. Moskiman clamed down after that, but did give up two more tallies in the sixth inning.

Demon Doyle, after yielding up a second run, only gave up a lone hit the rest of the way.

After the seventh inning, George Van Haltren, working the game as umpire, call the rest of the affair off due to darkness.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Water Incident

We had a pipe burst here, and it has taken a few day to clean up the whole mess, and replace the the connector that broke. We should be up and blogging on Monday.

Monday, June 12, 2006

This Week in the California League, November 12-18, 1900

This Week in the California League, November 12-November 18, 1900

Games scheduled on Saturday and Sunday, November 17 and 18, a Saturday game at San Francisco and at Sacramento, and a doubleheaders and in the Bay Area.

The two front runner remained only two games apart over the weekend.

Because of rain in the interior, only the Stockton-San Francisco game was played on Saturday at Rec Park in San Francisco. The game featured Youngy Johnson and local pride Ham Iburg. Through four innings the game stood at 1-0 in favor of the Stocktons, but in the 5th the house fell in them, with the Wasps scoring 6 runs. Johnson could only pitch the first inning, because of an injury in the field, and Jimmy Whalen came. Whalen pitched great ball for three inning, but gave up those 6 runs in the 5th, and George Harper put himself in after that to finish the game.

On Sunday, they got a partial game in at Sacramento, but it had nothing to do with rain. The game was called in the 7th inning, with one man out and two men on base, after Sacramento had scored nine men in the inning, making the score 25-4. Jay Hughes picked up an easy one, and Chief Borchers took one for the club. Matt Stanley hit a home run for the winners, and Truck Eagan and Big Bill Hanlon each got four hits. Eagan had three doubles.

The San Francisco-Stockton contest in Oakland had Youngy Johnson trying again on the mound, but he gave up seven runs on 15 hits. Tom Fitzpatrick took the win by only giving up three runs on eight hits. First baseman Ed Pabst went 4-5 with a couple of doubles for the winners.

At Rec Park in the afternoon, Stockton turned the tables on the Wasps, as manager George Harper pitched a six-hitter on way to a 12-2 shellacking of San Francisco. Ham Iburg tried to come back on short rest, but only held out for three innings, before giving way to Phil Knell, who took the majority of the abuse. Joe McGuckin, Julie Streib and George Babbitt all collected three hits for the winners.

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

Sunday, June 11, 2006

From Davis Barker Found in TSN, Mar. 25, 1937

From Davis Barker: Found in The Sporting News, March 25, 1937

Discover Field Laid Out Wrong

Engineers, surveying a new diamond in Tacoma’s Athletic Park, where the Western International League will hold forth, discovered that for 30 years games had been played on a field that was not laid out properly.  Instead of being placed at a 90-degree angle, the field was laid out at 84½ degrees.  The result was that left field foul line, at the fence, was seven feet too far to the left, making the outfield area 15 feet smaller than it should have been at the fence.  Statisticians are attempting to figure how many batted balls, called foul, should have been home runs, instead of headaches.

This reminds me of what happened here in San Diego.  When they tore down Lane Field there was an article in the paper that stated that they had discovered that the distance down to first base was actually 87 feet, rather than the required 90 feet.  Years later I asked Louie Almada about this.  Louie told me that every time you played at a new park, the players would pace off everything, and that the first time the Missions played there just after its opening in 1936, he remembered specifically pace out the first base line, and then continuing out to the right-field pole.  Had it been 87 feet, it would have been around the league in a matter of days.  He explained to me that players, especially during the Great Depression, looked for any edge they could find.

As to Athletic Park in Tacoma, located at 14th and Sprague, I take the above note with a large grain of sand.  Athletic Park opened in 1907.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Bill Fleming Died in Reno

Click on Career Record to Enlarge

Gary Fink just emailed me that Coast League pitcher Bill Fleming passed away on June 4, 2006 in Reno, Nevada. Fleming led the league in saves on two occasions. In 1948, Portland manager Jim Turner converted him from a starter to a relief specialist, and for the next several seasons expierenced a good deal of success out of the bullpen.

Friday, June 09, 2006

This Week in the California League, November 5-11, 1900

This Week in the California League, November 5-November 11, 1900

Games scheduled on Saturday and Sunday, November 10 and 11, a Saturday game at San Francisco, and doubleheaders at Stockton and in the Bay Area.

Just when the pennant race looked over, the race tightened up, with the San Francisco Wasps closing with in two games of the league leading Sacramento club.

On Saturday, Sacramento played at Rec Park in San Francisco, with Ham Iburg facing off against Demon Doyle. Iburg’s slow ball was working to perfection as he pitched a 2-hit shutout. Final score 4-0.

Sunday morning at Oakland found Tom Fitzpatrick facing Brick Devereaux of Gilt Edge. The game was lost in the first inning, as San Francisco scored 3 runs, and cruised to an 8-0 outcome. Old Rube Levy hit a home run in the contest.

In the afternoon contest at Rec Park, former Pittsburgh Pirate Phil Knell battled Jay Hughes, with Knell coming out on top, 5-3, and capping the Wasps three-game sweep of Sacramento. Hughes was in trouble almost in every inning, and was lucky to have only give up 5 runs.

In the interior, Oakland swept the doubleheader over Stockton, and bringing them within a game of the third place Pirates. Veteran Red Held hit a homer to lead the Dudes to 6-5 victory. Chief Borchers prevailed over Youngy Johnson, who gave up 10 hits and 5 walks.

The nightcap was called after five innings because of darkness. Oakland led 6-2 at the time. The game was over in the first as George Harper gave up all 6 runs in that inning. Doc Moskiman coasted to the five-inning victory.

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

Thursday, June 08, 2006

ReReading from Always on Sunday

Re-Reading from Always on Sunday

John Spalding’s book on the California League, Always on Sunday, is a classic in baseball research.  And because I’m in the middle of recreating the statistical record of that league, as readers of this blog know, I decided to take his book off the shelf, and read what he wrote about the 1900 season, which I am currently working on.  I think the season you are following on this blog will be helped understating the season by Spalding putting into context.

John Spalding on 1900 the California League:

Two straight years of poor financial results had convinced California League officials that the mix of teams had to be altered, so they restructured the circuit in 1900 in an attempt to strengthen its fragile financial base.

In the previous two seasons, the league had consisted of the ever-present San Francisco and Oakland clubs plus four of six teams from Northern California’s smaller interior towns.  This format had proved unsuccessful both years, with Fresno folding in 18987 and San Jose and Watsonville being dropped in 1899.

In 1900, the league returned to a four-team format, the same number that had worked so well during most of the first eight years between 1886-1893. More importantly, the teams which joined the two Bay Area clubs were from two of the region’s other largest cities, Sacramento and Stockton.

The 1900 schedule was similar to the one played out in 1899.  Teams met the same opponent on Saturday and Sunday.  Continuous baseball was played in San Francisco, with either manager Henry Harris’ team at home or J. Cal Ewing’s Oakland club playing at Recreation Park diamond.  There was a game every Sunday morning at Freeman’s Park.

Following the 1900 season, the league dropped Stockton, and moved south to Los Angeles, where the league picked up James Morely’s club that had played in the Southern California League in 1899, and in 1900 until that league folded.  The team played as an independent club after railway service between San Diego and Los Angeles was cut on Sundays, forcing the league out of business.

I’m not sure if he has any books left, but you might want to contact him to find out if you don’t have a copy of this wonderful book.

John Spalding’s e-mail address:

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Changing the History of the Game

Changing the History of the Game

While this blog is dedicated to minor league research, if I stumble upon something that that will change major league history, I will present it here.  And so is the case of an item that I found while reading The Sporting News.

The Dickson Baseball Dictionary has the following note on the first use of the term “scout”:

1ST    1905 (Sporting Life, September 2; EJN)

In reading the July 5, 1902 issue of  The Sporting News, I found the following reprint of a note by Sam Crane in The New York Press:

“Chief of Scouts” Horace Fogel is on the road again after promising youngsters to fill up the ranks of the Giants.  

While this only pushes the term “scout” back three years, it sounds, from the above note, that the term, in fact, had been in use for some time, meaning that somebody might come up with a much earlier use.

Monday, June 05, 2006

This Week in the California League, October 28-November 4, 190

This Week in the California League, October 29-November 4, 1900

Games scheduled on Saturday and Sunday, November 3 and 4.

With the season quickly coming to an end, Sacramento extended its lead in the pennant race to five games by sweeping the series from the second place San Francisco Wasps. It looked to many as if the Sacramento club was about to wrap it all up.

On Saturday, at Oak Park in Sacramento, Jay Hughes added another win to his record, making him 21-9 on the season. Hughes also helped his cause with a 4th inning homer. Ham Iburg lost the 5-4 decision in the 7th inning, when he gave a pair of runs. That brought his record to 21-21.

At Rec Park in San Francisco, Youngy Johnson and Doc Moskiman faced off, with Moskiman outlasting Johnson 7-5. Second baseman Ernie Courtney hit his second home run of the season for the losers.

On Sunday, Demon Doyle and Phil Knell faced off in the state capital. Doyle showed that old spark of years past, as he shut out the Wasps on 4 hits, 3-0. Old Pittsburgher Phil Knell only gave up 5 hits, but three of them came in the last frame to turn a 1-0 game into a 3-0 loss.

At Golden Gate Park (Freeman’s) in Oakland on Sunday morning, the home club absolutely crushed the invaders from Stockton by a 14-5 score. George Babbitt gave up 14 hits, with Pete Lohman and Jack Drennan both hammering out three apiece. Lohman also socked one over the leftfield fence. Chief Borchers picked up his 13th win as he yielded 5 runs on 12 hits.

After the two clubs took the ferry back across San Francisco Bay, the two clubs put on a low scoring contest at Rec Park. The Stockton Pirates turned the tables on the last place Dudes with a 4-2 victory. Doc Moskiman lost to George Harper. Stockton scored once in the third, then scored twice in the sixth, and added a final tally in the ninth. Oakland score runs in the sixth and seventh innings.

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

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Books Ive Read Over the Winter, and Into the Spring, Part Three

Books I’ve Read Over the Winter, and Into the Spring, Part Three

Sometimes books come to a person, and they turn out better than one expects.  I had heard about a newsletter on the American Association put out by some guy in Minnesota, but never gave it more than a passing thought.  (Here I have to admit that even though I’m a child of the Midwest, born and partially raised there, I had never had much of an interest in the Association.  I like the Midwest League a whole lot, but never the Association).  Nevertheless, a month or two ago Rex Hamann sent me an issue, and I have to admit with all the things I have been doing, it got set on a pile of publication that I want to get to.

But I finally did, and what a excellent piece of work Rex has done.  The latest issue, corresponding to Spring 2006, was a marvelous surprise.  In this issue— the second of a two-parter— deals with 20 game win season by pitchers on the Milwaukee Brewers and Toledo Mud Hens during the 1902-1911 deadball period.  In separate sections, he analyses each pitcher in depth, using Strikeout to walk ratios, WHIP, and solid new research using primary sources.  This takes up nearly 32 pages.

To give the read an example, I’ll reprint one of the shorter pitcher essays:

Cliff Curtis, 1906, 22-14  .611

After an off-year in 1905, Cliff Curtis came bounding back in ’06 with a splendid season which saw him lead the team in wins (22), winning percentage (.611) and innings pitched (323) on his way to his second career 20-game season.  A hallmark of his season was his strikeouts (158) to walks (108) ratio of 1.975, good for fourth in the American Association.  He placed fifth in both SO/In (.489) and BB/IN (.248).  While he did not own a pitch called the “Curtis Cracker,” his WHIP of 1.124 could easily have become dubbed with such a nickname; the mark was good for fourth place (Columbus’ Heinie Berger took the top spot with a .957).

Curtis was now sharing battery duties with Frank Roth and Monte Beville, both of whom had a few more years of seasoning  than the 25-year-old product of central Ohio.  Roth had been in the majors for a few seasons and was three years Curtis’ senior.  Beville was a full six years older and had also been active at the major league level before joining the Brewers in 1905.  This tandem likely aided the youngster as he continued piling up precious victories for yet another run at the elusive pennant.  Joe Cantillion’s Brew Boys wound up eight games in back of Columbus for the second straight year; their 1906 record, however, showed a decline of 48 percentage points, from a 91-59 record in 1905 to an 85-67 record.

Curtis remained a Brewer through the 1909 season when he went 7-11 during a time when they needed him to step up in a tight pennant race.  He wound up in the National League, pitching for Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Brooklyn from 1909-13, inserting two seasons with the Newark Indians under Harry Smith from 1913-14 (going 16-12 in ’14).  He returned to the American Association to wind up a solid pitching career, working closer to home as a Columbus Senator from 1915-18 when he won 29 while losing 40.  During his 10-year A. A. career, Curtis put up 129 wins against 144 losses (.473) in 331 games and 2,365 innings.  His 977 strikeouts against 811 free passes bore a healthy SO/BB ratio of 1.205.

Born Clifton Garfield Curtis on July 3, 1881 at Delaware, Ohio, Curtis became a well-know amateur bowler in the Utica/Mt. Vernon, Ohio area east-northeast of Columbus during his years after baseball. For 20 years he managed a Ford dealership in Utica there on Highway 13.  He died of a heart attack on April 23, 1943.  His grave is located at Oak Grove Cemetery in Delaware, Ohio.

The pamphlet (as it should be called, and not a newsletter), has a detailed section of obits of Association players who have recently passed away, and contained a listing of players celebrating birthdays, plus some short American Association historical news items.

I have not seen other issues, but if they are anything like this issues, it is well worth the money Rex charges per year, a miniscule $15 for three yearly issues.  There are also discounts for multi-year subscriptions.

To find out more, and to subscribe:

Saturday, June 03, 2006

July 9 1903 Western League Rosters

July 9, 1903 Western League Rosters

Special to the Sporting News:
Omaha, July 9— With all the clubs of the Western League represented except at St. Joseph at the meeting, the magnates decided by unanimous vote to reduce each club’s roster to 13 players.

I would assume that the Western League only reduced the roster by one player, though two is a possibility.  The Coast League had a 15 or 16 player roster limit at that time. But let’s look at what a 13-player roster would mean in the 1903 Western League: Eight position players, a change catcher, a utility player of some sort, the infielder-outfielder type, which would leave a pitching staff of only three pitchers.  I suppose your reserve could also be a catcher-infielder-outfielder to get to a four-pitcher staff.  And, of course, the pitchers who were not pitching that day would be inserted as need in outfield positions.  A good hitting pitcher often would play the outfield on off days, so that would be another solution to a 13-man roster.

The clubs in the Western League played between 126 and 131 games that season.  They would have played more but the season was terminated early because of horrible storms that swept the Midwest that September.  The league threw in the towel on a Thursday (September 17), rather than tough it out until Sunday, September 20, which would have been a normal occurrence.  Teams always tried to bank that Sunday money before going belly up.

The Western League that season was not some lower classification circuit.  It stood at the pinnacle of minor league ball, being one of the four league classified at the highest Class A leagues.  The Coast League was an Outlaw League in 1903.

Friday, June 02, 2006

This Week in the California League, October 22-27, 1900

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

This Week in the California League, October 22—October 28, 1900

Games this week were played on Saturday and Sunday, October 27 and 28.

Russ Pace finally dropped off the leaders’ boards this week. Pace, who jumped to Montana State League, had been leading the league in hitting since September. In the pennant race, San Francisco inched back against league leading Sacramento to finish the week 3 games back.

Saturday saw a full complement of games, with Oakland taking on San Francisco at Rec Park, and Sacramento playing Stockton in the state capital.

At San Francisco on Saturday, Chief Borchers faced off against Ham Iburg. Both teams scored in the first two innings, and remained that way until the fifth, when Oakland went ahead 3-2. Then the following inning, with men on 2nd and 3rd, Jimmy Sullivan went up bat and hit a clean single, bringing the two runners, and that made the score 4-3. Borchers didn’t give up a hit the rest of the game, but the damage was done, and his record fell to 11-14.

At Sacramento, Youngy Johnson could not find the plate for Stockton, issuing nine passes to first base, and couple that with a home run to catcher Matt Stanley, and the 7-2 score stood in the Gilt Edge’s favor. Demon Doyle notched the win. The game was called after eight innings.

On Sunday at the state capital, the two interior clubs played eleven innings before a winner could be determined. Jay Hughes and George Harper went at it for eight innings, with game standing at 4-4. At that point, George Babbitt took over from Harper. In the eleventh inning, Jay Hughes tired, giving up three runs to put the win in the Stockton column.

At Oakland on Sunday morning, the hometown pitcher, Doc Moskiman, gave up 7 runs on 11 hits, while the Wasps’ Tom Fitzpatrick gave up 4 run on 6 hits. Oakland actually led going into the seventh by a 3-1 margin, but Moskiman gave up 2 in that inning, and 4 more in the following frame to put the game away for good. Red Held, who later would become an umpire of some note, hit a home run for the losing Dudes.

In the nightcap at Rec, the two Saturday pitchers came back to face one another with the result reversed. Chief Borchers prevailed over Ham Iburg 7-5 in a sloppily played game, 20 hits and 12 errors. Ham Iburg’s record fell to 21-20.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Davis Barker came across this player, who may or may not have made the club:

Player STIRYOUROWNWHISKEI can sign his name "Smith" and it will be oaky with President Bramham of the minors, but the player'll have to jot his name in parentheses at the end of his signature.

From The Sporting News

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Wrong Direction Story, & An Odd Death, From Davis Barker

A Wrong Direction Story, & An Odd Death, From Davis Barker

Davis found these two item in the Sporting News in 1935:

Right Town, But Wrong Club

With a Greenville in North Carolina and another in South Carolina, the former in the Costal Plain and the latter in the Sally, it is not surprising that Joe Zanolli, a young infielder, got mixed up and reported to the wrong camp.  He was purchased by the Costal Plain League club from Statesville of the defunct Tar Heel loop, but went to the Sally loop city instead.  Joe lives in Massachusetts.  Finally straightened out, he showed up at Greenville, N. C., April 4.

Zanolli does not appear in the guide for that season, and one is left to wonder if he ever made back to Massachusetts.  I could not find him in subsequent season either.

An Extraordinary Death, & A Question or Two

Charles Wilson, manager of the Huntsville club of the Arkansas State League, on August 2, was killed in a fall from a Ferris wheel in Huntsville, Ark., the coroner calling the death accidental.  The player’s real name was Antone Butkus, he having taken the name of Wilson from home town of Wilsonville, Ill.  He was born in Marysville, Ill., August 29, 1912, and won fame as a football and basket ball player as well as in baseball.  Played with Joplin this year before going to Huntsville.  

Charles Wilson, not the only one in O. B., was a pitcher in the Western Association in 1935, then winds up as manager, at 24 years old, for Huntsville while going 11-5 on the mound at the time of his fall.  

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Books Ive Read Over the Winter, and Into the Spring, Part Two

Books I’ve Read Over the Winter, and Into the Spring, Part Two

I have to admit, this is one book for which I’ve been waiting. Barry Swanton’s Mandak League: Haven for Former Negro League Ballplayers, 1950-1957 does not disappoint. A McFarland book (which can be ordered from Amazon, where I got my copy), this history gives an overall view of that Western Canada league in all its glory, and in all its failed promise near the end. Length: 222 pages and $29.95 soft cover (from Amazon, and qualifies for free shipping from them:

The Mandak League began as an outgrowth of the Manitoba Senior League. The previous league would import up to three players per roster, many of whom were veterans of the Negro Leagues. The Manitoba-Dakota League was formed to ride the wave of interest in minor league ball after the Second World War. That golden age lasted from 1946 through 1952 or 1953, when baseball began a long decline in attendance. Swanton’s book chronicles the highs and the decline for the Mandak League.

Because the league had a very high salary cap of $8,500, it was able to attract veteran black players who could no longer be considered “prospects” by major league clubs, and attracted O. B. players with the same futures as the black veteran players.

The league began as a five-club circuit in 1950, but became a four-team league in 1951, and remained so until its demise after the 1957 season. Winnipeg was the hub of the league (with two clubs its first season), but after the 1953 it joined the rival Northern League in Organized Baseball. In 1955, Bismarck, North Dakota joined the league to partially offset the loss of Winnipeg.

The book is set out chronologically, with season-by-season recaps. The 1950 season goes into detail on the ballparks, the league personnel and umpires, then relates the pennant race, season highlights and any in-season tournaments played. The following season chapters give pennant-race recaps, highlights and playoff summaries.

All the season chapters are well constructed, well written, and hold the reader’s interest. What also helps is that Swanton’s second section of the book gives player profiles of most of the players in the league, making it easy to flip to when one is reading the first section of the book.

As to the player profiles, let me give you an example that I just now flipped to:

Lou Lombardo

Pitcher; Bats—Left; Throws—Left; Height—6’2; Weight— 210 lbs;
Born— November 18, 1928 in Carlstadt, New Jersey; Died— June 11, 2001 in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Lombardo was 20 years old when he appeared in two games for the New York Giants in 1948. He pitched five innings and had a 6.75 ERA. In 1950, he pitched in Double-A with Little Rock in the Southern Association. In 1952, he was 11-3 for Montgomery in the Sally League. In 1953, he was 25 years old when he joined the Minot Mallards from Rochester, Minnesota of the Southern Minny (semi-pro) . He pitched six games with little success and had an 0-3 record when he was released on July 16.

After the comprehensive player profiles, Swanton has three appendices (strangely numbered: I, II, and IV, and even though I took what was called poet’s math at Columbia, I can still find my way to Super IV without much brain sweat).

The first appendix is a one-page reprint of the 1950 Minot Mallard team rules, which may or may not be of much interest.

Appendix II is the most important part of the book for me, and for many others. This appendix lists batting and pitching stats for most players, reunited (apparently) from a number of primary sources. In 1950, batting stats included are for:
G AB H HR RBI AVG Pitching: W L Pct.

From 1952 on, batting stats include DB & TR. Pitching remains light throughout, but does include Strikeouts and Walks in later seasons.

In another nice feature, Swanton list players for whom no statistic are available.

The final appendix (IV) list complete rosters for each franchise, season by season, with notes on players who appeared for other clubs in the league during the season.

In conclusion, I can’t recommend this book enough. It belongs on every minor league researcher’s bookshelf.

Monday, May 29, 2006

This Week in the California League, October 15-21, 1900

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

This Week in the California League, October 15—October 21, 1900

Games this week were played on Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21.

With the weekend games out of the way, Sacramento pulled out to a 3½ game lead over second place San Francisco. As should be noted, the Wasps had pulled within ½ game of the leader the preceding week. Russ pace continued to lead the hitters in batting, though that won’t hold up for much longer, as he jumped his Stockton contract to play in the Montana League.

Sacramento traveled to the Bay Area to play a three-game set with last place Oakland, and left with two more wins. On Saturday, Jay Hughes notched his 200th win of the season by shutting out the Dudes 4-0. He allowed only 6 hits, and struck out 7.

On Sunday across they Bay, Oakland won 5-2 as manager Brick Devereaux gave up 13 hits, while his counterpart, Chief Borchers only gave up 7 hits and 2 runs in route to his 11th victory of the season.

In the rubber match, Demon Doyle pitched a 6-hitter at Rec Park, and giving Sacramento a 4-1 victory. The game was lost in the second inning, when Dudes pitcher Doc Moskiman gave up all four runs. If the doctor had not pitched that inning, he would have wound up on the winning side of a 5-hit shutout.

Goodwater Grove at Stockton was home to the Sunday doubleheader in the interior. In the morning contest, Ham Iburg was going for his 21st win of the season. When the game ended he still would be. He lost 8-1 to Youngy Johnson, who pitch a 7-hitter. Julie Streib and jack McCarthy both went 3 for 5 for the victors, and old Rube Levy went 3-4 for the Wasps.

In the afternoon contest, the Pirates swept the doubleheader with a 7-2 victory, six of those runs coming in the first three innings. George Harper edged his record up to 11-17, and Tom Fitzpatrick dropped to 15-12. And, so, the Wasps limped back to San Francisco 3½ games behind the Gilt Edgers.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Books Ive Read Over the Winter, and Into the Spring, Part One

Books I’ve Read Over the Winter, and Into the Spring, Part One

I’ve read a number of baseball books this year, from the baseball guides through The Hardball Times.  I  read three books on the minor league this off season: Minot Mallards of the ManDak League, 1950-1957 by Bill Guenthner, The Mandak League: Haven for Former Negro League Ballplayers, 1950-1957 by Barry Swanton, and the current American Association Almanac written and published by a friend of this blog, Rex Hamann.

I will review these publications in the order I bought them and read them, beginning today with Bill Guenthner’s Minot Mallards.  (At this point, I’d like to offer to post reviews of any other books that you may have come across this season, or may have been missed by many.  Please let me know.)

Minot Mallards has gone through two printings, and is awaiting the possibility of a well-deserved third.  In the meantime, Bill is offering the book on a CD, which can be printed out, and then bound, which is what I did.  The format is in MS Word, and he includes cover art for the book.  What I did was take it over to Office Depot, and they printed out and comb bound it for me (though they also offer perfect binding).  Bill charges three or five dollars (I forget) for the CD, which basically covers his shipping costs.

This is a history of Bill Guenthner’s team in the town of his youth, and one could call it a loving portrait of that club.  But it is also much more than that.  The book delves into the history of what lead to the league, how the league and the club came into being.  Then it gives a complete season-by-season recap, primarily from the Mallards perspective.  These recaps are well-written and interesting.    

After seasonal recaps, the author takes a retrospective look—without nostalgia— at the league and the level of competition.  Then comes a section that gives thumbnail biographies of virtually—if not every—player who appeared with the Mallards.  So many times I pick up a book on a league, and find myself asking “Who the hell is this guy?” This is a very valuable section that took the author considerable effort to put together.  There are some minimal statistics in this section for the players, but stats was not of great importance to the author.

The following section is a detailed season-by-season roster, showing where the players came from, the seasons they played for the club, and other comments.

The two final sections present photos of a number of the players, caricatures of players that appeared in the local newspaper, and the cover of a scorecard.  The final section lists in tabular form season-by-season league standings, which— being at the end of the book— makes it easy to get to when reading the season recaps.

How good is the book?  Very good, and serves as a great introduction to the league.  The team perspective also give one a feel for the ups and downs of a franchise that one might not find in a league history.  The only critique one could make is that it’s a little light on stats—but that has been remedied by Barry Swanton in his book.

In final analysis, this belongs in every minor league researcher’s library.  I can’t recommend it enough.

Contact Bill @ the following address for further information on his book:

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Famous Last Words

Famous Last Words

“The Oakland team will never win the pennant,” remarked Elmer Meredith, the San Francisco pitcher. “To my mind they are playing above their gait now [mid-May, two games ahead of the league]. I know some of them are. They will have a relapse.”

“That’s right,” cut in [Los Angeles shortstop Jimmy] Toman, who was standing near. “They are doing good fielding, but they are not batting enough to stay in front very long. Wait till they strike their bad luck. Just now, though, they certainly are playing good ball.”— Los Angeles Herald.

The Oakland Dudes finished the 1902 season some 13 games ahead of the league. At the time, though the fielding was much above the league, it was the pitching staff that really boosted the club: Harry Schmidt would have a stellar season on the mound, along with Bill Cristall, and old veteran George Hodson putting together another 20-plus win season. And the hitting came around later in the season, with a league-leading batting season by Walt McCredie

Friday, May 26, 2006

This Week in the California League, October 8-14, 1900

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

This Week in the California League, October 8—October 14, 1900

Games this week were played on Saturday and Sunday, October 13 and 14.

On Saturday, Stockton and San Francisco faced off at Rec Park, with Youngy Johnson of Stockton coming out on top 4-2 over Tom Fitzpatrick. Stockton scored the the first 3 runs, then San Francisco came back with 2 in 4th, but could not come any closer.

At Sacramento, it was a laugher. Sacramento, behind Jay Hughes, won 10-zero. Hughes struck out 7. Chief Borchers took the loss for Oakland.

On Sunday, the Sacramento-Oakland affair turned out to be a see-saw game, with Sacramento coming out on top 11-10. Brick Devereaux and Doc Moskiman both pitched complete games. Devereaux hit a home run to help himself to the win. Lou Hardie and Red Held hit four-baggers for Oakland. The game, however, was lost when Oakland was forced to fill in for shortstop Abe Arellanes with center fielder Bill Drennan, who booted four balls, all at critical moments.

Over in the Bay Area, San Francisco and Stockton split a doubleheader. Ham Iburg of San Francisco pitched a four-hit shutout over Youngy Johnson, who gave up 6 runs on 11 hits after pitching his second game in two days. The game was close until San Francisco score 3 in the 7th inning.

In the afternoon tilt at Rec Park, Stockton held on to pull out a 5-4 victory. George Harper won, and San Francisco’s Phil Knell took the loss. Stockton scored first, with 2 in the 3rd, but San Francisco came back to tie it up the very next inning. Stockton scored 2 in the fifth, and added another run in the 7th. San Francisco tried to come back in the 8th inning, but fell short.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

From Davis Barker Found in TSN, April 25, 1935

From Davis Barker: Found in The Sporting News, April 25, 1935

The following Davis Barker found on the Portsmouth, Ohio ballpark.  Its dimensions are equal distance from home plate at 349 feet.  Davis has never come across such a ballpark, but I know of three: Venice Park in the early PCL, the Sunset League park in Las Vegas, and now this park.  

Portsmouth, O., Dedication, May 8

$40,000 Ball Park Will Be Thrown Open on First Day of Season

Portsmouth, O.— After an absence of 20 years, Portsmouth will make an elaborate re-entrance in Organized Ball as a member of the Middle Atlantic League, May 8.  On that date, the new $40,000 ball park will be dedicated, with the Huntington team here as guests for the opener.

From 1905 to 1915, Portsmouth was the backbone of the old Ohio State League and it is quite a coincidence that the club was moved here from Springfield, O., because the present club representing this city likewise was moved here from Springfield.  Alex Pisula, owner of the Pirates, as the team is known, found the city most receptive when he decided to pull away from Springfield, where he had operated in 1933 and 1934, with the result that the municipality got behind the park project, which will be the best in the league.

The grandstand, seating 3,000, is of brick, while the field is surrounded with a solid brick wall, nine feet-high.  The plant will be quite a novelty, in that the fence is of semi-circular construction from left field to right field, making every part of the enclosure exactly 349 feet from the plate [italics mine].

The grandstand, in addition to its large seating capacity, has 248 box seats.  Every conceivable convenience for fans and players has been provided.  The club rooms under the stands are equipped with rubbing tables and six shower baths.  Accommodations for the women have not been overlooked, for, besides a tiled rest room, there will be a ladies’ parlor, completely equipped with lounging chairs and tables.

The chamber of commerce will have complete charge of the dedicatory exercises on opening day.  To that end invitations have been sent to several of the baseball dignitaries of the nation.  F. W. SHERIDAN

The May 8 dedication was also Picasso’s birthday, though I doubt they opened the park on that day to honor him.  It might have made a unique promotion, none-the-less.