Six degrees above zero, this morning, crows the Saturday Evening Journal. It looks like Spring is finally here! Meanwhile, the DailyTyphoid Report, on page six, counts seven new cases of typhoid today, and one death.
In more important news…
The Millers Start Spring Practice Wednesday… and so we have yet another article in the Journal appraising the team’s talent. Perhaps, as there were a lot of player signings, and new management, and more off-season dealings in those days, perhaps there was more uncertainty among the baseball-fan-population as to who the players were going to be in any given year. Certainly there were a lot less media outlets in those days. It was either the scurrilous press or the talk bruited about in the streets.
Anyway, according to the Journal, it sez here, the infielders and outfielders will be the strongest parts of the club. However the pitching staff also “looms up in promising fashion.” Katoll’s arm seems fine. (Everyone, could you relax a little about Katoll’s Sling Wing? It’s fine. F. I. N. E.)
However, it does seem a little odd that, just after the writer talks in glowing terms about several of the pitchers, he says,
“Altho Watkins has more than half a dozen colts on his pitching staff, Munch is the only one upon whom he banks much.”
Hmmmm. This gives one pause. What about Katoll? Is his arm all right? What about Rusty Owens, and Case, who were top-notchers in the 3-I league last year? What about Frosty Thomas? And can’t Baily be counted on for some good work this year? Is Katoll’s arm not sound?
No. There is only Munch. Munch is Watkins mainstay and support. Everything depends upon Munch, it seems. And I’m not sure that we’ve ever even heard Mr. Munch’s first name. Something of a mystery? Who is this guy, this stalwart, this man Munch??
“Munch is a left-hander with lots of speed and unusually good control for a southpaw.”
(Subtle disparagement of southpaws noted.)
So. We will watch for more on Munch. Such as, perhaps, a first name. Did they have the single-named celebrity back then? Like Cher? Bono? Munch?
Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. There’s also Converse, Lockersteen, and Koukalik. (LLC). Surely with that stable of slab artists there is one other twirler we may rely upon? What of all this talk about how this will be the best team Minneapolis has seen in a long long while?
“Watty will be satisfied, however, if he gets one good man out of the bunch.”
So, after all the Spring Hoopla, the truth will out. It seems that suddenly our pitching is suspect. All that off-season talk is just that, just talk.
On top of that, our catching is weak! Roach and O’Leary, as we’ve discussed before, leave something to be desired. Roach is reliable, the writer states, but not as good a man as Bob Wood of Milwaukee, for one, or Sullivan in St. Paul. O’Leary, in fact, will probably do the bulk of the work, as he is, at least, speedy. And then there’s Ludwig, of course. He’s a project. But O’Leary seems to be the one, as Watkins likes a speedy man, and at least O’Leary is speedy, or at least compared to Roach and Ludwig.
The infield and the outfield, well, we’ve talked about them before. They are the strength of the team, and I don’t see that we need to go over all that again. They are speedy. Lord knows, they are speedy. And we all know how important speed is.
“It is a well known fact that most championships have been won, not by the teams noted for their hitting ability, such as the old Phillies, or the Clevelands of last season, but by clubs which combined fair hitting ability with speed on the field and on the paths. In signing his men, Watkins has made good legs the first requisite, and the 1904 Millers will not throw away runs as the 1903 bunch was wont to do.”
The writer concludes his piece by looking briefly at the competition. He believes that Indianapolis and Louisville look to be the strongest. St. Paul will hardly be up to last year’s form, he says: Miller Huggins and Spike Shannon will be impossible to replace, and Kelly’s pitching staff “are largely experiments.” Minneapolis ranks up there with Indianapolis and Louisville, while Milwaukee, Columbus, and Kansas City are back in the pack that follows the leaders. The sad Toledo club brings up the rear. “The papers of that city are making a brave effort to keep up the spirits of the fans, but up to date Manager Long has given out only vague assurances that his team would be in the fight…”
On a side note, I’m afraid I’m falling a bit behind the current (1904) news. A full-time job certainly interferes with the more important things in life.