April 12th 1904 – The Case of the Vanishing O’Leary

Tuesday Evening Duluth 1904 d zenith It turns out that Mr. Roach need not pack his bags, because instead it’s that Rotund Trencherman O’Leary who’s headed north for the summer, to the Zenith City, Duluth, to labor through the summer gnat storms of the Northern league.

Dan O'Leary - 1907

Perhaps the team is a bit shaken by all these sudden and unforeseen player moves. Watkins fielded his nine against the college boys once again, and were soundly trounced by the varsity squad, 7-2. The Minneapolis players were greatly handicapped by the weather, reports our scribe, while it did not seem to trouble the local boys, who have been accustomed to it for several weeks.

Charlie Case

Charlie Case

 

Case pitched for the Millers; Watkins pregame instructions were reportedly “be careful not to hurt your arm,” which seems like odd advice coming from Watkins — who then let Case pitch all 7 innings, (they agreed only to play 7 innings), “because he cared to take no chances of injuring any of his other pitchers’ arms.” Watkins must have had a hunch that it was very dangerous out there on the mound. Perhaps it was, with all the line drives whizzing through the box. Perhaps Case was judged expendable. But if none of our pitchers got hurt, well, let’s count that as one in the “win” column.

According to the Journal, the series with the college youth now stands at 3 games to 3, with four games still to play. If the weather warms up, our journalist believes the Millers will have the advantage, as the college kids won’t be used to playing under pleasant conditions, and it will throw them off their cold-weather game. I’m not sure how the Millers have become such a fair weather club, as they’ve only been playing in the wintry climes of Champaign… but, anyway…. whatever.

O’Leary will be with the team till Saturday, “to take advantage of the training facilities,” while no doubt also serving as a grim reminder of what fate might await those ball players who do not perform: Siberia. He may be made to wear a sign about his neck, saying: Cautionary Tale.

Meanwhile, the Exquisite Munch will at last arrive on Wednesday. Let us hope that his arrival might inject a little life and hope into this bedraggled ball club. edvard the scream munch sm

11 April 1904 – the Axeman Cometh

Monday Evening

A Monday evening shocker in the Journal! A buzz goes around town. Watkins has released four players! Whack! And they’ve all found employment with other clubs!

Smell a rat?

The rat’s name is L. Van Praagh, (which is a good name for a rat,) owner of the Duluth White Sox in the Northern league, who happened to come-a-calling on Manager Watkins and then walked away with Frank Martin for his Manager, Captain, and second baseman. Van Praagh is obviously a man who’s careful with a buck, and believes on getting his money’s worth.

Also heading north – Roy (Not Yet In Playing Condition) Converse, who’ll be playing with the Winnipeg Maroons this year, and James (Not the Famous) O’Rourke, destined for the Superior Longshoremen. Good luck to you, boys. God speed.

The biggest surprise, though — and a huge huge glaring mistake, in my humble opinion — is that Joe Koukalik will be heading up with Martin to the Zenith City to play for the White Sox. Joe Koukalik! What is Watkins thinking?!? Has he taken leave of his senses? What’s happened?

Joe Koukalik - "a major error in judgement"

Joe Koukalik –  Johnny we hardly knew ye…

Joe!

Say it ain’t so, Joe!

Baseball is a hard business sometimes.

This means that Frank McNichol will be kept on as the utility player this season, and, in fact, almost all of the positions on the club are pretty much set. So much for competition, for the cream rising to the top, may the best man win. April 11th: it’s all settled.

But wait. Not quite.

William Ludwig - 1908

William Ludwig – 1908

There’re still three catchers on hand, and now, suddenly, it appears that Ludwig – Ludwig! – is going to be doing most of the catching this year! Watkins says: “By the time the season begins I will have taught him all the finer points of the game.” (A regular Svengali…) Our reporter sees that O’Leary is being worked out much more than Roach, and will probably be Ludwig’s back-up! This is another shocker! Ludwig, out of nowhere, suddenly the Miller’s Foremost Windpaddist! This has got to be a serious wake-up call for Mr. O’Leary, who perhaps has been reading the Minneapolis Journal and figured that he had a lock on the position, a sure thing, a starting role, a slot in the batting order. No. Time to shed a few extra pounds of beef, O’Leary! And whither goest Mr. Roach? A Northern league summer, perhaps?

In other news, as if there could be other news, the pitchers are all shaping up nicely. Mr. Munch finally arrives on Tuesday, and it turns out that Bailey isn’t in camp yet either, as he’s a student at a medical college in Columbus. (Inevitably, he will be called “Doc” Bailey.) Case gets special mention from Manager Watkins:

“Case is doing fine twirling. He is in the best of conditions and is practicing a slow ball, which will probably be a winner. “

Probably?

Katoll is also doing some fine twirling. His arm is fine, and he’s even been teaching some of the younger players a few tricks of the trade. Trying to get on Watkins good side, no doubt. Don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, and the wind is blowing north, strong and steady, and carrying with it the Miller’s chaff.

The team did not go to Springfield on Saturday as the weather was bad. They must have had a practice, though, because our indefatigable journalist says that the surprise of the day was Katoll’s fine pitching. “His arm does not trouble him at all.”

Jack "My Arm Feels Fine" Katoll - 1901

Jack “My Arm Feels Fine” Katoll – 1901

It seems odd that on a day when four players are suddenly – without warning – shipped to the northern hinterlands, the Siberia of minor league baseball, our reporter thinks that Katoll’s fine pitching is the surprise of the day. But I suppose that’s how it is, when you are a journalist. The four players – Koukalooka and what were their names? – they are yesterday’s news. The big story here is Katoll: his arm is not hurting!

Or should I say, not hurting yet?

Nah, just kidding. His arm is fine. Really.

Names in the News

hooks warner

Hooks Warner

Today is the birthday of both Hooks Warner (1894) and Hooks Cotter (1900). There apparently was a brief span of years where the name Hooks was popular for baby boys. Nowadays, of course, it’s rare to find some young child named Hooks.

Hooks Cotter

Hooks Cotter

Well, of course, Hooks Warner’s real name was Hoke. Hoke Hayden Warner. Hoke is a name that also seems to have fallen out of favor. And Hooks Cotter was the more prosaic Harvey. Warner played third and Cotter first, so there goes my theory about them being called “Hook” because they were moundsmen who were often “given the hook” early in games.

Foster Ganzel

Foster Ganzel

Babe Ganzel was born on this date in 1901. Babe’s real name was Foster Pirie Ganzel. I’ve heard of Babe Ganzel, but I don’t know why. He came up as an outfielder with the Senators in 1927, hit .438 in 13 games. Perhaps that’s when he got the nickname “Babe”. And perhaps it was too much to try to live up to? In 1928 he hit .077 in 10 games, and that was the end of Foster Ganzel. Except this nice little story out of Wikipedia:

While piloting Selma, fans heckled him because his players seldom bunted. At this point, he ordered the first nine batters in a game to bunt and all nine reached base.

Dick Jones

Dick Jones

Today’s also the birthday of “Dick” Jones, in 1902. At first I thought, Ha, Dick Jones, what a dull boring name. Probably Richard. No. His real name was Decatur Poindexter Jones. Which is a helluva name. I’ll bet he changed it to Dick on his own. He was a member of the famous Jones family of baseball players.

Al “bucketfoot” Simmons birthday today. I thought I’d get him in this list because of the curious nickname, but it turns out his birth name was Aloys Szymanski. Aloys is another name that parents today might consider if they want a name that’s not seen much.

Aloys Simmons

Aloys Simmons

Pinky Woods birthday, 1915. Real name George. I don’t know how you get the nickname Pinky, but there’s been a few Pinkys that have played pro ball. Perhaps an article there for a sabermetrics journal.

Tommy John’s birthday, 1943, the man with two first names.

On the other side of the ledger, Bunny Pearce died today, back in ’33, and Kaiser Wilhelm in ’36. What were his parents thinking of? I suspect the father picked his name, and thought it funny. Nope. Real name: Irvin Key Wilhelm. Bunny’s real name was William Charles, and he was also known as Ducky. There’s gotta be a story there.

BD Pearce

BD Pearce

Chief Bender (Charles Albert) also passed away on this date in 1954, and Lefty (Robert Moses) Grove in 1975.

Perhaps some day baseball nicknames will catch on as normal names for people, as parents are always looking for something different and unusual.

Just don’t call your kid “Babe,” perhaps.

Babe Ruth leaf 1948-49 cropped

 

 

 

 

9 April 1904 – hubris

Saturday Evening

Spring weather in Minneapolis. 44 for a high, 30 for a low. Heavy snow in the eastern part of Minnesota, south of the cities, and the Mississippi ice gorge has broken up at St. Cloud, sending a wall of water running with ice down upon Minneapolis. “This flood should be felt in Minneapolis in a day or so.”

Turning to the world of sports:

WH Watkins c

“The outfield is invincible, the infield fast, and — well, there is not a weak spot on the team.”
– Manager W.H. Watkins

The Millers must be on the road to Springfield, because there’s another “analysis” piece in today’s paper. I wonder if Watkins is a drinking man? He seems a bit over-confident for a manager who’s team has split a series of games with a college team, racking up about 6 errors a game. But I suppose he’s gotta sell some tickets here.

Morning workouts consist of batting practice, fielding practice, and a workout for the battery men. At the conclusion of the morning session the men “are required to take a brisk run… varying from half a mile to three miles, according to the condition of each man.”

Morning practice goes about two hours. In the afternoon the men who are not expected to play in the exhibition are given two more hours of hard work. And all the men are required to walk to and from the hotel to the field, a distance of about a mile and a half, twice a day. I wonder if Watkins checked up on them. He sounds like the type that would. A taskmaster.

“…every player who does not start at the crack of the bat gets a sharp lecture from the manager.”

Watkins, as we have seen, is feeling pretty good about his ball club right now. (After all, they can beat good college teams about half the time!) Our reporter mostly agrees. The fielding has been “snappy” – though not in mid-season form, of course. The base running has been excellent. As we have heard repeatedly, the boys are fast. They haven’t been hitting much — but that’s because Watkins has them playing small ball – “instructing them in the art of pushing a runner around the sacks by placing their drives.”

The pitching has been strong, for the most part, but Ludwig is the only catcher really doing well right now. Roach has a sore arm and O’Leary is carrying some “surplus beef” right now. O’Leary will probably be starting once the real season starts, as he’s the best hitter of the three.

The reporter hazards a guess at the opening day lineup: Maloney, Coulter, and Sullivan in the gardens, Oyler at Short, Fox at second, Lally at first, Demontreville at third. McNichol might be at third if Demontreville’s arm doesn’t come around. Lally has been weak with the willow, but he’s always been a hitter and everyone’s sure he’ll come around. O’Rourke has also been playing well at third and short, and perhaps might hang on as well.

edvard the scream munch smThe pitchers have had scant opportunity to display their slab artistry, so it’s much too early for our intrepid reporter to have any real idea of who will make the club. That being said, Frosty Thomas and Rusty Owen certainly have made a strong case for two places on the roster. The vaunted Munch, it turns out, is still in Chicago! Munch! It turns out he has a business there and has received special permission to stay there until the season opens. Watkins has high regard for Mr. Munch, apparently; the writer supposes that Mr. Munch pretty much has a lock on one spot in the rotation. I would not be surprised to find out that Watkins is related to Munch. With nine pitchers in the mix, including the Magnificent Munch, the writer figures only four or five will make the club. Let’s say Munch has a lock. Who will be the other four?

“Which ones will be selected for the axe cannot be predicted.”

Frosty Thomas - Minneapolis Journal - 3 April 1906

Frosty

Rusty Owens - MJ

Rusty

 

Frosty Thomas and Rusty Owen seem like good bets. It’s too early to tell, but don’t count Koukalik out.

Joe Koukalik

Joe Koukalik

 

the vaunted Parmelee returns

waiting for parmelee 13 may 14

Well, nice to see a walk off shot yesterday from Chris Parmelee, who’s had a rough go of it, being dropped from the 40 man roster this spring and clearing waivers. Parms went down to the minors though and continued to hit down their like he usually does, and the Twins brought him back up, and, well here we are then.

hr parmelee c 13 may 14

Sir Parmelee’s enchanted weapon is returned to him after the fearsome blow was struck.

weapon parmelee c2 sm 13 may 14

Way to go, Parms!

 

7 April 1904: Koukalik smoke!

Thursday Evening

Millers logo c

Well, perhaps the Millers may have been over-confident, facing the striplings of Illinois. Or perhaps it was just a lucky day by a pair of strong-armed young college pitchers. Or or or perhaps the Millers are yet rusty from a long winter’s hibernation? Or perhaps this year’s edition of the Millers just can’t hit a lick.

Time will tell. But yesterday the promising pair of pitching pupils, Pond and Pfeffer, held Watkin’s men to five lowly hits, and the college boys on the whole showed a good deal of verve and ginger in scratching out a narrow 3-2 victory, tallying the winning mark in the bottom of the ninth. The nimble Pfeffer also turned in two fielding gems, snagging a pair of line drives through the box.

Joe Koukalik

Joe Koukalik

Joe Koukalik made good for the Minneapolitans, permitting just three hits in six innings of work, while striking out seven batsmen. I am looking for good things from Koukalik this campaign. Keep your eye on this young man. His arm is like a deadly, missile-hurling device of war.

Converse was “unlucky” in the ninth, but it is said he turned in a creditable effort for a man who’s not yet in playing condition. In the ninth he yielded a double to Pitts, a single to Rothgeb, moving Pitts to third, and then a long out to Byers scored Pitts to carry the day.

Frank McNichol played third for the sore-winged Demontreville, and also garnered two of the Miller’s five hits. Our reporter was impressed by his efforts:

“He played with spirit, and his work, on the whole, was very good.”

Well, in any case, it’s just spring training. These games don’t count.

no neck?

Walt Williams was known as “no-neck”.

Kind of an odd nickname.

walt williams

I don’t know if Eddie Brinkman had a nickname, but it would have been good if he could have been on the same team as No-neck, just to balance things out a bit.

eddie brinkman

Then again, some people just like to collect football cards. Don’t ask me why.

garo

Well, to each their own. It’s all good.