April 19th,1904: Here it comes.

Tuesday Evening: Here it comes.

excerpt - Minneapolis Journal - 19 April 1904 - league play begins

Get ready.

 

Opening day.

Tomorrow.

It’s the Minneapolis Millers at the Toledo Mud Hens, the St. Paul Saints at the Columbus Senators, the KC Blues at the Indianapolis Indians, and the Milwaukee Brewers at the Louisville Colonels, as the American association’s 1904 season gets underway.

The Journal reports that Watkins has been drilling his men in teamwork, and that the team is in good shape for the coming fray. There is speed (of course), and there is pitching. The one weak spot, our reporter admits, might be with the stick. The Millers did not exactly light up the scoreboard during the exhibition season. But our reporter says that Watkins doesn’t much care about results in the spring games; he’s been busy teaching his men the fine points of the game, the placement of their drives, the advancement of the runners, the bunt, the hit-and-run. Watkins doesn’t need a lot of hits, apparently. He will manufacture runs. In half their games this spring, the Millers had more runs than hits. That tells you something right there.

Looking around the league, our reporter says that many are picking Louisville to finish first, and admits that they do look like a good club. Indianapolis also ought to be in the first division without trouble. St. Paul is not so good as last year, when, as you may recall, they were the champions. Milwaukee looks strong. Columbus looks good “on paper” – “but the team contains several men whose presence is not conducive to perfect harmony, notably Yeager of the 1903 Millers.”

yeager b, 1903

Yeagar, 1903 – Clubhouse Poison?

(Makes me curious about Yeager and the ’03 Millers. What went on there?)

Kansas City and Toledo look plainly like second division prospects, though Toledo is looking stronger than last season.

The Minneapolis club won it’s third victory at Fort Wayne yesterday, 5-3. “Daring base running in the eighth inning, which befuddled the Fort Wayne infield, saved the Millers from defeat.”

But the game is of little note. All eyes are on the future, the regular season. President Watkins has released to the press the opening day lineup (more or less) for the Toledo game on the morrow:

Al (or Lee) Demontreville, 3b
Billy Fox, 2b – Captain
Billy Maloney, rf
Denny Sullivan, cf
Cy Coulter, lf
Andy Oyler, ss
Dan Lally, 1b
William Ludwig or Mike Roach, c
Frosty Thomas or Gus Munch, p

 

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18 April 1904 – Who Are These Guys?

18 April 1904 – Monday Eveningexcerpt - Minneapolis Journal - 2 April 1904 - spalding guide

The spring games continue, but you can tell it’s just a formality now, as the team is set and all thoughts are on the approaching regular season, just around the corner. The games that will count. The boys have found some warm weather in Fort Wayne, and maybe they are a fair-weather club, as they’ve taken two straight from the Railroaders of Fort Wayne. Yesterday ol’ Doc Bailey finally came over from Columbus for his first innings of work, and gave up a couple of singles in three innings. The Unknowable Munch did most of the work though, hurling the first six, and the boys won the game 5-2. (They must be playing the full nine, now that they are out of the collegiate competition.) The day before they carried the day 5-4, with the Elongated Stimmel and Model K Ford pitching in the win. For the offense, Sullivan and Fox have been the wand wizards in Fort Wayne.

With the season drawing nigh, and the roster nearly set, I decided it was time to try to find some first names for these guys. Surprising how that doesn’t seem to come up much in these articles. Perhaps it was a more formal time period, where first names were not used except on the good occasions, like fine china. Still, you’d think that the sports page might be a bit less informal.

 

First, Roach, the back-up catcher. While there have been a lot of mentions of Roach in the Journal, our Scribe has not yet, I don’t think, leaked his first name to the public. Or perhaps the Roach family was simply too poor to afford first names. I checked the minor league rosters and register on baseballreference.com, and there’s a list of about a dozen guys known just as Roach. Helpful. Looking through the newspaper archives, though, I come to the conclusion that our guy is Michael Stephen Roach… based on a reference I spotted  to an M. S. Roach, and another to a Roach playing catcher in Columbus, who’s name, I think, was Mike. And who I think went to play then at Indianapolis, and then came to the Millers. So we’ll go with Michael Stephen until I see something different. No picture yet of Mr. Roach.

My second challenge was the Mysterious Munch. Not so many anonymous Munches in the register, but also nobody listed that seemed likely. I saw a few newspaper references to an A. Munch at about this time period, a pitcher, and then also to a left-handed pitcher in Chicago named Gus Munch. I suspect that would be short for Augustus, and so I think that’s our guy, Gus Munch. Again, till I find out different.

Gus Munch - 1908 West End Chicago Team 2

 

15 April 1904 – The Flight of the Pelican

Friday Evening –

Archie Stimmel - SABR b

The Millers win another from the college boys, a loosely played affair that finishes 10-3. The weather is good for a change, and this must have thrown everyone off their game, the pitchers particularly. The seldom-used Stimmel was the hurler for the Minneapolitans. He is known as “the Pelican,” – and I guess I do see a resemblance – and our journalist says that yesterday he was occasionally effective, but wild. Seems like he might have worded that the other way around? But, either way, the Pelican gets his first win of the spring. Ford also tossed a few innings, and was also occasionally effective, but wild.

Meanwhile the battsmen are playing Watkins style of baseball:

“A feature of the game was the manner in which the Millers placed their hits. Whenever there was a chance to draw a man out of his position it was done, and then a Minneapolis batter would send the ball over the uncovered  ground for a single.”

Sullivan was injured in the fifth, sliding into third base, knocked unconscious. They finally needed to take him out of the game (presumably after he came to…) but they also think it likely that he’ll play tomorrow. Katoll’s arm is fine.

This makes three straight wins over the youth of Illinois, and the games sound like they were not very good. Perhaps everyone has lost interest? The Minneapolis boys are breaking camp, moving on. They’ll leave early Saturday morning, by train, I imagine, for Fort Wayne, were they will play four games, Saturday – Tuesday. Then they head to Toledo, for the opening game of the American Association season.

14 April 1904 – “listless”

Thursday evening baseball news… Well, the Millers won 6-4 yesterday, a game described as “listless” by our reporter, who perhaps had other things in mind when he found out he was going to cover spring training. Yes, it’s another cold day, and windy too, and the batters had some fun with that. Coulter hit a home run and a couple of singles, going 3 for 3. With the cold weather the pitchers “used little speed” and relied on the fielders to make the outs. (That’s their story, anyway…)  Frosty Thomas started and went four, giving up a run. The Magnificent Munch finished up, gave up two runs in the fifth and one in the seventh. (Let down by his fielders, perhaps.) Our reporter says that Munch pitched “very clever ball.”

“Munch has a peculiar motion, which holds the runner very close to first base. He is also in the game at all stages, and he takes every advantage of a batter’s weakness.”

Thomas apparently was not as clever, yet still somehow managed to get the other guys out. They only played seven innings, and it looks like Katoll was in the game long enough to get hit by a pitch. I’m confident his arm is fine, though. I’ve stopped worry about Katoll’s arm. It seems to be as good as new. Spring training seems like it’s gone on long enough, the road trip that never ends. excerpt - Minneapolis Journal - 14 April 1904 - lawn kimonos

In other news, the Japanese are beating the Russians at Port Arthur. The Russian fleet has met disaster. Not much else going on. Snow and rain in Minnesota, with a high of 44 and a low of 24. Lawn Kimonos are on sale at the Minneapolis Dry Goods store. Pretty good price. excerpt - Minneapolis Journal - 14 April 1904 -radium

And it looks like the Regal Shoe Store has got a tube of Radium to put on display. What will they think of next?

Good Game, Connie

Just noticed this.

Connie Marrero has passed away, April 23rd, in Havana, age 102.

Connie Marrero 1953 Topps

The NY Times has a nice obit here.

Connie was the Oldest Living Ballplayer, which we noted earlier in this blog. That title now goes to Mike Sandlock, 98, born October 17, 1915.

Mike Sandlock - 1953 - Topps

 

Looking at Wikipedia’s list of Oldest Living Ballplayers, I see a few names of note. Bobby Doerr is working his way up the list, as is Monte Irvin and Al Dark. I was surprised to see Sam Mele, former Twins manager, also on the list; Mele’s got a classic old baseball card, recently acquired for The Collection.

Sam Mele 2

Anyway, Connie’s gone, the circle-change of life goes on. Ballplayers go up to the plate, take their swings, and then grab some bench. Those moments at bat are fleeting, brief. So pay attention out there. Take your best swings.

Good game, Connie.

13 April 1904: Case Closed

Wednesday Evening

Charlie Case

Charlie Case

Remember Mr. Case?

Remember the plaudits tossed by Manager Watkins just two days ago?

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

No wonder Watkins was so worried about Case yesterday. No wonder he told him to take it easy. He didn’t want him hurt before he could be shipped off to Duluth, nor did he want him to perform well, so that people would be upset by his departure. A tightrope act by Mr. Watkins, and a successful one at that.

Does Watkins have any feel for how the team might feel about this?

Probably not. They are just pawns in his game.

In any Case, Case is gone, Duluth bound, another Case of disappearing ballplayers. Ahh, well.

edvard the scream munch smIn other news, Munch apparently showed up on Monday evening, and he “showed fine form” while pitching the last three innings in a 3-2 victory. “He merely toyed with the varsity players, who were unable to solve his curves for a single hit.” He also varies his speed so as to confuse the batters, and “His slow ball is very deceptive.”

With the good news (The Incomparable Munch!) comes the bad, of course.

Demontreville has a sore arm, “caused by being hit with a water polo ball while refereeing a local contest.” This is not of a serious nature, apparently — I assume our scribe could not keep a straight face as he typed this tidbit up — and it won’t keep Demont from playing. No wonder pros today have that Water Polo Refereeing Prohibition in the standard contract. An arcane bit of legalese, probably many have puzzled over. Now we know why it’s there.

And what’s this? Ludwig’s arm is also now troubling him too! Slightly, they say. It’s nothing. Just a minor thing, really, and hardly worth mentioning. He will be in good shape again soon, they say. So; as soon as we get rid of our third catcher, our new first stringer has a “slightly” sore arm. Why do I think I see where this is headed?

Frosty Thomas

Frosty Thomas

But, again on the upside, Frosty Thomas has recovered from his neuralgia (what the heck is that?) and is ready for more slab duty. Bring it on, he says.

And, finally, the deal for Converse is complete and details are undisclosed, which seems a bit odd, but in any case, Converse heads up to Winnipeg “as soon as his transportation arrives.”
Horse?
Freight train?

spalding's 1904 Guide

And, a last bit of unrelated baseball news, the big leagues open their 1904 season tomorrow.

In the American league, the New York Highlanders are the odds-on favorites, though the Philadelphians and the Cleveland Naps are expected to challenge. For the Nationals, Pittsburg and New York are the favorites. The 1904 Highlanders are lead by outfielders Patsy Dougherty, John Anderson, and Willie Keeler, with Jack Chesboro on the mound. Cleveland features the Great Lajoie at second base, Elmer Flick in the outfield, Bill Bernhard and Addie Joss on the mound, while the Athletics will rely on Lave Cross at short, Socks Seybold and Topsy Hartsel in the outfield, and pitchers Rube Waddell, Eddie Plank, and Chief Bender – which is not a bad start for a rotation.

The Pirates, in the senior circuit, have the great Honus Wagner at short, Tommy Leach at third, Fred Clarke, Ginger Beaumont, and Jimmy Sebring in the outfield, with Sam Leever and Deacon Phillippe twirling. The Giants counter with Dan McGann at first, Bill Dahlen at short, Art Devlin at third, and Roger Bresnahan and Sam Mertes in the garden. Christy Mathewson, Joe “Iron Man” McGinnity, Dummy Taylor, and Hooks Wiltse are the slab artists, another fine assemblage for manager John McGraw. Sounds like a good season shaping up, for those who care about “major league” base ball.