The End of the Gardy Era

Well, the Twins fired Ron Gardenhire today, after 13 year of good and diligent service. It kind of brings me down.

Gardy caught a lot of flack, but I always liked him. He always seemed to be a straight-talking kind of guy, who had a good perspective on the game. And I appreciated his perspective. Even today, from what I heard on the radio, it was rather a mutual “parting of ways,” and I heard Gardy say that it was time for these players to hear somebody else. Probably, after four bad years, Gardy saw this coming; I don’t think you can say that he played a major role in the four bad years, not with the players he had to work with. But he was a part of the mess, and part of the manager’s job is to get fired.

Todd Tichenor, Ron Gardenhire

That, and to get tossed out of games every once in a while.

Good job, Gardy. I will miss you next season, and I hope you find another job managing. Your a guy that respects the game, and you deserve a good team and a world series.

22 April 1904: Back down to Earth

The inestimable Munch: Pummeled!
Captain Fox: Fined!
Millers: Beaten!

excerpt - Minneapolis Journal - 22 April 1904 - munch hit hard b

Well, the mill-city boys took it on the chin yesterday in Toledo, 6-2, a game that was not as close as it sounds, and it doesn’t even sound too close. According to our source Billy Cristall, pitcherm, Toledo - Wikipedia(“special to the Journal”) the Vaunted Munch got hit around pretty good by them there mudhens, while our own wand wizards couldn’t figure out the curvaceous tosses of Mr. Cristall.

 

Munch got a lucky hit in the third, and came around to score, but that was about it for the boys from Minneapolis. Meanwhile Munch gets pounded, gives up 12 hits, including a homer to Brouthers, (were there a lot of guys named Brouthers back then?) and two walks, and the chickens 3 scores in the fifth pretty much tell the tale.

excerpt - Minneapolis Journal - 22 April 1904 - munch hit hard box score - fine b

Other “highlights”:

“Demont” – the wizard at third base, committed a costly error. Leslie started again at catcher, and got a hit. Munch; I’d been wondering if he’d give up 12 hits all season, and here they are, in game two. And Captain Fox got fined $10 “for talking back to Umpire Bausewine.”

Good to see Captain Fox making an effort; I wonder when this happened in the game? Perhaps he was trying to wake the boys up? Meanwhile Bausewine is probably trying to set the tone for the season, I guess.

And, good name for an umpire.

it’s good to be on top

excerpt - Minneapolis Journal - 21 April 1904 - game 1 - standings b

It’s always nice to start the season 1-0.

Any Twin’s fan can tell you that. Though we haven’t had that experience in a good many years, we imagine that the teams that are 1-0 must feel pretty good about themselves. We are well-familiar with the other side of the coin, and know pretty well how that feels.

But I digress.

Minneapolis Journal - 21 April 1903 - headline - game 1b

Watkins.

Does the man never rest?

Here it is. Opening Day.

And suddenly there’s a new man, a new catcher, all set to split the catching duties with our hometown favorite, Mr. Ludwig. There’s Ludwig, fighting his way through a tough spring training, coming out on top — out of no where — to claim the starter spot… and then, no. Mr. Ludwig, meet Mr. Leslie; and, oh, by the way, Mr. Leslie will be starting today instead of you.

I imagine that Mr. Ludwig would feel pretty bad about that.

Not that Watty cares.

Because: Win, baby. That’s all that matters. The name of the game is winning. You want to catch, Ludwig? You want to catch? Play better than Leslie. The end.

WH Watkins c

 

Frosty Thomas

Frosty Thomas

The Millers win the game in the 9th, on a couple of Mud Hen errors. Well, that’s how pennants are won. Capitalizing on the other guy’s mistakes. The hero of the game, I suppose, was Frosty Thomas, who got the opening day start, which was kind of a surprise. We heard good things about Frosty during spring training, but nothing so effusive as what we heard about the Masterful Munch. And Frosty could easily have been the goat, as he gave up six walks along with his six hits. But he bore down when he needed to, and the Millers avoided the Big Mistakes, and we squeaked one out in Toledo.

The other hero, I suppose, was center fielder Denny Sullivan — a guy we haven’t heard much about in the press. It sounds like he snagged a few line-drives that looked like hits out there in the garden, and that probably saved the game, the way Thomas was handing out free passes to the sacks. I looked about for a picture of Denny, but he seems to have been pretty camera-shy. SABR has a little biography of him, but I had to look through the newspaper archives for a picture.

The first one I found was from the Journal in 1905, so I guess Denny sticks with the club for a while. It’s not a very flattering picture, especially for today’s slick fielding hero.

minneapolis Journal - May 1905 - Denny Sullivan drawing b

So I kept looking and found a Miller’s team photo later in 1905. So here’s Denny, and I guess we’ll be hearing about him through the season. He’s fast on the sacks, they say.

Minneapolis Journal - 14 September 1905 - Denny Sullivan in team photo c

 

So there we have it. Opening day, 1-0, first place, a new catcher named Leslie, and Frosty Thomas gets the win.

Minneapolis Journal - 21 April 1904 - boxscore - game 1b

hey, get a klu!

Ted Kluszewski’s birthday today.

Even though I’m not what you’d call a Reds fan, this is still one of my favorite baseball cards. (I wonder if that little guy on the uniform, with the moustache, I wonder if he’s got a name?)

 

No, they don’t make ’em like Big Ted anymore.ted smTed was born in 1924, making him a lot older than me. He’d be celebrating his 90th birthday, I guess, if he was still alive, which he ain’t. Ted passed away in 1988, at only 63.

Couple of things about Ted. He was a four time all-star, 1953-56, and led the majors in home runs in 1954. (With 49.) Plus he led the National League first basemen in fielding average five times. He had 15 inch biceps and cut the sleeves off his jersey because they restricted his swing. He was the hitting coach on the Big Red Machine teams of the seventies.

Okay, one last tid-bit, from the SABR bio:

What separated Kluszewski from the rest of the musclemen was his off-the-charts discipline at the plate. He totaled 31 fewer strikeouts (140) than home runs (171) in his four peak seasons. Of the 10 times in major-league history that a player hit at least 40 homers with fewer strikeouts, three were by Kluszewski. The others on the list: Lou Gehrig (twice), Johnny Mize (twice), Mel Ott, Joe DiMaggio, and Barry Bonds.

 

Pretty impressive list to be at the top of.

Happy birthday, Mr. Kluszewski, sir.

Good game.

 

20 April 1904 – Play Ball!

At Last: OPENING DAY!Millers logo c

The Journal could show a bit more enthusiasm; Opening Day isn’t mentioned until page 18 of today’s paper. But, then again, it’s an afternoon game, and it’s in Toledo, and so we won’t actually be finding out how the game went until tomorrow’s paper anyway. Maybe then they’ll make a bigger deal of it.

Toledo’s lineup has not yet been finalized. Our reporter says that the Millers’ lineup has been set for three weeks, so forget about all that last-minute maneuvering, Watty had it planned all along. The Ineffable Munch or Frosty Thomas will start the opener for the Millers. Watty probably knows which one, but wants to keep them Mud Hens guessing. All part of the plan. All part of the inner game.

The reporter looks ahead at the opening season road trip and sees the boys going 8-8 on the road to start the season:

“With ordinary luck the Millers should get three games at Toledo, two at Columbus, and three at Louisville and Indianapolis together. This would bring them home with a percentage of .500, a very good showing for the first series away from home. With good fortune, the millers might do even better.”

From our perspective It’s pretty impossible to say how they’ll do this year. Somehow I suspect that our information coming from the hometown Journal may be a bit… biased? Optimistic? Looking for another point of view, I took a look at the Indianapolis Journal of 17 April, where they look at each team vying for the American Association Crown. Now here’s a newspaper that knows how to handle Opening Day: a two-page spread, rosters of each team, schedules, a team-by-team overview. Even pictures of the Association umpires.

Indianapolis Journal - 17 April 1904 - American Association Umpires b

Here are some excerpts from this season preview:

Kansas City
“…with one team this year, and a team which the fans and President Gear are figuring as a sure candidate for first division honors, there promises to be a revival in baseball which will put Kansas City in the front ranks of attendance and loyal support. The outfield will be fast… in the backstop department Kansas City will be well fortified… The Blues look stronger in the pitching department than for two years.”

Toledo
“The prospects for a winning team in Toledo seem much brighter this season than at any time since the formation of the American Association. …the Toledo lineup will consist of something besides “good fellows” and unknowns. This year the Toledo team will be composed for the most part of players who have at one time or another performed in the big leagues.”

Columbus
“A good crowd is expected for opening day. “We are expecting to be among the first three, and we will have to start right to do that,” said he [Clymer, perhaps their manager.] “My team has not been picked yet, and will not be, perhaps, till after the season opens, owing to the bad weather, which has given us little chance to practice and to get a line on the men. One thing I know, and that is that I will have a shifty team, and one which can find men on it to play anywhere if injury comes on in some department. Columbus will hit better too, this year, and do better work on the bases.””

Indianapolis
“Indianapolis baseball fans would never be satisfied with a second division team… nothing but the best is wanted. Manager Philips is making no predictions – he is too quiet and unassuming to belittle other teams or to praise his own. But he seems to be pretty well satisfied with his aggregation. Indianapolis has a completely new infield this season, with the exception of Magoon.”

Before Watkins left Indianapolis for the greener pastures of Minneapolis he signed some hard-hitting youngsters for the 1904 Hoosiers, and a lot is expected of Dickey, Hess, and Carr in the infield. The outfield is a concern, however. There’s a hole in left field, with nobody to fill it. The pitching will be stronger this year, though, and the catching is also strong. No predictions are made by the scribe, but we all know that the Indianapolis fans will accept absolutely nothing but the best and finest, because that’s just how they are, what they’ve grown accustomed to, being from Indianapolis.

Milwaukee
“Brewers in need of good pitchers,” the tagline says, but then it also says that the general impression here is that Joe Cantillion has again gathered a first division team. The team as a whole seems stronger, though the pitching staff seems weaker, with Elmer Meredith the only experienced twirler from last year. Several of the new pitchers are untried, and so not much can be expected, I guess. It also seems that the Brewers “…will feel the loss of Jiggs Donahue at first, Schafley at second, Unglaub at third, Ganley and Dunleavy in the outfield and Claude Elliot in the box…” In short, just about everybody. And yet the team, as a whole, seems stronger.
But for the weaker pitching.
This team is an enigma.

Louisville
“President George Tebeau says that Louisville has this season the best outfield it has ever known, and predicts that the Colonels will be right in the running at the call of “Play ball!” It is believed by the local fans that the pitching department of the team is much stronger than it was last year.”

St. Paul Strong in Every Department
“Manager Mike Kelly is delighted with the prospects of his team. In the party are eighteen players, not one of whom is a shirker or a dead one. Under Kelly’s discipline the men are keeping good hours and observing good habits, which are bound to tell in the campaign about to begin. The team looks good in every department. O’Brien [ss] is showing up in fine form, and it is predicted that he will have the best year of his career this coming season.”

(On the other hand, the St. Paul Globe of 17 April says that Manager Kelly is discouraged over the Saint’s chances of repeating as champs. The new men are not shaping up as expected. He’s got 19 men in camp, and expects to let six of them go tomorrow.)

Minneapolis
“Watkins is generally very optimistic, but he seems to have just cause to believe that his team will place Minneapolis nearer the top of the ladder this season than it has been for several years… The Minneapolis team was strengthened this year by purchasing several players from the Indianapolis club, among them being Captain Fox, center fielder Coulter, and pitcher Ford… Watkins is well pleased with his pitching department. Katoll, Ford, Thomas, and Bailey are a strong quartet.”

(And don’t forget about Munch…)

Here, for all of you 1904 American Association fans, are the rosters at the beginning of the season, courtesy of the Indianapolis Journal, which knows a thing or two about base ball coverage.

Indianapolis Journal - 17 April 1904 - rosters of the American Association b fr