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

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