Miguel Cabrera’s 2000th Hit – and other fun stuff…

Headlines:

Charlie Blackmon has the first six hit game in Rockies history since Andres Galarraga went 6 – 6 in 1995. [SI]

It started off a little rocky, but Masahiro Tanaka won his first start with the Yankees, going seven innings and fanning eight.  [MLB]

Josh Beckett isn’t coming back as soon as he had hoped.  While making a rehab start, Beckett left his game in the fifth inning after injuring himself while fielding a bunt.  Beckett is trying to return from thoracic outlet syndrome, but was put on the DL prior to the Dodgers going to Australia. [MLB]

Houston leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler was hospitalized with a stomach virus and likely will not play on Saturday either.  [MLB]

Miguel Cabrera got his 2000th career hit – and it was a homer.  My take on it is that Cabrera, if he stays healthy and productive, could finish with around 3800 career hits before it’s over – the closest anyone may come to Pete Rose for the forseeable future…  [FoxSports]

Jason Kipnis signed a six year extension with the Cleveland Indians, worth $52.5 million, and a seventh year option could extend the deal into 2020.  The Indians have been locking down young talent, having recently signed deals with Michael Brantley and catcher Jan Gomes. [MLB]

They said I had to go to rehab…

Those extending spring training with minor league stints include Cody Ross, Michael Bourn, Matt Harrison, Stephen Pryor, Devin Mesoraco, Mat Latos, Boone Logan, Craig Breslow, Ryan Cook, Gordon Beckham, Jeremy Affeldt, Taijuan Walker, Juan Carlos Oviedo, Jonathan Broxton, and Mike Adams.

Welcome Back!

Matt Kemp returned to the Dodgers…

Hurry Back!

White Sox pitcher Nate Jones strained a muscle in his left hip.
Mets outfielder Chris Young has a right quad strain.
A’s SS Jake Elmore has a strained left quad…

That must have been some 4th of July Party…

Daniel Murphy and Brian Duensing return from the paternity list, while Rays LF Sean Rodriguez heads to the paternity list…  Congratulations!!!

Belated Birthday wishes…

Those celebrating with cake, cards, or remembrances on 4/4 included:

(1888) Tris Speaker
(1897) Lefty (Ray) Miner
(1916) Mickey Owen
(1924) Gil Hodges
(1941) Eddie Watt
(1942) Jim Fregosi
(1943) Mike Epstein
(1947) Ray Fosse
(1956) Tom Herr
(1975) Scott Rolen
(1987) Cameron Maybin
(1991) Martin Perez

Baseball 365

Arrivals:

(1876) Big Bill Dinneen – good pitcher, good bowler, decent enough umpire…

(1907) Sugar Cain

(1938) Ron Hansen – back when shortstops could field and usually couldn’t hit – and Ron was one of those guys…

(1951) Rennie Stennett – second sacker of those great 1970s Pirates teams.

(1985) Lastings Millege – one assumes he’s no longer a prospect…  He hasn’t had a major league hit since 2011.

Departures:

(1974) Fred Snodgrass

Fred Snodgrass is most famous for his dropping a fly ball in the 10th inning of a game in the 1912 World Series that contributed to the Red Sox coming back and beating the Giants.  What is forgotten about that play is that immediately after the drop, Snodgrass was forced to play shallow with a runner at second.  When Harry Hooper launched a fly to deep right center, Snodgrass ran like the wind to haul it in – and then rifled a throw back toward second that very nearly doubled off that runner.  The Giants missed a shot at getting Tris Speaker out on a foul pop, which gave Speaker a chance to drive in the tying run.

When Snodgrass returned to his native California after his playing days, we would become a banker and major of Oxnard, CA.

Snodgrass is one of about two dozen players who were interviewed for Ritter’s “The Glory of Their Times” – and his story is a fascinating read.

Transactions and Events:

(1972) The Mets get Rusty Staub from the Expos for Ken Singlton, Tim Foli, and Mike Jorgensen.

(1977) The Yankees acquire Bucky Dent from the White Sox for Oscar Gamble, LaMarr Hoyt, Bob Polinsky, and cash.

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Filed under Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Boone Logan, Brian Duensing, Charlie Blackmon, Chicago White Sox, Chris Young - OF, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Cody Ross, Colorado Rockies, Craig Breslow, Daniel Murphy, Detroit Tigers, Devin Mesoraco, Dexter Fowler, Gordon Beckham, Houston Astros, Jake Elmore, Jason Kipnis, Jeremy Affeldt, Jonathan Broxton, Josh Beckett, Juan Carlos Oviedo, Los Angeles Dodgers, Masahiro Tanaka, Mat Latos, Matt Harrison, Matt Kemp, Michael Bourn, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Adams, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, Nate Jones, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Oakland A's, Ryan Cook, San Francisco Giants, Sean Rodriguez, Stephen Pryor, Taijuan Walker, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers

Did Aussie Trip Contribute to Dodger Pitching Injuries? (and other fun stuff…)

Yu Darvish should be back and pitching on Sunday against the Rays.  He has been on the DL with a stiff neck, but he’s been throwing comfortably in rehab and bullpen sessions. [FoxSports]

Speaking of the Rays (sort of), Tampa gave a six-year, $25.5 contract to Chris Archer.  It took Archer a long time to become a hot commodity, having been drafted out of high school in 2006 and bouncing around a couple of teams before finding himself and his success with the Rays.  The Rays do this a lot – lock up young pitchers before they can become free agents – and it has worked out pretty well for them.  [SI]

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt thinks that the odd travel schedule given to the Dodgers, including a season starter with Arizona in Australia, has contributed to the team’s pitching injury collection.  The Dodgers were forced to cut spring training short, and players had odd off days around the travel schedule. [ESPN]

It’s time to start the Derek Jeter gift set…  From Houston, the shortstop received custom Yankees cowboy boots, a stetson hat, and a nice set of golf clubs. [FoxSports]

From the Transaction Wire…

Mets infielder Daniel Murphy has been added to the paternity list – he will return once his baby arrives.

A few official DL moves – Wilson Ramos, Bobby Parnell, Brian Wilson, and Rockies pitcher Tyler Chatwell, who has an injured left hamstring.

A lot of moves on 4/2 – mostly teams moving around their twenty-fourth player or compensating for late injury moves.

From Baseball 365:

Arrivals:

(1856) Guy Hecker

Hecker was a pretty important figure in the development of baseball in Western Pennsylvania after a pretty impressive major league career.  He threw a no-hitter as a pitcher, went 52 – 20 with the 1884 Louisville Colonels throwing 670.2 innings, and was a very good hitter, too, batting over .300 a couple of times and winning a batting title.  When his major league and minor league career was over, he was the player-coach for a number of great semi-pro teams in Oil City, PA.  The team, nicknamed “Hecker’s Hitters” would regularly play exhibitions against major league teams and occasionally win.  I ran across his name several times when researching my biography of Rube Waddell.

Somewhere, there is a pretty good 40-page biography of Hecker and I’d like to read it.

(1926) Alex Grammas

(1930) Wally Moon

(1958) Gary Pettis -Something tells me he STILL looks like he is 25 and can fly.

(1963) Chris Bosio

(1975) Koji Uehara

(1987) Jay Bruce and Jason Kipnis

Departures:

(1952) Phenominal Smith

Born John Francis Gammon, Smith was a New Hampshire native who spent a couple of years in the Majors as a left-handed fireballer in the 1880s.  He got his nickname, not from an early version of Jim Rome, but for a 16-strikeout performance as a promising prospect playing in Pennsylvania.  He once claimed he could win without teammates – so his Brooklyn teammates proceeded to bungle plays in a loss to St. Louis, resulting in fines for the fielders and Smith’s earning his release from the team.

The book Major League Profiles – 1891 – 1900 contains a very interesting biography – the tale of a headstrong prospect who confounded owners who tried to bring him into the fold only to find he likely wasn’t worth his salt.  Smith matured, however, becoming a scout, owner, and player-manager until the early 1900s – winning minor league batting titles and having a hand in discovering Nap Lajoie and Christy Matthewson.  At one point, he even coached a college basketball team – a sport that didn’t even exist when he was a professional athlete.  Smith moved to Manchester, NH, where he joined the police department until his retirement in 1932.

Transactions:

(1966) The Mets sign Tom Seaver, after having won a lottery for his rights.  Seaver had been drafted by Atlanta, but his contract (and $50,000 bonus) was voided because he had signed a contract while still pitching for USC.

(1974) The Dodgers acquire teenaged outfielder Pedro Guerrero from Cleveland for pitcher Bruce Ellingsen.  That worked out okay…

(1987) Chicago trades away Dennis Eckersley to Oakland for three minor prospects…  Having lost his touch as a starter in Chicago, Oakland received the best closer of the next decade.

Events:

(1964) A line drive off the bat of Gates Brown caroms off the chin of Mets pitcher Carl Willey, breaking Willey’s jaw and, for the most part, ends Willey’s career.  Willey had been a top prospect in the Braves chain, was traded to the Mets in 1963 and was actually a serviceable pitcher for a horrible team.

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Filed under Bobby Parnell, Brian Wilson, Chris Archer, Colorado Rockies, Daniel Murphy, Derek Jeter, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Tyler Chatwood, Wilson Ramos, Yu Darvish

Derek Jeter Says “Ouch!” – and other news…

Headlines:

Frank Freeman hit a pair of homers to give the Braves a win over Milwaukee. [ESPN]

Brad Miller did the same to help Seattle improve to 2 – 0 with a win over Los Angeles. [ESPN]

Derek Jeter‘s twentieth and final season started off like this.  [FoxSports]

 

Hurry Back!

The Dodgers pitching injury woes continued…  Reliever Brian Wilson has damaged nerve endings in his right elbow and will head to the DL.  And, it will be a couple of weeks before Los Angeles will know when Clayton Kershaw will return.  (How fast can Josh Beckett get back?)  [MLB]

Wilson Ramos‘s hand injury is worse than originally suspected and he will head to the DL and likely have surgery on his left hamate bone in the hand.  [MLB]

 

The Transaction Wire:

The Yankees placed SS Brendan Ryan on the DL with an upper back injury, retroactively applied as of March 22.  Instead of giving that job to Edwin Nunez, Nunez was designated for assignment, and the Yankees called up infielder Yangervis Solarte instead.  Solarte hit .429 in the spring and in the PCL has hit about .280 with some power for Texas.  I’m not sure he’d hit enough, but for now the 26 year old Venezuelan infielder is getting a taste of the big leagues…

Atlanta sent pitcher Gavin Floyd on a rehab assignment.

Texas dispatched Michael Kirkman to Round Rock, designated backup catcher Chris Gimenez for assignment, and brought up pitcher Daniel McCutchen.  This won’t mess with too many fantasy rosters…

 

Baseball 365:

Arrivals:

(1856)  Tommy Bond – This is the baseball player, and not the kid who played Butch in the original Little Rascals…  Bond was the first Irish-born major leaguer, a pitcher who won 234 games in the National Association and the early days of the National League.

(1869)  Hughey Jennings – Hall of Fame shortstop and manager, known as Ee-Yah for his shrieks of excitement.

(1907)  Another Hall of Fame shortstop, Ol’ Aches and Pains – Luke Appling.  In his 70s, Appling hit a home run at an old timer’s game in RFK at the age of 75.

(1927) Billy Pierce

(1937) Dick “The Monster” Radatz

(1945) Hall of Fame pitcher, Don Sutton.

(1945) Reggie Smith – a great outfielder of the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

(1964) Pete Incaviglia – who, while at Oklahoma State, hit the longest homer ever seen at Hoglund-Maupin Stadium, the home of the Kansas Jayhawks baseball team.

(1970) Jon Lieber

 

Departures:

(1972)  Gil Hodges, about to manage the Mets for the season…  He had just finished a round of golf in West Palm Beach and collapsed just before his 48th birthday.

(2010)  Mike Cuellar, a cagey left-hander for the Orioles and many other teams – one of my favorite pitchers back in the day.

 

Transactions and Other Notes:

(1931) Jackie Miller, a fine young female pitcher, fans Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in an exhibition game in Chattanooga, TN.

(1963) The Astros trade Manny Mota to Pittsburgh for prospects.  Mota lasts forever.

(1976) The As start the sell-off…  Reggie Jackson, Ken Holtzman and Bill Van Bommell are traded to Baltimore for Don Baylor, Mike Torrez, and Paul Mitchell.

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Filed under Atlanta Braves, Brad Miller, Brendan Ryan, Brian Wilson, Chris Gimenez, Daniel McCutchen, Derek Jeter, Edwin Nunez, Frank Freeman, Gavin Floyd, Josh Beckett, Los Angeles Dodgers, Michael Kirkman, New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, Wilson Ramos, Yangervis Solarte

Hurry Back, Don Baylor!

In case you missed it…

Mike Trout homered in his first at bat – naturally… Yadier Molina‘s solo shot was the only run in a Cardinals victory, and Oakland has lost on opening day for ten straight seasons in a game that featured an umpire review of a collision at home plate using video replay.

Opening Day Injuries:

Jose Reyes has a tight hamstring, so he’s on the 15-day-DL (already).  Reyes had injured the hamstring a week ago and took five days off during spring training, but played over the weekend.  Toronto called up Jonathan Diaz, who played in five games for the Red Sox last season after spending the previous seven seasons in the minors.  He’s never been much of a hitter, but is an impressive fielder.  I wonder if he will still be with the team when Diaz celebrates his 29th birthday on the tenth… [ESPN]

Mets closer Bobby Parnell has a partial MCL tear in his throwing elbow and will be resting for a couple of weeks, with a decision on surgery coming after he tries throwing again.  [MLB]

Wilson Ramos had a tough swing, injuring his hand, and was removed from opening day.  The catcher had an MRI on his hand that found no structural damage and is considered day-to-day.  [ESPN]

The worst injury was to Angels coach Don Baylor, who leaned to catch an opening pitch throw from Vlad Guerrero and somehow, in transferring his weight to his right leg, broke his femur.  Baylor is a survivor of multiple myeloma, a cancer that attacks plasma cells in the bone marrow, something he acquired in 2003.  Baylor needed assistance to get up and hobble off the field and could be out as much as six months. [MLB]

From Baseball 365:

Arrivals:

(1912)  Whistling Jake Wade

(1915)  Jeff Heath – fine outfielder, not as pleasant a teammate, had a couple of good years in the late 1930s and 1940s.  His 1938 and 1941 seasons, where he hit .340 or better with power and a fair eye at the plate are great seasons.  He just didn’t have that many of them and mixed in a year where he hit .219.

(1936)  Ron Perranoski – Dodger arm and long-time pitching coach.

(1939)  Phil Niekro – greatest knuckler of all time.

(1944)  Rusty Staub – Le Grande Orange…  Fantastic hitter until he was as round as an orange, too.

(1948)  Willie Montanez – one of my favorite players of the 1970s as he always seemed to be having fun playing baseball.

(1985)  Daniel Murphy – Mets infielder…

Departures:

Of the 23 deaths to baseball related people on this date, none had the impact in baseball as that of George Edward “Rube” Waddell.  If you don’t believe me – read my book!!!  Rube died in a sanitarium in San Antonio, TX on this day 100 years ago, his once great physical strength sapped by the plague of the period, Tuberculosis.  He was 37.

Umpire John McSherry died of a heart attack just as the Reds were starting its opening day game with the Expos.  I can still picture the video of McSherry running off the field in distress before collapsing.  The game was cancelled, but not without Marge Schott blaming McSherry for ruining opening day…

Transactions:

1962:  The Tigers sign pitcher Dave DeBusschere.  A good pitcher for a couple of years with the White Sox, DeBusschere becomes more famous playing basketball for the Knicks.

1963:  The Mets bring back to NYC the silver-haired outfielder, Duke Snider, after buying him from the Dodgers.

1969:  Seattle trades Lou Piniella to the Royals – a minor deal at the time, until Piniella won the Rookie of the Year award…

1970:  Bud Selig buys the Pilots and moves them to Milwaukee…

1982:  Lee Mazzilli is traded from Mets to Texas for pitchers Ron Darling and Walt Terrell.  Fans were sad, but it worked out okay…

 

And then there was that fantastic article about Sidd Finch in Sports Illustrated back in 1985 (pictures if you want, too).  He could throw really hard…

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Filed under Bobby Parnell, Daniel Murphy, Jonathan Diaz, Jose Reyes, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Mike Trout, New York Mets, Oakland A's, Toronto Blue Jays, Vladimir Guerrero, Washington Nationals, Wilson Ramos, Yadier Molina

Happy Opening Day, 2014!

Jimmy Rollins hit a grand slam for his 200th career homer to give Philadelphia a win over Texas.  And, the first two umpire challenges occur…  The Cubs, naturally, lost theirs while Atlanta was able to overturn a Ryan Braun infield single into an out.

Baseball has started as early as March now since 1996…  Here’s a small slice of March 31 history.

Arrivals:

(1868) “Happy” Jack Stivetts – a pitcher of some skill, winning more than 200 games mostly with the Boston Beaneaters when Boston and Baltimore ruled the National League.  Stivetts had three straight years with more than 400 innings on the hill – and then the pitcher’s mound was moved back to 60′ 6″.  At that point, Stivetts was just good, but he supplemented good pitching with equally good hitting.  In four different seasons, Stivetts cleared .300 including a .367 mark in 1897 and hitting .328 with 64 RBI in 68 games in 1894.  He finished his career hitting nearly .300 with 35 homers.

(1901) George “Mule” Suttles – Hall of Fame Negro Leagues star who hit for high averages with prodigious power in the 1920s and 1930s.

More recent players celebrating with cards, cake, or remembrances include Chien-Ming Wang (1980) and new Cardinals CF Peter Bourjos (1987).

Departures:

(1957) Billy Meyer – The answer to a great Pittsburgh Pirates trivia question – when the Pirates retired #1, what player or manager was honored by that award?  Meyer was a near legendary minor league manager in the Yankees chain, who by unfortunate situations was never able to take over the big league club – usually because the job was owned (Joe McCarthy), or he was ill when the job was offered (eventually going to Casey Stengel).  Instead, he wound up in Pittsburgh…  Meyer had really only one good year at a time the Pirates had Ralph Kiner and nothing else, and suffered a stroke shortly after being fired from the Pirates in the early 1950s.

Transactions:

1980 – The Montreal Expos trade Rusty Staub to Texas for two minor players.

1982 – Texas sends Al Oliver to Montreal for Larry Parrish and a minor league 1B, Dave Hostetler.

Events:

1998 – Tampa Bay begins life by losing to Detroit, 11 – 6.  Wade Boggs hits the first Devil Rays homer.  Across the country, Arizona loses its opener as Diamondbacks Travis Lee and Karim Garcia homer in the 9 – 2 loss to Colorado.

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Change Our Ways or Perish!!!

Every once in a while, when I start looking for information on a player or team, you come across an article about something entirely different that grabs your attention.  Today, I read about how the Palatka Red Legs came about signing their first black baseball player in 1958.

For a little context, I was trying to find information on pitcher/outfielder James Horsford.  Horsford was in the Yankees chain – I learned of him through a conversation with Ike Futch, who played with Horsford when both were on the Greensboro Yankees in 1961.  Futch recalled that Horsford, a black player from Puerto Rico, was “really screwed by the Yankees” – he had many good seasons but never seemed to get the opportunities other players might have received.  (I’ll tell Horsford’s story in another article.)  In talking about Horsford, Ike remembered times when they would be driving home from some game and stop at a restaurant to get a meal and Horsford would not be allowed in the restaurants – a problem playing ball in the segregated deep south at the time – and would have to stay on the bus.  So, one of the players would take Horsford’s order and bring back his dinner for him.  Futch said that he was perhaps the greatest athlete he had seen – a fantastic pitcher with great stuff, a solid outfielder, could hit and run like a deer.  He also said that Horsford spoke perfect English, would be used as a translator for other players of Latin descent (Benny De La Cruz was one), and always had a smile and kind things to say about life and people.  Futch, having grown up in a very small town in Louisiana and been given by his parents and his maker a remarkable capacity for kindness, remembered that it was one of the first times that he recognized that segregation really bothered him because Horsford was such a good guy and he really liked him having gotten to know him as teammates that season.  One figures that two very nice men would easily become friends over the course of 140 games and 70 road trips.

I digress…

Horsford won his first 13 decisions in 1958 for the St. Petersburg Yankees, helping them to the first half crown of the Florida State League.  I don’t know this for certain, but I would guess that Horsford was one of just a few black players in the league – but those who were in the league must have had a great impact on the games as Horsford did.  I mean, Horsford came into the league and with one professional season under his belt was now virtually unbeatable.

The team that finished third hailed from Palatka, Florida – a smallish town south and west of Jacksonville – and apparently they had no black players on the team.  According to a note in The Sporting News (June 25, 1958 – Pg. 40), the owner actually addressed this problem directly with the fans:

“In a dramatic scene at Azalea Bowl in Palatka, President Fred Hancock told a crowd of 280, June 11, that the club faced the necessity of signing Negro players or perhaps giving up its franchise.  When he asked the fans for a rising vote on the proposal, only six were opposed.  Palatka took on its first Negro player the next day, signing Outfielder Sam Conton.”

Can you picture that – the owner of a team asking the fans if it would be okay to sign a black player?!?!  It just reminds you how different the world was even 55 years ago.

Baseball-Reference.com doesn’t list a Sam Conton on the Palatka Red Legs (Vic Davalillo was on the team very, very briefly), but it does list an Alfredo Conton, who played well enough, but had been in the Reds chain for a couple of years.  I’ll have to reach out to the Palatka Historical Society and see if there isn’t something about it in their old newspapers.  As for giving up the franchise – Palatka fell the way of several small cities in the south, losing its team after the 1962 season.

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Happy Birthday, Bananas Benes and Chauncey Fisher

Just tinkering while I have a little time…  Will be going back to my project(s) about minor league all-star Ike Futch and an article about the Augusta  Yankees later this week.  Please forgive me for (a) not giving each player full due and (b) not being careful to document my sources as I do with other posts.

Joe “Bananas” Benes

Joseph Benes was a pretty good minor league infielder, usually on the east coast, playing in Springfield or Newark or Syracuse for the better part of fifteen years during the 1920s and 1930s.  Usually a shortstop, Benes was quick and a decent fielder but apparently wasn’t as good a hitter – which kept him out of the fast company except for about a six week period in 1931 when Benes was already 30 years old.  Born 8 January, 1901, Benes grew up in Long Island City and learned to play ball there, played semi-pro baseball in the Brooklyn area, and landed in the minors as a teen.  In 1931, Branch Rickey had a prospect that wasn’t getting much playing time named Eddie Delker.  So, to get Delker more playing time, Rickey arranged a deal to “trade” Delker to Columbus in the American Association and kept Benes on the bench as a pinch hitter or late inning defensive replacement from early May to mid-June.  Benes, who had already been a regular for more than a decade in the minors, appeared in ten games and got to bat fifteen times, reaching base with two singles, two walks, and getting hit by a pitch before being sent back to the minors.  (Delker wasn’t that much of a prospect and his big league career ended in a couple of years.)

Benes was friends with many scouts in the Yankees chain and later in his career would help them when he played with or against young talent, helping scouts find George “Specs” Torporcer and George McQuinn, among others.  When his minor league career came to an end, he would coach semi-pro teams when not running his own sporting goods store, Benes Sporting Goods, which could have been found at 41-10  29th Street in Long Island City.

Benes remained in the area before he passed to the next league in 1975.

Chauncey Fisher

Chauncey Fisher was a pitcher who, because he didn’t seem to get along with all of his managers, seemed to get bounced around a lot in the 1890s.  Born and raised in Anderson, IN on 8 January, 1872, he came through the semi-pro circuit and lower level minors before becoming a prospect while pitching in the Western League.  Up and down between the National League and the Western League, it took about three years for Fisher to get his bearings, but by 1896 he was pretty good.  Coming off a 36-win season for Indianapolis, the Reds used him regularly in 1896 until he was shuttled back to Indianapolis, apparently to help the Hoosiers win the Western League crown.  (That would never happen today.  Can you see the Yankees, out of a pennant race, sending Ivan Nova down to AAA after showing form with the big club just to help their AAA club win a minor league crown?)

Fisher was traded to Brooklyn the next year – apparently he also didn’t get along with Reds player/manager Buck Ewing – he pitched well but got on the wrong side of Dodgers manager Billy Barnie, which got him farmed to Omaha.  In 1899, Baltimore drafted him – just to send him back to their farm team in Buffalo, and eventually he landed with the 1900 Chicago White Sox in the newly renamed American League where his 19 wins helped the Sox win the first AL pennant.

A very good summary of Fisher’s career is found in the book “Major League Baseball Profiles: 1871 – 1900 (Volume 1)” edited and compiled by David Nemec.  There are two volumes and this collection is truly amazing.  In it, there are two pretty cool stories about Fisher.  The first is that he was a heck of a gambler, and an especially good poker player.  He would frequently leave tables $100 to the richer against weaker card playing foes.

The second story is perhaps more interesting.  In Volume 2 under a story about Albert Manassau, a Western League and Major League umpire, Fisher was involved in a play that would become more famous a decade later.  Trailing by a run with two outs in the last of the ninth inning, Fisher – now playing for the St. Paul Saints – hit a single that tied the score and sent another runner scurrying from first to third.  When the next batter, Eddie Burke, lashed a single to center to score the winning run, Fisher paused while running the bases to congratulate Burke for his winning hit.  However, the centerfielder saw Fisher stop.  George Hogriever scooped up the ball and ran to second, then asked Manassau to call Fisher out by a force play.  Manassau called Fisher out – but by then the field was full of people who thought that St. Paul had just won the game.  Manassau ruled the game had ended in a tie.

This was 1899.  Only nine years later, Fred Merkle would do the same thing in a game that cost the Giants the 1908 National League pennant.  You’d think that, with Fisher’s error still rather fresh in the minds of baseball people, players would have known to run out every ball.  Rather, Merkle’s Boner is very, very famous in baseball annals, while Fisher’s error – having occurred in a minor league game – was generally forgotten to time.

Fisher’s career degenerated soon after that – drinking and weight gain are tough things to pitch through – and he retired to Anderson where he ran a wrecking company until 1937.  He retired a second time to Los Angeles, where he passed away in 1939.  Fisher had a younger brother, Tom, who also pitched in the majors.

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Filed under Baseball History