Lave Cross on William “Dummy” Hoy

Staying up late during an IT deployment, I logged into NewspaperArchive.com – an interesting collection of American history – and found this baseball nugget:

“‘Dummy’ Hoy introduced many curious and wonderful innovations into the game in his day,” says Lave Cross. “He was playing in center field for Cincinnati one afternoon when our old St. Louis team was there for a series. In the first inning, the man ahead of me in the batting order sent a long, low fly to Hoy, which he caught after a hard run, and we all noticed that he held the ball for a long time after it was in his hands.

“When the ball finally came back the pitcher picked it up carefully, looked at it as if he were searching for something, and then gave me two low incurves [SIC], at which I made futile swings.

“Out of sheer curiosity I stepped on the plate and asked to see the ball. The catcher handed it over, and there on its new white surface was scratched in Hoy’s well-known hand:

“‘Low in-curve.’

“The pitcher had followed ‘Dummy’s’ tip and had me 2-0. And even then Hoy had not exhausted his ingenuity, for he lifted his hands and gave (Billy) Rhines a sign signal which I interpreted as meaning ‘fast one straight across’, but which really was ‘slow one,’ and I struck out, greatly [to] Hoy’s delight.”

— “The Sports Tell Stories.” The Muskogee (OK) Democrat, 3 February 1905, Pg. 6.

This can’t be totally accurate…  Rhines and Hoy were teammates on Cincinnati for the 1895, 1896, and 1897 seasons.  At that time, Lave was a member of the Phillies – he wouldn’t join St. Louis until the following season.  That’s a harmless memory lapse…  Then you start wondering about the rest…  “Scratched in Hoy’s well-known hand…” – makes you think that he was regularly putting instructions on the ball.  Granted – Hoy’s inability to speak meant that he was constantly writing (when not signing to teammates who would learn sign language) – but can you imagine being able to scratch on the ball the way one writes?  Maybe it was three letters L I C.  I totally believe that Hoy would send signals to his pitcher.  The little I have read about Hoy said he was a complete student of the game – without the ability to hear, he may have been extra observant of other things that would give him or his teammates an additional edge from time to time.  It helped him stay in baseball as a productive player into his 40s.  He retired not because he couldn’t play, but because the Los Angeles Loo Loos (Pacific Coast League) wanted to cut his salary and Hoy, who had amassed a reasonable fortune through shrewd investments, could choose to do whatever he wanted (he bought a dairy farm).

Other notes…

Lave Cross is very nearly qualified to be a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Look up his record – it’s really not shabby.  He was a very good player on a number of good teams – and extremely hard to strike out.  Over a five year period (1898 to 1902) the most he struck out in a season was eight times – Eight!  (Ike Futch could appreciate that.)  You could argue that he was one of the two or three best third baseman of the period and had the rather unique record for having played on all four Philadelphia entrants in the majors (American Association, Player’s League, National League, and American League).

I’ve scribbled a few notes about Dummy Hoy before – as a member of the Society of American Baseball Research, we get to vote annually about the most overlooked star of the 1800s, and I always vote for Hoy.  One day, Hoy may wind up in the Hall of Fame.

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Baseball 365 – January 19th in History

Birth Announcements:

(1888) Chick Gandil

Member of the Black Sox – career ended in infamy.

(1903) Merle (Lefty) Settlemire

(1935) Fred (Squeaky) Valentine

Fred Valentine was an outfielder with Baltimore and Washington in the 1960s – had a decent season in 1966, batting .276 with some power and 22 stolen bases, but didn’t maintain that level of production and disappeared after 1968.  Of course, by the time Valentine got regular playing time, he was in his 30s – he was a victim of the racism of the period, which limited opportunities unless he hit like Willie or Hank.

Baltimore drafted Valentine as an infielder out of Tennessee A&I (now Tennessee State) having chosen baseball over football because there were no black quarterbacks in the NFL in the late 1950s.  However, the Orioles had Brooks Robinson and Luis Aparicio – so he moved to the outfield.

Ted Leavengood wrote an excellent biography of Valentine for the Society of American Baseball Research – give it a read.

(1948) Ken Frailing

Cubs/White Sox prospect that never really panned out.

(1950) Jon Matlack

Mets pitcher, and a good one, in the middle 1970s.

(1954) Rich Gale

Royals starter (and, later, other teams) during the playoff runs in 1978 and 1980, won 14 games as a rookie, then 13 more in 1980.  In 1978, despite going 14 – 8, walked 100 batters while striking out just 88…

(1962) Chris Sabo

Reds and Orioles third baseman – injuries clipped what started off as potentially a solid career.

(1966) Anthony Young

Owner of one of the longest losing streaks you might ever see – and yet he didn’t really deserve it.  A pretty good pitcher on some awful teams.

(1974) Amaury Telemaco

I saw Telemaco pitch while he was in Class A Daytona about 20 years ago.  He looked like he was going to be a dominating pitcher – reminded me of Joaquin Andujar with his presence on the mound.  A couple of years later, he was with the Cubs and he bounced around the majors and minors for the better part of ten years.  I rooted for him, but that apparently wasn’t helping.

Obituaries:

(1900) Marty Bergen

Bergen was a catcher for Boston in the late 1890s, and a pretty good one.  He also suffered from some form of mental illness, possibly schizophrenia or manic depression.  Artciles written at the time of his death talked about how he frequently left the team and suggested that he regularly felt like teammates were out to get him.  Bergen even feared his family doctor was trying to kill him.  His teammates and managers tolerated his moods because he was a great player – finally manager Frank Selee admitted that after the 1899 season he would eventually have to let his star catcher go.  Bergen’s son died while on a road trip – and an already fragile mind became intolerably so.  Bergen’s death was a complete tragedy – he used an axe to murder his wife and two remaining children then slit his own throat.

“Bergen Tragedy.” The Sporting News, 1/27/1900, Pg. 3.

(1938) Wild Bill Everitt

Third baseman and first baseman with Chicago in the NL during the first century of baseball, was released for his lack of power and wound up in the new American League by joining Washington in 1901.  Hit .376 in the Western League, earning a draft call from Chicago, then hit .358 as a rookie with the Colts.  A collision while running the bases ruined his throwing shoulder – but Anson’s retirement after the 1897 season meant that Everitt could move to first base and his arm would be less of a problem.  In 1898, he would set a major league record – most at bats by a first baseman without hitting a single homer.  Hit .317 in his major league career before returning to the minors as both a player and later a manager.  Owned his own grocery store and other businesses in his Denver home before being called to the great field in the sky.

(Summary adapted from David Nemec’s Major League Baseball Profiles, 1871 – 1900, Bison Books, 2011)

(1987) George Selkirk

Nicknamed “Twinkletoes” by Ernest Lanigan because, as a Jersey City outfielder, he learned to run on his toes… Selkirk was the guy who replaced Babe Ruth in right field for the Yankees.  He even wore his number.  Obviously, Selkirk was no Babe Ruth, but he was a regular for much of the next six full seasons.  He cleared .300 on five occasions, hitting between 11 and 21 homers in his full seasons, and twice driving in more than 100 runs.  Selkirk’s career ended as World War II was taking players out of the majors.  Even though Selkirk was Canadian, he served in the US Navy.  Selkirk returned from the war and took up coaching and eventually moved into the front office.  He was a player personnel director for Kansas City and Baltimore (at a time the Yankees made a lot of trades with both Kansas City and Baltimore…).  In 1962, he became a general manager for the Washington Senators.

I see a future writing project for me…

(2013) Earl Weaver

Pitching, defense, and three-run homers.

(2013) Stan Musial

Not as exciting as Willie Mays but every bit as important to his team.

(2013) Milt Bolling

When the two Hall of Famers passed away on the same day in 2013, few paid attention to the other guy who also died that day.

Milt Bolling was a southern born infielder mostly with the Red Sox during the 1950s.  As his career wound down – he wasn’t much of a hitter – he got to play in the same infield as his brother, Frank, in Detroit.  Milt’s career as a player ended, but for years he was an assistant to Tom Yawkey, and then an area scout based in his home of Mobile.

You Should Have Been There!!!

Haven’t found any events we missed on this date.  Still looking.

Transactions:

(1931) The PCL’s Oakland Oaks traded C Ernie Lombardi to Brooklyn for C Hank DeBerry and INF Eddie Moore.  Lombardi would go on to have a Hall of Fame career.

(1943) Boston releases Paul Waner.  He wasn’t done, though – Waner signed with Brooklyn and even pinch hit ten times for the Yankees before he was done in 1945.

(1961) Cleveland released Don Newcombe.  He was done, sadly.

(1983) Los Angeles trades Ron Cey to Chicago for Dan Cataline and Vance Lovelace.  Cey would help Chicago win the 1984 NL East.

(2004) Houston signs free agent Roger Clemens.

(2007) Atlanta trades Adam LaRoche and Jamie Romak to Pittsburgh for Mike Gonzalez and Brent Lillibridge.

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Baseball 365 – April 10th in History

Birth Announcements:

(1897) Ross Youngs

Youngs is one of the least known Hall of Famers – a very good right fielder for the Giants who hit over .300 in nine of his ten major league seasons and played in four World Series.  He died due to a kidney disorder at 30.

His stats suggest that he was a hitter in the mold of Tim Raines, without the high stolen base totals.  He’d usually hit about 30 doubles, get double digits in triples, and throw in about 60 – 70 walks, which meant very high on base percentages.  He stole 153 bases in his ten years.  John McGraw says he was the best outfielder he ever saw, and the Veteran’s Committee added him to the Hall in 1972 at a time any old player with a batting average over .300 was being added, especially old Giants players.  As such, if he were playing today, he’d probably never make it to the Hall of Fame.

(1906) Dr. Howdy Groskloss

Howdy had a brief career with the Pirates about 75 years ago, then gave up baseball to be a doctor and eventually wound up one of the early leaders of the University of Miami’s medical school.

(1921) Chuck Connors

Outfielder who was a much more famous movie and television star…

(1930) Frank Lary – The Yankee Killer

(1946) Leroy Stanton

(1946) Bob Watson

One of my favorite old Astros…  Hitting in the Astrodome murdered his statistics, but he was a very competent hitter for a long time.  Rarely an all star (just twice – he was never going to supplant Mays, Aaron or Billy Williams when he was an outfielder and he moved to first base when Steve Garvey was getting all the votes), and it took a couple of years to get his major league career on track, Watson was still hitting over .300 as he hit his mid-30s and was sent to Boston and New York.  Making the post-season with the Yanks, he hit over .300 in both the LCS and World Series.

(1950) Ken Griffey, Sr.

His son was a better player, but this Ken Griffey was a member of the Big Red Machine and played in more post-seasons.

(1982) Andre Ethier

(1985) Clayton Mortensen

Obituaries:

(1882) William Hulbert

Hulbert is most famous for being the first commissioner of the National League.

(1956) Ginger Beaumont

Beaumont was an outfielder and leadoff hitter for the early 1900s Pirates.  He led the NL in hits on four different occasions and topped the league in runs scored and batting average once each.  The first batter in a World Series game was Beaumont – he flied out against Cy Young in the 1903 series against Boston.  By 1910, his wheels were a problem, but the Cubs picked him up as a fourth outfielder and got into a second World Series as a pinch hitter for Chicago.

(1984) Karl Spooner

Karl Spooner was a Dodger prospect at the same time as Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.  Unfortunately, his knee went bad and that affected his shoulder, and the rest is history.

(1995) Billy Myers

You should have been there!

(1962) Dodger Stadium opens in Chavez Ravine.  With more than 52,000 in attendance, the Dodgers lose to Cincinnati, 6 – 3.

The same day, the Houston Colt-45s begin with a 11 – 2 win over the Cubs.

(1973) John Mayberry’s homer keys a rout as the Royals top Texas in the first game played at Royals Stadium.

Transactions:

(1947) Jackie Robinson signs with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

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Mighty Casey Retro-Bio: Arnold “Jug” Thesenga

Arnold Thesenga was an historical footnote in a summer baseball story at the time Yohan Pino joined the Minnesota Twins and made his first start. Pino would set a record of sorts, becoming the oldest player to make his first start for the Twins or Washington Senators in the 114-year history of the franchise. Pino, at 30 years and 175 days old, topped the record held by Thesenga who was about 50 days younger when he faced the Yankees on September 2, 1944.

Who the heck is Arnold Thesenga?

Arnold “Jug” Thesenga was a replacement player – someone who got a gig with a major league team during World War II because so many other players were off to war.

Thesenga was born on April 27, 1914 in Jefferson, South Dakota. A good athlete, the high school letterman would go to Southern Normal School in Springfield (later known as The University of South Dakota at Springfield) where he played football and baseball. Upon graduation, he signed to pitch for Sioux City in the Western League, an A level league where he showed a little promise. Thesenga was then recruited to the Philadelphia A’s by Connie Mack where he got to pitch batting practice for a few weeks. Mack decided Thesenga needed more seasoning, so he was sent back to the Western League. However, Thesenga bounced around for a couple of years and after the 1939 season decided he was done with the bush leagues. He became a tool and die worker, settling in Wichita where he could work in the defense industry and play semi-pro baseball on the side.

Thesenga’s teams were good enough to play in the National Baseball Congress championships in Wichita on several occasions – he was so good during the early 1940s that he won more games at NBC tournaments than any other player in its history, and appeared in nine different tournaments. He is a member of the Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame and a 1995 inductee to the National Baseball Congress Hall of Fame. There is a sculpture recognizing his accomplishments at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in Wichita.

It was while pitching in the 1944 NBC World Series that a baseball scout signed Thesenga to a $2500 contract to finish the season for the Senators. Put on a plane immediately, Thesenga said he was sick to his stomach for the duration of the flight, he flew to New York and faced the Yankees. Allowing five hits and eight walks, the Senator defense held steady enough to hold the Yankees to just two earned runs. The Yankees pulled ahead later, but Washington rallied to win the game. Thesenga didn’t get a decision.

Thesenga appeared in four more outings, all in relief, before the season came to an end – and Thesenga’s career. He returned to Wichita, didn’t take up Washington’s invitation to spring training, and instead stayed involved in local semi-pro baseball programs for the rest of his life. Thesenga passed to the next stadium on December 3, 2002.

Sources:

Rives, Bob. “Baseball in Wichita”. 2004, Arcadia Publishing.

Cleve, Craig Allen. “Baseball on the Home Front: Major League Replacement Players of World War II”, 2004. McFarland Publishing, Pages 171, 172.

Berardino, Mike. “Yohan Pino will be oldest Twins starter to make major league debut”, Pioneer Press. 6/18/2014

Baseball Reference (Website)
http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/t/theseju01.shtml

Retrosheet (Website)
http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/T/Pthesj101.htm

National Baseball Congress (Website)
http://www.nbcbaseball.com/nbchof.html

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Happy Birthday, Ed Winceniak

Ed Winceniak was a quick and agile defensive shortstop who lost three years of his prime to the Korean War, and, as a middle infielder in the Cubs chain in the 1950s, was destined to watch as Ernie Banks and Gene Baker got all the playing time.

Born on 16 April 1929, Winceniak, like many a good man of Polish descent, grew up in Chicago and graduated from Bowen High School.  The Cubs signed him in 1948 and dispatched him to the low minors – teams like Hutchinson/Springfield, Visalia, and Rock Hill.  There, Winceniak showed good range, was quick on the double play, but wasn’t necessarily a top notch hitter.  He did hob-nob with some decent coaches and ball players.  His manager at Visalia was Claude Passeau, former Cubs pitcher, and he moved through the farm system with future major leaguers Dusty Rhodes and Jim Fanning, among others.  In addition to his fielding skills, Winceniak was known for his dependability.  In both Visalia and Rock Hill, he played every inning of every game.

In 1950, however, the United States was getting involved in another war – this one in Korea – and Winceniak joined the military, missing three years.  When he returned after the 1953 season, the Cubs gave him a second chance and dispatched Winceniak to Des Moines in the Western League for 1954.  Something clicked there, Wenceniak continued to play good defense, especially turning two, and for three months his batting average hovered around the .330 mark (good for a top five batting average) before falling back to .280 when the season ended.

Still, it was a fine season.  Winceniak was voted by the managers of the Western League to a spot on the all-star team, and on the night he was notified of his award, he showed he earned the spot.  Per a blurb in The Sporting News,  “Shortstop Ed Winceniak of the Bruins backed the judgment of his supporters that evening when, with his team trailing, 2 to 1, he blasted a two-run homer in the ninth inning to defeat Omaha, 3 to 2.  The blow enabled Hy Cohen, who was also named to the star team, to notch his fifteenth victory.”  When the season was done, Winceniak was voted Most Valuable Player by his teammates, earning 16 of the 21 votes cast.

Winceniak was invited to spring training in 1955 but was sent to Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League instead, showing the same fielding skills – adept at the double play – and a little power, if not a high batting average.  Winceniak earned another spring training invitation and made the Cubs out of camp as a backup infielder.

Wearing number 12, Winceniak got in a few contests in 1956, but was dispatched to Havana briefly at the roster cutting deadline.  The Cubs actually were planning to keep Winceniak around a little longer, but found out that Owen Friend needed another ten days of major league service to qualify for a pension.  So, the Cubs sent Winceniak to Cuba until Friend had enough days on the roster.  Then they swapped Friend for Winceniak thirteen days later.

His days with the Cubs wouldn’t last much longer, though – he was sent to St. Paul in the American Association where he had a fine season, hitting .273 with a little pop.  Once again, Winceniak earned a trip to spring training and stayed with the Cubs in April and early May while Ernie Banks nursed a small injury.  Playing in a doubleheader on May 12th, Winceniak hit his first major league homer off of Hal Jeffcoat, then singled in the nightcap – giving him three hits in six trips for the two games.

They were his last two games of his major league career.

Instead, the Cubs got Banks back and gave the next shot to other younger infielders.  Winceniak was dispatched to Portland for the remainder of the season.  Winceniak kept playing in the PCL, staying in Portland in 1958, then being bought by Denver for the 1959 season.  Half-way through that season, Winceniak found himself in Seattle.  When the 1959 season ended, so did Winceniak’s baseball career.

According to the book “Baseball Players of the 1950s”, which has biographical sketches of every player who played during that decade, Winceniak returned home with his wife and took a position with the Republic Steel Corporation for the next 25 years.  In his summers, he would scout some for the Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos.  After a stint with Dekker Electric company, he retired in 1993 and still lives in Chicago today.

Sources:

The Sporting News:

Hoffman, John C. “Bruin Bosses Have Fall Preview of Spring-Daisy Chain Prospects.” The Sporting News, September 29, 1954, Page 24.

Western League Notes – The Sporting News, September 15, 1954, Page 37.

Hoffman, John C. “Bring-’Em-Up Wid Giving Cubs Different Look for Next Season.” The Sporting News, October 20, 1954, Page 16.

“A Friend-ly Gesture.” The Sporting News, June 6, 1956, Page 17.

Books Containing Biographical Information include:

1949 California League Gold Book
Baseball Players of the 1950s

Baseball Digest Scouting Reports:

March, 1956, Page 34
March, 1957, Page 33

Websites:

Retrosheet.org
Baseball-Reference.com

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Happy Birthday, Ben Tincup!

A baseball lifer, Austin Ben Tincup spent fifty years playing and teaching baseball to thousands of kids all over the country – but not before he became the first Native American from Oklahoma to make it to the big leagues.

In doing the research, I found four different birthdays listed for Ben.  A couple of places, including FindaGrave.com and the Baseball-Reference.com Bullpen biography of Tincup, show his birthday as December 14, 1890.  Baseball-Reference.com has a main player page and a minor league player page for Tincup, too.  Those show April 14, 1893.  His obituary and his grave stone in Rose Hill Cemetery in Tulsa, OK says his birth year is 1894.  (You’d think that the findagrave.com mini-bio would want their data to match the picture, right?)  SABR and Retrosheet.org, as well as the database I use for compiling this data, say 1893.  Let’s go with that one…

Tincup was born on April 14th, we’re pretty sure, to James and Lucinda (Vance) Tincup.  A TSN article listed Ben’s birthplace as Sherman, TX, but other sources say Adair, OK.  (I’m tempted to go with Adair, mostly because the TSN writer probably read that Tincup came from Sherman when he joined the Phillies, but that was his minor league city and not his birthplace.)  Not long out of school, Tincup was signed to pitch for Muskogee in the Oklahoma State League, the first professional team to operate in Muskogee.  By the end of the 1912 season, though, he had been shifted to Sherman in the Texas-Oklahoma League.  He stayed in Sherman for 1913, figured things out, and won his last fourteen starts.

The winning streak got him noticed, and the Philadelphia Phillies brought him out for spring training to see how he’d fare.  Before long, the young Cherokee Indian was making relief appearances in May and June.  In July, he was given his first major league start against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Tincup pitched a masterful game, winning 1 – 0, and holding the Pirates to just five hits – three of them by Honus Wagner.

Tincup became a bit of a celebrity and the newspapers called him The Millionaire Indian, one of many landowners who got rich when oil was found on a number of large farms in Oklahoma.  Ben countered, however, that the writers missed their mark.  “The stories were only half right,” said Tincup.  “I’m 100 percent Cherokee Indian and I own 500 acres of Oklahoma land.  But I’m the Indian who owns land where they didn’t find oil.”

Among the first Native Americans not nicknamed “Chief”, Tincup won two other games by shutouts: a 1 – 0 blanking of St. Louis and a 2 – 0 win over the Pirates.  However, he mixed in a few rougher outings, including a 13 – 5 loss to Brooklyn and 12 – 3 loss to Boston.  When the year was out, he finished 8 – 10 as the third starter on the roster.

However, the fourth starter was lefty Eppa Rixey, a fine thrower out of the University of Virginia.  Rixey roomed with Tincup for a year while the rookies found their way through the league.  In 1915, Rixey made the step forward, joining Grover Cleveland Alexander and Erskine Meyer and New York Giant import Al Demaree.  The new rotation helped propel the Phillies to their first pennant in 1915.  Tincup was reduced to a marginal reliever, making just ten appearances, and hardly contributing to the 1915 National League championship.  In fact, Tincup was voted just a half-share of the team’s post-season take.

The Phillies chose to dispatch Tincup to the minors for a little more seasoning.  In 1916, Tincup went 16 – 11 for Providence in the International League.  Moved to Little Rock in 1917, Tincup threw a perfect game against Birmingham in the Southern Association.  He kept a ball and the press clippings for years – the ball finally being donated to the Will Rogers Museum in Claremore, OK.

St. Louis claimed Tincup for the 1918 season, but the National Association ruled that Tincup still belonged to the Phillies, who called him up for a few outings.  Tincup decided to retire and went off to join other Americans in the US Army who were fighting in Europe during the first World War.

When he came back in 1919, he was declared a free agent.  Bill Neal, who had scouted and signed Tincup for Philadelphia, was now associated with the Louisville Colonels in the American Association.  Neal signed Tincup for more money than he might have made with the Phillies – and Tincup became a minor league lifer.  For the next twelve seasons, Tincup was a regular starter and later a reliever for the Colonels.  He won 20 twice; the first time he went 20 – 14 in 1922, and two years later he won 24 games.  And he could hit, too.  One year, he played left field when he wasn’t pitching and wound up hitting .331 with 16 doubles, 16 triples, and eight homers.  He missed the batting crown by four points.  However, the next season manager Joe McCarthy and Tincup decided pitching was the right thing to do – and Tincup only played the outfield in emergencies.

The 1921 team won the American Association and challenged Baltimore in the Little World Series, a battle between the top minor league teams.  Louisville won, in part, behind the pitching of Tincup.  Tincup outdueled Lefty Grove to put Louisville in charge of the series.

In 1922, Harry Davis, the old Athletics first baseman, was sent to scout the team.  He was looking at two players, Brewers outfielder Al Simmons and Colonels outfielder Earle Combs.  Davis asked Tincup to really bear down on Simmons to see what he could do.

“I brushed Al back with a high, inside pitch.  I had plenty on it, believe me,” said Tincup.  “I wanted to scare Simmons, but he didn’t scare at all.  Instead, he just just dug in and dared me to come back with the same pitch.  I did.  He didn’t move an inch.  The next ball was a dandy curve.  Simmons whacked it over the first baseman’s head for a triple.  I figured he just had beginner’s luck.  The next time he came up he lined a double to left…  Some time later I read that Simmons had been sold to the Athletics for $100,000.  I wasn’t surprised.  When I saw Davis later, I told him that I had helped ‘sell’ Simmons to the A’s the day I pitched to him.  Davis had a smart comeback.  ‘You’re right, Ben.  But I made a mistake.  The day we bought Simmons, we also should have bought Combs.’”

Combs signed with the Yankees – and years later, well after he was done playing, Tincup would join the Yankees, too.

In the winters, Tincup would play ball in Cuba.  The 1925 Marianaos Gray Monks may have been the best team of his generation, featuring players such as Freddy Fitzsimmons, Jess Petty, Otto Krueger, Mike Griffen, Charlie Dressen, Eddie Brown, Mark Koenig, Walter Christensen, Tiny Chaplin, Bill Burwell, and Jim Cooney.  Some of those names we still recognize today – others, we’d probably have to look up.

Toward the end of his Louisville career, Joe McCarthy was with the Cubs – he needed a temporary reliever.  He called for Ben Tincup, who got a couple more appearances in the majors.  Then, he was returned to Louisville.  As he got older, Tincup left the rotation and became a quality reliever.  According to a TSN article:

“Manager Allan Sothoron this spring decided that the veteran redskin could best serve his team in the role of relief chucker, and in this capacity Ben has proved invincible.”  He would finish the season 14 – 3 in relief, and another article claimed that he “…saved approximately 13 games, for which other pitchers received credit.”  Jerome Holtzman hadn’t yet coined the term “Saves.”

1930 was Tincup’s last hurrah.  He had a rough year (7 – 16) in 1929 and was given a pay cut.  After 1930, he wanted a raise and Louisville ownership didn’t agree.  Before long, Tincup was cut and scooped up by Minneapolis.  The next year, Tincup was pitching in Sacramento in the Pacific Coast League, but he was pretty much done as a pitcher.

Instead, he was signed as an umpire by the American Association – a job that barely lasted two months.  Per a blurb in TSN:

“Ben Tincup, veteran Indian pitcher formerly with Louisville, has been released as an umpire in the American Association by President Thomas J. Hickey.  Tincup made his debut as an arbiter this season, but there were so many complaints over his decisions on balls and strikes that his release resulted.”

He went back to his farm in Oklahoma for the next three years.

However, guys who knew Tincup needed scouts and coaches – and Tincup was hired by the Cincinnati Reds to manage their farm team in Paducah, a member of the Kitty League.  In his first season, Tincup led Paducah to a first-half crown and a trip to the playoffs.  However, Tincup argued that two pitchers that helped Union City to a second half crown should have been ineligible.  When that protest failed, he began to lose favor with his Paducah owner, B.B. Hook.  Tincup next complained that he had to play night games in Union City, when his team only played day games at home.  That, too, failed.

So, Tincup told his team to play but he was going to stay home to protest the league’s decisions.  After Paducah lost to Larry Irvin (one of two players Tincup felt should not have been eligible to pitch) and Union City in that first game, seven other players decided to side with Tincup.  The series was forfeited to Union City and National Association President W. B. Bramham chose to put Tincup and the seven players on the ineligible list.  That ban lasted about four months, and Tincup was signed to manage a different Reds farm team, this one in Peoria, Illinois.

While there, Tincup traded for a pitcher who had been successful for him in Paducah, Gene “Junior” Thompson.  Thompson was the ace of the Peoria staff and the Reds soon promoted him to the big league team where Junior (he hated that nickname) helped the Reds win the 1940 National League Pennant.  Thompson’s ascent and Tincup’s role in his development earned Tincup the reputation as someone who could mold young pitchers.

Tincup was a proponent of throwing strikes, saying that the biggest problem young pitchers have is not being willing to hit the catcher’s glove.  “They’re so scared somebody is going to get a base hit they throw all around the target but seldom at it,” said Tincup.  “What they don’t realize is that even when you put across a perfect strike with nothing on it, the batter won’t hit it safely more than three times out of ten.  That’s proved in batting practice.”

By 1938, he was taken by Larry McPhail from Cincinnati to Brooklyn to become a roving pitching instructor and coach.  In 1939, young kids would have seen an advertisement for a California baseball camp where young ballplayers could learn from coaches like Leo Durocher, Charlie Dressen, Bill Killefer, and Ben Tincup.  On the other hand, some things from his minor league days didn’t go away as quickly.  Tincup earned a fine in his last days managing Paducah in 1936.  When he tried to step on the field as a coach in 1940, the league told him he had a $10 fine due and Kennesaw Mountain Landis wouldn’t let him on the field unless he paid that fine.  A wire was sent, and Tincup was allowed to coach.

After two more seasons as a coach, Tincup took a short hiatus to join the war effort for World War II – this time helping build boats on the docks of the Ohio River at Jeffersonville.  During that time, he ran into an old friend – Ray Kennedy.  Kennedy was Tincup’s catcher when Tincup tossed that perfect game in 1917 for Little Rock.  Now, Kennedy was the General Manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Kennedy knew a few people – and by 1946, when the war was over, Tincup was a scout for the Boston Braves.

Tincup’s scouting and coaching career meant he went all over the place for a bunch of different teams.  He left Boston to join the Pirates.  Roy Hamey had brought him into the Pirates organization, and when he left for the Yankees, he took Tincup with him there, and then to the Phillies.  “We had him traveling around the farm clubs and working with the pitchers,” said Hamey.  “He helped fellows like Bob Friend and Vernon Law so much that when I moved over to the Yankees, I talked George Weiss into bringing him to New York.  He did such a good job with the Yanks that I had a tough time getting him for the Phils.  But I told Weiss I needed him worse than the Yankees did, so George turned him over to me.”

During his time with the Phillies, a prized prospect was a young Yaqui Indian out of Arizona named Phil Ortega.  Hamey assigned Tincup to handle the negotiations, figuring that one Native American might be better able to relate to another Native American than the other scouts.  The Dodgers, however, countered with a bigger bonus check.  Buzzie Bavasi wired Hamey when he won.  “How dumb can you get,” Bavasi asked. “Don’t you know Ortega’s and Tincup’s tribes have been at war for 300 years?”

The Yankees got Tincup back when Ralph Houk, who had used Tincup as a pitching coach in the middle 1950s, asked for him to coach his 1961 squad.  Joe Falls wrote about it in the Detroit Free Press:  “The Yankees have signed Ben Tincup, a 73-year-old Cherokee, as their minor league pitching coach…  And this is the team that fired Casey Stengel because he was, at 70, too old.”

If Tincup was 73 in 1961, that would put his birth date at 1888…  Another option…  I don’t think so.

Anyway… Eventually baseball’s tribal elder called it a career and returned to the Tulsa area.  He was inducted into various Halls of Fame in Oklahoma, including those celebrating Native Americans in sports.  In 1980, he was staying at the very hotel in Claremore, the Will Rogers Hotel, where his perfect game baseball would have been on display.  Sometime in the night on July 5, 1980 Tincup was called to pitch on the great ball field in the sky.

Sources:

The Sporting News
“Finishing Second No Small Honor in A.A.” The Sporting News, Oct. 7, 1920, Page 5.
“Colonels Carry On and Never Say Die.” The Sporting News, July 14, 1921, Page 3.
“Didn’t Start A One But Has Won Seven.” The Sporting News, June 19, 1930, Page 4.
Williams, A. W. “Louisville Releases Tincup.” The Sporting News, July 30, 1931, Page 3.
“Ben Tincup New A.A. Umpire.” The Sporting News, January 19, 1933, Page 2.
“Tincup to Pilot Paducah” The Sporting News, March 26, 1936, Page 7.
“Bramham Punishes Paducah ‘Strikers’.” The Sporting News, September 24, 1936. Page 7.
“Long Arm of the Law.” The Sporting News, May 23, 1940, Page 3.
“Tincup Donates No-Hit Ball.” The Sporting News, April 10, 1941, Page 11.
“8-Game Streak Has Almendares Out in Front.” The Sporting News, November 17, 1948, Page 20.
The Sporting News, March 8, 1950, Page 14.
“Old-Time Ben Tincup Back; Gives Advice to Phils’ Kids.” The Sporting News, March 7, 1956, Page 33.
Notes, The Sporting News, January 1, 1961, Page 12.
Obituaries, The Sporting News, August 9, 1980, Page 50.
“Phils Forgot Tribal Wars When They Bid for Ortega.” The Sporting News, June 27, 1964, Page 26.

Obituary:
Claremore (OK) Progress (July 8, 1980)

Baseball Digest:
Bryson, Bill.  “The Indian Glove Call.” Baseball Digest, Feb 1964, Pages 67 – 73.
Levy, Sam.  “Simmons First Steps to Hall.” Baseball Digest, April, 1953, Pages 25 to 27.

Websites:

FindaGrave.com
Baseball-Reference.com
Retrosheet.org

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Happy Birthday, Dorsey Riddlemoser!

Dorsey Riddlemoser had a very brief major league career, making a single start in August, 1899 for the Washington Senators.  This was when the Senators were in their final season in the National League.  At that point, owner and National League President Nick Young knew the fate of Washington’s team – they were going to be contracted, along with the Cleveland Spiders and possibly two other teams (eventually, Baltimore and Louisville were also closed out).  In his outing, Riddlemoser got shelled – seven hits, four runs, giving up a couple of walks in two innings of work.

Riddlemoser was born 25 March 1875 and played sandlot and semi-pro ball in his hometown of Frederick, MD.  When not playing baseball, Riddlemoser worked as an assistant fireman and with the Union Foundry and Stove works plant.  Washington decided to give Riddlemoser, by then a reasonably accomplished local ballplayer a shot.

It may not have worked out there, but Riddlemoser was dispatched to the minors, hooking up with Allentown, PA.  There, he would pitch for a couple of years – in one game he faced a fellow Frederick pitcher named Dorsey Robinson who pitched for the Cuban X Giants.  The Giants won…

When his days as a player were over, Riddlemoser returned to his hometown where he was an active member of the Democratic Party.  He was frequently selected to be a delegate to various conventions – and the party rewarded him with various city appointments, the last being a twelve year run as the janitor for City Hall from 1931 to 1943.

Riddlemoser was a late bloomer as regards his family life.  He married Ruth Talmadge Riggs in 1925 – he was 50 at the time – and they soon had a son and daughter.  His son, Dorsey, Jr., graduated high school in 1943 and immediately entered the U.S. Navy where he was regularly promoted, making it to Sergeant and serving as a tailgunner on a B-29 Superfortress.  That plane flew a number of missions against Japanese locations in the South Pacific, but ran out of luck in May or June, 1945 while flying a mission over Tinian in the Marianas.  The younger Dorsey’s grave is with his fellow airmen in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis.

As for the original Dorsey Lee Riddlemoser, he carried on in retirement, saddened by the loss of his son, until his death in 1954.

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