New Yorkers Committing Hockey

Damon Runyon

The Monroe News/January 29, 1927

Mr. Joe Schenck, the big movie man, pays Mr. Leo Deigel, the golf expert, $1000 per month for instruction in the manly art of pasture pool, so I am informed by one of my most trusted west coast operatives.

Of course $1000 a month is not a button off Mr. Schenck’s expansive financial test, but it is a fair salary for a teacher, at that. They say Mr. Deigel is to receive a bonus of $5000 when Mr. Schenck attains such proficiency under his instruction that he can waddle the old pill from hole to hole with less than a hundred strokes.

I am glad that I am not the party of the first part to such a contract. I mean to say I am glad that I have not promised Mr. Deigel such bonus under such conditions. I am at best weak to human temptation. Can you imagine me with a score of 98 and one cinch shot to go to break that 100, at a cost of $5000?

I fear I would be unable to resist the impulse to flub, or dub, or scrub, or snub, or slub that one. (What is it they do when they blow a shot, anyway?) Still, knowing Mr. Joe Schenck I am sure that he would pay over the $5000 with vast pleasure. He is that way.

This golf bug seems to be a terrible affliction. I can remember when Mr. Joe Bannon, the world’s champion newspaper circulation manager, would sit down calmly with you and discuss this and that without heat.

Now he comes in with an outdoor complexion, and a healthy aspect which is positively odious to indoor athletes and speaks of golf and golf, and more golf. He does it in the winter time, too, which I hold is carrying matters a little too far.

But while the golf bug is very, very bad, I have come upon another malady among the citizens of the great city of New York that is even worse. It is hockey. Professional hockey, at that. The boys are becoming violent on the subject.

“What’d you think of that game?” they demand now-o-nights.

If you answer that you didn’t see it, they glare at you with indignation. The idea of anyone not seeing that game seems to annoy them.

I have not heard of any hockey fan employing a hockey expert to teach him the game, but I would not be surprised at any time to learn that Colonel J. S. Hammond, president of the New York Rangers, is paying some star $1000 per month for that purpose. The thing has gone pretty far with Colonel Hammond.

At frequent intervals of late I have come upon my old friend Mr. Weelum J. McBeth, the sports writer, seated at tables in the Roaring Forties with mysterious looking strangers.

I can identify none of them as of the turf or baseball world wherein Mr. McBeth moved with vast authority for years, and the disquieting thought occurs to me that they are hockeyists. I fear that Mr. McBeth has suffered a reversion to type.

Mr. McBeth is a Canadian by birth, and long before hockey came to New York in its present professional form I used to hear him talking of the pastime of his youth without understanding what he meant. I thought it some childish diversion that had left its imprint on his memory, just as I occasionally revert in fancy to exciting miggle games of my adolescence.

But I can see now that Mr. McBeth would naturally be one of the first to be seriously affected by the new mania that has beset the citizens of the large city. He was practically a push over for it from the very start. Now he associates on terms of understanding with those who commit hockey, to say nothing of cheering for them from the stands.

I never really appreciated the extent to which professional hockey has grown in New York until the boys commenced to ask for Annie Oakleys, or passes. You cannot give away Annie Oakleys to sports in which there is no popular interest in New York. I even hear that the lads are wagering on the result of the games, which argues that we may need a commission of some kind.

There are two professional hockey teams in New York, the Americans and the Rangers, and local excitement seems to be equally divided between them. They both play in Madison Square Garden, and the important games pull packed houses.

They draw heavily from the Roaring Forties, from the actors, cafe people, and sporting contingent generally, which is all the more surprising to me. It takes something with plenty of thrill in it to interest this rather blase class.

And the customers talk hockey with understanding—the plays and the players. You hear red hot arguments about the games. Gentlemen have even been known to square away at each other. When someone remarked three years ago that professional hockey would be a wow in little old New York, I thought they were foolish.

Now I can see that it is the big winter game of the city, and the next time I see Mr. McBeth and his mysterious looking friends seated together I think I shall have to move in on them and join the argument.

T-60 Comes to Life

Damon Runyon

Intelligencer Journal/October 15, 1927

I have received many complaints of late because of the protracted silence of my well-known west coast operative, T-69 otherwise Mr. Hap O’Connor. Some of my readers have been wondering if something had happened to Mr. O’Connor, but a report about two feet long has just reached me from him, and it seems that he was merely slightly incapacitated for a time.

It seems that Mr. O’Connor wounded his typewriter finger opening a bottle. Mr. O’Connor preserves the one-touch method. This is no underhanded crack. Mr. O’Connor sustained his wound on board a Spanish ship in the harbor of Los Angeles. It seems that there are a lot of foreign vessels out there just now, and Mr. O’Connor, who is known as America’s Guest, called around among them.

“Yesterday I was in France, Italy, Spain and Germany,” writes Mr. O’Connor. “The day before I visited Sweden, England, Japan and South America. They sure treated me fine on these boats. The crew all talk to me in their own language, and I just shake my head yes, because I found out they are generally asking if I wish refreshments, which of course I do. It comes natural to me.

“My hands are calloused from handling glass on these boats. The Germans don’t drink cold beer and never have it cold for us visitors, so we have to bring our own ice. It is very inconvenient. Well, I suppose you want a report on the athletic activities of the Pacific Battle Fleet.”

Sailors at Football

I gather from Mr. O’Connor’s report that the Battle Fleet has opened its 1927 football season. It seems that they have just opened a new navy stadium at Point Firmin, San Pedro, which is Los Angeles Harbor, and Mr. O’Connor says that 15,000 bluejackets, marines and civilians saw two games free of charge.

“I guess this is the only place in the world where a fellow can spend Saturday afternoons in the Los Angeles harbor district without laying anything on the line,” says Mr. O’Connor.

“I would rather stay here and witness one of those bluejacket gridiron contests that take in one of them Dempsey-Tunney fights. As far as fights are concerned you can see plenty of that in one of these sailors football games.

“The sailors take to this pigskin game like they do when they are in the battle turrets aboardship firing them 14- and 16-inch salvos.

“I sat in the stands on the sunny side between two old navy war horses, Lieutenant Jack Kennedy and Lieutenant John Sharpe.

“Both of these old-timers sat puffing their old pipes watching the battleships California and Arizona do their stuff on one field and the battleships Mississippi and Colorado on the other.

Two Old-Timers Talk

“Kennedy and Sharpe got to talking about their old billet, the Great Lakes Training Station at Chicago, in which I guess they had about 30,000 men to look after in athletics.

“Kennedy and Sharpe tell me that during the World War, they refereed more than one thousand fights between the rookie sailors.

“And since the war, ten years ago, Kennedy has officiated in around a thousand more fights. Sharpe has retired from officiating in fights, but Kennedy is still very much in the ring and can be seen every now and then at the local fight stadium on the Pacific Coast.

“In today’s football game there were two players that, counting this season, are on their seventeenth year straight of navy football.

“They are Matty Gillis, right guard, of the battleship Mississippi, and Johnny Struckus, the flagship California’s fullback and captain.

“Both played an outstanding game in all four periods of the contest, both being responsible for their ships being on the long end of the score.

“Another old-timer who right now is the greatest open field runner in the west coast navy is Leo Fielding, the battleship Idaho’s big Indian fullback. Fielding is playing his twentieth year of navy football and is the most feared back in navy football circles.

Up-to-Date Stuff

“Jack Kennedy and John Sharpe said today that this sure is an up-to-date navy now. With hot and cold showers and nice green grass to play on, and all kinds of padding on your straight jacket.

“Jack says a fellow has to be a Houdini to get into one of these football suits nowadays, Kennedy and Sharpe said when they played football it was in brickyards, etc., and after one of them old-time navy football games a fellow was lucky to get out of bed the next Friday before the game.

“Football now is the navy’s major sport, pulling races next. I guess more money changes hands on a boat race than on a football game. But football in the navy seems to draw the biggest sailor crowd and hold ’em all afternoon.

“The west coast navy’s major football league consists of the following battleships: California, Colorado, Maryland, West Virginia, Tennessee, New Mexico, Mississippi, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Nevada.

“Then there is the Train Force or Fleet Base Force consisting of the hospital ship Relief, Procony, Medusa, and other smaller war craft.

“Then we have the Submarine divisions and the Naval Air Force teams and the Destroyer force elevens at San Diego.

“The winners of the battleship divisions play the San Diego naval district champions and then the fleet base force comes in. And the team that beats all of these is declared the Pacific fleet football champions.”

U.S. ‘Crush’ on France Shaken

Westbrook Pegler

Press and Sun-Bulletin/March 8, 1945

NEW YORK, March 8. General de Gaulle’s petulant rudeness and the demanding attitude of his France toward the United States will be all for the best if they cure us, finally, of the juvenile crush which has controlled our relations with this irresponsible people. In that case, we would see France and the French very much as their continental neighbors and many of the British saw them, not through the calf eyes of a rich, young, extravagant and geographically distant nation which regarded even her village manure-piles as fetchingly quaint and the innate larceny of her merchants as a somehow lovable foible.

The plain fact of the matter is that France quit cold in this war and later was rescued by the Americans, the second time in a quarter of a century that her life was saved by the United States. Her conduct in the brief fighting war in 1940 was not comparable to that of the Russians when their homeland was attacked a year later nor to the tenacity of the Germans in recent weeks. Reporters who covered the rout wrote that French Army units were intimidated by the mere noise of the Stukas and that the soldier of 1940 was no worthy son of the father who died in Verdun in 1916.

During the interval between the wars, sometimes called the long armistice, the attitude of France toward the United States was that of a spoiled and perfumed sweetheart toward an infatuated and too generous suitor. The French nation was a feminine concept in our psychology, pretty, vivacious, erratic, unreasonable, but, altogether, desirable. French politicians, stout, practical and shrewd, realized all this and laughed at our gullibility for they knew themselves and their own people.

It must have amazed them that they could get so much propaganda and the material benefits of this unreasoning goodwill from a few hundred or thousand medals of their Legion of Honor which entitled essentially undistinguished Americans to a little red ribbon or rosette in their lapels. Meanwhile, Americans wore hooted in Paris for being Americans whose country now and again would send in a bill for a little payment on the debt of World War I.

The history of France is not that of a peace-loving, unaggressive nation, although, for that matter, none of the great powers got that way through fair and gentle methods, and the extension of France up to the Rhine after this war will be a repetition, in reverse, of Alsace-Lorraine, with consequences which some future generation will have the privilege or misfortune to observe. Lost provinces always pine for rescue as every Frenchman knows and inevitably knights go warring to release them.

There is no reason to dislike France or the French but neither is there any excuse to maintain the fictitious concept that has embarrassed us in our thoughts and dealings all this time. They have their excellent virtues which we may appreciate without that sophomoric rapture in the contemplation of a toothsome co-ed which has distorted our relations.

It seems a little too much to ask that in the midst of a war in which Americans landed in the face of German fortifications on the French coast, chased the Nazis out of Paris and, finally, are smashing into Germany, the rescue party should also give and deliver to France rolling stock to replenish her railroads, feed and clothe her and rearm the army which, in 1940, gave up its weapons without a creditable fight.

Historic News Story, British Style

Westbrook Pegler

Press and Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton, NY)/March 7, 1945

NEW YORK, March 7. No fair American newspaper hand would insist that Britain’s imitation of our journalistic methods and ideas has been altogether salutary. It is a fact that in the efforts of London’s popular press, as distinguished from the more stately blanket sheets, to jazz up news and features, British journalism produced some grotesque effects. They developed something which their conservatives called “the stunt press” and it was pretty awful.

Nevertheless, they did learn to put the punch in the lead and to publish the news quickly, instead of next week. They also adopted our professional rue against killing off a story by backing into it with some such introduction as “Last Wednesday, at the Shrewsbury Assizes.”

In the course of the education of the British there came to New York and Washington one of the friendliest and most entertaining individuals who ever delighted our craft. His name was David Blumenfeld, the son of an American and a West Pointer, at that, who had gone to England a long time ago and had become, as editor of the London Express, a noted exponent of both American hustle and directness and British restraint or dignity.

Dave had been a soldier in His Majesty’s forces in World War I, leaving the service with the rank of major, and by an arrangement with influential friends in New York, the young man was shipped out to America to learn our ways.

After a time they sent Dave down to Washington to learn our ways. There he wrote a historic lead on a story of vast importance for which he is as well remembered by those few who had the privilege to read it as Frank Ward O’Malley will ever be for his interview with the mother of the murdered policeman.

The United Press kept only a casual watch on Sunday nights in Washington in those days and Dave was sitting on the lid. The telegraph operator across the desk was the only other man on duty. Dave was beating out a long letter to his pater in London when the telephone rang.

Someone told him that Senator Boise Penrose had died suddenly.

“How unfortunate,” Mr. Blumenfeld exclaimed with just the proper degree of sympathy. “I’m dreadfully sorry. I am told he was a capital chap.”

He resumed his letter to his father.

After some time, an excited query came down over the wire from New York. The International News and Associated Press were out with the story.

“Opposition says Penrose dead.”

Dave scanned the message and resumed his letter to his dad.

Some telegraph operators are reluctant to cross the desk. They stay on their side and mind their own business and let the news people attend to theirs. This fellow was friendly however, and knew Dave’s ignorance of some of our abnormalities in the handling of news. A few minutes later he asked tactfully, “Dave, did you see that message from NX (New York)?”

“Yes, yes,” Dave said. “I am afraid it is only too true. Chap rang me up half an hour ago to tell me about it. A great pity. Awfully painful to the family, I dare say.”

“But, Dave, they want a story from you about it. Hadn’t ‘you better phone his hotel and check and then do a piece?”

“Of course, splendid,” Mr. Blumenfeld said. “Topping idea. Thanks for reminding me.”

So Dave telephoned the hotel and said he would like to speak to Senator Penrose. He was told that this was impossible. The senator had died within the hour. Over the phone he heard the music of an orchestra in the lobby.

Our student now spat on his hands and prepared to turn out something for posterity.

I will let you decide whether he did, for, after a long and mighty struggle, this was the lead, American style, that he tossed across the desk to the operator:

“Washington, D. C, Jan. 23 From where he lay, had he been able, he might have heard, were he alive, the strains of lovely music from the orchestra in the lobby of his hotel. But Senator Boise Penrose, alas, had expired some five-and-twenty minutes before.”

Dave gave up journalism and returned to England, where his talents, in a few years, earned him a salary that was fabulous to working newspapermen. He became editor of the menu of the Lyons Coiree Houses, the London equivalent of our one-arm luncheries, composing each week an essay on vitamins, calories, travel, and the origin of the term “porterhouse” as applied to steak.

Jackson-Dundee Box Another Draw; Norfolk is Winner

Westbrook Pegler

Oregon Daily Journal/December 31, 1921

NEW YORK. Dec 31. Those famous friendly enemies, Johnny Dundee, who comes not from Scotland, and Willie Jackson, chauffeur of the largest nose in pugilism, went through the eleventh “how de do” at Madison Square Garden Friday night, 15 rounds to another draw decision.

Jackson had Dundee drinking stiff libations of right-hand punches in the last round, causing Johnny to wobble for the boys in a realistic imitation of New Year’s Eve.

Dundee came through with the long experience with Jackson, however, covering up securely to stay the round.

Jackson weighed 134-1/2 and Dundee 128-1/4.

Dundee said he broke his starboard paddle in the second round, which may be true, as he did little work with it.

Kid Norfolk, holder of the Rickard belt, symbolic of the negro heavyweight championship, outpointed the Jamaica Kid, another pork-chop addict in the eighth round semi-final. It wasn’t much of a fight.

Chorus Beauties in Ranks of Toil

Westbrook Pegler

Atlanta Constitution/June 19, 1921

Recent Prima Donna Now Luring Public to Buy Soap “Certificate Free”

Recent Prima Donna Now Luring Public to Buy Soap “Certificate Free”

New York. June 18. “An’ sweetie, lemme tell you, when my gray silk stockings ripped as I was dressin’ only this afternoon to go keep a date with a certain party, I just had to sew ‘em up again. Just imagine! Me, that paid $750 for a seal wrap up in Montreal last winter—me that did specialty numbers an’ always workin’. And now I’m looking for a job in a department store. Dee-rie, you know ‘at ain’t right.”

Over the coffee-spotted marble-topped tables of the come-and-get-it lunch room you get the real “situation” in the Broadway show business from the people that have been hit hardest by the slump. The chorus girls know when things begin to rag, let the magnates whistle whatever tune they like for the good of their own courage.

It’s awful—Jeanne La Pearl, late of the ensemble of the Chlc and Cheri Shimmy Shakers, 17 weeks on tour but a dog’s death on Broadway—will tell it’s awful.

But Jeanne—called Jennie by the folks out in Terre Haute—may be prejudiced.

Take, then, the word of Ruby Belle, the lady with the low-down on what’s what and such as that from Times Square to the farthest explorations of the educational chautauqua troupes and the peripatetic tent shows. Ruby is the girl who gives them a dab of powder as they’re rushing for their trains to go on tour with a new expedition and the girl who welcomes them back with a community lipstick when they come dragging in from five days in the day coaches after disbanding in Winnipeg. Ruby is the first-aid in the chorus girls’ casual club, the dressing room of a Broadway hotel.

Says Ruby, “Of course every summer is bad but I never knew it to be so bad that the girls had to go clerking in department stores or manicuring for a living. That’s what they’re doing this year, poor kids. They’re so good when they’ve got it, too. All the girls come in and tell me about this show and that show closing and they hate to give up the stage and their hopes. But what else are they going to do?”

The Broadway Johnny is having his troubles no less than his happy little friends who used to slip an arm through his at the stage door in the alley around the corner. In the pawnshop windows on Sixth and Seventh avenues silk hats and dress capes again predominate, meaning hard times for John. And if a John does take a little lady for a nice long walk of an evening in these times he screws his face into that broke-my-garter expression of forced interest on passing the Mme. Sophie Silberman’s Parisian hat salon where Chapeaux scream for buyers at a frightful sacrifice of profit.

As an authority on how things are breaking for the show girl, Howard Kyle concedes no one the edge, for Kyle, late of Margaret Anglin’s “Joan of Arc,” is secretary of the Actors’ Fidelity league.

Kyle tells of one pretty young woman who had a prima donna role in a recent musical tragedy on Broadway, now luring the public to buy six cakes of soap and get five certificates free, in a drug store not far from her old theatre.

“I know of glrls all around here who have left the profession to sell powder and candy and women’s wear in stores they used to- patronize,” said Kyle. “Girls who used to get as much as $175 a week are working for $20 and glad to get that.”

Things are not so good on Broadway.

Need More Room for World Title Games

Westbrook Pegler

The Post-Crescent/September 30, 1921

New York. Suppose you’re sitting on J. P. Morgan’s front stoop, at Broad and Wall, in just your swimming suit and old J. P. himself comes along and says: “Kid” (you know the way he talks) “Kid, come on into the thousand-dollar hill apartment, and fill all your pockets. Nothing’s too good for my friends. Help yourself to anything in stock; all you can carry away. How’s the little wife?”

Well, your swimming suit fits tight as an earl at a Mayfair wedding and you snap back at your luck for not giving you eight fingers on one of your hands anyway.

The Yankees and Giants are caught that way.

The Polo Grounds held once, a few weeks ago, a crowd of nearly 40,000 people, the largest ever compressed into Brush Stadium. People were stuffed into all the aisles and along the stairs. They hung on the upright girders and the steel pipe rails around the back of the grandstand. And they thought themselves lucky for nearly 60,000 other people were fighting their way into the subways and along the L platform at a trot home, having been turned back by the police lines a block from the park.

And now the world’s series is staggering toward the Polo Grounds. If both New York teams are in this series the owners will be in the thousand-dollar apartment with only their hands to carry the stuff away. The national commission will not permit “standees” at a world series. This will clip off a few thousand of the crowd capacity. It has been tradition to have no crowds infringing on the outfield at the Polo Grounds, though perhaps 5,000 people could be cramped in along the center field wall. Probably no crowd will exceed 38,000 at this world’s series. But if there was room the Giants and Yanks could play to 100,000 the first two days at least, and probably to an average of at least 75,000 on the other days.

Wilson Raises Ante From $11 to $40,000 for Second Appearance in New York Arena

Westbrook Pegler

Pittsburgh Post/March 14, 1921

NEW YORK, March 13.—After one more championship fight in the ancient garden, Tex Rickard will reel up the ropes, uproot the posts and remove the rung that has taken in more money in six months than any other boxing enclosure since prize fighting began. The Wilson-O’Dowd fight is the last big indoor party of the season. The outdoor program ought to be very sprightly. The woods are so full of fighters, good, bad and just plain bum, that you can’t light a cigarette without singeing a couple.

There are some other fight clubs in New York, but Tex Rickard’s place at Madison Square Garden has been the only important one going since the new Walker law came into operation last fall. Rickard and his fighters have played to aggregate admissions of about $1,000,000 and it was real money, too—the kind the landlord wants the first of every month.

Wilson and O’Dowd are getting $60,000 between them. Champion Johnny gets $40,000 for defending his title for 15 rounds, which foots up at more than $2,500 a round. The last time Wilson fought in New York, a few years ago, het got $1.10 a round or $11 for 10 tough rounds. Before he won the championship a year ago, which surprised Wilson no less than it hurt Mike O’Dowd, Wilson’s yearly earnings weren’t much more than he will get for a couple of rounds of this fight.

Rocky Kansas of Buffalo, who has been fighting these last eight or 10 years, will be the next outsider to cut in on the grand dinero in New York. Kansas really has earned a crack at Benny Leonard. He made a mess of Joe Welling and then beat Richie Mitchell twice. Leonard stopped Welling and Mitchell, but he had to hit them with the water bucket to do it.

But even Kansas, newcomer that he is to the really big time in the fight game, gets tongue-tied when he tries to mention anything less than $25,000. He wanted that much for fighting Willie Jackson after beating Mitchell in Milwaukee last week. Along in the fall or perhaps some time during the summer he will probably get what he asks for, except that Benny Leonard will be his opponent, not Jackson.

National’s Errors Pointed Out; Blame is Put on Player Limit

San Francisco Examiner/October 27, 1916

Damon Runyon Shows That Ban Johnson Wisely Held to Scouting System

Months ago this writer was inveighing against the twenty-one player limit rule adopted by the National League, and contending that it would eventually work to the injury of the ancient organization.

Ours was one of the few voices squawking in the wilderness, and we were informed by at least one baseball authority of more or less weight that it was none of our business, anyway; that it was an unwarranted meddling in the private affairs of the baseball magnates.

They were on economy bent; also they thought they were taking a crack at the baseball players by cutting down the field of big league employment; further than that, they believed they were curtailing the activities of John J. McGraw and the New York club, whose custom it was to carry a big reserve force of youngsters on the bench in process of big league development.

The economical magnates argued that by putting on a player limit the young talent would be distributed around among the clubs that were weaker financially as well as physically, and not sewed up by the outfits with the larger bankrolls, thus giving a better-balanced race. They said that twenty-one men were more than enough, and pointed out how in the old days Barney Dreyfuss won a pennant with only eighteen players, reckoning not on the changing times and advancing conditions in baseball.

They Forgot Ban

Likewise they reckoned not on Ban B. Johnson and the American League. They thought Ban would follow their example and enforce a player limit, but up to date Ban has done nothing of the kind, and today the National Leaguers, seeking an excuse for the almost total eclipse of the old organization in playing strength by the American League, are saying the limit is the cause.

We do not agree with that view. The limit is merely one of the causes. There are numerous others. It is a case of dry rot setting in all along the line; of going backward instead of going forward; of carrying ball players old beyond their big league time, and of extending economy beyond the bounds of good business judgment.

One of the biggest clubs in the National League, which formerly had the most perfect scouting system of them all, has practically abandoned that system. Once it used to bring from twenty-live to thirty-five young ball players, collected through its scouts, up from the “sticks” every spring; this year it has tagged only a very few, and these were secured in a haphazard way.

Several other National League clubs no longer have scouts. While every American League club, including the tail-end Athletics, has an elaborate system of beating the bushes for youngsters, the National Leaguers are depending on friendly tips, trades and accident to secure their playing material. It cannot be done that way.

The Crafty Johnson

There have been many changes in ownership in both leagues of recent years, and to-day no more old-line baseball men are left in the American than in the National. The difference seems to be that the newcomers to the American are willing to be guided by the judgment of their baseball associates, while some of the newcomers to the National want to apply methods learned in other lines to baseball.

The American has the advantage of being guided by the shrewdest and most far-seeing man in the game in the person of Ban B. Johnson, who is at once a baseball politician and clairvoyant. The result today is the widespread belief that the National League is distinctly outclassed by the younger outfit.

The most recent demonstration of Ban Johnson’s baseball foresight is his declaration that the world’s series must be cleaned up or abandoned. The abandonment for a couple of years would be the greatest thing that could happen to the National League. The National League magnates would probably rather continue having their league shown up by the American than lose their bit of the series, so the cleanup must be in order.

The cagey Ban’s keen ear, ever close to the ground of baseball events, heard the mumbles of discontent that arose during the Boston-Brooklyn series, and his uproar merely beat the baseball writers of the country to it. He is exactly right in what he says, and he is bound to have the support of all who have followed the series of late years.

Cut Down The Prices

The annual championship contest has developed into a form of petty graft upon the public. Prices are raised all along the line, from seats to the smallest commodities. The lift in the tariff in many cases is outrageous. The pot has become too big. It has aroused the cupidity of players and magnates, and everybody else connected with the series.

Cutting down the prices and thus cutting down the pot is the primary remedy. Then the money of the first four games, which goes to the ball players, should be divided differently. It is now cut 60 per cent to the winners and 40 per cent to the losers. If the winners’ end were made greater—say 75 or 80 per cent—we would probably have no more of these lackadaisical exhibitions where one club is just in there playing for the losers’ end.

The series should be made more of a show event; it should have a different setting. In the time of John T. Brush, a great showman, the Giants used to come tearing onto the field for a world’s series in brand-new uniforms, and they put a touch of the dramatic into the proceedings. Now the people see a couple of teams lazying around before the game in dirty campaign uniforms, and there is not the slightest suggestion of color or of the unusual in the whole proceeding.

Road to Baseball Fame

Sioux City Journal/November 12, 1912

Pitching Is Said To Be The Easiest Route

More Chance For Youth

Youngsters Break Into Ranks Every Season—Highest Salaries Paid to Twirlers—Few Veterans Still Remain on Top

If your young son manifests an insurable desire to become a baseball player, and you find him fooling around first base, or the out-field, or the second or third, or even peering with infantile eagerness through the meshes of a mask, lead that youthful party out behind the barn and have a speech with him.

Put on a catching glove, and examine the condition of his shooting arm. He may have a wholly unsuspected hop to his fast ball, along with a nice curve and some change of pace. Such being the case, it becomes your parental duty to admonish him to enter life as a pitcher of baseballs.

Speak to him as follows:

“Son, there is a great deal of class to a Cobb, but consider the skinned thighs which come from the sliding appertaining to the running of bases. Consider too, the daily labor—the 154 games of baseball, during which the man who would be a Tyrus must pound the pill for better than .400, or lose caste among his people.

“Consider the enormous amount of energy which must be expended every two hours out of the twenty-four by the Hal Chases, and the Honus Wagners. and the Larry Doyles of our time. Each and every day they have the same old strain and worry; each and every day they must perform their work with marvelous efficiency or be panned to a whisper. No alibis go in their cases.

Pitcher’s Life of Ease

“And then, my son, pause and think of the life, of the slothful ease of the pitcher, who works two or three times a week, but who gets practically as much money, and eke as much fame. He wins his game and the labors of the Cobbs and the other men behind him are forgotten in the gossip of his prowess; he loses and the men are sacrificed for their shortcomings, and he is excused on the ground of an off day.

“Be a pitcher, my son—be a Mathewson, or a Wood, or a Johnson and you will find the path to the vaudeville stage as easy from the mound as it is from the outfield.”

Having concluded your lecture, all you have to do is to turn your son loose with a baseball in his hand, and let him wander through the bushes until such time as some big league manager locates him on the advice of friends. A big league scout may stumble across him accidentally, but nowadays the manager usually hears about the phenoms and then sends the ivory hunter to confirm or deny the news.

The demand for pitching material is never satisfied in the big leagues. The box is the surest short cut to fame. A manager may have two or three men sitting on his bench who are better in sheer ability than men playing in his regular line—and the manager may know that to be a fact—but lack of experience, or other reasons, may keep them long in the background, whereas the pitcher usually finds big league opportunity crowding him at all stages.

Even Break for Youngsters

It is sometimes only after two or three years or steady playing that an infielder or an outfielder reaps the reward of ability, whereas a young pitcher may step immediately into the limelight. Claude Hendrix, a two-year man, and Larry Cheney and Jeff Teserau, who have had only a year of big league experience, are the pitching leaders of the National League. Hugh Bedient gained great fame after a few months on a major bench, while Jimmy Lavender, another first year man, mopped up much glory this last season.

Of course a Ty Cobb or Tris Speaker cannot long be denied, but these are exceptional cases. Every big league manager is grooming youngsters who will one day be stars of the baseball word, but meanwhile, while they are gaining their education, young twirlers, who joined on after they did, are slipping into sudden fame.

It might be argued that while the pitcher does not work as hard as the other players, neither does he last as long in the big league, but that argument is answered by the fact that several of the foremost figures in the game today are veteran heavers.

Christy Mathewson has been pitching for twelve years, and is today one of the highest salaried men in the game. He is accounted well off in this world’s goods. He is good for several years more. Ed Walsh is a comparative veteran, and still one of the five greatest heavers in the world. There is no reason why a man like Walter Johnson should not go on as long at Mathewson, or why Marquard should not last as long as Eddie Plank, who is an old-timer as ball players go, but who finished second among the twirlers of his league last season.

Good Team Not Essential

Of course, a man’s team may make a good deal of difference in respect to both gold and glory, but Nap Rucker, for instance, is probably as well paid as any high class twirler in the league with the possible exception of Mathewson, and is certainly as well known. He has missed only the added emoluments of a world’s series.

Now the pitching staff is not the whole team by any means, but nowadays the manager who wins a pennant must have exceptional pitchers. He may be able to get along with mediocrity in other positions, as some managers are doing right now, but he must have the best quality of boxmen.

So the scouts range far and wide through the tall grass looking for pitching talent, and so it is that hundreds of young pitchers are picked up every year and scrutinized by the league managers. Two hundred and thirty-two “kids” and veterans passed through the big league mill last season, after the opening games had been played, but you can almost count the really notable pitchers of the game on the fingers of your hands.

Two pitchers have commanded the highest prices ever paid for ball players. John T. Brush gave up $11,000 for Rube Marquard, and Barney Dreyfuss, of Pittsburgh, paid a price generally placed at $12,500 cash, and ball players representing nearly as much more for Marty O’Toole. Mathewson is believed to get all of $10,000 a season, and makes a considerable amount on the side every year, while Walter Johnson is reputed to draw down $7,000 a season.

Big Prices for Twirlers

There is many a pitcher whose talent is buried with poor clubs who might be a great star with a first class team, but as a general proposition the crack pitchers show their class regardless of their backing, as witness Rucker and Walter Johnson. The latest was an acknowledged marvel when Washington was nowhere in the race. Russell Ford and ‘Lefty’ Hamilton are conceded to be great pitchers, even though their clubs are neighbors to the tail end of the American League. The fame of Grover Alexander, Tom Seaton, “Slim” Salee, Vean Gregg, and several others is not submerged by the positions of their clubs.

All figures cited hereafters are taken from an unofficial summing up of the season, and while they may not be absolutely perfect, they are close enough to give a general line on the situation.

During the regular season of 1912, the two big leagues handled approximately 474 baseball players of one kind or another, of which number 122 were pitchers who did not appear in fifteen or more games. They pitched in anywhere from one to fourteen games, but did not attain the magic fifteen, which is the number that gives them place as recognized toilers on the mound.

Some of the 122 were recruits who came late in the season, and worked just enough to show flashes of future promise. Others were boys who were tried early in the year and failed to display enough form to warrant retention in the big league. Still others were veterans who were unable to work regularly on account of illness or injury.

Out of 118 pitchers enrolled in the National League during the season, but 52 worked in fifteen, or more games. Of 124 twirlers who wore American League uniforms only 48 passed the fifteen mark. And of the 100 pitchers in the two leagues who might be accounted regulars, quite a number were released after working in more than their fifteen games.

Five on Major Staffs

The average big league staff of pitchers who worked in turn numbers about five. Most managers feel they are blessed by the baseball gods if they have three good pitchers, or one real star and a couple of twirlers of ordinary ability. Manager McGraw of the Giants won a pennant in 1911 by expert juggling of a brace of luminaries—Mathewson and Marquard—while in 1912 he was fortunate enough to pick up a crack recruit in Tesreau.

Jake Stahl, of the Boston Red Sox, was lucky during the run of the season in having five unusually steady pitchers, one of whom approximated greatness. He had Joe Wood, Collins, Bedient, O’Brien and Hall, but when it came down to the world’s series he had to rely on two and one of them—Bedient—turned out to be a real “find” in an hour of great need.

In 1911 Connie Mack had a trio of great heavers in Bender, Coombs and Plank, but when two of that trio failed him in 1912 he lost a pennant. With Bender and Coombs in their 1911 form, it is reasonable to presume that the Athletics would have made a much better showing this year.

Clarke Griffith made a grand run with but one star pitcher. Given a Marquard, a Wood or a Plank to support Walter Johnson last season and the “Old Fox” might have been in the running until the last game. The Chicago White Sox have long been supported by the wonderful pitching of Ed Walsh, who will ever be classsed with the truly great. With a Walsh, a Joe Wood, a Johnson or a Mathewson heading their crumbling pitching staffs, or even with Mordecai Brown at his best, the Chicago Cubs might have beaten the Giants out of first place, because in Lavender, Cheney and Richie they had sufficient pitching support to carry a star through.

The Pittsburgh Pirates developed a man last season who bears the earmarks of a great pitcher, but his case demonstrates that pitching alone cannot carry a club to a pennant, even when backed by tremendous hitting. Claude Hendrix, a young spitballer, led the National League twirlers, and associated with him were three other unusually good heavers in Camnitz, Adams and Robinson, with the best hitting club in the league behind them, but it took the slow footed Buccaneers so long to get started that the pitching and the hitting were of little use.