There’s No Shame In Harry Chapman’s Truth

Photo: The Baseball Bloggess

“A subject for Thanksgiving should be the fact that the base-ball season is over, and the space in the newspapers devoted to that sport can now be used for original poetry.” ~ The Inter Ocean (Chicago), 1881

Here’s one from 1910:

The Base Ball Season Is Over

The baseball season is over

The players have all gone home

They have done their best

To down the rest

And place our team at the dome.

 

The baseball season is over

Our summer pleasures are done

They’re all “put out”

Without a doubt

And they’ve made their last, lone run.

 

The baseball season is over

There is grief in the small boy’s heart

As he thinks of the days

When he saw the good plays

That our team made like a dart.

It goes on for a few more verses and you can read the entire poem here if you like. It ends like this:

The baseball season is over

Next year will soon roll around

And we’ll get a good start

And dart like a lark

To the head of the column, so long.

 

This poem appeared in a Concordia, Kansas paper in 1910 and maybe “around” really did rhyme with “long” back then. It seems like the author – who is never named – ran out of poetry steam by that last line.

The poem was a tribute to the Travelers, a minor league team that made its debut in Concordia that year … and folded for good the next.

I liked the poem and thought that was the story I wanted to tell you. But, there is one bit of Concordia Travelers business that needs clearing up – and, I promise you, I’m not happy to do this.

Two players on that 1910 team went on to have short stints in the majors.

Concordia Travelers, 1910. Chick Smith, back row, far left. Harry Chapman, front row, second from left. 

Chick Smith, a reliever (something of a rarity at the time), spent five games with the Cincinnati Reds in 1913, pitching 17.2 not-bad innings.

Catcher Harry Chapman played 147 big league games here and there with the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Terriers (Federal League), and St. Louis Browns between 1912 and 1916.

And, here is where our story turns to Chapman.

Photo: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division

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Consistency

I haven’t been around a lot on here lately.

I’ve been busy.

Stuff going on.

You know.

You didn’t notice? Hey, don’t feel bad. The cats are generally the only ones who notice my absence … and only when it impacts mealtime. Once they find me, they just sit and stare at me until I feed them.

It’s nice. Makes me feel needed.

The Baltimore Orioles lost 110 games this season. As you can imagine, watching all that losing takes time.

Fun Fact: Do you know how long it takes to become numb to losing? 99 games.

After the 99th loss, you just want to see how many more games they can lose before Major League Baseball steps in and says, “Hey, we love your enthusiasm and all, but maybe Triple A is a better place for you.”

Being the worst isn’t easy. Some seasons you have competition. The Arizona Diamondbacks lost 110 games this season, too.

So, with identical records, who was worse? The Orioles. And, I’ll tell you why. Continue reading

12 Things You Should Know About Fred “Crazy” Schmit

The Buffalo Enquirer, 8/28/1899

Fred “Crazy” Schmit wasn’t crazy.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s get on with more important things.

I didn’t just stumble upon Schmit, the long-ago pitcher. I went looking for him. I wanted to find the first pitcher to carry a “cheat sheet” on the mound – someone to show that today’s trend of pitchers tucking info cards into their caps is really nothing new.

Dear readers, meet Crazy Schmit.

Schmit has just a few major league seasons to his name, but there is much to unpack — from his pitcher’s notebook that would make Earl Weaver proud, to his eerily prescient take on baseball matters that remain controversial today to, well, okay, there’s some crazy, too.

I swear, sometimes I think I don’t go looking for these players as much as they come looking for me.

Here are 12 things you should know about Fred “Crazy” Schmit.

1. Frederick Schmit was born in Chicago in 1866.

His parents were immigrants – both arrived in America in 1857. If you dig around in Schmit’s past you’ll quickly discover that newspapers routinely spelled his name Schmidt. Census takers often screwed it up, too. Schmit himself seemed content to spell it whichever way – including misspelling his own name in a self-published book. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Continue reading

9 Years … 9 Things.

It was two weeks ago that WordPress reminded me that The Baseball Bloggess is 9 years old. Happy belated birth’a’versary, me!

I would have written about this two weeks ago, but I was busy watching the Baltimore Orioles sweep the Washington Nationals that weekend. That sweeping by the lowly – but occasionally feisty – Orioles was the tipping point that led the Nationals to, quite literally, trade away 30 percent of their lineup, including sending two beloved players, Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, to the Dodgers.

Dear Washington Nationals Fans,

Sorry about that.

Your Friend, The Baseball Bloggess

Sure, I’m a little late, but I’m ready to celebrate 9 years of honing the qwerty skills I learned in Mr. Brown’s high school typing class. Whether you’ve been reading from the beginning (that’s just you, Editor/Husband) or happened upon this for the first time today, The Baseball Bloggess is glad you’re here and considers you a close personal friend.

From 9 innings to 9 players on a lineup card, baseball is a 9’centric game.

So, here are 9, 9’ish things as I belatedly celebrate the 9-year birth’a’versary of The Baseball Bloggess.

1) The 9th Most Popular Post On This Website: Edd Roush Takes A Nap In The Outfield

I gotta hand it to Cincinnati Reds fans – they love baseball history.

Well, they love this story anyway, of how, in 1920, future Hall of Fame outfielder Edd Roush found a way to take a nap … in center field … during a game. But then, who doesn’t love a good napping story?

Public Domain, via The Library of Congress

Does he look tired to you? Continue reading

The Wheelbarrow

 

 

The True Part: This wheelbarrow sits in the middle of a nearby farmyard. I pass it every time I drive or walk down our road. It’s been there for years, through at least the last two families who have lived there. I don’t know how it got there or why it stays there. But, it got me thinking  …

The Wheelbarrow

He could tell you the exact moment when he knew his playing days were through.

It happened toward the end of a meaningless game on a humid Wednesday at the end of September. He was at bat, a 3-0 count, when Swelter Feeney’s fastball caromed off his wrist. Feeney hit batters all the time, so it didn’t surprise him. If he had jerked away a second sooner, maybe it wouldn’t have hit him square on the bones. But, he hadn’t, and it did. He knew right away it was bad. He knew right away things had changed.

He jogged to first and fought back a grimace. Bones were broken – at least one, probably more – in his wrist. He was sure of that. Teams didn’t have trainers back then and he didn’t need a doctor to tell him his hand would never be the same.

He bluffed his way through the rest of the game – a game they lost – hiding the fast-swelling hand from prying eyes. Didn’t say a word. He didn’t want to lose his job, the only job he ever wanted.

That night he ate nearly an entire bottle of aspirin and tied an old rag around the wrist to quiet the throbbing. He found a pair of old tin snips and, with his good hand, cut a circle out of a pie pan and pushed a thin piece of tin into his glove, loosening the leather laces and splitting part of the glove at the bottom so he could press his swollen hand behind the tin, which, he hoped, would soften the blow of ball into glove. It helped. But, only a little. Continue reading

Baseball & The Moon

“The love of base ball is wide spread. A little six year old was sitting upon the steps, with a base ball in his hand, gazing intently at the moon. ‘Pa, is there only one man in the moon?’ asked he.

“’That’s the tradition my son; the man in the moon is the only inhabitant of that bright world we have ever heard of.’

“After a moment of pause he remarked with a sigh, ‘He must be lonesome, pa, with no one to play base ball with.’”

— The Marysville (Kansas) Enterprise, 1867

Photo: “Kids In June.” The Baseball Bloggess, 6/26/2021

Photo: Pixabay via Pexels.com

 

Relationship Status: It’s Complicated

Dear Baltimore Orioles,

Hi.

It’s been a while since we talked and I didn’t want it to come to this. Really, I didn’t.

But, you leave me no choice.

You see, I’ve put up with a lot from you lately. And, by lately, I mean over the past 1,183 days.

That starting point is not arbitrary. It was March 29, 2018 – Opening Day. You won that game. Good for you.

Sure, it took 11 innings. But, you won.

In the past 1,183 days since Opening Day 2018 you have played 458 games. You’ve lost 67 percent of them – 309 games.

You’ve lost games by a run, two runs, 13 runs. Like Baskin-Robbins ice cream, you offer a lot of variety in your losses.

Baseball Nut? Yes. Pink Bubblegum? Entirely unnecessary.

While I hate math, even I can see that you have lost nearly all of the games you have played since 2018.

Nearly all of them.  

I have kept my mouth shut long enough. Continue reading

An Unfussy Meal For An Unfussy Man

My dad was not a fussy man.

He probably never gave a minute’s thought to whether anyone would remember him once he was gone.

I’m pretty sure he lived mostly in the moment … he didn’t sit around reminiscing about growing up or growing old, or wonder or worry about what was going to happen next.

Not out loud, anyway. Not with me, anyway.

(Did I have a mohawk?)

One of the only things my dad would reminisce about – and he talked about it often – was a Basque restaurant he would stop and eat at in Fresno from the days when we lived in California and he would work the Sacramento-Stockton-Fresno circuit.

It must have been one helluva restaurant because my dad had a good long life and many meals with which to compare. He must have had plenty of other more interesting things to remember. He must have had other good meals. Better meals.

He must have. Continue reading

Ahhh, Sports …

“You could be a kid for as long as you want when you play baseball.” ~ Cal Ripken, Jr.

© The Baseball Bloggess, 2021 regular season

Kids, these days.

The Virginia Cavaliers will play Dallas Baptist in the Columbia, SC best-of-three NCAA Super Regional which begins today (Saturday) with Game 1 at noon EST. (It airs on ESPNU.)

All baseball is good baseball, but there is a wonderful je ne sais quoi to college baseball.

Where something like this can happen to a team that, just a few weeks ago, wasn’t even expected to make the post season …

Columbia, SC Regionals last weekend.

Where something like this can happen on a Tuesday:

Tuesday. Game 5, ODU vs UVa, Columbia, SC Regionals. 

Continue reading

12 Things You Should Know About Matt Kilroy, The “Little Whirlwind”

On May 5, 2021, Baltimore Orioles twirler John Means tossed the first Orioles one-pitcher, no-hitter since Jim Palmer in 1969.

Embed from Getty Images

But, you have to go all the way back to 1886 to get to the very first Baltimore Orioles no-hitter.

Matt Kilroy

Before I tell you 12 things you should know about Matt Kilroy, the 1886 pitcher who did that, let’s get any dreamy-eyed 1886 nonsense out of the way.

Forever ago.

There are no “good old days.” You might think you missed out on something special, but you didn’t.

1886 was lousy. It was unsafe. It was unsanitary. And, the average lifespan in the United States was 39.

Albert Pujols, 41. Nelson Cruz, 40. Yadier Molina, 38. You get my point.

It was tuberculosis that probably got you. Or, rabid mad dogs in New York City. Or, a horse fell on you or a carriage ran over you. Or a bridge or building collapsed on you. Or your entire town burned down with you in it.

Or, you were a child, which was extremely dangerous. As John Graunt, the 17th-century founder of demography sweetly put it: “Being a child was to forever be on the brink of death.”

You think wearing a mask for a year was a bother?

Stop your whimpering.

Try living through the recurring epidemics of cholera, typhoid, typhus, scarlet fever, smallpox, and yellow fever that mowed down Baltimore, Boston, Memphis, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC, over and over and over between 1865 and 1873.

And, if you did live through the latest epidemic – and you probably didn’t, but if you did –  chances are, unless you were awfully rich, you lived in a house with no hot water, no shower, and – this is important – no toilet.

If you think the most important room in your house is your man cave, you are wrong. It is your bathroom. And, you should go in there right now, get down on your knees, and thank the modern gods for installing one in your house.

Good Things That Happened in 1886 Continue reading