Monday, February 8, 2016

Baseball diamond more circular than we think




I really don't understand this, but maybe, the baseball diamond is more circular than we think — or it is truly a game of a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.
I thought about that a while back, when I  ran into Rick "Goose" Gossage while walking my dogs one day.  He was out jogging, but said "Hello."
I thought about legacy, coincidence, high-powered names and old-time baseball. I didn't have my Yankee hat on, and the dogs didn't recognize him, or if they did, they didn't realize he was in the Baseball Hall of Fame. And nobody really remembers who was in the 1916 World Series, almost a hundred years ago.
A hundred years ago, the 1916 Monument Baseball team had a wonderful season. They won the El Paso County Championship that year, which was quite a feat, as they played mostly teams from larger areas in the Colorado Springs area.
"In those days, the team had to make their own expenses, and there was no charge for the games. The team gave dances, and Hagedorn family orchestra furnished the music. This money was used to buy the team's uniforms. Dr. McConnell always bought balls for them," wrote historian Lucille Lavellett.
Her brother, George Hagedorn first organized the town's baseball team in 1914. Along with George, the players of that early team were Dan Davidson, Bill Connell, Bud Connell, Tom Connell, Roy Gaunt, Jack Roser, Bryan Hagedorn, Marion Hagedorn, Wilbur Fulker and Iven Fulker was manager.
So much for dropping names, and talking baseball, and 100-year-old history.
Long before the Yankees were strong, Carrigan was a household name in Boston, Maine, and all over New England. 
Bill "Rough"Carrigan was "deadball era" catcher and played 10 seasons for the Boston Red Sox. In the middle of the season in 1913, he replaced defending World Series manager Jake Stahl as a player manager. Later, he returned as Boston's manager in 1927 and stayed until 1929. Carrigan was fairly small for major league baseball, only about 5 foot, 9 inches, and weighed about 175 pounds.
"In the spring of 1906 Carrigan was signed to a Red Sox contract by Charles Taylor, the father of Red Sox owner John I. Taylor. Carrigan joined the struggling Red Sox directly in the middle of the season, immediately catching the likes of Bill Dinneen and Cy Young," according to Mark Amour, for the SABR Baseball Biography Project.
The next few seasons established him as a reliable contributor on the field and in the box. 
"In July 1913 the Red Sox were grappling with a series of injuries, fighting among themselves, and limping along in fifth place. Team president Jimmy McAleer fired manager Jake Stahl just months after his World Series triumph, and replaced him with his 29-year-old catcher. Carrigan liked Stahl, as did most of the team, and was reluctant to take charge of a team filled with veterans, many of whom were just as qualified for the job as he. McAleer persuaded Carrigan to take it. The Red Sox were a team fractured along religious lines, as Protestants like Tris Speaker, Joe Wood, and Harry Hooper often crossed swords with the Catholics on the team, including Carrigan," says Amour.
"Smoking Joe" Wood began his baseball career on town teams in the Colorado San Juans, playing for Ouray teams in Telluride, Rico and Silverton, before his outstanding major league run.
"The well-mannered Carrigan earned the nickname 'Rough' for the way he played. He was a well-respected handler of pitchers, and had a fair throwing arm, but it was his plate blocking that caused Chicago White Sox manager Nixey Callahan to say, “You might as well try to move a stone wall.” On May 17, 1909 he engaged in a famous brawl with the Tigers’ George Moriarty after a collision at home plate, while their teammates stood and watched. He had a fight with Sam Crawford a couple of years later, and maintained a reputation as someone who would not back down from a confrontation," according to Amour.
After he replaced Stahl as manager, he led Boston to a second-place finish in 1914 and then, two world championships in 1915 and 1916, stacking up an 8–2 record as a manager in World Series play. Until Terry Francona duplicated the feat in 2007, he was the only manager to have won two World Series titles with Boston. Babe Ruth called Carrigan the best manager he ever played for.
"The most important event of the 1914 season was the purchase, at Carrigan’s urging, of pitchers Ernie Shore and Babe Ruth from Baltimore of the International League. Although Ruth gave his skipper a lot of credit for his development as a player, Carrigan was humble in his own assessment: “Nobody could have made Ruth the great pitcher and great hitter he was but himself. He made himself with the aid of his God-given talents.” Old Rough did allow that his protégé needed quite a bit of discipline, and Carrigan was there to provide it, even rooming with Ruth for a time. Carrigan caught Ruth in his pitching debut, on July 11," wrote Amour.
"In early September 1916, Carrigan announced that he would be leaving baseball at the end of the season. He had actually wanted to quit after the 1915 Series, and had so told owner Joe Lannin, but his owner talked him into the one additional campaign. Carrigan later wrote, “I had become fed up on being away from home from February to October. I was in my thirties, was married and had an infant daughter. I wanted to spend more time with my family than baseball would allow.” He retired to his hometown of Lewiston and embarked on careers in real estate (as co-owner of several movie theaters in New England) and banking. A few years later he sold his theaters for a substantial profit and became a wealthy man."
He returned home to his banking career, eventually becoming president of People's Savings Bank in Maine. In 1946 he was named to the Honor Roll in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, in 1968 was named to Holy Cross College's Hall of Fame, and in 2004 named to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame. "Rough Bill" Carrigan passed away in a Lewiston, Maine, hospital in 1969 at the age of 85. 
Not too many folks probably remember Carrigan's Red Sox defeated the Brooklyn Robins in 5 games to win the World Series in 1916.
Just a few years before, on Aug. 14, 1909, in the area known at the time as the town of Husted, (which was near my house and the North Gate if the Air Force Academy) unfortunately was the site of a terrible rail accident.
“Nine persons are dead, and others are expected to die; between forty and fifty are injured; three engines are in the ditch; two baggage cars, including the contents, are smashed to kindling wood, and several passenger coaches are badly damaged as the result of a head-on collision between east bound passenger train No. 8, and westbound passenger No. 1, on the Denver & Rio Grande, near Husted, thirteen miles north of this city, at 10:25 a. m. today. The wreck was due to a misunderstanding of orders, it is said.”
Report from papers all over the nation carried the dispatches.
As No. 8 drew into Husted about forty miles an hour, the crew of the engine saw a light engine standing on the switch north of the station.
“Mistaking the engine for the second section of No. 1, the crew did not stop, and went through the station as fast as the two engines could draw the thirteen heavily laden coaches. As soon as the train got out of the station, the engineer of the first engine of No. 8 saw another train coming slowly down the incline. He slammed on the air brakes, and the emergency brakes, and then shouted to the other members of the two crews to jump. Before they had time to jump, No. 3 had rammed No. 1 so hard that all three engines lay in the ditch,’ according to the Nebraska State Journal at the time.
Wilbur F. Fulker and his brother Iven were passengers on the southbound train out of Monument involved in the collision. Wilbur took a series of photographs with a new camera using that famously chronicled the accident. Wilbur’s son, also Wilbur, is the tuba-playing inspiration for the Colorado Spring’s landmark “Uncle Wilber’s Fountain” at Acacia Park and longtime teacher and administrator at the Colorado Deaf and Blind.
“Fireman J. A. Gossage, of train No. 8, was killed as he was firing his engine, and never knew what struck him. The members of the other crew escaped serious injury by jumping.”
The smoker, attached to train No. 8, was the car in which the people were killed. All those badly injured were in the same car.
Other reports said that J.A. or Jack Gossage, the fireman on the helper engine who lived at Husted and had just waved to his wife as the train passed his home was trapped between the engine and the tender when the collision occurred.
Jack Gossage's wife continued to work for the railroad for many years afterward as a cook for crews in Husted, and the Gossage name eventually became quite famous for other reasons in Colorado Springs. Jack Gossage is grandfather to Colorado Springs standout and major league baseball hall of famer Rick “Goose” Gossage.
Today, it occurs to me, that legends and names are relative. So much for dropping names.
Our name is written in the dirt alongside the plate. 
But the umpire can sweep it away — the next time there is a close call at home.



Photo 1: 
Cy Young, Jake Stahl, Bill Carrigan and Michael T. McGreevey, Boston Red Sox Spring Training, 1912.
Photo 2: 
Babe Ruth, Jack Barry, Bill Carrigan, and Del Gainer of the Boston Red Sox.
Photo 3:
1916 Monument Championship baseball team: Left to right, Roy Guant, Jack Roser, Wilber Fulker, unknown, unknown, George Hagedorn, the three Connell brothers, and Iven Fulker, Manager.

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