This is part three, the final conclusion, in what is a very special mini-series exploring the St. Louis Cardinals’ “Gas House Gang”. You can read part one here, and part two here. The story continues…
“The most rabid, vituperative, hysterical rooter in the world, the Brooklyn fan, will troop across the bridge by the thousands, bringing cowbells, sirens, razzberries, whistles.” Paul Gallico – NY Daily News
Perhaps no team in the history of the game has ever taken the role of spoiler so seriously. The excitement in Brooklyn is extreme. The Polo Grounds are expected to be filled with Dodger fans, who want to pay Bill Terry (pictured above) back in the worst way for slighting his New York neighbors. Dodgers’ President Judge McKeever takes out his cane and, shaking it with glee, exhorts his team, “We’ll make him eat those words.” Casey Stengel adds, “Yes, and if it chokes him, that will be all right, too.” And, indeed, Brooklyn takes out the Giants in both games, concluding a collapse that had seen them lose their last five games to inferior competition.
This is part two in what is a very special mini-series exploring the St. Louis Cardinals’ “Gas House Gang”. You can read part one here. The story continues…
Left to right: Johnny Mize, Curt Davis, Lon Warneke, Terry Moore, and Joe Medwick.
Most of the starters were sick of the Deans. The favorite refrain, repeated endlessly over the course of the season, “Them Giants don’t have a pig’s chance in winter of beatin’ me and Paul.” Perhaps the pitcher who took the most offense at the braggadocio was Jean Otto “Tex” Carleton. Carleton, like Frisch, was a college grad. He had a naturally truculent disposition and was looking for trouble most of the time. He was deeply resentful of the Deans, predicting that they wouldn’t last in the Bigs.
This is the first part in what will be a very special mini-series covering the fascinating history of “The Gas House Gang”. Join Paulie over the next few weeks to uncover not just a story about baseball, but one about ourselves… -Jay
There have been many memorable teams in the storied history of baseball: McGraw’s feisty Baltimore Orioles squads of the Gay 90’s; his NY Giant teams which dominated the early decades of the 20th century; the powerful Cub squads of the first decade of the 20th century; the several dynastic periods of Connie’s Philadelphia Athletic Mack-Men; the immortal Yankee dynasties of Ruth, DiMaggio, Mantle, and Jeter; the Bums of Brooklyn in the 40’s-50’s; the Big Red Machine; Earl Weaver’s Orioles of the late 60’s-early 70’s; and, of course, Charlie O’s mustachioed masters of the diamond, also of the early 70’s. All of these teams were powerful; some were awesome; and, many were endearing. But, none of them were as colorful as the St. Louis Cardinal’s Gas House Gang of 1934.
Part One of this series can be found here. This is Part Two of this this series can be found here. This is Part Threee of a three-part series.
The year was 1962. The place – the Carlyle Hotel in New York City. A man, in his early 40’s, was observed prancing around the corridors of the Carlyle, tearing off his clothing, The individual’s bodyguards found his antics quite amusing at first, until he began making bizarre paranoid rants, spouted nonsense that was obviously delusional in nature, and apparently was in a psychotic, delusional State. This individual was suffering the effects of an overdose of methamphetamines.
His name was John Fitzgerald Kennedy, at that time the President of the United States.
Part One of this series can be found here. This is Part Two of a three-part series.
“The rules are quite clear. For violation of any part of this rule, deliver what is called the “shine” ball, “spit” ball, “mud” ball or “emery” ball, the umpire shall call the pitch a ball, warn the pitcher and have announced on the public address system the reason for the action.” — Fast Facts of Baseball- The Spit Ball*
For decades, the spitter was an accepted part of major league baseball, and little to no controversy surrounded its use. Jack Chesbro, who achieved baseball immortality by setting the unbreakable 20th century record of 41 wins in the 1904 season, was a notorious spit-ball pitcher. (Perhaps the baseball gods achieved their revenge on “Happy Jack” when he managed to lose the deciding game of that same season on a wild pitch which was undoubtedly a spitter (a pitch he called a “slow ball”) with a bit too much action. During a match between his own New York Highlanders (nee: Yankees) and the Boston Americans (nee: Red Sox), Chesbro ‘s wild pitch allowed the winning run to score from third base. However, for many years, Chesbro’s bereaved widow blamed the team’s catcher for the miscue.) The following year, Chesbro stated that he had invented a new pitch which he called the “jump ball”, which unfortunately for him, didn’t jump all that much; his record plummeted from a mind-boggling 41-12 to a pedestrian 19-15. During the hallowed ’04 season, Jack also posted an ERA of 1.82, struck out 239 batters, pitched 454 2/3 innings, and set MLB baseball records for wins, complete games and innings pitched in a season. Jack also won 14 straight games during that season, which would remain a Yankee record until Roger Clemens broke it almost 100 years later in 2001; he also held the Yankee strike out record until Ron Guidry broke it 74 years later in 1978. (However, because of the brobdinagian number of innings he pitched that year, his K/9 ratio that season was a mere 4.7). In 1908, Chesbro announced that he would forever more eschew the use of the wetball, and his record amply demonstrated his truthfulness, as he went 14-18 for the season.
On June 5th, 2013, T.J. Quinn, Pedro Gomez, and Mike Fish collaborated in writing an article in ESPN’s Outside the Line’s*, reporting that Major League Baseball was preparing to suspend such luminaries as Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez, Jhonny Peralta, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, and likely up to 15 other players who were connected to the Biogenesis clinic based in Miami Florida. The founder of the clinic, Tony Bosch, was reportedly going to testify against the players who had over the last several years established connections with the clinic, reportedly purchasing Performance Enhancing Drugs (P.E.D.’s), in order to plea-bargain and lesson the charges for his own egregious offenses.. These players faced up to a 100 game suspension, (which is actually the penalty for the second doping offense), for both denying their connection to the clinic as well as using P.E.D’s. As it turned out, Bosch provided phone records, receipts, data collected by the NSA or intercepted by drones hovering over the clinic. All of the players except for Alex Rodriguez have since then admitted their guilt, and were suspended for the remainder of the season; meanwhile, of course, AROD, the baseball equivalent of the Kardashians, has fought his case against the Lords of baseball, and will be suspended for one season, with his appeal in process.
After the 1938 season, Yankee pitcher Wes Ferrell, who played golf with Gehrig on a regular basis, noticed that Lou refrained from wearing golf cleats; instead he wore sneakers, and was sliding his feet along the ground. He became frightened that something was wrong, and notified Yankee skipper Joe McCarthy. Gehrig played the first 8 games of the 1939 season, but it was apparent that he was not the same player as before. When Gehrig made a routine play with more then a small bit of difficulty, several Yankees, including Bill Dickey and Joe Gordon, patted him on the back, complimenting him on his effort. It was at that point that Gehrig knew the gig was up, and feeling utterly humiliated, took himself out of the game.
When he was in his late teens, Lawrence Berra, or Lawdie, as he was called by his friends and family, went to the movies, and saw a film with an Indian fakir and a yogi; his friends thought that he was the spitting image of the yogi. The nickname caught on immediately.
In 1948, Yankee Scout Tommy Greenwade had taken a trip to Kansas to see a prospect named Billy Johnson who played for a semi-professional team named the Baxter Springs Whiz Kids. During the game, a young, strapping 16 year old boy named Mickey Mantle walloped three long home runs. The next year Greenwade returned, and when he left town, Mantle had signed his first contract to play for the New York Yankees.
“He’s the best prospect I’ve ever seen.” – Branch Rickey
Who was the greatest pitcher during the first decade of the 20th century? Cy Young, perhaps. Christy Mathewson? Maybe Joe “Iron Arm” McGinnity”? The immensely talented and idiosyncratically eccentric Rube Waddell? Addie Joss? A case can be made for any one of these hurlers. However, the truth is that perhaps the very best of them couldn’t be identified by 95% of the fans of the American pastime. Beyond that, this same individual was considered by many astute observers as the equal of the legendary and irascible John McGraw as a manager. He was one of the most successful owners in the game, and as an Administrator, was the equal of such as Ban Johnson, the President and founder of the fledgling American league. That man was Rube Foster. In all of these respects, there has never been anyone who excelled in all of these capacities in the history of rounders. And although he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1981, he remains a rather obscure figure in baseball history. But the truth of the matter is that without Foster, there likely would not have been an organized Negro league; without Foster, it is likely that there never would have been a Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, or a Jackie Robinson.