Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Researching the Millers and Saints

Any researcher will tell you to be wary of online sources. I recently discovered this myself when I went to a website created with the intention of listing every game played by the Minneapolis Millers. On the surface it's quite an accomplishment, apparently exhaustive in many ways, with the potential of being a most useful tool for the baseball researcher. An index to its contenst can be viewed at http://stewthornley.net/millersgames/

I applaud the effort behind such a comprehensive attempt at documenting American Association history. The author of the site, Stew Thornley, is known for his historical expertise on Minneapolis matters, in particular his baseball knowledge. Typically I would have no reason to doubt his work. But in this case he has dropped the ball in a big way.

I first became familiar with his site about a year and a half ago when I needed a source to use for the purpose of cross-checking the individual game data I was developing for the American Association rivalry between the Minneapolis Millers and St. Paul Saints. I had most of the games, some 1,300 of them, already entered into my database and was hoping to substantiate a few of my questionable items. In the process of investigating his database, I found a handful of errors in my own spreadsheet, and I was glad I had Thornley's comprehensive database to assist in this matter.

But along the way I noticed he had missed a few things. In fact, more than a few things. The first example I noticed was a conflict between what I had for a game location in 1905 and what he had listed. I went back into the newspaper scans I have on my computer and realized my location was correct. Another conflict came up soon after, so I checked on it, and again I was correct. At this point I realized I would have to go through this process for the entire database from 1902-1960. After a week of dedicated effort, I documented 42 errors from Thornley's website.

Researchers depend on the authority of online authors for the validity of their own work, so I am posting my listing of each of the 42 errors. These are significant miscues, ranging from incorrectly reported game locations to missing games. In one case, several games from one season appear in the listing for another season. There are a few minor errors here as well, but the extent of the inaccuracies found on this site makes Thornley's work unreliable. If there are 42 problems with games between the Millers and the Saints alone, how many more are there for the remaining teams of the American Association from 1902-1960? The answer to this question may never be known, because most writers will simply take such a listing as Thornley's at face value. That would be a mistake.

As most dedicated researchers do, I work hard to ensure the accuracy of my reporting before I publish it. To find this many inaccuracies in a database of this nature, even though it may not purport to be accurate, we hope is an aberration. But the lesson stands: don't trust what is listed on every website. Baseball-reference.com certainly has its share of problems in its minor league statistical reporting, and if you look hard enough, you'll find them in other "reputable" sites as well. It's part of the brave new online world we live in. Informed researchers will learn from the mistakes of others and will refrain from publishing their own material until they are ready to publish it.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Milwaukee's First Championship

Be sure to view Chance Michael's blog for a summary of the waning days of the 1913 American Association season and the Brewers' first championship as members of the great old American Association:


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

1960 Minneapolis vs. St. Paul Database

This is an example of the database I've just completed for the 1902-1960 line scores for each game played between the Minneapolis Millers and St. Paul Saints, two of baseball's most revered rivals. I started working on this in October 2011 and am now in the process of formatting it with the purpose of highlighting key information. If you are interested in obtaining a clearer image of the following, please contact me at pureout@msn.com

Saturday, August 3, 2013

1913: Following Milwaukee to the Flag

August 1, 1913: from the Milwaukee Journal

July ended on a down note for Harry “Pep” Clark (pictured above) and his Milwaukee Brewers, who were shut out by the sixth-place St. Paul Saints at Lexington Park in St. Paul, 1-0. But the Brewers, with a record of 64-43, remained in first by a four-game margin over the Louisville Colonels. The Minneapolis Millers were in third, just a half-game behind Louisville, and the Columbus Senators were in the mix with a record of 57-48.

In Milwaukee’s July 31 loss to St. Paul, the Brewers had just three hits, those belonging to second baseman Phil Lewis, shortstop Lena Blackburne, and center fielder Larry “Speedy” Gilbert. Ed “Loose” Karger, St. Paul right-hander, had his way with Milwaukee that day, striking out six. But the Saints had a hard time catching up with the offerings of Milwaukee’s diminutive righty, Ralph Cutting, who stifled the Saints on six hits and did not allow the go-ahead run until the ninth; the winning run scored with no outs in the Saints’ half of the inning.

As reported in the Milwaukee Journal:

“It’s a slip of the foot that really caused the Brewers the loss of the game, and it was Milwaukee Manager Harry Clark’s foot that slipped. In the ninth inning, St. Paul Catcher Charlie Miller opened with a single to left. Ed Karger, the next man up, tried to sacrifice and bunted a slow one to Clark, who fielded the ball cleanly but in such a manner that in turning to throw to second, his spikes failed to hold. He slipped just as he threw and the ball went wild, making an error of what otherwise would have been an easy out. After that, Ralph Cutting purposely passed Queenie O’Rourke to fill the bases in the hopes of a double play at the plate. With the infield pulled in Bill Hinchman shot a hot one just out of Phil Lewis’ reach and the winning run scored.”

Cutting’s nine game winning streak was snapped in the affair.

The Brewers crossed the big river heading west to take on the ever-tough Minneapolis Millers in a big weekend series sure to have an impact on the race for the flag.

The news in the Milwaukee Journal for Friday, Aug. 1, was that the Brewers were after the services of pitcher “Big Bill” Powell. According to the article:

“‘Big Bill’ Powell, who as a member of the Kansas City team, has always proven a hoodoo to the Brewers, may be a member of Clark’s crew before nightfall. Powell is in bad with Manager Charlie Carr and has been offered for sale. As soon as Manager Clark heard of it he traveled across the river for a conference and if the two can get together on the price, Powell will be a Brewer by night.”

On another topic, the Journal reported that:

“A switch will be made in the batting order. Lena Blackburne will bat second, while Phil Lewis, who is hitting well now, will bat third.”

The Journal, in a separate article, provided some insight into how Brewer hitters could improve their position in the batting race. Entitled, “Heavy Hitters Must Hit in Bunches If They Want to Land in .300 Class.” The article stated:

“In order to stay above the .300 mark in batting, a player has got to bunch his hits a number of times during the season, and to make up for the lumps that comes to all players. This is very apparent in the hitting of Larry Chappell (Milwaukee), Fred Osborn (Louisville), Ray Miller (Columbus), Charlie Hemphill (St. Paul) and Tom Jones (Milwaukee).

“The players this year that have made five hits are Ray Miller of Columbus, Duke Reilly of Indianapolis, Tom Jones of Milwaukee, Fred Osborn of Louisville, Carlton Jones of Toledo and Jack Stansbury of Louisville. (given names added)

In addition, the article described how hitting streaks contributed to a batter’s standing. “Not only do the heavy hitters bunch their hits in single games, but almost all the leaders get batting streaks where they hit safely in a number of consecutive games. Tillie Walker of the Blues and Hemphill of St. Paul have hit in twenty consecutive games, but Newt Randall of the Brewers has an even better record, having runs of seventeen and fifteen.”

The listing provided in the Journal showed the top 34 record holders in the area of hitting streaks. Here are the American Association’s top ten:

Tillie Walker, Kansas City       20
Charlie Hemphill, St. Paul      20
Ray Miller, Columbus,            18
Newt Randall, Milwaukee      17
Larry Chappell, Milwaukee    16
Charlie Hemphill, St. Paul      16
Newt Randall, Milwaukee      15
Delos Drake, Kansas City      15
Duke Reilly, Indianapolis       14
Fred Brady, Toledo                 14

Sunday, March 24, 2013

From the Archives: 100 Years Ago Today

For your amusement: this graphic, which appeared in the March 24, 1913 edition of the Milwaukee Journal, presents the light-side of the cartoonists world when it comes to  ingenious ways of filling space and occupying time.

As for the Brewers, Lewis and Clark (Phil and Harry) lead the way as they defeat the Owensboro Grays amidst a "regular Kentucky gale," in a Sunday exhibition contest, 13-4. Pitcher Joe Hovlik carried his weight with the stick, swatting a double and home run. They outhit their Bluegrass State counterpart, 16-6, while making four errors. Ralph Cutting, Joe Hovlik and Bruce Noel all worked from the hill for Milwaukee.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

100 Years Ago Today: Milwaukee Gets Going

This graphic from the Milwaukee Journal of March 16, 1913 show that the American Association's Milwaukee Brewers have a slew of lefties in their spring training camp down south. The early days of the 1913 season are especially interesting in light of the fact that Milwaukee went on to win its first American Association championship that year. Stay tuned for regular updates as we monitor the Brewers in their first championship season in the pages of this blog!

Here are the names of the players featured in this interesting graphic (from left - right; Powell and Burg are switched in the graphic's caption):

"Big Bill" Powell, pitcher (baseball-reference lists his B/T as R/R)
Joe Burg, second baseman (baseball-reference lists his B/T as R/R)
Johnson (does not appear on roster)
Ollie Reeb (does not appear on roster)
Anton "Mutz" Ens, first-baseman (listed as L/L)
Newt Randall, outfielder (listed as R/R)
Peter Clemens, outfielder (listed as batting L)
Art LaVigne, catcher (listed as R/R)

Obviously, many of the players shown in the graphic to be batting left-handed were not identified as being left-handed batters on baseball-reference. It is likely these batters were either switch-hitters or that baseball-reference is misinformed (as they have been known to be on occasion regarding the minor league statistical data they present).

The roster for the 1913 Milwaukee Brewers includes NINE players who either batted left, threw left, switch hit or threw and batted left. (source: baseball-reference.com)

Friday, August 24, 2012

100 Years Ago: August 24, 1912

The Minneapolis Millers retain their hold on first place in the American Association with wins 87 and 88 win of the season, sweeping the lowly Indianapolis Indians who suffer their 89th and 90th defeats in a Saturday twin bill at Nicollet Park in Minneapolis. Future Hall of Famer Rube Waddell goes the distance and strikes out seven in the first game, shutting down the Tribe on three hits. Second-baseman Ed Williams hitting lead-off gets two safeties off Waddell. The Millers play error-free in the field. Single tallies in the first and sixth innings give Minneapolis a 2-0 win, Fred Linke the losing pitcher.

Waddell takes the slab as the starter in the second game but lasts only three and one-third, faltering despite the advantage of an early two-run lead, Indianapolis scoring two in the second, one in the third and one in the fourth. Minneapolis comes back with a late picket fence, posting lone tallies in each of the last three frames to eke out a 5-4 win. Waddell is relieved first by Irv "Young Cy" Young and Ralph Comstock. A triple by first-baseman Jim Delahanty, his second of the day, is a highlight for the hosts; Indians' first-sacker Bill Keene homers for the visitors and speedy third-baseman Scotty Ingerton triples. Despite out-hitting the Millers, 10-7, Indianapolis takes the loss behind Otto Merz who limits the hosts to seven hits in ten innings. The Indians will win only two games out of 24 against Minneapolis all year.

Across the Big River in St. Paul, the sixth-place Saints are thrashed by the Louisville Colonels, 11-4, at Lexington Park. The Saints have a 4-0 lead through four, but the Colonels tie it in the fifth, then erupt for six runs off Louis LeRoy in the ninth. Joe Stansbury, the Colonels' center-fielder, has three hits in five at-bats; Bill McKechnie, also headed for the Hall of Fame, has a double and a triple in three times up. Doc Moskiman starts for Louisville before Jake Northrop comes on in the fifth and finishes, getting the win. It's Louisville's 50th victory of the season, but there's no way the Colonels are climbing out of their seventh-place hole.

Elsewhere in the American Association, the Milwaukee Brewers do the Millers a favor by knocking off second-place Columbus, 4-3, in Milwaukee, as slick spitballer Cy Slapnicka is the winner over Wilbur Cooper.

Third-place Toledo KO's the fourth-place Kansas City Blues in a battle of first-division clubs, 8-2, at Kansas City, as 23-year old Harry Krause defeats Bob "Dusty" Rhoades, 33.