Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Luke Boone, St. Paul Stalwart

On this date in 1982, American Association standout, Luke (Danny) Boone, born Lute Joseph Boone on May 6, 1890 at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, died at the age of 92 in Pittsburgh.

Boone began playing in the American Association at the age of 26, joining the Toledo Mud Hens and playing second base (78g) and third base (20g) in 1917.

Boone's career was highlighted by the seven consecutive years he played for the St. Paul Saints (1919-1925). These were the halcyon seasons of the Saints when they won championships in 1919, 1920, 1922 and 1924 with some of the strongest teams ever fielded in the American Association's 61-year history.

During his time with St. Paul, Boone was primarily a shortstop who owned a hot bat his first few seasons as a Saint. In 1922, the 5'9" Pittsburgher played in all 167 games leading the club in that department as well in several other key offensive categories. Batting .287 that year, Boone was St. Paul's leader in hits (181-tied with outfielder Bruno Haas), RBI (115), doubles (36), home runs (8) and strikeouts (51). His 56 walks helped offset the 51 strikeouts, and his 20 stolen bases augmented his reputation as an aggressive player.

The Saints finished the 1922 season with a record of 107-60 (.641) under their long-time manager Mike Kelley. They finished 15 games over second-place Minneapolis, their arch rival next door, against whom they won 13 games and lost 11 that year.

Boone's best year as a Saint came in 1923 when he appeared in 162 games, all of them at shortstop. He batted .308 (the first time in his career hitting over .300), belted a career-high ten home runs and produced a club-high 196 hits, including 42 doubles, another career high. The Saints, despite a record of 111-57, finished in second place, just two games behind Wilbur Good's Kansas City Blues.

Boone brought a handful of seasons' worth of professional experience to the five American Association teams he played for. A former New York Yankee (1913-1916) who played 27 games for his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates in 1918, he was among the 45 American Association position players with ten or more seasons under their belt who played from 1902 to 1962.

All told, Boone appeared in 1,660 American Association games in his 14 consecutive seasons (1917-1930). He rapped out exactly 300 doubles, scored 885 runs, and amassed 244 stolen bases. His career .278 batting average was the result of connecting for 1,671 hits (better than one per game) in 6,002 at-bats.

View Boone's obituary and grave marker, located at the Jefferson Memorial Park in Pittsburgh, at this website: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Boone&GSiman=1&GScid=45197&GRid=22910512&

Monday, July 14, 2014

The First All-Star Game

Eighty years ago this week the American Association put its first cadre of All-Stars on display. The event took place July 19, 1934 at hitter-friendly Nicollet Park in Minneapolis. Interesting how this anniversary corresponds with MLB's 2014 All-Star game to be played tomorrow night at Target Field in Minneapolis, just a few miles due north of where Nicollet Park once stood. The Millers defeated the All-Stars, 13-6.

The 1934 American Association All-Star Team

The contest pitted the American Association All-Stars against the Minneapolis Millers, the club which was in first-place on the pre-selected date. In the photo above are (with position played during game): BACK ROW:  GEORGE HOCKETTE (lhp), ALLAN SOTHORON (mgr), EARL WEBB (rf), MEL ALMADA (lf-cf), LIN STORTI (2b), ERNIE WINGARD (1b), FRED BEDORE (3b), and JACK KLOZA (lf). FRONT ROW:  TONY RENSA (c), GENE TROW (rhp), MILT GALATZER (cf), BILL BRENZEL (c), JOSE OLIVARES (ss), GARLAND BRAXTON (lhp), and AL NIEMIC (ss). Thanks to Bud Holland for sharing this photograph with me. It originally appeared in the July 20, 1934 edition of the Minneapolis Journal.

It was called a "doggy" affair, but in fact it was quite a game. Here are a few of the highlights:

• Minneapolis right-hander and Oklahoma native Ray Starr got the start, shutting down the All-Stars in his two innings of work, striking out the first two men he faced.

• The Millers tallied first, putting up a run in the first inning against starting pitcher Garland "Gob" Braxton, Milwaukee's ace lefty. The run came after successive singles by left fielder Ab Wright, first baseman Joe "the dynamic Dutchman" Hauser, and catcher Bubbles Hargrave, the 2-3-4 men in the lineup.

• A triple play in the fourth got Minneapolis-born hurler, Gene "Bubba" Trow, representing the St. Paul Saints, out of trouble. With Buzz Arlett (rf) and Spencer Harris (cf) on first and second, respectively, Babe Ganzel (3b), batting in the eighth slot, slapped a liner to Milwaukee's Lin Storti (2b) near the bag at second. Storti grabbed the seed, stepped on second to force Arlett who had started for third, and threw to Brewers' first baseman Ernie Wingard to complete the circuit.

• The All-Stars tied the game in their half of the third when Rosy Ryan gave up consecutive singles to Milwaukee's Tony Rensa (c), Kansas City's Al Niemic (ss) and Toledo's Milt Galatzer (cf), the 7-8-1 men in the batting order.

• Minneapolis grabbed the lead in their half of the third after Wright reached on an error by Indianapolis third sacker Fred Bedore. Hauser followed with a home run, his 31st of the season, making the score 3-1, Millers after three.

• With the score 4-3 in the sixth, the Millers scored three runs to take the lead for good against Trow who was wild and the least effective of the three All-Star pitchers. After singles by Wright, Arlett and the recently acquired veteran Russ Young (c), Hauser doubled.

• Hauser belted his 32nd home run of the 1934 season in the seventh with leadoff man Andy Cohen (2b) and Wright aboard on singles.

• Hauser garnered 11 total bases with four hits in five trips, adding six RBI

• Wright posted four hits in five trips, including a home run and two RBI

• Facing George Hockette in the eighth, Andy Cohen tripled over Galatzer's head in center, driving in Ganzel (single) and pitcher Tiny Chaplin (single).

• Ill-fated pitcher Tiny Chaplin made his Miller debut in the game, coming on in relief of Ryan to start the sixth. Chaplin scored a run and came home with the win.

• Galatzer, Bedore, and Rensa each had two hits on the day.

• Trow was the losing pitcher.

• The All-Stars posted a quadruple-slat picket fence, scoring one run in each inning from the third to the sixth.

• Minneapolis scored runs in graduating order with one in the first, two in the third, three runs in both the sixth and seventh, and finally posting four tallies in the eighth inning.

• The Millers out-hit the Stars, 13-12.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The First Home Runs by Team

In celebration of the April 23, 1902 anniversary of the first games played in the American Association (not to be confused with the major league American Association which died out a decade earlier) I’m posting a listing of the first home runs hit by each of the Association’s eight teams, as gleaned from records in Sporting Life. Here is a cursory listing of those home runs, with more details to be added at a later date and posted on my website at www.almanacfield.com.

First Home Runs in American Association Franchise History:

Columbus Senators: shortstop Billy Nattress against Minneapolis in a 12-2 win at Neil Park in Columbus, Ohio, April 26, 1902.

Indianapolis Indians: center fielder Cy Coulter against St. Paul, May 2 in an 8-5 win at East Washington Street Park in Indianapolis, Indiana. Catcher Mike Heydon homered in the same inning (4th) of the same game on May 2, 1902.

Kansas City Blues: right fielder Elmer “Mike” Smith against Louisville in a 16-6 win at Eclipse Park in Louisville, Kentucky, April 23, 1902.

Louisville Colonels: center fielder Bill Gannon against Kansas City in a 13-0 win at Eclipse Park in Louisville, Kentucky, April 24, 1902.

Milwaukee Brewers: left fielder Bill Hallman against Indianapolis in a 5-4 win at East Washington Street Park in Indianapolis, Indiana, April 23, 1902.

Minneapolis Millers: first baseman Perry “Moose” Werden against Columbus in a 15-6 loss at Nicollet Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 19, 1902.

St. Paul Saints: second baseman/shortstop Phil Geier against Columbus in a 10-7 win at St. Paul’s Lexington Park in St. Paul, Minnesota, April 27, 1902.

Toledo Mud Hens: catcher Red Kleinow against St. Paul in an 8-7 win at Toledo’s Armory Park in Toledo, Ohio, April 23, 1902. Kleinow’s home run was of the heroic “walk-off” variety, a solo shot in the 11th-inning with two out.


  • Three of the eight players listed above were named Bill
  •  Only one home run came against the winning team
  •  In two of the eight instances the home run proved decisive: Hallman's for Milwaukee and  Kleinow's for Toledo
  •  Four of the eight players were outfielders, four were non-infielders, an even split.
  •  Six of the eight teams garnered their first home run upon their home grounds
  •  Only two of the eight teams received their first home run during the Season Opener, April 23
  •  Perry Werden was the oldest of the eight players at 40
  •  Billy Nattress was the youngest at 22
  •  Of the eight players listed, Hallman, Kleinow and Smith went on to compile the greatest number of home runs with six (the league high was eight by Harry Lumley of St. Paul)
  •  Coulter’s home run was his only one that year
  •  There were two players at the time named Bill Hallman. The player with Milwaukee in 1902 was William Harry Hallman, not William Wilson Hallman; the former was the nephew of the latter.


Wright, Marshall. The American Associaiton Year-by-Year Statistics (1997)
The St. Paul (MN) Globe
Sporting Life

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.