Wednesday, January 25, 2012

THE HISTORY OF SYRACUSE BASEBALL - CHAPTER 11 - ... TY COBB, HOWARD EHMKE, "SHOELESS JOE" & WORLD WAR I

The Star franchise passed in 1912` to former big league hurler Fred Burchell and his partner Edward J. McCafferty. Burchell assumed the role as manager but had little results and could finish no higher than seventh (54-82). One of the few high points sadly enough was opening day at Syracuse Universities Archbold Stadium. 11,000 excited fans viewed the April 26 opening day victory over Utica being Jim Bailey.

Phil Sitton and "Schoolboy" Teal teamed for 27 victories that year, but were also credited with 37 losses between them. The major event that summer was the exhibition at Star Park between the Star and the Ty Cobb lead Detroit Tigers on August 12. Cobb and Sam Crawford each singled twice in a 3-1 Tigers victory before 7,000 Syracuse fans.

Binghamton (84-63) captured the New York State League title in 1913, with the Star finishing a distant sixth (61-78). Fred Burchell assumed the management again but passed the baton to former Camden, NY resident and former major league catcher ( Chicago & Detroit) Fred Payne on July 10. Burchell led the club by winning 15 of 23 games. Phil Sitton  (17) and Rankin Johnson ( 16) balanced the moundsmen while John Slattery (.295), Joe Riley and "Lefty" Goode were among the better hitters.

Once again exhibitions dotted the big new that summer. Visits by the Philadelphia Athletics (July 8), New York Giants (August 11) and the Boston Red Six (August 27) brought new life to a dismal season. Connie Mack's Athletics brought with them Syracuse hometown hero Jimmy Walsh, along with Frank "Home Run" Baker, Eddie Collins and the remainder of their $100,00 infield. The Giants had- Fred Merkle, Jim Thorpe, Larry Doyle and George "Hooks" Wiltse. Red Sox brought "Hall of Famer"  Tris Speaker to man center field at Star Park although going down to defeat 8-1.

Charles T. Conners purchased McCafferty's half ownership a year earlier joined Burchell with a optimistic outlook for 1914. This didn't last long as the Star lost eight of their first nine games. At mid season Conners (losing $3,000) tied to sell his half  ownership to no avail. Season losses topped $6,000, and the Stars went into bankruptcy. Burchell tried more exhibitions the Tigers, Phillies, Athletics and Giants could not revive the sinking club. These exhibitions once again brought some of the games greatest players to the salt city. Ty Cobb, Sam Crawford, Harry Heilman, Jim Thorpe, John McGraw, Eddie Collins, Frank Baker and the first return of Grover Cleveland Alexander who pitched three innings defeating the Stars 7-5 on July 7

Attorneys Frank T. Miller and William Rubin came out of the bankruptcy as owners of the ball club. April 21, 1915, the Star ball club was incorporated for $25,000. Stock issued for $50 per share with no limit. The six that comprised the corporation were Frank Miller, William B. Tousey, Dr. H.A. McGruer, William Quinn, C.F. Cummings and William Rubin.

Binghamton won the State League (79-44), the Stars finished in fifth (60-60). Manager Michael Joyce O'Neil started building a new club slowly losing their first five games. Turnaround can be credited to N.Y.S. League batting champion - Amby McConnell (.350) and John  Prieste who won fourteen of fifteen starts.

Ty Cobb and the Tigers returned for the third year in an exhibition sponsored by the Syracuse Elks Club annual field days June 3 at Archbold Stadium. This time Cobb was pitted against Honus Wagner's Pittsburgh Pirates. The admission charge that day $1.00 for adults, 50 cents children. Cobb's Tigers easily defeated Wagner's Pirates 8-1. Cobb singled in four trips, Wagner went 2-4 scoring one run.

Michael Joyce O'Neil managed the Star the next two seasons (1916-17) But 1916, would be one of Syracuse's greatest diamond years. The pitching staff was bolstered by the addition of Howard Ehmke Ehmke would win 31 games losing but 7, in this championship season. He would later be sold to Buffalo of the Federal League following his last game September 4. Ehmke did not make the final road trip as the Star had clinched the N.Y.S. League Championship.

Howard Ehmke would go on to play fifteen years in the mayor leagues with Detroit, Boston and Philadelphia A's all in the American League. He was a 2- game winner while with the Red Sox and appeared in the 1929 Wold Series with Connie Mack's Athletics. In that 1929 series Ehmke was the surprise starter in game one. at Chicago. Howard proceeded to set a World Series record by striking out 13 Cubs. That record stood until 1953 when Brooklyn's Carl Erskine k'd sixteen New York Yankees.

This club had it all, along with Ehmke, "Buck" Friel and Bill Taylor each won 16 games. The .307 hitting of Jim Riley, along with with steady play of Mike Konnick, Ray Evans. Harry Fritz, "Whitey" Hildebrand, Gene Martin and Owen Quinn allowed the Stars to win their second State League title.

The league leaders again attracted many exhibition's against some of the America and National League's best clubs. The first appearance in Syracuse of the New York Yankees with star player Wally Pipp was played May 21. Visits by the Giants and Red Sox led to one of the classic Syracuse baseball confrontations of all time. The August 14, 1916 contest between the Stars and Chicago White Sox.. This would be the only time Central New Yorkers would get to see the amazing "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver, "Happy" Felsch and Fred McMullen. These four plus Ed Cicotte, "Lefty" Williams, Chick Gandil and Swede Risberg would later be called the "Black Sox": after throwing the 1919 World Series. They were later all banned from professional baseball for life by commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

Joe Jackson came into Syracuse third in the American League in hitting at .326 in 109 games. That day he had two singles and a triple in three trips to the plate, then left the game laughing. Buck Weaver hit the games only home run driving in three RBI. "Happy" Felsch doubled and singled in three a bats. Fred McMullen collected two singles. Sloppy play by the Stars found a Chicago sports writer saying " How could the Stars possibly be leading the State League?" After the first few innings the Sox usually walked to first base, then sat on the base, even though their hit could have been for extra bases. Chicago manager Clarence Roland inserted recently acquired youngsters, shortstop Bill Cunningham and pitcher Norman. All together Chicago blasted Star pitchers for 22 hits in a 16-0 shutout victory. The only key White Sox player not seeing action that day was Eddie Collins.

Owners Miller and Rubin enjoyed their monetary success and looked to 1917 at a repeat. This was a difficult year as World War I had not ended yet. The New York State League season was split into half's. The first half the Star finished fifth (30-30), the second half in third (33-21-2). With Ehmke's departure Friel, Alex Shields and Buck Taylor carried the pitching load winning 43 games between them. Mike Konnick, Manager O'Neil and Owen Quibb supplied the big hits. The New York State League folded a short time later..

April 4, 1918, the International League was formed with Syracuse as one of it's members. Pat Donovan and Charlie Demong became the new Stars owners. Patsy Donovan also sering as the team manager. But as World War I continued even this new league began to fail. The Syracuse Stars franchise was shifted to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on August 6 to finish the season. The last game played in Syracuse was on August 2, They finished the season with 38 wins and 76 losses (they were 28-56 when transferred), placing seventh in the eight team league.

The only item worth mentioning was the return of Bill "Doc" Scanlon, Bobby as he was called as a youth, teamed with ex-St. Cecilas (his semi-pro team) battery mate Stars owner Dr. Charlie Demong. In his only game Scanlon was defeated by Jersey City 5-0 on June 30.

Their was no professional baseball in Syracuse during 1919. But loyal baseballist unearth a semi-pro team called the Stars in newly formed New York State Baseball League. Home games were held at Burns Stadium located on Burnet Ave. The team was financed by long time Stars secretary Michael J. Kelly and Edward Dunn. Team manager's were Michael J. Kelly and John "Chick" Meehan of Syracuse University baseball and football fame. Meehan would later become head football coach at New York University. Billy Dunn former player and son of Stars founder John J. Dunn, would serve as team coach. This team was composed of some of Syracuse's greatest semi-pro stars as Tad Gaughan,  "Doc" Morgan, A. Harry Kallett and Chick Meehan. Their record a respectable 9-3.

Although no public announcement was made, in January 1920 Babe Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees by Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee. The Yankees paying $100,000 plus guaranteeing a $300,000 loan. Ruth would sign a two year deal reported to be $40,000.

Ball's Joint Rules Committee announced a ban on all foreign substances or other alternations to the ball. This could included, power, resin, saliva, shine, emery ball. The National League allowed each team to name it's spitball pitchers. No others were allowed to use it. The American League allowed each team to name two pitchers that would be allowed for no more than one season.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment