Sunday, October 28, 2012

More Cellar Dwellers

In my first post back in August, I promised I would share some unpublished notes from my book, Cellar Dwellers. Since then, I have veered away from that pledge to an extent, but I would now like to add two teams to the ranks of baseball's all-time worst squads: the 1889 Louisville Colonels and the 1898 St. Louis Browns. I considered including both in the "Dishonorable Mention" chapter of Cellar Dwellers, but decided against it. Why? Well, because the Colonels played in the American Association and I was limiting my survey to National and American League clubs. The Browns were already mentioned (though briefly) in the book's second chapter, which covers the plight of the 1899 Cleveland Spiders. At any rate, if Cellar Dwellers ever makes it to a second printing, I will be sure to add both clubs to the book's final chapter. Here are some fast facts about both teams.

The 1889 LOUISVILE COLONELS were managed by four different men that year, among them Dude Esterbrook and Chicken Wolf (gotta love the monikers of the 1800's). The team played 138 games, losing 111 of them and finishing 66.5 games out of first place. Their longest losing streak was an incredible 26 games and lasted for entire month. The man with the funny name--Chicken Wolf--was the most productive player on the squad, hitting .291 with 72 runs scored and 57 runs batted-in. Phil Tomney was the team's weakest link with 114 errors in 112 games, which may or may not be some kind of record (I haven't had a chance to look it up). He didn't help his cause with a bat much either, hitting .213 overall. Tomney played much better the following year for Louisville then defected to a team in Lincoln. He died in the spring of 1892 from a lung infection.

The 1898 ST. LOUIS BROWNS were managed by the colorful Tim Hurst, who had been fired from his NL umpiring job the previous year after he threw a beer stein into the stands and hit a fan in the head, opening a nasty cut. He would later be fired by the American League for spitting in the face of A's star second baseman Eddie Collins. Hurst's jaunt into managing wasn't terribly successful as he led the club to a 39-111 record, 63.5 games out of the running. About the only bright spot for the Browns that year was third baseman Lave Cross, who hit .317 while driving in 79 runs. Right-hander Kid Carsey was a candidate for least valuable player with a 2-12 record and 6.33 ERA in 25 games. He may or may not have been on the mound during the Browns most lopsided loss of the season, a 14-1 thrashing at the hands of the Colonels on July 27. To find out what happened to the Browns in 1899, one needs only to purchase a copy of my book.

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