DeValeria provides interesting commentary about the inner workings of baseball management,
ownership, and leadership. The struggles between the National League and the upstart junior
circuit in 1901 are an interesting part of baseball history that the authors put in perspective
Other Pittsburgh Comments:
Forbes Field was envisioned to replace Exposition Park for two primary reasons:
In her time, Forbes Field was praised for its comfort and beauty. Let's hope
our new ballpark in Pittsburgh sets new heights for her debut also.
- the ability to capture gate revenue from expanding crowds.
Crowds in Expo Park may swell to 10,000; Forbes would seat nearly
25,000 and Fred Clarke envisoned a day when 50,000 people would pay
to see a baseball game.
- Concrete and steel would reduce the threat of fire that was present
in numerous facilities of the day.
In 1904, AL President Ban Johnson said the Pirates were the best team in the NL.
The Bucs had fast runners, hard hitters, a first class manager, and fine team work. The
club owner is a man for whom the players liked to work (p 146). That sounds like a formula
that can still work in Pittsburgh today.
If you want to read about the last game at Exposition Park, see the detailed descriptions
on page 209 (Bucs beat Chicago 8-1).
Other names considered for the new ballpark in Oakland: Schenley Stadium/Field, and
Players salaries: this was an issue even in the early days. Honus earned record
sums in his day. Even his early salary earned him in two months, what it would take
an average worker a whole year to earn. (p 48) In 1896, Honus was signed for $125 - it was over the
league limit of $100. (p 29) In 1901, Wagner was signed for a record $2700, even though the
league limit was $2400. Honus even had at least one spring hold out in 1908 where many
writers had figured Wagner had retired (my - we would have missed him in the 1909 season
and World Series!). Wagner got a 100% raise to $10,000/year, which was 20 times what an
average worker earned. (p 176)
Honus was 34-years old before he played one postion for the whole season.
Honus played in the first baseball game under lights on July 4th 1896.
An exhibition in Wilmington was conducted under temporary lights using a larger, softball-size
ball. The game was poorly played as high flies were lost outside the shine of the lights.
The game ended as a farce, as the wildly gyrating pitcher delivered an exploding firecracker
ball that Honus hit and destroyed.
Prior to 1901, foul balls did not count as strikes.
June 20, 1901: Honus becomes the first player in the 20th century to steal
home twice in a single game.
Wagner was the regular right fielder for the Bucs in the 1900 season. He didn't
make his first start at shortstop until July 27, 1901 (replacing Fred Ely's .200 BA).
Honus was the first player to have his signature branded into a Louisville Slugger:
Sept 1905 (p 140).
Tommy Leach asked for an arbitrator to hear his salary dispute in 1908; it is a popular
venue today, but Leach was 65 years ahead of his time.
Overflow crowds would stand behind ropes in the outfield. Many times, the crowd
would swell and reduce the playing field dimensions. Rules varied, but some balls hit into the
outfield crowd were awarded only two bases at times.
Second baseman John Miller picked up the nickname of "Dots", when a local writer asked
Wagner who was at second, and Wagner replied, "That's Miller", which sounded like "Dots"
to the local scribe.
Honus signed a contract to help coach the Pirates in 1933. He worked with
Arky Vaughan on charging slow hit grounders. Vaughan and Wagner roomed together on the road
for 9 seasons; today, their Hall of Fame plaques share a room in Cooperstown NY.
Honus started his coaching days wearing #36. In 1940, he switched to #33. In 1952,
the Bucs retired their first uniform number ever - Honus' #33.
Fred Clarke said prior to the 1909 World Series, "Pennants are not won by managerial
hot air or by newspapers. Championships are won on the grass."
If you want to read a mature book about Pittsburgh's alltime hometown hero, then pick
up this book and enjoy the story of Honus Wagner. The details are incredible clear; you can
follow the 1903 and 1909 World Series, game-by-game, Inning-by-inning, and pitch-by-pitch.
This is simply the best book written about Honus Wagner.
Is there something here you like, that needs to be changed,
or would you like to see something that is not included?
Send me an
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