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July 22, 2012

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Gary Ashwill

Dryden got the date, the teams, & approximate score and hits right. I guess in my view the only thing that really doesn't "make sense" is that Dryden is the one who reported that Waddell pitched in the game--everything else fits with what did happen and what could well have happened.

Dan O'Brien

How do you know that Dryden bothered "to get the details more or less correct about a game" if, as you noted, you "haven't found reports of this game in any Philadelphia or New York papers (other than Dryden's piece and the line score in the NY Sun)." I agree that Waddell pitching is not as outlandish as the bean story, but that still doesn't make it so. It's probably more plausible than Rube's cracker contract, which has survived as virtual "fact" in many place. There are several elements that point to the possibility that Rube pitched against the Cuban X-Giants. There are also elements that don't make sense. Of course, trying to follow logic where Rube Waddell is concerned can be an exercise in futility. I can't address the motivation for Dryden - or any writer at any time - to deviate from the truth (although selling newspapers or books would be a guess). Rube was always a popular subject for Dryden and his readers, even after Dryden left Philadelphia. For that matter, why Foster claim it happened against the A's and in 1905? Incidentally, when Rube pitched against the Page Fence Giants, the Giants' catcher caught for both the Page Fence team and Chatham.

Gary Ashwill

Dan, fair enough. For my part, I guess I'm skeptical that if Dryden wanted to completely fabricate a story about Waddell pitching against a black team, he would bother to get the details more or less correct about a game probably none of his readers knew anything about. So far I haven't found reports of this game in any Philadelphia or New York papers (other than Dryden's piece and the line score in the NY Sun). Hardcore fans might know about the Murray Hills, but the more casual readers who would probably be Dryden's main audience wouldn't know or care. Anyway, I'd love to come up with more/better evidence, so I'll keep looking.

Also, it bears pointing out that--as you know, of course--Waddell pitched a LOT for independent/semipro teams in 1903--it was one of the main bones of contention with Connie Mack.

I wrote a little about Waddell's 1903 in the third entry in this series:

http://agatetype.typepad.com/agate_type/2012/07/rube-waddells-year-of-living-dangerously.html

Since the Cuban X-Giants were probably the biggest draw on the independent circuit in the Northeast, it would not be at all surprising if he pitched against them at some point that year. So the notion of Waddell appearing in a game against them is hardly as outlandish as the bean factory story or something like that.

As for "Wilson" of the Murray Hills being one of the X-Giants' players--yes, Ed Wilson and Ray Wilson both played for the Cuban X-Giants in 1903. But I've probably read accounts of, or seen box scores for, thousands of games between black teams and white semipros, and I'm not sure I've ever seen a case where a player for the black team took the mound for the white team (other than special cases, as when the House of David hired Satchel Paige and Bill Perkins to serve as their battery during the Denver Post tournament in 1934). I'm not saying it never happened, just that it would be a very rare event. It would go against one of the main selling points of these games, which was the black vs. white drama. I'd say it was vastly more likely that "Wilson" was Rube Waddell than one of the X-Giants' players.

Dan O'Brien

Dryden frequently fabricated tales, especially when writing about Rube Waddell. The baked bean/foul ball story is only one example. It was Dryden who created the infamous crackers-in-bed contract for Rube. And, there are many, many more. Osee Schrecongost later admitted that he and Dryden often team up to create addition Rube stories. The fact that Dryden often weaved his fanciful tales into his game accounts does make it difficult for researchers today (perhaps his readers at the time fully recognized Charlie's departure from the truth). Without corroboration from another - and more reliable - source than the self-professed "baseball humorist" is risky path to take. There is no question the game between Murray Hill and the Cuban X-Giants took place on August 2, 1903. Nor is there a question the Philadelphia A's were in New York at the time. But I don't think one can automatically assume "Wilson" was Waddell simply because Dryden wrote that Waddell was there (and he didn't identify him as Wilson). Dryden often placed Waddell in situations and places that were not true. Is not possible "Wilson" was one of the X-Giants named Wilson?

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