Golden Baseball Magazine
February 14, 2019

"It actually giggles at you as it goes by."

Rick Monday on Phil Niekro's knuckleball

Cardinals Clubhouse

Season in Time - 1934

Spring Training and April
Dizzy Dean made a bold prediction about how many games he and his brother would win.

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Post-Season Surprise

Monte Pearson was by no means the top P for the Yankees during their four-season domination of the World Series.

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Memorable Game

1973 World Series Game 3

Thanks in part to the meddling of owner Charles Finley, Oakland took on the Mets with only 23 players.

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How Would You Rule?

Runner misses home plate.

Baseball Quiz

Records for teenage hitters

"Honorable Joes"
Charles Fountain, The Betrayal: The 1919 World Series and the Birth of Modern Baseball (2016)
The Civil War had been over but five months when baseball had its first game-fixing scandal. In September of 1865, one William Wansley, catcher for the New York Mutuals, was paid $100 by a gambler named Kane McLaughlin to make sure that the Mutuals lost their game that week to the Brooklyn Eckfords. Wansley obliged, sharing the money with two teammates he had recruited to help. He more than did his part in losing the game, going hitless in five at-bats and allowing six passed balls in fewer than five innings behind the plate, as the Eckfords prevailed 23–11. Fans in the crowd of 3,500 at Hoboken’s Elysian Fields cried fix; the Mutuals players met following the game and charged Wansley with “willful and designed inattention.” He confessed to his complicity and gave up his accomplices, and all three were banned from the National Association Association of Base Ball Players ... The punishment was short-lived; all three banished players were playing again for other teams within a year, and formally reinstated within three.
During its short existence, the National Association, which officially became the National Association of Professional Base Ball players in 1871, was a cesspool of gambling and game fixing. Few Americans alive today have ever encountered the word “hippodroming”—an arcane and archaic term that most modern dictionaries have dropped. But it was a familiar word to nineteenth-century baseball fans. They would have seen it in the newspaper several times a season, and known that it meant “conducting or engaging in a contest, the results of which have been prearranged.” And readers would have known that the word’s appearance in a newspaper story meant the writer either knew or suspected—and newspaper reporters in the 1870s often made no distinction between suspicion and evidence—that yet another baseball game had been crooked. The New York Mutuals, the team that apparently inaugurated game fixing, was controlled by Tammany Hall kingpin William Marcy “Boss” Tweed and implicated in so many early game-fixing allegations that when shortstop Tom Carey had a particularly frightful defensive day in a New York win over Boston, the newspapers suspected the worst. “Carey could not apparently throw the game all by himself,” reported one journalist.
These early fixes were hardly subtle affairs; the wanton ineptitude of the fixers on the field hardly escaped the notice of fans, writers, and teammates. Player after player was thrown off his team, only to be invariably picked up by another club, in violation of the agreement that banishment from one National Association club for gambling or game fixing meant banishment from all. The fixers even began to acquire a certain celebrity. In 1875 the Brooklyn Eagle named a “rogue all star” team, a position-by-position rundown of those most skillful and incorrigible of the suspected hippodromers. Early sports journalist Henry Chadwick, a strident crusader against gambling and game fixing, whose contributions to baseball would earn him a spot in Cooperstown, warned that the game would collapse under the weight of these relentless scandals. “It cannot be denied that hippodroming has prevailed,” he wrote in 1872, “or that rum drinking as well as pool selling and gambling has prevailed on some prominent ball grounds of the country during the past two years.”

L-R: William "Boss" Tweed, Henry Chadwick, George Hall
The game did not collapse, as Chadwick predicted, but the National Association did, in 1875, under the weight of the hippodroming and the National Association’s impotence against it. At the start of 1876, it was replaced by the beginnings of the modern National League, in the hopes of turning baseball into “a respectable, honorable and profitable business.” Nonetheless the new organization welcomed into its ranks of players most of the hippodromers from the National Association, and it took just a year before it too was rocked by a game-fixing scandal. The difference between the new National League and the old National Association came in the National League’s treatment of the guilty.
The scandal involved the Louisville Grays, which had led the league for most of the 1877 season before a late-season swoon left them in second place behind perennial champion Boston. The Grays had also suffered a late-season swoon in the business office. The debt-ridden team had not paid its players since the month of August; fans had taken to passing the hat to help the players pay their rent. It was a newspaper reporter who first sniffed something foul. John Haldeman of the Louisville Courier-Journal, who had traveled all season with the team (he had even played second base one day when the team was shorthanded), was a particularly privileged and well-connected reporter. ... Haldeman began noticing a lot of late-season miscues, and further noticed that the men committing those miscues suddenly began sporting diamond stickpins and flashy rings. He also noticed that a substitute by the name of Al Nichols was receiving an inordinate number of telegrams, sometimes several a day. Haldeman went to Grays team president Charles Chase, who had been receiving some telegrams himself, most of them warning him to watch his team. Chase confronted Nichols, demanding so see the telegrams he had been getting. Nichols refused; Chase told him that a refusal was tantamount to an admission of guilt. Haldeman printed the story. Nichols ultimately confessed to being the go-between between a New York gambler and three of the Grays regulars—Jim Devlin, who had pitched every inning of every one of the team’s sixty-one games that season; left fielder George Hall, a lifetime .345 hitter; and shortstop Bill Craver, a member of that Brooklyn Eagle “all-rogue team,” whose National Association career included a dismissal from the Chicago White Stockings in 1870 for fixing games and suspicion in game-fixing incidents during his time with the Troy Haymakersand the New York Mutuals.
Devlin and Hall also confessed to their part in a scheme to throw seven games during the season, including two nonleague exhibitions, which was where the fixing started. Craver maintained his innocence. Nonetheless he was expelled from the club together with the others. Conveniently, the expulsions also gave the bankrupt team cause to announce that the back pay they owed the four players was “hereby declared forfeited.” For the first time in the dozen-odd years that the game had been combating the crookedness, the expulsions stood. In December of 1877, the National League reviewed the actions taken by the Louisville club and made the expulsions leaguewide, “for conduct in contravention of the objects of this League.” And the players swiftly discovered that, contrary to baseball history to that point, the league meant what it said. The players could not find work. In the immediate aftermath of their suspensions from Louisville, Devlin and Hall signed with St. Louis for the 1878 season, but never got to play there. St. Louis, together with the Louisville franchise, went out business shortly thereafter; but the contracts would have been voided anyway by the league action in December. Devlin and Hall next tried to find work in the minor leagues, signing contracts with Utica for the 1878 season, but they found the reach of the National League now extended throughout all of baseball. Pressure from the National League, and newspaper pressure from the influential Henry Chadwick, caused Utica to rescind their offers to the erstwhile Louisville fixers. The banishment was complete.