The Good Old Days

Richard Hershberger

Richard Hershberger is a paralegal working in Maryland. When he isn't doing whatever it is that paralegals do, or taking his daughters to Girl Scouts, he is dedicated to the collection and analysis of useless and unremunerative information.

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36 Responses

  1. Kazzy says:

    “This affair is to be sadly regretted as Henderson was one of the most promising young players in the profession and much was expected of him during the coming season.”

    Sadly, we often still subscribe to this barbaric way of thinking.Report

    • Richard Hershberger in reply to Kazzy says:

      Ah, the cri de coeur: “Our quarterback has been arrested for rape. How will this affect our chances of getting into the playoffs?” Some things never change.

      FWIW, I don’t know what the outcome of his legal case was, other than that Henderson went on to have a journeyman career, with a couple of pretty good years:

      • By the way, there’s one oddity in that page (the same one I linked.) Under Transactions, it shows him being sold to the Philadelphia Athletics [1] in May of 1883, but he didn’t play a single game for them; he spent most of 1883 with the Baltimore Orioles [2], via some transaction that isn’t shown.

        It’s also interesting to see the team called “Phillies” is 1882. Most references say it was called the Quakers until 1890.

        1. No relationship to the AL Philadelphia Athletics, who now play in Oakland.
        2. Again, no relationship.Report

        • We’re the Quakers ever informally known as the Phillies? I thought “Phillies” grew out of the formal name of “Philadelphia Athletics,” is that correct?Report

          • There were at least four different teams called the Philadelphia Athletics, but none of them were the team currently known at the Phillies.

            OK, according to Wikipedia, the Phillies were originally officially the Quakers, but from the first were often called the Philadelphias, then that got shortened to Phillies, then the team gave in and changed the name to Phillies.Report

            • Richard Hershberger in reply to Mike Schilling says:

              Oh, dear. This is a subject that is complicated, and rapidly gets not particularly interesting.

              The team names you see in baseball-reference and the like are often bullshit, and remain so to the mid-20th century. The problem is that the model is based on assumptions that eventually became valid, but weren’t originally.

              Nowadays the model team name is a city (or occasionally a state) followed by a colorful name, often with some local resonance, e.g. Houston Astros. Clubs in the 19th century followed one of two models: a city name followed by “Base Ball Club” or a colorful name, followed by “Base Ball Club of [city].” The first model only accommodates one club per city, so the second was much more common: e.g. “New York Base Ball Club” and “Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York.”

              With the rise of professionalism, the trend moved to “[City] BBC,” which contains the implicit claim that this club is the “representative” club for the city: a claim of obvious propaganda appeal to the organization. The National League strongly favored this model.

              This model opened up a void for colorful nicknames by sportswriters. These colorful nicknames evolved into the names we know today, but most very very fluid, and strictly unofficial. A team didn’t “play as” the colorful nickname. That was just a sportswriter thing, and the same writer might use multiple nicknames in one article. Eventually these narrowed down into standard usages, and presumably got trademarked somewhere along the way.

              Turning to Philadelphia, the city’s premier club in the 1860s was the Athletic BBC of Philadelphia. It went under in the late 1870s, but the name retained its prestige, so later organizations adopted it. In 1873 a competing professional club was founded, the Philadelphia BBC. It also went under, about the same time as the Athletics. Later clubs would use this name if “Athletics” was already taken. So jumping forward a couple of years to the revival of the early 1880s, a new Athletics club ends up in the American Association. That runs for about ten years. About ten years after that, when the new American League comes into town, they revive the name. In the meantime, a new Philadelphia BBC also forms in 1882 and joined the NL in 1883. This is the modern Phillies. The “Phillies” nickname (not actually all that colorful, but obvious) was used routinely, and had often been applied to the 1870s club. So where does “Quakers” come in? Heck if I know. Or rather, sportswriters used it from time to time, it being a local reference, but nothing like as often as they did “Phillies.” At some point in the late 20th century someone compiled a list of club nicknames, and botched the job. But bad data is hard to erase, so here we are.

              It’s not the worst. A handy rule of thumb I use is that any book on baseball history that mentions the Boston “Red Caps” can safely be disregarded. The writer hasn’t done his homework.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        “This is awful! That woman… she… she… she ruined our chance at the title!”Report

  2. Do you know what the outcome was? He did play major league baseball from 1883 through 1888.Report

    • Richard Hershberger in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      “Do you know what the outcome was?”

      What you see in this post is my research in progress. This is an ongoing project of about five years, starting with the entirely reasonable goal of reading all baseball coverage from before the Civil War, followed by a foolish decision to not stop there. I am right now mostly reading material from 1882 and 1883, from various newspapers. I don’t know if the outcome was reported, because I haven’t gotten there yet. I’ll let you know if I come across it.Report

    • Chris in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      According to the stats, he only played one game in the 1883 season. Maybe because he was in jail?

      According to Wikipedia, he was killed by a train not long after his playing career ended.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

        Look more carefully: in 1883 he played two games for Philadelphia (one as a pitcher, one in the outfield) and 51 more for Baltimore (45 as a pitcher). Baltimore’s whole season was 96 games, and he was their most used pitcher.Report

  3. zic says:

    So what happened to Sallie; did she die from the drugs she took to induce an abortion?Report

    • Richard Hershberger in reply to zic says:

      No word on Sallie, but I do find this, from the next year:

      “Hardie Henderson, a native of West Philadelphia, and pitcher of the Baltimore club, was presented, during the Athletic-Baltimore game, Friday, with a handsome gold badge by his admirers in this city.” Source: The Sporting Life August 6, 1883

      I’m sure it is a relief to learn that Sallie’s actions didn’t ruin his reputation…Report

    • dragonfrog in reply to zic says:

      It sounds like she died. – Right-most column, about two-thirds of the way down:

      “James Hardy Henderson will not pitch for the Philadelphia base-ball club next season. He is in jail charged with the death of Sallie McLauchlin, a pretty nineteen-year blonde of that city. They had been criminally intimate.”Report

      • Chris in reply to dragonfrog says:

        Dear God! I don’t know if I’m relieved or saddened to learn that the news has always been incredibly depressing. E.g.,

        Frances A. Notan, a drunken guest at a wedding feast in Saballo, near Albuquerque, N. M., shot and killed two brothers, Roval, and then went home and cut off his wife’s ears.


        • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

          This is why “open bar” is almost always a mistake.

          ….too soon?Report

          • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

            Dude, the Roval family might be reading this.Report

            • Richard Hershberger in reply to Chris says:

              Discussions in 19th century baseball circles about Alexander Cartwright and how he didn’t invent baseball have been known to be awkward for this reason. Cartwright’s descendants are around, involved in the discussions, and very much aware of his putative legacy.Report

        • Chris in reply to Chris says:

          Andrew Strauser, living one mile southeast of Danville, Ill., froze to death, Wednesday night. He brought a load of coal to market, sold it, and with the proceeds became drunk. He started home, and was found in the morning in his wagon, frozen solid.

          And one wonders why there was a temperance movement in the 19th century!Report

          • Chris in reply to Chris says:

            OK, this is my favorite:

            Joe Coburn, the noted pugilist and “sport,” who has spent the last five years of his life in Sing Sing prison, for shooting a man, was released yesterday, and on his arrival in New York was given a reception at the Empire garden, one of the most notorious of the low Sixth avenue dance halls.

            These news in brief items are basically Twitter in 1882.Report

            • greginak in reply to Chris says:

              “noted pugilist and sport” is a great term for what i assume means drunken violent maniac.Report

              • Richard Hershberger in reply to greginak says:

                “Pugilist” would mean boxer. This late this probably would involve gloves. The era of bare-knuckle boxing was pretty much past. “Sport” means a member of the sporting set. Not, in this case, respectable people playing polo and lawn tennis, but rather the gambling crowd. In the 20th century we would assume them to be mobbed up, but things weren’t yet that organized in the 1880s. Drunken? Probably, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Nor even is violent maniac. There were boxers in that era who showed no such signs. On the other hand, the five years in the clink is a pretty good hint that in this case yes, “violent maniac” has a good chance of being accurate.Report

              • greginak in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

                Yeah I know pugilist means boxer but i’m content with “violent maniac.” If Mr. Coburn is cheesed off at me he can come at bro…..Report

              • I was questioning “sport” – your definition makes sense, but I was thinking of the English term of endearment “old sport” (“bean” “chap”).

                My dad used to call us “sport”, and I am carrying on the tradition.Report

              • Kim in reply to Glyph says:

                sport is the opposite of “blood runs true”

              • Glyph in reply to Kim says:

                My cat’s breath smells like cat food.

              • Chris in reply to greginak says:

                A little internet research turns up: he was heavyweight champion for a while, mostly on the strength of people not fighting him. The prison sentence he served was for shooting a cop, and he only did 6 of the 10 years (can you imagine that happening today?). He was Irish, paid his way between fights by giving lectures on self-defense, and looked like this:


              • greginak in reply to Chris says:

                Darn you kids and your meddling internet research. I would have gotten away with my calling him a violent maniac if it wasn’t for you.Report

              • Chris in reply to greginak says:

                I’m trying to find a story on the shooting, but so far it seems “violent maniac” might not be too far off.Report

              • Chris in reply to Chris says:

                This is a short, interesting account of his life and career. It includes this:

                Prize fights were often intervened as boxing was illegal until 1901, so Coburn was no stranger to the law, and upon his return to America without a livelihood other than his fists, his run-ins with the NYPD reached barbaric proportions.

                Unfortunately, and as is so often the case with boxers even today, a life of crime ensued for Coburn, and he served six and a half years of a 10-year sentence in Auburn Prison for the attempted murder of a policeman in 1877.

                It was to be by far the biggest sentence of many short stints in jail, but his criminal misgivings failed to jeopardise his place among the sport’s greats, as Coburn was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame under the “pioneer” category in 2013.


              • greginak in reply to Chris says:

                That is really interesting stuff. So much history there.Report

              • Richard Hershberger in reply to Chris says:

                OK, I looked him up. HIs boxing days were in the 1860s, and this was old-school bare knuckle boxing. He claimed the championship from John Heenan. Heenan was a major figure, known as the Benicia Boy. There were baseball clubs in the 1850s named after him. (On the other hand, there were no fewer than four clubs named after a chess champion: things were different then.) Coburn’s claim was weak. He challenged Heenan, but they never fought. I don’t know the protocols for such things in that era. Later on he fought Jem Mace, who was another top fighter of the era. So Coburn was up there, as such things go.

                He was inducted in 2013 into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Apparently shooting a cop isn’t considered a disqualification. But then again, who would think it did?Report

              • Chris in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

                From what I’ve read (which is just a couple articles), Heenan retired rather than fight him, and Coburn then defended his title for a few years. The first Mace fight, which never happened because Mace just didn’t show up, is what ultimately ruined him financially and, it seems personally, and when they ended up actually fighting things were already well down hill for him.Report

              • Richard Hershberger in reply to Chris says:

                It’s hard to say. There was a lot of posturing and newspaper bluster. It’s not as if there was any governing authority. It would be entirely within the character of the age for Heenan to retire, and Coburn to claim that this was because Heenan was scared, and therefore claim the championship.

                If you are interested in boxing of the era, look up John Morrissey. It will make your teeth curl: Gangs of New York stuff. Also, Congress. Stipulating to the distinction.Report

  4. Just because I was curious, of the three team that seem to have employed Henderson in 1883:

    * The NL Philadelphias, where he started and played just two games, finished 17-81. This was the inaugural season for the team later known as the Phillies. The gradually got better, but didn’t win a pennant until 1915. (And then another one in 1950.)
    * The AA Philadelphia Athletics, whom Baseball Reference claims purchased Henderson contract, though he never played a game for them, finished 66-32, edging out the St. Louis Cardinals (yup, the same ones) for first place. That was the best year they ever had, and the franchise went out of business after the 1890 season
    * The AA Baltimore Orioles (no, not the same ones) finished dead last, 28-68. They would go on to become one of the best teams of the 1890s, long after Henderson was gone. The franchise joined the NL in 1892, but was contracted away after the 1899 season.Report