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Fullerton Files: Managers

These stories by Hugh Fullerton were included in a column titled "Some Managers I Have Known" that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Chicago Tribune on Dec. 31, 1905.

(Paragraph breaks added for easier reading)

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[Cap] Anson generally was considered one of the great managers -- but he was not.

I'll never forget the shock I experienced when I discovered that fact.

The old team -- the champions -- needed no manager, they played ball on the cooperative plan and one man about as much to say as the others. The teams Anson managed in his latter years were Anson's -- and they did not do well.

The idea the players had of Anson's managerial ability was shown during the hearing of the case of [Tom] Burns against the Pittsburg club years ago.

[Burns, an infielder, had spent his first 12 seasons with the White Stockings/Colts, from age 23 in 1880 through age 34 in 1891.]

Burns, with a dead arm, was unloaded upon [Pittsburgh owner William Chase] Temple by the Chicago club and he started with a long term contract. The club dropped him and he brought suit on the contract.

It happened that one of the lawyers for the Pittsburg club knew some of the inner workings of the old "stone wall infield" [of which Burns and first baseman Anson had been part in Chicago].

Anson was called to the stand. He praised Burns to the skies. He declared he was a great ball player. He declared he was a good judge of ball players. Indeed, under questioning, he said he would take Burns' judgment of a player almost as he would his own.

Burns was called.

"Mr. Burns," said the opposing lawyer, "do you remember a conversation that you had with Mr. J. concerning the signs used on the Chicago infield?"

"I had many conversations with him about the club," said Burns.

"Do you remember telling him about your secret signals?"

"I may have -- I don't remember any especial [sic] conversations."

"Don't you remember that in conversation with Mr. J. you told him that you and [Ed] Williamson and [Fred] Pfeffer had a set of signals that you didn't let the Old Man know, because he was a --- old lunkhead he couldn't understand them?"

"Yes, sir," said Burns.

And then Anson was sorry he had praised Burns as a judge of players.

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Peculiar Way in Which

Menefee Arouses Loftus' Ire.

Tom Loftus -- now out in Dubuque and out of the game which he loves and which he honored for years -- was one fine manager who never broke much ice, because ice picks were scarce.

He was a winner in the old Western [League] -- a winner of games but not of money -- but, when he got into big company he was unlucky in getting teams.

Never but once did I see Tom made.

That was at Boston years ago. Chicago had the game won by a big majority, but in the ninth Boston broke loose and hammered out run after run.

In vain Loftus called up the reinforcements and tried to stop the slaughter. Boston refused to stop. They walloped the ball until they pounded home five runs and then -- with one long drive [Jimmy] Collins settled the game.

I met Tom coming off the field, white around the mouth, and saying things. He was abusing Jocko Menefee -- who hadn't been in the game at all.

"What did Jocko do, Tom?" I asked.

"Do! Do!" he repeated. "What did he do?

"Why the blanked, blanked, blimed, blasted, blinked blank. When they were right in the center of that slugging he sat on the end of the bench, swinging his leg and humming a love song."

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NOTES ON THE COLUMN

Tom Burns was released by Pittsburgh on July 30 and immediately filed suit.

A wag quoted in the Tribune on Aug. 7 said: "What does Burns want with another suit? Why, down East he changed clothes three times a day, and gave the ladies a treat by standing in front of the hotel. He has more suits than any ball player I know of, and ain't satisfied."

By Aug. 25, Burns had a new employer: the National League, which hired him as an umpire.

When the trial over his contract finally took place the following January, Burns won a resounding victory.

"Judge Adams yesterday decided that his contract was an ironclad one," the Tribune reported on Jan. 20, "and established a precedent which will likely make baseball managers more careful in future in drawing up contracts of the kind with players or managers.

"The $1,500 given is the amount due Burns on his contract up to the present time, less the amount he has earned in other ways.

"Under a recent ruling of the Supreme Court future damages are not obtainable, so that Burns' victory is a complete one."

...

Tom Loftus first managed Milwaukee's entry in the Union Association in 1884, the league's only year. The Brewers lasted 12 games, going 8-4, then disbanded.

Loftus then piloted 4 more teams, each for exactly 2 seasons: Cleveland (1888-89), Cincinnati (1890-91), the Orphans (1900-01) and Washington (1902-03).

He had a losing record with each of them, enjoying only 1 winning season, with the Reds, who finished 77-55-2 in 1890. They finished fourth, the only full season in which any of the teams wound up higher than sixth.

The Orphans came in sixth in both of his seasons, going 65-75-6 in his first year and 53-86-1 in his second.

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