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Dave Foutz, a late starter, was 27 when he was summoned to St. Louis in 1884 to pitch for the Browns of the American Association. A few weeks later, the team picked up another new pitcher, 20-year-old Bob Caruthers. When the season began, both were in the Northwestern League, Foutz with Bay City, where he had an 18-4 record and his .333 average led the team in hitting, and Caruthers with Minneapolis, where his pitching record was 17-15.

Though seven years younger, Caruthers had slightly more minor league experience, playing some in 1883. For Foutz, this was his first season in what could then laughingly be called organized ball. Foutz had been paid to pay for several years, but not in any recognized minor league.

They immediately made their presence felt in St. Louis. Foutz posted a 15-6 record and Caruthers went 7-2, and played16 games in the outfield, hitting two home runs, one less than the team leader, outfielder James "Tip" O'Neil.

Teammates had no trouble telling the two newcomers apart — Foutz stood six-foot-two, while Caruthers was a few hairs taller than five-foot-seven. Both men were slim, almost skinny.

IT PROBABLY wasn't only his size that earned Caruthers the nickname "Little Bobby." He was a bit of a "Mommy's boy." Flora McNeill Caruthers considered her son too frail to become a professional baseball player, but knew her son could play baseball better than most boys his age in Chicago where the family had relocated from Memphis where he was born, January 5, 1864.

Caruthers was an excellent pitcher, and, as all sensible right-handers do with a baseball bat, he swung it backhanded. People call such swingers left-handed batters, though the left hand does little except balance the bat. I'm sure it was that way with Caruthers —his right hand did the swinging. He was no Ted Williams, but he was good with the stick.

Foutz was born September 7, 1856 on a Maryland farm near Baltimore. Because of his size and shape, he was nicknamed "Scissors." He didn't immediately pursue a career in baseball. He and his older brother, John, went to Colorado to make their fortunes in silver mining. That wasn't easy, so he picked up much-needed money playing baseball for a team in Leadville. He proved unbeatable as a pitcher, and could hit almost as well as he could pitch. Despite his gangly build, he was surprisingly agile and fast on his feet. Foutz also was a righty — there were very few left-handed pitchers at the time — and swung a bat the usual way.

That Foutz and Caruthers began their major league careers at the same time and in the same city was a coincidence. They would remain teammates for eight seasons in two cities.

I've read that Caruthers was discovered by Charlie Comiskey, who also learned his baseball in Chicago. Comiskey, a future Hall of Famer, more for his executive skills than his playing, was a 24-year-old first baseman who was elevated to player-manager of the Browns about the time Caruthers arrived.

As year passed, and Comiskey became owner of the Chicago White Sox, a powerful team in the early days of the American League, sportswriters may have given him too much credit for the success that kissed the St. Louis Browns in the four seasons after Foutz and Caruthers arrived in town. Comiskey often talked as though he assembled the team, but more credit might be due the owner, colorful, but obstinate Chris von der Ahe, who spoke with a thick Prussia accent and inadvertently butchered the English language the way comedian Norm Crosby did on purpose a hundred years later. I believe it was Von der Ahe who made the big decisions regarding the signing, trading and releasing of players. He was called "Der Boss," and was a hands-on kind of owner, not unlike George Steinbrenner would be.

Foutz and Caruthers were far from the only good-hitting pitchers of the 1880s, though they were among the best. Several pitchers played other positions when they weren't in the box. (In the early days of baseball, pitchers operated within a box, not on a mound.) Players had to be versatile, because teams didn't employ many of them. There are only 13 players in the team photos of the St. Louis Browns in the 1880s (though statistics indicate three others played a game or two during the season). Teams today carry twice that number, and, during the season, constantly shuttle players back and forth from their minor league teams. (The Los Angeles Dodgers used 52 players over the course of the 2018 season.)

Hello, Dynamic Duo; goodbye, 'Jumbo'
In 1885, Caruthers and Foutz became the dynamic duo. Caruthers won 40 games, Foutz 33, and the Browns finished in first place. George "Jumbo" McGinnis, a workhorse for the three previous season, had just six wins and six losses in his fourth year with the Browns. (There's confusion over the age of McGinnis. Bill James, in his "Historical Baseball Abstract," wrote that McGinnis was 18 years old in 1882, and won 53 games while a teenager. James based this on information available at the time. Now it appears McGinnis was 28 when he arrived in what was then a major league.)

I can't tell from 1885 newspaper articles how the American Association was regarded, but it's assumed it was weaker than the slightly older National League. If that were the case, the 1885 World Series must have been seen as an upset, though the result was uncertain because Game One between the Browns and National League champion Chicago ended in a tie. The game was not replayed; the series concluded with St. Louis and the White Stockings winning three games apiece. Caruthers pitched the tie game, and had one win, one loss. Foutz had two victories, two defeats.

Chicago used 12 players in the seven game, St. Louis 11. If I correctly understand the rules in place at the time, no player could leave a game unless he were physically unable to continue. A pitcher could be replaced so long as he remained in the game at another position and the relief pitcher was someone already in the game.

REGARDLESS of how the series ended, the 21-year-old Caruthers had cause to celebrate his fantastic season, so off to France he went, vacationing with his catcher, Abner "Doc" Bushong, so nicknamed became he had a degree in dentistry from the University of Pennsylvania. (In retirement, Bushong became a Brooklyn dentist.)

It was from Paris that Caruthers and Bushong became holdouts, negotiating their 1886 contracts via trans-Atlantic cables. Bushong reached an agreement quickly, but Caruthers lingered in France awhile longer. When he finally closed the deal and returned to St. Louis, his teammates nicknamed him "Parisian Bob."

How many games Caruthers missed in 1886, I don't know, but it was Foutz who led the Browns to another American Association pennant. Foutz won 41 games, Caruthers 30. Chipping in with 16 victories was Nat Hudson.

Caruthers and Foutz continued to play other positions when someone else was pitching. Caruthers had a terrific year at the plate, leading the team in hitting (.334) and in home runs (4). Because he walked so often — 64 times, tied with second baseman Yank Robinson for most on the team — he led the league in a hitting statistic that wasn't actually tabulated at the time: on-base percentage (which has become a big deal in recent years).

On August 16, 1886, Caruthers had his best game as a batter, hitting two home runs, a triple and a double off Brooklyn pitcher (and 27-game winner) Henry Porter. But Caruthers had nothing on another American Association pitcher, Guy Hecker of Louisville (right).

Foutz batted .280 and drove in 59 runs, only two fewer than Caruthers. "Tip" O'Neill, who batted .328, led the league in RBIs (107), but was just getting warmed up.

Again the St. Louis Browns squared off against the Chicago White Stockings in a best-of-seven World Series," and this time the American Association pennant winners made a statement, beating the National League champions, four games to two.

This series might be the strongest argument for those who believe Bob Caruthers belongs in Cooperstown. He won two games in the 1886 series, besting future Hall of Famer John Clarkson in Game Six, a ten-inning, 4-3 contest considered a classic. As a star in the American Association, Caruthers has never commanded respect with Hall voters, nor has any player from that league except second baseman Bid McPhee. (The downside of any argument about Caruthers is his relatively short career.)

One Chicago loss — Game Five — was a bit of a farce. White Stockings player-manager "Cap" Anson, after starting Clarkson two days in a row, decided to rest him, but couldn't conscience using veteran Jim McCormick, who was drunk when he was beaten in Game Two. Anson had hoped to use 23-game winner Jocko Flynn in the series, but the 22-year-old rookie ruined his pitching arm late in the season. (Flynn is a sad story of what might have been. He never pitched a game after 1886.)

So Anson tapped third baseman Ed Williamson, who was shelled in the first inning and replaced by outfielder Jimmy Ryan. St. Louis won, 10-3. Browns pitcher Nat Hudson (right), cruised to the win.

EVEN BEFORE the series was played, Caruthers was negotiating next year's contract. In September he told the press he planned to retire after the World Series because he had heart disease and feared he would die if he continued to pitch. His statement was greeted with widespread disbelief. Caruthers was on the frail side, but seemed healthy enough, though the heart disease story would resurface from time to time.

There was no Paris vacation for Caruthers in the off season, but on March 25, 1887, there was an incident that must have been reported in Chicago, but the only mention I saw was in a Buffalo (NY) newspaper 19 months later. Caruthers apparently spent the evening in a Chicago gambling house. Afterward he claimed he had lost $50,000 in money and diamonds. He sued the proprietors, but dropped the lawsuit several months later. That's what was reported in the Buffalo Courier on December 1, 1888. Among those named in the lawsuit were Kirk Gunn and Cy Janes, who figured in other stories about gambling in Chicago in the late 19th century.

Otherwise "Parisian Bob" kept out of the spotlight, playing no games with Browns owner Von der Ahe. That job fell to Nat Hudson, who claimed he was the best pitcher on the team, and wanted that reflected in his paycheck. This resulted in a long holdout, and Hudson would be little used in 1887.

1887: A great year for hitters
Caruthers and Foutz remained with the Browns, but there was a new pitcher in town — Charles Koenig, aka King, nicknamed "Silver" because of his silvery hair. The name, "Silver King," also reminded people of the famous mine in Arizona. Only 19-years-old, King won 32 games, losing just 12. However, one could argue that Caruthers, with 29 wins, and Foutz, with 25, were more valuable to the pennant-winning Browns than was King, because while all the pitchers doubled as outfielders, King did it infrequently, and batted .207. Caruthers and Foutz did it regularly, and both of them batted .357.

This was the season that bases on balls counted as hits. The .357 batting averages don't reflect that, because statisticians reviewed scorebooks and adjusted figures to conform to today's rules. Until that was done, Caruthers' batting average for 1887 was listed at .456, because he drew 66 walks. Outfielder "Tip" O'Neill, who led the league with a (revised) .435 batting average, originally was credited with an additional 50 hits, and a .485 batting average. Foutz did not draw as many bases on balls, but drove in 108 runs. Caruthers, who must have batted higher in the line-up, despite being second on the team in home runs (8), drove in 73 runs, but scored 102. O'Neill led the American Association in runs (167), hits (225), doubles (52), triples (19), home runs (14) and runs batted in (123). I believe he's the only player ever to lead a league in doubles, triples and home runs. He's also the only player to have his batting average drop 100 points a year later — and still lead his league in hitting.

ANOTHER World Series awaited the Browns, but two incidents — one in August, the other in September — gave the team reasons to worry. In the August 14 game, the second Cleveland batter, Ed McKean, smashed a line drive that hit Foutz on the right hand, knocking his thumb out of joint. He began the day with a 25-8 record, but couldn't continues, and King came in to finish the game, which St. Louis won, 8-1. Foutz was out of action of a few weeks, and when he returned, he lost his last four games of the season. He was hopeful on September 25 when he took a three-hit shut out into the seventh inning against Cincinnati, but then the Reds exploded for eight runs in the seventh, to win the game.

Also in September, Charlie Comiskey tripped over first base and landed on his right hand, breaking his thumb. Fortunately,, Comiskey would return and bat .306 in the World Series, but Foutz would lose all three games he started. From then on, Foutz was a position play — mostly first base — who only occasionally pitched.

INSTEAD of a sensible best-of-seven (or even best of nine) series, the 1887 World Series was a must-play-15-games affair. The National League pennant winners were the best team money could buy — the Detroit Wolverines who two years earlier picked up four of the league's best players — Dan Brouthers, Deacon White, Hardy Richardson and Jack Rowe (as a unit known as "The Big Four") — when the Buffalo Bisons staged a going out of business sale.

All kinds of excuses were made for what happened in October, but the simple truth might have been that Detroit was that good. It took just 11 games for the Wolverines to win eight, the magic number. The last four games were pointless — each team won two — but they were played during one of the coldest Octobers anyone could remember. Only six of the 15 games were played in Detroit or St. Louis. Nine were played in other cities that had major league teams.

Caruthers emerged as the St. Louis hero, with four of his team's five wins, but the overall hero was a Detroit pitcher. (For more 1887 World Series details, click on "Lady" Baldwin.)

Der Boss was greatly upset about his team's poor showing. The year before, when only six games were played, he gave each player $610, a princely sum in those days. The '87 series was more than twice as long, but one of the gimmicks — playing nine games in other league cities — didn't pay off. Only 400 watched the World Series game in Chicago, though there were plenty of reasons — freezing temperatures and the fact Detroit had already clinched the championships. In any event, the series was not a big money-maker.

I read conflicting stories about the payoff which likely was meager enough to upset the 12 St. Louis players who lived aboard a special World Series train for two weeks. One story said the losers were likely to receive $500, which works out to $33.33 per game. Another story warned that Von der Ahe's players had contracts binding through November 1, meaning he didn't have to pay them for games played in October.

How it was resolved, I don't know. I never read what the Detroit players were paid, either, but considering the outcome, the weather, and lack of fan support, the extra games did not go sit well with the players. Dissension was growing in the ranks; it would spill over in 1890.

BROOKLYN, known as the Grays in 1887, finished sixth in the American Association. The team's best known player was one much like Caruthers, a good-hitting pitcher named William "Adonis" Terry, only 22 years old in '87, with a lackluster 16-16 record that season. But he also played in the outfield and at shortstop, batted .293, had 10 triples, stole 27 bases and drove in 65 runs. The only teammate who topped his batting average was regular shortstop George "Germany" Smith (.294).

It just so happened that during the winter of 1887-88, a few Brooklyn players — Caruthers and Foutz among them — got married. Caruthers' bride was the former Mary Banks, daughter of an internal revenue inspector based in Chicago, and Foutz wed Minnie Glocke of Philadelphia. (It was reported that Mr. and Mrs. Caruthers received $4,000 worth of wedding gifts.) Because of the rash of marriages, the Brooklyn team changed its nickname to "Bridegrooms." I kid you not.

Overall, Caruthers pitched well in 1888, winning 29 games, helping Brooklyn to move up to second place behind the Browns, who won without their former dynamic duo. Foutz started only 19 games as a pitcher for Brooklyn, winning 12 of them. Terry won 13, and the pitching slack was taken up by 21-year-old Mickey Hughes, who had his only successful major league season, winning 25 games.

"Parisian Bob" went through a bad stretch in August, because, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (August 29, 1888), Caruthers told a Sporting News reporter he had engaged in a long-distance throwing contest in Cincinnati and hurt his arm, which hadn't felt strong since. (For more on long-distance throwing contests, which were all the rage in the 1880s, see Ed "Cannonball" Crane.)

Foutz played mostly in the outfield, and batted .277 (the team average was .246), and led Brooklyn in triples (13) and runs batted in (99). Caruthers batted only .230, but led the team in home runs (5)

Caruthers proves his worth
Brooklyn broke through in 1889, winning the American Association pennant by two games over St. Louis. Caruthers had a great season, posting a 40-11 record. Adonis Terry was called upon to do more pitching than he had the year before. He responded with a 22-15 record, and Tom Lovett won 17 games. Mickey Hughes, a 25-game winner the season before, had just nine wins.

Foutz played first base, replacing Dave Orr who went to the Columbus Solons, a new team in the league. Orr, who weighed about 250 pounds, was one of baseball's best hitters. He'd retire a year later with a .342 lifetime batting average, but Foutz was a better first baseman, and did all right at the plate in 1889, batting .275, scoring 118 runs, and driving in 113* (tops on the team). Foutz pitched occasionally, and was involved in three decisions, all victories.

[* Because few players wore gloves, fielding remained an adventure, and many runs were unearned. Brooklyn scored 995 runs that season, but just 761 of them resulted in players being credited with RBIs. Five Brooklyn players scored more than 100 runs that season, but only two had 100 or more RBI, Foutz and Thomas "Oyster" Burns, who had exactly 100.]

St. Louis was still formidable in 1889. Comiskey, batting .286 with 102 runs batted in, had one of his better years with a bat. "Tip" O'Neill batted .335 for the second year in a row, but this time did not win the batting title. That went to Baltimore first baseman Tommy Tucker who amazed everyone by hitting .372, which was 82 points higher than his lifetime average. (You can call him the Norm Cash of the 19th century.)

"Silver King" won 35 games, "Ice Box" Chamberlain 32, and Jack Stivetts 12. All three were 21 years old. Stivetts would go on to win 203 games and have a lifetime batting average of .298.

THIS YEAR marked the only time Brooklyn and the New York Giants would play each other in a World Series. (Long after the Bridegrooms became the Dodgers, Brooklyn met the New York Yankees in seven World Series.)

The Giants were confident of victory. They had beaten the four-time American Association champs, St. Louis, in 1888, and had been victorious over Brooklyn in a April, winning a best-of-three city championship series in two games.

But Brooklyn came out swinging in October, winning three of the first four games. Then the Giants turned things around and won five straight, claiming the World Championship. New York's unexpected pitching star was Ed "Cannonball" Crane

In looking up newspaper accounts of the games, two things really jumped out at me. Before Game Six, the Giants were presented with proceeds of a benefit game the team had played a few days before. Each player was given a check for $190. Brooklyn was scheduled to play a benefit game against the National League's second place team, the Boston Beaneaters, on the day between Games Seven and Eight, but it was rained out. The teams were to split the proceeds. Imagine a World Series today having one of the participants spend a "travel day" playing the team that had lost in its league championship series.

THE 1890 SEASON was strange, to say the least. Instead of going on strike, the players formed their own league, and the Players League was the strongest and most popular of the year's three major leagues

Labor leader John Montgomery Ward, a star for the New York Giants, took charge of a team in Brooklyn that carried the unwieldy nickname, Ward's Wonders. Most of the best players jumped to the new league, including some of Ward's former teammates, now members of the "other" New York Giants.

Meanwhile, National League teams in Indianapolis and Washington folded. Replacing them were the Cincinnati Reds — and the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, who did something, which on the face of it, seems amazing. They won the National League pennant in their first season. However, the league had been weakened considerably by defections, while the Bridegrooms fielded essentially the same team they had the year before. Foutz, now 33, had one of his best years at the plate, batting .303, scoring 106 runs and driving in 98. Caruthers was slipping, but won 23 games. Brooklyn's top pitcher that season was Tom Lovett, who had a 30-11 record. Adonis Terry had his best season with 26 wins.

Replacing the Bridegrooms in the American Association was yet another Brooklyn-based team, the Gladiators, a ragtag collection of players who lost 73 of 99 games. The team, mired in last place, folded before the season was over, and was replaced by the Baltimore Orioles team that had started the year in the minor league Atlantic Association.

Winners of the American Association pennant were the Louisville Colonels, who remain the only team to jump from eighth place to first place in one season.

St. Louis slipped to third place. Browns pitching stars were Jack Stivetts (27-21), who also batted .288 and hit seven home runs, and Thomas "Toad" Ramsey (23-17), enjoying his last hurrah at the "advanced" age of 25. (Ramsey had won 73 games in two seasons for Louisville in 1886-7; he never played a major league game after 1890.)

There was talk of a three-way World Series, one that would involve King Kelly's Boston Reds, the Players League pennant winners, but nothing came of the idea. The Players League had outdrawn the National League, and it's likely many fans regarded the World Series as a showdown between two inferior teams. Brooklyn had been squashed by the National League Giants the year before, and Louisville was viewed with suspicion because they had several players from their last place team. Louisville's improved record (88-44) indicated how weak the American Association had become. The Colonels were led by 20-year-old Scott Stratton, who won 34 games (and was never that good again), and 21-yer-old Philip "Red" Ehret, who had a 25-14 record.

The series returned to a best-of-seven format, and Brooklyn had reason to be confident, but from the start, the Bridegrooms failed to dominate the American Association champs. Brooklyn and Louisville each won three games, another ended in a tie. On October 29, after Louisville beat the Bridegrooms in the seventh game, the series concluded because of lack of interest and cold weather. The intention was to play a championship game the following April, but that never happened. Ehret, who won two games without a loss, was the outstanding player in the series.

IT MUST have been a confusing time for baseball fans. Despite obvious support for the Players League, it folded after one season, and in 1891 players went looking for positions in the National League, the American Association, or a minor league. Two Players League teams — the pennant-winning Boston Reds and fifth place Philadelphia Athletics — briefly survived by joining the American Association. Boston, retaining several members of their Players League team, including heavy-hitting first baseman Dan Brouthers, won the final American Association pennant. Helping immensely was 24-year-old outfielder, Hugh Duffy, who had played for the Chicago team in the Players League in 1890. Duffy led the American Association with 110 runs batted in, batting .336. The following year he would play for the Boston Beaneaters. Pitchers for the pennant-winning Reds were George Haddock (34-11), Charlie Buffinton (29-9) and ill-fated, 24-year-old "Cinders" O'Brien (18-13), who died five months after the season ended.

The St. Louis Browns, which still had Charlie Comiskey, "Tip" O'Neill and Jack Stivetts, finished in second place, behind the Reds. The Browns featured a true phenom — 17-year-old Willie McGill, who won 18 games for St. Louis after starting the season in Cincinnati, where he'd had a 2-5 record. McGill is the only 17-year-old ever to win 20 games. (He'd won 11 the year before with Cleveland in the Players League.) McGill would win 49 games before his 20th birthday, but only 22 afterward.

Brooklyn dropped to fifth place in 1891. Caruthers won 18 games, but lost 14. Tom Lovett was 23-19, and Foutz just 3-2. The rest of the staff was 17-41 (Terry lost 16 games, won only six). Caruthers played several games in the outfield and at second base, while Foutz was still at first base most of the time, but his batting average dropped 46 points from the year before.

The Beaneaters won the National League pennant, led by pitcher John Clarkson's 33-19 record. It must have seemed as though Clarkson had been around forever, but he was just 29 years old, and on his way to 328 career wins and a spot in the Hall of Fame. His pitching sidekick was Charles "Kid" Nichols, who was only 21 years old, a 27-game winner the season before. In 1891, Nichols went 30-17, and would have six more 30-win seasons. He also wound up in the Hall of Fame, with 362 career victories.

There was no World Series that fall, even though a Boston versus Boston series probably would have had great appeal in New England. But the American Association was teetering, and there would be no Boston Reds team in 1892.

Four former American Association teams — Louisville, Washington, St. Louis and Baltimore — joined the National League, which had 12 teams in 1892. Not surprisingly, those four teams finished at the bottom of the standings, with the Beaneaters repeating at league champions.

Caruthers and Foutz split up
Finally, after eight seasons as teammates, Caruthers and Foutz were separated in 1892. Caruthers rejoined the Browns for their first year in a new league. He was primarily an outfielder for the 11th place team. He did some pitching, but his arm was weak. He won two games, lost 10. However, his .277 batting average was the highest on the team with a 56-94 record.

Foutz remained with Brooklyn, which finished in third place, but lost his first base job to Dan Brouthers, who batted .335 and drove in 124 runs. Foutz played some at first, some in the outfield, and made 27 appearances in the pitcher's box. He was involved in 21 decisions, 13 of them wins.

Boston's Beaneaters repeated as pennant winners, and defeated the second place Cleveland Spiders in a farcical championship series. Boston won five games, one ended in a tie.

CARUTHERS' major league career ended in 1893. Released by St. Louis, he played only 14 games, all in the outfield, one for Chicago, 13 for Cincinnati, where he hit the last of his 29 major league home runs. He was only 29. His lifetime pitching record was 218-99, which is why some people think he belongs in Cooperstown. His winning percentage is .688, one of the highest in history. He kept playing, but in the minor leagues, batting .331 for Grand Rapids of the Western League in 1893, .321 for Jacksonville-Springfield (Illinois) of the Western Association in 1894. He managed the Jacksonville-Springfield team a year later, and pitched for the last time, losing his only decision.

Foutz became manager of the Brooklyn Grooms in 1893, and held the job for four seasons, though they never finished higher than fifth, and fell to tenth place in his final season. He played some during those four seasons, and enjoyed a good season at the plate in 1894, batting .303.

Dismissed by Brooklyn, Foutz looked forward to either managing in the minor leagues or becoming an umpire, but a bout of pneumonia, followed by complications, caused his death on March 5, 1897. He was 40 years old. As a pitcher, Foutz's lifetime record was 147-66. (Although involved in far few decisions, he actually had a higher winning percentage than Caruthers — .690.)

Caruthers became an umpire, and was hired by the American League in 1902. He didn't long remain. By 1905 he was an umpire in the Western League. Later he umpired in the Three-I League (Illinois-Indiana-Iowa). He was not happy as an umpire, and in 1905 had a running series of battles with Mike Cantillon, then owner of the Des Moines Underwriters (one of the great minor league nicknames). Seven times during the season Caruthers ejected Cantillon's Des Moines manager Herman "Germany" Long from a game.

It was reported in 1905 that Caruthers was dying of heart disease, which wasn't true, but his health had become a problem, exacerbated by the stress of his job. He may have had nerves of steel as a player, but by 1911 those nerves were frayed, and a breakdown contributed to his death that year at age 47. He was survived by his mother, who undoubtedly was proud at what her son had accomplished, but perhaps still regretted that he had become a baseball player.

 
PITCHING
YEAR TEAM Dave
Foutz
Bob
Caruthers
1884 St. Louis (AA) 15-6 7-2
1885 St. Louis (AA) 33-14 40-13
1886 St. Louis (AA) 41-16 30-14
1887 St. Louis (AA) 25-12 20-9
1888 Brooklyn (AA) 12-7 29-15
1889 Brooklyn (AA) 3-0 40-11
1890 Brooklyn (NL) 2-1 23-11
1891 Brooklyn (NL) 3-2 18-14
Dave Foutz and Bob Caruthers may not have been the most productive pitching duo in history — an injury to Foutz's right hand in 1887 limited his effectiveness thereafter — but they combined to win 350 games against only 148 losses, a winning percentage of .703.
HITTING
YEAR TEAM Dave
Foutz
Bob
Caruthers
1884 St. Louis (AA) .227 .268
1885 St. Louis (AA) .248 .225
1886 St. Louis (AA) .280 .334
1887 St. Louis (AA) .357 .357
1888 Brooklyn (AA) .277 .230
1889 Brooklyn (AA) .275 .250
1890 Brooklyn (NL) .303 .265
1891 Brooklyn (NL) .257 .281
Four times Foutz drove in 98 or more runs, twice going over the 100 mark, including a season he also won 25 games as a pitcher. In 1886 Caruthers led the team in hitting and won 30 games.
TEAM PERFORMANCE
YEAR TEAM W-L Finish
1884 St. Louis (AA) 67-40 4th
1885 St. Louis (AA) 79-33 1st
1886 St. Louis (AA) 93-46 1st
1887 St. Louis (AA) 95-40 1st
1888 Brooklyn (AA) 88-52 2nd
1889 Brooklyn (AA) 93-44 1st
1890 Brooklyn (NL) 86-43 1st
1891 Brooklyn (NL) 61-76 6th
 
 

'Old Hoss' last of his kind
By 1884, teams generally had two, sometimes three starting pitchers, rather than rely on one to do all the work, as had been common in the National Association (1870-75) and the first few years of the National League. What happened with the Providence Grays in 1884 was a fluke. The team found itself in a bind when recalcitrant pitcher Charley Sweeney was suspended after winning 17 games. Ironically, the team's other pitcher, Charley "Old Hoss" Radbourn, who was 24-8 at the time, had just come off a suspension of his own. (In those days owners could suspend players at will, and often did so, even if the offense was as questionable as the owner suspecting the player wasn't trying hard enough.)

With Sweeney gone, Radbourn pitched and pitched and pitched. Providence won the pennant, and Radbourn was credited with 59 . . . 60 . . . or 61 wins, depending on what source you choose to believe (59 comes up most often). Radbourn was the last pitcher to attempt that kind of work schedule, though several pitchers might start three games in a row, or pitch both ends of a double-header.

Back to Sweeney. It is believed he deliberately got himself suspended in order to go to the St. Louis Maroons of the Union Association. He won 24 games for St. Louis, giving him 41 wins in 1884. He was only 21 years old at the time, but already a heavy drinker. He pitched his last major league game three years later and left with just 64 wins overall. He pitched briefly in the minors, but didn't win a game. He died in 1902 at the age of 38.

 


He had one heck of a day

Guy Hecker's name doesn't come up much in a baseball discussion, but on August 15, 1886, had had one of the greatest days at hitter has ever had in the major leagues, a remarkable thing because he was primarily a pitcher.

On the day, against Baltimore, Hecker had six hits, including three home runs, and scored seven runs, the only player ever to do so. Hecker won 26 games that season — and led the league in hitting, with a .341 average. Oddly, he had only one more home run that year.

Hecker's best season as a pitcher was 1884, when he won 52 games. His lifetime record was 175-146. He spent eight seasons with Louisville in the American Association, and one season with Pittsburgh of the National League. And in those days (1890), they spelled Pittsburgh without the h.

 


His age remains a question
Pitcher Nathaniel "Nat" Hudson is listed on baseball-reference.com as being 17-years-old in 1886. However, in brief newspaper biographies of Browns players two years later, Hudson is described as being 23 years old. You do the math.

It's more reasonable to believe Hudson, who pitched in a Chicago city league previously, was 21 years old in 1886, not a teenager.
The age question is further complicated by David Nemec's "Major League Baseball Profiles, 1871-1900, Volume 1." This wonderfully detailed book says Hudson was born January 12, 1859, which would make him 27 years old when he had his 16-win season.

In a 1910 interview, Charlie Comiskey referred to Hudson as a "boy," and in the only photos I've seen (like the one above), Hudson does look like a teenager.

Whatever his age, Hudson was out of baseball by 1890.

 

One left, the other followed
Since they were rivals, as well as teammates, it was odd how things turned out for Foutz and Caruthers after the 1887 season. Both were sure to be leaving the St. Louis Browns after four seasons, and were expected to go their separate ways. It was rumored the pair weren't on speaking terms; Browns owner Chris Von der Ahe called those rumors "nonsense," but it was obvious that, at the very least, Foutz was jealous of a teammate who received more publicity — and more money.

Auburn (NY) Bulletin,
February 26, 1887

St. Louis, February 26 — Dave Foutz, the crack pitcher of the Browns last season, has not yet signed with that club. He said last evening:

“I saw Von der Ahe yesterday and we had a short talk. I see they are going around now and saying I got $2,500 as salary last year. I never got a cent more than the limit, $2,000, and what’s more, I’m not going to play ball for another season for that kind of salary. I’m going away tonight, to the Hot Springs, unless something turns up to prevent me, and I’m not going to come back til they come after me. I notice they find no trouble in going up to Chicago after Caruthers, and if he’s worth going after, I think I am.

“What salary did Caruthers get last year? He got $3,500 for the season. That’s $1,500 more than I got, and I’m blowed if I am not worth as much to the club as he is.”

But after Caruthers came to an agreement with Brooklyn, Foutz surprised people by doing the same.

 


After the 1887 season, Chris Von der Ahe, owner of the St. Louis Browns, did something that would be repeated several years later in more foolish and desperate fashion by Connie Mack with his Philadelphia Athletics. Both broke up pennant winning teams after humiliating defeats in a World Series (Mack's team had been swept by the Boston Braves in 1914).

Bob Caruthers, Dave Foust and Doc Bushong were sold to Brooklyn, shortstop Bill Gleason and outfielder Curt Welch to Philadelphia. Both teams were in the American Association at the time.

The most interesting deal was the one that involved Caruthers. Several teams were interested in him, including Brooklyn, the New York Giants of the National League, and Cincinnati Red Stockings of the American Association.

However, on November 27, 1887, many newspapers carried this intriguing item:

"Pitcher Bob Caruthers says his mother is so much opposed to his going to New York or Brooklyn that he has decided to play with Cincinnati next year or quit ball altogether."

There was no mention of heart problems, but Caruthers said he could make more money from his hardware business. Again, nobody took him seriously, but he wasn't kidding when he talked about his mother's opposition to him moving to New York. How bad could it be if her son lost $50,000 to gamblers in Chicago?

A few weeks later, the Caruthers matter was resolved. Under the headline — THE $15,000 BALL PLAYER — this story appeared

Maysville (KY) Evening Bulletin
December 15, 1887

Chicago, Dec. 14 — It has been finally settled that Bob Caruthers is to go to Brooklyn. The great pitcher met Joe Pritchard and C. H. Byrne at the Clifton House yesterday, and affixed his signature to a Brooklyn club contract. Monday night Pritchard and Byrne called on Mrs. Caruthers, Bob’s mother, and in a lengthy interview did their best to overcome her objections to her boy going to Brooklyn.

The real work of negotiating with and signing Caruthers was left to Joe Pritchard, of St. Louis, but when it became necessary to obtain Mrs. Caruthers’ consent, Byrne was detailed to do the talking. When Pritchard and Byrne went to their hotel Monday night, they were not exactly certain as to the result of their endeavors, though they were confident, for Bob, after a quiet talk with his mother, had promised to meet them. He kept his appointment, and as soon as he arrived at the hotel announced his readiness to sign.

When asked the terms of the contract, Caruthers said, “I will get a larger salary than any other ball player ever received, but I can’t say what it is.”

Surprisingly, Foutz also signed with Brooklyn. As someone whose home was near Baltimore, Foutz was expected to sign with Baltimore.

It was reported that Von der Ahe received $16,000, most of that for Caruthers. Foutz was a separate deal, indicating Von der Ahe really resented the pitcher's World Series performance, as though the thumb injury had been his fault.

Brooklyn paid $14,250 for Caruthers, the $250 added for the purpose to break the record set when the Boston Beaneaters paid $14,000 to obtain King Kelly from Chicago. Kelly lasted three years with the Beaneaters before jumping to the Players League in 1890.

 

Browns keep it going
T
he St. Louis Browns made it four straight American Association pennants in 1887, thanks to 45 wins from pitcher "Silver" King, and the return of Nat Hudson, who won 25 games. The icing on the cake was provided by Elton "Ice Box" Chamberlain, a 20-year-old pitcher who started the season with Louisville (winning 14 games), and then winning 11 more for the Browns (with only two losses).

Waiting for them in what would be a 10-game World Series were the New York Giants. The Detroit Wolverines, world champions the year before, fell to fifth place, and soon after the season ended went out of existence.

The Giants won the championship in eight games, but the ninth and ten games were played, anyway. (St. Louis won both meaningless contests, 14-11 and 18-7.) If Von der Ahe was upset with his team in 1887, he had even more reason in '88, thanks to Hudson, who refused to play in the World Series.

Nonetheless, Von der Ahe offered him an 1889 contract, but would soon regret it. Hudson gave up 20 hits and 17 runs in his first 1889 start, and a few weeks later was traded to last place Louisville for Thomas "Toad" Ramsey. Hudson refused to report, so Louisville sold Hudson to Minneapolis of the Western Association.

 

Shortchanged in 1889
For many years, Caruthers was credited with "only" 36 wins in 1889, thanks to the way such decisions were made in the 1880s. Starting pitchers received wins or losses, even if a relief pitcher was in the game when the deciding run was scored. When scorebooks were reviewed many years later, it was discovered Caruthers deserved four more wins (and two more defeats).

 

No money worries for Bob
In 1888, the St. Louis News ran an article on wealthy ball players, and had this to say about a certain pitcher who left their town to play in Brooklyn:

“Bob Caruthers, the $13,000 beauty of the Brooklyns, has far more wealth than any player in the country. Parisian Bob did not earn his big lump of United States dollars by the sweat of his brow, however. He came into possession of it through inheritance. Bob is a child of fortune. He belongs to one of the richest families in Chicago. About three years ago he was left $30,000 by a grandfather, and his mother is now worth ten times that amount. Bob is one of three heirs, so that he is rich in prospects.”

An interesting lawsuit was filed in 1910 by Caruthers' sister, Elizabeth, who questioned the handling of the estate created by the will of her great-grandfather, Thomas McNeill, in 1875.

As with most legal documents, this one made my eyes squint, but if I read it correctly, Thomas McNeill had lost a daughter who was the first wife of John P. Caruthers, who would father the baseball player by his second wife, who previously had been a niece (and the granddaughter of McNeill, who obviously didn't trust his one-time son-in law).

In court proceedings it was stated that John P. Caruthers was an insolvent alcoholic who had misappropriated money McNeill had previously given his granddaughter, Flora. McNeill made sure the money and property he intended to leave her would be completely under her control.

The property included buildings and undeveloped lots in Chicago, which is why John and Cora Caruthers, and their children, left Memphis and relocated to the Windy City. John P. Caruthers would die in 1886.

Money that Bob Caruthers received ten years after his great-grandfather's death likely was an estate that became his upon his 21st birthday.

As he often mentioned, he also derived income from a Chicago hardware store, either previously owned by Thomas McNeill or built by Caruthers' step-brothers (and first cousins) from his father's first marriage.

 

He was respected, not liked
When Bob Caruthers was appointed an American League umpire, this interesting story was published:

Chicago Tribune, January 27, 1902
The addition of “Bobby” Caruthers to the staff of umpires brings back to one of the big league battlefields one of the greatest ball players who ever drew a fancy salary. Caruthers was the star pitcher of the old champion St. Louis Browns, and for all-around ability was never excelled by any pitcher.

His effectiveness consisted mainly in his nerve, in which he was unexcelled. In the old American Association he had matters easy enough, but it was in the series against the Chicago and Detroit National League teams that Caruthers was put to the real test, and he there demonstrated his class.

Caruthers was a considerable dandy in those days, getting a salary of $5,000 or more for several successive years, and he was not altogether popular with his teammates off the field because he chose his associates from among people other than ball players. But his remarkable pluck won him the respect of his fellow players.

“We don’t like him personally,” said a Brown Stocking player in one of those former days, “but he is the nerviest boy that ever stood between those four corners of the pitcher’s box, and we can’t help admiring him and doing our best behind him.”

 

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