This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Craig Counsell prepares to swing while Minnesota Twins catcher Drew Butera waits in a crouch.


ODAY, baseball in the major leagues is a tidy game. Players field balls with almost boring


precision, and teams are filled with specialized players, including desig- nated hitters, long- and short-relief pitchers, and closers. And many players, as well as team owners, are millionaires today. But baseball wasn’t always this way. Not so long ago, many teams had a character or two on their rosters, and as result, there were a lot of anything-might- happen games. The fans loved it. They didn’t go to the ballpark expecting perfection. They went to have fun and to watch ballplayers delight in a game that, without warning, could produce the most hilarious, unexpected, and downright odd situations, like the one that led to baseball’s first players’ walkout in 1912.


First Players’ Walkout


The curious thing about baseball’s first players’ strike is that it didn’t have anything to do with higher pay or better working conditions. Instead, the strike grew out of an altercation that occurred between feisty Detroit Tigers outfielder Tyrus Raymond “Ty” Cobb and a spectator at a May 15, 1912, game in New York between the Detroit Tigers and the New York


32 Richard Bauman


Highlanders (who later changed their name to “Yankees”). During this game, Cobb climbed into the stands and brutally assaulted a fan who had been heckling him. The league responded by suspending Cobb for an indefinite period of time. Cobb’s teammates responded to the suspension by


refusing to play until Cobb was reinstated.


This was a potentially expensive problem for the Tigers’ owner, who faced a $5,000 fine (about $116,000 in today’s dollars) if the team forfeited its upcoming May 18, 1912, game against the Philadelphia Athletics. But Tigers manager Hughie Jennings came up with a novel solution to the problem. On the day of the game, with his own players still refusing to play, he recruited a local college team to wear Tigers uniforms and play the game in place of the “real” Tigers. The Athlet- ics beat the stand-in Tigers handily with a score of 24–2. The next day, Cobb told his teammates that their point had been made and that they should go back to work to avoid being fined. Cobb himself agreed to pay a $50 fine (about $1,100 in today’s dollars) and serve a ten-game suspen- sion. With that, baseball’s first players’ strike was over.


Always a very competitive charac- ter, Ty Cobb was at the center of another of baseball’s noteworthy occurrences years later. At the age of sixty, he was playing in an old-timers game at Yankee Stadium. When his turn at bat came, Cobb innocently suggested to the catcher that he back up a bit. Cobb told the catcher that he


A P R I L 2 0 1 1


PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66