Take Him Out
Many a Pitcher's Heart has been Broken by the Cry from the Stands,
"Take Him Out"--Russell Ford of the New York Yankees was Once Beaten
by a Few Foolish Words Whispered into the Batter's Ear at a Critical
Moment--Why "Rube" Marquard Failed for Two Years to be a Big
Leaguer--The Art of Breaking a Pitcher into Fast Company.
A pitcher is in a tight game, and the batter makes a hit. Another follows
and some fan back in the stand cries in stentorian tones:
"Take him out!"
It is the dirge of baseball which has broken the hearts of pitchers ever
since the game began and will continue to do so as long as it lives.
Another fan takes up the shout, and another, and another, until it is a
"Take him out! Take him out! Take him out!"
The pitcher has to grin, but that constant cry is wearing on nerves strung
to the breaking point. The crowd is against him, and the next batter hits,
and a run scores. The manager stops the game, beckons to the pitcher from
the bench, and he has to walk away from the box, facing the crowd--not the
team--which has beaten him. It is the psychology of baseball.
Some foolish words once whispered into the ear of a batter by a clever
manager in the crisis of one of the closest games ever played in baseball
turned the tide and unbalanced a pitcher who had been working like a
perfectly adjusted machine through seven terrific innings. That is also
the "psychology of pitching." The man wasn't beaten because he weakened,
because he lost his grip, because of any physical deficiency, but because
some foolish words--words that meant nothing, had nothing to do with the
game--had upset his mental attitude.
The game was the first one played between the Giants and the Yankees in
the post-season series of 1910, the batter was Bridwell, the manager was
John McGraw, and the pitcher, Russell Ford of the Yankees. The cast of
characters having been named, the story may now enter the block.
Spectators who recall the game will remember that the two clubs had been
battling through the early innings with neither team able to gain an
advantage, and the Giants came to bat for the eighth inning with the score
a tie. Ford was pitching perfectly with all the art of a master craftsman.
Each team had made one run. I was the first man up and started the eighth
inning with a single because Ford slackened up a little against me,
thinking that I was not dangerous. Devore beat out an infield hit, and
Doyle bunted and was safe, filling the bases. Then Ford went to work. He
struck out Snodgrass, and Hemphill caught Murray's fly far too near the
infield to permit me to try to score. It looked as if Ford were going to
get out of the hole when "Al" Bridwell, the former Giant shortstop, came
to the bat. Ford threw him two bad balls, and then McGraw ran out from the
bench, and, with an autocratic finger, held up the game while he whispered
into Bridwell's ear.
"Al" nodded knowingly, and the whole thing was a pantomime, a wordless
play, that made Sumurun look like a bush-league production. Bridwell
stepped back into the batter's box, and McGraw returned to the bench. On
the next pitch, "Al" was hit in the leg and went to first base, forcing
the run that broke the tie across the plate. That run also broke Ford's
heart. And here is what McGraw whispered into the attentive ear of
"How many quail did you say you shot when you were hunting last fall, Al?"
John McGraw, the psychologist, baseball general and manager, had heard
opportunity knock. With his fingers on the pulse of the game, he had felt
the tenseness of the situation, and realized, all in the flash of an eye,
that Ford was wabbling and that anything would push him over. He stopped
the game and whispered into Bridwell's ear while Ford was feeling more and
more the intensity of the crisis. He had an opportunity to observe the
three men on the bases. He wondered what McGraw was whispering, what trick
was to be expected. Was he telling the batter to get hit? Yes, he must be.
Then he did just that--hit the batter, and lost the game.
Why can certain pitchers always beat certain clubs and why do they look
like bush leaguers against others? To be concrete, why can Brooklyn fight
Chicago so hard and look foolish playing against the Giants? Why can the
Yankees take game after game from Detroit and be easy picking for the
Cleveland club in most of their games? Why does Boston beat Marquard when
he can make the hard Philadelphia hitters look like blind men with bats in
their hands? Why could I beat Cincinnati game after game for two years
when the club was filled with hard hitters? It is the psychology of
baseball, the mental attitudes of the players, some intangible thing that
works on the mind. Managers are learning to use this subtle, indescribable
element which is such a factor.
The great question which confronts every Big League manager is how to
break a valuable young pitcher into the game. "Rube" Marquard came to the
Giants in the fall of 1908 out of the American Association heralded as a
world-beater, with a reputation that shimmered and shone. The newspapers
were crowded with stories of the man for whom McGraw had paid $11,000, who
had been standing them on their heads in the West, who had curves that
couldn't be touched, and was a bargain at the unheard-of price paid for
"Rube" Marquard came to the Giants in a burst of glory and publicity when
the club was fighting for the pennant. McGraw was up against it for
pitchers at that time, and one win, turned in by a young pitcher, might
have resulted in the Giants winning the pennant as the season ended.
"Don't you think Marquard would win? Can't you put him in?" Mr. Brush, the
owner of the club, asked McGraw one day when he was discussing the
pitching situation with the manager.
"I don't know," answered McGraw. "If he wins his first time out in the Big
Leagues, he will be a world-beater, and, if he loses, it may cost us a
good pitcher." But Mr. Brush was insistent. Here a big price had been paid
for a pitcher with a record, and pitchers were what the club needed. The
newspapers declared that the fans should get a look at this "$11,000
beauty" in action. A double header was scheduled to be played with the
Cincinnati club in the month of September, in 1908, and the pitching staff
was gone. McGraw glanced over his collection of crippled and worked-out
twirlers. Then he saw "Rube" Marquard, big and fresh.
"Go in and pitch," he ordered after Marquard had warmed up.
McGraw always does things that way, makes up his mind about the most
important matters in a minute and then stands by his judgment. Marquard
went into the box, but he didn't pitch much. He has told me about it
"When I saw that crowd, Matty," he said, "I didn't know where I was. It
looked so big to me, and they were all wondering what I was going to do,
and all thinking that McGraw had paid $11,000 for me, and now they were to
find out whether he had gotten stuck, whether he had picked up a gold
brick with the plating on it very thin. I was wondering, myself, whether I
would make good."
What Marquard did that day is a matter of record, public property, like
marriage and death notices. Kane, the little rightfielder on the
Cincinnati club, was the first man up, and, although he was one of the
smallest targets in the league, Marquard hit him. He promptly stole
second, which worried "Rube" some more. Up came Lobert, the man who broke
"Now we'll see," said Lobert to "Rube," as he advanced to the plate,
"whether you're a busher." Then Lobert, the tantalizing Teuton with the
bow-legs, whacked out a triple to the far outfield and stopped at third
with a mocking smile on his face which would have gotten the late Job's
"You're identified," said "Hans"; "you're a busher."
Some fan shouted the fatal "Take him out." Marquard was gone. Bescher
followed with another triple, and, after that, the official scorer got
writer's cramp trying to keep track of the hits and runs. The number of
hits, I don't think, ever was computed with any great amount of
exactitude. Marquard was taken out of the box in the fifth inning, and he
was two years recovering from the shock of that beating. McGraw had put
him into the game against his better judgment, and he paid for it dearly.
Marquard had to be nursed along on the bench finishing games, starting
only against easy clubs, and learning the ropes of the Big Leagues before
he was able to be a winning pitcher. McGraw was a long time realizing
on his investment. All Marquard needed was a victory, a decisive win, over
a strong club.
Ty Cobb and Hans Wagner
"An American and National League star of the first magnitude. Fans of the
rival leagues never tire of discussing the relative merits of these two
great players. Both are always willing to take a chance, and seem to do
their best work when pressed hardest."]
The Giants played a disastrous series with the Philadelphia club early in
July, 1911, and lost four games straight. All the pitchers were shot to
pieces, and the Quakers seemed to be unbeatable. McGraw was at a loss for
a man to use in the fifth game. The weather was steaming hot, and the
players were dragged out, while the pitching staff had lost all its
starch. As McGraw's eye scanned his bedraggled talent, Marquard, reading
his thoughts, walked up to him.
"Give me a chance," he asked.
"Go in," answered McGraw, again making up his mind on the spur of the
moment. Marquard went into the game and made the Philadelphia batters,
whose averages had been growing corpulent on the pitching of the rest of
the staff, look foolish. There on that sweltering July afternoon, when
everything steamed in the blistering heat, a pitcher was being born again.
Marquard had found himself, and, for the rest of the season, he was
strongest against the Philadelphia team, for it had been that club which
restored his confidence.
There is a sequel to that old Lobert incident, too. In one of the last
series in Philadelphia, toward the end of the season, Marquard and Lobert
faced each other again. Said Marquard:
"Remember the time, you bow-legged Dutchman, when you asked me whether I
was a busher? Here is where I pay you back. This is the place where you
get a bad showing up."
And he fanned Lobert--whiff! whiff! whiff!--like that. He became the
greatest lefthander in the country, and would have been sooner, except for
the enormous price paid for him and the widespread publicity he received,
which caused him to be over-anxious to make good. It's the psychology of
"You can't hit what you don't see," says "Joe" Tinker of Marquard's
pitching. "When he throws his fast one, the only way you know it's past
you is because you hear the ball hit the catcher's glove."
Fred Clarke, of the Pittsburg club, was up against the same proposition
when he purchased "Marty" O'Toole for $22,500 in 1911. The newspapers of
the country were filled with figures and pictures of the real estate and
automobiles that could be bought with the same amount of money, lined up
alongside of pictures of O'Toole, as when the comparative strengths of the
navies of the world are shown by placing different sizes of battleships in
a row, or when the length of the Lusitania is emphasized by printing a
picture of it balancing gracefully on its stern alongside the Singer
Clarke realized that he had all this publicity with which to contend, and
that it would do his expensive new piece of pitching bric-a-brac no good.
O'Toole, jerked out of a minor league where he had been pitching quietly,
along with his name in ten or a dozen papers, was suddenly a national
figure, measuring up in newspaper space with Roosevelt and Taft and J.
When O'Toole joined the Pirates near the end of the season, Clarke knew
down in his heart the club had no chance of winning the pennant with
Wagner hurt, although he still publicly declared he was in the race. He
did not risk jumping O'Toole right into the game as soon as he reported
and taking the chance of breaking his heart. Opposing players, if they
are up in the pennant hunt, are hard on a pitcher of this sort and would
lose no opportunity to mention the price paid for him and connect it
pointedly with his showing, if that showing was a little wobbly. Charity
begins at home, and stays there, in the Big Leagues. At least, I never saw
any of it on the ball fields, especially if the club is in the race, and
the only thing that stands between it and a victory is the ruining of a
$22,500 pitcher of a rival.
Clarke nursed O'Toole along on the bench for a couple of weeks until he
got to be thoroughly acclimated, and then he started him in a game against
Boston, the weakest club in the league, after he had sent for Kelly,
O'Toole's regular catcher, to inspire more confidence. O'Toole had an easy
time of it at his Big League debut, for the Boston players did not pick on
him any to speak of, as they were not a very hard bunch of pickers. The
Pittsburg team gave him a nice comfortable, cosy lead, and he was pitching
along ahead of the game all the way. In the fifth or sixth inning Clarke
slipped Gibson, the regular Pittsburg catcher, behind the bat, and O'Toole
had won his first game in the Big League before he knew it. He then
reasoned I have won here. I belong here. I can get along here. It isn't
much different from the crowd I came from, except for the name, and that's
nothing to get timid about if I can clean up as easily as I did to-day.
Fred Clarke, also a psychologist and baseball manager, had worked a
valuable pitcher into the League, and he had won his first game. If he had
started him against some club like the Giants, for instance, where he
would have had to face a big crowd and the conversation and spirit of
players who were after a pennant and hot after it, he might have lost and
his heart would have been broken. Successfully breaking into the game an
expensive pitcher, who has cost a club a large price, is one of the
hardest problems which confronts a manager. Now O'Toole is all right if he
has the pitching goods. He has taken his initial plunge, and all he has to
do is to make good next year. The psychology element is eliminated from
I have been told that Clarke was the most relieved man in seven counties
when O'Toole came through with that victory in Boston.
"I had in mind all the time," said Fred, "what happened to McGraw when he
was trying to introduce Marquard into the smart set, and I was afraid the
same thing would happen to me. I had a lot of confidence in the nerve of
that young fellow though, because he stood up well under fire the first
day he got into Pittsburg. One of those lady reporters was down to the
club offices to meet him the morning he got into town, and they always
kind of have me, an old campaigner, stepping away from the plate. She
pulled her pad and pencil on Marty first thing, before he had had a chance
to knock the dirt out of his cleats, and said:
"'Now tell me about yourself.'
"He stepped right into that one, instead of backing away.
"'What do you want me to tell?' he asks her.
"Then I knew he was all right. He was there with the 'come-back.'"
But the ideal way to break a star into the Big League is that which marked
the entrance of Grover Cleveland Alexander, of the Philadelphia club. The
Cincinnati club had had its eye on Alexander for some time, but "Tacks"
Ashenbach, the scout, now dead, had advised against him, declaring that he
would be no good against "regular batters." Philadelphia got him at the
waiver price and he was among the lot in the newspapers marked "Those who
also joined." He started out in 1911 and won two or three games before
anyone paid any attention to him. Then he kept on winning until one
manager was saying to another:
"That guy, Alexander, is a hard one to beat."
He had won ten or a dozen games before it was fully realized that he was a
star. Then he was so accustomed to the Big League he acted as if he had
been living in it all his life, and there was no getting on his nerves.
When he started, he had everything to gain and nothing to lose. If he
didn't last, the newspapers wouldn't laugh at him, and the people wouldn't
"$11,000, or $22,500, for a lemon." That's the dread of all ball players.
Such is the psychology of introducing promising pitchers into the Big
Leagues. The Alexander route is the ideal one, but it's hard to get stars
now without paying enormous prices for them. Philadelphia was lucky.
There is another element which enters into all forms of athletics. Tennis
players call it nervousness, and ball players, in the frankness of the
game, call it a "yellow streak." It is the inability to stand the gaff,
the weakening in the pinches. It is something ingrained in a man that
can't be cured. It is the desire to quit when the situation is serious. It
is different from stage fright, because a man may get over that, but a
"yellow streak" is always with him. When a new player breaks into the
League, he is put to the most severe test by the other men to see if he is
"yellow." If he is found wanting, he is hopeless in the Big League, for
the news will spread, and he will receive no quarter. It is the cardinal
sin in a ball player.
For some time after "Hans" Wagner's poor showing in the world's series of
1903, when the Pittsburg club was defeated for the World's Championship by
the Boston American League club, it was reported that he was "yellow."
This grieved the Dutchman deeply, for I don't know a ball player in either
league who would assay less quit to the ton than Wagner. He is always
there and always fighting. Wagner felt the inference which his team mates
drew very keenly. This was the real tragedy in Wagner's career.
Notwithstanding his stolid appearance, he is a sensitive player, and this
hurt him more than anything else in his life ever has.
When the Pittsburg club played Detroit in 1909 for the championship of the
world, many, even of Wagner's admirers, said, "The Dutchman will quit." It
was in this series he vindicated himself. His batting scored the majority
of the Pittsburg runs, and his fielding was little short of wonderful. He
was demonstrating his gameness. Many men would have quit under the
reflection. They would have been unable to withstand the criticism, but
Many persons implied that John Murray, the rightfielder on the Giants, was
"yellow" at the conclusion of the 1911 world's series because, after
batting almost three hundred in the season, he did not get a hit in the
six games. But there isn't a man on the team gamer. He hasn't any nerves.
He's one of the sort of ball players who says:
"Well, now I've got my chew of tobacco in my mouth. Let her go."
There is an interesting bit of psychology connected with Wagner and the
spit-ball. It comes as near being Wagner's "groove" as any curve that has
found its way into the Big Leagues. This is explained by the fact that
the first time Wagner ever faced "Bugs" Raymond he didn't get a hit with
Arthur using the spitter. Consequently the report went around the circuit
that Wagner couldn't hit the spit-ball. He disproved this theory against
two or three spit-ball pitchers, but as long as Raymond remained in the
League he had it on the hard-hitting Dutchman.
"Here comes a 'spitter,' Hans. Look out for it," Raymond would warn
Wagner, with a wide grin, and then he would pop up a wet one.
"Guess I'll repeat on that dose, Hans; you didn't like that one."
And Wagner would get so worked up that he frequently struck out against
"Bugs" when the rest of his club was hitting the eccentric pitcher hard.
It was because he achieved the idea on the first day he couldn't hit the
spit-ball, and he wasn't able to rid his mind of the impression. Many fans
often wondered why Raymond had it on Wagner, the man whose only "groove"
is a base on balls. "Bugs" had the edge after that first day when Wagner
lost confidence in his ability to hit the spit-ball as served by Raymond.
In direct contrast to this loss of confidence on Wagner's part was the
incident attendant upon Arthur Devlin's debut into the Big League. He had
joined the club a youngster, in the season of 1904, and McGraw had not
counted upon him to play third base, having planned to plant Bresnahan at
that corner. But Bresnahan developed sciatic rheumatism early in the
season, and Devlin was put on the bag in the emergency with a great deal
The first day he was in the game he came up to the bat with the bases
full. The Giants were playing Brooklyn at the Polo Grounds, and two men
had already struck out, with the team two runs behind. Devlin came out
from the bench.
"Who is this youthful-looking party?" one fan asked another, as they
scanned their score cards.
"Devlin, some busher, taking Bresnahan's place," another answered.
"Well, it's all off now," was the general verdict.
The crowd settled back, and one could feel the lassitude in the
atmosphere. But Devlin had his first chance to make good in a pinch. There
was no weariness in his manner. Poole, the Brooklyn pitcher, showing less
respect than he should have for the newcomer in baseball society, spilled
one over too near the middle, and Arthur drove out a home run, winning
the game. Those who had refused to place any confidence in him only a
moment before, were on their feet cheering wildly now. And Devlin played
third base for almost eight years after that, and none thought of
Bresnahan and his rheumatism until he began catching again. Devlin, after
that home run, was oozing confidence from every pore and burned up the
League with his batting for three years. He got the old confidence from
his start. The fans had expected nothing from him, and he had delivered.
He had gained everything. He had made the most dramatic play in baseball
on his first day, a home run with the bases full.
When Fred Snodgrass first started playing as a regular with the Giants
about the middle of the season of 1910, he hit any ball pitched him hard
and had all the fans marvelling at his stick work. He believed that he
could hit anything and, as long as he retained that belief, he could.
But the Chalmers Automobile Company had offered a prize of one nice,
mild-mannered motor car to the batter in either league who finished the
season with the biggest average.
Snodgrass was batting over four hundred at one time and was ahead of them
all when suddenly the New York evening papers began to publish the daily
averages of the leaders for the automobile, boosting Snodgrass. It
suddenly struck Fred that he was a great batter and that to keep his place
in that daily standing he would have to make a hit every time he went to
the plate. These printed figures worried him. His batting fell off
miserably until, in the post season series with the Yankees, he gave one
of the worst exhibitions of any man on the team. The newspapers did it.
"They got me worrying about myself," he told me once. "I began to think
how close I was to the car and had a moving picture of myself driving it.
That settled it."
Many promising young players are broken in their first game in the Big
League by the ragging which they are forced to undergo at the hands of
veteran catchers. John Kling is a very bad man with youngsters, and
sometimes he can get on the nerves of older players in close games when
the nerves are strung tight. The purpose of a catcher in talking to a man
in this way is to distract his attention from batting, and once this is
accomplished he is gone. A favorite trick of a catcher is to say to a new
"Look out for this fellow. He's got a mean 'bean' ball, and he hasn't any
influence over it. There's a poor 'boob' in the hospital now that stopped
one with his head."
Then the catcher signs for the pitcher to throw the next one at the young
batter's head. If he pulls away, an unpardonable sin in baseball, the dose
"Yer almost had your foot in the water-pail over by the bench that time,"
says the catcher.
Bing! Up comes another "beaner." Then, after the catcher has sized the new
man up, he makes his report.
"He won't do. He's yellow."
And the players keep mercilessly after this shortcoming, this ingrained
fault which, unlike a mechanical error, cannot be corrected until the new
player is driven out of the League. Perhaps the catcher says:
"He's game, that guy. No scare to him."
After that he is let alone. It's the psychology of batting.
Once, when I first broke into the League, Jack Chesbro, then with
Pittsburg, threw a fast one up, and it went behind my head, although I
tried to dodge back. He had lots of speed in those days, too. It set me
wondering what would have happened if the ball had hit me. The more I
thought, the more it struck me that it would have greatly altered my face
had it gotten into the course of the ball. Ever afterwards, he had it on
me, and, for months, a fast one at the head had me backing away from the
In contrast to this experience of mine was the curing of "Josh" Devore,
the leftfielder of the Giants, of being bat shy against left-handers.
Devore has always been very weak at the bat with a southpaw in the box,
dragging his right foot away from the plate. This was particularly the
case against "Slim" Sallee, the tenuous southpaw of the St. Louis
Nationals. Finally McGraw, exasperated after "Josh" had struck out twice
in one day, said:
"That fellow hasn't got speed enough to bend a pane of glass at the home
plate throwing from the box, and you're pullin' away as if he was shooting
them out of a gun. It's a crime to let him beat you. Go up there the next
time and get hit, and see if he can hurt you. If you don't get hit,
you're fined $10."
Devore, who is as fond of $10 as the next one, went to the bat and took
one of Sallee's slants in a place where it would do the least damage. He
trotted to first base smiling.
"What'd I tell you?" asked McGraw, coaching. "Could he hurt you?"
"Say," replied "Josh," "I'd hire out to let them pitch baseballs at me if
none could throw harder than that guy."
Devore was cured of being bat shy when Sallee was pitching, right then and
there, and he has improved greatly against all left-handers ever since, so
much so that McGraw leaves him in the game now when a southpaw pitches,
instead of placing Beals Becker in left field as he used to. All Devore
needed was the confidence to stand up to the plate against them, to rid
his mind of the idea that, if once he got hit, he would leave the field
feet first. That slam in the slats which Sallee handed him supplied the
When Devore was going to Philadelphia for the second game of the world's
series in the fall of 1911, the first one in the other town, he was
introduced to "Ty" Cobb, the Detroit out-fielder, by some newspaper man
on the train, and, as it was the first time Devore had ever met Cobb, he
sat down with him and they talked all the way over.
"Gee," said "Josh" to me, as we were getting off the train, "that fellow
Cobb knows a lot about batting. He told me some things about the American
League pitchers just now, and he didn't know he was doing it. I never let
on. But I just hope that fellow Plank works to-day, if they think that I
am weak against left-handers. Say, Matty, I could write a book about that
guy and his 'grooves' now, after buzzing Cobb, and the funny thing is he
didn't know he was telling me."
Plank pitched that day and fanned Devore four times out of a possible
four. "Josh" didn't even get a foul off him.
"Thought you knew all about that fellow," I said to Devore after the game.
"I've learned since that Cobb and he are pretty thick," replied "Josh,"
"and I guess 'Ty' was giving me a bad steer."
It was evident that Cobb had been filling "Josh" up with misinformation
that was working around in Devore's mind when he went to the plate to
face Plank, and, instead of being open to impressions, these wrong
opinions had already been planted and he was constantly trying to confirm
them. Plank was crossing him all the time, and, being naturally weak
against left-handers, this additional handicap made Devore look foolish.
In the well-worn words of Mr. Dooley, it has been my experience "to trust
your friends, but cut the cards." By that, I mean one ball player will
often come to another with a tip that he really thinks worth while, but
that avails nothing in the end. A man has to be a pretty smart ball player
to dispense accurate information about others, because the Big Leaguers
know their own "grooves" and are naturally trying to cover them up. Then a
batter may be weak against one pitcher on a certain kind of a ball, and
may whale the same sort of delivery, with a different twist to it, out of
the lot against another.
That was the experience I had with "Ed" Delehanty, the famous slugger of
the old Philadelphia National League team, who is now dead. During my
first year in the League several well-meaning advisers came to me and
"Don't give 'Del' any high fast ones because, if you do, you will just
wear your fielders out worse than a George M. Cohan show does the chorus.
They will think they are in a Marathon race instead of a ball game."
Being young, I took this advice, and the first time I pitched against
Delehanty, I fed him curved balls. He hit these so far the first two times
he came to bat that one of the balls was never found, and everybody felt
like shaking hands with Van Haltren, the old Giant outfielder, when he
returned with the other, as if he had been away on a vacation some place.
In fact, I had been warned against giving any of this Philadelphia team of
sluggers high fast ones, and I had been delivering a diet of curves to all
of them which they were sending to the limits of the park and further,
with great regularity. At last, when Delehanty came to the bat for the
third time in the game, Van Haltren walked into the box from the outfield
and handed the ball to me, after he had just gone to the fence to get it.
Elmer Flick had hit it there.
"Matty," he pleaded, "for the love of Mike, slip this fellow a base on
balls and let me get my wind."
Instead I decided to switch my style, and I fed Delehanty high fast ones,
the dangerous dose, and he struck out then and later. He wasn't expecting
them and was so surprised that he couldn't hit the ball. Only two of the
six balls at which he struck were good ones. I found out afterwards that
the tradition about not delivering any high fast balls to the Philadelphia
hitters was the outgrowth of the old buzzer tipping service, established
in 1899, by which the batters were informed what to expect by Morgan
Murphy, located in the clubhouse with a pair of field-glasses and his
finger on a button which worked a buzzer under the third-base coaching
box. The coacher tipped the batter off what was coming and the
signal-stealing device had worked perfectly. The hitters had all waited
for the high fast ones in those days, as they can be hit easier if a man
knows that they are coming, and can also be hit farther.
But, after the buzzer had been discovered and the delivery of pitchers
could not be accurately forecast, this ability to hit high fast ones
vanished, but not the tradition. The result was that this Philadelphia
club was getting a steady diet of curves and hitting them hard, not
expecting anything else. When I first pitched against Delehanty, his
reputation as a hitter gave him a big edge on me. Therefore I was willing
to take any kind of advice calculated to help me, but eventually I had to
find out for myself. If I had taken a chance on mixing them up the first
time he faced me, I still doubt if he would have made those two long hits,
but it was his reputation working in my mind and the idea that he ate up
high fast balls that prevented me from taking the risk.
Each pitcher has to find out for himself what a man is going to hit. It's
all right to take advice at first, but, if this does not prove to be the
proper prescription, it's up to him to experiment and not continue to feed
him the sort of balls that he is hitting.
Reputations count for a great deal in the Big Leagues. Cobb has a record
as being a great base runner, and I believe that he steals ten bases a
season on this reputation. The catcher knows he is on the bag, realizes
that he is going to steal, fears him, hurries his throw, and, in his
anxiety, it goes bad. Cobb is safe, whereas, if he had been an ordinary
runner with no reputation, he would probably have been thrown out.
Pitchers who have made names for themselves in the Big Leagues, have a
much easier time winning as a consequence.
"All he's got to do is to throw his glove into the box to beat that club,"
is an old expression in baseball, which means that the opposing batters
fear the pitcher and that his reputation will carry him through if he has
nothing whatever on the ball.
Newspapers work on the mental attitude of Big League players. This has
been most marked in Cincinnati, and I believe that the local newspapers
have done as much as anything to keep a pennant away from that town. When
the team went south for the spring practice, the newspapers printed
glowing reports of the possibilities of the club winning the pennant, but,
when the club started to fall down in the race, they would knock the men,
and it would take the heart out of the players. Almost enough good players
have been let go by the Cincinnati team to make a world's championship
club. There are Donlin, Seymour, Steinfeldt, Lobert and many more. Ball
players inhale the accounts printed in the newspapers, and a correspondent
with a grouch has ruined the prospects of many a good player and club. The
New York newspapers, first by the great amount of publicity given to his
old record, and then by criticising him for not making a better showing,
had a great deal to do with Marquard failing to make good the first two
years he was in New York, as I have shown.
A smart manager in the Big League is always working to keep his valuable
stars in the right frame of mind. On the last western trip the Giants made
in the season of 1911, when they won the pennant by taking eighteen games
out of twenty-two games, McGraw refused to permit any of the men to play
cards. He realized that often the stakes ran high and that the losers
brooded over the money which they lost and were thinking of this rather
than the game when on the ball field. It hurt their playing, so there were
no cards. He also carried "Charley" Faust, the Kansas Jinx killer, along
to keep the players amused and because it was thought that he was good
luck. It helped their mental attitude.
The treatment of a new player when he first arrives is different now from
what it was in the old days. Once there was a time when the veteran looked
upon the recruit with suspicion and the feeling that he had come to take
his job and his bread and butter from him. If a young pitcher was put
into the box, the old catcher would do all that he could to irritate him,
and many times he would inform the batters of the other side what he was
going to throw.
"He's tryin' to horn my friend Bill out of a job," I have heard catchers
charge against a youngster.
This attitude drove many a star ball player back to the minors because he
couldn't make good under the adverse circumstances, but nothing of the
sort exists now. Each veteran does all that he can to help the youngster,
realizing that on the younger generation depends the success of the club,
and that no one makes any money by being on a loser. Travelling with a
tail-end ball club is the poorest pastime in the world. I would rather
ride in the first coach of a funeral procession.
The youngster is treated more courteously now when he first arrives. In
the old days, the veterans of the club sized up the recruit and treated
him like a stranger for days, which made him feel as if he were among
enemies instead of friends, and, as a result, it was much harder for him
to make good. Now all hands make him a companion from the start, unless
he shows signs of being unusually fresh.
There is a lot to baseball in the Big Leagues besides playing the game. No
man can have a "yellow streak" and last. He must not pay much attention to
his nerves or temperament. He must hide every flaw. It's all part of the
psychology of baseball. But the saddest words of all to a pitcher are
three--"Take Him Out."
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