October 19, 2019

Even More Interesting Research Finds

August 18, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

One of the pleasures of doing research for a book or article is the discovery of interesting facts that have nothing to do with what’s being researched, but demand attention.  Here are even more interesting and odd research finds that I’ve discovered over the past year.

What Happens In Baltimore Stays in Baltimore

January 8, 1901: The Baltimore Sun reported that Orioles teammates and friends John McGraw and Wilbert Robinson were suing Colonel Calvin R. Nutt of Frederick, Maryland over a gambling debt incurred during a game of poker held in a clubroom over a saloon owned by McGraw and Robinson.

John McGraw

John McGraw

According to the report, Nutt, who had not long before entertained then New York Governor and future United States President, Teddy Roosevelt, at his Maryland home, engaged in a game of poker in November 1899 with Republican politicians and found himself down $431 by game’s end.  Short on cash, Nutt wrote a check, which was cashed by the club’s steward “Mr. Stump,” who then handed the money to Nutt so he could pay off his debt, which he did.

But Nutt promptly instructed his bank to stop payment on the check after he learned that the poker game wasn’t on the up-and-up.  “Colonel Nutt, in his testimony, said he had no knowledge of the game after he had lost seventy or eighty dollars, as he was drinking,” reported the Sun, “but that he stopped payment on the check because he was informed by his friends that he had been ‘done.'”  (It’s hard to imagine that a card game played by politicians in a saloon owned by two men who were notorious for cheating on the ball field wouldn’t be on the level, but I digress).

Nutt’s lawyer argued that the jury should find for his client “on the ground that the check was given in a gambling game, and that payment could not be enforced under these circumstances.”  McGraw and Robinson’s lawyer argued that neither of his clients was aware that the check had been cashed to settle a gambling debt and therefore were innocent parties.

It wasn’t the first time Nutt failed to settle up after losing at cards.  Emanuel Jacobi, a former member of the legislature, was also suing the colonel for $278 that he was owed from a card game held at a different Maryland club and played by an ex-Mayor of Baltimore and a “prominent bank examiner.”

The jury found in favor of Nutt, and McGraw and Robinson were out $431.

Slim Chance For Recovery

January 11, 1901: The Chicago Tribune reported that Cubs catcher Frank Chance was suffering from a blood clot, the result of being beaned in the head with a pitched ball, and that he might not survive the injury.

"The Peerless Leader"

“Should the present condition of Frank Chance…not improve, a termination that may prove fatal will not cause surprise,” wrote the Chicago paper.  It was also learned from Chance’s physician that rest alone would not relieve the pain in his head and that were Chance to survive, he could still end up paralyzed.   “It is thought there is little chance of his playing baseball with the Chicago club next summer,” concluded the Trib.

But all were wrong on every account.  Chance did indeed survive, was not paralyzed and ended up playing in 68 games for the Cubs in 1901, most of them in right field.  “Husk” suffered numerous injuries during his career, including broken fingers from foul tips and multiple beanings that caused severe headaches, and he lived a relatively short life.  He finally moved to first base in 1903 and became a regular from 1903-1908 and led the team as its skipper from 1905-1912, winning four pennants and two World Series titles.

Chance underwent surgery in 1912 to alleviate the blood clots that had been hampering him and causing his headaches, but by then he was already through as a player.  He died in 1924, only 10 years after he retired.

Lulu In More Ways Than One

In January 1901, a 20-year-old woman named Lulu Prince-Kennedy shot her 28-year-old husband Philip to death at his office in Kansas City, Missouri.  The sordid and lengthy tale is as follows:

January 10, 1901: Philip H. Kennedy, an agent for the Merchants’ Dispatch Transportation Company, is shot four times by his wife of only a month, Lulu Prince-Kennedy (some reports had him shot five times).  To add insult to injury, Lulu kicks her dead husband in the face before she can be dragged away and allegedly shouts “Now, you will never seduce another woman!”

Apparently, Philip had married Lulu only after he was coerced at the point of revolvers by Lulu’s father and brother, who threatened to shoot him if he didn’t go through with the wedding.  According to reports, Philip had fallen in love with another woman named Bessie Phillips from Grand Rapids, Michigan and had announced his intention to marry Phillips while he was still engaged to Lulu.  Though he and Lulu had been married for a month, Philip never lived with Lulu as man and wife, and had filed for an annulment.

January 12, 1901: Lulu Prince-Kennedy is bound over to the grand jury with a recommendation that she be held for murder in the first degree.  She pleads not guilty.  It’s also learned that her brother Will was at the scene of the crime and had struck Philip’s brother Thomas while Thomas was trying to subdue Lulu after she shot his brother.

Pitcher Case Patten once had a relationship with Lulu Kennedy.

Will claims he happened to be near the scene of the crime and was merely defending his sister from Thomas, but others thought Will to be an accomplice. Dr. R.O. Cross, who witnessed the shooting, tells investigators that Lulu had told him in November 1900 that she was the wife of professional pitcher Case Patten, who was hurling for the Kansas City Blues of the then minor circuit American League. According to Philip’s friends and family, the dead man is the victim of a conspiracy.

February 15, 1901: Lulu is indicted for murder in the first degree, but this time she has company in the form of her father, Charles W. Prince, and two brothers, Will and Albert Prince, all of whom are charged with being accomplices.  “…the three Princes ‘incited, procured, moved, commanded and aided her in the killing,” charges the prosecuting attorney.  Lulu insists she acted alone, “I think it’s an outrage to make others suffer for what I have done,” she cries.  “I alone am responsible and all the others are innocent.”

May 4, 1901: Patten makes his major league debut for the Washington Senators three days before his 27th birthday and gets rocked by the Boston Red Sox to the tune of six runs in five innings of relief.

May 23, 1901: Patten earns his first start for the Senators and carries a 13-5 lead into the ninth only to blow it by allowing a “fusillade” of hits and runs that Cleveland turns into a 14-13 victory.

June 3, 1901: Lulu Kennedy’s trial begins.  “The case is one of the most unusual in local criminal history,” reports the Los Angeles Times.  “During her five months confinement in jail, Mrs. Kennedy, who is but 20 years old, has shown no remorse for her crime and has frequently enjoyed concerts given in her cell by her musician brother.”

June 5, 1901: Kennedy continues to show indifference during her trial until she laughingly bids her attorney good bye at the trial’s adjournment.  The prosecutor argues that Kennedy shot and killed her husband to avoid the publicity that would come from his annulment request.

June 6, 1901: The defense argues that Philip Kennedy “ruined the defendant and…that the defendant, brooding over her ill treatment, developed a condition of hysteria, bordering on insanity.”  Lulu’s attorney claims that insanity runs in the Prince family and that Philip’s application for annulment precipitated the shooting.  Roland Butler, a witness for the state, describes Lulu as being “perfectly cool” during the shooting and subsequent fight between her brother Will and Philip’s brother Thomas.  In fact, when she was being held by a police officer she exclaimed, “Let go of my hands, I want to fix my hair,” which she then proceeded to do.  A second witness testifies that he saw Lulu’s father and brothers in different parts of the building at the time of the shooting, presumably blocking exits so Philip couldn’t escape.

June 7, 1901: Dr. Cross testifies that Lulu had come into his office in October 1900 and introduced herself as Mrs. Case Patten, but that she didn’t want anyone to know that her husband was a professional ball player as she was pregnant with his child and he might lose his position on the team.  A witness named William Shaw testifies that Patten and Lulu had spent a lot of time together between July and October 1900, and Detective O’Hare testifies that Lulu filed a police report in October stating that Patten had taken her ring to Westport, New York.  She later recovered the ring.

June 8, 1901: Lulu Kennedy collapses during her trial, causing it to be adjourned.  The reason for her hysterics is a testimony given by Bertie Litchfield, who tells the court she had a conversation with Lulu’s brother Albert moments after the shooting.  Albert was on the floor directly above Philip Kennedy’s office when Litchfield saw him and told him that “someone had been hurt downstairs.”  Albert responded with, “Lulu did it.  She gave him what was coming to him.  He did not treat her right and she fixed him.”

June 10, 1901: The state rests and court is adjourned until the next day when the defense will present its case.  According to prosecutors it was Will Prince who furnished the gun Lulu used to kill her husband and goaded her into doing it; that the Princes not only conspired to kill Philip but predicted it would happen days before it occurred; and that her temporary insanity plea was untrue.  The defense plans to prove that Lulu was indeed insane, that it was inherited—both her grandfather and great grandfather died in New England insane asylums—, and that Philip’s refusal to acknowledge Lulu as his wife “temporarily deprived her of her reason.”

The Washington Post reports that Philip Kennedy told Will after the wedding, “I will not be a live man three weeks from today,” to which Will retorted, “well, you have prolonged your life by this marriage.”  A witness named E.J. Curtain testifies that Lulu’s father, mistaking Curtain for a reporter, told him, “I was not going to let this man jilt my daughter.  If things do not go right, you will have a good deal more sensational things to write about.”

June 11, 1901: Will Prince takes the stand and testifies that on the day of the murder he had been in the office of a patent attorney discussing an invention all morning, went home at noon, then went downtown alone to his father’s store at 3:30.  “This was in direct contradiction of the statements made by witnesses of the State,” reports the Baltimore Sun.  The Washington Post reports that Will also denied that the gun used in the shooting was his and that he learned of the murder only after it happened.

June 12, 1901: Judge Woford rules out the testimony of Edward W. Lewis, a close friend of Philip, who claims that Philip betrayed his wife, had lost respect for her, and refused to acknowledge they were married.  Lewis tried to convince Kennedy to accept Lulu as his wife, but Kennedy told his friend that his mother was “violently opposed to it,” and that Bessie Phillips had forgiven him via a telegram he’d recently received.  Lewis also testified that Kennedy was planning on killing himself and asked him if he believed in “eternal hell.”  “The defense’s theory is that Kennedy jilted Miss Prince for the Grand Rapids woman mentioned in the statement,” newspapers reported.

June 15, 1901: After 11 hours of deliberation, a jury finds Lulu Kennedy guilty of second-degree murder and she’s sentenced to 10 years in prison.  Newspapers report that Philip Kennedy’s last words were, “It wasn’t her gun,” lending credence to a conspiracy with his dying breath.  Judge Wofford, however, remains unconvinced and asks to be removed from the Prince trial because he isn’t “satisfied that Bert Prince and the old man were at the Ridge Building at the time of the killing.”  The trial against the Princes is postponed.

June 18, 1901: C.W., Will and Albert Prince are indicted by the grand jury as accessories to murder.

July 22, 1901: Lulu Kennedy’s lawyers file an appeal to the state supreme court.  Bond is set at $10,000.

July 27, 1901: Case Patten tosses his best game to that point in his career, whitewashing the Milwaukee Brewers, 7-0.  “Patten had a fast jump ball to-day [sic] that dodged around the Milwaukee batters like an energetic bug,” wrote the Washington Post.  Patten surrenders 10 hits but all are singles and the Brewers send only two men as far as third base.

July 30, 1901: Lulu Kennedy is released on $10,000 bond pending her appeal to the supreme court.

September 25, 1901: Patten caps off his season with a nifty 3-2 win over the Detroit Tigers to run his record to 18-10.  The rookie hurler finishes among the top 10 A.L. pitchers in eight different categories, including shutouts, wins and winning percentage.

February 12, 1902: After deliberating for 24 hours, a jury finds Will Prince guilty of fourth-degree manslaughter for complicity in the murder of Philip Kennedy.  Prince is sentenced to two years in prison.

September 27, 1902: Case Patten goes into his final start of the season with a 17-17 record and is on the verge of finishing under .500 when he surrenders five runs to the Philadelphia Athletics in the first five innings.  But the Senators rally and score seven times in the last three innings for a 7-5 win.  Patten finishes the year at 18-17 with a 4.05 ERA and finishes among the top 10 in several categories, not all of which are good.  He allows the fourth most earned runs and has the ninth worst ERA in the American League.

July 3, 1903: Lulu Kennedy is granted a new trial by the Missouri state supreme court.  The news is sandwiched by two hard-luck Case Patten losses—on June 29 he falls to the Tigers, 3-0, despite allowing only three hits, then loses, 1-0, to Cleveland despite allowing only four hits.  Though he posts his best ERA to date (3.60), it’s still the sixth worst in the A.L.  He finishes the season at 11-22 and leads the league in most home runs allowed with 11.

January 8, 1904: Filed under “Karma can be a real bitch” is a report that Albert Prince is lost at sea after the steamship he was on capsizes in the Strait of Juan de Fuca between Port Townsend, Washington and Victoria, British Columbia.  Prince, a traveling musician, had been on board the Clallam with a musical troupe when the ship ran into a storm and began taking on water.  Life boats were launched, the first two containing only women and children, but they capsized almost immediately and all aboard drowned.  There were 56 estimated victims, but probably more because children under fare age weren’t counted by the ship’s purser when they boarded.  Albert’s brother Will had been released from prison just prior to the accident.  Neither Albert or his father ever served time for Philip Kennedy’s murder because charges against them were dropped.

January 10, 1904: Albert Prince’s body is found on a beach 23 miles from where the Clallam sank.  He still has his $500 diamond stud pinned to his shirt, but his gold watch is missing.

January 27, 1904: Lulu Kennedy collapses in court during her retrial when her mother testifies that Lulu had remarried since her conviction.  Lulu was now Mrs. John Kramer, an attorney who represented her brother Will during his trial.  The couple had been married while Lulu was out on bond awaiting her new trial.  No explanation is given by John as to why he’d marry a woman who shot her first husband.

January 29, 1904: Lulu Prince-Kennedy-Kramer is acquitted by a jury and set free on the grounds that she was only temporarily insane when she shot her husband Philip.  The jury believes that Lulu has “since regained her sanity,” which saved her from a trip to an asylum, where she most likely would have spent the rest of her life.

June 5, 1904: In an odd twist to the Prince family story, Albert’s pocket watch and a small pair of scissors washes up on a beach 17 miles from where his body was found in January.  The watch is identified as his when pictures of his mother and sister are discovered inside.  His family also identifies the scissors as a pair he used to cut out press clippings.  The items are returned to his parents.  Not surprisingly, the news is sandwiched by two more Case Patten losses.  Patten would suffer through his second straight losing season, going 14-23 with a 3.06 ERA and leading the league in hits allowed, earned runs allowed, and hit batters.

June 28, 1907: The Chicago Tribune reports that one Mrs. Lulu Blanche Ferner has filed for divorce from her husband Adolph I. Ferner Jr.  It’s not the same Lulu who shot her husband to death more than six years before, but her attorney happens to be none other than C.W. Prince of Kansas City, Missouri, once charged with conspiracy to commit murder.  Wow.

1907 also happens to be Case Patten’s last full season in the bigs and it’s not a good one.  He goes 12-16 with a 3.56 ERA, the worst mark in the American League, which is too bad considering he’d gone 19-16 with a 2.17 ERA, the 10th best in the circuit, in 1906.  Patten appears in 10 more games in 1908, loses all three of his decisions and ends his major league career with a record of 106-128 and a 3.36 ERA, almost half a run higher than league average.

Putting the Train In Spring Training

April 7, 1902: The Chicago Tribune reported that three members of the Chicago White Sox, including player/manager Clark Griffith, were almost killed by a freight train while training in Excelsior Springs, Missouri.  “Roused by the warning whistle of a locomotive as it rounded a bend, Griffith, [Ned] Garvin, and Herman McFarland hurriedly dropped from the track and clung to the ties of a high trestled bridge about two miles from town just in time to avoid a Wabash freight train which was bearing down upon them.”

Clark Griffith

Clark Griffith, "The Old Fox"

Griffith had led his squad on a 10-mile hike and after five miles decided to turn back and recross the bridge they’d just crossed and head home.  The rest of the team had crossed safely but Griffith, Garvin and McFarland were only half way across the 300-foot bridge when the train appeared.  The trio had two options: jump down to a shallow creek forty feet below or hang on for dear life.

“Don’t jump, boys, it’s too far.  Hang on to the trestles,” Griffith shouted.  But the ball players needed no instruction; they had already “calculated the odds and were clambering over the sides to the woodwork supports.”  After the train rumbled overhead, the players climbed back on to the bridge unharmed, much to the relief of their teammates.

Griffith lived to be 86.  McFarland died at 65.  Garvin wasn’t so lucky, succumbing to “consumption” (tuberculosis) in 1908 at the age of 34.  On the other hand, Garvin’s early death may have prevented more early deaths.  The Texan was known to settle scores with guns and knives and only five months after escaping the Missouri train’s deadly path, Garvin shot a barkeeper in Chicago on August 28.  Apparently he was so notorious that he was known as the “Navasota Tarantula,” Navasota being the Texas town in which he was born, and “The Demon Texan.”  There are two separate accounts of the story and both are fascinating.

According to the Boston Globe, the pitcher “ran amuck with a loaded pistol,” tried to kill a policeman, and “put a bullet in the shoulder of a saloon-keeper friend.”  With friends like Garvin, who needed enemies?

According to reports, Garvin had already frequented about a half dozen bars before landing at Lawrence Flanigan’s place around 5 o’clock.  He was already three sheets to the wind when he arrived and demanded that Flanigan loan him some money.  When Flanigan refused, Garvin pulled out a revolver and “leveled it at the man back of the bar.”  Flanigan made the mistake of laughing in Garvin’s face and daring him to pull the trigger, telling the would-be gunman that he “lacked the courage to use the weapon.”1 That’s when Garvin shot his “friend” in the shoulder.

A bar patron ran into the street and flagged down a passing officer, telling him that Flanigan was being murdered.  When the officer, Dennis Fitzgerald, arrived on the scene, his temple was met by Garvin’s pistol.  “Fitzgerald was stunned and fell in a heap,” reported the Globe.  By then a crowd had accumulated outside the saloon, but Garvin parted the throng “at the point of his revolver” and fled on foot, eventually jumping onto a passing streetcar to complete his escape.

According to the Chicago Tribune, however, Garvin shot Flanigan when he came to Fitzgerald’s aid.  After demanding money from Flanigan and being rebuffed, Garvin pulled out his revolver and “announced his intention of securing the money.”  Several patrons ran into the street and notified Fitzgerald about Garvin’s actions.  When Fitzgerald arrived at the saloon, Garvin knocked the cop to the floor with a blow to the temple, then shot at him twice, barely missing his head both times.  Flanigan came to the officer’s defense and took a bullet to the shoulder during a struggle for Garvin’s gun.

In 1900 Garvin shot at a “negro” in Milwaukee because “the boy had not shined his shoes to suit him.”  Garvin later explained, “Texans didn’t like niggers, anyhow.”  And in 1901 the White Sox hurler knifed a man in Chicago during an argument in a saloon.  For some reason he wasn’t brought to trial in either case.

After the shooting in 1902, White Sox owner Charles Comiskey released Garvin, telling him, “You have shot yourself out of a job.”  To Comiskey’s credit, he let go of a pitcher who was leading his team with a 2.21 ERA.  Garvin was eventually arrested but rumors were that other teams were interested in signing the troubled hurler as soon as his fate was known.  The Washington Post reported that he was destined for Cincinnati, while the Baltimore Sun claimed he’d been signed by the Boston Beaneaters.  Neither was right.  Garvin, who was fined $100 for the shooting, signed with the Brooklyn Superbas, for whom he went 1-1 with a 1.00 ERA in two starts.

Ned Garvin

Virgil "Ned" Garvin, the "Navasota Tarantula"

Garvin went 15-18 for Brooklyn in 1903 and posted a 3.08 ERA, then went only 5-15 for Brooklyn in 1904 despite posting an excellent 1.68 ERA, second best only to Giants workhorse Joe McGinnity.  He was selected off waivers by the New York Highlanders on September 9 and went 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA in his last two major league starts.  He finished his final season in the bigs with a hard-luck 5-16 record and a stellar 1.72 ERA.  “Ned Garvin was the tough-luck pitcher of the decade, if not the hard-luck pitcher of all time,” wrote Bill James in his New Historical Baseball Abstract.

But perhaps Garvin was suffering from the same poor karma as Albert Prince.  On October 20, 1904, Garvin assaulted an insurance salesman named R.N. Sheffey at the Hotel Kensington in New Jersey because Sheffey preferred to read his newspaper rather than have a conversation with Garvin.  Garvin took offense and battered Sheffey in the face until he broke the insurance man’s nose, then abandoned his wife at the hotel while he boarded a trolley to escape the scene of the crime.  Garvin eventually apologized and offered Sheffey a settlement of $50, which was accepted.

Garvin spent two years in the Pacific Coast League and a year in the Northwestern League from 1905-1907 before his death on June 16, 1908 in Fresno, California.

Mike Lynch is the author of Harry Frazee, Ban Johnson and the Feud That Nearly Destroyed the American League and It Ain’t So: A Might-Have-Been History of the White Sox in 1919 and Beyond, and the founder of Seamheads.com.

Comments

2 Responses to “Even More Interesting Research Finds”
  1. Joe Williams says:

    Great stuff!! I agree, finding unrelated items to what you are researching is the best.

  2. Fascinating. When I go digging into older periodicals such as The Sporting News, I find that these type of “peripheral” story lines stretch my research time to maybe 4x longer than it has to be.

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