Thursday, July 13, 2017

Jack Wisner Tied to Fitzsimmons Deal and More

Jack Wisner was a pitcher in the National League for the Pirates and Giants for at least part of four seasons 1919-20 and 1925-26. His Baseball-Reference page doesn't list any transaction for him, but not only did he have may of them, one involved a fairly big future star of the era.

Let it be said that Wisner put up some good numbers in his relatively short Major League experience: 3.221 ERA and a WHIP just above 1.1...as a reliever and starter.

His 22-10 record at Saginaw at age 19 bought him a ticket to the majors and the Pirates that year, where he impressed...4 games, 0.96 ERA, one complete game. Here's how he got there, from the Morning Oregonian of August 19, 1919:



“The Pittsburg club has purchased Pitcher Jack Wisner from Saginaw of the Michigan-Ontario league.”

And yes, they spelled it without the H at the end.

Wisner was OK with the Pirates the next season, 1-3 3.43 ERA in just 17 games, but the Pirates sent him to Rochester for 1921, and released him unconditionally to that club in early 1922. From the Pittsburgh Press of Feb. 19, 1922:

"Jack Wisner was turned loose last week, and it is believed that others are to follow."

From an article about the Pirates shaking up their roster before training camp. Wisner stayed with Rochester thru 1924, and the Giants picked him up on a conditional basis for Spring Training. Excerpt from the Evening News from Harrisburg (PA) of April 6, 1925:

"Big Jack Wisner, the Rochester recruit, is not touring the provinces with the Giants. He was taken by John McGraw on the conditional agreement that if the Giants' manager considers he has the goods. $25.000 will be Paid."

Wisner stuck with the club thru the season and part of 1926, again putting up some decent numbers, including 2 complete games in just 5 Giants games in 1926 before being involved in a complicated deal. From the  Indianapolis Star of May 18, 1926:

"The Indianapolis baseball club and the New York Giants were involved In an important trade yesterday which will send Paul "Pepper" Florence, catcher, to the National League team, and bring a new battery to Ownle Bush's Indians Grover Hartley, catcher, and Jack Wisner, pitcher. Florence originally was obtained from McGraw after being signed by the Giants following a successful college career at Georgetown university. He has been catching regularly for the Tribe this season with Eddie Ainsmith out of the lineup owing to an injury to his shoulder sustained at the Hot Springs (Ark.) training camp of the Indians early this spring."

"Wisner comes to the Indians in final payment for Fred Fitzsimmons who was sold to the Giants last season."

"Fat Freddie" Fitzsimmons would go on to have a very good career in the majors, but what does his Baseball-Reference page say about that deal?

August 8, 1925: Traded by Indianapolis (American Association) to the New York Giants for 2 players to be named.

No mention of Wisner at all. Grover Hartley's Baseball-Reference page of his extensive career makes no mention of this deal at all, and neither does the Paul Florence Baseball-Reference page.

Wisner had one good year for Indianapolis before holding out the next season and being sent to Toledo. From the San Antonio Light of April 24, 1927:

"JACK WISNER BOUGHT BY TOLEDO MUDHENS TOLEDO, Ohio....Toledo Mudhens of the American Association (??) their (??) corps Saturday (Apr. 23) with the acquisition of  Jack Wisner formerly of the New York Giants. Wisner, who was with Indianapolis the greater part of the season is expected to be a big winner with the local club."

He went to Reading for the next year, then Baltimore and New Haven to round out his career by the age of 29.



Wisner pic from Baseball-Reference.com
Pepper Florence from starsofthediamond.com
Hartley and Fitzsimmons pics stolen from the good folks at sabr.com



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Play Mandy Brooks for Me, Then Trade Him

We are going to go back a bit further than normal for this post's subject.

Mandy Brooks was a half-season wonder for the Cubs in 1925. In 90 games, the outfielder had 46 XBH, 72 RBI and a .281 average as a rookie centerfielder. The Cubs acquired Hack Wilson for 1926 and Brooks was an afterthought. Aftger 57 PA and a sub-.200 BA he was gone from the majors, never to return.

Brooks' Baseball-Reference page lists NO transactions for Brooks, which is not surprising. Baseball worked in a different way back then, as teams frequently bought and sold and traded players from and to independent minor league teams. We were able to find a few for Brooks, though, including his entry and exit from the Cubs!

Brooks had joined the Cubs mid-season from the Columbus AA team, an independent squad. This deal was covered by the Courier-Journal from Louisville Kentucky of May 27, 1925:

 "John ("Mandy") Brooks, an outfielder with the Columbus American Association Club, has been sold to the Chicago Nationals for $33,009, an outfielder and a pitcher, it was announced here today. Brooks, who has been batting better than (??), will report to the Chicago team Friday. He came to Columbus from Peoria in the Three Eye League. Outfielder (??) will be one of the Chicago nlers who will come to Columbus."

The (??) mark indicates garbled text. We can certainly pull out from this that the Cubs sent cash and two players to Columbus for Brooks.

Brooks' Baseball-Reference page is not complete when it comes to his minor-league career. In 1926 the Cubs optioned him to Minneapolis, but that record is not represented. From Minneapolis, the Cubs sold him to Louisville for 1927. From the Courier-Journal from Louisville Nov. 18, 1926:

"Mandy Brooks will wear the uniform of a Louisville Colonel next season. He comes to the Louisville club from the Chicago Cubs in part payment for Earl Webb. Brooks finished the 1926 season with Minneapolis after starting the year with Joe McCarthy's team."

This transaction is not listed on Earl Webb's page, either.  

Brooks' Louisville career isn't covered on his page either, just a stop at Waterbury (perhaps on option from Louisville). He goes to Nashville early in 1927: from the July 12, 1927 Tennessean from Nashville:

"Mandy Brooks, who was bought a week ago today from Louisville, joined the club yesterday down in Memphis and It filled the Vol roster."

So that was a cash deal. We found one more Brooks transaction that involved a (then) future major league player. In 1928 Brooks goes to the PCL in a deal outlined in the San Bernardino Sun of June 13,1928:

"A mild housecleaning in the Oakland baseball club today swept one regular out, while a veteran and three youngsters swirled in on the back stroke of the broom. Al Bool, one of the catching mainstays of last year's pennant winning team, was the victim. , He and a chunk of cash (amount unknown) went to the Nashville club of the Southern association in a trade for John "Mandy" Brooks, husky outfielder. Brooks, a right-hander all around, was with the Chicago Nationals in 1925 and 1926. To date this season, he has hit nine home runs and batted .534 for Nashville. He will report at once."

So we were able to not only add some transactions to the Mandy Brooks file, but fill in a couple stops on his baseball resume!



Brooks from pinterest, Webb from comc.com and Bool from the great Trading Card Database site.
 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Jim Kirby's Adventure in the Majors: Three Games

Jim Kirby was an outfielder during the World War II years that had a very brief stay with the 1949 Cubs, one hit in two at bats over three games without playing in the field.

He had a long career in the minors, starting in 1942, skipping three years for the war, then coming back to C ball in Tyler, Texas. He graduated to AA independent Shreveport in 1947 and 1948 with a couple nice years, good enough to be drafted to the Cubs for 1949, according to his Baseball-Reference page.

After his short major league stay, the Cubs optioned him to their AA Nashville club (Kirby's hometown) and then to independent AA Dallas later in that year. Baseball-Reference lists no further deals for Kirby, be we were able to uncover a few.

Kirby stayed at Dallas for 1950, having been purchased by the club, according to the Nashville Tenneseean from Sept. 7, 1949:

"The Dallas club of the Texas league yesterday announced the purchase of Outfielder Jim Kirby from the Chicago Cubs. Kirby played here this season but was with Dallas on option."

Dallas became a Cleveland affiliate for 1951 and Kirby started the season there. Partway through the season, he was dealt to the Reds' AA Tulsa affiliate. From the Times from Shreveport, LA for July 29, 1951:

"The Shreveport Sports sold Third-baseman Vern Petty to the Dallas Eagles last night after the game in Dallas, and the Eagles promptly traded him to the Tulsa Oilers along with Outfielder Jim Kirby for Outfielder Eddie Knoblauch. Shreveport peddled Petty for an unannounced amount of cash and another player to be named later. If the Eagles do not part with a player for the Sports. Shreveport will receive an additional amount of money, Club President Bonneau Peters announced."

Petty and Knoblauch never made the majors. Kirby was optioned by Tulsa to B-league Gainesville after a less-than stellar performance at Tulsa, and a succeeding poor performance at Tulsa in 1952 sent him to independent B and A ball (except for a short stay in the Red Sox system in 1958 at age 35) for the rest of his career.

Kirby pic stolen from the www.findagrave.com website.








Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Jerry Scala Was No Jok

Jerry Scaia was a centerfielder for the White Sox from 1948-50. He continued until 1955 bouncing thru quite a few organizations. However, his Baseball-Reference page only lists unknown deals before he surfaced with the Sox. He was involved in a few interesting transactions after that, and we were able to track many down.

Scala had a good shot at starting with the Sox in 1949 and came up a bit short. He was optioned to the Pirates' Indianapolis club, and was involved in a complicated trade that saw him bounced from Chicago to independent PCL team Oakland and back. From the Indianapolis Star of June 12, 1949:

"Earl Rapp, outfielder for the Chicago White Sox, has been sold to the Oakland Oaks in the Pacific Coast League, the White Sox office announced today. The deal supersedes one announced last Thursday which would have sent Sox Outfielder Jerry Scala and First Baseman Gordon Goldsberry to Oakland in trade for George Metkovich, Oaks outfielder. However, Scala will stay with the Sox and both Rapp and Goldsberry will go to the Oaks."

Scala played for the ChiSox and AAA Buffalo on option in 1950, and Sacramento for Chicago in 1951. Then he goes to Baltimore, AAA for the Phillies. The Feb. 24, 1952 Baltimore Sun describes Scala as having come from "Sacramento in a trade that sent Bill Glynn to that club." Bill Glynn is covered in, I believe, two other UT blog posts.

Scala goes to the A's organization in Ottawa for 1953. From the March 10, 1953 Ottawa Journal:

"Gerry Scala. announced as signed by the Ottawa Athletics last-night is the leading choice to play centre field on the 1953 edition of the dub. Scala, who has said he's anxious to come here, was with the Baltimore Orioles last year, where he batted .240 while playing in centre. The A's obtained the 27-year-old outfielder in a trade tor Stan Jok earlier this Winter."

And, Jok's Baseball-Reference page simply has this as an unknown transaction.

Scala stayed with the Athletics thru the end of his playing days in 1955.

Scala from Stars of the Diamond.com

Jok from eBay
Goldsberry from Flickr
and Metkovich from

 



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Jim Mangan: Headache

Catcher Jim Mangan made the major leagues with the Pirates and Giants, but didn't perform at the plate particularly well. His Baseball-Reference page shows a .153 average over 67 PA spread out in the years 1952, 1954 and 1956.

He didn't get along well with his higher-ups, either. Reports are he blew up at Branch Rickey while on Pittsburgh's roster in 1955, which sent him to Hollywood for the season, then optioned to independent El Paso. It was from there that he was sold/waived to the Giants for 1956, that transaction is on his Baseball-Reference page.

Mangan didn't think much of Bill Rigney's management style (Mangan had managed at El Paso in 1955) and got himself suspended. From the Aug 14, 1956 Billings Gazette:

"Jim Mangan, third string catcher of the New York Giants, who said Manager Bill Rigney "is the worst manager I ever played (for)" Monday was was suspended indefinitely by Club President Horace Stoneham "Mangan is suspended as of today until further notice hecause of his act in leaving the club at Pittsburgh," Stoneham's notice read. No mention was made of the 25-year-old sub's reason to newspapermen. Mangan, who was purchased from Pittsburgh, left at the end of the 2nd inning of the first game of a doubleheader with the Pirates, telling Rigney he could not "stand it any more." He stayed away from the park during the entire second game but returned to New York with the team. The San Franciscan has seen little action this season. Bobby Bragan, manager of the Pirates, said "This follows a pattern. This fellow told off Branch Rickey last year." Following this blowup, Mangan, who was owned by the Pirates and was playing for Hollywood in the Pacific Coast League, was sent down to El Paso in the WestTexas-New Mexico League. Mangan batted .245 for Holly- wood last year."

Mangan never played in the majors again, and came back in the season only to be used as a bullpen catcher for the Giants that year. In 1957, Mangan goes to the Sacramento PCL independent team in a deal not on his Baseball-Reference page.  From the Pasadena Star-News of March 23, 1957:

“Sacs Buy Receiver From N.Y. Stormy Catcher Jim Mangan today became Sacramento's headache as the Solons' front office announced that he has been purchased for an undisclosed sum from the New York Giants. Mangan is the boy who called Bill Rigney, New York Giants skipper the worst manager n baseball last year and left the club in a huff, was suspended and eventually was allowed to rejoin the team and used in the bull pen only. This spring Mangan, who formerly played with Hollywood and had a few run-ins, as well, was assigned to Minneapolis, the Giants' farm club, now training at Stanford, Fla. Mangan will stop at Minneapolis to pick up his car and drive to Pasadena, being ex- pected next week. He played in 20 games for New York and hit .100.”

Mangan played sparingly for the Solons as third string catcher, then went to AA San Antonio and the Orioles system in 1958 despite going to spring training for the Solons. There is evidently one game for Fort Worth and the Cubs system in 1957 that I can't track down.


One thing about the majors back then, if you hit less than .200 and criticized management, your career tended to disappear.

Jim Mangan photo lifted from Baseball Birthdays