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 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
Pepper Florence from
Hartley and Fitzsimmons pics stolen from the good folks at

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 and Bool from the great Trading Card Database site.