On Wednesday, I promised to explain to you little muffins my love of Malachi Kittridge, the turn-of-the-20th-century catcher, refugee from Children of the Corn, and briefly turned manager of the Washington Senators. He was a terrible player, and I love him for that too, but we’ll focus on the managing here.
Tom Loftus had been the Senators’ second skipper, guiding the club to sixth and eighth place finishes in 1902 and 1903 respectively. Nevertheless, he was expected to manage the club in 1904 up until April 12, when he abruptly quit. I haven’t been able to find any documentation about why he quit, but it’s a good bet it had something to do with his boss, “Business Manager” Dwyer (I can’t find his first name anywhere), who the Senators’ minority owners were trying to have removed. Kittridge was appointed the interim manager with the team “in a chaotic state.”
The season started two days later, and Kittridge’s Senators were blown out by Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics. By the end of April, Washington still hadn’t won a game (they had tied in their second game of the year). It would have been payday on May 1, as the Senators left for New York City to start their series against the Highlanders. Dwyer paid third baseman Bill Coughlin his entire salary, around $200, entirely in one dollar bills
“that had swelled like a damp sponge. The bundle was so large and thick Bill couldn’t bend it. He carried his slary under one arm like a loaf of Dutch bread. While transferring from the ferryboat to an L train in New York Coughlin hid the musty wealth beneath his coat. Even then he expected the thugs to bounce a piece of cheese or similar blunt instrument on his head.”
Putting a man in fear of cheese-related mugging is one thing, but Dwyer did Kittridge one better, giving the player/manager his $300 salary “mostly in dimes and nickels.” Kittridge managed the series against the Highlanders, and finally, on May 5, won his first game. But on the way out of town, things got complicated,
“He carried his load in his pockets until he sprained an ankle, and that was the beginning of Malachi’s troubles. Because of this lameness, Kittridge missed the train out of New York by six inches. With a hook he could have caught the rear platform at that, but he was too lame, and, besides, the curse of wealth held him back. From this mishap grew the complications which led to the attempted suspension of the coin-laden catcher.”
Finally, on May 9, Malachi Kittridge was relieved of his managerial duties with a record of 1-16. His team had been outscored 93 to 45. He was replaced by Patsy Donovan, but remained the club’s primary catcher until 1906. He never managed again. And, because he is so loveably sad, Malachi Kittridge is the most NotGraphsy manager there ever has been.
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