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The publications and research of Catherine Holder Spude.

Skagway Baseball

While researching Chris Shea, Tuck Flaharty and Josias M. Tanner in Skagway, Alaska newspapers, I encountered a number of newspaper columns about the baseball games organized by these two individuals. The articles are extremely humorous and tell more about the characters of the people playing the games than the game. I copy them here so that others can enjoy the shenanigans of local ball aficionados of the early 20th century.

All articles are from the Skagway Daily Alaskan [DA] unless otherwise noted.

I will be adding to these transcriptions as I continue my Skagway research. Please let me know what you think.


montdawn@msn.com

CONTENTS


            

July 23, 1904:

 MUST FIGHT

Monkey Wrenches Are Up Against a Game

    The Monkey Wrenches, who put the Lobsters out in less than five rounds, and then stopped the killing only through fear of prosecution for man-slaughter, and who scared the Never-sweats to death before time was called, will have to defend their title tomorrow to the rant-time baseball championship against a murderous aggregation of diamond sprinters that has been organized by Chris Shea, and who have adopted the euphonious title "Eccentrics."
    
There will be a large reserve force on each side to take the places made vacant by the dead and wounded. The lineup at the beginning of the game will be as follows:

Monkey Wrenches                                              Eccentrics

D. Pullen                                                c              V. Sparks
F. Webber                                              p.             Tuck Flaharty
W. Blackmer                                        ss             L. Stiltls
E. Smith                                                1b           E. F. Pitman
G. Murray                                             2b           H. Taylor
A. Hauxhurst                                        3b           W. Hillery
J. Mariarty                                             cf            W. Cleveland
S. Cottrill                                               rf             E. Ward
B. Thomas                                            lf             Tad Hillery
Umpire – Eddie Barry. (DA, p. 3).

 

August 5, 1904
 
WILL PLAY BALL SUNDAY
 
    The Eccentrics (so-called baseball players) will try to capture the rag time baseball championship from the invincible Monkey Wrench aggregation from the shops again Sunday. The Eccentrics were awfully whipped in the last slugging match that was played between these teams, but Capt. Chris Shea believes he has strengthened his line up sufficiently to win this time. The game will be called at 4 o’clock, and a barbecue will be pulled off at 6. 
    The line up of the Eccentrics is as follows: 
    
Tuck Flaherty, pitcher; V. Sparks, catcher; T. O’Connel, first base; Herb Tayler, second base; T. Runnalls, third base; W. Ward, short stop; E. R. Pittman, center field; Tom Barry, left Field; Lee Stilts, right field; T. Hillery, W. Hillery, L. Bayne, R. M. McKay and others substitutes. Bill Thompson is manager and Chris Shea, captain. DA, p. 4.

August 8, 1904:

MONKEY WRENCHES AGAIN VICTORIOUS

    By a score of 15 to 13 the Monkey Wrenches defeated the Eccentrics yesterday afternoon, and demonstrated their title to the rag time baseball companionship of all the earth except that part which is not tributary to the head of Lynn canal. After the game, a grand barbecue was held near the old sawmill site. A good time was had by all. (DA, p. 4).



August 13, 1904:


NO GAME

Efforts to Have Baseball Contest Fail.

    All efforts to have a baseball contest tomorrow have failed. Ernest Dorch, on behalf of an aggregation of wharf rats, has tried to arrange a match with the Monkey Wrenches, whom he challenged to defend their title to the rag time championship, but he did not even get a bit. 
    
Sut Cottrell, the manager, and Billy Blackmer, the captain of the Monkey Wrenches, Turned the challenge down by a communication, which in words and figures was as follows:
    
“We regret very much that the Monkey Wrenches cannot accept the challenge of the Wharf Rats. We released all our players for the season and it would be impossible for us to make new contracts with players at this late hour.
    
“If the Wharf Rats persist in their challenge, and will give us time, we will telegraph the Pacific Coast League for players and accommodate them in the near future.” DA, p. 4.


June 22, 1905:


JUST A PLAIN CHALLENGE.

    To Chris Shea, manager of ‘Lobster’ Baseball team: 
     The ‘Monkey Wrench’ Baseball team hereby challenges you and your bunch of totem poles to play ball for any old thing except your reputation. We don’t need that as we have a better one—at Whitehorse.
   Game to be called, Sunday June 25th at 3 p.m.
   In case you are not on tap at the time mentioned we will play anyhow.    
                                                
   Wm. Blackmer, Captain. Sut Cottrell, Manager.  Skagway, June 22, 1905.” DA, p. 1.


June 23, 1905:
 

CHALLENGE IS ACCEPTED
 
      To Billy Blackmer and Sut Cottrell, Captain and Manger of the ‘Monkey Wrench’ baseball team:
    The ‘Lobster baseball team accepts your challenge to play ball. We will play you just for the love of the thing and to show the public that we can make monkeys out of your gang without a wrench.
     Professionalism will be strictly barred.
                                
     Christopher Shea, Capt.,The Kluane Kid, Manager. Skagway, June 23, 1905. DA, p. 1.


June 24, 1905:


PLAY SUNDAY

Lively Game of Baseball in Store.

     There will be a lively game of baseball on the Skagway diamond tomorrow. The ‘Monkey Wrenches,’ an aggregation of ball players which has been more or less successful in times past on the baseball rooting line, will cross bats with the ‘Lobsters,’ who this year are at peace with the ‘Nonproducers,’ who are seeking elsewhere to make reputations as Ansons [Cap Anson was a major league baseball player who last played for the Chicago Colts in 1897, and had a record of 3,481 hits and 97 home runs, according to Wikipedia.]. The game will be played for the glory of victory, and time will be called at 3 o’clock, sharp, provided the managers, captains, etc., shall have succeeded in persuading a son of Adam, who is careless as to his lease of life in this vale of tears, to act as empire.” DA, p. 2.

June 26, 1905:

CHALLENGERS ARE CHALLENGED

     Christopher Shea (esquire), and Jack Hardy, (plain) otherwise known as the Kluane kid, captain and manager, respectively, of the never beaten "Lobster" baseball nine are nursing feelings which they regard as results of misplaced confidence. They were challenged by the captain and manager of the ‘Monkey Wrench’ baseball tossers, the champions of the north end, to play ball on the Fifth avenue ground. No game took place. Captain Shea says he was prepared for the fray and that his warriors were all cocked and primed to make the fight of their lives on the diamond, but that the challengers failed to show up. He is mad and wants revenge, as is evidenced by the following:
   To Sut Cottrell, Manager, and Billy Blackmer, Captain, of the "Monkey Wrench” baseball team: 
     As you were too sick or too busy picnicking, or your feet got too cold to meet us in a game of baseball yesterday, we hereby challenge you to play a game, for sure, Sunday July 9, 1905.
     A good time is in store and we would advise you to accept, win or lose.
    We hope you will be able to round up your imported stock by that time and don’t keep us practicing and waiting for you to show up because we may win.
   Christopher Shea, Captain ‘Lobster’ Baseball Team.
    Jack Hardy, Manager.” DA, p. 2.

 
June 28, 1905:

TALK BACK

Monkey Wrenches Say What They Will Do

    The following is self-explanatory: To the Hon. Christopher Shea, captain of the ‘Lobster Scow’ and Plain Jack Hardy, manager of the ‘Scrambled Lobster’ team:
 
  In your challenge of July 26th you made use of such terms as ‘being sick,’ picnic’ and having cold feet.’ We wish it to be distinctly understood that trying to keep our ‘Monkey Wrench’ players ain’t no picnic; and further, that it is impossible for us to have cold feet as we belong to the step easy crown, and still further if you are not sick by the time we finish the game of July 9th, you’ll with you had been sick before the game started. We will have our blue ribbon bunch of ball tossers on hand July 9th and at you did not state at what hour we suggest it begin at 7 p.m. as we anticipate a short and decisive battle on the Togo order. Have all your friends on hand so they can witness you do the Rojestvensky retreat.
                       
  Billy Blackmer, Captain. Sut Cottrell, Manager.” DA, p. 3.

 
May 31, 1906:

MONKEY WRENCHES CHALLENGE LOBSTERS

Skagway, May 31, 1906. To Chris Shea, Manager of Lobster Base Ball Team:
   The Monkey Wrench baseball team hereby challenges the Lobsters to play the National game, Sunday, June 3d, on the ball grounds at the foot of Fifth street. The gate receipts to be sent to the Frisco Relief Fund. White Pass players are barred from taking part.

                As per usual the game to be play according to the ‘Marquis of Gooseberry’ rules. We refuse to play according to Hoyle.

                S. Cottrell, Manager. G. Smith, Captain.” DA, p. 2.

 

June 1, 1906: “LOBSTERS ACCEPT BASEBALL CHALLENGE.”

                “To S. F. Cottrell manager monkey wrench base ball team:

                Your challenge to the Lobster Base Ball team duly noted and accepted. We will play you under any old rules you wish, and further we agree to all   commit suicide by jumping in the bay if we cannot give you the dressing you have been looking for, for a long while.

                Our line up will be ready by Saturday; although you have taken the advantage of giving us as short a time as you possibly could. The only things that we will bar are shotguns and axes. Everything else goes.

                Chris Shea Mgr., Billy Blackmer, Capt.” DA. p. 1

 

June 4, 1906: “LOBSTERS WIN BASEBALL GAME”

“Chris Shea’s Lobsters won the great annual game of baseball from the Monkey Wrenches of the shops yesterday afternoon by a score of 14 to 13. The game was hotly contested from the beginning and at times the excitement ran high.

                Gene Smith and Pat Higgerty constituted the battery for the Monkey Wrenches and Bert hart and Fred Tanner for the Lobsters.

                E. J. Barry was the umpire.

                It is estimated that about $190,000 changed hands as a result of the game.” DA, p. 4.

 

June 5, 1906: “‘SUT’ TALKS”

“North End’s ‘Pop’ Anson ‘Explains’ Defeat”

“Skagway, June 4. – To the Editor:--I  have been unjustly accused of throwing the baseball game, Sunday for the pitiful sum of $7.15. I wish to deny the accusation most emphatically.

Chris Shea, manager of the yellow label brand of Lobsters tried to buy the umpire for $7.15 but ‘Dugan’ Barry was firm and refused to sell for less than a 10-spot. When Shea found it was impossible to bribe ‘Dugan,’ he come and begged me to throw the game. He put up such a hard luck story about not winning but one game in the past six years, and saying further, that he had boasted to all the strangers in town that he had the best aggregation of ‘gloomers’ in the northwest. He said if he should lose the game it would hurt his business. As a clincher, he said he had promised his wife faithfully that he would commit suicide if they didn’t win the game and he didn’t want to make good his promise.

After due consideration and more pleading by Shea, we threw the game.

Until the seventh inning it was zip, zip, zip, across the old gazoozalum, and back to the bench for theirs. After that inning we sloughed off and gave them the victory, but it was for humanity’s sake and not for $7.15.

Yours until the last man’s out,

Sut Cottrell, Manager Monkey Wrench Team.” DA, p. 2.

 

June 22, 1906: “RUB IT IN”

                “Lobsters Make Strong Challenge to Monkey Wrenches.”

                “To Sut Cottrell, Manager, Monkey Wrench Baseball Team:

                We, the Lobster Baseball team, do hereby challenge you to meet us once more, just to give you a chance to redeem you lost laurels.

                We will meet you next Sunday, June 24th at the regular place. But let it be understood that there will be no mudslinging after the contest is over, it is a well known fact that you are a much better fabricator than you are a baseball player. Enough said.

                I do not like to roast you because it is no up to me to do so. But if I had been umpire of our last game, and you said what you did say, that the umpire bought for $7.15, the W. P. & Y. R., would certainly have been looking for another engineer the following Monday morning.

                We have been waiting patiently for you to challenge us for the past two weeks, but we see you have very cold feet, so we hope you will get courage enough to accept this.

                Whatever you do, don’t take to the woods or go on a picnic. Also don’t try and get the entire White Pass team in your nine, as you did the last game.

Cheer up! There are better time coming, and you may win a game yet without any outside help.

                Don’t promise any one to commit suicide if you lose, for I will not be as generous as you claimed you were; and, further, if you should lose, you would not be game enough to even take a bath let alone jump into the bay. Enough said.

                Chris C. Shea, Manager. Billy Blackmer, Captain.” DA, p. 2.

 

June 23, 1906: “WILL PLAY”

                “Monkey Wrenches Accept Lobster Challenge.

                To Chris Shea, manager Lobster Baseball team:

                Your challenge is accepted. We consider you are taking undue advantage of us, knowing that after the last hard fought game between us, we had to turn three of our best men out in the jungles where they could get good green feed, as they were all run down from their hard training. After many requests from friends of the Monkey Wrench team we have decided to play you cheap brand of Lobsters, on the date mentioned by you.

                As our friends lost something like $190,000 on account of us throwing the last game, we wish it distinctly understood right now, that friendship ceases at the word, ‘Play ball’ and you will have to be there with the goods if you want to stay in the game.

                The following are a few of the 1000 things that will not be allowed according to Kingsberry rule:

                Buying or attempting to buy the umpire; using insulting language toward the umpire; the use of barn door bats; players must know the difference between a foul ball and a jack rabbit and suicide stories or sympathetic stories.

                We are from Missouri.

                ‘Nuf sed.’

                Gene Smith, Captain. Sut Cottrell, Manager.” DA, p. 1.

 

August 30, 1906: “TANNER TELLS ABOUT BALL GAME THAT FAILED”

Juneau sportsmen and the Daily Dispatch of that city are trying to ‘explain’ the failure of their baseball team to make good the challenge which was sent to Skagway last July to play for the Whitehorse challenge cup and which was accepted, the game to take place August 25. In trying to ‘explain’ a surprising claim to the 1906 championship is set up.

Both Manager McCloskey, of the Juneau’s and Juneau Dispatch makes very careless use of facts in their ‘explanations.’

McCloskey’s Tale of Woe

In writing to Manager Tanner of Skagway, Manager McCloskey ways, among other things:

‘We wanted to play for the cup August 5, and you said no; it was then the intention to play August 18, but you said, no. Then we fully intended to play August 25.’

Then follows a hard luck story, the substance of which is that Juneau’s imported battery, the Campbell brothers and the other importations, Weaver and Biggs, had to go south, leaving Juneau without any professional assistance.

The Juneau Dispatch puts it this way:

‘It is necessary to merely say that Juneau has been ready to play the game for over a month but at Skagway’s suggestion the date was repeatedly postponed until it began to look as though a consignment of snowshoes would have to be sent for if the game was to be played this year. The Juneau players got tired of waiting and departed for more fertile fields.’

Facts of the Case

Now, the facts: Manager Tanner, of the Skagway baseball team, gave the following interview to the Daily Alaskan yesterday, and said that he would donate $100 to Simpson’s hospital, of Juneau, to be applied to treating suffering patients for brain troubles (Juneau baseballists preferred), if a single one of the facts stated could be controverted [sic] by the exhibition of a telegram, letter or anything else bearing his signature, or by other competent proof:

‘By letter dated at Juneau, July 14th, post marked there July 17th, received here July 19th, Secretary A. A. Brown challenged Skagway to play for the Whitehorse challenge cup which Skagway won at Whitehorse last May, defeating both Whitehorse and Juneau for it. The challenge was to play ‘as soon after the 30-day limit as possible.’ It was stated that they would play sooner if Skagway was willing.

‘Replying the same day I received the Juneau challenge, July 19, I accepted the challenge, saying that I would set the date for the game later.

‘A few days afterward I wrote Mr. McCloskey saying the game should be played AUGUST 25TH, or sooner if I could get my players, several of whom were with the White Pass work train on the other side of the Summit in town. I stated if an earlier date could be fixed that I would wire Mr. McCloskey.

‘I never heard from Mr. McCloskey or any one else at Juneau about baseball until August 12, when Purser Davis, of the Georgia, said that Mr. McCloskey told him to tell Tanner to take my word for it, we will be ther August 25. Tell him that I will write.’

‘I heard no more from Mr. McCloskey but I saw in the Juneau Dispatch that the game was off. So I wire to Mr. mcCloskey August 16th, asking:

‘“Will you be here with team to play for cup August 24th?”

‘A reply came at once, saying:

‘“Will let you know tomorrow.”

‘The next day Mr. McCloskey wired: “Will leave on Georgia 25th. Play Sunday. Big crowd.”

‘On the 18th I received a wire from Mr. McCloskey, saying: “All broke up. Can’t come.”

‘Then I wired Mr. McCloskey offering to play his team for $250 and saying that we would pay the expenses of his team. I sent word to him offering to play a team made up from the Douglas and Juneau teams combined. To neither offer did I get a reply. I then made arrangement to have the Douglas team to come to Skagway at our expenses and play an exhibition game. That fell through because the team couldn’t get away until evening and the Georgia wouldn’t wait.’

‘All efforts to get a game at Skagway failing, I wired to Special Deputy Collector of Customs Willis, of Juneau, Saturday, August 25, to say to Mr. McCloskey that we would to Juneau and play Juneau or Douglas or both combined at their town on Sunday. From Douglas I received a reply saying that there was not time to make arrangements. Manager McCloskey remained mum.’

‘And that is the story.’

Skagway’s Record

Here is the record of Skagway’s baseball games for 1904, 1905, and 1906. (In addition to it Skagway defeated Juneau May 25, 1903, by a score of 18 to 6 on the Skagway diamond.)

 

Date of Game                      Where Played                       Score

May 21, 1904                      Whitehorse                            Whitehorse, 10; Skagway, 9

May 21, 1904                      Whitehorse                            Skagway, 14; Juneau, 2

July 2, 1904                          Skagway                               Whitehorse, 8; Skagway, 5

July 4, 1904                          Juneau                                   Skagway, 5; Juneau, 4

July 4, 1904                          Juneau                                   Skagway, 4; Douglas, 3

July 9, 1904                          Skagway                               Skagway, 3; Third Infantry, 2

August 21, 1904                  Whitehorse                            Skagway, 8; Whitehorse, 3

May 27, 1905                      Whitehorse                            Whitehorse 17; Skagway, 16

July 2, 1905                          Skagway                               Skagway, 11; Whitehorse, 5

July 3, 1905                          Skagway                               Skagway 10; Whitehorse, 2

July 4, 1905                          Douglas                                 Skagway, 15; Douglas, 10

July 11, 1905                        Skagway                               Skagway, 8; U.S.S. Chicago, 0

July 16, 1905                        Skagway                               Skagway 5; Third Infantry, 3

May 20, 1906                      Ft. Seward                             Skagway 26; Third Infantry, 10

May 26, 1906                      Whitehorse                            Skagway, 7; Juneau 6

May 26, 1906                      Whitehorse                            Skagway, 5; Whitehorse, 3

June 30, 1906                       Skagway                               Skagway, 11; Whitehorse, 0

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