Time for Baseball-Reference.com to wake up and give Bill Joyce his due for managing the 1896 Washington Senators. In 1903, Paul W Eaton, Washington correspondent while lamenting the Ban Johnson administration in Washington writes, “A successor to Tom Loftus has not yet been named by President Johnson. He is negotiating with two men. By the way, how would Scrappy Joyce do, Washington’s only successful manager in National League days.”
Scrappy Bill was acquired during the darkest hours of the vile Wagner regime. He promptly held out for the 1893 season. In 1894 he batted .355, followed by a respectable .311 in 1895.
By 1896 Joyce is healthy and expects to have a good year. He begins the season as a player manager. Manager Gus Schmelz has spent the off season running a stage show. The “Texas Steer Show.” It is a theatrical production written by Charles Hoyt. The comedy was about an illiterate cowboy who becomes a congressman. The show has a record breaking run in early January, the Wagner’s say the program is so successful they may field another production company.
Imagine the reaction if Ted Lerner sent Davey off to manage to stage production and Have Ian Desmond manage the team while he was gone, well it happened.
So spring training season starts with Gus on the road and Bill managing the team. Because the 1895 spring training trip cost $3,500 the Wagner’s will have Washington practice at home. In March, J Earl Wagner said he would hold managerial reigns until Gus Schmelz returns later in the season, Bill Joyce however will take entire charge of the team in the field is named manager-captain. Next to selling players the Wagner’s loved to make money.
By April there are dark clouds over Texas, It is rumored that there is a falling out between the Wagner brothers and Tim Murphy over financial matters relating to “The Texas Steer.” Litigation is said to be possible.
On 10 May, Gus Schmlez rejoins the team but Joyce remains the manager.
On 31 July after a 5-4 loss to Baltimore, the Wagner’s trade Joyce to New York Bill Joyce is traded to New York for Charley Farrell and Carney Flynn. Joyce is a fan favorite, the trade only adds to the growing hostility between the fans and the Wagner’s. Manager Schmelz to resume active control of the team, Tom Brown to be team captain.
The team’s poor play on the last western trip is considered the reason for sending Joyce to New York. But some think that Joyce has become too popular with the spectators. When Joyce was told he was being transferred to another club he anxiously asked, “What club?” “To New York,” was the reply. “New York, eh?” cried Scrappy. “Make out my check, and you can’t be too quick about it.”
Gus Schmelz said he concerned himself with financial matters. In hotels he had a room distant from the players. The assignment of berths in sleepers was always left to Bill Joyce. Many felt that the differences between the two had to be settled and the losing streak was that opportunity. The trade is unpopular with the local rooters, especially the $2,500 that was involved in the trade.
Joyce was the National League home run champion in 1896 hitting 13, he batted .333. He died in St, Louis, Missouri, in 1941. His managerial record for Washington was 34-46 .425.