Charles Comiskey almost signs with Washington
The story about Comiskey possible signing with Washington is a great way to ponder the achievements of that baseball icon Ted Sullivan. Sullivan first notice to baseball cranks in the District would have been as a player. At the age of 33, Ted Sullivan played three games for the Kansas City Cowboys of the Union Association. He had been involved with baseball as a minor league manager since at least 1879. During his long career, Sullivan would handle nearly every job possible and he was usually the first to do so.
Here is the story of how Washington almost landed “The Old Roman” as related by ”Hustling Ted” Sullivan to the noted writer RM Larner.
Teddy tells an interesting story of how near Comiskey came to taking charge of the Washington Club last fall (for the 1889 season). According to his recollection of the circumstances, Comiskey would have signed a Washington contract for about $5,000 or $6,000. The deal was arranged and the transfer was to be made while Teddy and Comiskey were traveling through Europe together. Before the negotiations were entirely completed the Brotherhood war broke out, and that put an end to the matter, Ted says Comiskey was very favorably impressed with Washington City, and had he been secured by Mr. Hewitt the investment would have been a good one.
Among his many other accomplishments Ted Sullivan was a writer and known for his tall tales so this should be taken with that in mind. But Ted Sullivan was also close friends with Comiskey.
Here is another Sullivan story as related to RM Larner.
Ted Sullivan gave an account of how be discovered and brought out Charlie Comiskey, the greatest baseball general in the field to-day. Ted and Comiskey went to school at some small town in the Northwest, I do not now recall the name, Comiskey was then but 19 years old, and Ted discovered that he had more than ordinary skill in the ball-playing line, so he advised him to accept an offer from Chris von der Abe to play in St. Louis at a salary of $75 per month. Comiskey hesitated at first, hut finally consented to go. The following season Ted was engaged to take the management of the St. Louts Club, and he did not forget his protégé. When Chris von der Ahe asked Ted who he was going to appoint captain of the team, he replied that he thought Comiskey was a good man, in view of the fact that he had been with him several years and was familiar with the class of work that would be expected of the men. Chris protested Comiskey was way too young, but Ted was finally allowed to have his way in the matter, so Comiskey was made a captain. Some of the older players kicked vigorously when they learned that the “Kid,” as they called Comiskey, was selected as captain. One or two of the veterans undertook to disregard some of his commands, and they were promptly fined for their conduct. They appealed to the manager, but he informed them that they might as well understand at the outset that Comiskey was the boss on the field, and whatever he said must be regarded as the will of the manager The players soon learned to recognize the “Kid” as commander-in-chief of the team, and. they regarded him as such from that time forward.
Fact Checking. Comiskey grew up in Chicago to a politically connected family. His father was opposed to his ball playing. The SABR Biography by Irv Goldfarb offers the following, “Arguments ensued and in 1876, at the age of seventeen, Comiskey left home to play third base for an independent team in Milwaukee at $60 per month. His manager, Ted Sullivan, became a scout for Comiskey in later years.”
“The following season Comiskey moved on to pitch for Elgin, Illinois. A right-handed thrower and hitter who stood approximately six feet tall, Comiskey’s repertoire included a solid fastball and an assortment of curves. Elgin didn’t lose one of his starts all season, despite facing fairly tough competition from around the Chicago area. From there, Charley shifted to the Dubuque, Iowa, Rabbits, where he was reunited with Sullivan. Once again a utility man, Comiskey played first, second, the outfield, and pitched. Possibly more important, Sullivan also employed Comiskey as a representative of his successful news agency, where Charley’s twenty percent commission dwarfed his baseball salary. Comiskey stayed with Sullivan’s Dubuque club for four seasons, helping the team win one Northwest League pennant.”
Sullivan was born in Ireland; he died in his adopted home, Washington DC in 1929.