Sep 21

Gavvy

The year is 1907, and the Nationals are on their way to another 100 loss season. Even worse for local fans the team is divided into warring factions centered around their two best players, outfielder Bob Ganley and pitcher Bill Burns.

Ganley had played indifferently in 1908, but was supported by manager Joe Cantillon when the public wanted him to be sold or traded because of the serious let down in play. He was off to a good start in 1909. Bill Burns, a southpaw, was said to be one of the better pitchers in the league.

In St. Louis the two had a “row” which resulted in Ganley breaking two of Burns’ ribs with a baseball bat. The press had this to say, “Cantillon accepted Ganley’s version of the affair and used all his authority to clear Ganley’s skirts.”

Handshakes and smiles all around, then Ganley was dumped off to Philadelphia for the waiver price and Sleepy Bill Burns was sent packing too. On 16 May Bill Burns to Charlie Comiskey’s crew for Gavvy Cravath along with Nick Altrock and Jigg Donahue.

Cravath was 28 years old when he arrived in Washington in 1907. He had spent time with the Red Sox in 1908 and played 19 uninspired games with the White Sox. Here is one comment on the trade “The talk is that Bob Unglaub and Jerry Freeman may be shunted to the minors or put on the major league market. Unglaub is an extremely talkative person with strong ideas of his won. Freeman’s run-in with Cantillon in New York along with the acquisition of Donohue may mean he will be sent packing.”

What you say happened to Cravath?” He played in four games and did not get hit. The press adds this, “One by one the roses fall, but the members of the Washington ball club are falling in squads and battalions. Homer Cravath has now received the proud privilege of picking the minor league club with which he can make arrangements most satisfactory to himself.

So ends his career in Washington. Sometime later Washington fans get to read this in the 20 May 1916 issue of Sporting Life.

“In right field is the greatest offensive player on Pat Moran’s roster.’Cactus’ Cravath is a slugger pure and simple – the greatest in the game today. . . Though no speed marvel, Cravath is one of the brainiest base runners in the country. . . Though ‘Cactus’ cannot cover ground like Whitted or Paskert, he is sure death on fly balls, and he gets more assists than any other right fielder in the league. The big fellow has an ideal temperament. . . A good-humored, helpful chap . . . Do you see any weakness here?”

Did you know? “Why Gavvy Cravath?” asked the near-fan who was watching a Philadelphia-Giants baseball game at the Polo Grounds. “It is easy enough to understand his other nicknames, “Cactus,” because he came from California, and to see him try to run bases fully explains why “Wooden Shoes” Cravath. But why “Gavvy?” “Easy enough,” explained the man who is always surcharged with information of no earthy value to anybody. “When a kid he played with a baseball team in the town of Gavvies. He is the only noteworthy survivor, and for this early baseball indiscretion has always been to Californians “Gavvy” Cravath. New York Times 8 July 1917