Nov 24

Ted Sullivan (Almost) Signs Waddell and other Tales from 1899

Rube Waddell got his two cups of coffee in 1897 for Louisville having been released by Pittsburgh. As related in his biography by Dan O’Brien, “Rube sat beside Manager Patsy Donovan,” the Louisville Courier-Journal reported. “Patsy heard him talk and released him as soon as breakfast was over.”

The next year he pitched for Detroit in the Western League, he was 4-4, leaving the team in a dispute over a fine. In 1899 he was back in the Western League pitching for the Columbus/Grand Rapids franchise, and pitching well.

Ted Sullivan, a jack-of-all-trades was well known to baseball enthusiasts in the District. He was the pseudo General Manager for Washington during much of the Hewitt era. When the Wagners took over his talents were no longer needed. In 1899 he was a talent scout for Brooklyn, but given a different set of owners he no doubt would have still been with Washington. He must have seen Waddell pitch and in August attempted to purchase the young twirler for Brooklyn. Here is the press clipping, “The hustling Ted Sullivan offered to buy another player for the ball club yesterday. He met Barney Dreyfuss, the head and front of the Louisville club. Barney has a string tied to “Reub” Waddell, the much-sought after pitcher of the Grand Rapids team. Ted was very anxious to close right sway. He said; “I will give you $1,500 for Waddell,” Barney according to Ted, was willing to the offer. He said that Tom Loftus stood in the way of a trade. Loftus wants $700 before he will relinquish his claim to Waddell for the balance of the season, Cincinnati Times-Star.

Tom Loftus would soon become very familiar to baseball fans in Washington in due time.

Here is a nice story about Kip Selbach.

I know that Kip Selbach is not a five-thousand-dollar beauty,” said a spectator yesterday. “At that price be was dear. But, just the same, he is a rattling good ball player. He is above the ordinary. He is a good, easy fielder. He handles himself well in the field, and only has one weakness, a ball directly over his head. He is a splendid batter, a good base runner and can wait out a ball, tire out a pitcher and foul off strikes as well as anybody. I know the young blood that take his place and holds the job will have to be a diamond in the rough. No ordinary youngster can keep Sel on the bench. At that Selbach is a youngster himself. He has only been playing ball since 1894,” Cincinnati Enquirer.

Washington secured a promising young left handed pitcher from Lancaster by the name of Hal Miner from Lancaster. Miner was 10-10 for the Maroons. Miner never reported, he was said to be suffering from another attack of malaria. He never pitched in the majors disappearing into history.

We close with this mention about fan behavior in Washington. Washington spectators are generally dignified and a gentle hurrah is usually the limit. But yesterday a new tack was taken. “Robber!” “Thief!” “Kill him!” and similar ejaculations rent the air. One rooter jumped on a bench, shook his fists in the air and in the excitement knocked an expensive bottle of medicine out of his coat pocket. Then there was fun, the rooter cursing his luck and the crowd around him swearing at the rooter.