Jan 22

Jack Stivetts Baseball Thief

Saturday 30 April 1898

Jack Stivetts was a hard playing, hard drinking ballplayer. He could also swing a bat and was among the fastest pitchers in the game. All in all a unique ball player. But did you know he loved to steal baseballs.

The game at National Park Saturday afternoon, in which the Senators defeated the Boston’s by the soon; of 7 to 4, was a true exhibition of how the game should be played by the men under Captain Brown’s leadership. The entire team was out on the diamond Saturday morning for a couple of hours, working with a will to get into shape, and the game in the afternoon demonstrated conclusively the value of practice to a team that has gotten together for the first time. For eight innings the Senators played a faultless game. In the ninth Jack Doyle and Zeke Wrigley pulled off two errors on easy chances that made the spectators breath very hard for a couple of minutes, but the Senators’ lead was too large to be overcome, and victory for the third time this season perched on the banners of the local club. Although the Senators had two black marks against their fielding record, the game put up by them was extremely fast and accurate. Little Tommy Leahy really got into the game for the first time with both feet. His fielding at third was plucky and effective, although not of the finished order, but the balls that went to him sizzled with friction. At the bat Leahy hit with beautiful precision, driving out three nice singles, while on the bases he was up in Billy Hamilton’s class for the time being, stealing three bases, and on a catcher that has the reputation of being the best thrower in the league. Saturday’s exhibition by the little third baseman was really the most important part of the game, outside of winning, as the left corner of the senatorial diamond has been conceded to be its weak point, but if Tommy will only continue on the lines mapped out in his last efforts nothing better can be wished for. Wrigley at short, Reitz at second, Gettman in right and Brown in center fielded beautifully, many of the plays being of the quick and brilliant order. Win Mercer was on the rubber for the Senators, and when it is said that he was in good form the entire story is told. Twelve hits were made off of the willowy brunette, bat they were so scattered as to prove almost worthless to the Boston’s. The number of safe hits would have been tallied in one figure but for the break in the ninth inning, but that is baseball, and Win Mercer would not be denied, his by the consecutive hitting of the Senators. Jimmy Sullivan relieved him performance under the trying circumstances being worthy of especial praise. The much heralded left-handed phenom, Fred Klobedanz, was on the rubber for the Bostonese, but he lasted exactly three innings, being driven to the bench and pitched good ball, but the big lead was too much of a handicap for the greatest twirler in the land. Sullivan has always been a hoodoo to the Senators. He has a very tantalizing delivery, and the men want to kill the ball with the result that easy files sail off of their bats and into the hands of the fielders. It is to be hoped that Sullivan’s spell has been broken for evermore. To win a ball from the champion Boston’s carries considerable glory with it, as it means playing better ball. The Beaneaters very seldom fall down in their fielding, and when they are defeated it is generally a case of being out-batted, and this was the case Saturday. One of the most gratifying things about the game was that the hitting generally came after two were out and the hopes of the spectators had gene a glimmering. Charley Snyder umpired another good game. Of course some objections were made, but he was impartial and nothing more can be asked for.

Base Ball Gossip. Saturday was the first bright day of the season and a large number of spectators turned out to see the game. It being “ladles’ day.” the fair sex predominated. It has been urged that the ladies be admitted to every game free, as they certainly add to the brilliancy and enjoyment of the contests. A remarkably exciting play was pulled off by Tom Leahy, Zeke Wrigley and Heine Reitz in the third inning. Jimmy Collins drove a sizzler at the little third baseman, the ball taking an ugly bound and striking him on the shoulder. Zeke Wrigley was on his tiptoes, and as the ball shot from Leahy’s shoulder he grasped it on the fly and hurled it at Reitz like a shot, nabbing Chick Stahl, who had started for third on the hit. It checked a batting rally and raised a great tumult in the stands. How the spectators did growl in the ninth inning, when Jack Doyle threw them into a perspiration by dropping the throw from Reitz. Then on top of it Wrigley miscued, and a moan went up, as a good hit would about land another defeat against the Senators, but “Merce” was there, and the boys “came again” like thoroughbreds, stopping the rally with a deep thud. There were two out in the fourth when Leahy drove a nice single into left. Wrigley then came forward to the plate, picked out a twister that suited him, and away it went into the right field bleachers. A beauty bright. Al Selbach is the only bitter on the team that is yet backyard in his stick work. Leahy has not been able to hit a balloon for a week, but he got started Saturday, and Selbach can be expected to swing into his true line within the next game or two. When Jack Stivetts came to the bat in the ninth inning in place of Jim Sullivan and missed the first ball he struck at, a great laugh went up from the hundred or more unsophisticated “fans” back of first base. “I wish they wouldn’t laugh that way when Stivetts comes to the bat,” remarked a fair fan on the left-hand side of the grand stand. “The people over there can be well posted. Stivetts can hit the best pitchers in the country, and they should wait until he goes out before laughing.” The next ball up tickled Jack’s fancy, and a pretty single to left followed. “Why doesn’t that congregation over there laugh now?” remarked the fair one, sarcastically, but the only ones that laughed were those that heard her remarks. The fielding of Jake Gettman, Brown and Selbach was particularly clever and accurate, and this trio will yet astonish the wise acres who have been predicting all sorts of calamities to the club. Not one of them got a hit Saturday, but they will hit when the others are taking a rest. The third game of the Boston-Washington series will be played this afternoon. Charley Nichols or Jack Stivetts will do the twirling for the Bostonise, while Doc Amole or Bill Dinneen will be on the rubber for the home club. Jimmy Collins and Bobby Wallace are about the only third basemen in the country that could have caught Tom Brown at first on his bunt toward third. The ball was laid down perfectly, slow and not five yards from the plate, but Collins came in for it like the wind, picked the sphere up clean with one hand and nailed Brown at first by about a foot. The play was against us, but it was so good that applause had to follow from the astonished spectators.

The attaches of National Park keep close watch on Jack Stivetts and the stray balls. Several were lost during Friday’s game, and the employees who look after the balls claim Jack pinched at least one. It is a well understood fact that Stivetts would sooner smuggle a ball out of the grounds that does not belong to him than eat a first-class dinner.