Historical tidbit for Jan 13

DMZ · January 13, 2005 at 7:15 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

I believe this was the June 20th, 1886 game between Detroit and Chicago. I found this cool for a couple reasons. From the Sporting News account, which quickly gets into

… the manifest unfairness of Umpire Gaffney, particularly in the last game of the series. His fining of Anson was unjustifiable. He imposed the first fine, $10, before the big Captain was half way in from first base, and he raised it fifty before Anson had time to open his mouth. Directly the Captain started talking Gaffney went fifty better.

How crazy is that they could levy fines like that? But it gets better. The writer speculated about whether or not the umpire was affected by “the good feeling which Gaffney received at the expense of the admirers of the Detroit club” (I have no idea what that means, but from the rest of the article it sounds like Gaffney stayed in Detroit during the season, lodged by team supporters) and by accepting a flower boquet given to him before the game.

Anson refused to pay, saying “Not I, not a dollar, not a penny. If Gaffney does not remit the fines I’ll have him fired, or my name’s not Anson.”

And the other players complain that he’s for Detroit and the fans cheer for him (“Every time Gaffney came on the grounds the crowd cheered him until the windows rattled a half-mile away. He’s for them every time and they know it, too”).

So you get umpires with the power to fine players random amounts of money, allegations of bribery or at best partisanship, the threat of firing an ump if he doesn’t relent from his fines — and it’s all in the game story. They wrote about this stuff. Also on that front page is a story about the court troubles of some players accused of throwing games, and a notice that “An individual named A. Markworth has been obtaining certain goods about town on the statement that he is an employee of the SPORTING NEWS. Markworth is a forger and beat, and has no connection with this paper whatsoever.”

Really, though, $110 was a huge amount of money to a player in 1886. I’m surprised Anson didn’t beat the guy up on the spot and incite a riot.


14 Responses to “Historical tidbit for Jan 13”

  1. Jim Thomsen on January 13th, 2005 8:14 pm

    Can you imagine old-time newspaper journalism being practiced today?

    “W.F. Bloomquist, reserve player for the Seattle baseballers, was today fined the sum of $12 in Wells Fargo bank notes in Kangaroo Court by The Right Honorable Judge Pro Tem J. Buhner. The offense was described as “gross negligence at home plate, and defensive licentiousness of the highest order resulting in an egregious loss this afternoon to the visiting fellows from Kansas City.” Mr. Bloomquist vigorously protested, citing his good character as a deacon in the First Scraptist Church of South Kitsap County. “I have been set upon unfairly,” Mr. Bloomquist told a gathering of Alden Blethen’s finest sporting newsmen at Henry Yesler’s dining establishment,. “Though some baser elements in town shower vulgarity and vituperation upon me,” said the feckless young esquire, “I will stand in defiance forevermore, lash out at those who would throw strikes at me, and yield only to the highest judgment of the Highest Almighty.” Newsman P. L. Finnegan then sent dispatch by telegraph to Faireview Avenue that an esteemed Messr. Griffey of no small value from Ohio would be summarily dispensated West to assist in the Seattle baseballers cause, before taking his leave for a pint of new Snake Oil Lager at a new gentlemen’s club opened by Mr. H. E. Feweizen.”

  2. Jim Thomsen on January 13th, 2005 8:36 pm

    My dream is that newspaper writers of the future scribe the same way “Napoleon Dynamite” speaks:

    “The Mariners pulled off a flippin’ sweet victory today, like totally beating the Texas Rangers by a score of 11-8 or whatever.
    “Adrian Beltre has got some pretty good skills, like he swings a bat like a long pike. He hit two home runs over those mountains over there. I’m not kidding
    “And that Ichiro guy reminds me of my favorite animal, the liger, the way he runs all over the place and stuff doing really good plays. He must drink a lot of 1 percent milk because he’s totally not fat at all. He’d be awesome to play tetherball with.
    “But this Franklin guy was a total frickin’ idiot, making all the guys behind him run all over the place for ground balls. I could find better pitchers at the thrift store downtown. Or even I could do it. I’m probably the best I know at it.”

  3. Colm on January 13th, 2005 10:01 pm

    If only Franklin was really a groundballer.

  4. Benjamin Ramm on January 13th, 2005 10:21 pm

    “$2142.22 in the year 2003 has the same “purchase power” as $110 in the year 1886.”


    For someone like Cap Anson, $110 was a significant amount of money, but not a huge sum. I don’t know about 1886, but the average ballplayers in the early days of semi-pro ball could make about what a skilled artisan would make. They’d make a wage above average, upper middle class, but not wealthy. At least that’s what I remember from my research.

  5. tyler on January 13th, 2005 10:21 pm


  6. JMB on January 13th, 2005 10:29 pm

    Ben Ramm!

  7. Marty Lighthizer on January 14th, 2005 5:14 am

    Ah, but if only that Snake Oil Lager you alluded to could somehow reduce the oft-maligned W.F. Bloomquist’s negligence at home plate, and transform P.L. Finnegan into… well, um…into someone with less pocket lint perhaps…?

  8. Paul Molitor Cocktail on January 14th, 2005 8:51 am

    Jim, that was f’ing hilarious.

  9. Gregor on January 14th, 2005 9:29 am

    So, did Anson end up paying the money?

  10. Evan on January 14th, 2005 9:50 am

    It depends how you measure it. Comparing $110 in 1886 to a fine levied in 2003, it’s equivalent to:

    $2,142.22 using the Consumer Price Index
    $1,943.21 using the GDP deflator
    $12,826.89 using the unskilled wage
    $19,820.08 using the GDP per capita
    $99,442.72 using the relative share of GDP

    What you can buy with it isn’t nearly as important as how hard it is to earn it back, which the later measurements more closely approach.

  11. Jim Thomsen on January 14th, 2005 1:05 pm

    Is there a good Cap Anson biography out there?

    Jim “Spamtastic” Thomsen
    (I’ll work harder to make the medal round next time)

  12. TheMook on January 14th, 2005 1:35 pm

    Jim, that was the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time. Absolutely priceless. Spam on.

  13. Benjamin Ramm on January 14th, 2005 11:30 pm

    For more on Evan’s comparisons:


    However hard it may have been for the average immigrant or farmer to make $110, Cap Anson had much less trouble earning $110. One article I found had players earning about $2,000 with top players earning $5,000. That’s for four or five months worth of work. I don’t see why a purchasing power comparison wouldn’t be appropriate for that scale of wages.

    That being said, thanks for pointing out that wrinkle in the web page. I haven’t looked at it that hard in a while.

    Salaries: http://www.dickiethon.com/~omnibus/birth_part3.htm

  14. Westfried on January 18th, 2005 11:30 am

    Maybe I’m being simplistic, but…
    $100 is 2% of $5,000 (the highest noted salary above).
    2% of $8 Million (for instance) is $160,000, which is a pretty stiff fine.