Hal Chase

Harold Homer Chase (February 13, 1883 – May 18, 1947), nicknamed "Prince Hal", was a first baseman and manager in Major League Baseball, widely viewed as the best fielder at his position. During his career, he played for the New York Highlanders (1905–1913), Chicago White Sox (1913–1914), Buffalo Blues (1914–1915), Cincinnati Reds (1916–1918), and New York Giants (1919).

No lesser figures than Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson named Chase the best first baseman ever, and contemporary reports described his glovework as outstanding. He is sometimes considered the first true star of the franchise that would eventually become the New York Yankees. In 1981, 62 years after his last major league game, baseball historians Lawrence Ritter and Donald Honig included him in their book The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time.

Despite being an excellent hitter and his reputation as a peerless defensive player, Chase's legacy was tainted by a litany of corruption. He allegedly gambled on baseball games, and also engaged in suspicious play in order to throw games in which he played.

Hal Chase
Hal Chase 1917.jpeg
Chase with the Cincinnati Reds in 1917.
First baseman / Manager
Born: February 13, 1883
Los Gatos, California
Died: May 18, 1947 (aged 64)
Colusa, California
Batted: Right Threw: Left
MLB debut
April 26, 1905, for the New York Highlanders
Last MLB appearance
September 25, 1919, for the New York Giants
MLB statistics
Batting average.291
Home runs57
Runs batted in941
Stolen bases363
Managerial record86–80
Winning %.518
Teams
As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards

Career

Chase attended Santa Clara College, where he played baseball. He signed his first contract with the Los Angeles Angels of the Class-A Pacific Coast League in 1904. The New York Highlanders selected Chase from Los Angeles in the 1904 Rule 5 draft on October 4, 1904.

Chase joined the Highlanders in 1905, and held out during March 1907, threatening to sign with the outlaw California League if the Highlanders did not increase his salary.[1][2] Though he agreed to join the Highlanders in April 1907,[3] he also insisted on playing in the California League during the winter.[4] After the Highlanders fired manager Clark Griffith during the 1908 season, Chase held out and insisted he would not play for new manager Kid Elberfeld.[5] Chase loved playing in the off season in California leagues, which he did nearly every year. And nearly every year, as the major league season approached, Chase looked for a way to remain playing in California. But due to the power of the National Agreement and insufficient finances of leagues and teams in California, Chase predictably returned to his major league team in honor of his contract.[6]

Chase served as player–manager in 1910 and 1911. He signed a three-year contract with the Yankees before the 1913 season,[7] but they traded him to the Chicago White Sox for Babe Borton and Rollie Zeider on June 1, 1913. Before the 1914 season, Chase jumped from the White Sox to the Buffalo Blues of the Federal League.

When Chase defected from the White Sox to the Federal League's Buffalo Blues, White Sox owner Charles Comiskey filed an injunction to prevent Chase from playing citing a violation of the reserve clause. Chase challenged the injunction in court and won, becoming one of the only players to successfully challenge the reserve clause. The ensuing animosity between Comiskey and Chase would effectively permanently bar Chase from playing again in the American League.[8]

Following a spell in the short-lived Federal League, he went to the Reds. In 1916, Chase led the NL with a .339 batting average.[9]

On February 19, 1919, the Reds traded Chase to the New York Giants for Walter Holke and Bill Rariden.

Corruption

Chase faced allegations of wrongdoing as early as 1910, when his manager, George Stallings, claimed that Chase was "laying down" in games. But Stallings was unpopular with the team, and Chase was slated to replace Stallings at the helm. Chase ultimately prevailed in the spat and became the manager of the team, at the age of 28, in 1911, a year he hit .315 with 82 RBI.

Chase was replaced as manager by Harry Wolverton, followed by Frank Chance in 1913. Chase battled injuries that impaired his play; many felt that Chase either would not or could not return to his previous form. Frank Chance stated that he worried that Chase was "laying down." Chance clarified that he was referring to the question whether Chase would put forth the effort necessary to overcome the current slump.[10]

Chance benched Chase, who was batting .212. On June 1, the Yankees announced that Chase had been traded to the Chicago White Sox for two infielders of modest abilities, Rollie Zeider and Babe Borton.[11] There have been claims of wrongdoing by Chase during this era, but none have been substantiated.[12]

Midway through the 1918 season, Chase allegedly paid pitcher Jimmy Ring $50 ($833 in current dollar terms) to throw a game against the Giants.

When the Giants went to spring training for the 1920 season, Chase was not with them. Later, it emerged that Chase had bribed Cubs outfielder Lee Magee not to hustle in certain games. When Magee confessed this to league president John Heydler behind closed doors, Heydler told Giants manager John McGraw to release Chase. Heinie Zimmerman, also implicated in bribing players, was released as well.[13] Since no American League team would sign him, Chase was effectively blackballed from the major leagues.

Out of organized baseball

Rumors of his being the middleman between the players and the gamblers in the Black Sox Scandal have never been confirmed. A Chicago grand jury indicted him for his role in the scandal, but California refused extradition because of an incorrectly issued arrest warrant.[14]

In 1920, while playing for the minor Mission League, he allegedly attempted to bribe Spider Baum, a pitcher for the Salt Lake Bees of the Pacific Coast League, to lose a game to the Los Angeles Angels. It turned out to be one of the last games he played in organized baseball. In the aftermath of the Black Sox Scandal, newly appointed Commissioner of Baseball Kenesaw Mountain Landis declared no player who threw a game or promised to throw a game would ever be allowed in baseball—effectively ending any realistic chance of Chase returning to the majors.

For a time, Chase was player-manager of an outlaw team in Douglas, Arizona that included Buck Weaver, Chick Gandil and Lefty Williams. It was part of a league run by S.L.A. Marshall, who later said that Chase admitted to throwing a game. A few months later, he tore both Achilles tendons in a car accident. He later drifted to Mexico, where in 1925 he began making plans to organize a professional league. When American League president Ban Johnson got word of it, however, he pressured Mexican authorities to deport Chase.

Despite his unsavory past, Chase received a certain amount of National Baseball Hall of Fame support early in its history. During the inaugural Hall of Fame balloting of 1936, Chase garnered 11 votes and was named on 4.9% of the ballots. This total was more votes than 18 future Hall of Famers including such greats as Connie Mack, Rube Marquard, Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown, Charlie Gehringer, and John McGraw as well as the banned Shoeless Joe Jackson.[15] In 1937, he received 18 votes (9%) which was more than 32 future Hall of Famers.[16] Chase was dropped from the ballot following the 1937 vote.[17] He never received the 75 percent support required for enshrinement, largely due to an informal agreement among the Hall of Fame voters that those deemed to have been banned from baseball should be ineligible for consideration.

Chase spent the rest of his life drifting between Arizona and his native California, working numerous low-paying jobs. Later in life, he expressed considerable remorse for betting on baseball. He lived with his sister in Williams, California and died in a Colusa, California hospital at the age of 64.[9][18]

Chase defensively

In his day, Hal Chase was almost universally considered one of the best fielders in the game — not just at first base, but at any position, even compared to catchers and middle infielders. In his Historical Baseball Abstract, Bill James quotes a poem entitled "You Can't Escape 'Em":

Sometimes a raw recruit in spring is not a pitching find;

He has not Walter Johnson's wing, nor Matty's wonderous mind.

He does not act like Harold Chase upon the fielding job,

But you may find in such a case, he hits like Tyrus Cobb.

Douglas Dewey and Nicholas Acocella's book on Chase, The Black Prince Of Baseball, talks about Chase's defensive abilities at length. He apparently made many spectacular plays that burnished his reputation as a glove wizard, but also committed 402 errors at first in just ten seasons, making his career fielding average only .980, four points below average for the period (since Chase was known to throw games, it's impossible to know how many of these misplays were intentional).

A more recent work by Bill James, Win Shares, suggested Chase was only a C-grade defensive player at first base. According to analyst Sean Smith of Baseball-Reference.com, Chase was below average defensively, costing his teams 65 runs versus an average first baseman.[19]

See also

References

Bibliography
  • Ginsburg, Daniel E. The Fix Is In: A History of Baseball Gambling and Game Fixing Scandals. inMcFarland and Co., 1995, 317 pages. ISBN 0-7864-1920-2. Contains a chapter dedicated to Chase and his various scandals.
  • Goode, Christopher California Baseball: From the Pioneers to the Glory Years. Lulu Press, 2009, 390 pages. ISBN 978-0-557-08760-0
  • Pietrusza, David. Rothstein: The Life, Times, and Murder of the Criminal Genius Who Fixed the 1919 World Series. Basic Books, 2011, 528 pages. ISBN 978-0-465-02938-9.
In-line citations
  1. ^ The Pittsburgh Press via Google News Archive Search
  2. ^ The Meriden Daily Journal via Google News Archive Search
  3. ^ The Meriden Daily Journal via Google News Archive Search
  4. ^ The Toledo News-Bee via Google News Archive Search
  5. ^ The Day via Google News Archive Search
  6. ^ Goode, Christopher. California Baseball, From the Pioneers to the Glory Years. Lulu Press.
  7. ^ The Gazette Times via Google News Archive Search
  8. ^ Goode, Christopher. California Baseball, From the Pioneers to the Glory Years. Lulu Press.
  9. ^ a b Ottawa Citizen via Google News Archive Search
  10. ^ Goode, Christopher. California Baseball, From the Pioneers to the Glory Years. Lulu Press.
  11. ^ "Yankees' 1913 Season Was Sunk by a Rogue Captain". The New York Times. February 24, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
  12. ^ Goode, Christopher. California Baseball, From the Pioneers to the Glory Years. Lulu Press.
  13. ^ Robert C. Hoie (2013). "The Hal Chase Case". Society for American Baseball Research.
  14. ^ Paul C. Weiler et al., Sports and the Law: Text, Cases and Problems 134 (4th ed. 2011).
  15. ^ "1936 Hall of Fame Voting". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2013-05-20.
  16. ^ "1937 Hall of Fame Voting". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2013-05-20.
  17. ^ "1938 Hall of Fame Voting". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2013-05-20.
  18. ^ Meriden Record via Google News Archive Search
  19. ^ "Hal Chase Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2013-05-20.

External links

1908 New York Highlanders season

The 1908 New York Highlanders season finished with the team in 8th place in the American League with a record of 51–103. Their home games were played at Hilltop Park.

The Highlanders finished in last place, 17 games out of seventh. It was the second-worst season in club history. Starting first baseman Hal Chase left the team in September under allegations that he was throwing games. After Clark Griffith's departure, the Highlanders lost 70 of their last 98 games under new manager Kid Elberfeld.

1910 Major League Baseball season

The 1910 Major League Baseball season.

1910 New York Highlanders season

The 1910 New York Highlanders season saw the team finishing with a total of 88 wins and 63 losses, coming in second in the American League.

New York was managed by George Stallings and Hal Chase. Their home games were played at Hilltop Park. The alternate and equally unofficial nickname, "Yankees", was being used more and more frequently by the media.

1911 Major League Baseball season

The 1911 Major League Baseball season was the last season in which none of the current 30 MLB stadiums were in use. The oldest current ballpark is Fenway Park, opened in 1912.

1911 New York Highlanders season

The 1911 New York Highlanders season saw the team finishing with a total of 76 wins and 76 losses, coming in 6th in the American League.

New York was managed by Hal Chase. Home games were played at Hilltop Park. The alternate and equally unofficial nickname, "Yankees", was being used more and more frequently by the press.

1912 New York Highlanders season

The 1912 New York Highlanders season was their tenth in New York and their twelfth overall. It was the final season for the "Highlanders", before evolving exclusively into the "Yankees". It was also their final season playing their home games at Hilltop Park. The team finished with a total of 50 wins and 102 losses, coming in 8th, last place in the American League. The club was managed by Harry Wolverton. The New York franchise would not finish in last place again until the 1966 season. To date, this remains the only 100-loss season in Yankees history.

1916 Cincinnati Reds season

The 1916 Cincinnati Reds season was a season in American baseball. The team finished tied for seventh and last place in the National League with the St. Louis Cardinals. Both teams finished with a record of 60–93, 33½ games behind the Brooklyn Robins

1916 Major League Baseball season

The 1916 Major League Baseball season.

1917 Cincinnati Reds season

The 1917 Cincinnati Reds season was a season in American baseball. The team finished fourth in the National League with a record of 78–76, 20 games behind the New York Giants.

1918 Cincinnati Reds season

The 1918 Cincinnati Reds season was a season in American baseball. The team finished third in the National League with a record of 68–60, 15½ games behind the Chicago Cubs.

1919 New York Giants season

The 1919 New York Giants season was the franchise's 37th season. The team finished in second place in the National League with an 87-53 record, 9 games behind the Cincinnati Reds.

1936 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

The first elections to select inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame were held in 1936. Members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) were given authority to select individuals from the 20th century; while a special Veterans Committee, made up of individuals with greater familiarity with the 19th century game, was polled to select deserving individuals from that era. The intent was for 15 honorees to be selected before the 1939 ceremonies – 10 from the 20th century and 5 from the 19th; additional players from both eras would be selected in later years. Voters were given free rein to decide for themselves in which group a candidate belonged, with neither group knowing the outcome of the other election; some candidates had their vote split between the elections as a result – Cy Young, the pitcher with most wins in Major League history, finished 8th in the BBWAA vote and 4th in the Veterans vote. In addition, there was no prohibition on voting for active players, a number of whom received votes. Individuals who had been banned from baseball – such as Shoeless Joe Jackson and Hal Chase – were also not formally excluded, though few voters chose to include them on ballots.

In the BBWAA election, voters were instructed to cast votes for 10 candidates, the same number of desired selections; in the Veterans' election, voters were also instructed to vote for 10, although the desire for only 5 initial selections led to revisions in the way the votes were counted. Any candidate receiving votes on at least 75% of the ballots in either election would be honored with induction to the Hall upon its opening in the sport's supposed centennial year of 1939.

1937 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

The 1937 process of selecting inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame was markedly different from the initial elections the previous year. As only half of the initial goal of 10 inductees had been selected in 1936, members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) were once again given authority to select any players active in the 20th century; but the unsuccessful 1936 Veterans Committee election for 19th-century players led to a smaller Centennial Commission choosing a handful of inductees whose contributions were largely as non-players.

In the BBWAA election, voters were again instructed to cast votes for 10 candidates, but were now discouraged from casting votes for active players (though some player-managers whose playing days were largely over, such as Rogers Hornsby, received votes). Any candidate receiving votes on at least 75% of the ballots would be honored with induction to the Hall upon its opening in the sport's supposed centennial year of 1939. Again, individuals who had been barred from baseball were not formally ineligible; Hal Chase received some votes, though Shoeless Joe Jackson did not.

Buffalo Blues

The Buffalo Blues were a professional baseball club that played in the short-lived Federal League, which was a minor league in 1913 and a full-fledged outlaw major league the next two years. It was the last major league baseball team to be based in the city of Buffalo. In 1913 and 1914, as was the standard for Federal League teams, the franchise did not have an official name, instead going by the generic BufFeds.

The Buffalo team played at International Fair Association Grounds. Due to delays in construction of their new ballpark, the team did not play their first home game until a month after the Federal League season had started. Buffalo sold shares of stock of the team to the public through a series of newspaper ads. Preferred shares were sold for $10 each.

In the 1914 season, the team posted an 80-71 record (.530) and finished in fourth place, seven games behind the league champion Indianapolis Hoosiers. In the league's second and final season, the team, then known as the Buffalo Blues, ended in sixth place with a 74-78 mark (.487), 12 games behind the Chicago Whales.

An unusual player who played for the Blues in 1914 was Ed Porray; the only major leaguer whose birthplace is not a place, but rather noted as "on a ship somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean," on December 5, 1888.

Between the Buffalo players who had experience in the American and/or National leagues were Hugh Bedient, Walter Blair, Hal Chase, Tom Downey, Howard Ehmke, Ed Lafitte, Harry Lord and Russ Ford.

Buffalo Blues all-time roster

The Buffalo Blues were a professional baseball team based in Buffalo, New York, that played in the Federal League for two seasons in 1914 and 1915. The franchise used Federal League Park as their home field. In 1914, the team finished fourth in the FL with a record of 80-71. In 1915, the team finished sixth with a record of 74-78.

Harrison Park (New Jersey)

Harrison Park is a former baseball ground located in Harrison, New Jersey, a city adjacent to Newark, New Jersey. The ground was home to the Newark Peppers of the Federal League in 1915. The field was also called "Peppers Park" or "Peps Park".

List of New York Yankees captains

There have been 15 captains of the New York Yankees, an American professional baseball franchise also known previously as the New York Highlanders. The position is currently vacant after the most recent captain, Derek Jeter, retired after the 2014 season, after 12 seasons as team captain. Jeter was named as the 11th officially recognized captain of the Yankees in 2003. In baseball, the captain formerly served as the on-field leader of the team, while the manager operated the team from the dugout. Today, the captain is a clubhouse leader.

The first captain officially recognized by the Yankees was Hal Chase, who served in the role from 1910 through 1912. Roger Peckinpaugh served as captain from 1914 through 1922, until he was traded to the Boston Red Sox. He was succeeded by Babe Ruth, who was quickly deposed as captain for climbing into the stands to confront a heckler. Everett Scott served as captain from 1922 through 1925. Ten years later, Lou Gehrig was named captain, serving for the remainder of his career. After the death of Gehrig, then manager Joe McCarthy declared that the Yankees would never have another captain. The position remained vacant until team owner George Steinbrenner named Thurman Munson as captain in 1976. Following Munson's death, Graig Nettles served as captain. Willie Randolph and Ron Guidry were named co-captains in 1986. Don Mattingly followed them as captain in 1991, serving until his retirement in 1995. Gehrig, Munson, Guidry, Mattingly and Jeter are the only team captains who spent their entire career with the Yankees. Jeter is the longest tenured captain in franchise history, the 2014 season being his 12th as team captain.

There is, however, some controversy over the official list. Howard W. Rosenberg, a baseball historian, found that the official count of Yankees captains failed to include Clark Griffith, the captain from 1903–1905, and Kid Elberfeld, the captain from 1906–1907, while manager Frank Chance may have served as captain in 1913.In addition, right after The New York Times reported Rosenberg's research in 2007, Society for American Baseball Research member Clifford Blau contacted him to say he had found Willie Keeler being called the team's captain in 1908 and 1909, research that Rosenberg has confirmed.

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