Academic journal article Base Ball

Horace Fogel: The Man Who Knew (and Talked) Too Much

Academic journal article Base Ball

Horace Fogel: The Man Who Knew (and Talked) Too Much

Article excerpt

Time after time Fogel defended the honor of the national game.... As a writer he did much to build up the game here and helped make it "clean" in the conduct of the players and free from any taint as to dishonesty.

-William Weart, The Sporting News, December 5, 1912

An enduring mystery of the Deadball Era is the extent to which games in general-and World Series games in particular-were compromised by gamblers. Harold Seymour and Dorothy Seymour Mills wrote of those years, "Crooked players were quietly banished, and occasionally some of the facts did penetrate the fog of rumor surrounding the secrecy and mystery of the magnates. But much of what is now known dribbled out only later, and without doubt there is more that still lies hidden."1

What if we have overlooked leads and evidence that have been right in front of us? What if there was an "insider" who was willing to talk, a whistleblower of sorts, but we ignored him?

Who would have had a good inside view?

* a sportswriter or, better yet, a sports editor of one or more major newspapers

* a major league manager

* a league president

* a major league team executive

* a major league team owner

What if there was one person who held all these positions? He certainly would have known where "the bodies were buried."

Consider, then, Horace S. Fogel.

* born in Macungie, Pennsylvania, on March 21, 1861

* started working for the Baltimore Day, 1882

* worked for the Philadelphia Press, 1885-1886

* manager and scout of the Indianapolis Hoosiers (National League), 1887

* writer for Sporting Life, 1888-1889

* sports editor, Philadelphia Public Ledger, 1891-1900

* president of the Atlantic League, 1900

* sports editor of various Philadelphia newspapers, 1901-1909, including the North American (1901-1902), Evening Telegraph, Times (1908), Star, and Public Ledger

* manager and scout of the New York Giants, 1902

* president and part-owner of the Philadelphia Phillies, 1909-19122

As the manager of the New York Giants early in the 1902 season, Fogel has been blamed and ridiculed for trying to convert Christy Mathewson into a first baseman.3 This is but one example of Fogel having been relegated to a footnote in the history of the National Pastime. In his Mathewson biography, Ray Robinson gives a more nuanced account, noting that "several members of the club," unhappy with the pitcher's performance and high salary, pressured Fogel to move Mathewson offthe mound.4 Fred Lieb said that the idea was not Fogel's, who "has been unjustly maligned as the stupid oaf " who tried to make the move.

According to Lieb, Giants owner Andrew Freedman did not want to spend much money on a bench. When first baseman Dan McGann was injured, Fogel agreed to play Mathewson there between starts. But Fogel said he continued to pitch the young hurler in turn.5 Another account went further and said that Fogel had to resist Freedman's suggestions to convert Mathewson.6 In his 1934 classic book, City Editor, Stanley Walker mentions that Freedman had "many peculiarities" and was "the genius who insisted that Christy Mathewson should be a first baseman."7

Early on, Fogel did reveal a tendency to talk too much for his own good. As the Giants' manager in May 1902, he was unhappy with Mathewson's performance and threatened to bench him if he did not "make good" in upcoming starts. Fogel felt that Mathewson was riding on his laurels from the 1901 season and was capable of pitching better in 1902. Fogel made the mistake of giving an interview with a Cincinnati paper in which he spoke of this matter.8 The dispute was probably blown out of proportion, and dissension in the clubhouse soon emerged as players took sides. Freedman fired Fogel in early June 1902.9 The Sporting News reported that Fogel was a lenient manager and the players "loafed," but "he has talked just a trifle too much."10 Fogel continued working for the Giants as an "agent" (scout) before returning to a career as a Philadelphia sport editor. …

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