Wednesday, October 30, 2013

August 5- St. Louis Cardinals

This post is kind of an interesting follow up to my Baltimore Orioles post on Rafael Palmeiro’s Hall of Fame career from yesterday. By the time you’re done reading this you’ll understand what I mean.

I first came across this cap in Buffalo, New York during the New Era Fan Appreciation (CrewEra13) event back on June 24th. When the time came to go on our totally bitchin’ shopping spree I saw this sitting underneath an old school Kansas City Athletics cap and made no mention that I even noticed. Why? Because I had no idea what it was. Upon first glance I could tell it was a St. Louis Cardinals cap of some variety, but outside of that I couldn’t pinpoint a timeframe. This became especially frustrating because I couldn’t get my phone to work in order to look it up to see if it was worth scooping up. So, without any real knowledge behind it, I let it sip through my fingers. When we got to the marketing part of the tour and we were shown the bevy of Turn Back the Clock caps New Era had in store for the season, that’s when everything had come into the light. However, still knowing what I did then, I still let it go.

It was kind of a weird move on my part for a few reasons, most of which had to do with the fact that I rarely ever let a Turn Back the Clock cap go unpurchased. But the one real oddity of this trip/moment was that at the time I only owned four total Cardinals caps, all of which I have written about (January 25th, May 1st, May 19th and June 17th). There is still one more cap the team currently wears that I still need to purchase, but there really is no rush in scooping that one up. As far as their Cooperstown Collection and Turn Back the Clock caps are concerned; yes, I really should have been more aggressive about things. Thankfully, I lucked out. I found this one on Hat Club while they were running a sale and made sure to out it at the top of my checkout list… but not before I did a background check.

Like a lot of caps from the turn of the 20th century, the Cardinals “technically” only used this cap for two seasons; however, the years in which they used it (1903 and 1906) were not the specific year in which the Cardinals were celebrating. See, back on May 5th of this year the Cardinals were playing on the road against their National League Central rival the Milwaukee Brewers when the whole Turn Back the Clock motif was presented. The timeframe that was selected was 1913, which played more heavily as a tribute to the Brewers than it ever did to the Cardinals as explained here…

Back in 1902 the original American League Milwaukee Brewers moved to St. Louis where they were known as the St. Louis Browns until 1953. With the absence of Major League Baseball in town, Milwaukee entered a new team that adopted the Brewers name into the minor league American Association. That minor league franchise lasted 50 years as an affiliate of the Browns, Chicago White Sox and Cubs, Cleveland Indians and Boston Braves. Its first American Association championship came in 1913. And that's the reason 1913 is being celebrated today.

The Braves' association with Milwaukee led to the demise of the American Association Brewers in 1954 when the parent club moved from Boston to Milwaukee. That relationship, however, would only last a little more than a decade as the major league club moved to Atlanta in time for the 1966 season. The American Association Brewers were moved to Toledo where they became known as the Mud Hens. While Milwaukee doesn't have any Major League Baseball championships to celebrate, the 1913 Cardinals hadn't yet begun their National League best run of 11 World Series wins by that point in franchise history.

So in some crazy way, the Brewers were trolling the Cardinals if you really break down the where each team was on a success scale back in 1913. Clever! But, what does that have to do with this hat? Well, as I mentioned above the Cardinals only used variations of this cap twice back in 1903…

And 1906 (right)…

Both of them featured the same style “STL” logo on the front of the cap, but only the 1906 version comes the closest to the Turn Back the Clock cap of 2013. So what exactly were the Cardinals wearing back in 1913? These…

Like a lot of the Turn Back the Clock caps that I’ve written about already, the logo on the modern cap is a new edition. Most of the caps back in the old days really didn’t feature any kind of logo or anything too flashy, that’s what the uniform was for. Some teams brandished across the chest, but most stuck to sleeve patches and an occasional patch over the heart. The 2013 Cardinals Turn Back the Clock uniforms were spot on, but I can only speculate as to why New Era elected to go with a different cap other than the pinstripe model shown above. My theory, because it looks cooler.

The logo on the sleeves of the road uniform had a pretty good run as they were used from 1909 through the end of the 1917 season.

Now, due to the fact that this cap was technically only used for the one game on May 5th I suppose I should mark it up with something having to do with that game. Matt Holliday and Allen Craig had great offensive nights and starting pitcher Jaime Garcia pitched eight strong innings while only allowing one run on eight hits and one walk. But, in keeping with the theme of the uniforms and tribute, I decided to go with something a little more historic. Rather, something that very few people outside of historians have ever really bothered to take a look at. For this, I had to go back to the origin of this cap in 1903.

PD: Contrary to my last name, Christensen (it’s Danish), I have a lot of Irish blood running through my veins which I inherited from my mother’s side of the family. The first tattoo I ever got marked the occasion.

My heritage though, goes beyond the traditional stereotype of drinking whiskey, eating potatoes and continually living with mistakes of the past. I for one am proud of my heritage and conduct research regularly on the men and women whose footsteps I have followed. This is the story of arguably the greatest Irish-born baseball player/mind to ever take the field.

It’s not secret that Irish players have come and gone throughout the ranks of Major League Baseball, some of the earliest players of the games weren’t too far removed from the boat that they had stepped off of when they picked up a bat and glove. Throughout the 144-year history of the league there have been 47 players and two additional managers to take the field who were born in Ireland. The last of which was born in 1945, Joe Clearly. Prior to that, the last Ireland-born player was in 1916. Since the 1960s the concept of foreign-born players started very small and has quickly worked its way into a regular part of the game. Countries like Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela have farm systems and plenty of talent ready to burst onto the Major League scene; however, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in the league today who was originally born in a 150-mile circumference of the country that gave birth to the game we’ve come to know and love.

Back in the late 1800s the United States had just gotten finished the last war on home soil and all walks of life were taking a shine to this new game that was spreading throughout the East Coast like a wildfire. Despite claims that the Irish were blackballed from most jobs and contributions to the “American Way,” history has proven time and time again that the motto “Irish Need Not Apply” is merely a work of fiction. With that in mind, some of the greatest players early in baseball history were from the Emerald Isles. One of the first 46 born before 1917 played 17 seasons from 1890-1907 and was a player/manager for 11 of those years. His name was Patsy Donovan.

 Born in Queenstown, County Cork, Donovan established himself as the most successful Irish-born major leaguer. He broke into organized baseball in 1886 with the Lawrence, Massachusetts team in the New England League. In 1888 and 1889, Donovan played outfield for the London Tecumsehs of the International Association at Tecumseh Park (today's Labatt Park) in London, Ontario, Canada, where, in his first season in 1888, he led the league in batting with a .359 batting average (according to the Donovan family Web site; however, the London Tecumsehs' official scorer C.J. Moorehead, in a 1903 copy of The London Advertiser, cited Donovan's 1888 batting average as .398), had 201 hits, scored 103 runs and stole 80 bases. His second season with the Tecumsehs was less successful due to a leg injury.

In 1890 he made his Major League debut in the National League with the Boston Beaneaters, and moved to the Brooklyn Bridegrooms in midseason; it would be the only time in his career that he played for a league champion. In 1891 he played in the American Association (AA) for the Louisville Colonels and Washington Statesmen; he then returned to the NL in 1892, first with the Senators (the former Statesmen, who had joined the NL in a league merger) before going to the Pittsburgh Pirates for most of the year. Donovan starred with the Pirates from 1893 through 1899, notching six consecutive seasons batting .300 and serving as player/manager in 1897 and 1899. The team was sold late in 1899, during a time when the league was contracting from twelve teams to eight; new owner Barney Dreyfuss brought in Fred Clarke to be manager, with Donovan being sent to the Cardinals. He played for St. Louis from 1900–1903, sharing the league lead in stolen bases (45) in his first season, also managing the team in his last three seasons with them. By the end of the 1903 season he ranked among the NL's top ten career leaders in hits and at bats, though he would drop from among the leaders before his playing career ended. His 64 career double plays in the NL ranked one behind Jimmy Ryan's league record. He then served as player/manager for the American League's Washington Senators in 1904, his last season as a regular.

In 1903, he broke Sam Thompson's major league record of 1401 games in right field; Willie Keeler passed him in 1906, before Donovan played his last several games and retired with a total of 1620. In 1906, he became manager of the Brooklyn Superbas, and made his last few playing appearances that year, along with one more game at the end of the 1907 season. In a 17-season playing career, Donovan had 2246 hits, 1318 runs, 16 home runs and 736 RBI in 1821 games, along with 207 doubles and 75 triples. Donovan collected 302 stolen bases from 1890 to 1897 and 216 more after the statistic was revised to its modern definition in 1898. He batted .300 lifetime and set a major league record for career games in right field, as well as retiring among the career leaders in total games (fifth, 1813), assists (ninth, 264) and double plays (fifth, 69) as an outfielder.

Donovan joined the Boston Red Sox as a scout in 1909, and managed the team in 1910 and 1911. As a major league manager, he compiled a 684-879 record (.438) in 11 seasons. He was also instrumental in bringing Babe Ruth to the Sox in 1914 through his acquaintance with one of the Xaverian Brothers who coached Ruth at a Baltimore orphans' home. Later he went to the International League, where he led Buffalo to pennants in 1915 and 1916, and also managed Jersey City in 1921–22 and 1925–26. He finished out his career coaching High School baseball at Phillips Academy in Andover, where he coached the future 41st President, George H.W. Bush. Crazy!

Donovan died at the age of 88 in Lawrence, Massachusetts on Christmas Day 1953, and is interred at St. Mary Cemetery in Lawrence. Despite his accomplishments throughout the history of the league, let alone the game, he is not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Based on the time frame in which he played, his accomplishments should have gotten him in. He was a hell of a hitter, almost average by the standard of those days, but his is still one of the greatest defensive players to ever take the field. And yet, men who played less years and accomplished less than he did have found their way into the Hall by the Veteran’s Committee. None of it makes much sense. 


  1. It always bothered me that this particular turn back the clock didn't really turn back into anything authentic. Otherwise I probably would have picked it up. Another great post.

    1. I know, right!? That was definitely something that has really bothered me about a lot of the Turn Back the Clock caps. Anything that uses a patch should be mentioned as so, as to not confuse anyone.