Thursday, January 05, 2006

A Raise and a Fancy Nickname


Standing a mere 5'-7" and weighing a negligible 140 lbs, during the 1880s Bob Caruthers was one of the star pitchers of the American Association, at that time considered to be the rival to the National League.

The son of a prominent Memphis lawyer, born on this day in 1864, Caruthers took up baseball as a child at the behest of his doctor, who thought a little athletic exercise would improve his frail health. He loved it so much he started playing professionally, eventually winding up on the St. Louis Browns for $250 a month.

In 1885, he became a national hero of sorts when he won 40 out of 53 games he pitched, using his deceptive delivery, speed and the extraordinary ability to size up his opponents while leading the Browns to the pennant.

After the 1885 season, he allegedly went to Paris and began to engage in a heated transatlantic contract renegotiation, by which he earned his nickname, "Parisian Bob." Some say he never actually went to Paris and the trip was just a fabrication to bluff the Browns' owner into dealing with him. He eventually signed for $3,200.

Caruthers followed that with two more remarkable seasons for the Browns (30-14 in 1886 and 29-9 in 1887), but after his team lost to the Sam Thompson and the Detroit Wolverines in the World Series in 1887, his contract was sold to Brooklyn, where he was the AA's highest paid player, earning $5,000. A solid hitter as well, Caruthers batted .459 with 59 stolen bases in 1886, and made history on August 16, 1886 as the first of three pitchers ever to collect 4 hits in a game (which, unfortunately, he lost when he was tagged out at home in the 9th inning trying to stretch a triple into a home run). After finishing his career as an outfielder, in his later years he was a minor league umpire. He died in Peoria, Illinois on August 5, 1911.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Fathead said...

I thought for sure you'd profile Sam Phillips, born today in 1923....an icon not only in popular music, but 20th century American culture...maybe next year?

10:59 AM  
Blogger RSchuler said...

Not this time, Fathead -- but Sam-o will figure in Sunday's post. Stay tuned.

11:25 AM  

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