May 4, 2011

Game 16 - Consul the Man-Ape Jinxes Nats

May 4, 1911
Philadelphia 6, Washington 2

(click to enlarge)

Yesterday we had a strange mystery in the game recap, and here we have another one. Let's see if we can make sense of this account from our friend "Senator" of the Washington Times:
No wonder they couldn't win. They were jinxed. Did you see it come in and take a front seat, close to the screen?

Did you see Germany Schaefer* and Kid Elberfeld shake hands with it?

Well - there you are. Jimmy McAleer grunted and groaned as he saw it come in and take its seat there, and when his hired men communed with the strange thing they call Consul, man-ape, Jimmy knew the nifty Nationals were jinxed and couldn't win.

They didn't either.
So what happened in this game, other than a 6-run fifth inning allowing the Mackites to cruise to victory? Well, a quick bit of googling reveals that there were several famous chimpanzees named Consul who acted on the Vaudeville stage and were generally decked out in men's suits. Here's an obituary for one of them from the New York Times. If you read one obituary for an once-famous acting chimp today, read this one.

Well, now we all know it's bad luck to shake hands with a chimp before a baseball game.

In other, more relevant news, for the first time this season, the Philadelphia Athletics are not a losing team. At 8-8, they're 7.5 games back from the red hot Tigers, who are still yet to lose their third contest.

* The other day I mentioned that Harry Davis had once stolen first base from second. Germany Schaefer was the player most associated with this strategy, which MLB eventually outlawed. The idea was to set up a double-steal with a player on third - once the catcher threw to second to catch Schaeffer, the runner on third would dash home. If the steal of second didn't draw a throw, the runner would steal first back in order to try the trick again (it's only confirmed that Schaefer tried this trick once, but it's possible it happened other times as well).

Schaefer was generally an average player, but he achieved stardom for his antics on and off the field.
His bio over at the Baseball Biography Project lists some of the best. I love that he tried the old hidden ball trick during the World Series, but my favorite is the bizarre story of showing up at a Philadelphia police court to successfully defend all the drunkards slated to appear that day.

Though we can laugh at the sheer joy of many of his pranks from a safe distance of 100 years. I can't help but wonder what the reaction would be to such a player today. Consider the
reaction to Prince Fielder's bombing of home plate a few years ago. Or Chad Johnson/Ochocinco/Johnson's staged antics over in that other professional sports league. Would today's fans find his antics charming or would it come across as unseemly? I'll bet it would start some healthy arguments in barrooms and blogs.

[Today's source for cartoon, box score, and recap:]

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