On The Road Again

This is supposed to be a picture of the 1884 St. Paul Apostles

This is supposed to be a picture of the 1884 St. Paul Apostles

When Willie Nelson penned “On the Road Again” he saw it as a joy to get moving and live a life he loved. OK for Willie I guess, but I never figured out how he could leave Dyan Cannon for that other broad in the flick. But for the St. Paul Apostles it was a different story. It was all on the road and it wasn’t particularly successful.

In 1884, Minnesota was part of a bustling minor league area of the upper Midwest. The primary league was the Northwest League and it was, as was true of a lot of leagues, in financial trouble. By August most of the teams folded, but the team in St. Paul hung on. The team was called the Apostles, but was sometimes known as the White Caps or the Saints. No one’s quite sure which, if any, were official.

The year 1884 saw the formation of the Union Association, a one year wonder of a major league. It was, for the entire season, on shaky financial ground and teams folded and were formed during the season. A few of the franchises, notably the one in St. Louis, were stable, but others not so much. By September the league was in trouble and looking for teams to help flush out a schedule. St. Paul was looking for a league to play in. It was an obvious match, almost a match made in heaven (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

On 27 September 1884, the Apostles (or White Caps, or Saints, or God knows what else) played their first major league game against the Cincinnati team in Cincinnati. They lost 6-1. On the 30th and the 1st of October they played two more games against Cincy, both games in Cincinnati. They lost 6-1 again and 7-0. The 2nd of October was a travel day which took them to St. Louis for a two game series against the Maroons, the league leader. They lost the first game 8-5, then on 5 October 1884 they won their first game by beating the Maroons 1-0. From there it was on to Kansas City for a three game set. The Apostles reached their apex on 8 October when they defeated Kansas City 9-5 to run their record to 2-4. It was downhill from there. They dropped the next game at Kansas City 7-2, then fashioned a 4-4 tie on 12 October. The next day they closed out their season back in St. Louis taking at 6-2 for a final record of 2-6-1. They ended the season 39.5 games out of first. The Union Association folded at the end of the season and the Apostles were through with Major League play.

But did you notice something about the games? They’re all road games. The Apostles are the only team in Major League history to never play a home game. Not a single home game. Not one. It’s a strange record not likely to ever be broken.

So now you’re bound to be asking, “Just exactly who are these guys?” Glad you asked. The team consisted of 11 players. The manager was Andrew Thompson. It was his only year as a Major League manager so he finished his career with a 2-6-1 record, a .250 winning percentage, and not one home win to his credit. Here’s the roster for you to check out.
Charlie Ganzel–was the primary catcher. He played several years in the Majors (1885-97) hitting .259 with 10 home runs and helped the Beaneaters to a National League pennant.

Steve Dunn–played first. It was his only season in the Major Leagues. His .250 led the Apostles in hitting and is the franchise record.

Emery “Moxie” Hengel–played second.  He played a few games for Chicago’s Union Association team before joining St. Paul. In 1885 he played seven games for Buffalo in the National League.

Joe Werrick–was the shortstop. His .074 average was the team low and is also the franchise record for futility. He did get into several games for Louisville in the American Association in 1886-1888. His hitting improved. He managed to hit ,285 in 1887 and had 7 home runs with 99 RBIs.

Bill O’Brien–was the third baseman. He had a solid big league career from 1887 through 1890. He hit .256 for a career and led the NL in home runs with 19 for Washington in 1887. He hit 13 for the entire rest of his career. He pitched in one game for the Apostles and got the win (that ties the franchise record for wins).

John “Scrappy” Carroll–outfielder. He played a little in 1885 for Buffalo and then resurfaced in 1887 when he played 57 games for Cleveland in the American Association.

Bill Barnes–played outfield. It was his only season in the Major Leagues.

John Tilley–was an outfielder. He’d played 15 games for the Cleveland Blues of the NL in 1882 and hit all of .082. He showed up again in 1884 with Toledo in the American Association hitting .179 in 17 games. He joined the Apostles after leaving Toledo and never played another Major League game.

Lou Galvin–pitched in three games going 0-2 with an ERA of .288. He struck out 17 and walked 10. It was his only Major League duty. As far as I can determine, he isn’t related to Hall of Fame pitcher Pud Galvin.

Jim Brown–pitched and played outfield. He began the season with Altoona in the Union Association, then went to the Giants. He ended up with St. Paul and went 1-4, tying O’Brien for the franchise record in wins. He struck out 20 and walked 14 (both franchise records). He shows up in the Majors again in 1886 with the Philadelphia Athletics of the American Association. He went 1-4 in his last big league season.

Pat Dealy–caught and played outfield. He moved on from St. Paul to play both 1885 and 1886 with Boston in the National League, playing all over the diamond (but mostly as a catcher). He played third and caught for Washington in 1887, then in 1890 showed up as a utility player for Syracuse of the American Association.

With no home games St. Paul has to be one of the more unusual teams to ever play in the Majors. It’s nine total games are among the lowest in history. I wonder if it had any home fans following them in the papers. That was, after all, about the only way a home town fan could follow them without leaving town.

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5 Responses to “On The Road Again”

  1. The Baseball Bloggess Says:

    Wow! I loved this!

    With all the snow and foul weather this season, 14 of the University of Virginia’s first home games were either cancelled or played in South Carolina or North Carolina. They did pretty well. Now, that the weather is better and they’ve finally played some home games this past week, they look awful. I think we need to just keep them on the road!

  2. Precious Sanders Says:

    Sounds like “Apostles” was a good name for them, not playing any home games. They wandered after baseball like the disciples wandered after Jesus.

  3. William Miller Says:

    Really cool post. I’d never heard of this team, regardless of its name. It’s pretty awesome to bat .250 in a season, and have that be the all-time franchise record that would never be broken. Lots of great trivia questions can be mined from this post.
    Nice job,
    Bill

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