Posts Tagged ‘John J. McGraw’

A Dozen Things You Should Know About John T. Brush

December 27, 2014
John T. Brush

John T. Brush

1. John Tomlinson Brush was born in Clintonville, NY on 15 June 1845.

2. He served in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

3. In 1875 he opened a department store in Indianapolis. It’s main item was clothing.

4. In 1887 he became part owner of the Indianapolis Hoosiers of the National League. He wasn’t particularly a baseball fan, but he saw the open spaces on the outfield fences as a way to advertise he store.

5. In 1889 he came up with a plan to categorize players in five categories. Players in the highest category (Class A) would be paid $2500 with players in class B would receive $2250, class C would receive $2000, class D would get $1750 and class E would receive $1500 for a yearly salary. This was supposed to stop high salaries and, because salaries were uniform, stop players from trying to change teams. As a result, John Montgomery Ward formed the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players.

6. In 1890 Brush became part owner of the New York Giants (Indianapolis was dropped  from the NL). In 1891 he became owner of Cincinnati. In Cincinnati he crossed paths with Ban Johnson, a local reporter. The two men hated each other so much that Brush nominated Johnson to head the Western League in 1894 just to get Johnson out-of-town.

7. In 1901 he proposed the NL become the National League Base Ball Trust. The trust would assign players to team, determine umpires and managers, and make all teams be owned by the trust. In the annual league meeting the Trust was defeated (although it gained four votes).

8. In 1902 Brush began running the Giants and in 1903 took over control of the team. Still owner of the Reds and also owner of the Baltimore Orioles of the American League (now the Yankees), he pulled all his good players from the Reds and Orioles and formed the Giants team that would win pennants in 1904, 1905, 1911, and 1912. Among other things, he brought John McGraw to New York. BTW “syndicate baseball” (owning interest in 2 or more teams), was only outlawed in 1910.

9. In 1904 he refused to let his pennant winning Giants play the American League’s Boston team in a second World Series. Ban Johnson was President of the AL and Brush was still angry over the 1890s conflict with Johnson.

10. In 1908 his team ended up on the wrong side of the Merkle Boner game. When NL President Henry Clay Pulliam ruled the game had to be replayed (and NY lost) Brush attacked Pulliam mercilessly. Some sources contend Brush’s attacks were a major factor in Pulliam’s 1909 suicide.

11. In 1912 he was injured in an automobile accident. In November 1912, while on the way to recuperate in California, Brush died on a train while passing through Missouri.

12. He has never received much support for the Hall of Fame.

John K. Tener: Pitcher, Governor and League President

March 28, 2010

John Kinley Tener's baseball card

Horatio Alger has come under fire in the last century or so. His stories of ragamuffin boys rising to greatness were never really true. Oh, it did happen, but not as frequently as Alger’s strories implied. One of the men it happened to was John Kinley Tener.

Tener was born in Ireland in 1863. His widowed mother brought the family to the US. She died the same year leaving Tener an orphan. He managed to complete his schooling and started work in a steel factory in Pittsburgh, where he played for the local ball team. He spent the years 1885-1888 pitching for semi-pro and local teams. He was good enough to come to the attention of Chicago manager Cap Anson. He played for the second place White Stockings, going 11-7 with more strikeouts than walks and an ERA of 2.74 in 12 games. The season ended with a world tour to promote baseball. Tener went along, was chosen the team treasurer, and came to the attention of John Montgomery Ward. Ward made him Secretary of the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players and he followed the union to the Player’s League in 1890. He left baseball following the collapse of the Brotherhood’s league with a record of 25-31 and 174 strikeouts in 506 innings.

Governor John Kenley Tener

He tried banking and was successful. He became a major civic leader, serving on the board of a bridging company and a railway line. In 1908 he ran for election as a Republican to the US House of Representatives from the 24th Congressional District of Pennsylvania. He ousted seven term congressman Ernest F. Acheson. In Washington his chief claim to fame was the creation of the Congressional baseball game which is still held. In 1911 he was elected Governor of Pennsylvania with 42% of the vote (there were three candidates), becoming the first Governor of Pennsylvania born outside the US since the 18th Century.

As Governor, Tener was a mild Progressive, supporting road improvement, regulation of public utilities, and public school reform. He set up an old age pension program for widows, one of the first in the nation. This made him popular and somewhat polarizing. In 1913, baseball came calling again.

The National League was having severe problems in the middle of the decade. The American League was outstripping them in both attendance and in playing skill. Much of the problem was supposed to be a lack of firm leadership at the top. In 1913 the league moguls decided not to renew the term of league President (Thomas Lynch). They offered the job to Tener. He accepted, but refused to take salary ($25,000 per year) while also receiving his salary as Governor of Pennsylvania. He held both jobs until April, 1915.

As NL President, Tener had to face the growing clout of the AL and the 1914 challenge of the newly formed Federal League. He did better against the Feds than against the AL. He attacked the Feds at every opportunity, and was instrumental in pushing through the settlement that led to the collapse of the new league in 1915. He vigorously opposed gambling and issued stringent rules againt umpire-baiting by players and managers. This led inevitably to a confrontation with Giants manager John J. McGraw. In June 1917 he suspended McGraw for striking an umpire. McGraw drew a 16 day suspension and a $500 fine. McGraw, being McGraw, told anyone who would listen, including the newspapers, what he thought of Tener and where Tener and all his relations could go. Tener responded by upping the fine to $1500 (this is more or less equivalent to Judge Landis suspending Babe Ruth in the 1920s).  That helped him get a one year contract extension as NL President. He served the year and retired in 1918, one year before the Black Sox scandal occurred and two years before it exploded into the headlines. His worries about gambling seemed to be true.

In retirement he returned to his business interests, ran again for Governor of Pennsylvania (he lost, coming in third), and ultimately becoming a director of the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1930s. He died in 1946, aged 82.

Tener led an interesting and involved life. He moves from baseball to banking to politics and back to baseball with ease. His Horatio Alger story is true. But more importantly,  as far as I can tell he’s the only state Governor to have a baseball card (an 1880s cigarette card). Now that’s worth celebrating.