Posts Tagged ‘Johnny Lush’

A Dozen Things You Should Know About Johnny Lush

August 30, 2016
Johnny Lush in 1911

Johnny Lush in 1910

In keeping with a theme of my fantasy league team (see the Vin Campbell post below) here’s a look at another member of my team and a more traditional use of my “A Dozen Things You Should Know About…” format.
1. John Lush was born in October 1885 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania to a lumberman (he didn’t cut the logs, he shipped them) and his wife.

2. In May 1895 he entered Girard College, a college preparatory school, not an actual college. By 1920, Girard produced 13 Major League players, at the time a record for American high schools.

3. In 1903 he graduated from Girard and signed on with the Williamsport in the minors. The next year he joined the Phillies.

4. He played first and pitched for Philadelphia in 1904 going 0-6 on the mound and hitting .276 at the plate. Although Philadelphia wanted him back, he chose to play closer to home in 1905 and signed with Williamsport.

5. Back with Williamsport in 1905, he became specialized in pitching, developing an overhand curve (we call it a 12-6 curve today). In 1906 he made it back to the Phillies, also primarily as a left-handed pitcher.

6. On 1 May 1906 he became the youngest man to ever pitch a no-hitter. He beat Brooklyn 6-0. In 1907 he moved to St. Louis (the Cards, not the Browns) and threw a second no-hitter in August 1908, also against Brooklyn. The game ended after six innings because of rain and is not currently recognized by MLB as a no-hitter.

7. He retired after the 1910 season with a record of 66-85 and an ERA of 2.68 (ERA+ of 97). He walked 413 batters, struck out 490, and ended up with 5.8 WAR.

8. He spent 1911 through 1914 in the minors leagues, primarily in the Pacific Coast League.

9. Lush moved to Hawaii after he was through with baseball and opened a high-end antique and jewelry business that made him quite a bit of money.

10. He was still there in 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He was in nearby Honolulu at the time.

11. Remaining in Hawaii for the duration of the war, he moved back to the mainland in 1946.

12. Johnny Lush died in Los Angeles in 1946.

Johnny Lush's grave

Johnny Lush’s grave



1910: Cardinals Postmortem

September 3, 2010

By 1910 there was nothing to indicate how important the St. Louis Cardinals would be to the 20th Century National League. The Cardinals in the first decade of the century were terrible. There was no change in 1910.

For the entire period of the Deadball Era (1900-20) the Cardinals  finished with the worst record in the National League. At least in 1910 they weren’t last. The Cards finished seventh with a 63-90 record, 40.5 games out of first.

Manager Roger Bresnahan simply didn’t have a lot to work with at St. Louis, installing himself as the backup catcher and even pitching one inning of one game. He hit .273, stole 13 bases, had 15 doubles, scored 35 runs, and was easily the best player on a woeful bench. The entire bench failed to hit a home run (the Cards finished last in homers) and no one other than Bresnahan had double figure runs scored.

Which brings me to the starters. Most of them were at least a bit better than the bench. First baseman Ed Konetchy hit .302, slugged .425, and led the team with 78 RBIs. Outfielder Rube Ellis hit all of four home runs to lead the team. Miller Huggins, future Hall of Fame manager, led the NL in walks, stole a team high 34 bases, and his 101 runs scored led the team and was good for second in the NL. The team as a whole finished fifth in runs, sixth in average and slugging, and first in walks.

The problem  with the hitting was nothing compared to the pitching. The team finished last in ERA, strikeouts, shutouts, and first in hits allowed.  Twenty-four year old lefty Johnny Lush ( please tell me he wasn’t a drinker) led the team with 14 wins and was the only pitcher with a winning record (14-13). Unfortunately he had more walks than strikeouts and more hits than innings pitched. Of  the six Cardinals pitchers who pitched in 10 or more games, four gave up both more hits than innings pitched and had more walks than strikeouts. Bob Harmon managed to lead the NL with 133 walks while striking out only 87. His ERA was 4.46, a gigantic ERA for a Deadball pitcher with 33 starts.

All in all, St. Louis didn’t look good in 1910 and didn’t look like it could compete for a pennant in 1911 (they moved up to fifth in 1911). The hitting wasn’t all that bad, although it wasn’t all that good either (Can you say “mediocre”?). But if the pitching didn’t improve the team would continue to flounder. The pitching didn’t, and the team did.

Opening Day, 1910: St. Louis (NL)

April 12, 2010

Miller Huggins (1910)

I asked myself one day which National League team had the worst overall record in the Deadball Era. Answer: the St. Louis Cardinals. Considering what they’ve meant to baseball since, I find that a lot strange. By the start of the 1910 season, the last time they’d seen the first division was 1901. In 1909 they finished 56 games out of first.

In 1909 they picked up a new manager, Hall of Fame catcher Roger Bresnahan. He immediately inserted himself as the backup catcher and almost as quickly came into conflict with most of his players. He was from the Giants, had been Christy Mathewson’s catcher, and was a student of John McGraw. The Cardinals weren’t very Giantlike and it created problems for Bresnahan.

The team, as befits a seventh place finisher, underwent major changes going into the 1910 season. Half the starters were new. Ed Konetchy was still at first and hitting cleanup, but Miller Huggins was over from Cincinnati to play second and leadoff. Arnie Howser was now the shortstop and eight hitter, with Mike Mowrey, a previous backup, taking over at third and hitting seventh.

The outfield consisted of holdovers Rube Ellis in left and Steve Evans in right, They hit second and fifth. The new guys was Rebel Oakes, like Huggins, from Cincinnati. He took the three hole. And the regular catcher was seven hitter Ed Phelps.

The bench was Bresnahan catching, Rudy Hulwitt the backup middle infielder, Frank Betcher another backup infielder, and Ody Abbott as the fourth outfielder. It wasn’t much of a bench,, Bresnahan being the only one to manage .250 during the season.

The pitching staff of 1909 consisted of six guys who failed to break even on the mound. Fred Beebe, Johnny Lush, Slim Sallee, Bob Harmon, Charlie Rhodes, and Les Backman are all pretty obscure, and there’s a reason for that. Only Sallee would ever do much. By 1910 Beebe was gone, replaced by Vic Willis who came to St. Louis from pennant winning Pittsburgh. Eddie Higgins, 1909’s bullpen man, managed only two games in 1910 and was ultimately replaced by committee. There just wasn’t much of an improvement for the staff over the offseason.

There was very little reason for hope in St. Louis as the 1910 season began. The changes were insignificant, but at least the average age of the pitchers had gone from  23 to 26, so the added maturity might be a blessing. Also Huggins appeared to be a real player and Bresnahan’s fire was encouraging. But when you’ve just finished 56 games out, you need more than maturity and fire. You need talent.

Next: Boston