Monday, May 21, 2012

5 umpires, 3 managers, and 2 captains - Fargo's Volatility in 1897

There was plenty of change for the Fargo team throughout the summer of 1897. I have commented earlier on the fact that the team had at least 33 different men play for them during the season ("Nomads and Vagabonds"). Recall, also, that the season was only about ten weeks long. Some other changes in this short time span:

In the Fargo area, George Challis began the season as the main umpire. When Challis became Fargo's manager (see below), Jimmy Banning became the lead umpire. Not everyone was impressed with Banning's umpiring - in fact, his performance in one game was deemed "awful" by the Forum. After a time, Umpire O'Donnell was featured in many Fargo games. An umpire named Tupper was tried as well, but he was essentially run out of town after an outrageously bad call in June ("It Was Larceny"). Arthur "Tige" Lyons officiated some of Fargo's games later in the season. This is interesting considering his unpleasant departure from the team as a player earlier in the summer ("Fined and Released"). A final umpire Emlay was present at a game in early August. His performance was considered "horrible". Really the only umpire who escaped sharp criticism at any point in the season was Challis. He even took over as umpire in the middle of a Fargo game while he was Fargo's manager! He was universally well-respected.

A note on umpires: they were not rotated between cities and games in the same way they are today. One umpire was at each game, and it was generally preferred to keep the same man umpiring in the same area. 
The managerial post was similarly in flux for Fargo during the summer of 1897. When the team got off to a slow start, Lee Roberts stepped down as Fargo's manager and opted not to stay with the team as a position player. Adam Leech took over for Roberts on an interim basis, and later, George Challis finished the remainder of the season as manager.

Finally, it is notable that Charles "Peaceful Valley" Brown began the season as the team's captain. He also stepped down in favor of fellow Iowan George Keas in the middle of the season.

It is no wonder that Fargo spent most of the year in last place!

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