July 22, 1897 - Fred Steele fared better in his second start for the Divorcees, but still ended up on the losing end of a 8-3 game against Wahpeton-Breckenridge. Steele, the 21-year-old pitcher from Neola, IA, had a terrible debut for Fargo against Moorhead on June 12th, giving up six runs and lasting just two innings. On this day, Steele was a bit erratic, throwing a wild pitch, walking six, and hitting a batter, but he and the Fargo club entered the ninth inning tied 3-3. The final inning was disastrous,though, as Steele gave up four hits and the team committed four errors.
Though Wahpeton-Breckenridge certainly enjoyed their come from behind win on the Fargo grounds, it still appeared that all was not well for the Methodist franchise. The uncertainty surrounding the future of the W-B team was addressed publicly by Manager Ed Corbett. In the Forum, (July 23) Corbett denied rumors that the Methodists were to be transferred to Crookston to finish out the season, and reasserted clearly that his team was perfectly stable. The coming days would prove otherwise.
Also on this date, Walter Wilmot, player/manager of the Minneapolis Millers of the Western League, was relieved of his duties. The Forum cited the Minneapolis Journal, who accused Wilmot of "poor fielding, poor batting, and worse management in releasing good players." A rumored theory was that Wilmot was trying to devalue the franchise to allow his old friend and Chicago Colt manager Cap Anson to take ownership of the team at a discount rate. Throughout 1897, Anson had worked with Wilmot in the development of a quasi-farm system between Chicago of the National League, Minneapolis of the Western League, and the teams of Red River Valley League. This working relationship is what led Deacon Phillippe and other Western League players to the valley in 1897. With Minneapolis struggling in the standings after some questionable personnel decisions, Wilmot quickly fell out of favor with the Miller magnates. Though Wilmot would return to the Minneapolis franchise the following season, Anson moved on to manage the National League's New York Giants, ruining any future hope of a farm system involving teams in the Red River Valley.* Without big-league backing, the RRVL never got off the ground for the summer of 1898.
*Wilmot, who played six years for Anson in Chicago, spent 35 games as a player for Cap's Giants team in 1898.
Fargo Forum and Daily Republican July 23, 1897 p.4
"Lost in the Ninth" and "After Wilmot"