Tuesday, August 7, 2012

On This Date: Bad Blood Boils Over

Saturday, August 7, 1897 - Tige Lyons apparently was not satisfied with just arguing with Fargo's catcher Ryan at Haas's saloon in downtown Moorhead Friday night. The Red River Valley League umpire and former Fargo player got into a disagreement with Ryan at the bar, and Ryan (or someone with him) knocked Lyons to the floor. The catcher may have hoped he had seen the last of "Tige", and migrated to Murphy's saloon later that night. But Lyons made an unwelcome appearance again, found Ryan, and knocked him out with a "blunt instrument." Interestingly, if it weren't for a followup confrontation Saturday afternoon between the men, the story may never have surfaced.

At about 2:30pm on Saturday, Lyons found Ryan on Broadway in Fargo. On this occasion, he had former Fargo catcher Hartman with him, who was no doubt recruited due to his reckless nature and the fact that Ryan had displaced him as the Fargo backstop. The two men ganged up on Ryan, and Hartman pulled out a razor while Tige cheered him on. As Hartman chased Ryan into Alex Stern's clothing store, Ryan picked up a brick and hurled it at Hartman in self-defense. By this point, officer Bingham of the Fargo police department was on the scene and arrested Hartman. Meanwhile, Lyons took off towards Moorhead in an attempt to escape arrest, but was chased down near the Great Northern bridge and taken in. Later that day, awaiting their appearance before municipal judge Hanson, Hartman made his own escape attempt, but was tracked down by Bingham in a slough on First avenue north.

The two embittered former Fargo players appeared in court before judge Hanson on Monday, but the bizarre chain of events would have a very anti-climactic ending. The cases against both men were dismissed, oddly, because Ryan failed to appear at the hearings. No reason was given for Ryan's absence, and the specific reasons that precipitated the assault were also unclear. The previous week Hartman had been let go in favor of Ryan. After this, Lyons apparently took a barrage of verbal abuse from the new Fargo catcher at the August 2 game between Fargo and Moorhead. What Ryan specifically did or said to Lyons during the game is unclear, but the Moorhead Independent amusingly observed that "the freak catcher yelled and gyrated like an escaped lunatic." The sole reason given in the Forum for the attack was the fact that Ryan had been bad-mouthing Lyons, who apparently was trying to stir up discord among the Fargo players. Ultimately, the resentment among the men, along with a likely liberal flow of alcohol, played a role in spurring the violence.

Lyons and Hartman left the area, and the following June, the men were said to be trying out for a Seattle club. Tige had not made the team, but Hartman was playing "magnificent ball" and had reportedly quit drinking.
Also on Saturday, August 7, second baseman Breuer's four errors hurt the Divorcees in a loss to the Barmaids. Breuer deserves some sympathy as he was likely a local man, called on to fill in after the release and blacklisting of Josh Reilly. The Forum also blamed poor umpiring as a contributing factor in the loss, though they shouldn't have expected much. The game was officiated by a Western Union operator who hadn't umpired a game all year in the Red River Valley League. The Moorhead nine scored two runs in the ninth inning to give pitcher Pike Mullaney yet another win, which fit the mold of a season in which the Barmaids dominated while Fargo struggled to find consistency. The loss went to Gus Munch, who surrendered just five hits, struck out six, and gave up no earned runs. 

Fargo Forum and Daily Republican
August 7, 1897 Front page "Baseballists Scrap"
August 9, 1897 p.3 "City Locals"; p.4 "Saturday's Game"
August 10, 1897 p.3 "City Locals"
June 20, 1898 p.4 "Baseball"

Moorhead Independent
August 6, 1897 Front page "A Battle Royal"

Sunday Argus
August 8, 1897 p. 6 "Two Home Runs"

1 comment:

  1. You've got a nice little historical, sports-themed soap opera here!