Monday, September 10, 2012

Top 5 "Good Guys" from the 1897 RRVL

In a season filled with plenty of bad behavior, here are five of the most gentlemanly personalities from the Red River Valley League of 1897:

1) George Challis - umpire; Fargo manager
It is nearly impossible to find a single bad word written about George Challis. His umpiring work was unanimously considered to be the best in the region. Challis was so respected that after he became Fargo's manager during the 1897 season, he was called upon to finish umpiring one of Fargo's own games after umpire O'Donnell quit the game. A benefit game was played after the season to raise money and show appreciation for Challis.

2) Deacon Phillippe - Fargo's promising young pitcher
Phillippe, on his way to stardom, was by all accounts a humble player during his time in Fargo. His disposition made him instantly popular among local fans, and his work ethic eventually made him a star pitcher in the majors. 

3) Umpire O'Donnell - umpire in 1897
O'Donnell regularly had to deal with nonsense while umpiring league games, particularly from Moorhead catcher Tim Keefe. Early in the season, O'Donnell fined but did not eject Keefe in back-to-back games for arguing and foul language. Later in the season, Keefe's antics caused O'Donnell to leave the field rather than finish umpiring a game between Moorhead and Fargo. Earlier in that game, O'Donnell had ejected Fargo catcher Hartman and had a cop escort him from the field. Impressively, O'Donnell didn't respond in anger at any point despite dealing with plenty of reckless behavior.

4) Peaceful Valley Brown - popular Fargo player
Despite an incident in which he vociferously argued with umpire Tige Lyons and was ejected, Charles "Peaceful Valley" Brown generally lived up to his nickname. He was a consistent player, generally considered to be a gentleman, and became a fan favorite after first playing for Fargo in 1896.

5) Sheriff Bodkin - Moorhead manager
The local sheriff and Moorhead team manager was well-respected in the community. A Civil War veteran who fought for the 104th Illinois infantry, Bodkin achieved the rank of sergeant, spent over three months as a prisoner of war, and was wounded on two separate occasions. In 1876, he began the first of two stints as Clay county sheriff. In 1897, Bodkin took on additional responsibility as manager of the Barmaids. In this role, Bodkin was a strong advocate for the RRVL and his team, the pennant winners for the season. (The Record Vol 3 Issue 8 p. 152 Feb. 1898).

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