Saturday, September 22, 2012

Kicking It: A Chronicle of Bad Behavior from the 1897 Red River Valley League

May 27 - Umpire O'Donnell fined Moorhead's mouthy catcher Tim Keefe $2 in a 12-7 Moorhead win. In the same contest, O'Donnell booted Wahpeton-Breckenridge player/manager Ed Corbett for a tantrum in which he nearly "foamed at the mouth." (Moorhead Independent)

May 28 - O'Donnell fined Keefe again for calling him a "vile name", and the Moorhead catcher cemented his entry into the hall of jerkdom. (Fargo Forum)

May 30 - George Challis, then a league umpire, ejected and fined Fargo's Arthur "Tige" Lyons for "abusive language," according the the Sunday Argus. Lyons was fined $2 and then escorted off the grounds by Grand Forks police chief Ryan.

June 13 - An exhibition game got heated and O'Donnell was the umpire in the middle of the fray again. The Wahpeton-Breckenridge club argued unsuccessfully on a fan interference ("block ball") decision. When the dust settled, Ed Corbett's club refused to retake the field, and the game was forfeited to Moorhead.

June 26 - June was a fairly quiet month for bad behavior until a contest between Fargo and Moorhead on the 26th. A display of atrocious umpiring prompted Fargo fans to rush the umpire Tupper after the game, who luckily escaped physical harm from the angry mob.

July 12 - The Forum reported that three Moorhead players were fined a hefty $25 for appearing to a game either very hungover or very drunk. Team captain Jack Page refused to pay the fine for a time, but apparently capitulated, and rejoined the aptly named Barmaids.

July 17 - "Peaceful Valley" Brown uncharacteristically lost his composure in arguing a call by Tige Lyons, who had migrated to the position of RRVL umpire. Brown, Fargo's reliable and well-respected first baseman, was ejected, but allowed to continue playing at the pleading of team captain George Keas.

July 23 - Umpire O'Donnell ejected Ed Corbett again, this time for calling him "vile names." Corbett responded by ordering his team off the field and forfeiting the game.

July 30 - Immediately after a blowout win for Fargo, Wahpeton-Breckenridge first baseman Hart charged umpire Tige Lyons, assaulting him and knocking him to the ground. The Grand Forks Herald speculated that Hart may have been trying to regain the respect of the W-B fans after the team's twelve run drubbing.

August 1 - In a game between Fargo and Moorhead, umpire O'Donnell took issue with each team's catcher. O'Donnell first ejected Fargo's Hartman and ordered him removed from the grounds by a cop. When Moorhead's Tim Keefe began verbal sparring with O'Donnell, the umpire left the field himself in frustration.

August 2 - Fargo fans tended to enjoy Josh Reilly's personality and flair. That was until the nomadic infielder showed his true colors.

August 7-8 - Hard feelings between three members of the Fargo club results in the most interesting drama of the 1897 RRVL season.

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