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Spring Training at Marlin, Texas

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1 Spring Training at Marlin, Texas
Our SABR chapter has been working on a project to LOCATE and COMMEMORATE former major league baseball spring training sites here in Texas. I volunteered to take Marlin, and today I’d like to tell you what I found out. Next to San Antonio, Marlin was the most popular spring training site in Texas; five different teams spent all or part of sixteen springs in Marlin. This picture was taken in the spring of 1913, showing the New York Giants on the front portico of the Arlington Hotel in downtown Marlin. Early 20th Century Major League Baseball in a Central Texas Town Monte Cely – Society for American Baseball Research

2 Spring Training at Marlin, Texas
Waco TX7 Marlin Exit 315 IH35 Austin Who here has been to Marlin?? It’s pretty easy to get to – halfway between Austin and Dallas – just go north on IH35 to exit 315, then take Texas HW 7 east to Marlin. Marlin is the county seat of Falls County. In the early 20th Century – in the time frame we’ll be talking about - its population was around 4,000; today it’s about 7,000. San Marcos Marlin is the county seat of Falls County. It is located about 100 miles northeast of Austin, and 100 miles south of Dallas.

3 Why Did Baseball Come to Marlin?
Good Rail Service By 1902, three rail lines offered service into Marlin: Houston & Texas Central International – Great Northern Missouri Pacific “Taking The Waters” The hot mineral waters were discovered in 1892 and the first bath house was built in 1895 Why did baseball come to Marlin? It all had to do with the hot mineral waters for which Marlin was famous. Because of the hot mineral waters that were discovered in Marlin in 1892, bath houses and first class hotels were rapidly built over the next decade. Marlin was already a cotton processing center, and in addition to the growing “health tourism trade”, it developed very good rail service for a town its size. The good hotels and rail connections were very attractive to major league teams looking to spend five or six weeks in warmer weather. As many as seven major league teams concurrently trained in Texas in the early 1900s. Marlin was centrally located among the towns and cities hosting these teams. NOTE – Marlin Commercial Club was founded in 1908; changed name to Marlin Chamber of Commerce in 1918. First Class Hotels Due to the curative waters and health vacationers, Marlin built many fine hotels

4 Early Major League Visitors to Marlin
1903 Discussions with Chicago Americans Improvements made to “ball field at Old Fairgrounds” 1904 1905 1903 was the beginning of major league baseball’s interest in Marlin: Ted Sullivan, a baseball entrepreneur and executive of the Texas League in Dallas, was promoting Texas for major league spring training He also a close associate of Chicago baseball owner Charles Comiskey Sullivan wrote to Marlin in Feb to inquire about interest in hosting the Chicago Americans Marlin responded two days later that the city could be ready; Comiskey himself answered the following week – timeframe too short for 1903 but he definitely left door open for 1904 City proceeded with improvements to the “ball field at the fairgrounds” In December, Ted Sullivan came to Marlin for a meeting at the Arlington Hotel. He pronounced that all arrangements were satisfactory, Chicago would come in the Spring of 1904. The Chicago team, who just began using the team name “White Sox”, did indeed come in 1904; arriving on March 7. Four Chicago newspapermen traveled with the team – the local Marlin Democrat reporter stated “.. A million people, may possibly for the first time, learn Marlin’s location on the map.” Later in March, two of Marlin’s city fathers traveled to Houston to inquire about the Cardinals also training in Marlin in Done with support of White Sox, who would save some travel costs if another team trained there. Eventually backfired, as Chicago & St. Louis could not agree on terms. Chicago did not return in 1905 (it was common practice for teams not to have a “permanent’ spring training home). St. Louis came in 1905, followed by the Reds in Reds owner Garry Hermann was also chairman of baseball’s National Commission, which is equivalent to being baseball commissioner today. Hermann and Reds manager FC Bancroft inquired about a multi-year deal with Marlin. As a result, a fundraising drive was held in Marlin in early 1907 to enclose the fairgrounds field and add a second diamond. Total dollar goal: $200; $50 of which already pledged by Arlington Hotel. Reds returned in 1907, and were joined for 2 weeks by Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics. While two teams were in Marlin, their reporters sent about 6,000 words per day by telegraph back East. 1906 Expecting at least two teams, further improvements made and second field added 1907

5 Giants Arrive in Marlin
Arlington Hotel was contacted in September 1907 about “ exclusive accommodations..” to Giants for following Spring NY press coverage “… great amount of advertising...” for Marlin’s health industry Giants manager John McGraw announced in December that team would come in ’08; he arrived in Marlin on Washington’s Birthday, February 22, 1908 Arlington Hotel – Baseball HQ in Marlin In the Fall of 1907, Arlington Hotel management received a letter from the Texas League offices in Dallas inquiring as to whether Marlin would give exclusive accommodations to the New York Giants. The letter stated that “ … “It would be much better for you to have the New York team … owing to the great amount of advertising you would get in the New York papers. (Giants manager John) McGraw would bring about 30 or 35 people with him, including the best sporting writers in the country.” McGraw announced in December that the team would indeed train in Marlin in <<pass around copy of New York Times article>> McGraw and the Giants had trained in Los Angeles in 1907, and he felt that there were too many distractions there. So, at the urging of Ted Sullivan in Dallas, McGraw decided to give Marlin a try. As would become his custom, McGraw sent his prospects and rookies to Marlin early in the care of some trusted veterans; that group departed from New York by steamship to New Orleans. They then came by rail to Marlin, arriving on Feb McGraw himself arrived from Los Angeles on Feb. 22, 1908 to inspect the youngsters. The veterans arrived from all across the country by March 1. So began an 11 season affair between the Giants and Marlin…

6 Giants in Marlin Over eleven seasons, Giants became a part of the Marlin community: Numerous benefit games for local groups and charities Played against the Marlin High School team Annual fish-fries at the Falls “Thank You Ball” held at the Arlington each year before leaving town Citizens of Marlin deeded practice field to the Giants Practiced in Marlin during week, took train to other cities for weekend “split squad” games The Giants became a part of the Marlin community for about six weeks every Spring. This picture is one of the best known photos ever taken at a major league spring training, and it happened right here in Marlin. (We’ll talk in more detail about this picture later). For most of their training seasons, the Giants practiced and played intra-squad games in Marlin during the week, and then traveled by rail to other Texas cities on the weekend to play “split squad” games with other major and minor league teams. (by split-squad, I mean a team of youngsters, or “Yannigans” as they were called, and a team of veterans). Some of their practice games in Marlin were designated as fund-raisers for local charities. The proceeds of the gate, usually 25 cents per person, went to organizations such as the Marlin Ladies Social Club, the Waco Negro School, the Municipal Music Club, and the Daughters of the Confederacy. Beginning in 1910, the Giants scheduled an annual match with the Marlin High School team (.. can you imagine this happening today??). Businesses would shut down early so that the local folks could see their boys play the major leaguers. During the last week of their stay each year, the community and the team would host events for each other. A fish fry was usually sponsored by the Marlin Commercial Club (forerunner to the Chamber of Commerce); and the Giants would reciprocate by hosting a “Thank You Ball” at the Arlington on their last night in town. As you can imagine, these events were “the place to be” for Marlin society. Giants walking Houston & Texas Central RR tracks to Marlin practice field picture taken in 1913 by Christy Mathewson

7 Giants in Marlin 1908-1918 John McGraw Manager First permanent spring
training camp Made a great impression on the people of Marlin Enjoyed golf, poker, bridge, and jazz in Marlin “If we do win the flag this year, much of the credit will go to Marlin.” Spring, 1908 First manager to fly? Marlin to Waco in 1918 John McGraw Manager Let’s talk about some of the baseball personalities that came to Marlin: John McGraw was the manager, and later part-owner of the New York Giants. They were the best-known, wealthiest team in baseball at that time; and McGraw was the best-known and most controversial manager of his era. McGraw was an innovator, and his spring training operation in Marlin is generally credited with being the first permanent spring training site in baseball. By having a permanent site, he could bring his prospects and rookies to camp early for training and evaluation. McGraw was a fierce competitor during a ball game. He often stretched the rules of play to the breaking point, and beyond, to try to win every ball game. OFF THE FIELD, however, he was gracious to all and he was known for helping out many former ball players that had fallen on hard times after their playing career was over. He was very well-received by folks in Marlin. He had a humorous side as well. During one of the annual games against Marlin High School, McGraw divided the Giants into three squads, corresponding to the split squads for that coming weekend’s travel. He planned to play his squads three innings each against the schoolboys. He then quipped to the local reporter “We should beat these boys, we’re using three teams against them.” Off the field in Marlin, McGraw enjoyed all that Marlin had to offer. McGraw was a walking advertisement for Marlin, often praising the town Another first may have occurred in Marlin – in spring, the Giants played the U.S. Army Flying Service training squadron from Rich Field in Waco. After the game, McGraw climbed into one of their planes and flew from Marlin to Waco for dinner with the camp commandant.

8 Giants in Marlin 1908-1918 Christy Mathewson Pitching Ace
Baseball superstar and team’s “ace” pitcher Early “college man” in professional baseball Photographic memory Checkers champion, took on all challengers at Arlington Hotel Besides McGraw, another larger-than-life Giants’ personality during their years in Marlin was pitcher Christy Mathewson. Mathewson was arguably the biggest star player in the game in the decade prior to Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, and Babe Ruth. Mathewson was part of an early generation of college educated baseball players. He played football and baseball at Bucknell College prior to turning pro. Both John McGraw and Connie Mack favored college men because they felt they were easier to train and more flexible. Mathewson was said to have a photographic memory, and he credited this gift with allowing him to remember batters’ weaknesses over the course of his career. He also displayed his mental abilities in Marlin by playing as many as eight concurrent challengers in checkers. He is reported to have lost only one match out of the hundreds he played at the Arlington Hotel. A Professor Plummer, the supt. of the Moody schools, managed to defeat Matty by winning one and tying two games in a three game match. This picture of Mathewson was probably taken at the Arlington Hotel, where the Giants had posed for an advertisement promoting Patrick-Duluth Company Mackinaws, which Mathewson is wearing here. Mathewson won 373 games in a 17 year career, and was an early inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

9 “America’s Greatest Athlete” AP poll 1951
Giants in Marlin “America’s Greatest Athlete” AP poll 1951 Won 2 Gold Medals at 1912 Stockholm Olympics Played in 1912 Carlisle vs. West Point football game Spent parts of 6 seasons with Giants, but excelled on the gridiron Golfed and took tennis lessons in Marlin Returned to Marlin in 1951 Jim Thorpe Olympian Football Hall of Famer We see that baseball hall of famers spent time in Marlin. A famous football hall of famer was here too. Jim Thorpe, considered by many to be America’s greatest athlete, came to Marlin after a busy year in 1912. During the summer of 1912, Thorpe won gold medals in the Pentathalon and Decathalon at the Stockholm Olympics. That Fall, Thorpe played in the Carlisle Indian School football game against West Point. In addition to Thorpe starring for Carlisle, the Carlisle team was coached by Glenn “Pop” Warner and the West Point team included Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley. Topic of recent book “Carlisle vs. Army” Thorpe had played semi-pro baseball, and McGraw felt he was a “natural” that would be an asset to the Giants, as well as a great drawing-card. McGraw convinced Thorpe to sign a contract in February, 1913 and two days later the “Big Indian”, as McGraw called him, arrived in Marlin. He impressed all with his batting power, knocking home runs beyond the tennis courts past left field at Emerson Park. Thorpe went on to play six seasons for the Giants. He was an average baseball player, but he excelled in football and became one of pro football’s early stars. Thorpe also enjoyed golf and tennis when he was in Marlin. He was a scratch golfer, often joining Mathewson at the Marlin golf course. He also took tennis lessons in Marlin from Thomas Glass, one of Marlin’s future doctors. Jim Thorpe made a return visit to Marlin in 1951, when the Rotary Club invited him to preside over the Okla-Texas PeeWee Football championship game that was held that December in Marlin.

10 Giants in Marlin 1908-1918 “Rube” Marquard Pitcher Was he
“trigger happy” in Marlin ? There were many colorful baseball characters that came to Marlin, but I’ll just touch on one more – Richard “Rube” Marquard. Was in Marlin each spring from 1909 – 1915; he was eccentric, and sometimes brought a pistol with him to spring training and on road trips. Accounts vary as to the date and location, but one spring Marquard got out his pistol and shot out some lights in Marlin. One account said it happened at the theater, another stated he fired out his hotel room window at some billboard lights across the street. All accounts do agree that a Falls County sheriffs deputy arrived to take Marquard into custody. This provoked McGraw into a jawboning session, and threatening, with the local lawman that finally led to the pitcher’s release. Interestingly, there is no account of this incident in the local Marlin newspaper. This incident, plus the Giants’ ongoing complaints about the food and increasingly outdated accomodations at the Arlington, are rumored to have led to the team’s later abandonment of Marlin. Despite his eccentricities, Marquard was a very good left handed pitcher and was eventually elected to the baseball hall of fame.

11 Marlin’s Ball Parks East Side Field at the Fairgrounds – used by White Sox, Cardinals, Reds and Athletics – 1904 – 1907; used when Giants first arrived Emerson Park – Most famous of the Marlin fields. Giants’ permanent facility – 1911–1918; named after Marlin Postmaster Dunn R. Emerson Rimes Park – secondary field used by Giants to accommodate large contingents in 1915, 1917 and 1918; named for Rimes family that included several lawyers and judges. LOCATE?? – so where did these ball teams play in Marlin? Accounts in baseball books would lead you to believe that there was only one location in Marlin. However, by researching the articles in the Marlin Daily Democrat archives (published six days a week in the early 1900s), I’ve identified three fields that were used by the major leaguers. These fields followed a logical transition. First was the “Fairgrounds Field”, also referred to as the “East Side Field”. This was a ball field at the site of the county fairgrounds, which was in east Marlin (I’ll show you a map in a minute). This makes a lot of sense, as many early baseball fields were at racetracks so that the grandstands would not have to be duplicated. Also, a ball field could fit within the infield of a mile oval racetrack. After the Giants came to Marlin, they decided they wanted their own facility. McGraw selected a four-acre plot of land in South Marlin before he left town in late March, In 1911, this location was deeded to the team in a ceremony at the new field. Marlin Postmaster Dunn R. Emerson, who had led the effort to finance the land acquisition and improvements, presided over the ceremony. This field soon became known as Emerson Park, and is also known by older Marlin residents as Giants Park. Later, the Giants had so many players in camp (up to 60) that they needed a second field. There was an abandoned ball field a few blocks west of the Arlington, that had previously been used by Marlin’s high school team. This field was improved and became known as Rimes Park. The Giants used this as a secondary field through 1918, and it was also home to a minor league team that operated in Marlin in 1923 and 1924, the Marlin Bathers in the Class D Texas Association.

12 Marlin’s Ball Parks 1904 - 1918 Emerson Park Rimes Park
Here are pictures of two of the fields, Emerson and Rimes. Emerson was a mile south of downtown, carved out of undeveloped land. So pictures that look barren beyond the fences were taken at Emerson. Rimes was just west of the courthouse and downtown business area of Marlin. Consequently, pictures of Rimes will have trees and buildings in the background.

13 A Closer Look at This Famous Marlin Photo
Marlin Oil Co. Cotton Gin tower Imperial Hotel Man on horse is on Aycock Street Nash Robinson & Co. Building (Lumber) Majestic Hotel & Bath Let’s take a closer look at this famous spring training photo that was taken in Marlin. <<pass around a big print of this page>> I wanted to see if I could locate where this picture was taken. I used as resources a wider angle picture that I found in a history book. I used the Marlin city history that was published in 1976 by the chamber of commerce to identify some of the buildings. Another key resource was the Sanborn Maps, city maps of that time that were compiled for fire and casualty insurance purposes. Our city librarians got me hooked up to the online Sanborn Maps database. I knew that this picture was taken in 1913, and the closest Sanborn Map of Marlin was dated 1916. From that, I was able to identify the following … < read around the map from top left > Christy Mathewson is probably standing on a wagon or auto on the Jones St. crossing to take this picture Sun is in the west, so this was afternoon practice

14 Baseball Sites Around Marlin
Houston & Texas Central Tracks Now the Marlin Post Office Bath House Arlington Hotel in Marlin Baseball Headquarters Arlington Hotel Imperial Majestic Coleman St. Fortune St. Rimes Park Court House Bridge St. Live Oak - TX7 Bounded by Vance, Bridge, Bartlett and Fortune Streets Fannin St. Wood St. H&TC Depot I&GN Depot Park St. Aycock St. East Side Fairgrounds South of Park St. east of Gresham Emerson Park So I mentioned that our task was to locate and commemorate the early spring training sites in Texas. Here’s my summary of the “location” research results – showing the three fields in relationship to other Marlin spring training highlights. Bounded by San Antonio St. Bernard Ave. and Kennedy St. International & Great Northern Tracks Giants walking to Emerson Park NY Giants at their Training Grounds at Emerson Park, Marlin

15 Major League Baseball Leaves Central Texas
Post World War travel and schedule restrictions in 1919 Gradual development in Florida Slowly, Major League teams left Texas for Florida and eventually Arizona Giants and White Sox both made brief returns to Marlin in 1923 Last two teams were in San Antonio in early 1940s The Giants did not return to Marlin in Travel restrictions, a curtailed post-war regular season schedule, and the Giants’ belief that not many other teams would train in Texas led them to look elsewhere. They spent the spring of 1919 at the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, Florida. Although they did return to Texas in 1920 and spent a few springs in San Antonio, gradually major league teams left Texas over the next two decades. Civic fathers and entrepreneurs began investing in baseball facilities in Florida, and as rail and road service improved many major league teams relocated there. Marlin had a brief curtain call in the Spring of 1923, when the Giants sent their pitchers and catchers to Marlin for early workouts. On the same day that the Giants were leaving Marlin that spring, they met the incoming White Sox pitchers and catchers in the lobby of the Arlington. So in a twist of fate, the team that first came to Marlin, the Chicago White Sox, were also the last team to train here, leaving Marlin on March 8, 1923. The last two major league teams that trained in Texas were the Boston Braves and the St. Louis Browns, who both spent their last Texas spring in San Antonio in 1941.

16 Baseball Commemorative Display at Marlin Public Library
So that’s the “locate” piece of our task. Here’s the “commemorate” … I did a great deal of the research for this paper at Marlin’s new library, the Pauline & Jane Chilton Memorial Marlin Public Library. It’s really a centerpiece in town The librarians were great to work with … and they were very receptive to hosting a commemorative baseball display. The display includes pictures, narrative, and a collection of books that they ordered from the bibliography of my paper. Also included in the display is a set of period baseball cards of Giants players – on loan from Jerry Adamic’s collection in Richardson, Texas.

17 100th Anniversary Baseball Series
in the Marlin Democrat Take picture of newspaper front pages And insert here Another piece of the commemoration was a baseball series that ran in the local Marlin newspaper. The three-part series celebrated the 100th anniversary of John McGraw’s arrival in Marlin. … pass around a copy of first installment. STILL IN PROGRESS: I hope to have an article based on this research published in the Baseball Research Journal in the near future. Falls County Historical Society is going to apply for a Texas state historical marker to be placed at the location of the Arlington Hotel. They are doing fund-raising to this end now … Three-article series in local newspaper (Feb. 6, 13, 20, issues) celebrating John McGraw’s arrival in Marlin on Feb. 22, 1908

18 Spring Training at Marlin, Texas
QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS ? Monte Cely – Society for American Baseball Research (512) Questions or comments? If you’d like a copy of this presentation, or my research paper (16 pages), call or me and I’d be happy to send them to you.

19 Credits for Pictures Used in this Presentation
Slide 1 – Giants at Arlington Hotel (1913) – Dr. James Bryan & Falls County Historical Commission Slide 3 – Marlin Chamber of Commerce Ad – Slide 4 – Team Logos – Slide 5 – Arlington Hotel (1904) – Dr. James Bryan & Falls County Historical Commission Slide 6 – Giants on Tracks in Marlin (1913) – Life Magazine, 1963 Slide 7 – Image of McGraw – Rupert Robertson personal photo collection Slide 8 – Image of Mathewson – Rupert Robertson personal photo collection Slide 9 – Image of Thorpe – Rupert Robertson personal photo collection Slide 10 – Image of Marquard – Slide 12 – Giants at Marlin Training Grounds – (top) Baseball Fever web site (bottom) - “Marlin ”, Marlin Chamber of Commerce Slide 13 – Giants on Tracks in Marlin (wider angle) – “New York Giants, A Baseball Album”, R. Bak Slide 14 – as credited above Slide 16 – Marlin Public Library web site; Linda Cely photos Slide 17 – Linda Cely photo

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