New York American/February 13, 1917
The Mornin’s Mornin
Among the Sick Men of Baseball in 1916 was Joseph Gedeon, of the Yankees. Joseph is by profession a second baseman. Second base was the veritable hospital ward of the national epidemic last year.
Jack Barry, of the Boston Red Sox, was laid off with a broken wrist; Larry Doyle, once of the Giants, fell with a broken leg after he joined the Chicago Cubs; Johnny Evers, of the Boston Braves, sustained a general breakdown. Several old inhabitants of the middle satchel succumbed to senility. Divers and sundry youngsters were afflicted with incompetency—a very serious malady in the large leagues.
Of a total of thirty-nine gents essaying what the poet calls the keystone sack, in the American and National in 1916, only ten got in a hundred games or over. They were Louden, of Cincinnati; Doyle, of Chicago and New York; Betzel, of St. Louis; Cutshaw, of Brooklyn; Neihoff, of Philadelphia; Collins, of Chicago; Lajoie, of Philadelphia; Pratt, of St. Louis; Young, of Detroit, and Joseph Gedeon, of New York.
And Joseph Gedeon was, as we state, a sick man. Not downright sick in bed of course, but ailing. Ailing so that at no time during the season was he able to perform at his best. Notwithstanding, he played in 122 games, always at second base. He hit .211 on the season—a rotten mark, even for a sick man, as you must admit. Yet the great Jack Barry, in ninety-four games, in which he assuredly had a lot more health than Joseph Gedeon did in all his 122, hit .203.
Harold Janvrin, the great Jack’s understudy in 117 games, bettered Gedeon’s mark only a dozen points, yet Joe scored fifty runs and Janvrin but thirty-two. Barry tallied twenty-eight times.
Gedeon hit for a total of 114 bases, Barry for seventy-five and Janvrin for eighty-eight. Gedeon got ninety-two hits, Janvrin sixty-nine and Barry two less than that. Gedeon stole almost twice as many bases as either Janvrin or Barry, and not so many at that, registering only fourteen thefts.
What’s the idea?
Well, we are going to show you that if there is anything in figures the Yanks, in their mad search for a second baseman, might have their scouts take a slant at Joseph Gedeon when he reports at Macon, Ga., this month.
Johnny Evers was so palpably not himself at any time last year that it is scarcely fair to drag him in for comparison, yet John hit but five points above Gedeon in seventy-one games, scored only thirty-three runs and stole but five bases.
Betzel, of the National League, in 142 games, scored one run less than Gedeon, although he hit twenty-two points better. Egan and Fitzpatrick, considered good enough to spell Evers, hit .223 and .213, respectively, but both together did not steal as many bases as Gedeon and both together did not score as many runs.
A Fair Prospect
When you put Gedeon’s record alongside the record of a real top-notcher in the figures it is true he does not seem quite so imposing.
Eddie Collins, the best second baseman in Joe’s league, hit .308 last season. He played in 155 games. He stole forty bases. He scored eighty-seven runs. There is quite a stretch of territory between Edward and Joseph, but Edward is a seasoned man at the top of his form, or still fairly close to it. Joseph is just coming on.
Go on down to Del Pratt, accounted a high-class man. Del was in 158 games, thirty-six more than Gedeon. Del hit .267. He stole twenty-six bases and scored sixty-four runs, not such a wide difference, number of games considered, but Del pounded for a total of 233 bases, and Joseph’s total was 119 less!
Go on to “Pep” Young, of Detroit, who was reaching stardom last year. “Pep” was not so much when he was with the Yanks a couple of years back—not as much as Joseph Gedeon is right now—but in 1916 “Pep” hit for .263 in 153 games, scored ten runs more than Gedeon, stole six more bases, and gleaned a total of 170 bases by his pasting.
We have picked out figures which give Gedeon both the best of it and the worst of it, but there is no angle that does not show him off as a great prospect. He got his base on balls forty times last year, but he fanned sixty-one times, rather a high mark in that respect. Yet batsmen as good as “Happy” Felsch, Bert Shotten, Walter Pipp, Elmer Smith and Jack Graney exceeded it, and Amos Strunk, Duffy Lewis were close up.
Defensively, Gedeon would appear to get quite a bit the worst of the statistics in his own organization, as his fielding mark of .855 is below all seventeen who tried the position excepting Grover, an Athletic recruit; Mullen, a Yank sub; Chapman, of Cleveland, and Lawry, another Mack tryout, all of whom played second in comparatively very few games.
Of the twelve who top him, however, only Young, Pratt and Collins played more games. Put him against the National League second baseman, and Gedeon’s fielding record does not look bad at all.
Doyle stands fifth on the fielding list of the National Leaguers, below Groh, Herzog, Miller and Louden, and he played the same number of games as Gedeon. He accepted 676 chances against Gedeon’s 576 for a mark of .962. Larry made the same number of errors as Gedeon—twenty-seven.
Where Joseph’s defensive mark rates him thirteenth in the American League, he would stand ninth in the National, ahead of Evers and both of Evers’s successors, besides Bert Neihoff and an assorted lot, which includes such as Bigbee, Baird, McCarthy, Farmer and others. He would be three points below Cutshaw and thirteen points back of Louden, the real fielding leader of the National, number of games considered, although Groh, Herzog and Miller are ahead in the actual figures.
Young made the same number of errors as Gedeon, and Pratt made more, both in more games, and both handling many more chances. Pratt took care of 929 chances; Young 769. The wonderful Eddie Collins handled 761 and made but thirteen errors.
Undoubtedly Gedeon’s illness affected his fielding as much as it did his hitting. He was not the ball player in 1916 that he should be, and will.
(Source: New York American microfilm archive)
The works of Damon Runyon and other American journalists are now freely available at The Archive of American Journalism. Visit our bookstore for single-volume collections–-ideal for research, reference use or casual reading.