Improving Baseball

Damon Runyon

New York American/January 8, 1917

Th’ Mornin’s Mornin’

According to Charles Weeghman, president of the Chicago Cubs, Chick Evans, the champion golfer, is to accompany that club to its spring training camp this year for the purpose of teaching the boys the “follow through” motion of gold and thus improve their batting.

Mr. Weeghman’s announcement created something of a sensation among the laity, but it appears that he is merely trailing the general baseball trend toward innovation and advancement. Interviews with various managers gathered by Th’ Mornin’s Mornin’ show that they have all been doing a lot of thinking along new lines lately and laying plans for the improvement of their men.

“Mr. Weeghman’s idea is all right,” said Wild Bill Donovan, manager of the New York Yankees, yesterday, “although I thought the Cubs followed through pretty well all through last season. It may interest Mr. Weeghman, however, to learn that some time ago I employed an expert to teach Walter Pipp, my first baseman, a motion which is the reverse of the follow through.

“I have employed Mr. Michael Gibbons, the great box-fighter, to show Walter how to pull his punches. I figure that if Walter can shorten up his drives he will have the legs of all the infielders in the American League broken by the middle of June, and then we can go on and win as we please. As it is now, Walter is constantly knocking the pill into the grandstands and bleachers, damaging the walls and adding materially to the overhead charges of the American League by losing so many baseballs.

“Last season Walter managed to pull some of his punches, especially in the pinches,” concluded Mr. Donovan, “but he is still a little coarse. Under the tutelage of Gibbons I am confident he will get the knack of it down to the fineness of the fur on a frog’s back.”

Uncle Robbie’s Plan

Baltimore, Md., Jan. 7—Your Uncle Wilbert Robinson, manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, nodded his head approvingly when informed of Mr. Weeghman’s plan.

Your Uncle Wilbert, who is spending the baseball moulting season at his home in this city, frequently has lucid moments, although, of course, he will still be under surveillance until he quits thinking what he thinks about his noble pastimers, and he was permitted to talk at length today.

“Is this Chick Evans any kin to Rube Evans, that left-hander who was with the Giants when I was coaching for McGraw?” inquired Your Uncle Wilbert. “Rube had a great follow-through motion. He followed it through several leagues down in the sticks so fast we finally lost sight of him entirely.

“Personally, I do not care so much for gold, but I have already signed a contract with Mr. Elmer Oliphant, the Army football player, to teach my Mr. Ivan Olson how to boot the ball more artistically. In my opinion, Mr. Olson is a natural born booter, but he lacks finish and I think Mr. Oliphant is just the man to round him out. Mr. Olson got plenty of distance when he booted ’em in 1916, but he was shy on accuracy. He was always booting ’em toward second or third and I want him taught to boot ’em at the box, as I have several good fielding pitchers.

“Another thing,” said Your Uncle Wilbert, “he was inclined to punt when he should have drop-kicked. I think Mr. Oliphant will correct these faults, and by the end of the season of 1917 we will show you the greatest booter in baseball, not even barring Larry Doyle. By the way, do you know whether or not Jake Daubert received a package of ground glass for Christmas? This United States mail is getting mighty untrustworthy.”

(Source: University of Wisconsin/New York American microfilm archive)

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