Tuesday, September 20, 2016

George Wright and bread crumbs

John Thorn posted a nice biography of George Wright at Our Game.

He used a quote that I'd never seen.  And I like the imagery.

Here's the quote that John shared:
“Whenever he would pull off one of those grand, unexpected plays that were so dazzlingly surprising as to dumbfound his opponents, his prominent teeth would gleam and glisten in an array of white molars that would put our own Teddy Roosevelt and his famed dentistry establishment far in the shadow.” - Sam Crane
The source for the quote that John uses is:
Undated clip, part of a series on “The Fifty Greatest Ball Players in History” by Sam Crane that ran in the New York Evening Journal in 1911-12.
I thought that was a strange attribution.  An undated clip?  A two year span?  Those are rather vague sources.  John is one of the more detailed researchers / historians around and it didn't seem quite right.

But then I remembered looking through scrapbooks of collected clippings in libraries and historical societies.  There might be a year penciled at the top of an article, but rarely was there a hint of which paper it came from.  John's source made perfect sense.

It reminded me of the advice that Dr. George Schweitzer gave about  attaching sources to genealogy research.  "Put something in that source box.  Title and date of the publication?  Great.  Phone call with Aunt Alda?  Good.  Just make sure you put something in there so that the next researcher can have a sense of where you got it."  Or words to that effect.  Dr. Schweitzer would be proud of John.

But still, with all the newspapers that are online these days, shouldn't we be able to find that article and pin down a date?

Off to google.

William J. Craig, in his book, A History of the Boston Braves, A Time Gone By, uses the quote, but credits an "unknown sports writer".

A History of the Boston Braves, A Time Gone By
Google Books

In Roger I. Abrams' book, The First World Series and the Baseball Fanatics Of 1903, he includes the quote but credits "Sporting News" in 1904.

The First World Series and the Baseball Fanatics of 1903
Google Books

PSA uses the quote and attributes it to The Sporting News, 1904.

PSA website

Finally, William A. Cook's book, The Louisville Grays Scandal of 1877: The Taint of Gambling at the Dawn of the National League, puts Crane, The New York Evening Journal and the year 1911 all together.

The Louisville Grays Scandal of 1877
Google Books

It is nice to see it referenced in a book, but I wanted to see the original article.

I searched Chronicling America.  Nothing.  GeneaolgyBank.com.  No.  The Sporting News at PaperOfRecord.com.  Nope.  NY State Historic Newspapers?  Nada.

My guess is that The New York Evening Journal hasn't yet been digitized.

Then I remembered FultonHistory.com.  I did not find The New York Evening Journal, but I found Sam Crane's article in The Duluth Herald from December 23, 1911.

Here's the "prominent teeth" quote:

The Duluth Herald (Minnesota) - December 23, 1911
image from FultonHistory.com

For completeness, and because it is interesting, here's the whole of Sam Crane's article:

The Duluth Herald (Minnesota) - December 23, 1911
image from FultonHistory.com

Thanks, John, for sharing George's story with us.  And for leaving a bread crumb trail for future researchers to follow.

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