Michigan Baseball Fight circa 1912

I’m in the middle of doing some research on the baseball team in preparation for next year’s baseball team and came across a story I felt need to be shared.  This account came from the biography of Branch Rickey (Branch Rickey: A Biography), Michigan’s head coach from 1910-1913.  You may also have heard of him as the man who invented the minor leagues, or broke the color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson, or signing the first Hispanic (Roberto Clemente).   Regardless, I found this story too awesome to pass up.  So on to the story:

It was during that [1912] southern trek that he watched a University of Georgia baserunner try to score from second base on a single to center when a strong throw home seemed to beat the runner.  When the umpire yelled “safe,” Michigan catcher Goodloe Rogers spun about and hit the umpire while players swarmed onto the field.

“Rogers was always getting into fights,” said Rickey later, in barely concealed glee.  “I never could find out whether or not he started them, but he was always involved.  We were down playing Georgia.  I was on crutches as a result of a broken leg [a batted ball in practice had fractured a small bone in his foot].  Well, as usual, a fight started around home plate, and I hobbled off the bench and must have prodded several players with my crutches.”

Rogers, the team’s colorful, zany, and angry man – the sort of person Rickey always loved to have on his ball clubs – watched his coach in action.

“When the brawl was over, there lay B.R. flat on his back near home plate, his leg in a cast sticking straight up in the air.  On of his crutches was found in the Georgia dugout.  The other was in the stands.”

That’s too awesome.  The catch just turns and punches an umpire?  The coach hitting players with his crutches?  Baseball just isn’t what it used to be.  Michigan tied that game 2-2 in 11 innings.  Both teams had trains they had to catch, and the game was called without a winner. AJC article ($).

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6 Comments so far

  1. Bratton says...

    I’m from Branch Rickeys hometown. we have a big mural of him and plaque telling of his life. And guess what…. not 1 mention of him at Michigan. Thats what I get for living in southern ohio!!

  2. Note: New Commenters will probably be approved Monday. Paul & Tim are out of town and I don’t have the ability.

    There’s 4 comments in the tiller for baseball posts. So I thought I’d let you guys know.

  3. DanK says...

    great story, FA… keep it up.

  4. JJ says...

    …and they kept playing. Ha. Getting clubed by a crutch has to feel like being hit with a bat. Ahhhh the good ole days. Come on Maloney…get some grit going on this team. Of course we would like all to finish the season without suspension.

  5. Steve says...

    I love old-school baseball.

  6. elizabeth says...

    Goodloe Rogers was my grandfather! A tough competitor but a gentle man. He went on to play for the St. Louis Browns with George Sisler then became a judge.

    I loved reading this story – thank you for finding it!

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