“When I began playing the game, baseball was about as gentlemanly as a kick in the crotch.” ~Ty Cobb
Three cheers for the game of baseball, widely considered “the gentleman’s game” by its loyal fans; many of whom never played the game, knew someone who played it, or read the stories of the fabled legends that popularized the game, several of whom might have stabbed you if you called them a gentleman. In the first edition of what I plan to be a reoccurring article entitled, “Baseball: A Gentleman’s Game,” we take a brief look at the life and actions of one baseball’s biggest jerks – Cap Anson.
Cap Anson (1852-1922) – Anson was one of baseball’s first big superstars, playing 27 years and hitting over .300 for 20 of them. He finished with a .333 career average with over 3,400 hits, although he did play half his career before pitchers were allowed to throw overhand, which happened in 1884. That was the same year Cap Anson and his White Stockings, who frequently scheduled exhibition games against semi-pro teams to make money, decided he needed it in writing that no blacks were allowed to play during any such exhibition games against his team. Did I mention he was a card-carrying member of he KKK? Anson, one of the most popular players of his time, was not the only one responsible, but certainly had his role, in the “gentleman’s agreement” of minor and major league baseball to not sign blacks after 1897. Anson was posthumously elected to the Hall of Fame in 1939 by the Veteran’s Committee.