The Ups and, Yes, the Downs of Baseball


Now that the season has entered its merciless grind, we often hear players praise the stolid nature of their manager by saying, “Yes, you’re right, insightful post-game reporter: He doesn’t let us get too high or too low.”

Well, thanks to our crack historical research team – and by the way, fellas, you really should focus more on baseball’s past than on the golden age of buttocks cleavage – we know that whenever managers do allow players to get too high or too low, the consequences can get pretty consequential.

– In July 1866, Boston skipper Cornelius “Corny” Joak responded to an eight-game win streak by allowing his players to climb the tallest building in nearby New Hampshire. The result? Catcher Poppy Popperlin suffered a sprained right wrist when he tumbled the 10 feet from the observation deck.

– In June 1872, New York manager Talleopholous “Tally” Wacker responded to a 12-game losing streak by encouraging his players to do the limbo at an afternoon luau. What followed was not the “squad cohesion” that Wacker had envisioned but, instead, a bloody brawl that began when shortstop Bendy Bender accused pitcher Stiffy Stiffler of having “twisted to the side, like this” when he went beneath the limbo stick. Per the archives, Stiffler further defrauded his foes by shouting, “Look over there!” and then blind-siding them with a pair of pineapple-beef kebabs.

– In August 1888, Pittsburgh skipper Archie Archibald responded to a 14-game “victory stretch” by encouraging his players to spend an evening at Madame Yow’s Harmless House of Poppy. Three days later, after outfielder Reggie Reginald still hadn’t shown up for a game, the manager found his player on a velvet daybed in a corner of the opium den, muttering preposterously of a “future dystopia” in which “ridiculous rednecks” and “loathsome socialites” make “millions upon millions of dollars” by “distorting” the “otherwise consensus definition” of “reality.”

– In May 1897, Brooklyn Ballsacks manager Dishonoré de Balzac responded to the Ballsacks dropping 15 straight by sending his players to Watkins Glen, a 400-foot gorge in the Finger Lakes region, in the belief “that nature reveals your truest, uh, nature.” The outcome: Catcher Lucian Rumpbump exhibited “dubious DNA and poor breeding” by pushing pitcher Gene Rastignac off the footbridge to his grisly death. Sadly, only a few thousand Frenchmen were made privy. And since Jerry Lewis hadn’t yet been born, only five thought it comedic. The rest? Tragic.

– In May 1912, St. Louis skipper Louis St. Hubbins reacted to a two-game win streak by taking the team to Christie’s auction house. The result? Pitcher Skip Skipton “bade high,” as the press put it, and suddenly the team owned Piltdown Man, thought to be the fossilized skull of a hitherto unknown form of Homo sapiens. At first, Piltdown Man played “a steady centerfield” but was soon outed as “pretty much a fossilized skull” when several gappers fell beyond his reach.

– In June 1935, Detroit manager Mickey Cochrane responded to a four-game losing streak by sending {name redacted} to the Marianas Trench. Since deep-sea submersibles had not been invented, the pitcher experienced “his most crushing defeat,” as reporters phrased it, when he used a clawfoot tub to descend the 6.8 miles to a pressure of 15,750 psi. Days later, the team placed the pitcher on the DL with “uhhhh, yeah, partially collapsed lungs.”

– In August 2009, in response to a four-game win streak, Seattle skipper Don Wakamatsu took the team to a karaoke bar and encouraged Adrian Beltre to hit Mariah Carey’s G#7 high note while singing her song Emotions. It was later reported that Beltre had suffered the injury on a hard ground ball.

– In May 2012, after a five-game losing streak, Padres manager Bud Black dispatched his team to a Morrissey concert. After the players failed to show up for the next game, Black found the men rocking back and forth while muttering the Pope of Mope’s bleakest lyrics from Black Cloud:

I play the game of favorites now…

Black cloud, black cloud

I can choke myself to please you
And I can sink much lower than usual
But there’s nothing I can do to make you mine.

Perhaps coincidentally, Black took the next flight to Hilo.

John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.

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Jason B
8 years ago

From the title, I thought this article would at least mention Scott Downs. =/

8 years ago
Reply to  Jason B

Or the Upton brothers.

8 years ago

Are you saying the Upton brothers have Downs?

8 years ago
Reply to  Steven

You need a special down vote

Will Middlebrooks
8 years ago

I’m not getting stuck into this.

Illinois glass M. Michael Sheets
8 years ago
Reply to  Jason B

or change-ups