Nothing like a couple of wins in a row (one by shutout, yet!) to get one’s outlook back to where it should be. This is one of those seasons where there is almost no margin for error if you’re a bubble team, and the Leafs have been making errors aplenty of late. Now it seems as though it has finally occurred to them that killing penalties might actually be a good thing (that’s the value of coaching) and the results have followed.
I note too that the 20th anniversary of the Gilmour trade has passed. There aren’t that many dates on which I know exactly what I was doing, but I know the road I was driving on and even the approximate intersection when the trade hit the radio. Every person in the car had the same response – we all started laughing. The trade was that one-sided.
Card #5 of 2011 – 1911 Mecca Double Folder Ed Killian/Ed Fitzpatrick
I think the 1911 Mecca Double Folder set is fascinating. I’m not sure how well-regarded it is in the hobby since it’s an awkward size and there aren’t that many cards in it, but it’s such a nifty idea. Two players share a single card, one per side. One side of the card is a full-body shot of one of the players, while the reverse has just a torso and the stats for both. There is a fold line in the card that permits the torso from the one player to be folded over to the other side, where it lines up directly with the legs of the other player, making a second complete picture.
The set, from what I’ve seen, consists of two cards (four players) for each of the major league teams and a single card for the significant northeast minor league teams (I haven’t checked whether they’re all from the old Eastern League, the forerunner of the International League). As such, the Toronto Maple Leafs got a single card, and this is it.
The player selection for this card is a little odd, as neither of the two Eds (Killian or Fitzpatrick) were really big contributors in either 1910 or 1911. Dick Rudolph was their top pitcher and there were half a dozen batters of greater significance than Fitzpatrick, player/manager Joe Kelley and Wee Willie Keeler amongst them. Killian, though, was probably the player best known to fans of big league ball, since he was a premier lefthander for the Tigers for most of the decade and was pitching for them into 1910.
Killian’s stats on this card are a little misleading, since while he only went 2-6 for the Leafs in half a season in 1910, he had an ERA of 1.96, suggesting he deserved a better fate. This was similar to his big league career, which was very good, but could have been better had he been offered slightly more help.
Ed Killian was a sinkerball pitcher who gave up just nine home runs in his big league career (dead ball era, but still, that’s impressive -he’s 6th all-time for fewest homers per 9 innings). At one point, he went four seasons and over 1000 innings between homers allowed. He won 23 games in 1905 and 25 in 1907. He pitched both halves of a doubleheader to clinch the 1909 pennant for the Tigers. By 1910, though, he was 33 and losing effectiveness, leading to his sale to Toronto.
In 1911, he’d spend just half a season here, going 4-3 with a 3.51 ERA.
Ed Fitzpatrick was the exact opposite – a 21-year-old kid just elevated from Lancaster of the Tri-state league. A light-hitting infielder, Ed would spend 5 seasons in Toronto before making it to the bigs with the Boston Braves, where he’d play somewhat sparingly for three years. For 1911, Fitzpatrick hit .249 in 110 games.
I don’t know the old ballparks well enough to tell whether the other cards in the set attempt to show players in their actual parks or whether they’re just generic ballpark-like settings. Whatever they did here, I don’t think that this is the old park at Hanlan’s Point, which is where the Leafs played in 1911. It’s the house in the background that’s problematic. Hanlan’s point backed onto the lake on one side and an amusement park on the other. Hard to place that house unless it’s some sort of utility building.
Card #4 of 2011 – 1933-34 Canadian Chewing Gum Dit Clapper
I posted about this card back in June. I love this set (other people seem to as well, as it’s really tough to find any of these at a price point I’d be interested in) but had never had one that hadn’t had the bottom clipped off (if you spelled out the name of one of the nine NHL teams (the Pittsburgh/Philly team had dropped out already), you could redeem the letters for a prize. This one has been trimmed at the corners, but is still present enough for my liking. One of my collecting goals for the year will be to get my hands on a second one of these. At that pace, I can have the set complete in, erm, well, my descendants can finish it off some time.
Dit Clapper was the NHL’s first 20-year veteran. It shows a lot about how times have changed that 20 years was worth just over 800 games to him, where he could probably count on a good 1500+ if he were playing now. (That’s one of the biggest reasons so few NHL records survive from that era – they didn’t play enough games to accumulate any real totals.). Dit switched from forward to defense in mid-career, which wasn’t that unusual at the time. I can think of a number of good forwards that stretched their careers this way. What was unusual was that he was an NHL all-star at both.
Dit, of course, was not really named “Dit.” He was Aubrey Victor Clapper, and would have been “Vic,” but at age two the best he could manage was “Dit,” and it stuck.