Dave Rowe and the American Association St. Louis Club are fighting. Mr. Von der Ahe claims that Rowe agreed to sign with his club, but when the contract and advance money were sent to him, he returned them and signed with the Lucas Club. Of the latter fact there is no doubt, but the fight has caused Mr. Lucas to publish Rowe's telegrams to him. In one of them Rowe refers to a "good man" that he can secure, and in another that he had contracts awaiting him from Cleveland, Providence and the St. Louis American Association Club. This shows that Rowe has used tricks. He never had a contract from Cleveland in his possession. The "good man" was evidently Dunlap.
-Cleveland Herald, November 29, 1883
So, for the record, it looks like Dave Rowe was the one who recommended that Lucas sign Dunlap.
A letter was received from Dunlap, in which he coolly asks for his release. He will not get what he asks. The reason given for signing with St. Louis is the large amount offered.-[Cleveland Herald.]
I know I'm hammering this point but it's central to understanding the character of Fred Dunlap.
Dunlap had three defining characteristics. First, the guy was an outstanding baseball player. That should never be forgotten. Second, he had a disregard for authority. Dunlap believed that he knew best and, if you disagreed with him, you were wrong. Umpires, captains, owners, the press, whole leagues - no one was able to control Dunlap once he set his mind to something. This disregard for authority was not reckless or self-destructive but, rather, took the form of obstinane. The guy was stubborn and, once he planted himself, he would not be moved.
The final defining characteristic of Fred Dunlap, of course, was his obssesion with his own economic well-being. And that's not necessarily a negative characteristic. If Fred Dunlap didn't take care of himself, who else was going to? Nobody today really thinks twice when a baseball player signs with the club that offers him the most money. As a fan, when I see something like that I always say that it's simply his personal business and a man has take care of himself and his family. That's life.
I actually find Dunlap's attitude refreshing and honest. He wasn't going to stand before the press and spout cliches about how he loves the team and the city and always wanted to play there, etc. The words "It's not about the money" were never uttered by Fred Dunlap. He was more than willing to tell you that baseball was his job and he wanted to get paid. Say what you want but at least he was honest about it.
Dunlap is another of your would-be capitalists. He likes money and saves it. One thousand dollars meant a good deal to him, but it is questionable if two months' pay at $3,500 is worth six months at $2,100 or so. That's what it means. The Unions will never finish the season, and must break up after at most a month or two of play. Then Dunlap will be in the position of a man with a talent for which there is no field, for he will be expelled by the old associations...
The context of this blurb is that the Herald, during the winter of 1883/84, was constantly predicting that the UA would fold - either never making it to opening day or going under at some point during the season. Based upon those assumptions, they were always talking about how the players who had signed with UA clubs would see reason and return to the fold.
The Herald was rather harsh on Dunlap and the other players who signed with the UA but, even taking into account their bias, I like their description of Dunlap's capitalistic character. They were correct in stating that Dunlap knew what was best for Dunlap. The problem with their analysis is that they had a different view of what was best for Dunlap than Dunlap did.
President Lucas, of the Unions, was all smiles yesterday, and the occasions of his happiness was the arrival of Fred Dunlap and George Shaffer, the great second baseman and right fielder. "They are here," said he, "just as I knew they would be when I signed them. I never had a doubt about them, notwithstanding all the reports that have been circulated by the enemies of our association. The very first dealings I had with them convinced me that they were honorable men, ,who would honor any contract they signed. Now that they are here I think I can safely boast that I have the best second baseman and the best right fielder in the country. And you may say that as they have acted squarely with me I am going to do the same by them. If Mullane had done right with me he would never have had occasion to regret it, but now that he has jumped his contract, I will endeavor to make him sorry that he did so. Recently I learned he was willing to come here if I would give him a two years' contract at $3,000 a year. I have a prior claim on him and will not break a contract by taking him away from Toledo, so I sent him word that I would agree to his terms. When I got in direct communication with him what do you suppose he wanted? Only $3,000 in advance. Well, I don't think he'll get $3,000 of my money in his hands until he straightens out his record for trustworthiness."
The St. Louis Republican, a Union organ, says: "Within a few days past Mr. Lucas has received a letter from Dunlap in which the latter says that, notwithstanding he has been offered more by the Cleveland than he will receive under his present contract with Mr. Lucas, he will play in St. Louis, and requests that quarters in a private boarding house be engaged for him and for Shaffer. In order that it may be known what temptations have been put before players who have contracted with Union association clubs by the pool of League and Association club managers who are trying to break up the Union association, it may be stated, on competent authority, that in Dunlap's case the New York League club offered the Clevelands Troy, the New York second baseman, and $1,000 in cash for Dunlap's release, and stated that if this was granted they would pay $3,500 to Dunlap for his signature to a contract. The Cleveland management wisely concluded that if they could not have Dunlap under their reserve rules they would not go into any dishonest bickerings to trade him off to another organization."
The story of how Dunlap signed with the Maroons and all the machinations that surrounded his leaving Cleveland is a great tale. If I were to ever write up a long piece on the subject, it would certainly be titled "The Temptation of Fred Dunlap."
Fred Dunlap has determined to go to St. Louis. Last week he signed a two years' contract with Lucas, receiving for his first year $3,200 and $4,000 for the second year, the largest salary ever paid a ball player.-[Philadelphia Item.]
The best evidence I have is that Dunlap signed a contract with the Maroons in late November of 1883 and the reports at the time state that his salary for the first year was either $3,400 or $3,500, with $1,000 in advance. And, of course, he was going to get paid even in the event of his death.
In an interview with a Boston Herald reporter President W.P. Appleton, of the New York League Club, tells of his proposition to Dunlap, of the St. Louis Union Club. He says: "This is the whole truth of the story: After Dunlap had signed to play with the St. Louis Union Club, and had repeatedly told the Clevelands that he would not go back to them, that club continued to write him letters at the rate of three a week. Dunlap soon tired of the correspondence and remained silent until a registered letter was sent to him. He felt bound to answer this, and informed the club that he would not play for $2,100, but that he would consent to sign for not less than $2,800, as he considered that he was fully worth that figure. Then Dunlap signed with the St. Louis Union for two years. He will receive $3,500 the first and $4,000 the second year. He will receive his pay after he has once entered upon his contract, in twenty four equal payments, and, should he die after its inception, the money will be paid to his heirs or representatives. While in Philadelphia a short time ago I met Dunlap, and remarked to him: 'I see you have signed to play in St. Louis: hadn't you better wait a year and see how the new association will prosper? Haven't you made a mistake? 'No,' said Dunlap, 'I am going to play there. I was not treated well in Cleveland. I have been there five or six years and am tired of it. I am going to St. Louis.' 'I think you are making a mistake,' I said. 'Perhaps so,' he replied. 'I would play in New York though, if I got the chance; but as far as going back to Cleveland is concerned, I would not break my St. Louis contract to go there under any circumstances.' I saw at once that he could not be secured by Cleveland, and also that there was a good chance of saving him for the League provided I could secure his release from Cleveland. I at once communicated with Mr. Howe, the vice president of that club, and saw him personally. I went so far as to offer him $1,000 for Dunlap's release. He would not listen to any proposition, but said he would rather let me have the whole of his nine than let me have Dunlap. The Cleveland undoubtedly thought and still thinks that Dunlap will weaken. He will not and the Cleveland might as well let us have him. Dunlap will play in St. Louis if he lives."
I find it interesting that the money contractually owed Dunlap from the St. Louis contract would be paid to his heirs if he died. I'm certainly not an expert on 19th century baseball player contracts but I can't think of any other contract like that. Dunlap was going to get the money owed to him one way or another. Alive or dead - it didn't matter. The only way this could have been more interesting was if Dunlap demanded, in the event of his death, that the entire sum owed him be paid in one lump sum and placed in his coffin.
Shaffer told a Cleveland gentleman last week that he received $2,300 a year in St. Louis. "I didn't earn it," said the Orator, "but I get it, and everything goes." Dunlap told the same party that he held spite against Cleveland since John Clapp played here, for an alleged slight, and that he was playing Appleton for his release.
That's a great line by Shaffer but I think the more interesting thing is the information about the root of Dunlap's unhappiness in Cleveland. I always assumed, this being Dunlap, that the problem was money and Dunlap was unhappy about his salary. A lot of the evidence does point that way. But, this being Dunlap, nothing is ever that simple.
Clapp spent one season with Cleveland, in 1881, which was Dunlap's second year with the club. Dunlap had a great season that year. He was easily the best player on the club and was the best second baseman in the league. But Cleveland had a disappointing year. After finishing third in 1880, they finished seventh in 1881, with a record of 36-48. Jim McCormick had been the captain of the club the previous two seasons but, for some reason, it looks like he was replaced by our old friend Mike McGeary to begin the 1881 season. McGeary was quickly replaced by John Clapp, his former teammate on the 1876 and 1877 Brown Stockings.
So, if this source is to be believed, Dunlap's unhappiness in Cleveland dates back to 1881, when he had some kind of problem with his manager, John Clapp. This being Dunlap, it looks like he carried that grudge, whatever it might have been, for several years (and I have no difficulty imagining him carrying that grudge for the rest of his life). While money was a factor in Dunlap's decision to leave Cleveland, it also appears that he was unhappy with Cleveland management in some way that had nothing to do with how much he was paid. Dunlap said several times during the 1883/1884 off-season that he was unhappy with the way he was treated by Cleveland management and I always translated that as him wanting more money. But it looks like he was being sincere in his statements and whatever happened between him and Clapp had a lasting impact on Dunlap's opinion of Cleveland management.
Mapledoram is in earnest about his umpiring, and will not allow his decisions to be questioned. Yesterday he fined Dunlap $10 for what he considered improper conduct. At Cincinnati he fined Bradley $0, and when appealed to reduce the penalty to $25, he peremptorily refused.
I'm not so concerned with Blake Mapledoram and his earnestness as I am with the idea of Fred Dunlap "questioning" an umpire. Given Dunlap's nature, I doubt that it was as polite an encounter as the Globe makes it sound. Basically, knowing him as I do, this should have been reported as Dunlap going off on an umpire and getting fined.
Also, I think I should state that I have no real plan for Fred Dunlap Month. I'm just going through the Dunlap posts at the old website and posting the ones that catch my eye. I'm sure at some point we'll get into some analytics and a discussion about Dunlap's place in baseball history but, for now, I'm just putting up stories that I like.
A very amusing joke was played on the Altoona catcher by Dunlap. In a recent game of St. Louis vs. Altoona, there was a foul ball knocked close to the catcher, but near a bench. The Altoona catcher was just about putting his hand on it, when Dunlap hollowed, "Move that bench, quick!" The catcher looked to see the bench and missed the ball.
Try something like that today in a rec league and the umpire will threaten to throw you out of the game. Trust me. I know this for a fact.
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