Dropping names before the Yankees were strong

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It is weird, but I think I ran into Rick “Goose” Gossage when walking the dogs today.

He was jogging, but said “hello.”

I thought about legacy, coincidence, high-powered names and old-time baseball. I didn’t have my Yankee hat on, and the dogs didn’t recognize him, or if they did, they didn’t realize he was in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

So much for dropping names.

Long before the Yankees were strong, Carrigan was a household name in Boston, Maine, and all over New England.

Bill “Rough”Carrigan was “deadball-era” catcher and played 10 seasons for the Boston Red Sox. In the middle of the season in 1913, he replaced defending World Series manager Jake Stahl as a player manager. Later, he returned as Boston’s manager in 1927 and stayed until 1929. Carrigan was fairly small for major league baseball, only about 5 feet, 9 inches tall, and weighed about 175 pounds.

“In the spring of 1906, Carrigan was signed to a Red Sox contract by Charles Taylor, the father of Red Sox owner John I. Taylor. Carrigan joined the struggling Red Sox directly in the middle of the season, immediately catching the likes of Bill Dinneen and Cy Young,” according to Mark Amour, for the SABR Baseball Biography Project.

The next few seasons established him as a reliable contributor on the field and in the box.

“In July 1913, the Red Sox were grappling with a series of injuries, fighting among themselves, and limping along in fifth place. Team president Jimmy McAleer fired manager Jake Stahl just months after his World Series triumph, and replaced him with his 29-year-old catcher. Carrigan liked Stahl, as did most of the team, and was reluctant to take charge of a team filled with veterans, many of whom were just as qualified for the job as he. McAleer persuaded Carrigan to take it. The Red Sox were a team fractured along religious lines, as Protestants like Tris Speaker, Joe Wood, and Harry Hooper often crossed swords with the Catholics on the team, including Carrigan,” says Amour.

“Smoking Joe” Wood began his baseball career on town teams in the Colorado San Juans, playing for Ouray teams in Telluride, Rico and Silverton, before his outstanding major-league run.

“The well-mannered Carrigan earned the nickname ‘Rough’ for the way he played. He was a well-respected handler of pitchers, and had a fair throwing arm, but it was his plate blocking that caused Chicago White Sox manager Nixey Callahan to say, “You might as well try to move a stone wall.” On May 17, 1909, he engaged in a famous brawl with the Tigers’ George Moriarty after a collision at home plate, while their teammates stood and watched. He had a fight with Sam Crawford a couple of years later, and maintained a reputation as someone who would not back down from a confrontation,” according to Amour.

After he replaced Stahl as manager, he led Boston to a second-place finish in 1914 and then, two world championships in 1915 and 1916, stacking up an 8-2 record as a manager in World Series play. Until Terry Francona duplicated the feat in 2007, he was the only manager to have won two World Series titles with Boston. Babe Ruth called Carrigan the best manager he ever played for.

“The most important event of the 1914 season was the purchase, at Carrigan’s urging, of pitchers Ernie Shore and Babe Ruth from Baltimore of the International League. Although Ruth gave his skipper a lot of credit for his development as a player, Carrigan was humble in his own assessment: “Nobody could have made Ruth the great pitcher and great hitter he was but himself. He made himself with the aid of his God-given talents.” Old Rough did allow that his protégé needed quite a bit of discipline, and Carrigan was there to provide it, even rooming with Ruth for a time. Carrigan caught Ruth in his pitching debut, on July 11,” wrote Amour.

“In early September 1916, Carrigan announced that he would be leaving baseball at the end of the season. He had actually wanted to quit after the 1915 Series, and had so told owner Joe Lannin, but his owner talked him into the one additional campaign. Carrigan later wrote, “I had become fed up on being away from home from February to October. I was in my 30’s, was married and had an infant daughter. I wanted to spend more time with my family than baseball would allow.”

He retired to his hometown of Lewiston and embarked on careers in real estate (as co-owner of several movie theaters in New England) and banking. A few years later he sold his theaters for a substantial profit and became a wealthy man.”

He returned home to his banking career, eventually becoming president of People’s Savings Bank in Maine. In 1946, he was named to the Honor Roll in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, in 1968 was named to Holy Cross College’s Hall of Fame, and in 2004 named to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame. “Rough Bill” Carrigan died in a Lewiston, Maine, hospital in 1969 at the age of 85.

Today, it occurs to me, that legends and names are relative. So much for dropping names.

Our name is written in the dirt alongside the plate.

But the umpire can sweep it away – the next time there is a close call at home.

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