Conflageratin’ and recollectin’

Got this from my colleague and online mentor Gary Ashwill a couple days ago — it kind of encompasses several of my recent posts about Dick Redding and Cuba. It seems like Cannonball conflated some of his memories when he was interviewed for the 1932 article I described late last week about pitching against the Tigers in Cuba.

Such exaggeration is common in the Negro Leagues, where record-keeping definitely wasn’t as detailed or diligent as it was in “organized baseball.” However, such foggy yarn-spinning certainly wasn’t limited to black baseball or Cuban players — white players were absolutely known for doing it to. Perhaps we can call it the “glory days” syndrome.

Anyway, here’s Gary’s thoughts:

Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Dick Redding didn’t no-hit the Detroit Tigers in Cuba — in fact he never played against them there. The Tigers only made two trips to Cuba, in 1909 and 1910, before Redding had entered big-time baseball. On November 18, 1909, Eustaquio Pedroso of Almendares pitched an 11-inning no-hitter against the Tigers. The Tigers’ trips to Cuba were very well-covered, both in Cuba and the U.S., and Pedroso’s no-hitter was pretty well-known at the time.

The 1932 Defender piece is interesting, and probably the source for several factoids that get repeated a lot (for example, Redding’s supposed 43-12 record in 1912 along with 17 no-hitters). Unfortunately it’s full of exaggeration, though the exaggeration is sometimes based in fact. For example, he didn’t no-hit Jersey City of the Eastern League in 1912–but Redding and the Lincoln Giants did beat a barnstorming team with several Jersey City players (along with players from other EL teams) 3 times at the end of 1911, including winning a doubleheader. Two of the victories were over Jack Doscher (probably the “Dozier” of the Defender article); one of them was a 1-0 win, Redding striking out 12.

In 1912 he definitely pitched at least two no-hitters, one against José Méndez and the Cuban Stars in Atlantic City, the other a perfect game (with 14 Ks) against a team called the “Cherokee Indians.” He also defeated Al Schacht and the “All-Leaguers” (a team of players from the Washington U.S. League team and a semipro team called the Metropolitans), striking out no fewer than *24* batters (but giving up 3 hits). In the 1932 article Redding mentions Schacht as a Jersey City player in 1912. He did pitch for JC, but not until 1919. Could be that Redding was conflating some of his memories.

In my opinion, it’s perfectly possible that he pitched batting practice against the NY Giants at some point. In 1911, for example, the Giants played a series against the (white) Atlanta Crackers on their way north, and Redding was later said to have pitched batting practice for the Crackers (see Atlanta Daily World article from 1934, attached). I kind of doubt McGraw brought him north, though. The Giants’ spring training was pretty well-covered by the press, and I’d think the presence of a black pitcher, even just as a BP thrower, would have been worth a few news items here and there.

Also, I have to note that my Rochester bud, Mike Sorenson, pointed out, quite correctly, that the Tigers hadn’t won the World Series in 1912, as Redding “recalls” in the 1932 Defender article. Detroit went to the Series in 1907, ’08 and ’09 and lost ’em all, and they didn’t even go in 1912, let alone win. (The Red Sox defeated the Giants that year.)

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