I’ve written about old Ed Delahanty before. The other time was when I named him “The Most 19th Century Player of All Time.” Part of the reason he won that title is because he starred in the 19th century, mostly, and because of the way he got his big league callup: he took the place of a Philadelphia Quakers second baseman who died of friggin’ typhoid fever. The only thing that would make that transaction more 19th century is if Delahanty himself was activated from the disabled list following a bout with dropsy.
But the other reason he was the most 19th century baseball player? The way he died. It happened 111 years ago today when, after he abandoned his Washington Senators teammates in Detroit as a result of a dispute in which he wanted to jump the team and go play for the Giants. Booking personal passage on a train to New York, Delahanty got drunk and was kicked off the train near Niagra Falls. He attempted to cross the International Railway bridge. Then, according to the wonderful SABR biography of the man, this happened:
In the darkness Big Ed walked out onto the 3,600 foot long bridge and was standing still at its edge, staring down into the water, when he was accosted by night watchman Sam Kingston, on the lookout for smugglers. A scuffle ensued, with Kingston dragging Delahanty back to the middle of the wide bridge, but Kingston then fell down and Delahanty got away. Moments later, according to Kingston — who claimed it was too dark to see what happened — Del either jumped or drunkenly stumbled off the edge of the bridge, falling 25 feet into the 40-foot-deep Niagara River.
His naked body (except for tie, shoes and socks) was found 20 miles downstream at the base of Horseshoe Falls — the Canadian portion of Niagara Fallss — even days later. Dead at the age of 35, he was buried in Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland.
A career which started with typhoid fever and ended in a drunken — or by then, probably dead — plunge over Niagara Falls. That’s some O.G. 19th century stuff, even if it happened in 1903. Also worth noting: Delhanty had a 16-game hitting streak in progress at the time of his death. So he literally hit the bottom while he was still on top in some ways.
Go read up on Big Ed here. You’ll be glad you did. You’ll be glad you live in the age of airline travel too.
Veteran hurler Jake Peavy has not signed with a team. It’s not because he’s not still capable of being a useful pitcher — he’s well-regarded and someone would likely take a late-career chance on him — and it’s not because he no longer wishes to play. Rather, it’s because a bunch of bad things have happened in his personal life lately.
As Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports, last year Peavy lost millions in an investment scam and spent much of the 2016 season distracted, dealing with investigations and depositions and all of the awfulness that accompanied it. Then, when the season ended, Peavy went home and was greeted with divorce papers. He has spent the offseason trying to find a new normal for himself and for his four sons.
Pitching is taking a backseat now, but Peavy plans to pitch again. Here’s hoping that things get sorted to the point where he can carry through with those plans.
This is fun: The San Francisco Giants recently made their last payment on the $170 million, 20-year loan they obtained to finance the construction of AT&T Park. The joint is now officially paid for.
The Giants, unlike most other teams which moved into new stadiums in the past 25 years or so, did not rely on direct public financing. They tried to get it for years, of course, but when the voters, the city of San Francisco and the State of California said no, they decided to pay for it themselves. They ended up with one of baseball’s best-loved and most beautiful parks and, contrary to what the owners who desperately seek public funds will have you believe, they were not harmed competitively speaking. Indeed, rumor has it that they have won three World Series, four pennants and have made the playoffs seven times since moving into the place in 2000. They sell out routinely now too and the Giants are one of the richest teams in the sport.
Now, to be clear, the Giants are not — contrary to what some people will tell you — some Randian example of self-reliance. They did not receive direct public money to build the park, but they did get a lot of breaks. The park sits on city-owned property in what has become some of the most valuable real estate in the country. If the city had held on to that land and realized its appreciation, they could flip it to developers for far more than the revenue generated by baseball. Or, heaven forfend, use it for some other public good. The Giants likewise received some heavy tax abatements, got some extraordinarily beneficial infrastructure upgrades and require some heavy city services to operate their business. All sports stadiums, even the ones privately constructed, represent tradeoffs for the public.
Still, AT&T Park represents a better model than most sports facilities do. I mean, ask how St. Louis feels about still paying for the place the Rams used to call home before taking off for California. Ask how taxpayers in Atlanta and Arlington, Texas feel about paying for their second stadium in roughly the same time the Giants have paid off their first.