The New York-Boston games of Sept. 10 was considerable of a comic entertainment, in which Jesse Burkett was the star comedian. Jesse didn't mean to be funny, but he was, just the same -- funnier than Arlie Latham ever was at his best, and the audience was fairly convulsed with laughter. Burkett started the fun in the second inning by making a most ludicrous muff, but the climax came in the fourth inning and is thus described by the New York Herald:
"Hines was on first by reason of bases on balls when Hardy sent a safe grounder out along the right foul line. jesse made a great effort to head it off, but he and the ball and the foul flag came together all at once. Instead of grabbing the ball he got hold of the foul flag and pulled it up, while the ball jogged along to the fence.
"Burkett wheeled around several times with the flag in his hands, as if he were hunting for a place to plant it. Then he threw it down and began to dig up dirt in great handsful. A Scotch terrier in the quest of a chipmunk could not have made the dust fly more furiously. All at once it dawned upon the spectators that Jesse was digging for the ball and a roar of laughter went up all around, the players on both sides joining in. Jesse, however, dug the harder and only ceased after Whistler had recovered the ball and Hines and Hardie had both got home.
"The crowd had a great deal of sport with Burkett after this little incident. Hext time he started to the field some one yelled: -- 'Here's a shovel, Jesse.' When he went to bat he was advised to knock it into the hold where he had dug out the other. Still another was unkind enough to yell 'Rats!' and 'Sic 'em Towser.'
"Probably the spectators didn't realize that Jesse was the victim of a practical joke. Brodie was standing near when the ball came out that way. As soon as he saw Burkett wheeling around with the foul flag in his hand and realized that he had lost the ball, he called to the dazed fielder and said: --"In the hole, Jesse; in the hole!" What Brodie meant is not clear, but Jesse saw no hole except the hone from which he pulled the foul flag. He looked into that, and, not seeing the ball, began to dig for it with a fury fed by the shouts of all the other team.
"Last night he was in the hands of a Bloomingdale specialist, and he will probably be on hand to-day wiht his good, trusty bat."
-- clipping from an unidentified newspaper, dated Sept. 13, 1890, provided to OCPL by National Baseball Hall of Fame library.
A PRETTIER example of what kind of a hitter Burkett is was never had than on Tuesday. The first time up he smashed a pretty hit in between the second baseman and first baseman. When he went to bat in the second inning the fielders moved over to the right to play for him. Burkett grinned and planted one directly over the second base bag, where neither the second baseman nor the shortstop could reach it. Then the Louisville fielders were miserable and moved back towards left. In the fourth inning Burkett varied things by making as pretty a bunt as ever was seen and easily reached first. This time the Louisville fielders thought they had him and played close in on him for another bunt. But instead of bunting the great hitter waited until he got a ball to his liking and then he sent it just over the heads of the infielders. He certainly is a great one.
BURKETT struck out the last time he was up and it looked as if he did it on purpose. He is hardly to be blamed if he did. There were two strikes on him, when he refused to get out of the way of one of Cunningham's slow ones and was hit by the ball. Rightly enough Lynch refused to allow him to take his base. There was no kick coming on that decision. But one of the loyal (?) Cleveland rooters in the grand stand saw that he had a chance to find fault. So he begged Cunningham to "strike him out." Burkett went after the next ball, which was a yard wide of the plate and was out on strikes. Probably the fellow in the grand stand who wanted Burkett to strike out saw some dirty ball playing in Burkett's effort to reach first. There was quite a number of people in this town who are afflicted in the same way. -- Cleveland World.
--Clipping from unidentified newspaper, dated 6/27/1896 provided by National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Louisville, Ky., August 4. -- Two games were to have been played today, but in the second inning of the first game, with the score 3 to 2 in the home team's favor, Burkett called Umpire Wolf a vile name and was ordered out of the game. Captain Tebeau refused to put a man in to bat for Burkett, and after waiting five minues Wolf game the game to Louisville 9 to 0. The Indians played as if they did not care whether school kept or not in the second game, and the Colonels won easily. In the ninth inning Burkett again insulted Umpire Wolf and was ordered out of the game. He refused to leave first base, and the umpire called two policemen, and the Indians' tough left fielder was ejected from the grounds. Right fielder McCreery had been traded to New York and a money consideration and pitcher Miller given ten days' notice of his release. Attendance, 1,100.
--Wheeling Register, August 5, 1897.
Jess Burkett has not obtained his release, so they tell me, but there is no reason why any one should lose any cleep over that fact. So far as I can make out it is up to Collins to dispose of the Burkett case and both are owners of the Worcester Club. It will be remembered that so far back as the end of last season Jess said he would not play ball this season and he meant what he said. Jess cost the club $2500 and George Stone. Collins always set considerable store by Jess. That the former St. Louisan did not do better is to be regretted, yet he did fully as well was some other crack outfielders. Jess' failure to satisfy was the penalty of greatness. He was expected to do a deal more than he could do. Never did a player try harder to fill the bill. He started out early in the spring and never let up. Doubtless it was because he tried so hard that he fell short. He will carry with him lots and lost of good wishes for succss in his new field of labor. Patsy Dowd, the sporting editor of the Worcester "Telegram," came to Boston last week to see the dog show, and voiced it as his opinion that Jess would strike oil in Worcester. "The new ground,' said Patsy, "is five minutes walk from the Union Station, and but fifteen minutes walk from the Bay State House, the principal hostelry of the city. Jess is very popular in Worcester and everybody will work hard to help him succeed." And Patsy knows.
--Clipping from an unidentified newspaper, dated 10/1906, provided to OCPL by National Baseball Hall of Fame.
--Unidentified clipping dated 10/2/1915, from National Baseball Hall of Fame.
From the vertical file of Ohio County Public Library, provided by the National Baseball Hall of Fame library.
Service provided by the staff of the Ohio County Public Library in partnership with and funded in part by the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation.