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The Old Fan: Baseball and the Detroit Tigers

Baseball was a topic of great interest to the readers of Frank Leslie’s Weekly. Leslie’s Weekly had a number of sports writers, reporters that composed stories and wrote weekly columns on the baseball greats of the 1860s through the 1922 baseball season. Photographers captured images of the people, places, and events associated with America’s most popular sport. In addition, news reports and comments were included on minor or state leagues and college teams.

The weekly sports commentary in Frank Leslie’s was penned by Ed. A Goewey under the masthead “The Old Fan.” Like many of today’s sports commentators — players, coaches, managers, and even team mascots, were fair game for compliments and contempt. Even Congress did not escape the watchful “pen” of “The Old Fan” when he called for an investigation into the alleged Baseball cartel. Issues such as the wearing of “smoky glasses” by the “sun fielders” is presented, the style of pitching, the milling of baseball bats, player salaries and franchise “magnates”, and many other topics are discussed in these commentaries.

While many teams in both leagues were reported on weekly, the Detroit Tigers captured a great deal of attention between 1909 and 1922. Nineteenth century stories about the Tigers can also be found.

Take a break from the Sports page and search across a variety of sports stories in Frank Leslie’s Weekly. From baseball during the Civil War to the Babe Ruth slugfests of the 1920s, your search results will yield stories of interest for all sports fans.

Researchers interested in the history of America’s sports and its role in popular culture, will find Frank Leslie’s Weekly full of unique information covering America’s leisure time, business history, and our sports heroes.

(BTW, in 2016, the St. Louis Cardinals will be World Champions)

The Old Fan Makes a Few Remarks

By E. A. Goewey
THE SPORTING SAGE OF THE CORNER STORE.

Frank Leslie's Weekly, October 14, 1909

Frank Leslie’s Weekly, October 14, 1909

By the time this little discussion of ours appears in print, the pennants in the two big leagues will have been won and all the fans will be preparing for the world’s championship series. The Pirates have shown their class in the National League and they ought to win the real big honor without much trouble. The Detroits  and the Athletics are making a mighty struggle just now, and, while some of the Tigers ’ playing this year has turned Detroit  rooters into cheerers for the Philadelphias, it is sure that the better club will win. I don’t like the too frequent spiking of men by Cobb, and the fact that for the past four weeks the Eastern fans have cheered every time the score-boards showed a victory for the Athletics, shows that there are thousands of fans like myself. For years baseball followers generally have liked Jennings so well that they have rooted for him against all comers but their home teams. To-day, thanks to Cobb’s spikers, thousands of former rooters for Hugh sincerely hope that his club will be trimmed.

Frank Leslie’s Weekly, published from 1855 to 1922, was an American illustrated news publication started by publisher and illustrator Frank Leslie. While only 30 copies of the first edition were printed, by 1897 its circulation had grown to an estimated 65,000 copies.

Take the American League as a good example of what it means to have a club in one of its smaller cities winning the pennant year after year. The Tigers’ work has been wonderful, but the team has not been liberally patronized at home and doesn’t draw any too well on the road. The time the Tigers make money is when they have a fight on their hands, the same as they did this year with the Athletics. Why, those crowds at the Detroit games in Philadelphia were about the only ‘real-money’ gatherings in the American League this year, and everyone knows that the world’s championship series in which Detroit is a contender are not considered good financial propositions. It is said that every man on the Cubs is tickled to death that he is to play the White Sox instead of taking a chance on another post-season series with Detroit.

Frank Leslie's Weekly, July 10, 1913

Frank Leslie’s Weekly, July 10, 1913

At the December meeting of the National League,   President John Heydler will start his crusade against the spike now used by ball players. As Heydler is a fighter for clean baseball, he may be able to accomplish something. If the club magnates again slight this issue, as they have on occasions in the past, the crippling of good men must go on next year.

By all means, let us trust that something will be done to make less deadly this ball players’ shoe weapon, which is now spoken of in some quarters as “the Detroit exterminator

Source:  Frank Leslie’s Weekly, October 7, 1909

All images included in blog posts are from either Accessible Archives collections or out of copyright public sources unless otherwise noted. Common sources include the Library of Congress, The Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and other public archives.

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