Milton Bradley Makes The Worst Teams In The World

Jack Zduriencik was one move away from completely rebuilding a shaken franchise in a little over thirteen months.

And then he made the move.
How much easier could this be to understand? You do not trade for Milton Bradley. You do not trade for Milton Bradley. You do not trade for Milton Bradley. 
He’s a “good teammate and a nice guy,” said the Mariners’ GM, hours after guaranteeing that all the startlingly good work he and his manager Don Wakamatsu had done in the last year would be washed away by some cataclysm (or “event,” as the nuclear plant engineers pleasantly call them) involving Bradley next season. Since April 1978, when his Dad filled out the name on his birth certificate without his Mom’s consent, there’s always been something. Tearing an ACL while having to be restrained from hitting an umpire. Bumping an umpire. Charging a third umpire. Suspended for the season by the Cubs. Trying to get to the press box during the game to confront the visiting announcer. Fighting with Eric Wedge. Fighting with Lou Piniella. Throwing the baseball bag on the field. Throwing a bottle back into the stands. Throwing the game ball into the stands – after the second out.
And by the way, we are talking about a player whose career highs are 34 doubles, 22 homers,  77 RBI, 17 steals, and a .321 average. This is not Albert Belle. This is not even Carl Everett. Statistically, this is a poor man’s Ben Grieve (my apologies to Ben Grieve).
And after signing Chone Figgins and Russell Branyan (and maybe even re-signing him), and dealing for Franklin Gutierrez, Jack Wilson, Cliff Lee, Ian Snell, and David Aardsma, all the good work by Zduriencik is undone by adding a player who is being described as looking for a “fresh start.” This’d be his seventh. 

FROM A RESEARCHER’S NOTEBOOK:

This was my favorite part of the annual SABR Journal – the curious things the late Al Kermisch found, presumably in pursuit of grander truths (an example from his last “From,” published after his passing in 2002: as a professional, Phil Rizzuto never played on a team that finished worst than third, and in 17 years, he was on 14 pennant-winners). I can’t hope to emulate the quality of Mr. Kermisch’s work but I do hope to touch the curiosity factor, both with nuts-and-bolts research and, in the case of my first effort, whimsy.
Meet the greatest name in baseball history: Phifer Fullenwider. 
Don’t go looking him up in the Baseball Encyclopedia; he never actually pitched in the big leagues (though he did make it to Spring Training one year, at a time when less than 30 men per team did so).
Fullenwider graduated with a degree in pharmacy from the University of North Carolina in 1908, but instead of to a drug store, he headed to the Carolina Association, where, as Baseball Reference’s superb minor league database indicates, he opened a fourteen-year minor league career with a 13-4 record for Charlotte. But it would be 1911 before he really broke through with a 26-9 mark for Columbia of the South Atlantic (SALLY) League.
And that impressive season leads us to this rather remarkable public domain image from the Polo Grounds in New York:
Fullenwider1912,jpg.jpg

That is none other than our Mr. Fullenwider, in the uniform of the Columbia Commies (had a different meaning then), standing in New York’s Polo Grounds, most likely late in the season of 1911, or possibly early in 1912. In those days before extensive farm systems, major league teams not only drafted players from minor league teams, but did so wholesale – and usually days after the minor league season ended. Thus it was not unusual for “bushers” to report to the big leagues – and apparently to bring their uniforms with them.

The Giants thought enough of Fullenwider to bring him to spring training in 1912. The camp was in Marlin, Texas, and the team picture indicates just how few prospects were included among the veterans:
1912 Giants.jpg
NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME

The bottom row is, left to right, Giants aces Red Ames and Hall of Famer Rube Marquard, an otherwise unidentified “trainer,” Fullenwider, and outfielder Josh Devore. The legendary John McGraw is second from right in the middle row (almost right behind his prized pitching prospect), and in the back are the only two guys not wearing the goofy hats: catcher Chief Meyers (fourth from the right) who is capless, and next to him, wearing his cap backwards, Christy Mathewson. For this team photo is nothing less than a 1912 manifestation of that which we purists fear may some day happen in the future – players wearing advertisements on their uniforms! Those caps are ads for “ANGER’S Ice Cream Cones.” And evidently Mathewson and Meyers are having none of it (and yes, that’s my boy Merkle, back row, far right).
But back to Phifer Fullenwider, and something even stranger than an ad for ice cream cones on his uniform.
Fullenwider1912.jpg
The one-time UNC pitching hero is still wearing his Carolina cold-weather baseball sweater. The thing is four years old at least, he’s the property of the defending National League Champion New York Giants,  they took him to spring training in hopes that he might pitch alongside Christy Mathewson – and nobody gave him his own Giants’ sweater!
As it proved, Fullenwider never would pitch alongside Matty, nor any other big leaguer. The records of 1912 are a lot less precise than today, but while nearly everybody else in that photo went on to win the N.L. crown again in 1912 and 1913, Fullenwider shows up pitching for Buffalo of the International League (where the Giants often sent their extra players, in an informal arrangement), where he would win 20, 19, and 17 games in the next three seasons and yet never get a call to the big time. After a 19-victory season at Atlanta in 1917, he apparently quit. A 1919 entry in the University of North Carolina alumni review notes that Fullenwider (“Phar. ’08″) “is a druggist, with the Rose Drug Co., of Rocky Mount. He will be remembered as a star pitcher on the varsity baseball team. He has a one-year old child.”
The game was not gone from his system, however. Phifer Fullenwider, at the age of 34, reapp
ears in the minor league record in that same city – Rocky Mount, pitching for the Tarheels of the Virginia League for two seasons, then Columbia in 1922 and Greenville in ’23. He’d finish up with a record of 194 and 146, with memories of a trip to Marlin, Texas with McGraw and the boys, and at least one winter of the greatest kind of hope and optimism. One wonders if he got to keep the Ice Cream Cone hat.
There’s one other note before we let Mr. Fullenwider out of the clutches of the researcher. He may not have gotten a big league game under his belt, but he did make it onto a baseball card. From the Contentnea Cigarettes series called T209, dating from the 1909 season — and a dandy it is, I might add.
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Fullenwider.jpg

27 Comments

Wow… love interesting names. Milton Bradley?? I’ve heard it before, but… having an unusual name can make your life, well… interesting. My first name is spelled rather oddly, so I’ve spent my whole life having to spell it for everyone. It’s a very average name, but with an odd spelling. Strangely enough, when a friend Googled me, they found the Unabomber – because a woman with the same exact name as mine was involved with the case. Seems those with my name usually end up as spokespersons (?) for various universities or government agencies. There are at least three (possibly four) with my exact and odd name who do just that. I guess it comes from having to speak up quickly to get the correct spelling. Life is strange sometimes, isn’t it? As to the Mariners – I stopped following them some years back. Long story as to why, but… suffice to say my ex was a bit of a bully. He kind of killed any enjoyment of the game, but… Keith, I have to say you’re bringing the love of the game back to me, and I appreciate that. Following the Mariners was difficult as it was, having moved some 3,000 miles away, but he made it even harder. Thank you for making baseball interesting again… I miss seeing live games, but perhaps one day I’ll get to see some again. I do live near a spring training facility, so who knows? :) Hope you and your father are doing well. Have a great holiday season!!

Another check of our man Fullenwider’s baseball-reference page shows us that the Rocky Mount Tar Heels were able to pull him out of retirement by making him the manager, a post he held in 1920 and 21.

Good post, Keith, though you’re dead wrong about Bradley. Carl Everett’s BEST season would’ve been Milton’s 4th. A better comparison is Dick Allen, a genuinely great player plagued by rumors (some justified) of malfeasance. You add in that the Mariners got rid of dead-weight Carlos Silva, and it’s looking like a steal for Seattle to me. I’m a big fan of the blog and your TV show, but you’ve got this one wrong.

Right on the money. Sure, the Mariners got rid of a bad contract but now they are stuck with another. I kind of like Milton Bradley and I hope he does well in Seattle but when you are starting to make some progress in rebuilding your team why would you bring in a known clubhouse cancer. I remember watching a game in September where Ichiro hit his first walkoff dinger in his career and watching the players get excited and great him and Ichiro was all over it…they finally got it. They finally achieved some team chemistry. I really thought that something had clicked. You don’t mess with that. I like all of the moves that Seattle has made up until that one.
As I said, I do like Bradley, but he does not even fill a role that the Mariners needed to fill. The Mariners need to add power to their lineup. Bradley is not a clean up guy. The Mariners, although they got rid of Silva, are still no further ahead. They still need to find a couple of guys that can go yard before they can consider themselves the team to beat in the west.

Except “Phifer” is pronounced “fred”

you know, kind of like Chone thinks it makes sense to be pronounced ‘sean’

ahem.

“Holy Don Pardo’s pants,” has Milton Bradley ever been tested for drugs? He sounds like the poster boy for ‘roid rage! If he didn’t manage to learn self-control during his previous “fresh starts”, chances are that the seventh time won’t be the charm. The mystery is, why have all these teams taken a chance on him, given his career statistics?!?

Phifer Fullenwider…now, there’s a German name if ever there was one. I wonder if he came from Germany, or was born to German immigrants. What a shame that he never achieved big-time success.

About his uniform(s), what you’ve described sounds a lot like today’s Japanese school system. When a student transfers to a different school, he/she might not be able to get a new uniform right away. So the new students must wear their old school’s uniform in the meantime – which makes them stand out as newcomers, because each school has different colors. Girls’ uniforms, especially, stand out, because their styling can vary widely from school to school (boys’ uniforms are more similar in style). In high school–when some students have reached their adult height–if a student is tall or large, and the new school’s uniform isn’t available in that size, that student must wear the old uniform all year. So, of course, when I read what you wrote about Phifer Fullenwider’s uniform and sweater, I was instantly reminded of this modern-day phenomenon. Some things never change….

LOL that Chief Meyers refused to wear the “ice cream cap”! And how cool that Christy Mathewson was wearing his baseball cap backwards, many decades before it became fashionable. In an odd way, athletes in every sport are wearing small advertisements now, because trademarks like the Nike swoop are readily visible on their uniforms. So even though it’s more subtle than outright plugging a product, some advertising is already taking place. Some teams’ uniforms are so ugly, though, it makes me wonder why the manufacturers would even want to be associated with them!

Speaking of Merkle, I hope you’ll still be blogging next year, so that you’ll be able to commemorate the infamous “Merkle Anniversary”. You’d love to hear my mother talk about it…or, should I say, rant about it. Personally, I don’t mention it to her anymore, because it’s hard to stop her, once she gets on a roll. Injustice is a touchy subject with her, and she really thinks the way Merkle got blamed for that incident was deplorable.

BTW, I don’t know if you’d have time to append your blog entry to answer this question, but is that 1909 baseball card from your collection? It would be interesting to see scans of some of your rarer cards on this blog, along with a few details about the card and the player depicted on it. I’m sure you’re quite busy, but I just thought I’d make this suggestion/request, in case you’d be open to the idea of doing this every so often.

If there are no blog updates until then, I wish you, your family, and everyone reading this a peaceful Christmas and New Year. There’s been so much turmoil in 2009, we could all use some “peace on earth”.

Granting the risks of getting Milton Bradley, this is the kind of trade that Bill Veeck described as swapping a $200,000 dog for a couple of $100,000 cats. The Mariners needed to get rid of a problem, and they hope that Griffey’s influence can help Bradley. Well, that seems ridiculous, but I can’t think of a figure of his eminence, for lack of a better term, on a roster with Bradley. Good guys and big names, yes, but not Griffey in Seattle.

I love Keith’s love of names, and therefore mention the Civil War general Schimmelfennig. Not a good general, but Lincoln used to sit at his desk and say his name, just for the fun of it.

Keith, best wishes of the season and here’s hoping your dad is doing better.

why does his card show his first name as “Raleigh” and not “Phifer”?

To paul@iacobucci.us… I believe “Raleigh” on the card refers to the team, not his first name. Fullenwider played for Raleigh in 1909.

“good teammate and nice guy”???? where’d he get THAT from??? lol! There was a parody of some sort in Chicago that Milton Bradley took a full page ad just to tell Cubs fans to “rot in hell”. However I do wonder how he went from “horrible Padre” to “all star Ranger” to “hated Cubbie”… something right must have happened out in the AL west! Maybe Griffey will turn him around *shrugs*

http://mimi.mlblogs.com

If you want a great baseball name, look no farther than Grover Lowdermilk– who not only made the big leagues, but pitched for the Chicago Black Sox!

Although if you had to pick the best name in all of sports, I might have to go with players’ agent Bean Stringfellow.

Interesting post and thanks for sharing. Some things in here I have not thought about before.Thanks for making such a cool post which is really very well written.will be referring a lot of friends about this.Keep blogging Bollywood News

Although I disagree with your assessment of the offensive talents of Bradley, I have to say I am relieved that is not the acquisition of Giant Bradley. I just could not imagine what took a leave of absence on 17 May given at mensagens para orkut god-knows-what-reason, and never return.

I do not know if I know, but the Giants are the players in the Sweepstakes Scott Podsednik. As of May 17, you may be wishing his team FA outfielder had his team.

For decades, Rodney was advised younger writer than a past pen, a man whose efforts to refrain destroy the colorize ban in ball was forgotten because he was a commie.

Another check of our man Fullenwider’s baseball-reference page shows us that the Rocky Mount Tar Heels were able to pull him out of retirement by making him the manager, a post he held in 1920 and 21.

Good post, Orkut Graphics
Keith, though you’re dead wrong about Bradley. Carl Everett’s BEST season would’ve been Milton’s 4th. A better comparison is Dick Allen, a genuinely great player plagued by rumors (some justified) of malfeasance. You add in that the Mariners got rid of dead-weight Carlos Silva, and it’s looking like a steal for Seattle to me. I’m a big fan of the blog and your TV show, but you’ve got this one wrong.

Granting the risks of getting Milton Bradley, this is the kind of trade that Bill Veeck described as swapping a $200,000 dog for a couple of $100,000 cats. The Mariners needed to get rid of a problem, and they hope Orkut Graphics
that Griffey’s influence can help Bradley. Well, that seems ridiculous, but I can’t think of a figure of his eminence, for lack of a better term, on a roster with Bradley. Good guys and big names, yes, but not Griffey in Seattle.

I love Keith’s love of names, and therefore mention the Civil War general Schimmelfennig. Not a good general, but Lincoln used to sit at his desk and say his name, just for the fun of it.

Keith, best wishes of the season and here’s hoping your dad is doing better.

“Holy Don Pardo’s pants,” has Milton Bradley ever been tested for drugs? He sounds like the poster boy for ‘roid rage! If he didn’t manage to learn self-control during his previous “fresh starts”, chances are that the seventh time won’t be the charm. The mystery is, why have all these teams taken a chance on him, given his career statistics?!?

Phifer Fullenwider…now, there’s a German name if ever there was one. I wonder if he came from Germany, or was born to German immigrants. What a shame that he never achieved big-time success.

About his uniform(s), Gadgets
what you’ve described sounds a lot like today’s Japanese school system. When a student transfers to a different school, he/she might not be able to get a new uniform right away. So the new students must wear their old school’s uniform in the meantime – which makes them stand out as newcomers, because each school has different colors. Girls’ uniforms, especially, stand out, because their styling can vary widely from school to school (boys’ uniforms are more similar in style). In high school–when some students have reached their adult height–if a student is tall or large, and the new school’s uniform isn’t available in that size, that student must wear the old uniform all year. So, of course, when I read what you wrote about Phifer Fullenwider’s uniform and sweater, I was instantly reminded of this modern-day phenomenon. Some things never change….

LOL that Chief Meyers refused to wear the “ice cream cap”! And how cool that Christy Mathewson was wearing his baseball cap backwards, many decades before it became fashionable. In an odd way, athletes in every sport are wearing small advertisements now, because trademarks like the Nike swoop are readily visible on their uniforms. So even though it’s more subtle than outright plugging a product, some advertising is already taking place. Some teams’ uniforms are so ugly, though, it makes me wonder why the manufacturers would even want to be associated with them!

Speaking of Merkle, I hope you’ll still be blogging next year, so that you’ll be able to commemorate the infamous “Merkle Anniversary”. You’d love to hear my mother talk about it…or, should I say, rant about it. Personally, I don’t mention it to her anymore, because it’s hard to stop her, once she gets on a roll. Injustice is a touchy subject with her, and she really thinks the way Merkle got blamed for that incident was deplorable.

BTW, I don’t know if you’d have time to append your blog entry to answer this question, but is that 1909 baseball card from your collection? It would be interesting to see scans of some of your rarer cards on this blog, along with a few details about the card and the player depicted on it. I’m sure you’re quite busy, but I just thought I’d make this suggestion/request, in case you’d be open to the idea of doing this every so often.

If there are no blog updates until then, I wish you, your family, and everyone reading this a peaceful Christmas and New Year. There’s been so much turmoil in 2009, we could all use some “peace on earth”.

Right on the money. Sure, the Mariners got rid of a bad contract but now they are stuck with another. I kind of like Milton Bradley and Articles
I hope he does well in Seattle but when you are starting to make some progress in rebuilding your team why would you bring in a known clubhouse cancer. I remember watching a game in September where Ichiro hit his first walkoff dinger in his career and watching the players get excited and great him and Ichiro was all over it…they finally got it. They finally achieved some team chemistry. I really thought that something had clicked. You don’t mess with that. I like all of the moves that Seattle has made up until that one.
As I said, I do like Bradley, but he does not even fill a role that the Mariners needed to fill. The Mariners need to add power to their lineup. Bradley is not a clean up guy. The Mariners, although they got rid of Silva, are still no further ahead. They still need to find a couple of guys that can go yard before they can consider themselves the team to beat in the west.

Another check of our man Fullenwider’s baseball-reference page shows us that the Rocky Mount News360 Tar Heels were able to pull him out of retirement by making him the manager, a post he held in 1920 and 21.

Another check of our man Fullenwider’s baseball-reference page shows us that the Rocky Depoimentos Prontos para amigos Orkut
Mount Tar Heels were able to pull him out of retirement by making him the manager, a post he held in 1920 and 21.

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Great write up here!
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Six years looks like ancient history to White Sox fans, and here are the Cubs mired in over a century of futility. Facts mounts that some things arenât meant to be: ice at the Equator, Milton Bradley mellowing and the Cubs in joyful celebration of a World Series victory.

What is Jerry Angelo âs approval rating with the Bears coming off a playoff season? What was Jerry Krause âs as the Bulls were accumulating all that N.B.A. hardware? Ken Williams bought himself some time with the White Sox âs 2005 World Series title, but only players stay from the championship roster. The replacements haven ât been as lovely, and the trophy âs power to ward off critics has a shelf life.

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