1912 – Manager Bresnahan Sues the Team

The 1912 season is one of very few highlights. Ed Konetchy finds his consecutive errorless chance stop at 592 when he make a poor throw on July 18 in a game with Brooklyn.

Player Likes to Delivery Milk in Morning

One quirk from this team is pitcher Harry Sailee that is an insomniac that likes to help the milkman make his deliveries and stays up most of the night. He finished 16-17 and led the league with six saves.

Manager Fired and Sues

A month or so after the completion of the season, manager Roger Bresnahan is fired by Mrs. Britton. He still had four years left on his $10,000 per year contract. Bresnahan sues the team but a settlement is reached when the Cardinals trade him to the Cubs.

Bresnahan and Britton got along well enough in the beginning. She made a few changes to the club such as renaming League Park in honor of her father and uncle, Robison Field, and moving local ticket sales depots from saloons to drug stores so that they would be assessable to women; however, for the most part Britton allowed others to run the day to day operations. She took the title of vice-president but maintained control in the boardroom.

Britton must have soon garnered a different opinion of Bresnahan and others within the business though, seeing them on a day-to-day basis. She attended every home game and saw and heard things which she typically wouldn’t. Bresnahan, like many ballplayers, was crude and vulgar in his speech and over time he failed to clean it up around Britton.

To kick off the season in 1911, Bresnahan got into a verbal altercation and fist fight with Cincinnati’s Bob Bescher on April 18. The year went well though. At midseason the Cardinals were actually threatening for first place. The team finished in fifth place with a winning record, 75-74.

Perhaps just as important, the club turned a substantial profit, $165,000. Britton was so pleased that she gave Bresnahan a five-year deal on September 13 at $10,000 per plus 10% of the net profits. The deal made him one of the highest paid men in the game, perhaps the highest paid.

The year 1912 was a different story. The pair clashed all year. It all seemed to take a turn about the time Britton appeared in court in early May to confirm her control over the club. On the stand she noted that Bresnahan had offered her $500,000 for the club and ballpark.

It was an innocent remark (she was only trying to establish the value of her investment) but it led some to suggest that Bresnahan was lying down, trying to lose games to force a transfer of the club. What wasn’t so innocent was Bresnahan’s repeated offers to purchase the club after being repeatedly denied.

Bresnahan had some other troubles in 1912. For one, he broke his kneecap in April and then came down with pneumonia. He only caught in 29 games in 1912 after doing so in 59, 77 and 77 respectively over the three previous seasons. Bresnahan also fought a charge from Philadelphia Phillies president Horace Fogel that he didn’t field his best club when facing his old friends on the Giants (Fogel was banned at the end of the year by the National Commission). Worst still, the Cardinals never threatened during 1912 and this led to a drop (from 404,000 to 342,000) at the gate as well.

Britton and Bresnahan just weren’t seeing eye-to-eye. Bresnahan flat out didn’t like answering to a woman. And as the losses piled up he had more and more to answer for. Part of the issue had roots in the Robison era. Stanley Robison bowed out of field decisions. He had made a deal with Bresnahan that the manager would have complete control over personnel and other related matters.

Bresnahan and Britton feuded publicly in 1912, as the Cardinals fell to sixth place in the NL. The Cardinals fired Bresnahan after the 1912 season due to various arguments Bresnahan had with Britton, including over Bresnahan’s desire to sell Miller Huggins to another franchise. Britton cited decreased profits as a sign that Bresnahan was uninterested in the job. Huggins succeeded Bresnahan as Cardinals’ manager, as she preferred Huggins’ “gentlemanly” manner, as opposed to Bresnahan’s rougher personality. Brenahan hired an attorney to obtain the remainder of his salary. He eventually settled the lawsuit against Britton for $20,000 ($490,414 in current dollar terms).

Following his termination by the Cardinals, the NL declared Bresnahan a free agent. He signed a three-year contract with the Cubs, receiving $10,000 ($239,428 in current dollar terms) per season with a $25,000 signing bonus ($598,569 in current dollar terms). He served as player-manager for the Cubs in 1915, but was released when his batting average slipped. As the rival Federal League collapsed and the Cubs merged with the Chicago Whales of the Federal League, the Cubs decided to replace Bresnahan with Whales manager Joe Tinker.

The Cubs paid Bresnahan for the remaining two years on his contract and aided Bresnahan in purchasing the Toledo Mud Hens, then in the American Association, in 1916. The club had moved to Cleveland to block the Federal League from placing a team there, but returned to Toledo under Bresnahan’s control. Bresnahan played for the team until 1918, when he announced his retirement. He played for a semi-professional team in 1919, and appeared in five games for the Mud Hens in 1921. Bresnahan worked to add lights to Toledo’s stadium, so that they could play night games.

Bresnahan sold the Mud Hens before the 1924 season. McGraw then hired Bresnahan as a coach for the Giants, a position he held from 1925 through 1928. He coached for the Detroit Tigers in 1930 and 1931.