Saturday, March 26, 2011

Guest Post: The Drunkest Ballplayers of All Time

[special treat today: a guest post from my good buddy over at The Desk of Solomon Kelly. Dude writes an absolutely wonderful sports blog and he sent over a post that's thematically appropriate with what he do here (make awful decisions). Enjoy!]

I've been a fan of the Gutrotter since its inception. I think it's a goddamn brilliant idea - and the fact that it must one day end is bittersweet (that my boy might be able to live to thirty is definitely a "pro").

Today I bring you a shiny new entry in my site's continuing Profiles in Not Giving a Fuck series. Tighten your sporting boots, pull up your stockings, wax your mustache and rescind upon a woman's right to vote because this one is all about the Deadball Era of baseball.


"It is literally astounding, how few fucks I am inclined to offer on the matter."

King Kelly had fine-tuned his skills as a World Class Hellraiser in Chicago and didn't miss a beat setting up shop in his new home upon being sold to Boston for a then-unheard of $10,000. Despite four recorded instances in which he managed to steal bases by darting across the infield while the umpire was distracted, Kelly was a great player - ultimately, he was as good at base running as he was at drinking.

And he was very, very good at drinking. 

Kelly's habit was, understandably, the stuff of legends. Some of which seem pretty damn plausible, all things considered (like the one where he brought a mug of beer with him onto the field) - but the actual, factual historical record is just so much better. Once, Boston's League Director himself had to pay a $200 bar tab for his star player's adventures from the night before. The same day, he gets forwarded another one, for another $200 - same night, different bar. In today's currency, that's right about $3,000 apiece.

Yes, yes of course he was Irish. Just bringing home the stereotype, there's the fact that at his wake, "Nothing is Too Good for the Irish" and "Poor Mick" were sung.

Basically, this.


Rabbit Maranville is like this close to being baseball's Patch Adams. Except for the fact that, goofy hat trick aside, dude had an especially dark sense of humor and an insatiable thirst for the cheap stuff.

He once got hammered and, for shits and giggles, staged a murder in his hotel room - complete with gunshots. After screaming and wailing and breaking shit for a few minutes, he stopped, cooly walked by the terrified throng of people amassed outside his door in the hallway, saying only "Hiya fellas!" along the way.

So dude was like... Nega-Patch Adams.


When the New York Yankees' Leo Durocher first laid eyes on Fothergill, the man they called Fats was digging in at the plate. Durocher called for a time out and made the spectacle of running down from the outfield to the umpire to protest. He yelped "Both those men can't bat at once!" When the inning was up, Fothergill chased Durocher into the Yankees dugout and proceeded to beat him down.

He drank hard and lived hard. Legend has it that he once beat Babe Ruth in a drinking contest which is an awful lot like beating Babe Ruth in a whore-mongering contest. Fats also bit an umpire on the hand once, likely mistaking the man for bacon. He ordered steaks by the pallet and was legally classified as a moon. His blood type was "ham".


It's as though Paul "Big Poison" Waner looked back into the past out at the legacies of great ballplaying drinkers like King Kelly and, having already been shitfaced to begin with, pissed all over their shoes. cites Waner as having "the sharpest bloodshot eyes in baseball" and the legendary Casey Stengel once said of him,

"He had to be a very graceful player because he could slide without breaking the bottle in his hip."


Hack Wilson was built like Mr. Incredible after he stopped fighting crime.

He weighed 195 pounds and stood only... holy shit, really? 5'6"! Oh my God, that's the best thing I've ever heard. Hack drank, he fought and he played baseball. That was this dude's life. Rumors that he also gave a fuck have since proved to be false.

Before playing ball for a living, Hack dropped out of the sixth grade and made $4 a week swinging a sledgehammer. Then his big break came and, ultimately playing with the Cubs, Hack put up simply outstanding numbers. He was also arrested in his first year in Chicago at a speak-easy while trying to escape through a back window. Ostensibly, having gotten stuck like Winnie the Pooh, kicking his teeny tiny little legs in the air.

In 1928, he climbed into the grandstands to fight a heckler. In the ensuing chaos, about five thousand people rushed the field. He fought opposing players on the field (like when he walked into the Reds' dugout and pummeled Ray Kolp) as well as off the field (like Pete Donohue, whom he felled at a train station). He was traded only when he fought a pack of reporters.

The year he quit drinking, his batting average actually went down substantially. Then he hopped right the fuck back off the wagon in 1930 and managed to hit fifty six home runs and maintain a batting average of .356. He was voted MVP that season by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

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