Beyond being a great resource about the man himself, there’s loads of interesting information about baseball in an era gone by in the new book about Sam Thompson, a cornerstone of the best outfield ever to play in the majors.
Interesting Fact #1:
Phillies have a nomadic spring training history. Owners undertook many cost-saving measures in the 1890s, including cutting players’s salaries despite contracts, and firing anyone who wouldn’t take a pay cut. Part of the cost-savings measure for the Phillies in was abandoning spring training in the southern states in favor of South Jersey. In 1891 that meant spring training in Cape May, though that was short-lived. In 1892 they began spring training in Gainesville, Florida and then finished up at home – a practice they have now re-instituted. Their final exhibition tune-up that year was against the Philadelphia Athletics. But in 1893 there was a full-blown depression on par with the Great Depression of the 1930s, as the team cut salaries further and played the entire spring training in Frigid Philly. In 1894 and 1895 they used U. Penn’s facilities in West Philly for spring training.
Interesting Fact #2:
During their home games in 1900, Phillies owner John Rogers sanctioned the use of a special spy technique. Reserve catch Morgan Murphy would read opposing catchers’ signals from center field using a telescope. He relayed them via electrical impulse to the coaches box where the third base coach could feel the impulse from a wire to his metal spikes. Frank Fitzpatrick told a version of this story five years ago on Philly.com in connection with Mick Billmeyer’s binocular bullpen spy gate.
Interesting Fact #3: