Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April 2, 1937: The Gashouse Gang and The Battle of Tampa

     On April 2, 1937, Dizzy Dean, Ducky Medwick, and the Gashouse Gang got into a fight with two reporters at a hotel in Tampa, Florida. The fight started over something that Jack Miley of the New York Daily News had written about Dean's wife Pat wearing the pants in their family. It all went down when the team arrived at the hotel after a spring training loss against the Reds. With Dean and the rest of the boys still in uniform coming into the hotel, Dean's wife pointed the reporter out to husband. Dizzy approached him, and let him know that he didn't appreciate the article. As words continued to exchange, one man pushed another, then cleats, bats, and fists began to fly as the Gashouse Gang fought what was dubbed the "Battle of Tampa."

     Irving Kupcinet from the Chicago Daily Times came to the defense of his fellow sportswriter, while most of the Cardinals roster came to the defense of Dean. The only two Cardinals that refrained from joining in the festivities were Pepper Martin and Leo Durocher. When it was all said and done, property had been damaged, Miley had a cut on his head from the spike of a cleat, and Kupcinet walked away with a black eye. Kupcinet refused to let it go, he challenged Dean to a one on one fight. According to Pittsburgh Press, Kupcinet said "You yellow bellied hen pecked husband you wouldn't fight a baby. I'll fight you any place, any time, you just name it."  Kupcinet was was an athlete as well, he had played quarterback for North Dakota, then the Philadelphia Eagles, and he was one who could hold his own. In the days that followed, it was reported that Dean wanted no part of that battle.

     Following the incident, the Cardinals skipper Frankie Frisch condemned the actions of Dean and the rest of the men involved. However, Kupcinet continued to bash the Cardinals through his newspaper, while Dean, who always had a gift for gab, defended his actions. In the end they both had to get over it. Some more recent publications said that the players involved issued an apology, although, I was not able to find any newspaper articles that mentioned a formal apology. However, I did find an article that was printed more than a year after the incident that had Dean refusing to talk with Martin McCarthy who was the boss of Kupcinet at the Chicago Daily Times. Dean, who had been traded to the Cubs almost a month before that article was printed eventually came around and talked with McCarthy who was considered to have grabbed a scoop from the former Cardinal. As the water flowed under the bridge, time moved on, and one more tale had been told from the days of the Gashouse Gang.

Go Cards!!!

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