Tuesday, July 12, 2016

July 12, 1890: Toad Strikes Out Thirteen

     On July 12, 1890, just days after being suspended for not running hard to second base, Toad Ramsey was reinstated, and struck out thirteen batters during a 12-4 Browns win over the Syracuse Stars at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. Ramsey not only held the Syracuse batsman in check, he also came up with a single and two sacrifices in the contest.  His teammates knocked Ramsey's counterpart, John Keefe around freely. Outfielder Count Campau hit a home run and a triple, while first baseman Ed Cartwright tripled twice in the tilt. The team that would be known as the Cardinals a decade later performed like champions that day. However, they would finish that season with a 78-58 record, which was 12 games behind the first place Louisville Colonels.

     Ramsey, who was given the nickname Toad because he looked like one, had returned to dominance that season. He had been one of the finest pitchers in the game during the 1886 and 1887 season, winning 75 games over the course of those two seasons for the Louisville Colonels. During that time he was also called a magician, as he mastered the knuckleball. Some say he even invented the pitch that danced its way into the strike zone. However, after those dominant seasons, Ramsey's star seemed to dim. He went 8-30 in 1888, then continued to slide in 1889, posting a 1-16 record before being traded to St. Louis for Nat Hudson. Hudson refused to report to Louisville and his days in the majors came to an end, but that was not the case for Ramsey. He went 3-1 with the Browns the rest of that season, then looked to have a career revival during that 1890 season.

     While Ramsey's star looked to shine once again, he had not endeared himself to  Von der Ahe whatsoever. He was a heavy drinker, making his own cocktail, which consisted of a pint of whiskey poured into a full pitcher of beer (yuck!). His drinking caused Von der Ahe to lose control of his club. With less than a month left in the campaign Ramsey had kept several teammates out past midnight  and he was released. There were no takers interested in Ramsey despite the fact that he, was 25 years of age and had won 23 games that season.

     In the grand scheme of things, Ramsey's time in St. Louis did not amount to much. With that said, he did entertain the fans in The Mound City for a little more than a season, and he certainly impressed them on that day in July when he struck out thirteen men. That day the St. Louis Post Dispatch  proclaimed that the team had "played ball like they had swallowed a horseradish factory." If only they could have swallowed more horseradish factories that season Ramsey may have kept his job. However, he would not step on a major league diamond ever again after his release.

While I could not find much more about the hurler known as Toad, I did find that he passed away in 1906 due to complications from a pneumonia. A very talented athlete, Ramsey should be remembered for what he did on his best days, which was make that ball dance right passed the men who stood at the dish.

Side note: Campau led the American Association that season with nine home runs.

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