What to Think of Thomas Edison

I grew up in Northern New Jersey and I currently live within five miles of Thomas Edison’s laboratory, a national historical park in West Orange, N.J. (Oh the Things Thomas Edison Thought Of.) It’s a fascinating place, all full of vials, test tubes and filaments, machines and contraptions, tools of every kind, as well as all of the finished products, ranging from motion picture cameras to a waffle iron.

Edison's lab
The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore

As school kids, we all went there on field trips. As a sort of historical homeboy, Edison is as revered as any historical figure. So you can imagine my shock when, upon reading Graham Moore’s The Last Days of Night, I found Edison portrayed as an outright scoundrel. Intensely jealous, disrespectful of anyone who could be construed as a rival or a critic, unethical and a second-rate inventor at that. Then I saw Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s movie The Current War. Added to the above we now see Edison as a torturer of innocent animals and likely a crappy husband and father.

Keep in mind that both the book and the movie are works of historical fiction. Both are supposed to be based on true events, but Moore isn’t writing history and Gomez-Rejon isn’t filming a documentary. Both have the same themes. There is a lawsuit ongoing between Edison and George Westinghouse in which Edison is suing Westinghouse for violating his patent for the light bulb. The Last Days of Night is narrated by the attorney representing Westinghouse in this legal case. Edison, by the way, didn’t invent the light bulb, but he created and received a patent on a certain type of bulb whose cost and longevity made it viable.

The Edison light bulb

Then there is the current war that gave the movie its name. As Edison and Westinghouse competed for contracts to electrify the country, Edison used direct current. Westinghouse used alternating current which was cheaper and could cover longer distances. Edison sought to portray AC as dangerous. Thus in the movie we see Edison electrocuting a horse to prove his point. And in The Last Days of Night the suggestion is floated that Edison paid someone to set fire to Nicola Tesla’s lab, a fire that almost killed him. Tesla was the founder of alternating current. He was a former Edison employee who later hooked up with Westinghouse.

Moore portrays Tesla as an erratic, nearly incoherent, unstable genius. I suspect the film understates his importance and Nicholas Hoult is unconvincing as a guy who probably truly was a genius. Tesla is the only one of the three who didn’t come away with a pile of money.

Nicola Tesla
Nicola Tesla statue at Niagara Falls State Park. Tesla designed the first hydro-electric power plant at Niagara Falls.

The other theme that is central to both of the stories involves capital punishment. New York State is unveiling an electric chair as a more ‘humane’ method of execution. They are using alternating current (with Edison’s encouragement?). Edison is prepared to use this as proof that AC is lethal. Westinghouse sues to prevent it.

Moore’s book is a real page turner. It is very similar in style and tone to Eric Larsen’s popular histories. The movie has been panned by critics and ratings services. It’s not that bad. I viewed it with low expectations but found it surprising interesting.

Thomas Edison

There are however a few things about the movie that I’m pretty skeptical about. I think its doubtful that Westinghouse was beyond reproach as he is portrayed. And for all the photos I’ve seen of Edison, I just can’t come to grips with him looking like Benedict Cumberbatch. There’s also a courtroom scene which involves the Westinghouse suit to prevent the adoption of the electric chair based on the constitutional prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishment.” For some reason the ax murderer who is set to be the first victim is in the court. After the session is over, the criminal comes out the same door as Edison. When someone asks Edison for his autograph, the ax murderer bends forward and Edison leans on his back to sign. Then they take him away. Please!

It is also contrived and melodramatic to present the flip of the switch on the electric chair and the flip of the switch turning on the lights at the Chicago World’s Fair as if they were happening simultaneously.

I understand that it’s not unusual for men who have made history, who have made major advances that benefited society, to not always be the most pleasant chaps to be around. More often than not they are arrogant and obsessive. And especially at the end of the 19th century, ruthlessness was how you did business. But I would at least like to be left with the thought that Edison was indeed a brilliant inventor and that all of the amazing things you can see in the West Orange lab are a result of that.

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The Bloomers: Baseball’s Barnstorming Women

Mention women’s baseball and what most of us think of is the movie A League of Their Own. Geena Davis behind the plate and Madonna is center field. The movie was based on a real women’s professional baseball league. The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was formed in 1943, at a time when men’s teams were losing players to the war effort.

The AAGPBL was the only professional women’s baseball league of any significance. It lasted until 1954. But women’s baseball goes back to at least the mid-19th century. Vassar College fielded the first women’s collegiate baseball team in 1866. Beginning in the late 1800’s and continuing until the 1930’s there was a professional baseball option for women in the form of barnstorming teams. Traveling from city to city, sometimes lugging their own grandstands with them, these barnstorming baseball women took on mostly men’s teams, minor leaguers, semi-professionals and local club outfits.

These players would become known as Bloomer Girls. The name came from the style of uniform, featuring loose blousy pants. Bloomers were a regular part of the women’s suffrage movement of the 19th century. They drew their name from Amelia Jenks Bloom, a women’s rights advocate who campaigned for less restrictive clothing for women.


We can get an idea of what some of the Bloomer Girls games were like as they were regularly covered by the local newspapers where they played. It doesn’t appear as those the Bloomer Girls won most of these games, although they generally impressed. At least that’s how the no-doubt all male reporters presented it, usually in the most patronizing of ways.

Aug. 24, 1910

Western Bloomer Girls 4, Balliets 4

Allentown, Pa.

The Western Bloomer Girls actually came from the middle of the country, Watervliet, Mich., a rural farming community which in 1910 had a population of just over 700. How a town that size might field a barnstorming troop of professional women baseballers is a question I could find no answer for. But it seems as though far more than that showed up to watch the Bloomers in Allentown.

The next morning the Allentown Morning Call reported: “The desire to see how girls play baseball proved a strong enough magnet to draw several thousand people to Fourteenth and Liberty streets. The Bloomer Girls brought their own canvas, which was erected around the ball field, but it had no roof and this proved to be the salvation of an army of small boys and of a big crowd of grown-ups, who either did not have the price or did not care to give it up. Every roof and tree for a radius of two blocks was packed with humanity, all anxious to see the Bloomer Girls in action.”

No early 20th century newspaper account of a Bloomer Girls game was complete without some reference to the players’ appearance. In Allentown, the Bloomer Girls pitcher was identified simply as Miss Krowl, who, according to the Morning Call, was “unusually tall and brawny.” 

But she also had “control of all the curves and shoots known to the game.” Kroll went the distance (seven innings) giving up four runs on eight hits, striking out seven and walking six. She also batted leadoff, got one hit and scored a run.

The Western Bloomer Girls featured a lineup of five women and four men. The locals scored two runs in the first inning and added single runs in the fourth and fifth. Trailing 4-0, the Bloomer Girls rallied for four runs in the seventh to tie the game. For those who suspected something fishy, the Morning Call assured: “although the Balliet players are noted for their chivalry, they did not thrown (sic) the game to the ladies and they deserved all they got.”

Western Bloomer Girls

Aug. 9, 1925

Baltimore White Sox 15, Philadelphia Bobbies 6

Baltimore White Sox 12, Philadelphia Bobbies 4

Baltimore, Md.

One of the main attractions of the team that the Baltimore Sun referred to as “Philadelphia’s flapper baseball team” was 13-year-old shortstop Edith Houghton. A native of North Philadelphia, Houghton had tried out for the team at age 10 and was immediately signed up. 

Edith Houghton
Edith Houghton

In this doubleheader in Baltimore, Houghton was the leadoff hitter in the opening game. She went 0-3 but scored a run and had four assists in the field.

The Bobbies visit was the lead story on the Sun sports page the following day. A couple of subheads pretty well summarize what this non-bylined reporter thought of the game. “Quaker Lassies Play Cleverly” read one, followed by “Local Sandlot Nine Too Good for Philadelphians in Exhibition.” One suspects a double meaning in the last subhead “Edith Ruth, On Mound for Visitors, Displays Real Assortment of Curves.”

This reporter was not beyond commenting on the players body types, referring to Jennie Phillips, the hitting star of the game with four hits, as the Bobbies “rotund catcher.” Some 2,000-2,500 fans came out to see the Philadelphia Bobbies and the Sun reported that they “applauded the efforts of the girls, who, for their sex, displayed unusual ability at the national pastime.”

About six weeks after their appearance in Baltimore, Houghton, along with the rest of the team set out on a tour of Japan. They reportedly drew large crowds and impressed playing all-male Japanese teams. They also ran out of money and ended up staying longer than expected until they found a donor to provide the funds to get them home.

Houghton continued her career with other teams, including the Hollywood Girls and the New York Bloomer Girls and also played softball which had already begun in the 1930’s to replace women’s baseball. She enlisted in the Navy WAVES program for women during World War II. She later went on to become Major League Baseball’s first female scout, having been hired to that role by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1946. 

Philadelphia Bobbies
Philadelphia Bobbies

Aug. 20, 1928

Johnson City Soldiers 8, New York Bloomer Girls 5

Government Park, Johnson City, Tenn.

The New York Bloomer Girls came to Tennessee with the title of women’s baseball champion. This was achieved this by beating the Quaker City Girls 49-5, slipping by the Fleisher Yard Girls by a mere 27-8 score, then topping that off with a 51-2 victory over the Baltimore Black Sox Girls. Runs were apparently a little tougher to come by against the Johnson City Soldiers.

In the lead up to the game, the Johnson City Chronicle said: “Women are making rapid strides in athletics, as will be shown when the well-known and popular New York Bloomer Girls make their bow on Sunday against the local favorites.”

The Bloomer team that came to Tennessee included three male players, which was common for the barnstorming women’s teams of the time. One of the stars of the team was Babe McCutton. She started at third base and moved to the mound in the sixth inning. The box score, which the Chronicle describes “as near accurate as possible” shows McCutton went 2 for 5, scored a run, had five assists and made one error.

The Chronicle’s account of the game had this to say: “Miss McCutton is one of the best athletes on the team. She not only made several good plays at third base during the first five innings of the game but she looked good in the hurling role.”

The paper didn’t carry any attendance numbers but the crowd was described as the largest of the season and this despite a persistent drizzle throughout. 

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Segregating Baseball: Little Giants and White Stockings

The paths of three 19th century baseball players crossed in 1887 and their encounter would define race relations in organized baseball for the next 60 years. One was the first of a number of dominant black pitchers who never got a chance to apply their trade in the major leagues. One was a bare-handed catcher who is considered by many the first black major leaguer. And one is a Hall of Fame player and manager and virulent racist.

George Stovey

George Stovey was born in 1866 in Williamsport, Pa. His stepfather Henry Johnson supported the family as a laborer. Stovey began playing ball with local semi-pro clubs at the age of 19. One year later he joined the all-black Cuban Giants in Trenton, N.J. It only took one impressive outing against the Jersey City team in the Eastern League for that team to whisk him away. He pitched in 31 games for Jersey City that year compiling a record of 16-15 with an outlandish ERA of 1.13. The following year, 1887, he joined the Newark Little Giants of the International League (the highest level of minor league baseball). He won 35 games for the Little Giants that year, an International League record that still stands.

Moses Fleetwood Walker

Fleet Walker

“Fleet” Walker was born in 1856 in Mt. Pleasant, Ohio. His father was one of the first black physicians in the state of Ohio. Walker attended Oberlin College where he majored in philosophy and played baseball on an integrated team. He was soon recruited by the University of Michigan where he continued to impress. In 1883 he was signed by the Toledo Blue Stockings of the Northwestern League, a minor league. In 1884 the Toledo team moved up to the major league American Association. Walker batted .264 during an injury-plagued campaign, but made his mark as an outstanding defensive catcher. It was that season which is the basis for the claim that Walker was the first black major leaguer. Baseball historians have identified an earlier black player who passed as white and played one game, but Walker was the first to play a substantial number of games and to clearly identify as black. Financial troubles and Walker’s injuries led the Blue Stockings to release him at the end of the 1884 season. Walker kicked around a couple minor league teams then was signed by the Newark Little Giants in 1887.

Cap Anson

Adrian Anson was born in 1852 in Marshalltown, Iowa. He attended the University of Iowa but only lasted one semester before being shown the door for bad behavior. By age 19 he was playing first base for the Rockford Forest Citys during their one and only year in the National Association, a predecessor of the National League. He was traded to the Philadelphia Athletics where he played two seasons and finished among the league’s top five hitters. He was then recruited somewhat underhandedly and joined the Chicago White Stockings. In 1879 he was named captain and manager of the White Stockings, thus the nickname “Cap.” Anson played 27 seasons in the National League, compiling a career batting average of .334,  and is considered by some to be baseball’s first superstar. He led the Chicago team to six national league pennants.

Cap Anson

Anson was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1939. He might well have been inducted into the Hall of Shame. Anson was a racist who used his position in baseball to foster bigotry and segregation. He encountered Walker in 1883 while the latter was at Toledo. Chicago and Toledo was scheduled to play an exhibition game and Anson announced his team would not take the field if Walker was playing. Toledo’s manager Charlie Morton called his bluff and put Walker in the starting lineup. Anson, under threat of losing the gate, went ahead and played but not without hurling a racial epithet at Walker. Anson was even said to have directed racial slurs at the White Stockings mascot.

Newark Little Giants

At this point baseball was not exclusively segregated. All of the major league teams were white and there were both all-white and all-black teams in the minor leagues. But there were also teams who tried to sign the best players irrespective of race. The Newark Little Giants were one of those teams. They entered the 1887 season with Stovey and Walker, two of the eight black players who started the season with International League teams.

The Little Giants were in the Eastern League in 1886 where they compiled a 68-26 record and won the championship. They stepped up to the International League in 1887 and finished 59-39 in fourth place. They had the first all black battery in baseball, a fact that they proudly promoted. Their fireballing left-hander and bare-handed catcher were among the main attractions for Little Giants fans.

Newark Little Giants vs. Chicago White Stockings

On July 14, 1887, the Little Giants and the National League champion Chicago White Stockings were scheduled to play an exhibition in Newark. The White Stockings (the franchise that would later become the Cubs) had just finished a series in Washington and were scheduled to start another with the New York Giants the next day. As was typical of teams at the time they decided to use their day off to get a payday as a large crowd was expected in Newark.

1887 Chicago White Stockings
1887 Chicago White Stockings

Prior to the game Anson sent a telegram to Newark manager Charles Hackett threatening that the White Stockings wouldn’t play if “colored” men were “at the points.” Hackett backed down, not starting Stovey, who had been scheduled to pitch. The manager claimed he was feeling ill. He also left Walker on the bench with no explanation.

Meanwhile in Buffalo representatives of the International League were meeting. Newspaper reports the next day focused on the decision to grant a franchise to Wilkes-Barre and to censure the Newark and Jersey City teams for playing Sunday exhibitions. But the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported on a decision which would mean far more for the future of baseball: “Manager Humphries (Rochester Maroons) stated to a reporter last evening that a petition was presented at the meeting of the International League held in Buffalo yesterday asking that colored players be banned from the league. Secretary White was instructed to promulgate no more contracts of colored players.”

The background for this was Anson’s threat to not play in Newark. But there were other issues. Binghamton’s white players had petitioned the team to release their two black players (which they did). And other teams, like Jersey City, claimed black players would drive white players from the league. Surely there is a whiff of hypocrisy about this since Stovey had pitched for Jersey City the year before and they had desperately tried to keep him from jumping to the Little Giants.

The vote was 6-4. The Liittle Giants and the three other teams with black players, Buffalo, Oswego and Syracuse, voted against it. Binghamton, which had just released its two black players cast the swing vote. The ruling didn’t ban existing black players but prevented future signings (and that worked until Jackie Robinson played in the International League for the Montreal Royals in 1946). This was the first time that an organized baseball organization voted on and put in writing a policy of racial discrimination. The color barrier in the major league was always referred to as a “gentleman’s agreement,” though surely gentleman is the wrong word for it. 

On the field that day the Little Giants beat the White Stockings 9-4 even without their star battery mates before a crowd of 3,000.

Stovey went on to finish the season with the Little Giants. It was rumored that the New York Giants of the National League were interested in signing him that year. The deal never went through, some say because of the objections of racists like Anson, and some claim it was simply because he was under contract to the Little Giants and Newark refused to sell him. After the 1887 season he played another 10 years with minor league and semi-professional all-black teams including the Cuban Giants, New York Gorhams and Worcester Grays. Following his playing career he umpired in his home town of Williamsport until 1913. During prohibition he tried his hand at bootlegging, but died in poverty in 1936.

Walker finished out the season in Newark then followed his manager Hackett to the Syracuse Stars for the 1888 and 89 seasons. He was a popular player among Syracuse fans, as he was in both Toledo and Newark. When he was released in 1889, he was the last black International League player until Robinson in 1946. Following his baseball career, Walker was successful both as a businessman and an inventor. At various times he ran a theater, an opera house and hotel. And he successfully had four inventions patented. In 1891 he was attacked by four white men outside a saloon. He killed one of them with a penknife and was charged with murder. He was acquitted by an all-white jury. Walker would become a black nationalist. He co-edited a newspaper The Equator with his brother and later wrote a book “Our Home Colony” about emigrating back to Africa.

After the 1887 season, Anson signed a 10-year contract as player manager for the White Stockings. His on field prowess as well as his managerial successes declined over that period. He never won another pennant. In 1897 he was fired. After retiring he ran a billiards and bowling hall and also went on vaudeville tours, singing and doing monologues. Unlike the man who he had refused to take the field with, most of Anson’s business ventures failed. He organized the American Baseball Association in 1900, a league that folded before playing a single game. And his bottled ginger beer was found to explode on store shelves. He spent one year as Chicago city clerk then ran for sheriff but was defeated in the primary. He later published a ghost written book titled: “A Ball Player’s Career: Being the Personal Reminiscences of Adrian C. Anson.”

As for the Little Giants they held onto their black stars until the end of 1887 when the team folded. They returned in 1889 for two seasons in the Atlantic Association before going under for good.  

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One and Done: The Newark Peppers

“All Newark was baseball ‘crazed’ today. The fans were on edge for their first taste of big league baseball.” That was a UPI dispatch from Harrison Park in Harrison, N.J., on Friday, April 16, 1915. The occasion was the one and only major league home opener played in the state of New Jersey.

The Newark Peppers of the Federal League were playing their first game in the brand new, $100,000, 20,000 seat stadium in Harrison, just across the river from downtown Newark. 25,000 squeezed in on opening day.

Harrison Park
Harrison Park

The Federal League was beginning its third season. It started in 1913 as an independent minor league circuit, but declared itself major league in 1914. The Indianapolis Hoosiers won the title that year. Owned by banker and oil magnate Harry Sinclair they then moved east and became the Newark Peppers. 

The Peppers, aka the Newark Federals, had opened the season one week earlier, sweeping a three-game series from the Terrapins. The Baltimore team, not unlike the present-day major league club in that city, would go on to have a 100+ loss season, finishing dead last with a 47-107 record. That opening series caused Baltimore Sun sportswriter C. Starr Mathews to observe: “Bill Phillips (Peppers manager) took his team away from here last night, and, to tell the truth, we’re glad of it. They used the broom on us with telling  effect, taking three straight games and were entitled to all of them. Newark has a corking ball club, and if the fans of that city do not rave over it I’ll be greatly disappointed.” 

No need for such disappointment when the teams met again in Newark. The April 17 New York Times described the atmosphere on opening day: “The opening was a howling success, with a pippin of a warm afternoon, a crowd which bulged out the fence around the park, an exciting ball game… Everybody in Newark and its environs quit work when the whistle blew at 12 o’clock, put on their new Spring spangles, and got ready for the big parade. It was just like Fourth of July or circus day.” Hardly a mention of the fact that the Peppers lost the game 6-2. Modern day baseball fans will be interested in noting that the game took 1 hour, 54 minutes.

Newark Peppers game program

A week or so later, excitement over the Peppers spilled out onto the streets. The Buffalo Blues were in town for a three-series and on Sunday, April 25, after a 2-1 loss to the home team, Blues first baseman Hal Chase took a stroll down South 2nd Street in Harrison. There he encountered a heckling Newark fan named Billy Quinn. The ‘discussion’ between to two eventually came to blows and Quinn got reinforcements in the form of local tavern owner Paddy McGuigan. The brawl was broken up by police but when they tried to apprehend Quinn, other Peppers fans intervened and spirited him away. Chase was evidently not seriously hurt as he appears in the box scores for the next two games.

But alas, Peppermania did not make it through the full season. By mid-August, in an effort to boost attendance, the team announced a reduction in ticket prices. Bleacher seats, which had been selling for a quarter, were reduced to 15 cents. And the high-end seats in the grandstand went from $1 to 75 cents.

On the field the team could hold their own. This despite the fact that they had to give up their best player Benny Kauff, the 1914 league batting champion, at the start of the season. He was sent to the Brooklyn Tip-Tops as compensation for moving into their territory. For most of the season the Peppers were involved in a tight five-team race. A dismal September in which they went 12-20 dropped them to fifth place in the final standings, six games behind the pennant-winning Chicago Whales.

The Newark Peppers

That was to be the last Federal League pennant race and the last major league baseball season in New Jersey. Long before the days of free agency the outlaw league provided players a rare opportunity to leverage the competition to increase their salaries. That pushed the costs for major league baseball owners and the National and American Leagues were anxious to make the Federals go away.  The way they did this was to buyout half the owners, leaving the remaining four teams without a viable league. Sinclair pocketed a $100,000 buyout and somehow managed to retain the right to sell the players on the Newark Peppers roster to major league teams. 

He told a New York Times reporter in December 1915, “I’m not out much. If I did lose anything, the fun was worth it. I’ve heard ridiculous statements that the Federal League lost $2,000,000 this year. That’s absurd, We came out alright.” By ‘we,’ I guess he means those owners who got the buyout. 

On Feb. 16, 1916, the Times reported: “The final meeting of the Federal League has been called by President James A Gilmore for Chicago on Saturday, when the remaining club owners will wind up their affairs and officially declare the league a thing of the past.”

Was the Federal League a major league? Its proponents pointed to the fact that it paid major league salaries and had pinched several dozen major league and former major league players from the American and National Leagues. But the question remained unanswered until 1986 when Major League Baseball appointed something called the Special Baseball Records Committee, in anticipation of the publication of the first Baseball Encyclopedia. That supposedly esteemed group decided that yes the Federal League was a major league. End of discussion.

The Newark Peppers were a relocated team in an outlaw league playing in a city that was never before and has never since been considered major league. But they were not without their influence. Two members of the ‘Peps’ ended up in the Hall of Fame. 

Bill McKechnie
Bill McKechnie

Bill McKechnie, the son of Scottish immigrants, was nicknamed ‘Deacon’ because he sang in a church choir. He left the New York Yankees after the 1913 season where he had a dismal .134 batting average and jumped to the Indianapolis Hoosiers. In 1915 he was the Peppers third baseman and batted .251 for the season. That’s not Hall of Fame numbers but what the Newark team didn’t know is they had a future Hall of Fame manager on their hands. He got his managerial start in Newark. Midway through the season, with the team in a slump, the Peppers fired Phillips and installed McKechnie as player/manager. McKechnie would go on to manage 3,600+ games with four major league teams. He won four National League pennants and won the World Series with two different teams, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. 

Edd Roush, the Peppers centerfielder, broke in with the Chicago White Sox in 1913 before jumping to the Federal League for two seasons with Indianapolis/Newark. He batted .298 for the Peppers. He later spent 10 years with the Cincinnati Reds, winning the national league batting title twice and leading the Reds to a World Series win, albeit a tainted one, in 1919. Roush always insisted that the Reds would have won that series even if the Black Sox hadn’t been bought. Overall he had an 18 year career with a .323 lifetime batting average. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1962.

The Peppers also helped bring into the vogue the Sunday single-admission doubleheader. In the early part of the 19th century most doubleheaders were played with separate admissions and usually on Saturdays. The Peppers played their first of nine Sunday doubleheaders on June 13, splitting a pair of games with Buffalo. The Sunday afternoon doubleheader would become a regular feature of Major League Baseball at least through the 1950’s.

There was no 1916 Federal League season. But there was still one more Newark Pepper. Their back-up first baseman was a local guy named Rupert MIlls. He had lettered in four sports at Barringer High in Newark. Mills then went on to Notre Dame where he played all four of the sports, baseball, football, basketball and track. He also graduated with an undergraduate law degree, something that would come in handy during his brief baseball career. After his graduation, the Peppers signed Mills to a two-year, $3,000 per contract. He appeared in 41 games, batting a paltry .201.

Sinclair made him a low-ball offer to buyout his contract. Mills refused. Since there was a provision in the contract that he would be paid as long as he showed up at the stadium, Mills reported to Harrison Park daily during the 1916 non-season and collected his salary. After a couple months of this, Sinclair relented and paid off Mills’ contract in full. 

Mills played a couple years in the minors then enlisted in the Army and was stationed in France during World War I. After the war he went into politics and was elected a state senator. Unfortunately, Mills met a premature end when he died in a canoeing accident on Lake Hopatcong at age 35.

Harrison Park would only last for a few more years before it burned down in 1923.

And as for Harry Sinclair, who had since founded Sinclair Oil, he would make a name for himself as part of the Teapot Dome Scandal during the Warren Harding administration. He ended up going to jail for a few months for jury tampering, but he re-emerged prosperous and successful.

Harry Sinclair
Harry Sinclair

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Palazzo Vecchio

The Palazzo Vecchio is the municipal building of Florence, and it has been since it was built at the end of the 13th century. Cosimo de’ Medici, the first of the line of Medici bankers to rule over Florence, lived here. After the unification of Italy in the 19th century, the provisional government was housed here during the time that Florence was the temporary capital. To this day, the mayor’s office is in the Palazzo Vecchio.

Salone dei Cinquecento

Salone dei Cinquecento
Salone dei Cinquecento

Hall of the Lilies

Hall of the Lilies

Studiolo of Francesco I

Studiolo of Francesco I
A secret study next to the Salone dei Cinquecento. Francesco I de’ Medici used a peep hole to keep an eye of proceedings.
Studiolo of Francesco I
Palazzo Vecchio weather vane
This weather vane once adorned the roof of the Palazzo Vecchio
Map of Italy
from the map room

Loggia della Signoria statues

Hercules fountain
Hercules fountain
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Tuscany Farm and Castle

Poggio Alloro farm
Castello di Oliveto sign
Castello di Olivetto
The Castello di Olivetto was built in 1424 by the Pucci family, an off and on ally of the Medici’s.
Pucci coat of arms
During the wars with the Florentine Republic there was a battle at the castle during which all the adult members of the Pucci family were killed. A servant hid a male child in an underground tunnel. She was credited with saving the family line and her image later would grace the Pucci coat of arms as shown on the doorway above.
Castello di Oliveto courtyard
San Gimignano
Atop the hill is the town of San Gimignano
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Orvieto is a small town in Umbria, Italy. It lies between Rome and Florence.

Orvieto’s history dates back to the 9th Century BC. It was the political and religious center of the Etruscan civilization until the 3rd Century BC when the Etruscans were conquered by the Romans.

During the Middle Ages, Orvieto was a thriving city/state. During the 13th century five different popes lived in Orvieto. It was during this time that the Duomo shown below was commissioned. Construction began in 1292. Orvieto’s prosperity as a city/state came to an end a century later after the plague.

Today Orvieto is a tourist destination, housing a number of historic churches and palaces. It is known for its wine, in particular “Orvieto Classico,” a white wine, and “Orvietoware” a tin-glazed earthenware.

Torre del Moro
Torre del Moro. The tower dates back to the 13th century. The clock was added in 1866.
Musei Archeologici Civico e Faina
Musei Archeologici Civico e Faina, an Etruscan museum.
Church of San Francesco
Church of San Francesco. believed to have been built in 1227.
Palazzo del Popolo
Palazzo del Popolo, built in the 14th century.
Bust of Adolfo Cozza
This bust of Adolfo Cozza stands outside the Palazzo del Popolo. Cozza was an archaeologist, sculptor and inventor born in Orvieto in 1848.
Torre di Maurizio
Torre di Maurizio
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at Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence

Sistine Chapel

The Last Judgement
The Last Judgement


in the Pantheon, Rome


The Genius of Victory

in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

Genius of Victory
Unfinished statue found in his workshop after he died in 1554.

Unfinished Works at the Galleria dell’Accademia

Garage Michelangelo
And if you want to see Michelangelo’s works at the Accademia, you can park here.
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Venetian Time

The Clocks of Venice

San Marco clock tower
Venice Clock Tower in Piazza San Marco
Venetian clock
Clock for IIII numeral
This clock is in the Doge’s Palace. (The Doge was the head of the Venetian Republic.) If you look closely you’ll notice that four is written as IIII rather than IV. Apparently one of the Doge’s had a problem with math.
Six-hour clock
This six-hour clock is also in the Doge’s Palace. This is in the room for lawyers. These guys, who were the Venetian equivalent of pubic defenders, seemingly worked a six-hour day.
Zodiac clock
Zodiac clock
Venetian clock
Venetian clock
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Back in the Sculpture Park

Seward Johnson sculpture

I have already published a few photo posts about the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, N.J., and its founder Seward Johnson. But every time I go there I see new and interesting things. Here are some photos from my most recent visit. And, oh yah, the boat shown above is a Seward Johnson sculpture not a working vessel.

Carmelita, Autin Wright
Carmelita, Autin Wright
Tower, Brower Hatcher
Tower, Brower Hatcher
Nature's Laugh, Gunnar Theel
Nature’s Laugh, Gunnar Theel
Hawthorn Tree II, Isaac Witkin
Hawthorn Tree II, Isaac Witkin
Skewered, Francisco Liero
Skewered, Francisco Liero
To Marcel Duchamp, William T. Wiley
To Marcel Duchamp, William T. Wiley
Part of Nature, Seward Johnson
Part of Nature, Seward Johnson
October Gathering, Joan Danziger
October Gathering, Joan Danziger
General Bronze, Marisol
General Bronze, Marisol
Sagg Portal, Hans van de Bovenkamp
Sagg Portal, Hans van de Bovenkamp
Schatz's Spaceship, E. Caldor Powel
Schatz’s Spaceship, E. Caldor Powel
Urchin, Howard Kalish
Urchin, Howard Kalish

Tallur L.N.

Double Check, Seward Johnson
Double Check is a 1982 Seward Johnson sculpture that was installed at Liberty Plaza Park in Lower Manhattan. During 9/11 it was covered with ash and debris. It became an informal memorial as mourners left candles and flowers. This replica is in the Grounds for Sculpture
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