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Old 04-20-2003, 04:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
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The Base Ball Life of Patrick O'Farrell

After spending a considerable amount of time reading the enjoyable career histories some of you have taken the time to play and write up, I decided to embark upon a similar project of my own.

I decided to create a fictional player and insert him into a historical career league. I began with 1904, and quickly simmed two seasons to establish the league somewhat. The real story begins in 1906, with an 18-year-old infielder from western Massachusetts named Pat O'Farrell.

Patrick Joseph O'Farrell was born September 16, 1887 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the oldest son of Francis and Elizabeth O'Farrell. He stands 5'10" and weighs 165 pounds.

Francis O'Farrell is a fairly well-to-do attorney, and has expressed some misgivings about his son putting aside his education in favor of a career as a professional ball player. Pat promised his father that if he didn't make good, he'd return and enroll in college, and that he would attend classes in the off-season while he followed his dream.

In hopes that Pat would have a decent chance at a major league career, I made him a fairly talented player, a 3.5 star prospect. On the other hand, I didn't want to create a sure superstar, either, so his career might take some interesting turns.

His talent ratings as he begins his career look like this:

Contact Hitting: Good
Power Hitting: Poor
Eye/Discipline: Good

His actual ratings at this point are 2/2/2.

Patrick is a slick fielder, with A range at second base and shortstop, and an excellent baserunner and bunter.


I chose to place Pat on the Boston Pilgrims (soon-to-be Red Sox) for several reasons. One, I'm a Red Sox fan, and will enjoy seeing him possibly take the field beside Tris Speaker, Joe Wood, Duffy Lewis, Babe Ruth, and other Red Sox stars of the 1910s. The Bostons also have a "hole" at second base, so there's no established star blocking O'Farrell's path to the majors, if he has the stuff to make it.

I'll tell Pat's story through newspaper stories, letters to his family and friends, scouting reports, and other "sources."

I hope you enjoy it!

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Old 04-20-2003, 04:59 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The story begins

Boston Globe, March 18, 1906

The Pilgrims announced yesterday that they signed a contract with a Bay State lad, Patrick O’Farrell of Stockbridge. O’Farrell, according to Manager Stahl, is a second baseman, “a speedy runner and a solid fielder.” Stahl added, “O’Farrell showed well in a tryout with us late last summer, but he expressed a desire to finish high school before beginning his career as a ballplayer. We’d have signed him up then if he had been ready."

Young O’Farrell, aged 18, will be sent to Richmond of the Virginia League for seasoning, along with another Pilgrim rookie, Bill Carrigan, lately of Holy Cross.

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Old 04-20-2003, 05:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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A letter home

Monday, April 7, 1906
256 Leigh Street
Richmond, Virginia

Dear Mom and Dad,

I had some time before I need to walk to the park, so I thought I’d take the time to write to you. I’m sorry I haven’t written sooner, but I have been extremely busy, as you will soon see.

I’ve settled in at a boarding house not far from the park, only a walk of fifteen minutes or so. Three other ball players live here, and I am sharing a room with one of them, a fellow named Bill Carrigan. Bill is a catcher, and he’s a little older than I am. He’s a college man, who graduated from Holy Cross. Bill and I get on well.

The other fellows on the team are mostly Southerners, and for a few days I was receiving some ribbing for my accent. Bill gave one or two of them a look, and that was that, however. Bill’s nickname is “Rough,” and while he’s far from a hoodlum, the other boys decided that continuing their humor was not in their best interest.

Before you ask me, I’m attending Mass each morning. Again, Bill usually accompanies me. I believe he and I are the only Roman Catholics on the club. The priest, Father Callaghan, likes base ball, and has been out to the park a time or two.

Speaking of ball playing, things have gone well for me in that regard. The club has won five of the six games we’ve played, and I’ve had nine hits already, including a two-bagger. I’ve stolen three bases as well. Unfortunately, when I haven’t hit safely, I’ve almost always struck out. If I don’t start making contact more regularly, I’m afraid you might see me back home more quickly than I would like.

I must close now, as it’s time to start for the park.

Your loving son,
Patrick
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Old 04-20-2003, 05:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Bad news from Boston, better news from Richmond

Boston Herald, Monday, April 21

PILGRIMS BREAK LOSING STREAK
Dinneen Wins First Boston Victory in Ten Games, 4-2

NEW YORK- The beleaguered Pilgrims finally snapped the disastrous spell that has plunged them into the American League basement yesterday with a 4-2 victory over the Highlanders.

Righthander Bill Dinneen had the stuff to turn back the New Yorkers, despite three miscues by Boston fielders, including Chet Chadbourne's sixth bobble of the season at the keystone sack.

Buck Freeman had two hits for the winners, while no Highlander made more than a single safety off Dinneen.

Word from Richmond has it that two young players whom Manager Collins sent to the Colts for some experience have shown well in their time in Virginia.

Catcher Bill Carrigan has slammed three home runs and is hitting .343, while second baseman Pat O'Farrell is swinging at a hearty .446 clip. Not surprisingly, the Richmond club has won 15 of its first 18 contests.

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Old 04-20-2003, 05:29 PM   #5 (permalink)
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A happy young man

April 23, 1906
256 Leigh Street
Richmond, Virginia

Dear Mom and Dad,

It's late in the evening, and before I went to bed, I wanted to write to you and tell you how well things have been going.

The team has played 18 games, and we've won 15 of them. Bill has been, as one of the local papers says, "the finest backstop in the circuit this season." He's hit three home runs already, and his throwing arm has already discouraged quite a few runners from stealing.

And if I may be excused some pride in my own accomplishments, I've played some good ball myself. According to the averages in Sunday's paper, I have 33 hits in 74 at bats, for a .446 average. I also hit my first home run on Tuesday, a line drive that skipped between the right and center fielders at the big park in Lynchburg and rolled to the fence some distance away.

In the evenings, I have dinner in the boarding house with the other fellows. Sometimes we walk downtown after that, but you musn't worry. I haven't touched any strong beverages. Tonight a few of the other boys from the team came to the house, and we sang around the piano in the parlor. A fellow named Frank Owens has a fine tenor voice, and we're going to try to get a passable quartet together.

I'm going to say good night now, as we leave on the train for Norfolk tomorrow. If you see Sarah Malloy or her family, please tell her I enjoyed receiving her letter and am in the process of replying. If any of the fellows at home call on her, please let me know.

Your loving son,
Patrick

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Old 04-20-2003, 05:42 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Replying to Jimmy Collins

Richmond Base Ball Grounds
May 1, 1906

Mr. James Collins
Manager, Boston American League Base Ball Club
Huntington Avenue Grounds
Boston, Massachusetts


Dear Mr. Collins,

I wanted to write to you regarding the progress of Patrick O'Farrell, the infielder whom you sent to us this season.

O'Farrell has an average of .417 at this point, with four doubles and one home run among his 44 hits. He has scored 23 runs in 26 games played thus far. He does strike out a great deal, as might be expected for a boy of eighteen playing in fast company. I have been working with him, helping him develop the talent for gauging the deliveries of pitchers and putting the ball in play. He is the fastest man on the team and must make use of his speed effectively.

Patrick is a spectacular second baseman. He has incredible range and soft hands. He makes the easy plays, the hard plays, and everything in between.

He gets on well with the other fellows, and I have never seen him under the influence of drink. He is often in the company of Bill Carrigan, who is one of the leaders among the men. The owner of the house where he boards says he has had no problems with O'Farrell at all.

O'Farrell is very talented, and should be the kind of guy you can build around in the future.

Sincerely,
John Thomas
Manager, Richmond Colts Base Ball Club

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Old 04-20-2003, 06:02 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Again, bad tidings and good

Standings of the Clubs
May 31, 1906


American League

Cleveland 35 19 .648 -
Chicago (A) 34 20 .630 1.0
Washington 30 24 .556 5.0
Philadelphia (A) 29 25 .537 6.0
St. Louis (A) 26 28 .481 9.0
New York (A) 25 29 .463 10.0
Detroit 20 34 .370 15.0
Boston (A) 17 37 .315 18.0


National League

Pittsburgh 33 21 .611 -
Chicago (N) 32 22 .593 1.0
Cincinnati 30 24 .556 3.0
New York (N) 29 25 .537 4.0
Philadelphia (N) 27 27 .500 6.0
Brooklyn 23 31 .426 10.0
St. Louis (N) 22 32 .407 11.0
Boston (N) 20 34 .370 13.0


Not a very good year for Hub baseball fans, is it? But...is help on the way??


American League Single A Leaders--Batting Average

1 O'Farrell (BOS) .387
2 Carrigan (BOS) .382
3 B. Rickey (SLA) .366
4 A. Bader (SLA) .339
5 D. Shean (PHA) .332
6 B. Shipke (CLE) .322
7 W. Fetzer (PHA) .321
8 J. McCarthy (NYA) .319
9 P. Cooney (NYA) .315
10 B. Schwartz (CLE) .309


As you might have guessed, B.Rickey is none other than Branch Rickey, who might go on to a career in management when his playing career ends.

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Old 04-20-2003, 06:13 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Goodbye to a friend

Richmond Times, June 4, 1906

The Colts yesterday bade farewell to a chap who has been a key element of the team's considerable success.

The contract of catcher "Rough" Bill Carrigan, the Holy Cross man, has been transferred to New Bedford of the New England League. New Bedford is in a faster circuit, and the Boston Pilgrims management, who owns Carrigan's contract, believes that Carrigan is ready for more challenging competition.

Carrigan takes with him a .372 batting mark, with 5 home runs and 27 runs batted in.

All fans of base ball in Richmond wish "Rough" the best of luck in New Bedford.
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Old 04-20-2003, 06:33 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Miss Malloy's letter

337 Park Street
Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Mr. Patrick J. O'Farrell
256 Leigh Street
Richmond, Virginia

June 28, 1906

Dear Patrick,

How nice it was to receive your letter! I was beginning to wonder if you now believed yourself too important to correspond with me, now that you are a professional man, making such a success of yourself in the South. And in such a large city at that! My Uncle Ray, who has visited Richmond, has told me much about the city since I now have far more interest in it than I had previously.

Little Stockbridge is, alas, much as you left it. The weather has been warm and beautiful, and as I write to you, I sit in our garden, enjoying a sunny morning.

Your sister keeps me apprised of your doings as she learns of them from you. As you know, I know little more than the rudiments of base ball, but I endeavor to learn all I can. I have learned enough, however, to appreciate that a percentage of .383, which Emily informs me you possess, is a fine mark for a batter. My father beamed when I told him this fact, and when I asked him if this represented a good performance, he said to me, "That young man won't be playing in that Class C league for much longer if he keeps this up."

Is it possible that you might be reunited with your friend Mr. Carrigan in New Bedford? I am glad you were able to form a friendship with him, and understand your sadness at his departure, even though it is a considerable step forward in his career.

Sam Lofgren asks me to tell you hello for him. Before you ask, I shall tell you that he is considerably more interested in calling on me than I am in receiving his calls.

I look forward to seeing you when you return to Stockbridge, which, according to your sister, should happen around the first of September. Until then, please continue to write to me, and I shall happily reply.

Sincerely,
Sarah

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Old 04-20-2003, 06:47 PM   #10 (permalink)
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More good news from the farms

American League Class C Batting Leaders

1 P. O'Farrell (BOS) .390
2 B. Rickey (SLA) .388
3 F. Owens (BOS) .366
4 A. Bader (SLA) .348
5 D. Shean (PHA) .337
6 B. Shipke (CLE) .332
7 J. Mccarthy (NYA) .318
8 D. Sullivan (WS1) .316
9 B. Schwartz (CLE) .314
10 E. Lennox (PHA) . 310


I'm a little surprised the scouting director hasn't recommended that Pat be promoted a level yet. Perhaps it's his strikeout rate that has him alarmed, as O'Farrell has whiffed 165 times in 444 AB. Furthermore, he's young, and has lots of time.

On the other hand, he's hitting .390-10-54, with 43 steals in 52 attempts.

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Old 04-20-2003, 06:55 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Movin' up

Telegram:

MR FRANCIS O'FARRELL
227 ELM ST
STOCKBRIDGE MASSACHUSETTS

JUST GOT NEWS STOP
AM BEING PROMOTED TO NEW BEDFORD STOP
WILL LEAVE ON TRAIN TONIGHT STOP
LOVE TO YOU MOM AND EMILY STOP
PAT
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Old 04-20-2003, 07:06 PM   #12 (permalink)
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A New Bedford welcome

New Bedford Standard, Monday, August 18, 1906

The Whalers greeted the team's newest member yesterday, when second baseman Patrick O'Farrell arrived at the grounds.

O'Farrell comes from the same Richmond club that sent Bill Carrigan our way, and if he demonstrates the same skill and pep as "Rough" has in a Whaler outfit, he will do just fine.

The 18-year-old O'Farrell was leading the Virginia League, a Class C loop, with a sparkling .387 percentage, with 10 home runs and 46 stolen bases. Says Carrigan of his once and future teammate, "Patrick is a very good second baseman defensively. He seems to know where the ball is going before it leaves the bat."
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Old 04-20-2003, 08:51 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Offseason greetings from the Sox manager

Mr. Patrick O'Farrell
227 Elm Street
Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Mr. James Collins
Manager, Boston Red Sox
Huntington Avenue Grounds
Boston, Massachusetts

February 7, 1907

Dear Mr. O'Farrell,

I wanted to write to you to congratulate you on your fine season last year. The reports we received concerning you from your managers at Richmond and New Bedford all spoke well of your playing skill and your deportment. While there are never any guarantees in the game of base ball, the promise you displayed in your first professional season gives me confidence that you will one day be a contributing member of the Boston American League team.

Your contract has been assigned to the New Bedford club in the New England League for the 1907 season, at a salary of seventy-five dollars per week.

I trust your off-season has been pleasant, and that you are maintaining good physical condition in preparation for the upcoming season. Best of luck to you, as always.

Sincerely,

James Collins
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Old 04-20-2003, 09:00 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Back at New Bedford

New Bedford Standard , Tuesday, April 1, 1907

WHALERS OPEN SEASON TODAY
Returning Men Give Manager Riley Hope for Successful Season


...Among the returnees that has made Riley so enthusiastic is second baseman "Pat" O'Farrell, the Stockbridge lad who arrived late last season after tearing up the Virginia League.

O'Farrell, still a kid at 19, handled himself well with the Whalers last year, appearing in 9 contests. He batted .270 and fielded exceptionally, and swiped three bases.
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Old 04-20-2003, 09:13 PM   #15 (permalink)
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A four-star talent

After a year's seasoning, Pat's ratings have improved somewhat. His rating for Contact Hitting has risen from 2 to 3, and his rating for Eye/Discipline has spiked, moving from 2 to 5. It doesn't look like he's going to add to the breezes in and around New Bedford with as many whiffs as he did as a first-year pro. He is now rated as a four-star prospect.

The best 2B in the Boston system right now is Chet Chadbourne, whose ratings for talent are the same as O'Farrell's (Good for Contact Hitting, Poor for Power Hitting, Good for Eye/Discipline). A 22-year-old with a year under his belt as Boston's starting second baseman, Chadbourne is more developed at this stage in his career. He rates 3.5 stars.

The "real" Chet Chadbourne hit .302 and .289 in limited duty for Boston in 1906 and 1907. He converted to the outfield in his second season. He was out of the majors until 1914, when he emerged as a regular player for Kansas City in the Federal League. He finished his career with a brief appearance with the Red Sox in 1918.

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Old 04-20-2003, 09:42 PM   #16 (permalink)
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A letter home

142 Merrimac Street
New Bedford, Massachusetts

April 30, 1907

Dear Mom and Dad,

I wanted to write a quick letter, as I have a short time before I am to meet some of the other fellows for a trip downtown to see a vaudeville show at the Zeterion Theatre. An evening on the town is just what Bill Carrigan will need, we suppose. Bill broke his hand the other day in our game against Fall River, and it looks like it might be two months or so before he will be able to play again. Of course Bill was playing well when he got hurt. Hopefully the comedians' timing will be better at the theatre than Bill's has been lately.

Besides this, I'm enjoying being back in New Bedford. I've always enjoyed the sea. The boarding house where I'm living this year is much nicer than the hotel where I stayed the three weeks I was here last August. As in Richmond, it is an easy walk to the ball park.

The rooters here are particularly passionate. The other day I was walking through a park near the boarding house, and I saw a group of boys playing ball, pretending to be the Whalers. I actually heard one of them say, "I'll be Pat O'Farrell." That put a smile on my face that stayed around a while! Fortunately for me, I was walking alone at the time. Had one of the other fellows heard that, they would still be ribbing me.

Although the team has won only 10 of its first 26 games, I am secretly proud of the way I have played. My average of .291 is higher than it was last season at New Bedford, and I have already hit four home runs. The fences at New Bedford's grounds are far from home plate, and I've managed to hit a few over the outfielders' heads and leg them all the way around. Perhaps best of all, I am striking out much less often.

As the boys are coming in just a few minutes now, I have to cut this short. Hug Emily for me, and as always, please tell Sarah Malloy hello for me.

Your loving son,
Patrick
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Old 04-20-2003, 10:12 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Carrigan writes from Boston

Putnam Hotel
Boston Massachusetts

June 28, 1907

Dear Pat,

I promised you I would write to you from Boston, so here I am. Sorry this is so late in coming, but life in the big leagues is certainly busy. Good, but busy.

Everything here is first-class, from the trains to the uniforms to the hotels on the road. You have a lot to look forward to, my friend! Jimmy (Mr. Collins to you bushers) has been pleased with the way I've been playing. Although I feel badly for Tom Doran, whose injury cleared a spot for me, I will admit to you that I hope I'll be staying here after Tom returns later this week.

Between us, I believe I've done well enough to merit a longer look. Yes, it is only six ballgames, but I am hitting .318, after all, and I haven't made an error yet. These big league base stealers are tough, though. They've been taking more liberties with me than the fellows back in the New England League. I threw out Jake Stahl in Washington, and old Nap Lajoie in Cleveland, but that's it.

And that's it for this letter. Keep your head up, and hopefully we'll see each other in the Red Sox dugout soon.

Your pal,
Bill
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Old 04-20-2003, 10:32 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Good news

242 Angell Street
Providence, Rhode Island


Miss Sarah Malloy
337 Park Street
Stockbridge, Massachusetts

July 29, 1907


Dear Sarah,

I wanted you to be the first to hear my good news. Perhaps you noticed the different postmark on the envelope, and the new address above? My contract has been transferred to the Providence Grays, in the Eastern League. I am now playing at Class A, only one level below the major leagues.

To say I am excited about this development is to understate my feelings tremendously. I am also more nervous than I have ever been in my life. For the first time since my first day in Richmond, I know none of my team mates. They seem to be nice enough fellows, however. I had a nice conversation with a fellow from Texas named Speaker, who has played here all season, and he has been very helpful to me. He's an authentic cowboy, and the sight of a New Englander like myself with a Westerner like "Tris" has to be good for a laugh or two.

I will want to hear from you more than ever now that I am in a new and unfamiliar place. Your letters have been a source of happiness and inspiration for me since I started playing ball, and while I enjoy playing very much, I must confess that the end of a season does mean one very positive thing. It brings me back to Stockbridge and the opportunity to see you.

Please write to me soon, Sarah.

Yours,
Pat
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Old 04-21-2003, 12:28 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I really love how you capture the time period. Do you write often?

-John
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Old 04-21-2003, 09:59 AM   #20 (permalink)
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I appreciate the comment, John! I'm an American history teacher who loves baseball history, and I've spent some time reading old newspapers, guides, etc. from various eras. I became fascinated with this era through the stories my grandparents told me. My dad's father became a fan when Ty Cobb was playing for the Tigers.

I wish I had the time to write more. There are a couple of books about baseball I'd like to write, actually.

I hope you continue to enjoy the story.

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