Saturday, August 18, 2007
This week's images come from the LA Examiner of September 24, 25, 27 and 28, 1906. We start out this time with another savage political cartoon excoriating the Republicans for being in thrall to the Southern Pacific. Ya know, I just never realized Herriman had it in him to be so mean. I guess his gentle soul could be stirred to fire when necessary.
Next we have a delightful baseball cartoon -- this one even includes a strip! Unfortunately we're missing part of the cartoon because some bozo cut it out of the paper prior to microfilming. Thanks buddy! A little research on the subject matter reveals that Oakland is/was noted for their Greek community, so that's the reason the fellow's wearing a foustanella. I would have bet money I'd never get the chance to use that word in my lifetime.
The strip running down the right side concerns Clifford "Gavvy" Cravath, a star player on the Los Angeles Angels baseball team of the Pacific Coast League. Cravath was a home run hitter of the dead ball era, and even held the title for most home runs in a season briefly until Ruth came along and blew all the old records out of the water. Cravath was a big fellow who pretty much had to hit home runs because he was slow on the basepaths. This garnered him another nickname, "Wooden Shoes" Cravath, which Herriman exploits for this sequence. You can read a very entertaining bio of Cravath by clicking here. Some of the text on this cartoon is hard to read; you'll find a transcript at the end of this post.
The third cartoon, a caricature of visiting theatre bigwig Al Hayman, is one of those dreary jobs that newspaper cartoonists got stuck with back in those days. Caricatures of visiting celebrities and local businessmen were good for community goodwill, but a time-consuming bore for the cartoonist. Herriman apparently didn't know that such caricatures were supposed to be of the complimentary type -- this one cuts a little close! Or maybe Herriman just wanted to make sure his editor would think twice before giving him another caricature assignment.
Our final cartoon commemorates a pretty amazing event in boxing history. "Philadelphia" Jack O'Brien (note the Pennsylvania Dutch getup), a nationally ranked light heavyweight fighter has just agreed to fight twenty rounds against a pair of boxers, Fred Cooley and Jim "Injun Joe" Trimble. It would take O'Brien just three rounds to KO Cooley, and another nine to do the same to Trimble. For a good bio of O'Brien click here. We'll be seeing more from Herriman on this spectacle.
Here's the text of cartoon #2:
Caption: Yep, the Grecian archipeligo is with us once again.
Black suited guy: And winter coming on, too.
Man talking to cop: Yaah, widout any pants on.
Cop: Wal see Comstock about it.
Strip on right, panel 1:
The tocsin the tocsin
Has the comet struck?
Nightshirt guy: The worst on record
Caption: Mr. Cravath can be traced through the metropolis. Yes.
Cop: Foiled (illegible) !! It is Wooden Shoes Cravath
Cravath: They tell me J.O'B's in town (Jack O'Brien, see above commentary)
Man in cellar: Woddy ye mean by mashin me on de coco, hray?
Nightshirt guy: Heavins the second shock
Lower left cartoon:
Balloons: Nice!, Very Very Nice
Tags on players: Fresno, Oakland, Seattle
Safe marked Portland has pennant inside.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
The PCL at this point in time dominated West Coast baseball, but with the NL expansion, in the late 50s, the PCL was forced to move a bunch of its teams, and many of the "classic" teams have wandered around since.
The LA team was the "Los Angeles Angels," no relation to the current team; they're now known as the Portland Beavers. Seattle was the "Seattle Indians," which are now the Tuscon Sidewinders (soon to be Reno). The Portland Beavers of 1906 are now the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. The Oakland Oaks are now the Albquerque Isotopes (!). There was a team that played in Fresno and Sacramento (the Solons, probably because of the state capital) in the PCL around this time. Oddly, Herriman has left out the San Francisco team, the Seals, one of the perennial PCL powerhouses.
Apparently, the league contracted from 6 to 4 teams right after this cartoon was published; the Sacramento team failed, and the Seattle team shifted over to a smaller league.
The LA Angels (sometimes referred to as the Seraphs) won the pennant in 1903, 1905, 1907 and 1908. 1906 was the first year Portland was known as the Beavers.
Thanks for the link to the Comstock bio - I'd say you're right about that reference. I've done a lot of reading on this era, but somehow this interesting personality has flown below my radar.
And I gotta get me an Albuquerque Isotopes jersey!