Player gets released, wins game anyway

I introduced you to catcher and manager Lee Fohl not long ago. Fohl was a good manager in the majors who was just a couple of moves away from being considered a great manager. In his era (he managed from 1915-1926), he was a rarity for a couple of reasons. First of all, he became a manager without having an extensive major-league playing career on his resume. Secondly, he wasn’t a talkative person. I couldn’t find a wealth of quotes and anecdotes like I would find from other managers of the era, because he just wasn’t that kind of guy. He seems to have been a quiet leader, but a very effective one. He told the following story about how he once got a player to get him a game-winning hit — after he was released by the team!

This story comes from the Mansfield, Ohio, News-Journal in 1913.

“It was while Fohl was manager of the Akron club that he had a big husk of a chap who wasn’t worth a nickel to the club outside of acting as a pinch-hitter on rare occasions. The club owners decided to cut down expenses and it was decreed that Mr. P.H. should go. (Note: There was no P.H. on any Akron roster Fohl managed. I looked.)

Fohl, during his time of the manager of the St. Louis Browns.

“It so happened that one day the Akron team was playing a doubleheader and just before the start of the first game Manager Fohl told the secretary to pay off Mr. P.H. that evening, as he was to be released. The secretary was a busy personage, and being anxious to get away early that day, sent for Mr. P.H. between games, paid him off and told him of his release.

“The big fellow wended his way back to the Akron bench after receiving his ticket of leave to watch the second game. Along about the seventh inning the Akron club was a couple of runs behind and with the bases full. Manager Fohl decided it would be a good place to inject his pinch hitter. Approaching the bench, Lee said, ‘Say, big fellow, go up and take a crack at the ball.’

“Fohl almost dropped when the big chap answered, ‘What are you talking about, I can’t hit for you.’

“‘Can’t? why not?’ queried Fohl, who was ignorant of the fact that he had been informed of his release.

“‘Why, because you released me,’ the player shot back.

“‘Oh, that’s all right,’ Fohl said. ‘If you can’t hit for me, go up and take a wallop for yourself.'”

P.H. did just that and promptly hit a triple that won the game. It may make the only time that a ballplayer won a game for a team he wasn’t on.

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