Charles Comiskey Affidavit

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Charles Comiskey Affidavit  (1915) 
by Charles Comiskey

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS.

EASTERN DIVISION.

THE FEDERAL LEAGUE OF PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL CLUBS,

Plaintiff,


vs.


THE AMERICAN LEAGUE OF PROFESSIONAL BASEVALL CLUBS, THE NATIONAL LEAGUE OF PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL CLUBS, AUGUST HERMAN, BANCROFT B. JOHNSON, JOHN K. TENER, et al,

Defendants.

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State of Illinois
COUNTY OF COOK.
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CHARLES A. COMISKEY, being first duly sworn, on his oath deposes and says:

My name is Charles A, Comiskey. I am President of the American League Baseball Club of Chicago, a defendant in the above cause, said Club being a member of the American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, which is also a defendant herein.

I am fifty-five years of age. I began playing professional baseball at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1876, playing at that time with a club called "The Alerts" at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, my position being pitcher and third baseman. In 1877 I pitched for a team at Elgin, Illinois, playing there for the season of 1877. The next year, 1878, I went to Dubuque, Iowa, where I pitched for a club in that town. In 1879 I also played at Dubueque, Iowa, and the club was at that time a member of what was known as The North Western League. In 1879, 1880 and 1881 I was with the Dubuque Club, which was a member of what was known at that time as The North Western League. In 1882 I went to St. Louis, where I played first base for the old St. Louis Browns. I remained in St. Louis, as first baseman for the Browns from 1888 until 18890, and during that period was first baseman, captain and manager of the Browns. That St. Louis Club was a member of a league known as The American Association.

The story of the growth and the development of the American Association is well told in a book written by Mr. Francis C. Richter of Philadelphia.

I left the St. Louis Browns in 1890 and came to Chicago, where I joined The Chicago Brotherhood Club. In 1891 I played again with the St. Louis Browns as first baseman, captain and manager. In 1892, 1893 and 1894 I went to Cincinnati and played first base, captain and manager of the Cincinnati Club of The National League. In 1893, and while I was in Cincinnati, I became acquainted with Mr. B. B. Johnson, who at that time was the sporting editor of the Cincinnati Commercial Tribune. He and I and Matt Killilea, now dead, organized the Western League, and, in 1895, after I had satisfied the terms of my contract with the Cincinnati Nationals, I took charge of a club at St. Paul, organized it and owned the franchise under which it operated as a member of the Western League. I remained in charge of that Club for the years 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898, and 1899, when I came to Chicago for the season of 1900. In 1900 the name of The Western League was changed to The American League, and the White Sox became a member of The American League, and I was at the head of the White Sox in Chicago, and have been from that day to this.

My apprenticeship and activity in professional baseball has extended over a period of thirty-eight years, as a player working for a salary, under contract, at fifty dollars per month on the old Alerts to the Presidency of The Chicago White Sox. We have an investment here in Chicago amounting to some eight hundred thousand dollars.

I have been a party to the formation of leagues; I have kept in tou intimate touch with the players in my own club, and in many other clubs; I have watched baseball grow from its infancy, and have seen it become the great national sport of this country. I have entered into the formation of clubs, and the drafting of agreements for the formation of leagues in good faith.

When we formed The American League, having for its purpose, as stated in its constitution:

  1. To perpetuate baseball as the national game of the United States, and to surround it with such safeguards as to warrant absolute public confidence in its integirty and methods.
  2. To protect and promote the mutual interest of the clubs of this League and its players.
  3. To establish and regulate the baseball championship of The American League;

and we meant just what we said, and we have been trying tried faithfully to live up to the highest standards of sportsmanship, to keep everything that was unsportsmanlike, or undesirable out of the game, to regulate fairly the contest of skill between baseball clubs, and to make the game one that would appeal to the highest ideals of the xx youth of this country, whom we know are watching our every act.

I have never broken one of my own playing contracts with any club with which I have ever been connected, nor have I ever encouraged or induced any other man who had a contract with any other club to break his contract.

As President of The Local American League Club I have known that The Federal League of professional baseball clubs has been formed, and that it has a club located here in Chicago. I have never done any act or thing which was intended, or was calculated to injure the plaintiff or any of its so-called constituent members in its business, or in its contracts with its players. From time to time I have been seriously hampered and embarrassed by in getting the best playing skill from my players because of the effects on their minds of the inducements made to them from time to time by the plaintiff or its constituent members, said inducements being for the purpose of getting men under contract with the Club of which I am President to break their contract.

Last year the White Sox had a contract with Hal Chase. He entered into that contract on the 26th day of March, 1914. The contract was the form which had been approved by the National Commission, and was the one which was approved also by The Baseball Players' Fraternity. A voluntary petition was made by a great many baseball players in the major leagues, and I am informed, in other leagues, to The National Commission, operating under The National agreement, containing some seventeen requests. The result of that petition was a meeting between The Baseball Players' Fraternity and the parties to The National Commission about January 6th, 1914, and, as a result of that conference, a new baseball players' contract was adopted, which, from that date, became the standard form of contract used by The American and the National Leagues, and by my Club here in Chicago. Hal Chase signed a contract of that form. On the 28th of March, and two days after Hal Chase made this contract with the White Sox, I authorized Mr. Callahan, the Manager of our Club, to tell Hal Chase that we would give him five hundred dollars extra, as a bonus, if he would exert himself during the baseball season of 1914 for the best interests of the Club, and give the Club the best services of which he was capable, and Chase told Callahan that he would try to become entitled to that bonus. As a matter of fact, that statement by Mr. Callahan was made to Hal Chase in Writing. On the 20th of June, 1914, and right in the midst of our playing season, and after our players had become thoroughly seasoned, and there had become splendid coordination between the various players on the Club, Hal Chase left us and signed a contract with the Buffalo Club of The Federal League, the plaintiff herein, and it is true, as plaintiff says on page 27 of this bill, that, under advice of counsel, we did try to enjoin Hal Chase from playing with The Buffalo Club. That Chase case is still pending at Buffalo, and has not been abandoned as plaintiff allegeds. Before Hal Chase left The White Sox he gave us a notice that he was going to quit us in ten days, because we had the right to discharge him on ten days' notice if we saw fit to do so.

Baseball players' contracts for many years have contained this ten-day clause. When I was a player I always signed contracts with the ten-day clause in them, and never made any objection to it. There has never been any real objection made to the ten-day clause by any player, and, so far as my knowledge goes, The Baseball Players' Fraternity never made any objections to the ten-day clause, and I offered to take the ten-day clause out of Hal Chase's contract, but he would not consent to it.

Our Club had a contract with T. H. Easterly, a catcher. That contract had a reserve clause in it which covered the playing season of 1914, and we sent to Easterly a contract to play for us for the season of 1914, but he ignored it and played last season with the Kansas City Club in the Federal League.

Attached hereto is a copy of the contract made between The American Baseball Club of Chicago and Hal Chase. It contains the ten-day clause. That clause is substantially the same in every baseball contract made during the past twenty-four years or more, and, during all of that time, that clause and its recitals have been agreed to by players and club-owners alike. The so-called ten-day clause is not only reasonable and fair, and is so considered, but one which enforces on the party of the player the highest order of skill and effort of which he may be capable, and insures to the baseball going public a guarantee that the contestants will give to each and every game their best and most skilful effort in their attempt to play the game to win. Without such effort on the part of each and every player, the base game of baseball would rapidly deteriorate, and the public would promptly refuse the generous support which it has given the national pastime throughout the years. Within my knowledge, no player whose skill has been sufficient to keep him in the game of baseball has ever feared, or had occasion to fear that, because of this ten-day clause he might not continue as a professional baseball player, and it is generally recognized and believed by baseball players and by the clubs that the ten-day clause is absolutely necessary in order to maintain and enforce the highest standard, to which all professional baseball organizations throughout the country are committed.

It is true, as the plaintiff says, that there are not enough of expert baseball players to go around in the major leagues, but it is not true that baseball players are under the dominionation of clubs in so-called "organized baseball", if The American League, or The National League, or The National Association of Professional Baseball Clubs can be called "Organized Baseball" any more than the plaintiff and its so-called constituent members are "organized baseball".

The only demands which we have made upon players is that they do the same thing we do - live up to the contracts we make with them. When a baseball player has served out the life of his contract, he is a free agent and can play wherever he pleases, but, so long as he is under contract, we claim that he is duty-bound to observe the contracts in good faith, just as we expect to do, and it is our judgment that if he does not observe his contract, but jumps it, that the sport of baseball is very much injured, because good sportsmanship is inconsistent with dishonor. We know that millions of boys in the United States are looking at everything we do, and, if we go wrong, or do not play fair, it will have a bad effect upon honorable contests among them, and we think that these same boys are looking at the players who make contracts, and, when they break them, that their notion of honor in sport is just as seriously affected. We usually pay a baseball playedr what we think he is worth, and what he will agree to.

I deny the allegation made in Section C of the 9th paragraph of plaintiff's bill, on page 23, where it says that false statements have been made, and that threats have been made, and are still being made for the purpose of harrassing and injuring the plaintiff and its constituent members, "and for the further purpose of deterring players within the combination of organized baseball from at any time or under any circumstances entering into contracts with the plaintiff or its constituent members, and for the further purpose of causing players so in organized baseball, fi if they do enter into contracts with the plaintiff or its constituent members, to demand of the plaintiff and its constituent members for their services compensation in excess of that which they would demand of and from those engaged in organized baseball, and for the further purpose of affecting injuriously the attendance upon the games participated in by the constituent members of the plaintiff." The fact of the matter is that the effect of the organization of The Federal League and its constituent members, and its entry into the field where there were not enough players to go around, has made it necessary for us to pay higher prices to the players than we should have had to pay in making new contracts with our players, but this is the business of the individual clubs and their players, and is no concern whatever of the leagues of which any club forms a constituent part.

Seal reading 'E. V. McClelland Cook County, Ill. Notary Public'

And further affiant saith not.

Chas. A. Comiskey

Subscribed and sworn to before me this 14th day of January, A. D. 1915.

E. V. McClelland

Notary Public.

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.