There never may have been a
major league baseball player tougher to sign than Edd Roush, the former
Reds center fielder who is enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame.
He always seemed to be a
holdout, going to such an extreme one year that he sat out the entire
season when he couldn't reach contract terms.
The 1922 season is a good
example of Roush's stubbornness. The hard-hitting outfielder had batted
a robust .352 in 1921 and he demanded a big raise. The
Reds said no. So Roush decided he wouldn't report to spring training
with the team in Mineral Wells, Texas. He stayed on his farm in Oakland
Opening Day came and Roush
remained on the farm. The Reds, sorely missing his explosive bat,
struggled. The team won one of its first 12 games. Manager Pat Moran was
getting desperate. He phonedRoush and asked him to sign. But Roush
said, "No." He remained a holdout who wanted a higher salary.
May 1, 1922, was the day that
it looked like Roush was finished with the Reds. Club president Garry
Herrmann announced that Roush would not be welcome
"The Cincinnati ball club,"
Herrmann wrote in a statement issued to Cincinnati newspapers, is
definitely through with Edd Roush. We have decided not to ask him to return even on our terms,
to say nothing of his. There is
no place where he could really strengthen this club, as it is now made
up, and he will be allowed
to stay right where he is.
This is the last word. Mr. Roush will not play with the Reds during the
Both parties, however, gave
in. Herrmann accepted Roush back
on the club and Roush agreed to sign under the Reds terms. Edd Roush
returned on July 23 and played in 49 games. He hadn't had spring
training, he had not played any ball in almost one year. But he still tore the cover off the
baseball. He batted .352 again, an incredible testament to his batting
"I never saw anyone like
him," manager Moran once said. "All that fella has to do is wash his
hands, adjust his cap and he's in shape to hit."
Roush was his own man, a
ballplayer's ballplayer. He had a mind of his own and he often spoke it.
It was because of his sharp tongue that he wound up with the Reds in
He was playing sparingly with
the New York Giants and he
wasn't happy. One afternoon Giants manager Jack McGraw questioned
Roush's use of a 48-ounce bat, by far the heaviest of any used in
"Don't ever let me see you at
the plate with that bat again," McGraw told Roush.
"This is the first damn
league ever played in," Roush snapped back to the man known as Little
Napoleon, "where the manager picked your bat."
"What league did you ever hit
.300 in?" McGraw challenged.
"I hit .300 in every league
was ever in, and I'd hit it in this one if you'd let me play regularly."
That was enough for McGraw.
He couldn't get rid of Roush
fast enough. He traded him to the Reds midway through the 1916 season.
Edd batted .287 for the Reds that year. The following year, true to
his words to McGraw, he hit
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