Phillies advertisement leads to a strange Tigers debut in 1912

By PATRICK GORDON | Managing Editor
January 2, 2014, 7:00 a.m.
@Philabaseball
Put this in your believe it or not file of Philadelphia baseball tid-bits.

During the early 1900s, when Philadelphia was a two-team baseball town, the Phillies and Athletics routinely faced each other in preseason exhibitions.

Short on depth entering the 1912 season and looking to find fresh talent before the regular season opened, Phillies manager Red Dooin placed this advertisement in the Philadelphia Press:
"WANTED--A CATCHER, manager Dooin would like one or two husky backstops report at the Phillies' clubhouse to assist in warming up the large squad of pitchers. Dooin says it is a good chance for some youth to 'show the goods.'"   |   April 12, 1912 - Philadelphia Press  
Ed Irvin, a boxer who lived near 20th and Lehigh, responded to the ad and met Dooin the next day at Baker Bowl. 

Phillies manager Red DooinDooin was so impressed by Irvin that he offered him a minor league contract, but Irvin was adamant that he didn't want to play ball in the minors and the two parted ways.

In a strange turn of events, Irvin would play in a major league game a little more than a month later for the Detroit Tigers in a contest against the Athletics.

Angered that Ty Cobb was suspended for getting into a fight with a fan days prior in New York, sixteen Tiger players voted to strike hours prior to a contest against the A's.

Facing a potential forfeit because they couldn't field a proper team, Connie Mack suggested to Frank Navin, Detroit's owner, that he assemble a team using amateur players from the Philadelphia area.

Tigers manager Hughie Jennings went ahead and reached out to a sports writer he knew at the Philadelphia Bulletin, eventually finding eight amateurs, including Irvin, to take the field against the Athletics. 

Irvin finished the contest as the only amateur to record a hit, going 2-for-3 with a triple, but Mack's Elephants trounced the Tigers that afternoon, 24-2. 

Here's the box score as it appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on May 19, 1912:


The striking players returned to the lineup the next day and Irvin's professional career was over. 

According to The Baseball Necrology, Irvin died in 1916 after being thrown through a window at a bar. He was 34-years-old. 

You have to wonder, if the Phillies never published an advertisement if anyone would have thought to target Irvin as a substitute for the Tigers.

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