Friday, May 3, 2013

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Stovall stabilized an infield that in 1911 had used ten first basemen. Beleaguered Bobby Wallace, who had administered the team to a 45--107 cellar finish in 1911, had never wanted the job, and after the 1912 Browns started at 12--27, Stovall took the reins on June 2. He was well paid at $6,250 and began shaping the team he envisioned. He liked fast, young players with good arms, and emphasized defense and pitching. He waived ineffective veteran pitchers and by 1913 the whole pitching staff was under 30 years of age.

The 1912 season was not without its controversies. Stovall once again delved into the unprecedented by joining managers Nixey Callahan and Harry Davis against Frederick Westervelt, an umpire they felt to be incompetent. The three conferred in New York in July, after Stovall had been suspended due to an argument with Westervelt, who had been moved from Chicago to Cleveland games when Ban Johnson had given in to protests earlier in the season. Westervelt, who had been promoted to the majors in 1911, "was not asked to continue" in the majors after the 1912 season. Stovall led the Browns to a seventh-place finish, and there was reason for optimism in "that Siberia of the ball players, St. Louis." Owner Robert Hedges raised his salary to $7,500.

Controversy continued to stalk Brother George during the 1913 season. On May 3, Stovall was ejected from a game for grabbing the cap of umpire Charlie Ferguson and throwing it on the ground. When Stovall took too long retrieving his glove, Ferguson told George to hurry it up. As teammate Jimmy Austin later recalled for Lawrence Ritter's The Glory of Their Times, "I guess that was the straw that broke the camel's back, because George let fly with a big glob of tobacco juice--p-tooey!--that just spattered all over Ferguson's face and coat and everywhere else. Ugh, it was an awful mess. It was terrible. George always did chew an uncommonly large wad, you know."

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