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Historic Tiger Baseball #10--Owen "Donie" Bush

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Today's Featured Tiger Player

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--Owen "Donie" Bush --

(1908-1921)

(click on name for statistics)

Some contend that Owen "Donie" Bush was the Tigers’ greatest shortstop before Alan Trammell. A sabremetrics study in the ‘90s claimed he had the 12th highest career range factor of any shortstop in history. When the Tigers called him up from Indianapolis in late 1908 he was a 20 year-old kid who stood just 5'6" and weighed 140. He was so nervous it wasn't until he reached Detroit that he discovered he had forgotten his spikes and glove and had to borrow Charley O'Leary's equipment to make his first major league start. Donie was the spark that catapulted the Detroit Tigers to the pennant in 1909.

He played great defense, he didn't strike out, and he walked like crazy. Indeed, he led the league in walks five times, including each of his first four years, but not including 1915, when he walked a career high 118 times. Over twelve full seasons as Tiger shortstop, he averaged 89 walks a year, including an average of 94 walks per season during his prime, from 1909 through 1917. But his walk totals may be even more impressive than that indicates. For example, in 1909, he led the AL with "just" 88 walks - but that was 26 more than anyone else in the league.

When he first came up, he batted second, after outfielder Davy Jones; later he batted first. Putting his walks and stolen bases in front of the two best hitters in the league, Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford, he sparked a Tiger offense that regularly led the league in runs scored, and Bush himself scored a lot of runs. From 1909 through 1917, he averaged over 101 runs scored per year.

He managed for several years in the majors, with some success, including the 1927 National League pennant with the Pirates; he was later Ted Williams' manager at Minneapolis in the American Association, and is often credited as a very positive influence on Williams' development. He then became manager, general manager, and eventually owner of the Indianapolis team in the AA.

The team's ballpark was for many years named Donie Bush Stadium.

by Brad Smith

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donie_Bush

http://www.baseballlibrary.com/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/B/Bush_Donie.stm

http://www.thedeadballera.com/Obits/Bush.Donnie.Obit.html

http://www.cosmicbaseball.com/bushball.html

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FYI to all, SABR (we're not just stat guys!) has a website called the Baseball Biography project. It has a whole bunch of player biographies, it is completely supplied by volunteers.

Donie Bush is not in there, he is going to be in the upcoming SABR publication, Deadball Stars of the American League (the National League edition came out a year or two ago).

Hey Burt, is Charlie Bennett on your list? Technically he is not a Tiger, being a Detroit Wolverine, but his ties to the Tigers early years are really strong. His is a great story (I think the Free Press did a write-up on him in the past year or so).

http://bioproj.sabr.org/

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Keep it up Bert, I am enjoying my T206 collection a lot more now!! Thank You. I know look at my Matty McIntyre card in a totally different light.

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FYI to all, SABR (we're not just stat guys!) has a website called the Baseball Biography project. It has a whole bunch of player biographies, it is completely supplied by volunteers.

Donie Bush is not in there, he is going to be in the upcoming SABR publication, Deadball Stars of the American League (the National League edition came out a year or two ago).

Hey Burt, is Charlie Bennett on your list? Technically he is not a Tiger, being a Detroit Wolverine, but his ties to the Tigers early years are really strong. His is a great story (I think the Free Press did a write-up on him in the past year or so).

http://bioproj.sabr.org/

He is now...Thanks for the tip. The first Tiger park was named in his honor after all.

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Keep it up Bert, I am enjoying my T206 collection a lot more now!! Thank You. I know look at my Matty McIntyre card in a totally different light.
Thanks. It's easy to just look at the pictures and forget that they were real players and had a real history. I know they have all become a lot more real for me since I started doing this..

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Yeah, many times you look back at the 1910s or before that and just see old photos of old players...but now this puts those "old players" in a different, new perspective.

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He is now...Thanks for the tip. The first Tiger park was named in his honor after all.

He must have been good to have the St. Louis park named after him also.

:wink:

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In my old time baseball games Bush is one of the funest players to play. Those low batting averages but great walk numbers and his bunting ability makes him fun guy.

It's funny. You'll see stats that have him as one of the greatest fielding players at his position at his time but in other stuff you read about how his deficiencies at playing shortstop. For many years his fielding percentage was worse than most SSs during his era if I remember correctly but his range factor was always high. If anyone wants to see something interesting check out fielding percentages in the early 1900s. I bet many here don't realize how many more errors there were in that era than there are now. I think some think "oh maybe 50 more a year" but don't really realize how much different the numbers are for various reasons - poor equipment, poor fields and probably just not as good caliber fielding players because the game was still in its early stages.

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Bert,

I meant to ask you, since you are such a big Cobb fan, is it safe to say you are a Coke drinker?:grin:

I have a paunch to prove it.

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In my old time baseball games Bush is one of the funest players to play. Those low batting averages but great walk numbers and his bunting ability makes him fun guy.

It's funny. You'll see stats that have him as one of the greatest fielding players at his position at his time but in other stuff you read about how his deficiencies at playing shortstop. For many years his fielding percentage was worse than most SSs during his era if I remember correctly but his range factor was always high. If anyone wants to see something interesting check out fielding percentages in the early 1900s. I bet many here don't realize how many more errors there were in that era than there are now. I think some think "oh maybe 50 more a year" but don't really realize how much different the numbers are for various reasons - poor equipment, poor fields and probably just not as good caliber fielding players because the game was still in its early stages.

Thanks Dave. That is a very cool addition to thread. You know, those dinky little gloves were nothng like the one's guy have today. I'd like to see how well today's players would handle a ground ball with those gloves.

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Great stuff Bert!

I haven't posted on any of these but wanted to let you know I'm really enjoying them and anticipate each new edition.

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Bert,

I meant to ask you, since you are such a big Cobb fan, is it safe to say you are a Coke drinker?:grin:

Well, I'm a Keith Hernandez fan...oh, never mind! :confused:

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Great stuff Bert!

I haven't posted on any of these but wanted to let you know I'm really enjoying them and anticipate each new edition.

This is good to know. It motivates me to keep doing it. And I will.

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In my old time baseball games Bush is one of the funest players to play. Those low batting averages but great walk numbers and his bunting ability makes him fun guy.

It's funny. You'll see stats that have him as one of the greatest fielding players at his position at his time but in other stuff you read about how his deficiencies at playing shortstop. For many years his fielding percentage was worse than most SSs during his era if I remember correctly but his range factor was always high. If anyone wants to see something interesting check out fielding percentages in the early 1900s. I bet many here don't realize how many more errors there were in that era than there are now. I think some think "oh maybe 50 more a year" but don't really realize how much different the numbers are for various reasons - poor equipment, poor fields and probably just not as good caliber fielding players because the game was still in its early stages.

I've never really made a connection in fielding % between the 2 eras, but it certainly would not surprise me that today's game should be played more error free given the technological advances of today like you alluded to. Better gloves, better fields, better baseballs, better athleticism, the Tom Emansky video,.... today's defenders are truly spoiled vs yesteryears'.

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