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Bill Craver

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William H. Craver

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[edit] Biographical Information

During the Civil War, Bill Craver enlisted as a Private on January 21, 1864 in the second Congressional District of New York at the age of 18; he enlisted in Company K, 13th Heavy Artillery Regiment of New York on January 21, 1864. He was Mustered out on June 28, 1865 in Norfolk, VA.

Craver later played professional baseball for 11 years (1867-1877). He played for the Lansingburgh Union (1867-1870); the Troy Haymakers (1871); the Baltimore Canaries (1872-1873); the Philadelphia Whites (1874), the Philadelphia Centennials and the Philadelphia Athletics (1875); the New York Mutuals (1876) and the Louisville Grays (1877), where he played his final MLB game in September 1877, ending his baseball career at age 33. He was a National Association Substitute umpire (1873).

He also managed the Union (83-35), Troy (12-12), Baltimore (27-13) and two of the Philadelphia teams (31-41) for a 153-101 record overall. In 1869, Cincinnati had a long winning streak. In the midst of the streak after an argument over a foul tip, Craver pulled his team off the field, resulting in a tie against the Cincinnati Red Stockings, their only blemish during the streak.

Together with George Bechtel, Craver was part of the first ever baseball "transaction" as we understand the term today, when the pair were traded a few blocks away to the 1875 Athletics to replace injured players Dave Eggler and Wes Fisler in exchange for $1,500. Unlike modern teams, however, the trade was merely a money grab, and the Centennials promptly folded after the transaction.

On August 16, 1877, Louisville lost in Boston 6-1, but retained first place. Craver took a called third strike with the tying runs on base and Jim Devlin fanned four times, raising suspicions of gambling. On the 20th, Louisville director Charles E. Chase received an anonymous telegram from Hoboken, NJ, saying that "something is wrong with the Louisville players" and that gamblers were betting on Hartford and that the team would lose their next two games, which they did. On 5 September, Devlin and George Hall agree to throw the next day's game in Cincinnati for $25 apiece. Louisville lost the game 1-0 to Bobby Mitchell of Cincinnati as Lip Pike provided the margin with a Home Run.

After the losses the team confronted Devlin on October 27 and demanded he confess. Before he could confess, Hall came forward and implicated Devlin and Al Nichols. All three players were banned. Craver had nothing to do with fixing the games, but he refused to cooperate with the investigation and was banned for "disobedience to positive orders." Craver denied any wrongdoing. The team's actions were made official at the National League's Board of Directors meeting in December.

He began receving Disability Income from the War Department on July 1, 1892. He was a policemen for the Troy Police Department from 1893 until his death. He died at his home in Troy, NY at age 57 from heart trouble, having been ill for a long time and is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Troy. Surviving him was his widow, Catherine C. Craver, who followed him to the grave less than a month later on July 5, 1901.

[edit] Sources

Principal sources for Bill Craver include newspaper obituaries (OB), government Veteran records (VA,CM,CW), Stars & Stripes (S&S), Sporting Life (SL), The Sporting News (TSN), The Sports Encyclopedia:Baseball 2006 by David Neft & Richard Cohen (N&C), old Who's Who in Baseballs {{{WW}}} (WW), old Baseball Registers {{{BR}}} (BR) , old Daguerreotypes by TSN {{{DAG}}} (DAG), Stars&Stripes (S&S), The Baseball Necrology by Bill Lee (BN), Pat Doyle's Professional Ballplayer DataBase (PD), The Baseball Library (BL), Baseball in World War II Europe by Gary Bedingfield (GB) {{{MORE}}} and independent research by Walter Kephart (WK) and Frank Russo (FR) and others. including The National Association of Baseball Players (1857-1870) by Marshall D. Wright and A Biographical Dictionary of Major League Baseball Managers by John C. Skipper

[edit] Related Sites

For a full Bibliography from SABR's The Baseball Index (TBI)

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