John Curtis Chapman
(Death To Flying Things)
- Bats Unknown, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 170 lb.
- Debut May 5, 1874
- Final Game August 8, 1876
- Born May 8, 1843 in Brooklyn, NY USA
- Died June 10, 1916 in Brooklyn, NY USA
Jack Chapman, who was a star in the 1860s, later played three years in the major leagues and managed eleven years. He was also an umpire in six different seasons. He was the first player to be called "Death to Flying Things", a moniker more often associated with his 1874 teammate Bob Ferguson. He was also the manager when pitcher Jim Devlin and others were kicked out of the league for consorting with gamblers and/or throwing games.
Chapman was already 31 years old when he started in the National Association with the Brooklyn Atlantics in 1874. He hit .264 on a team that hit .230, and he had one of the highest slugging percentages on the team, due mainly to his 10 doubles, by far the highest on the team. Before appearing as a player in the circuit, he had umpired two games in 1871 and three in 1873; he also worked two games in addition to his appearances as a player in 1874.
The following year, in 1875, he was with the St. Louis Brown Stockings, hitting .226 on a team that hit .239. Except for 39-year-old Dickey Pearce, he was the oldest player on the team, which also featured the debut of 18-year-old Pud Galvin.
Chapman was 33 years old in 1876, when the National League started. He played 17 games with the Louisville Grays, but was primarily the manager of the team. The Grays lost their first two games by shutout that season; he would remain the only manager to have that happen in his first two games until Mike Redmond reedited the feat for the 2013 Miami Marlins, then after that 137-year wait, Ryne Sandberg also saw it happen with the Philadelphia Phillies that same year. He also umpired two games in 1876 and managed from 1876 to 1878, that third season with the Milwaukee Grays, then was not in the majors until 1882, managing from 1882 to 1885, with the Worcester Ruby Legs, Detroit Wolverines and Buffalo Bisons. He came back to manage the Louisville Colonels in the American Association from 1891 to 1891 and that same team when it moved to the National League in 1892. Although his teams were mostly not contenders, his Louisville team in 1877 finished second and his team in 1890 finished first. He umpired 19 games in 1880 and two more in 1882.
His 1877 Louisville team might have finished first if not for the game-throwing scandal. Chapman was blameless. It was club president Charles Chase who took the initiative to investigate and handle the problem. See 1877, the Specter of Gambling.
On August 3, 1890, his team was playing in Syracuse, NY where the chief of police warned the teams that Sunday baseball was illegal. The Syracuse team (the 1890 Syracuse Stars) came to the ballpark, but the Louisville team and the umpire did not. A local umpire was found to call the game a forfeit in favor of the Syracuse team. Chapman commented that he did not intend to forfeit the game, but was just afraid of being detained in Syracuse.