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 was a star of the pre-professional leagues era in the 1860s. He was the first player to earn the moniker "Death To Flying Things", a nickname more closely associated with teammate Bob Ferguson. A player, manager and umpire in his day, Chapman was skipper of the 1877 Louisville Grays when the club became embroiled in a gambling/game fixing scandal.
Jack was a veteran of the amateur Brooklyn Atlantics and the Quaker City club in the 1860s. He was 31 when he broke into the National Association with Brooklyn in 1874. He hit .264/.276/.322 on a team that hit .230, with one of the highest slugging percentages due in large part to his team leading 10 doubles. Before appearing as a player, he had already 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/.230/.282 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 in 1876, when the National League started. He played 17 games with the Louisville Grays, but was primarily the club's manager. 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, with Ryne Sandberg also victimized 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. 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. He later umpired 19 games in 1880 and two more in 1882.
On August 3, 1890, his team was playing in Syracuse 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.