Sunday, August 21, 2011

1911 Giants Lucky Charm

The year was 1911, the sport baseball, the team the national league New York Giants and the lucky charm was a 34 year old feeble-minded man with a child's innocence and a mighty love for the game. They called him Charlie Faust.

For those in sports who believe in lucky charms and superstitious jinxes, no explanation need be given. For those who do not believe, no explanation will suffice. 100 years ago the city of New York was just as hard-nosed a metropolis as it is today, especially when it came to their sports teams.

So when gawky looking Charlie Faust from Marion, Kansas joined the club that summer more as a good-luck charm than a ballplayer, the folks of New York must've thought manager John Muggsy McGraw had lost his marbles. I'm sure McGraw was set to be tarred and feathered by fans when Charlie Faust, the new team mascot, premiered at his first home game wearing a shrunken uniform that stopped short of kissing his long lanky wrists and ankles. The team was coming off the ugly end of a three game series sweep and suffering from self-doubt and fiery fan criticism.

McGraw went against his better no-nonsense judgement in hoping Charlie's fun and funny antics in the clubhouse and during pre-game warm-ups would relax the team, getting them back to playing Giants baseball. It worked to lucky perfection with only one scare early on, when Charlie abandoned the team and fans to seek a serious pitching tryout with the club which then resided across the bridge to Brooklyn.

Three days of losing and McGraw had had enough of it. So had Charlie as he found his way back to the Giants after being rejected and laughed out of the Brooklyn ballpark. Nobody was happier to have Charlie back in a Giants uniform than McGraw. Its said that he was so determined to keep his 6-foot-2, 180 pound lucky charm from slipping away again that he promised him some playing time and found a Giants uniform that "fit'em like a glove."

The Giants would make it to the 1911 World Series in part thanks to their superstitious belief in a man who simply made them laugh along the way; Charles Victor Faust.

from the Baseball Biography Project
Once the game started, Faust would either station himself beyond the outfield, warming up for innings at a time to be ready in case the Giants needed him, or sit on the bench, cheering on his teammates and predicting their base hits. Whatever he did worked. From the time he met McGraw in St. Louis to the day the Giants clinched the pennant, the team had a record of 39-9. When he was in uniform and exerting his jinxing powers, their record was an astonishing 36-2.

Giants manager John McGraw wrote, "I give Charlie Faust full credit for winning the pennant for me - the National League pennant of 1911." Faust had approached McGraw before the season and explained that a fortune teller told him if he pitched for the Giants, they would win the pennant. Faust became a good luck charm, traveling with the team and warming up to pitch every game. He hurled an inning against the last-place Dodgers on the final day, shutting them out on one hit. He also reached base by getting hit by a pitch, and was allowed to steal second and third, and score. "Who's loony now?" he asked teammates as the crowd cheered. Faust was committed to an institution in 1914. When he died in 1915, the Giants finished last. (KT)

Audio story of Charles Victory Faust

Note: Maybe, just maybe, Bruce Bochy and the 2011 San Francisco Giants could use a modern version of Charlie Faust. Anything to help get us fans through another tortuous and bumpy road leading to the World Series. Faust Where Are U?

No comments: