August 13, 2012
In 1888, Cupid Childs played 4 games for the Phillies, before he was released (remarkably, 4 games was enough for him to get a Philly baseball card made). He then traveled out to Kalamazoo, Michigan to try out for the Kalamazoo Kazoos. (I am not making that team name up. In 1895, they changed their name to the Kalamazoo Celery Eaters.) Anyways, his SABR page tells us what happened when the portly Childs arrived for his tryout, which they got from a newspaper account at the time.
“Childs is the most curiously built man in the baseball business: he is about as wide as he is long and weighs about as much as Jeffries, yet there are few men in the league who can get over the ground faster than the ‘dumpling.’ He started in the business as a professional with the Kalamazoo club in the Tristate league in 1888 and his work was so good that year that he graduated into fast company, where he has been ever since. When he reported to the Kalamazoo club he came in on a ‘side-door Pullman’ and presented himself to the management of the ‘Celery Eaters’ and asked for a trial. The manager thought he was joking after looking at his short length and broad girth, telling him he would make a better fat man in a side show than a ball player. Showing them he was anxious for a trial he was told to go to the grounds and practice with the rest of the team. A search was made for a uniform that would fit him, but none could be found, the only thing of that nature large enough for him being a pair of divided skirts, which he put on, cutting them off at the knees. His appearance with this costume on can be imagined and was so ludicrous that it threatened to break up the practice. However, as soon as he got out on the diamond and began to practice they began to open eyes and wonder. Such stops and throws were made as they never saw before and with such ease and grace that all were at once convinced he was a wonder. The management signed him on the spot and at a good salary, a move they never regretted, as his playing was the sensation of league all the season.”