1902 in History
The year started strong for Michigan and they appeared in the first ever Rose Bowl on January 1, which the Michigan Wolverines won 49-0. In February a massive fire destroyed 26 city blocks in Jersey City, New Jersey. European football fans can celebrate this year for the foundation of Real Madrid on March 6, but for Thomas Edison, a US Circuit Court declared he could not maintain a monopoly on 35mm movie film, which may very well have allowed for the development of the movie industry.
On a similar note, April 2 saw the first movie theater open in the US in Los Angeles (naturally), and Enrico Caruso had the first million-selling record ever. In May over 30,000 people were killed when Mount Pelee in Martinique erupted, utterly destroying the town of Saint-Pierre. That same month, Cuba gained its independence from the United States.
Target, everyone’s favorite place to buy things they don’t really need, was founded on June 24, and in July, gold was discovered in Fairbanks, Alaska. In August Mount Pelee erupted again, killing 1000 more civilians. The silent film classic A Trip to the Moon is the first sci-fi film to ever be released. In November a newspaper cartoon inspires the creation of the first teddy bear (named for Teddy Roosevelt). To wrap up the year, a British exploration team Discovery become the first me to reach the southernmost point to date in their exploration of Antarctica.
The 1902 Tigers posted the franchise’s first losing record, going 52-83 for the season, finishing 7th in the American League. Once again they divided their play time between both Bennett and Burns Parks (they couldn’t play at Bennett Park on Sundays due to the “blue laws” restricting Sunday activities), and had 189,469 fans attend over the season.
The Kids were all right again this year, with Kid Gleason hitting .247/.292/.297 (let’s be kind, it was the dead ball era after all) and Kid Elberfeld hitting .260/.348/.326. The team’s best average that year belonged to outfielder Jimmy Barrett, who hit .303/.397/.387 with a team-leading four home runs.
Though pitcher Ed Siever had a losing 8-11 record, he did impressive work posted a 1.91 ERA, 2.83 FIP, and 1.051 WHIP. No Cy Young for Siever though, since Cy was still an active player with the Boston Americans at the time.
Spotlight on: Wish Egan
Wish Egan spent only a single season pitching for the Tigers in 1902, a in hit three starts he lost two games. He had a 2.86 ERA but somehow managed to not strike out a single batter in 22 innings. He didn’t appear in the majors after that until 1905 when he had two relatively uneventful seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals. He ended his major league career with an arm injury at age 25, with a career 3.83 ERA.
Aloysius Jerome Egan was born in Evart, Michigan, so the Tigers seemed like a natural fit for him to continue his career post-play. In 1910 he joined the team as a scout, and spent the next 40 years working for the Tigers, right up until his death at age 69.
While Egan might not be known for his playing career, Tigers fans are in his debt nevertheless. Egan discovered the likes of Hal Newhouser (who Egan apparently taught the curve), Dizzy Trout, and Jim Bunning. He was also the one to suggest trading Barney McCosky in 1946 to get back some guy named George Kell. He is also credited with being the one to decide on Lakeland, FL as the spring training home of the Tigers.
If the Tigers ever made a Hall of Fame at Comerica Park, Wish Egan would deserve his own place in it.