Bill Craver

From BR Bullpen

Bill Craver.jpg

William H. Craver

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 9", Weight 160 lb.

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

Bill Craver was an infielder and catcher who was expelled from big league baseball for his involvement in the game's first gambling scandal.

During the Civil War, Bill enlisted as a Private on January 21, 1864 in the second Congressional District of New York at 18; he enlisted in Company K, 13th Heavy Artillery Regiment of New York. He mustered out on June 28, 1865 in Norfolk, VA.

Craver played baseball for 11 years (1867-1877). He played with the Lansingburgh Union (1867-1870); the Troy Haymakers (1871); the Baltimore Canaries (1872-1873); the Philadelphia Whites (1874), the Philadelphia Centennials and the Philadelphia Athletics (1875); the New York Mutuals (1876) and the Louisville Grays (1877). He was also a National Association substitute umpire in 1873. He managed the Union (83-35), Troy (12-12), Baltimore (27-13) and two of the Philadelphia teams (31-41) for a 153-101 record. In 1869, the Cincinnati Red Stockings enjoyed a lengthy winning streak. In the midst of the streak, after an argument over a foul tip, Craver pulled his Lansingburgh team off the field, resulting in a tie, Cincinnati's only blemish.

Together with George Bechtel, Craver was part of the first ever baseball "transaction", as we understand the term today, when the pair were traded a few blocks away to the Athletics of 1875 to replace injured players Dave Eggler and Wes Fisler in exchange for $1,500. Unlike modern teams, the trade was merely a money grab and the Centennials promptly folded.

On August 16, 1877, the Louisville Grays lost in Boston, 6-1, but retained first place. Craver took a called third strike with the tying runs on base and Jim Devlin fanned four times, raising suspicions about the honesty of the play on the field. On the 20th, Louisville director Charles E. Chase received an anonymous telegram from Hoboken, NJ, saying that "something is wrong with the Louisville players", that gamblers were betting on Hartford and that the team would lose their next two games, which they did. On September 5th, Devlin and George Hall agreed to throw the next day's game in Cincinnati for $25 apiece. Louisville lost, 1-0, to Bobby Mitchell as Lip Pike provided the margin with a home run.

After the losses, the team confronted Devlin on October 27th and demanded he confess. Before he could do so, Hall came forward and implicated Devlin and Al Nichols. All three players were banned. Craver may or may not have had nothing to do with fixing the games, but he refused to cooperate with the investigation and was banned for "disobedience to positive orders." Craver denied any wrongdoing. The team's actions were made official at the National League's Board of Directors meeting in December.

He began receiving Disability Income from the War Department on July 1, 1892. He was a policeman for the Troy Police Department from 1893 until his death. He died at his home in Troy at 57 from heart trouble, having been ill for a long time, and is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Troy. Surviving him was his widow, Catherine C. Craver, who followed him to the grave less than a month later on July 5, 1901.


Principal sources for Bill Craver include newspaper obituaries (OB), government Veteran records (VA,CM,CW), Stars & Stripes (S&S), Sporting Life (SL), The Sporting News (TSN), The Sports Encyclopedia:Baseball 2006 by David Neft & Richard Cohen (N&C), old Who's Who in Baseballs {{{WW}}} (WW), old Baseball Registers {{{BR}}} (BR) , old Daguerreotypes by TSN {{{DAG}}} (DAG), Stars&Stripes (S&S), The Baseball Necrology by Bill Lee (BN), Pat Doyle's Professional Ballplayer DataBase (PD), The Baseball Library (BL), Baseball in World War II Europe by Gary Bedingfield (GB) {{{MORE}}} and independent research by Walter Kephart (WK) and Frank Russo (FR) and others. including The National Association of Baseball Players (1857-1870) by Marshall D. Wright and A Biographical Dictionary of Major League Baseball Managers by John C. Skipper

Related Sites[edit]

This manager's article is missing a managerial chart. To make this person's article more complete, one should be added.