Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Vitt's Crybabies Custom Fitted
The 1940 Indians are notable for a team that blew a lead late in the year after the team rebelled against manager Ossie Vitt.
Vitt was known for being critical of his players, who had grown increasingly upsetwith his style since he had become manager in 1938 after a stellar year with the 1937 Newark Bears. The Indians had been in contention from the start of the 1940 season. They had started an eastern road trip 5-6, though, and on June 11, they dropped another one, 9-2, behind Bob Feller to their top contender, the Boston Red Sox; Vitt grumbled "He's supposed to be my ace. I'm supposed to win a pennant with that kind of pitching" in the dugout for all to hear. The next day, he yanked Mel Harder from a game against the Red Sox, saying "It's about time you won, [given] the money you're getting." Harder, Feller, Johnny Allen and others met after the game and decided to approach owner Alva Bradley with the request that Vitt be removed. 11 players met with Bradley, including Ken Keltner, Al Milnar, Rollie Hemsley, Jeff Heath, Oscar Grimes and the three aforementioned pitchers; Roy Weatherly refused to go along and Ray Mack and Lou Boudreau were kept out due to their youth. Hal Trosky called in at the time to express his agreement, but as his mother had died, he could not attend. Criticisms included Vitt's insults to his players, showboating style, anger and willingness to air dirty laundry with the media. Bradley said he would investigate but did not want the affair to become public. Somebody leaked it though, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer had details a day later.
The players were the primary subject of fan criticsm as the public generally supported Vitt, who said he would tone down his acts somewhat. The Indians became known as "Vitt's Crybabies", the "Bawl Team" and the "Half Vitts" among other eptiehts.