Bein' Nice don't get you off the Farm
Turk’s background remained a mystery for years, as he steadfastly refused to talk about it. It wasn't until John Dusenberry pieced together his past and wrote his accomplished best seller ('The Pitcher and the Sharecropper’s Son...') that light was shed on the past of this tragic and compelling man.
A mysterious midnight shooting spree that began on the dirt road between Burlington VT, and Greenfield, MA on August 13, 1906, killed one civilian. But the events of that night also shattered the lives of 167 base ball players.
In 'The Pitcher and the Sharecropper’s Son...', Dusenberry completes the task he began with his book; 'Bein' Nice don't get you off the Farm...The Woodruff County Nine', which led two years later to the exoneration of the base ball players, who had been summarily banned from all of Base Ball without honor by a stroke of President Theodore Roosevelt’s pen.
Carpetbagger or Hero?
Duesnbery’s tale traces the intertwined lives of Anthony 'Irish' Maspo, the Ohio Senator who risked his political career in an eloquent defense of the ball players (who “ask no favors because they are base ball players, but only for justice because they are men”), Turk, the Vermont sharecropper’s son who emerged from obscurity as the last survivor of the dismissed team, and the flamboyant and popular Theodore Roosevelt, the New York aristocrat who linked the fates of those men.
Dusenberry’s narrative explores these tangled lives against the background of a time when Sharecropper's Sons could be more important than Aristocratic Robber Barons...but might pay a steep price for not knowing their "place".
'Life' after Base Ball
Speaking out for players freedom, Turk emerges as the voice and heart of the ball players, who all rallied around him, and followed him, Dusenberry adds, “blindly.” The players’ loyalty however led to their downfall as they followed Turk to his ill fated meeting at Maspo’s gated Estate , trying to get the ball players the equal rights they sought. Maspo's Servants, seeing a crowd of men gathered outside the gate, released 20 guard dogs on the men. A peaceful strategy meeting turned into tragic violence, as one of Turks more hot-headed followers, Richard Fleurant, viciously attacked the guard dogs and the tragic riot ensued. This is what led to the civilian’s death; an innocent milkman. Turk was quickly blamed by the corrupt local authorities and tried for second degree murder, but was acquitted by a jury of his peers.
The jury did not believe the official account, and knew their Turk would never kill a milkman
or eat a Dog. Only a deranged scary maniac would do something like that.
Turk, shattered by the experience, dissappeared from sight, vowing never to lead a base ball team again. To this day he refuses to talk about his past. Dusenberry pieced together his life from hundreds of interviews with those closest to the man called 'Turk' .
It wasn’t known that Fleurant was the real 'trouble maker' until, on his death bed, he confessed. (Fleurant later recovered and regretted coming clean.)