Texas League Bad Boys: Frank Quigg

Texas League rosters, like most loosely-organized baseball circuits of the late 19th and early 20th century, had their share of ne’er-do-wells, scoundrels, and outright criminals sprinkled among them. Most of these “Bad Boys” excelled at their craft. Ned Garvin pitched with a tenacity few could match, and he could drink and fight with his fists or a pistol just as effectively. Pearce “No Use” Chiles took cheating the system, whether on a baseball field, in a con game, or running from the law to an entirely new level, even briefly working his way into the major leagues before being cast away as a harbinger of bad press. But for every one of these notorious trouble-makers, we find stories like that of Frank Quigg. Frank wore many hats over the course of his all-too-short life, ranging from pitcher, manager, and umpire to attorney and bank robber. Unlike his compatriots who mastered their on and off-field misdeeds, Frank really never achieved much of anything short of a brief splurge in the nation’s newspapers on New Year’s Day, 1910.

Frank Quigg was born to grocery wholesaler Matthew and Mary Anne Quigg in June, 1874, in the rough and tumble town of Atchison, Kansas. His father, a member of the Kansas Senate, County Clerk, and a Union Captain during the Civil War, had become quite wealthy as a wholesaler, and young Frank never wanted for much. In fact, when his father died in 1890, Mary Anne carried on quite well as a 19th century “stay-at-home-mom,” raising six sons. Mrs. Quigg also gave birth to two daughters, both who died in infancy. So, Frank became the quintessential middle-child, and perhaps he is among the first documented cases of “middle-child syndrome.” Then again, not much about Frank Quigg is documented.

By 1893, Frank set his sights on a professional baseball career. The sporadic statistics provide the portrait of a young man probably as interested in the seedy side of the sport as his performance on the field. Beginning his career in Topeka of the Western Association, Quigg batted a respectable .313 as an outfielder, but in two appearances in the pitcher’s circle, he surrendered 28 runs in 26 innings. To his credit, however, 22 of those runs went unearned, and he did record a victory in one game. After his season in Topeka, Quigg’s whereabouts remain known, but his accomplishments are lost to history. He spent a season with St. Joseph of the Western Association and another with Memphis of the Southern League before arriving in Grayson County, Texas, in 1896.

As pitching ace for the Denison Indians, Quigg appeared in 35 games his first year in Texas, batting an impressive .326 and leading the lowly Indians with a 12-11 pitching record. He returned to Grayson County a season later, appearing in 11 games with the Sherman-Denison Tigers, though the only recorded statistics are an earned run average of 2.73 with 101 hits allowed. With the Tigers, Frank spent a portion of the season under the management of Pearce “No Use” Chiles. Perhaps Chiles tutelage is what drove Quigg to the dark side.

Frank Quigg’s name next appears in Oklahoma City in 1902-1903, where he tried his hand as a promoter of baseball in an attempt to establish a professional league north of the Red River. His endeavor limped along through the summer of 1902, with spectators few and far between, all the while backed by Quigg’s boasts and lies of great success. One notable happening during the 1902 season came on May 30, when Quigg caused two members of theTexas League’s Texarkana Casketmakers to be arrested for accepting money from him “under false pretenses.” What the accusation involved is unknown, but based on Quigg’s future endeavors, bribery probably highlighted the story. After raising Oklahoma baseball fans hopes with promises of great growth in 1903, Quigg’s league collapsed after just two weeks. He next turned up in Wichita, briefly managing the Western Association team. But, Quigg soon left managing for a position of greater authority—umpire.

The Texas League has a history of well-respected umpires; in fact, Wilson Matthews, Charley Moran, and Petty’s own Eddie Palmer are members of the Texas League Hall of Fame largely on the basis of their reputations for fairness, respect, and in some cases, bravery in the face of hostile crowds. Frank Quigg, on the other hand, had no such qualities. Although some claim he was such a good umpire the Japanese League called for him to travel overseas, during his stint in the Texas League, Quigg found himself under suspension and suspicion of wrongdoing on a number of occasions. Beginning in the South Texas League, he became a wanted man for attacking a spectator during a game and later developed a reputation in Dallas for cancelling games at the first sign of rain. Quigg became equally disliked among Fort Worth fans who believed he showed favoritism to his adopted home of Oklahoma City during its Texas League debut in 1909. After several run-ins with coaches, players, and fans, the Texas League ultimately dismissed Quigg at season’s end.

What occurred next remains one of the more interesting, yet inexplicable, stories in early baseball history. Sometime in the fall of 1909, the now unemployed Frank Quigg, baseball player, manager, umpire, and a licensed Kansas attorney, decided to join a gang planning to rob a bank in Harrah, Oklahoma. The bandits planned for a New Year’s Eve heist, but apparently they either planned too long or too loudly. Word soon made its way to the U.S. Marshal who along with his deputies, lay in wait for the desperado’s appearance. The attempted bank robbery was a short endeavor. Marshals confronted the gang as soon as they arrived on the scene, and Frank Quigg chose to act quickly in pulling his pistol, a misfire that did nothing except lead to a gun battle. The gunfight lasted no longer than the heist, and as 1909 turned to 1910, Frank Quigg and one other gang member lay dead of shotgun blasts to the back and chest.

Frank Quigg’s legacy is unclear. Mostly forgotten, a search of early newspapers finds him running with bad company in Pearce Chiles, bribing ballplayers, and umpiring so poorly even the fledgling Texas League refused his services. If one is to follow the rules of Western Lore, it would be a safe bet to say Frank Quigg died with his boots on. But, Quigg didn’t follow rules, even when written out explicitly in an umpire’s handbook. It’s just as likely he wore a pair of baseball cleats to his untimely demise.

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