Bugs Raymond pitched in parts of 6 seasons in the Major Leagues. He compiled a 45-57 W/L record with a respectable 2.49 ERA. In 1908 while pitching for a terrible St. Louis Cardinal team that lost 105 games, Bugs Raymond won 15 games with a 2.03 ERA. Unfortunately he lead the league with 25 losses. In 11 of his losses his team failed to score a single run.
John McGraw still liked what he saw and brought him over to the Giants in a multi-player trade in 1909, that involved HOF catcher Roger Bresnahan. Raymond seemed to thrive under McGraw winning 18 games, good for 3rd on the team behind Christy Mathewson(25) and Hooks Wiltse(20). Over the next 2 seasons Bugs Raymond won just 10 games, and was ultimately released by McGraw in 1911.
So what happened to Bugs Raymond, a pitcher that had one of the better spitballs in the game. A pitcher that John McGraw had described as one of the best pitchers he ever managed.
Arthur Lawrence Raymond was born in Chicago, on 2/24/1882. Bugs was short for bughouse, another name for an insane asylum, which kind of gives you a clue on what kind of personality Mr. Raymond brought to the table. Bugs Raymond was a raging alcoholic from his earliest days in the minor leagues. And as usual, a 10 cent head, with a million dollar arm leads to chance after chance, concession after concession, all in an effort to get that million dollar arm on the mound, while constantly waiting for a sobriety that never comes. At the time it was said that the secret to Bugs Raymond’s dominant spitter wasn’t the spit, but his breathe causing the ball to act drunk when pitched.
Despite constant promises of sobriety, getting followed by private detectives, and handing his paycheck over to his wife, Bugs Raymond still managed to get his drink on, followed by more concessions, another chance, and more broken promises. Despite quitting the team to go tend bar with 6 weeks to go in the 1909 season, Bugs Raymond was brought back for the 1910 season. John McGraw finally released the troubled spitballer in June of 1911.
Bugs Raymond was found dead in his apartment on September 7, 1912. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage from a fractured skull. He was just 30 years old. In the last 3 weeks of his life Bugs Raymond had been involved in at least 2 on field brawls on Chicago sandlots, one of which involved a beating with a baseball bat. When John McGraw heard of his untimely death he stated, “ that man took seven years off my life.”
In 1937 he received his one and only vote for the Hall of Fame. Maybe one of his drinking buddies had a vote? Maybe it was one the many guys that said, “Have another Bugs.” Maybe it was one of the many enablers that helped Bugs Raymond drink himself to an early grave. Nope, it was all Bugs.
We are all ultimately responsible for our actions, good or bad. Bugs Raymond drank himself to death, cased closed.
As the son of an alcoholic parent, it took me 20 years to realize that. I felt like it was my fault. Even at 10 years old I thought I should have been able to stop my mother’s drinking, and I couldn’t. I know now that wasn’t the case.
The alcoholic enables their own grief, plants it at the bottom of a bottle, and will risk everything for just one more drink, one more empty bottle. Until they hit rock bottom there is nothing you can do to stop them. All you can do is fight for yourself, and not let yourself get sucked into their chasm of misery and despair. Not an easy task for a 10 year old child, a teenager, a young adult. Not an easy task for anyone.
There is help that can be found. Al-Anon provides support to allow the process of healing to begin. I urge anyone who has a family member or even a friend with an alcohol problem to reach out to this fine organization. Sometimes we can’t do it alone.
(Wow, this post was not originally supposed to go in this direction. Next post will be just baseball. I promise.)