Thursday, December 7, 2017

TAD Dorgan and Friends in San Francisco

 1   Tad.
The game is aptly described as a “racket” and if ever there was one the prize fighting business has a mortgage on it. Long before the recent epidemic of fouls the more or less manly art was the pawn of chisellers and cold-blooded manipulators. The fault can’t be laid wholly to the fighters, it is how the business is controlled by a gang who should have never found a place in the realm of alleged sport. It was poor Tad Dorgan who once said that “there was more larceny in the prize fight game than there was in Sing Sing.” Tad knew the rabble that was mixed up in the beak-busting business as he “covered” the racket for more than a quarter of a century. — Liam O’Shea, ‘On The Line,’ in the Irish Advocate, July 5, 1930 
The most famous retort next to “That was no lady, that was my wife” originated in this manner: A publisher, querying how many cartoonists there were in America, was told, “If you took all the cartoonists and laid them end to end, it wouldn’t be a bad idea.”Walter Winchell, ‘The Imps of Journalism,’ in his On Broadway column, 1935
by John Adcock
SOUTH OF THE SLOT. The most popular sporting cartoonist of all time was Thomas Aloysius Dorgan [1877-1929], known as “TAD,” or “Tad,” take your pick. Nicknames were de rigueur in the sporting world, TAD was suggested from Dorgan’s three initials. The word also stood for a small kid at the time. 

Fremont Older, since 1895 managing editor of The Bulletin in San Francisco, California, claimed to have discovered Tad in a drawing class for school boys. Older also “discovered” Hype Igoe (1877-1945), Rube Goldberg (1883-1970), and Bud Fisher (1885-1954), all of them celebrated sporting cartoonists. A more likely story was told by Harry B. Smith; that “somebody or other introduced him to Hy Baggerly, sports editor of the Old Bulletin. [Who] will even now take time out from his job as Coast League president to speak with pleasure of his protégé of ye olden days.”

 2   March 22, 1903.
 3   July 31, 1904.
THOMAS ALOYSIUS DORGAN, Dorgan’s father, named Thomas also, was a laundryman in San Francisco at the time Tad was born. The 1910 census gave his occupation as a teamster. Thomas senior was of Irish parentage but was born in England himself. Tad’s mother’s name was Anna. Anna’s parents were from New York and she was born in Pennsylvania. Thomas Aloysius junior was born on April 29, 1877 and his brother John came two years later. John L. Dorgan, better known as Ike, a childhood nickname fostered on him by Tad, later founded The Ring Magazine with Nat Fleischer and Tex Rickard, and worked as a scribe with Hearst’s New York Evening Journal. 

By 1900 the Dorgan family had expanded. Joining Thomas and John were Mary H., Charles, Edwin, Annie, Irene, Richard, Joseph and Alice. Richard Dorgan (b. Sept 1892) would become a cartoonist like his older brother, signing his work ‘Dick Dorgan.’ Dick Dorgan drew two comic strips, You Know Me Al, also known as Jack Keefe or Kid Dugan, scripted by Ring Lardner, and the strip Mr. Gilfeather (later to be drawn by none other than Al Capp). Cartoonist Al Capp once described Dick Dorgan to comic art historian Rick Marschall as a “blind, crippled TAD.”

 4   Brothers Tad & Dick & Ike Dorgan.
ALL FINGERS. On his World War I draft registration card dated September 12, 1918 Tad wrote “all fingers except thumb off of right hand.” There were dozens of different stories told of the accident but only columnist O.O. McIntyre’s story is in accord with the draft registration.
When he was 8 he was fooling around a house moving job and attempted to ride a shovel on a rope that was propelled by a big pulley. He turned his head for a second and his right hand was caught in a pulley, crushing off four fingers of that right hand, which was reduced to a thumb and a piece of knuckle. He turned ‘lefty’ and surmounted the obstacle. — O.O. McIntyre, ‘Tad — a Close-up of a Man Who Amuses the World,’ in New York Journal, 1927
 5   TAD’s draft card after WWI, Sep 12, 1918.
 6   September 21, 1904.
 7   April 5, 1903.
TAD Dorgan, was “born South of Market Street,” or “South of the Slot,” as it was known to the inhabitants. Edgar T. “Scoop” Gleeson remembered that Tad “lived variously in San Francisco at Mission and Twelfth Streets and in Hayes Valley. In the latter district, which he always termed home, he made the acquaintance of James J. Corbett.” Tad’s first job was selling newspapers, followed by employment at J.J. O’Brien’s dry goods store. Tad’s father was operating a stationary store on Hayes Street, where his son also helped out. The area was home to a mixture of Jewish and Irish, mostly Democrats. Tad’s best friend was Bert Igoe, who lived on Ringold Street, overlooking Recreation Park. Across the street from the park was an icehouse lot where the boys played baseball. Tad was “a sandlot player — a rather tough kid,” and a southpaw pitcher. He “never lost a game, ball or pinochle.” Igoe recalled the Ringold house as the “house in which Tad and I pooled together two bits, he 15 and me 10 cents, to buy our first bottle of drawing ink, thirty-five years ago.”
 8   Bert Igoe, who signed ‘Hype Igoe,’ 1909.
HERBERT ANTHONY IGOE, sporting cartoonist, and according to Damon Runyon “probably the best informed writer on boxing that ever lived,” was born in Santa Cruz, California on June 13, 1877 to John and Mary Igoe. His father was a pipefitter. In his boyhood, and as late as 1916, he was known as Bert Igoe. He attended district school at Felton, California until the age of ten, when his family moved to San Francisco, where he attended school with Jimmy Britt, later one of California’s most colourful pugilists, as well as Ike and Tad Dorgan. Igoe graduated from the city’s Franklin Grammar School; and the group of friends moved on to Polytechnic High School. The English teacher, Mrs. Kahn, was the local Congress-woman. Bert Igoe attended Polytechnic High School for two terms then joined the staff of the San Francisco Examiner in 1896, as an office boy. Hype Igoe was his penname and his first major work was drawing cartoons of the Corbett-Fitzsimmons fight in 1897. Cartoonist Charles H. Owens recalled that Igoe “knew even as a kid that he would get to the top. And he has. Hype, when I first met him, looked like the walking delegate for a tailor. Darkly attractive, he was like electricity — never still. He had more ideas about how to display news than any man I know.”
 9   Cartoon by Hype Igoe in the Denver PostDec 15, 1904.
 10   Cartoon by Hype Igoe, Jan 7, 1905.
BEFORE the fire (following the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, a disaster all newspaper reporters who went through it referred to as “the fire”) — South of the Slot was occupied mostly by cottages, flats, saloons, and a few stores for groceries. Boxer Jimmy Britt described the area as “a rather contradictory neighborhood, it was at the same time a friendly and a fighting neighborhood. In fact you sometimes had to fight a fellow several times before you became friendly with him.” Hype Igoe said of his friend Jimmy Britt that “When we were kids, south of the slot, he used to fight other boys with one hand tied behind him.” 
Of course, living in a fighting neighborhood it was a case of fight or stay in the house. In our neighborhood, instead of giving a child a rattle to play with, they handed him a boxing glove and a bakery wagon key. In those days all bakers’ wagons had a door in the back (…) Our principal outdoor sport was chasing Chinamen, and as we grew older and more experienced, we substituted policemen for the Chinese. — Jimmy Britt, ‘Reminiscences of Old South of Market,’ in South of Market Journal, Jan 1929, p.10  

 11   Real photo of friends Tad Dorgan & James J. Corbett. (See above what dry-copying and microfilm made of it, a page from Circulation, No 9, Sep 1922.)
 12   Oct 19, 1904.
FOUR YOUNGSTERS. Columnist John Brannigan recalled that “Many years ago, in the Mission section of San Francisco, there were four youngsters who were to become famous in the sporting world. Odd also that in later years they should all settle in little old New York, and maintain their friendship to their graves.”
These were [1] James J. Corbett, first world’s heavyweight champion under the Marquis of Queensberry Rules. It was Corbett who soundly licked the great John L. Sullivan. Corbett, an Irishman himself, was never to this day forgiven by the Irish for having licked the great John L. [2] Hype Igoe, who became a great sportswriter and cartoonist on the New York Journal. [3] Tad Dorgan, a great American cartoonist sportswriter and his brother [4] Ike Dorgan. Ike became Tex Rickard’s press agent and later he started The Ring magazine with Nat Fleischer, who now owns it. Ike also managed in the early ’20s some of the greatest fighters of that era, including Charley White and Gunboat Smith… — ‘Rambling Along with John Brannigan,’ in Sullivan County Record, Nov 14, 1963
 13   May 17, 1904.
 14   June 19, 1904.
JAMES J. CORBETT, a “product of the old sand lots,” was born at San Francisco on September 1, 1866, which made him eleven years older than Tad Dorgan or Bert Igoe. He fought John L. Sullivan on September 7, 1892, to become heavyweight boxing champion of the world, and lost to Bob Fitzsimmons on March 17, 1897. About 1886 Tad was a frequent visitor to the Hayes street stables of Pat Corbett, “Gentleman Jim’s” father, where James had set up an improvised gymnasium. Here Tad was a wide-eyed witness to his hero’s daily sparring with the neighborhood kids. He and his closest friends, Bert and Ike, rigged up their own cheap punching bag in the stable. Tad later recalled “I want to be a scientific boxer like Jim Corbett.” His other interest was drawing. He covered the walls of warehouses and livery-stables with portraits of bloodied boxers and their battles. Tad walked with a sandwich board attached to his shoulders to earn money for fight-seats and minstrel shows.
Probably the biggest pugilistic event in Tad’s boyhood was the epic “battle of the barge,” a broiling grudge affair between Corbett and Choynski. The fight had twice been stopped by California police, but was at last fought to a finish on a barge floating in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Tad, barely fourteen years old, was probably the youngest of the spectators. He played hooky from school, rowed out to the barge in the gray dawn and hid under a coil of rope until the fight began at high noon. After twenty-eight rounds of what amounted to bareknuckle fighting, during which Corbett broke his left hand, Choynski took a smashing “left hook on the jaw” and fell to the deck. Many of the spectators were so excited that they toppled off the barge. Among these was young Tommy Dorgan, who was fished out of the water still yelling for Corbett. This battle made such an impression on him that he could describe it thirty years later blow for blow, and he always regarded it as the most dramatic fight he had ever seen. — Henry Morton Robinson, ‘Tad for Short, Cartoonist and Phrase-Maker, a Victim of Circumstance,’ in Century, Autumn 1929
 15   Aug 7, 1904Jack O’Brien & Bob Fitzsimmons in Philadelphia.
 16   June 12, 1904.
GENTLEMAN JIM CORBETT told a crowd at Tad Dorgan’s Memorial at Madison Square Garden in 1929, “You know, Tad was a little cadger when I was a big fellow in San Francisco. When I came east to fight Sullivan, he was among the kids of the neighborhood to be there to wish me well. And he told me that when there was a big parade in Frisco that night to celebrate my victory, he carried a torchlight in the parade. That’s how long I knew him.”
WHEN I was a kid I followed John L. Sullivan and Jim Corbett along the streets of San Francisco, full of admiration and wishing that someday I could lamp a real fight. Later I knew them both — Corbett is my neighbor now — and I spent many years writing about pugs from the ringside seats. Then I used to follow Jimmy Swinnerton along Market street in that same town when Jimmy wore a flat derby and a canary colored overcoat with pearl buttons. I longed to be an artist, and there I was with that nub of a mitt. But I kept on wishing, and 22 years ago Jimmy and I were working side by side in the same art room of a newspaper. — TAD speaking, in ‘What a Guy This Fellow Tad,’ in Syracuse Journal, 1927
The offices of the three local morning papers, the Chronicle (owned by De Young), the Call (owned by Spreckels), and the Examiner (owned by Hearst), were since 1898 located within 100 feet of each other. The Chronicle was situated at the corner of Market and Kearney streets in a 10-story steel-frame building. The Call’s business office was housed in the 16-story high Claus Spreckels building, or Call tower; a 3-story annex to the rear housed its editorial, composing and press rooms in Third Street. Just across Third was the 7-story home to Hearst’s Examiner. Publisher’s statements showed that in 1906 the Examiner led in circulation with 98,000 copies, the conservative Chronicle, 80,000, the Call, 62,000 and the Bulletin 58,000.
 17   March 16, 1904.
TAD REMEMBERED “I broke into the art game in San Francisco, where I was born; always wanted to be Gibson’s only rival and practiced at all times.” Tad Dorgan joined the staff of the San Francisco Bulletin as a “fashion artist and errand boy” doing odd jobs at $3 a week in 1896. He “helped the etcher, blocked cuts, ran copy, etc.,” until he failed an assignment and was fired. He was determined to get his job back and showed up for work every day as though he belonged there. “Worked six months for nothing.” He was finally rehired in 1897 at the same rate of pay — $3 a week, but “finally rolled up income to fifty iron men per week.” Tad recalled that he “stayed there 8 years drawing sporting pictures.” It was while employed on the Bulletin that he gained the nickname “TAD” after his initials.

The big draw on the fight scene at the time was between Gentleman Jim Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons on March 17, 1897, at Carson City, Nevada. The Examiner chartered a railroad car they dubbed the Examiner Lightning Special, loaded with writing desks and drawing boards, and sent fourteen writers and artists ringside. Among the great sporting men on board the special were W.W. Naughton, John L. Sullivan, William Muldoon, Jim Corbett, Homer Davenport and Jimmy Swinnerton.

Charles H. Owens, San Francisco cartoonist, “knew Tad as a kid but hadn’t seen him for years until he showed up at the Bulletin for a job.”

Tall, skinny almost to hat-rack proportions, nervous, he was the greatest gag man newspapers have ever had. I can still see his bulgy nose twitch as he started a cartoon. He didn’t have much faith in himself; in fact, when he first went to New York he confided to several of us that he didn’t think he could cut it. — Charles H. Owens, ‘Ink Slingers,’ in Los Angeles Times, Oct 3, 1937
 18   Aug 10, 1904.
The Bulletin’s sporting editor, Hyland L. (Hy) Baggerly, Fremont Older’s brother-in-law, was known as the first to feature cartoons and large picture layouts on the sports page on the old San Francisco Call. At different times he supervised cartoonists Tad Dorgan, Rube Goldberg, Herb Roth, Robert L. Ripley, and Pete Llanuza.
In the old days he [Baggerly] was known far and wide as sporting editor of the San Francisco Bulletin. Not “sports editor” — perish the term! But sporting editor. Baggerly specialized on fights and baseball. “Sports editor” is one of those newfangled names the boys have dug up for themselves or had wished on them, like “journalist.” And almost equally distasteful. I’ll bet no one could have called Hy Baggerly either a “sports editor” or a “journalist” when he was on the Bulletin and left his office alive. — ‘Gregory’s Sports Gossip,’ in The Morning Oregonian, Nov 4, 1931
 19   Aug 7, 1904.
ONCE Tad was sparring with Terrible Terry McGovern at the Terminal Hotel near Golden Gate Park, unaware that he had been set up as a joke. McGovern knocked Tad out of the ring. The next day the headline over Tad’s regular column read HOW IT FEELS TO BE KNOCKED OUT BY A CHAMPION. Tad’s sporting cartoons and columns caught the fancy of sporting page readers and he became a celebrity, hanger on at “The Tip,” a sporting saloon on Powell and Ellis run by Tim McGrath, boxing manager, trainer, and wit.
“The Tip,” let me explain, was the saloon I used to run at Powell and Ellis streets, in San Francisco. It was the rendezvous of famous sportsmen, celebrities, actors and writers., with “Tad” Dorgan, famous cartoonist: Jack London, David Warfield, Eddie Foy, Bill McGeehan, Harry Cashman, Bob Edgren and scores of others of like note among the patrons. The name “The Tip” was suggested by Jack London. “If you can’t give them a tip on the fight, you can give them a tip on the chin,” was his explanation. Jeff (James J. Jeffries) was always a big card for any saloon. Jeff frequently visited my “Tip,” as did Corbett and John L. Sullivan. — ‘An Old-Timer’s Scrapbook by Tim McGrath,’ in Niagara Falls Gazette, Jan 20, 1930
 20   TAD’s photo switched unnoticed with that of Tom Powers, 1911. Hearst advertising page in syndicated newspapers.
IN EARLY 1904 Tad’s old friend, boxing promoter “Sunshine” Jim Coffroth, told him he knew someone in New York and suggested Tad contact them about a cartoonist job.
I had a letter from a man by the name of Brisbane. He said if I would come to New York he would pay me $75 a week. I showed the letter to the boss’s secretary, a young lady wise in the business. “Forget it,” she said, “the boys are kidding you.” I remember the gang held a heavy conference to decide whether the letter was a cheater or on the level. They came to the conclusion that there wasn’t that much money. I wrote to this Mr. Brisbane to find out what made him think he was one of the Morgans. Back came a note repeating the offer. My getaway broke all speed records in a town where traveling was never anything but the fastest. In New York I went to the address given in the letter and met Mr. Brisbane, a power on the New York American. He offered to sign me for a year at the given figure. If he would only have made it a hundred years I would probably have choked to death in my haste to yell “Let’s Go!” — TAD speaking, in ‘Seven Men Who Draw Funny pictures — And Large Salaries,’ in Literary Digest, Aug 14, 1920
 21   Aug 19, 1904.
 22   May 23, 1906.
TAD LEFT the San Francisco Bulletin for New York on March 31, 1904, to drew cartoons and write sporting columns for Hearst’ New York Evening Journal under editor Arthur Brisbane — and to ‘work side by side in the same art room’ as Jimmy Swinnerton. 

Gene Fowler recalled that “the cocksure Tad Dorgan wanted to go back to San Francisco after his first day in town. Hoodlums chased him across City Hall park, seized his straw hat, and broke it to bits. Mr. Dorgan did not know that after Labor Day a straw hat was fair game for metropolitan roughnecks.”
 23   The San Francisco Call tower at Market and Third, on fire after the earthquake of April 1906. Hearst Examiner building on the left (faked shock postcard).
EARTHQUAKE AND FIRE. Two years later, April 18, 1906, at 5:15 o’clock, the first shock from an earthquake hit the city of San Francisco. C.E. Presson, a railway clerk was on a street car at Sixteenth and Mission streets. He remembered “one great detonating roar, a succession of frightful crashes, and then came the flames, breaking out everywhere.” The panicking passengers got off the car but found it hard walking while the shock lasted. “It seemed to come from east to west, and then from north to south, and there was always a vertical motion (…) the first shock, I should say, lasted about two minutes. When the shock came there was a noise as though a cannon had exploded. This was made by falling walls and houses. We also heard the crashing of glass as it was hurled from the windows to the pavement.”
We started to walk down Mission Street (…) As I walked on women were in the street clad only in their nightclothes and calling for their little ones amidst their tears. Men were rushing through half-fallen buildings and throwing clothing to the women in the streets from the upper windows. It was a terrible sight. — C.E. Presson, railway clerk
 24   Third Street seen from Market Street during the ongoing fire, April 1906. Hearst Examiner building on the left, Call tower and the annex behind it on the right.
 25   Market Street during the fire, seen from the Ferry Building, April 1906.
As Presson walked down Market Street, full of brick and stone debris and conveyances loaded with the dead and injured he noticed “the Call building was twisted slightly. The rear end of the Examiner building, toward the Palace Hotel, had partially fallen in (…) the new portion of the Chronicle building had fallen in (…) but the old portion was still standing.” The Chronicle escaped the earthquake but its interior was destroyed by flames. The Call tower survived, but its 3-story annex, directly behind it in Third Street was gone. The Hearst Examiner building still stood after the earthquake, but was destroyed by fire.
 26   Spectators of San Francisco’s raging fires, April 1906.
AFTER THE FIRE the newspapers published across the bay in Oakland. The Examiner teamed up with the Oakland Tribune, the Chronicle and the Bulletin went to the Oakland Herald, the Call and the News were printed at the Oakland Enquirer’s plant.
 27   Prizefighter James J. Jeffries selling oranges ‘for the benefit of San Francisco sufferers.’
The year following the earthquake Hype Igoe also moved to New York. “I had left San Francisco — in ruins.” From 1907 on he worked on Hearst’s New York American art staff for a few years, then transferred to the New York Sun as a boxing columnist, later to the Tribune, and finally as a member of the World’s sports staff. Eventually Igoe would give up drawing cartoons for full-time employment as a sporting columnist.

 28   San Francisco’s daily life goes on after quake and fire.

 29   Ruins on Market Street.

…Nights when the snow is piled up outside, Corbett and I get together, light a couple of stogies and cry over the old photographs of San Francisco friends and places… — TAD Dorgan, quoted in South of Market Journal, May 1929 

 30   ‘The famous TAD’ in a future ad, Feb 8, 1919.

THANKS to Matthew O’Brien for the opening photograph!

TAD Dorgan and Friends in New York.

Most TAD work shown here is from the Denver Post.

March 2018, Eddie Campbell has a new big book out on Tad, Swinnerton, and other cartoonists: The GOAT GETTERS; Jack Johnson, the FIGHT of the CENTURY, and How a Bunch of Raucous Cartoonists Reinvented Comics — see HERE.