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The slip began. It wasn’t a huge slide, but the Boston Beaneaters (now known as the Atlanta Braves) dropped to third in 1894. They had won the pennant the year before. They ended up 83-49 and eight games behind under Frank Selee as the manager that year. Frank Selee served as manager from 1890 to 1901.

Charlie Bennett

Charlie Bennett

They had been favored to win in 1894. Not in the cards at all though. It ended up being a very tragic season. It started out with a stunning accident to Charlie Bennett. He was a very good catcher.

He lost both legs on January 9th when he fell under the wheels of a train in Kansas. The loss set the tone for a very bad year for the Braves. Bennett returned each year to his home in Detroit for the off-season, and also traveled with his dog to Williamsburg, Kansas, for extended hunting trips. In 1894, Bennett was joined on his annual hunting trip by pitcher John Clarkson. On January 10, 1894, Bennett’s legs were crushed by a Santa Fe Railroad passenger train in Wellsville, Kansas, while traveling from Kansas City to Williamsburg.

Bennett stepped off the train to talk to an old friend who lived in Kansas and whom Bennett had arranged to greet when the train stopped at Wellsville. It was raining, and the platform was wet. When the train started moving, Bennett “swung around to catch the railing,” but his foot slipped, and his left foot went over the rail. Bennett pushed his right leg against the rail to push himself back, but it also slipped and went over the track. The train’s wheels ran over his left foot and right leg at the knee.

That evening, doctors at the North Ottawa Hospital in Ottawa, Kansas, amputated Bennett’s left leg just above the ankle and his right leg just above the knee. In June 1894, he was fitted with artificial limbs, but his baseball career was over. In August 1894, a benefit to raise money for Bennett was held at Boston’s South End Grounds; the event included a baseball game between the Boston team and a team of collegiate players as well as foot races and other attractions. The boxing champion Gentleman Jim Corbett attended and briefly played in left field with the Boston team. The benefit was attended by nearly 9,000 people and raised $6,000 for Bennett. Bennett walked to home plate during the event, aided by crutches and artificial limbs, and bowed to the crowd “until the grounds fairly shook with cheers.”

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