Harold Homer Chase, also known as "Prince Hal," was born in Los Gatos, California on February 13, 1883. I don't know if this particular date happened to be Friday the 13th, or if black cats happened to be prevalent in Los Gatos, but either would provide a solid answer as to the source of Chase's personality.
Chase made his Major League debut with the New York Highlanders (now the Yankees) in 1905, playing in 128 games and batting .249 in his rookie season. While his hitting numbers may not have been outstanding, Chase was an instant sensation defensively. While Chase was still in the minor leagues, the Los Angeles Examiner wrote, "If Chase isn't a great natural ballplayer, then Los Angeles never saw one." Chase went on to hit .323 in 1907, but was involved in a financial dispute with the Highlanders. In 1908, Chase was accused of "laying down," or throwing games. Chase left the team because of the accusation, but returned to play in May of 1909, following a bout with smallpox.
However, 1909 also brought a new manager to the Highlanders. George Stallings replaced Kid Elberfeld, who had gone 27-71 after taking over for Clark Griffith midway through the 1908 season. Stallings helped turn the team around, going 74-77 in 1909 and 78-59 in 1910, but Chase felt the job should have been his. After repeated confrontations between the two, including another incident where Chase supposedly threw a game, Stallings threatened to leave if Chase was not removed. Management sided with Chase, and the first baseman managed the last 14 games of the 1910 season, going 10-4. The Highlanders finished in second place. The club went 76-76 in 1911 and Chase batted .315, his best since 1906, but the Highlanders finished in sixth place, 25 and a half games out of first place. Chase resigned as manager after the season, but stayed on as a player.
Harry Wolverton replaced Chase as manager in 1912, but only lasted one season. Frank Chance was brought in to replace him, and the team name was changed to the Yankees in 1913. Chance became the second manager to accuse Chase of throwing games, and this time management took the allegations seriously and traded Chase to the White Sox, but shortly after the trade, Chase left the American League and jumped to the Buffalo Buffeds of the new Federal League. The new league only lasted 2 seasons, however, and when it folded Chase was sold to the Cincinatti Reds. Chase hit a career high .336 with the Reds in 1916, his first season in the National League. Chase once again thought he would receive a change to manage after Buck Herzog was let go after the 1917 season, but "Prince Hal" was once again passed over, this time in favor of Christy Mathewson. In 1918, Mathewson suspended Chase for the last two months of the season for throwing games.
Chase was given his last chance in 1919, when John McGraw signed him to play for the New York Giants. In New York, Chase found Heinie Zimmerman and Jean Dubuc, among others, were willing to help him fix games. Chase was not given much opportunity, however. National League President John Heydler banned Chase in late 1919. It was later revealed that Chase was in on the fixing of the World Series in the Black Sox scandal, and won $40,000 betting on the series. In 1921 Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis made the ban permanent.
Many baseball historians see Chase as the primary source of corruption within his era, and a few name Chase as being responsible for the birth of the Commissioner's office, which was created to help curb corruption in baseball. Chase was definitely an excellent player: a quote from a June 1913 issue of The Sporting News sums it up nicely. "That he can play first base as it never was and perhaps never will be played is a well known truth," it says. "That he will is a different matter." Walter Johnson, Baseball magazine and Babe Ruth all named Chase as the greatest first baseman of all time. Ruth's choice is perhaps the most curious, as he played either with or against Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and George Sisler. Bill James, in The New Bill James Baseball Abstract, says of Chase: "No other player in baseball history was so richly praised for his defensive skill - no one. His brilliance with the glove is easier to document than Ty Cobb's temper, Hack Wilson's drinking or Walter Johnson's fastball; it is all over the literature of the sport."
Chase was managed by three future Hall of Famers, Clark Griffith (1905-1907), Frank Chance (1913), and Christy Mathewson (1918), but never once played in a World Series. Chase finished his career with a .291 career average, but if I were building a team today, I don't think I'd want him on my roster.