There was a choice bit of base ball gossip recalled by the spring race meeting here during the past week, which, though it is slightly antiquated, is spicy enough to be retold, especially as it concerns a character prominent in turf circles and at present stopping in the city. It was in the days when players would sell a game for a consideration, which, to say the least, would not overweight them when divided. The story-teller is an old base-ball man himself, and in a week from now will be following the fortunes of the turf in some distant city. He didn’t like to be particular because the subject was a tricklish [sic] one and he swore the Post-Dispatch to secrecy as to names before relating the incident. One of the clubs concerned was the old Mutuals and there were two players on the nine, one of whom has already been spoken of as the now racing man. One of these was a catcher and the other was in the field. The two, the story runs, were trying to sell out to the club opposing them in a game in which Bob Ferguson acted as umpire. A man was coming home from third, the ball reached the catcher’s hands in time to make a dead out but the catcher stepped aside and allowed him to come in. Ferguson saw the play and called the man out. The catcher objected in language anything but pleasant to the ear and Bob replied by breaking his arm with a bat. This moved the fielder to utter his sentiments on the question but Ferguson’s reply was “Yes, and you crooked blank blank blank come in here and I’ll break your arm too.” Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch June 12, 1886
This was an actual occurrence, in a game played in New York between the Baltimore and Mutual clubs July 24, 1873. It is remembered as an example of Ferguson’s temper, which was prominent. One Baltimore paper complained about Ferguson’s umpiring being biased in favor of the Mutuals. Usually this sort of complaint is just background noise. So are claims about game-fixing, which did occur but not nearly so often as did accusations of game fixing. This would seem to be a peculiar case of both going on simultaneously, the umpire ruling to offset the intentionally poor play.
But what is of interest here is the use of “blank blank blank” as a journalistic nicety. Dashes in place of unprintable words were common, sometimes with the first and last letter left in place so that we could be sure what was meant. I don’t recall seeing the actual word “blank” used this way this early.