His teammates were still riled over what Bergen had said about them in the interview with Murnane at the farm, and they were even more rankled by the ovations for Bergen, which suggested to them that the crowd had taken Bergen's side. The next day, before the game, the players demanded that Bergen retract what he'd told Murnane, but he refused. Claiming to the press that they had nothing but "the best of feeling for their comrade" and that they were not guilty of "the charges of keeping aloof from him," the players threatened to strike. They were 15 minutes late for the game, and they took the field only after Bergen resorted to the oldest dodge of all, saying that Murnane had "incorrectly quoted" him.
That September, Bergen again went AWOL. He returned unannounced a few days later, showing up at the ballyard in Brooklyn a few minutes before a game and donning his gear without speaking to anyone, not even Selee. Two days later Bergen was lounging with some Boston players outside Brooklyn's Hotel St. George, appearing to be in the best of moods, when two children began needling them. " Boston couldn't beat nuthin'," they said. According to the Boston Evening Record, "Bergen laughingly chased them, and when he caught them sat down on a curbstone, with one child on each knee, making them say, 'Hooray for Boston!' before he would let them go."
Late in the '99 season, with the Bostons trailing the Brooklyns, Bergen read some stinging rebukes of him in the press. The Boston Post, which blamed him for the club's woes, wrote that "Bergen has not a good friend on the team" and patronizingly referred to him as "the boy who will not mind." He had vowed to Murnane that he would never play for another team, but Selee and Soden talked openly of trading him.
Under increasing stress, Bergen felt he was going to pieces. Near the end of the season, while catching against Philadelphia, he experienced a psychotic episode that caused him to give up so many passed balls that Selee removed him from the game. As a pitch reached the plate, the Springfield Republican reported months later, Bergen would leap out of the way, letting the ball go by, because he imagined someone was standing next to him and making a "fierce stab at him with a knife." The next day, Oct. 10, a headline in The Boston Globe read BERGEN MAKES A FARCE OF HIS POSITION.
Bergen began acting wildly, complaining of the circus going on in his head and telling of an urge to run off into the woods. The day after the season ended, his brother William summoned Dionne. The doctor rode out to the farm Martin called Snowball and, according to accounts that appeared months later in The Boston Herald and other publications, found him pacing frantically in front of the house. "What's the matter?" Dionne asked.
"Doctor, my head is spinning," Bergen said. "I have lots of strange ideas."
"What sort of ideas?" Dionne asked.
"I have an idea that someone is trying to injure me," Bergen confided. "I don't know what I'm doing. I played ball all last summer, and people tell me I played fine, but I can't remember hardly any of it. In fact, I don't remember hardly anything about the last game—I played it in a trance—except that when it was all over, a man came up to me and said, 'Martin, you played great,' and he gave me a cigar, but I was afraid to smoke it. It was a big cigar, and it looked to me like poison. I thought this man had been told to...kill me."
Dionne mixed a bromide for him, but Bergen was reluctant to take it when Hattie poured it. The next day, during a second encounter with Dionne, Bergen confessed, "I thought someone in the National League had found out that you were my family physician and had arranged to give me some poison. I did not take it from my wife because I didn't wish hers to be the hand that poisoned me." Bergen had told Murnane that he walked out on teams when he was seized by an "uncontrollable" urge to cut for home. He told Dionne he had left the Bostons in July because he feared that players were trying to kill him, and that on his journey home he walked sideways through the cars so he could see his pursuers coming at him from either way.
In November the doctor visited Snowball farm to attend to the tubercular Hattie. He found her lying on the couch and coughing up blood. Martin was wringing his hands in anguish. "The sight of that blood drives me crazy!" he said.