Great 19th Century Players Bio's
JIM CREIGHTON (1841–1862)
orn on April 15, 1841, Jim Creighton was baseball's first real star and made his pitching debut with the Brooklyn Niagaras at age eighteen in 1859. He would join the Brooklyn Star Club that year and then join the Excelsior Club, in 1860, for "under the table inducements." Although it is difficult to prove, he was probably the first paid player (not Al Reach of the Brooklyn Eckfords and the Philadelphia Athletics as recognized by the Baseball Hall of Fame).
On June 30, 1860, the Excelsior Club boarded a train and embarked on the first great baseball tour. They started in upper New York State and on July 2 defeated the Champion Club of Albany, 24–6. On July 3 the Victory Club of Troy fell to the Excelsiors 13–7. They enjoyed a 50–19 victory against the Buffalo Niagaras on July 5. Wins in Rochester, NY and Newburgh, NY followed and the Excelsiors returned to Brooklyn on July 12 to prepare for the Atlantic Base Ball Club. On July 19, some 10,000 fans turned out to watch pitching ace Jim Creighton win easily 24–4. Afterwards they turned south in response to many invitations and played the Excelsior Club of Baltimore and won 51–6 on July 22. The trip concluded with games in Philadelphia, Maryland and Delaware, with the Excelsiors winning every game.
At the time Creighton pitched, the ball had to be delivered with a stiff-armed underhand motion. Creighton was said to be one of the first to bend the rule. He inaugurated speed pitching by adding an almost undetectable wrist snap and arm bend to his delivery. From 45 feet away he threw his rising "speedballs" and then threw slow pitches he called "dew drops" to further confuse the batter. During this time the pitcher's job was to help the batter and not hinder him. Fielding was to decide the game and some detested his aggressive approach. On November 8, 1860, Creighton would record baseball's first shutout. He was also an excellent hitter, scoring 47 runs in 20 games that same year. During the 1862 season, he was reportedly retired only four times.
On October 18, 1862, playing against the Union Club of Morrisania, NY, Creighton hit a home run. John Chapman, who was on-deck, heard something snap during Creighton's swing. After Jim crossed home plate he assured Chapman that his belt had broken. Four days later the Excelsior star was dead having ruptured his spleen or bladder in the process. He had bled to death of internal injuries. Jim Creighton was 21.
Creighton's approach forever changed the essence of the game from a match between hitters and fielders, to a duel between the pitcher and batter. He has not been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
BOB FERGUSON (1845–1894)
In June 14, 1870 the Brooklyn Atlantics were playing host to the powerful Cincinnati Red Stockings at Capitoline Grounds in Brooklyn, NY. The Red Stockings had not lost a game in two years. They were undefeated with only one tie in 69 games, according to the Baseball Hall of Fame. At the end of nine innings, the Atlantics walked off the field proudly with a 5–5 tie. The crowd of between 9,000 and 20,000, who paid 50 cents to watch, was thrilled to see the Atlantics come from behind to tie the historic game.
The Captain of the Red Stockings, Harry Wright, claimed the game was not over. He said the rules stated that "unless it be mutually agreed upon by the captains of the two nines to consider the game a draw," a tie game must continue into extra innings. Atlantics captain, Bob Ferguson, announced that they were more than happy with a draw.
Wright consulted Henry Chadwick, chairman of the Rules Committee of the newly formed National Association, who was in attendance. Chadwick ruled the game should continue.
In the top of the 11th the Red Stockings pushed across two runs. In the home half of the inning, Cincinnati's pitcher Asa Brainard gave up a single to first baseman Charley Smith and allowed him to move to third on a wild pitch. Joe Start hit a drive to rightfield that went into the crowd. Cal McVey managed to get the ball from the crowd but not before Start ended up on third. With Smith scoring, the Atlantics were down by one. Leftfielder John Chapman grounded out to third but Start was unable to score. Third baseman Bob Ferguson hit a grounder to Charlie Gould at first base. Gould allowed the ball to go through his legs. Start scored the tying run and Ferguson rounded second and headed for third. Gould threw the ball over third baseman Fred Waterman's head and Ferguson scored the winning run.
Each Atlantic was paid $364 for their effort. The mighty Red Stockings continued to play, however, and after succumbing to five more losses the team disbanded six months later. Investors withdrew their support citing poor attendance and rising costs as the main reasons.
Robert Vavasour Ferguson was born on January 31, 1845 and raised in Brooklyn, NY. He was an overall average player. But it was his character and unquestioned honesty during a period when games were often decided by gamblers which made him different. His bad temper, stubbornness and honesty were traits that caused him to be disliked.
He became the first captain, and third baseman, of the New York Mutuals in the first professional league, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, formed in 1871. In the first season the Mutuals would finish fourth. Ferguson who "insisted upon implicit obedience from his men" was forced to leave because of the heavy rumors of gambling surrounding the team. He was also a substitute umpire for the National Association that inaugural season.
The year of 1872 was a busy for Ferguson. He was a convention delegate for the Brooklyn Atlantics, the team he would return to as the player/captain, for the '72 season. During the convention, held in Cleveland, he would be elected president of the National Association. Some ball players felt this was only a figurehead position. Ferguson felt otherwise. He wanted the players to have a representative. He would hold that position until the collapse of the NA, in 1875. He also became a regular umpire for the NA. On September 1, 1872 Ferguson arranged a benefit game for Albert Thake, a 22-year-old left fielder for the Atlantics, who drowned off Fort Hamilton, in New York Harbor, while fishing. The old Brooklyn Atlantics and Members of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings played against each other in the benefit game. The Atlantics ended the season in 6th place; the first of three consecutive 6th place finishes.
In 1873, Ferguson was once again a convention delegate for the Atlantics during the meetings held in Baltimore, MD. He stayed on as a regular umpire for the NA but was involved in an incident during a game on July 24. While umpiring a game between the Baltimore Canaries and Ferguson's former team, the NY Mutuals, he was loudly abused throughout the game by notorious umpire-baiter, Mutuals catcher Nat Hicks. The game was close and the Mutuals produced a three-run rally in the ninth to win 11-10. Ferguson and Hicks got into an altercation at the conclusion of the game. Ferguson hit Hicks with a bat in the left arm and had to have a police escort to get to the clubhouse. Although Hicks ended up with a broken arm in two places and would not play for two months, he refused to press charges and the two reconciled after the game. As a result, Ferguson was only a substitute umpire in the '74 season.
In 1875, Ferguson again became a regular umpire but he left the Atlantics, along with pitcher Tommy Bond, to become the player/captain of the Hartford Dark Blues. This would be his first, and most successful, of three straight winning seasons with the Dark Blues. The team would finish in second place at 54–28, 18½ games behind Harry Wright's powerful Boston Red Stockings. As for the Atlantics, they started the season at 2-11 and finished with a 31-game losing streak and a 12th place finish.
Ferguson became a League Director when the National League was formed in 1876. He was involved in a landmark decision that season. Jim Devlin, a pitcher for the Louisville Grays, wanted to be released from his contract. He claimed that the team had failed to fulfill the terms of his contract. Surrounding Devlin were rumors of "hippodroming." Ferguson, along with fellow League Directors Nicholas Appolonio, Boston President and St. Louis club Secretary Charles Chase ruled in favor of the Gray's VP Charles Chase. Devlin was compelled to remain with the Grays. The following season, Devlin and three other teammates, SS/2B William Craver, OF George Hall and 3B Al Nichols would be suspended for life for throwing games. Devlin would attempt for a number of years to be reinstated, but never was.
In 1878, Al Spalding hired Ferguson to captain the Chicago White Stockings. Spalding openly said he admired Ferguson's style and leadership that made the Hartford teams successful. Ferguson personally had his most successful season as a player. He hit .351, third in the league, led the league in on-base percentage, tied for fourth in RBI and ranked fourth in hits. The supposedly high-powered White Stockings finished at .500. In Spalding's memoirs he called Ferguson "tactless" and hopelessly lacking any knowledge "of the subtle science of handling men by strategy rather than by force." Spalding's harsh words helped end Ferguson's career as a player and manager.
In 1879, Ferguson played in only 30 games and managed the last 29 games for the Troy Trojans. He also resumed umpiring for the National League. From 1880–1882 he managed and played full time for the Trojans but did not umpire. Ferguson played for and managed the Philadelphia Quakers in the National League in 1883, but was replaced by Blondie Purcell with just 17 games remaining.
On August 21, the Quakers traveled to Providence to play the Grays. He needed to increase ticket sales on the road because the American Association entry in Philadelphia had forced the Quakers to reduce prices to 25 cents a game. He gave the ball to Rhode Island native Art Hagen who had several rough outings during a recent road trip. Ferguson hoped Hagen's appearance would draw the locals. The people came in large numbers to watch the hometown hero. Hagen surrendered 28 runs and the Quakers made 20 errors behind him. Philadelphia didn't score and to this day it's still the most lopsided shutout in major league history. Ferguson was labeled a sadist for not relieving him.
Ferguson found work in the American Association in 1884 with the Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He would be the second of five managers for the team that season and he would also play the last 10 games of his career. He returned to umpiring in the National League for the first time in four years, working part-time in '84 and full-time during the '85 season.
In 1886, 17 games into the season, Ferguson took over the managing duties for the New York Metropolitans, in the American Association and finished eighth. He also became an umpire in the A.A. in 1886 and continued until 1889. Ferguson would begin the season managing the Metropolitans in '87 but was replaced 30 games into the season.
Ferguson would never again manage. He turned full-time to umpiring and was a replacement umpire in the first game of the first all-New York World Series in '89 between the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Bridegrooms. He worked for the Players league in 1890 and returned to the A.A. in 1891 and then retired. Ferguson would pass away in Brooklyn on May 5, 1894, at the age of 49.
Ferguson would play in 562 games and manage another 949. He was the only person to umpire in four leagues in the 19th century as well as the only person to be an umpire, player, manager and league official at one time. Unfortunately, he is only remembered for one thing:
Question: Who was the first switch-hitter in professional baseball?
Answer: Bob Ferguson.
Last edited by Baseball Guru; 07-22-2006 at 08:21 PM.
PAUL HINES (1852–1935)
Paul Hines played in 1,659 games in three leagues, from 1872 through 1891, had 2,135 hits, hit over .300 eleven times and posted a career batting average of .302. Despite his successful career, Paul Hines would be all but forgotten today if not for the fact that he was involved in thirteen major league “firsts.”
Hines was born in 1852 in Washington, DC and first played infield for the Washington Nationals of the National Association in 1872. His first season was short lived as the 0–11 Nationals disbanded after a 9–1 loss to the Baltimore Canaries on June 26.
In 1873 Hines played for the reorganized Washington team (who changed their name to the Blue Legs), and hit over .300 for the first time. From 1874 through 1877 he played centerfield, his primary position for the rest of his career, for the Chicago White Stockings. During this time Hines would attain his first “first.” In 1876 the White Stockings would become the first National League Champions.
Hines moved to Rhode Island and played for the Providence Grays from 1878 through 1885. Here he would collect the twelve other “firsts.” His initial year with the Grays, Hines would become the first to record an unassisted triple play. In the third game of the season, after Providence had taken a 3–0 lead in the top of the eighth, the Boston Red Caps got one back in the bottom of the inning and had Ezra Sutton on second and Jack Manning on third with none out. Second baseman Jack Burdock hit a short fly ball over shortstop Tom Carey. From his centerfield position Hines made a running catch and continued toward third and stepped on the bag to put out both Manning and Sutton, who had proceeded home. According to the rules of 1878, if both runners had passed third base when Hines stepped on the bag, they were both immediately out. Hines threw to second baseman Charlie Sweasy who stepped on second to retire Sutton. It has been debated whether this was necessary. Some reports say that both men had passed third and were on their way home and some say that Sutton was on his way back to second. Either way Paul Hines has been given credit for accomplishing the feat.
His third and fourth “firsts” came in 1878, although he would not be given credit for one until 1968, 33 years after his death. At the conclusion of the season Hines along with LF Tom York and RF Dick Higham formed the first all .300-hitting outfield in NL history. As for the other, the NL crowned Milwaukee Grays LF Abner Dalrymple the batting champ for hitting .356. Dalrymple was considered to be the first rookie to win a batting title. But in 1878, hits made in tie games were not counted. So after recalculating the final averages Dalrymple’s .354 came up short to Hines’ .358. Hines also led the league in RBI with 50, and home runs with 4, so in fact, Hines was the first major leaguer to win the Triple Crown.
More investigation helped Hines gain his fifth “first” in 1879. Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide awarded the 1879 batting title to Chicago White Stockings first baseman, Cap Anson with a .407 average. Spalding claimed Anson had compiled 90 hits in 221 at bats. Years later, a subsequent investigation showed that in fact, Anson had only 72 hits in 227 at bats for a .317 average. Hines hit .357 in 1879, the highest average that year and the first major leaguer to lead the National League in batting average for two consecutive years. Also in 1879, the National League introduced, for one season only, the “Reached First Base” statistic. It included times reached via hits, walks and errors, but not hit by pitch because batter did not receive a base after being hit in 1879. Paul Hines, in 85 games, reached first base 193 times to lead the league—his sixth “first.”
In 1882, Hines became the first player to wear sunglasses during a major league game, and on September 25 played in the first true doubleheader in National League history. The Grays split the two games with the Worcester Ruby Legs in the first instance of two games for the price of one.
His final five "firsts" came in 1884. More specifically the 1884 World Series. He was the first National Leaguer to bat in World Series history. During that at bat he became the first batter to be hit by a pitch (the game was played under American Association rules which allowed a batter to receive his base after being hit by a pitched ball). In the third inning he got the first hit in National League World Series history, a single. He scored the first run in World Series play that same inning after a passed ball and two wild pitches by New York Metropolitans’ starter Tim Keefe. Hines’ Providence Grays beat New York three games to none to win the first World Series.
Hines would return to Washington and play for the Nationals of the National League for the 1886 and 1887 seasons and hit over .300 both years. He played for the Indianapolis Hoosiers in 1887 and 1888, hitting .308. In 1890, he patrolled centerfield for the Pittsburgh Infants for 31 games, and then, in the same season, moved to the Boston Beaneaters for 69 games. The 39-year-old Hines finished his career back home with the Washington Nationals of the American Association in 1891.
In 1920, Hines was arrested in Washington, where he worked for the Department of Agriculture Post Office, for pick pocketing. He would die 15 years later still not knowing he was the first major league Triple Crown winner and a two-time batting champ.
CHARLES “OLD HOSS” RADBOURN (1854–1897)
A utcher by trade, Radbourn received his moniker for his incredible endurance and dependability in an era when most teams employed a two-man pitching rotation. As a starting pitcher for the Providence Grays (1881–1885), Boston Beaneaters (1886–1889), Boston Red Stockings (1890) and Cincinnati Reds (1891), Radbourn compiled a 309–195 career record. In 1884 he won the National League's pitching Triple Crown with a 1.38 ERA, 60 wins and 441 strikeouts. His 60 wins in a season is a record which will never be broken.
Once asked if he ever tired of pitching so often, he replied, “Tired out tossing a little five-ounce baseball for two hours? I used to be a butcher. From four in the morning until eight at night I knocked down steers with a 25-pound sledge. Tired from playing 2-hours a day for 10 times the money I used to get for 16 hours a day?”
On July 22, 1884, Providence Grays pitcher Charlie Sweeney, 17-8, misses practice because he is drunk. He starts against the Philadelphia Quakers and, with the Grays ahead, 6-2, in the seventh inning; manager Frank Bancroft brings in Joe "Cyclone" Miller. Sweeney refuses to leave the "box" and is suspended. The Grays play the final two innings with only eight players and lose, 10–6, on eight unearned runs in the ninth inning. Sweeney is kicked off the team and lands in the Union Association with the St. Louis Maroons. Providence is left with only one starting pitcher—Charley “Old Hoss” Radbourn.
The following day, Providence Grays pitcher Radbourn begins what may be the most remarkable feat in baseball history. “Old Hoss” pledges to pitch every game for the rest of the season if the Grays would agree not to reserve him for the following year. He pitches in nine straight games, winning seven, losing one and tying one. He takes a “day off” and plays right field before returning to pitch six more consecutive games. He plays shortstop for a single game and then pitches in 20 more consecutive games, winning 10 before having his 20-game win streak stopped. He would lead the NL in wins with 60, an ERA of 1.38, innings pitches with 678.2, (1.1 innings shy of the record set by Will White, 680, of the Cincinnati Reds in 1879) strikeouts with 441, complete games with 73 and winning percentage with a .833 mark. The Grays would win the pennant by 10½ games over the Boston Beaneaters.
At the close of the season Providence officials accepted New York Metropolitans’ (AA) manager Jim Mutrie's challenge to a three game postseason match. All of the games took place at the Polo Grounds in New York and were played under American Association rules, which forbade overhand pitching. This was no hindrance to Radbourn, who threw side arm.
On October 23, 1884, the Providence Grays (NL) whitewash the New York Metropolitans (AA), 6–0, behind Radbourn, in what is considered to be the first official postseason interleague game. Radbourn would allow two hits and strikeout nine. Tim Keefe is the loser.
The very next day, Radbourn three hits the Metropolitans and wins 3–1 in a game called after seven innings due to darkness. Grays third baseman Jerry Denny hits a three-run homer in the fifth inning. It is the first homerun in World Series history. Tim Keefe loses for the second time.
On October 25, 1884 the Providence Grays defeat the New York Metropolitans, 11–2, in the final game of the series. Radbourn wins for the third time in three days. Buck Becannon takes the loss as Tim Keefe, New York Metropolitans losing pitcher in games 1 and 2, umpired the contest.
Radbourn would pitch all three games, allow only 11 hits, strikeout 16, walk none and not allow an earned run. New York would bat .143 against Radbourn. Providence outscored New York 21-3 in winning all three games.
Despite his ability to sign with the club of his choosing, Radbourn remained with the Grays until 1886, when he joined the Boston Beaneaters. It was during his four-year stint with Boston that Radbourn gained notoriety of another sort. During a Boston/New York team photograph in 1886, he became the first public figure to be photographed extending his middle digit to the camera.
After a mediocre tour of duty with the Beaneaters, Radbourn joined the Boston Red Stockings of the Players' League in 1890, where he would lead the short-lived league in winning percentage (.692). The following year, he spent his last major league season with the Cincinnati Reds.
After retiring to Bloomington, Illinois, Radbourn owned and operated a billiard parlor and saloon. He would lose an eye in a hunting accident when his gun discharged accidentally. Less than six years after he threw his last pitch, Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn died at home of paresis on February 5th, 1897. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.
JOHN CLARKSON (1861–1909)
Although he only pitched for 12 seasons, he complied statistics that would compare to a modern day pitcher with a twenty-three-year career. He won 328 games and lost only 178, finishing his career with a 2.81 Earned Run Average. He would pitch through three distance changes, two pitching delivery changes and two starting position changes. When he retired in 1894 he was the winningest pitcher in National League history.
John Gibson Clarkson debuted May 2, 1882, with the Worchester Ruby Legs. He would return to the National League with the Chicago White Stockings in 1884, and play four seasons for the club. In 1885, his first year as a regular, he would have one of two remarkable seasons. He led the league in wins with 53 (second most in NL history); innings pitched with 623 and strikeouts with 308 and helped the White Stockings to the pennant. Chicago and the St. Louis Browns of the American Association would end the season playing to a 3–3–1 “World Series” tie. On July 27, he pitched the only no-hitter of his career with a 4-0 win over the Providence Grays.
The two teams met again in the season ending 1886 championship series. With the Browns leading 3–2 in the best-of-seven series, Clarkson started his fourth game in six days. He held a 3–0 lead, but in the bottom of the eighth inning the Browns tied the game. Browns centerfielder Curt Welch singled to lead off the bottom of the tenth. It was only the fourth hit off Clarkson that day. Welch moved to third base on an infield hit and was sacrificed to third. Welch along with third base coach Arlie Latham, who was also a player, proceeded to distract Clarkson by heckling him and Welch made feigns as if hew was going to steal home. A Clarkson pitch got away from him and catcher “King” Kelly and Welch raced home with the series-winning run. It would be the only time the American Association would win the championship.
Clarkson was sold to the Boston Beaneaters for $10,000 in 1887. The previous year Boston had paid $10,000 for Chicago batting champion "King" Kelly. In 1889, Clarkson had perhaps the most dominant season by a pitcher in baseball history. He led the league in wins with 49, 11 more than the second place finisher. He pitched 620 innings which was 200 innings more than the runner-up. He completed 68 games, 22 more than the next pitcher and had eight shutouts, 4 more than runner-up. He would also lead the league in strikeouts, earned run average, lowest on-base percentage and winning percentage. He became only the fourth pitcher to win what is now considered the pitcher’s Triple Crown, the leader in wins, ERA and strikeouts. Even with Clarkson’s monumental accomplishments and with Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn as their second pitcher who also won 20 games, the Beaneaters fell one game short of the pennant.
When the National League absorbed four American Association teams in 1891 it was decided that the 1892 season would be a “split” season. The wining team of the first half would meet the winning team of the second half for the championship series. After 16 starts and a 8–6 record with Boston, Clarkson was traded to the Cleveland Spiders and joined a pitching staff that included Cy Young. After finishing fourth in the first half of the season, Cleveland would win the second half and meet Boston in the season ending series. Boston would win the series 5–0–1.
Beginning in 1893, the pitching distance from home was increased for the third time in Clarkson’s career, to 60 feet 6 inches. Perhaps due to the numerous amount of innings he had pitched over the years, Clarkson had problems adjusting Although he did manage to pitch 295 innings and win 16 games that season, his batters-walked to batters-struck-out ratio, and number of hits allowed had increased significantly. In 1894, he would appear in only 22 games.
In twelve seasons Clarkson would pitch 4536.1 innings. He would pitch over 600 innings in a season twice and average 378 innings pitched per year. Of the 518 games he started he managed to finish all except 33 games. He also hit 24 home runs.
Armed with a variety of curveballs delivered from different arm angles and an uncanny ability to locate a hitter's weakness, Clarkson was a finesse pitcher who relied on his wits, rather than a blazing fastball. Tragically, it was his mind that eventually betrayed him. In 1906, while living in retirement in Michigan, Clarkson suffered a breakdown, was declared insane, and spent much of the remainder of his life in mental hospitals. He died in 1909 at the age of 47 from complications stemming from pneumonia.
Arguably, the greatest pitcher of the 19th century, Total Baseball ranks Clarkson as the fourth best pitcher of all time behind Hall of Famers Cy Young, Christy Matthewson and Lefty Grove. His 328 wins rank him 10th in baseball history, an amazing feat when one considers that his career lasted only 12 seasons.
In 1963, fifty-four years after his death in February of 1909, the Veteran’s Committee elected John Clarkson to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Harry Wright 1847-1937
William Henry Wright, better known to the baseball community as "Harry" Wright, today strikes historians as, in the words of Bruce Markusen, an "especially underrated Hall of Famer" [Author's correspondence]. Popularly regarded in his time as "The Father of Professional Baseball," Wright's modern legacy pales in comparison, though many of his innovations characterize the game that we know today.
The time and place of Wright's birth to Samuel, Sr., and Annie Tone Wright (married in 1830) are not certain, but records indicate that the event occurred on January 10, 1835, in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. Mormon records suggest the date of November 8, 1832, in Leeds, England, and his death certificate lists an age that would place his birth at December 13, 1834 [Family records provided by Halsey Miller, Jr.]. But due to supportive census records and the simple fact that Wright failed to contradict the 1835 date during his lifetime, one must presume that it is correct.
Further mysteries surround Wright's early life. The exact date of his emigration to America - New York City, specifically - is also uncertain, though it appears that his father brought his family to the New World in 1836 on the promise of a spot on the St. George's Dragonslayers cricket team. During that year, Wright witnessed the birth of his brother Dan, seemingly unknown to baseball historians because he was the only one of the four Wright sons not to take up the game professionally. He subsequently moved to San Jose, California, sometime between 1861 and 1877 [Henry Chadwick Scrapbooks]. Dan was joined in the family by brothers George (b. January 26, 1847) and Samuel, Jr., or "Sammy" (b. November 25, 1848), and, finally, sister Mary (b. 1858) [Miller records].
Rumors today flourish that George was in fact merely a Hall of Fame half-brother of Harry Wright. This, in fact, is a myth created by the misstatement of George's housekeeper on his 1937 death certificate that he was the son of a woman named Mary Love [Miller records]. The existence of Love cannot be confirmed or denied, but she is certainly not the mother of George Wright.
Harry Wright dropped out of public school at the age of 14, in 1849, to apprentice as a jeweler at Tiffany's and the next year join the Dragonslayers, on which his father was the star and idol of cricket circles and would continue to play for the team until 1869. By 1857, Harry began receiving money for his performance, but while coaching George in cricket on the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey, the next year, he looked over to an adjoining field and witnessed his first game of baseball.
Wright quickly adapted to, and grew to love, the sport. At a rather tall 5'9 3/4" and 157 pounds, the right-hander became a formidable athlete. He and his brother, George, were regarded by the New York Dispatch as "the best exponents of batting as a science in the country" [Chadwick Scrapbooks], and Harry personally as "the finest, safest, best, and least showy player in America" according to the Detroit Post [Chadwick Scrapbooks].
That year he joined the New York Knickerbockers and participated in the heralded Fashion Course Matches that first charged money for admittance. In 1863 he became the first player to (openly) receive money for a game when a "benefit" was held by the Knickerbockers for him, his father, and others. Harry, the only one to actually make money from the benefit, received $29.65.
The Civil War so decimated the Knickerbockers' schedule that Wright decided to join the New York Gothams in 1864. But by the next year he had tired of baseball and decided to start over as a cricketer in Cincinnati, Ohio.
He went west with his wife of four years, Mary Fraser, and their children, four-year-old Charles, young Lucy Louise, and newborn George William, or "Willy". At some point between this move on March 8, 1865, and Wright's remarriage to Caroline Mulford on September 10, 1868, Mary died, though the details are not known. With Carrie he was to have seven children: Hattie (b. March 30, 1869), Stella (b. 1870), Harry II (b. August 4, 1871), Carrie (b. January 27, 1874), Albert (b. December 20, 1874), and William (b. July 13, 1876) [Miller records]. The two sets of children resented each other, and the Fraser/Wright children later lived with Harry's brother, Sammy, as well as with his sister Mary.
While in Cincinnati, Wright quickly reverted to baseball in much the same fashion that he first came to it, by witnessing a game on an adjoining field as he played cricket. After talking with Cincinnati Base Ball Club (CBBC) president Aaron Champion, he started a mass exodus of Union Cricket Club players to the CBBC that took the field together on September 26, 1866. He adapted his bowling techniques from cricket to become an effective pitcher known for his off-speed pitches that differed from most of the hard-throwing pitchers of the day. He would later use this to relieve fireballer Asa Brainard effectively and thus institute the strategy of relief pitching.
The competitive fire of Wright and his fellow club members was sparked by the western visit of the dominant Washington Nationals, for whom his brother, George, played shortstop, and the burgeoning ambition for their own tour. Part of this was due to the fact that the Red Stockings, as the team came to be called, were clearly the dominant club in the west and thus competition was not conducive to profits. Only a traveling, excellent team would be able to accomplish that.
It was decided that the Red Stockings would field an openly all-professional team in 1869, the first of its kind. Originally the team officials intended to sign every player that won an 1868 Clipper Medal, the equivalent, one may say, of a modern All-Star selection, but when that proved unrealistic, Wright was designated as scout and general manager. He selected a team of young players that, even if not individually outstanding, would function well as a team. His emphasis on teamwork later earned him recognition by sportswriter Tim Murnane as the originator of the very concept itself [Chadwick Scrapbooks]. He earned this distinction by the invention and application of such methods as hand signals to all players in the field, calling balls in the air, having one fielder back up another, platooning, and the hit-and-run.
The success of Wright's management was apparent. The Red Stockings dominated at home and abroad throughout the 1869 season. Throughout a tour of the East against the heralded teams of New York, Philadelphia, and elsewhere, the club went undefeated, shocking the sports world. The fame of the Red Stockings became so great that they were asked to take a tour of the western United States as well, specifically California. No such trip had ever been undertaken. But the Cincinnatis swept the competition, enhancing the popularity of baseball in the process.
While most would regard the success of the Red Stockings as being strictly contained in their win total, in fact they scored just as precious a victory in the conduct of their behavior. As the first salaried club, the Cincinnatis precipitated great controversy over the institution of professionalism. Any mingling of money with the game at that point was regarded as a recipe for corruption and the attraction of carousing undesirables, which would spell doom for the game. However, the Red Stockings were perhaps the most disciplined team ever to attract such attention, as demanded by manager, center fielder, and executive Harry Wright.
Wright's reputation as the most ethical gentleman in the game - "There was no figure more creditable to the game than dear old Harry," said The Sporting News [December 12, 1895] - defied the money-grubbing stereotype of what an exponent of professionalism was supposed to be. Instead, he emphasized the necessity of fair play and high ethical standards for the advancement of the game, an admonition that he heeded as well. In one 1868 home game, he reversed the blatantly errant ruling of an umpire seeking to curry the favor of the Cincinnati crowd. Owing largely to this action, the Red Stockings went on to lose the game. In later years Wright himself was entrusted to umpire games within his own league.
The Red Stockings eventually met defeat in a close and controversial game against the Brooklyn Atlantics on June 14, 1870. From there, the club unraveled after losses to other clubs and the desertion of the Cincinnati fan base. The once-adoring press turned sharply on the club, which by the end of the year officially splintered in an ugly public drama.
Wright took the team name and several of its players to Boston in the new National Association (NA), the first professional baseball league. By the end of its run in 1875, it came to be known as "Harry Wright's League" due to his club's domination of the circuit. After a disappointing 1871 season, the club rebounded to capture four consecutive titles, a feat unequaled in the sport for several decades.
The most notable occurrence of Wright's tenure in the league was his 1874 brainchild to tour the British Isles. It was an ill-conceived venture from the start, seemingly more of a personal dream than a wise professional plan, and it resulted in financial disaster. If the ever-frugal and business-minded Wright was willing to accept that, he at least desired to see the game that he championed catch fire in the land of his birth and ancestry (and a noble ancestry it was, at that, consisting of an Earl and a Grand Master in the Knights Templar). Due to an incompetent agent in England and the refusal of the English to replace their beloved game of cricket with this American stepchild called baseball, that hope failed as well. Upon his return, Wright was despondent; "We had an early frost," he wrote a friend. "I feel frosty" [Harry Wright Correspondence, September 15, 1874, to William Cammeyer].
The financial impact on the league was devastating, as it deprived the NA of both the Red Stockings and the Philadelphia Athletics, the two best clubs in the league. In 1876, the league was overthrown by the National League that exists to this day. Wright played a key role in this founding because he realized the hopelessness of the NA and the necessity of establishing a league that consisted of strong western clubs and not just Eastern dominance.
Reminiscent of the beginning of the NA, the Boston club (the "Red Caps" now, in deference to the upstart Cincinnatis) underachieved in the National League's inaugural year and then went on to win two consecutive championships. The clubs were noted for their accomplishments despite a weak lineup, furthering Wright's status as a superior manager. Noted one newspaper in 1886, "It is true Mr. Wright is not infallible, and he is apt to err, just as any other person in his particular profession will blunder, but Mr. Wright will make 49 good ones to every bad one" [Chadwick Scrapbooks].
By 1881, however, the club's fortunes had eroded, and Wright had tired of being unappreciated in Boston. So he moved to nearby Providence to head the Providence Grays. He did reasonably well, most notably for historical purposes, for he instituted the concept of a farm system. With salaries higher than management preferred, Wright thought it would be beneficial to assemble a club of amateurs to play on the Providence grounds while the first nine was on the road; he could use the second nine as a breeding ground for talent that could replace senior members in case of injury or poor play. Though such an institution was not to be popularly adopted for several decades, Sporting Life plainly stated in 1883 that Wright was "the father of the 'reserve club' system" [Sporting Life, December 12, 1883].
In 1884, Wright left Providence to take over the woeful young Philadelphias. He instantly improved the club, but never attained a championship during his ten-year tenure at the head of the club. Management failed to pay players - and Wright, for that matter - any more than was absolutely necessary, and the manager was forced to do his best with the talent available.
One way of improving the talent was his promotion of what we now know as "spring training," then referred to as a "southern trip." Wright first took his club south in 1886 with the idea that such a warm-up would give the Philadelphias an advantage over other teams by starting off with six weeks of play under their belts as opposed to entering the season fresh. The plan worked just as he expected, and other teams began to follow suit so that by 1890 every club went south in the spring.
In late May 1890, Wright was suddenly struck with catarrh of the eyeballs and was rendered blind. It would take until the next March for him to regain his eyesight, but the process in-between was very painful and emotional for him, his family, and the baseball community. When he came back to manage with partial sight late in the 1890 season, he was received with great applause, but privately pitied for his weathered appearance.
To make matters worse, Carrie suffered a nervous breakdown soon after Harry went blind and was unable to leave her bed. After a long illness, Carrie passed away on February 5, 1892, to Harry's tremendous grief. However, by July 1893 he was engaged to be married, and was subsequently wed in January 1894. His bride's name is not known for certain, but it is thought by descendants to have been his first wife's sister, Isabelle Fraser [The Sporting News, 1890-94]. If so, that may explain the intense bitterness harbored towards her by Carrie's children, who considered her a nasty stepmother.
Matters weren't going well with the Philadelphias, either. Throughout his tenure in the city, Wright had always had trouble with the management of Al Reach and especially Colonel John I. Rogers. Rogers micromanaged the club and publicly and privately attacked Wright's disciplinary tactics, despite all evidence against his criticisms. After the 1893 season, the Philadelphias chose not to renew Wright's contract, a move loudly protested by the Philadelphia press and fans.
The National League also regretted this move, and sought to compensate its old friend by creating the token position of Chief of Umpires. It was known that this sinecure would be Wright's for life and would be abolished after his death. In substance, it merely consisted of watching over umpires and evaluating their performances, though this end of the job did not seem to be scrutinized by the league.
Wright died on October 3, 1895, after contracting a serious illness in his lungs. After being diagnosed on September 21, he tried to relieve the problem by inhaling the salty air of Atlantic City, a favorite vacation spot, but he there died the day after an operation [Chadwick Diaries, Volume 23].
"No death among the professional fraternity has occurred which elicited such painful regret," groaned sportswriter Henry Chadwick [Chadwick Scrapbooks]. Perhaps one may not understand today the extent to which his contemporaries revered Wright for his contributions to the game. In fact, the Society for American Baseball Research revealed a 1999 poll of its members that rated Wright as the third greatest contributor to 19th century baseball, behind Chadwick and Albert Spalding. Interestingly, in November 1893 The Sporting News edition noted that Wright's only competitor for such a title was Cap Anson.
"[Harry Wright was] the most widely known, best respected, and most popular of the exponents and representatives of professional baseball, of which he was virtually the founder," Chadwick commented upon his death [Chadwick Scrapbooks]. (This was not merely an exaggeration upon the occasion of his death; an 1886 newspaper also referred to him as "undoubtedly the best known baseball man in the country" [Chadwick Scrapbooks]. Even Rogers, his determined enemy, declared, "It has therefore truly been said, that so identified was he with the progress and popularity of the game its history is virtually his biography" [Chadwick Scrapbooks].
To honor his memory, the National League held a "Harry Wright Day" on May 13, 1896, from which all proceeds were to go towards building a memorial upon Wright's gravesite. Wright himself had tipped his hat to the old league before his death by decreeing in his will that his personal writings be donated to its archives.
Wright was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1953 by the Veterans Committee, much later than his brother (1937), and much longer than many thought that he should have had to wait. His son, Harry II, blamed the new mentality of baseball that preferred sluggers and men of brawn to the scientific batter and the great minds
Candy Cummings 1848-1924
Candy Cummings, at first glance, appears to be one of the least qualified pitchers in the Baseball Hall of Fame. His major league won-lost record is usually listed as 21-22, because most career totals begin with the formation of the National League in 1876. Cummings earned his stardom in amateur play during the late 1860s and in the National Association, precursor to the National League, in the early 1870s. He enjoyed great success, but threw his last major league pitch when he was only 28 years old. However, Cummings, despite his short career, was one of the most influential pitchers in baseball history. He was selected for Cooperstown immortality because he, according to most baseball historians, was the man who invented the curveball.
William Arthur Cummings, called Arthur by his family and friends, was born in Ware, Massachusetts, on October 17, 1848. He was the second child of William and Mary Cummings, who moved to Brooklyn, New York, when Arthur was two years old. The family grew to include 12 children and appears to have been well off, because Arthur's parents sent him to a boarding school in Fulton, New York, in his teenage years.
Cummings was an enthusiastic baseball player, and an outing with some friends in 1863, when he was 14 years old, gave Arthur the idea that changed the course of his life. He and a group of boys amused themselves at a Brooklyn beach one day by throwing clamshells into the ocean. The flat, circular shells could be easily made to curve in the air, and the boys managed to create wide arcs of flight before the shells splashed into the water. "We became interested in the mechanics of it and experimented for an hour or more," recalled Arthur in his later years. "All of a sudden, it came to me that it would be a good joke on the boys if I could make a baseball curve the same way." This seemingly passing thought started Cummings on a quest that took much of his time and energy for the next four years.
Throwing underhanded with his arm perpendicular to the ground, as stipulated by the rules at the time, Arthur practiced diligently and experimented with different grips and releases in an effort to find the secret of the curveball. In so doing, he made himself into an outstanding young pitcher in spite of his physical limitations. He grew to be about five feet and nine inches tall as an adult, but he never weighed more than 120 pounds at any time in his life. Even in that era, nearly a century and a half ago, he was small for an athlete. He also had small hands, usually a severe handicap for a pitcher. Arthur excelled on the mound anyway, perhaps due to the practice he gained from his pursuit of the elusive curveball.
In 1865, after Arthur graduated from the Fulton school, he joined the Star Junior amateur team of Brooklyn and posted an incredible 37-2 record. Later that year he was invited to join the Brooklyn Excelsior Club, one of the best amateur nines in the New York area. He soon became the team's leading pitcher, and was so dominant that people started calling him "Candy," a Civil War-era superlative meaning the best of anything.
In 1867, after four years of frustration, he found success with the curveball for the first time. He discovered that he could make the ball curve in the air when he released it by rolling it off the second finger of his hand, accompanied by a violent twisting of the wrist. Though it appears that Jim Creighton, a New York amateur pitcher, threw a ball with a quick jerk of the wrist in 1861 and 1862, Cummings was the one who combined it with the rolling motion from the fingers to maximize the amount of spin imparted on the ball.
Candy Cummings demonstrated his breakthrough in a game against Harvard College. “I began to watch the flight of the ball through the air and distinctly saw it curve,” wrote Cummings many years later. “A surge of joy flooded over me that I shall never forget. I felt like shouting out that I had made a ball curve. I wanted to tell everybody; it was too good to keep to myself." All day long, Harvard batters flailed helplessly at the new pitch. The secret of the curveball was his, and for several years afterward Cummings was the only pitcher in the nation to claim mastery over the pitch.
The curveball made the 120-pound Cummings the most dominant pitcher in the country. He threw a pitch that none of the batters had ever seen or practiced against, and only when other pitchers learned to throw the curveball would batters learn how to hit it. Any pitcher who sought to copy Candy Cummings would need months, if not years, of steady practice of the type that Cummings had already accumulated. This gave Cummings a gigantic head start upon his competitors and made for an advantage that perhaps no other pitcher has ever enjoyed in the history of the game.
The varsity nine of the Brooklyn Stars signed Candy as their featured pitcher in 1868. The Stars billed themselves as the “championship team of the United States and Canada,” and with Cummings on the mound they were able to make good on that boast for the next four seasons. One source states that from 1869 to 1871, Cummings posted records of 16-6, 17-9, and 17-13 in top-level amateur play, and won many more in exhibitions against other outstanding ballclubs. In 1871, influential baseball writer Henry Chadwick named Candy Cummings the outstanding player in the United States, the closest thing at that time to a Most Valuable Player award.
The National Association began play in 1871 as the nation’s first professional circuit. Cummings remained with the Stars that season, but his skills were in such demand that he was besieged with offers. He signed contracts with three different Association clubs before the 1872 season started, but in mid-February the Association awarded Cummings to the New York Mutuals and made the pitcher a professional for the first time. Cummings pitched every inning for the Mutuals that year, posting a 33-20 record and helping the New York team to a fourth-place finish. He led the Association in games, complete games, and innings pitched. Candy struck out only 14 men all year, but strikeouts were exceedingly rare then, and he led the league in that category as well.
For the next several years Candy Cummings pursued increasingly generous financial offers with different teams in the National Association. In 1873 he signed with Baltimore, where he shared the pitching chores with Asa Brainard. Candy posted a 28-14 record as Baltimore finished a strong third. The 1874 campaign found the 25-year-old veteran in Philadelphia playing for the Pearls, and once again pitching every inning of every game. He posted a 28-26 record with a mediocre ballclub, but made national headlines on June 15, 1874, when he struck out six Chicago White Stockings in a row.
By the 1874 season, other pitchers began to make up ground on Cummings by developing curveballs of their own. Bobby Mathews, Cummings’ successor on the Mutuals, began throwing the pitch after learning it from Cummings. Alphonse Martin of the Troy Haymakers also threw a curve at about this time, though Martin later claimed that he had thrown it in amateur play in 1866, a year before Cummings. The controversy over the origin of the tricky pitch had already begun, with several rivals challenging Candy Cummings’ claim to preeminence in newspaper articles across the nation. Cummings, proud of his discovery, was keenly protective of his status as the inventor of the curveball, and for the rest of his life he zealously defended his claim against all doubters.
In 1875 Cummings landed on his fifth team in five years, the Hartford Dark Blues. The 1875 season was longer than previous campaigns, so the Hartford club divided the pitching load between Cummings and 19-year-old Tommy Bond, who played right field for the first eight weeks of the campaign while learning the curveball from Cummings. Bond mastered the pitch by mid-season, and by July he and Cummings provided an effective one-two punch for the Dark Blues. Hartford finished in second place as Cummings went 35-12 and pitched seven shutouts. Bond posted a 19-16 log and batted .273 as an outfielder.
Hartford joined the new National League in 1876. Cummings, for the first time in six years, stayed with his previous team and returned to the Dark Blues, but at the age of 27 he began to slow down. Tommy Bond pitched so well early in the season that he became Hartford’s main starting pitcher, pushing one of baseball’s most celebrated stars to the sidelines. Candy pitched 24 games in 1876 with a 16-8 record, while Bond went 31-13 in 45 games as Hartford finished third in the new league. On September 9, 1876, in the first scheduled doubleheader in National League history, Cummings pitched two complete-game victories over Cincinnati.
Candy declined to sign a National League contract that winter, instead joining the Live Oaks of Lynn, Massachusetts, in the new International Association. That winter, Cummings attended the convention that created the new player-controlled league, and the other delegates elected him as the first president of the circuit. However, Cummings did not stay long with the Live Oaks. He left the team in late June and signed with the Cincinnati Red Stockings of the National League, though he remained president of the International Association for the balance of the season. In Cincinnati, with a worn-out arm and a weak team behind him, Cummings won only five of the 19 games he pitched.
At the age of 28, Candy Cummings came to the end of the line. Other pitchers had learned to throw the curveball, and by 1877 batters had figured out how to hit it. Cummings, with his slender frame and small hands, no longer threw a curve well enough to fool the batters, and his arm was sore from ten years of top-level amateur and professional play. He pitched briefly in the International Association in 1878, but soon dropped back to the amateur and semipro ranks. Later that year he returned to his hometown of Ware, Massachusetts, where he learned the painting and wallpapering trade. He played ball sporadically until 1884, when he moved to Athol, Massachusetts, and opened his own paint and wallpaper company, which he operated for more than 30 years. He and his wife, the former Mary Augusta Roberts, whom he married in 1870, raised five children.
For the next several decades, Cummings passionately defended his status as the inventor of the curveball. He wrote dozens of articles and letters to editors defending his claim and refuting those, such as former Chicago White Stockings pitcher Fred Goldsmith and others, who claimed authorship of the pitch. His efforts paid off; by the early 1900s, such influential baseball men as Albert G. Spalding, player-turned-writer Tim Murnane, and Sporting News founder Alfred H. Spink had thrown their support to Cummings as the creator of the curve. By 1908, when Cummings wrote an article for Baseball Magazine titled “How I Pitched the First Curve,” his reputation was secure. Today, most baseball historians credit Cummings as the first man to make a ball curve in flight and also as the first to use the pitch successfully under competitive conditions.
Cummings retired from his paint and wallpaper business in the late 1910s, and in 1920 the widowed 72-year-old moved to Toledo, Ohio, to live with his son Arthur. William Arthur Cummings died in Toledo on May 16, 1924, and was buried in the Aspen Grove Cemetery in Ware, Massachusetts. Fifteen years later, on May 2, 1939, a special committee elected Candy Cummings and five other 19th century players to the Hall of Fame.
Bid McPhee 1859-1943
John Alexander "Bid" McPhee, baseball's greatest second baseman of the 19th century, was born on November 1, 1859, in Massena, New York, the fourth among five children of a saddle-maker. When he was seven, his family moved to the Mississippi River town of Keithsburg, Illinois, a small hamlet of 1200 inhabitants. Keithsburg was the birthplace of Parke Wilson, a catcher for the New York Giants from 1893 to 1899. Wilson's father was running a dry goods store in the town, and McPhee was for some time an all-around helper in the store. Both Wilson and McPhee played with a local team called the Ictorias.
The team played all the clubs of the surrounding towns, being a leading feature for the country fairs at that time. The Ictorias won first prize in the district league, which consisted of a nickel-plated bat. McPhee was a catcher then and the youngest player on the Ictorias at just
16. In 1877 he and Elmer Rockwell were signed by Davenport of the Northwest League, and they constituted what was then known as a crack battery, with Rockwell in the pitcher's box and McPhee behind the bat.
At Davenport in 1878, McPhee batted .333 with 65 hits in 39 games. He returned to Davenport the following season, playing second base as well as right field and catcher, but batted only .229 with 19 hits in 20 games.
In 1880, perhaps discouraged by his lack of success in pro ball, McPhee secured a position as a bookkeeper in Davenport. He made more money keeping books than playing ball, and he apparently liked the job.
In the summer of 1881, though, McPhee was induced to go to Akron, Ohio, where he played second base for an independent team of that town. Although no records exist of his play at Akron in either 1880 or 1881, he must have blossomed, because Cincinnati of the American
Association signed him for their inaugural season of 1882. McPhee's teammates at Akron,
Sam Wise and Rudolf Kemmler, were also secured by Cincinnati.
However, as the spring of 1882 approached and the time of reporting to Cincinnati drew near, McPhee, who held the position of bookkeeper in a business house in Akron, became possessed with the idea that he had achieved all the fame he desired in baseball and that he would settle down to be a. businessman. It required considerable persuasion to induce McPhee to give up his books, and it was only after dozens of letters had been written and several trips made to Akron by Cincinnati officials that he decided to continue his career on the diamond.
McPhee was lauded in the Cincinnati newspapers as an "honest man and the best second baseman in the world." However, in his and his team's first game against Pittsburgh on May 2 in Cincinnati, McPhee made a very poor showing. McPhee later referred to his own play as
"rotten" and he provoked hoots and jeers from the Cincinnati fandom, who suffered through a 10-9 loss. In an 1890 interview, McPhee recalled. "What broke me up worse than anything else was a little episode that occurred after the game. I boarded a Clark streetcar as soon as I changed my clothes, and leaned against the rail of the rear platform, which was crowded with baseball enthusiasts going home. In my citizen's attire none of the cranks knew me. They had evidently lost some money on the game and, as I had contributed more than anyone else to the Waterloo, I was the special target for their abuse. 'That stiff they played on second base today made me sick,' said one of the crowd. 'What's his name? McPhee? Yes, that's it. Maybe he didn't work the Cincinnati Club about wanting to keep books! He ought to have staved in Akron. He might be a good bookkeeper, but he is a rotten ballplayer!' And so it went. I dropped off the car without making my identity known, and at that time fully coincided with their views that I could do better at bookkeeping than I could at ball playing."
McPhee recovered quickly from his inauspicious beginning to help Cincinnati win the American Association championship. While he batted only .228, McPhee gave his early detractors a hint of his fielding prowess, leading the league's second basemen in putouts, double plays, and fielding percentage. The Red Stockings' major stars of their pennant-winning season were left-handed third baseman 'Hick" Carpenter (.342), catcher-manager "Pop" Snyder (291) and pitching ace Will White (40-12).
Although his Cincinnati teams would never again finish on top, McPhee went on to establish himself as the class of all nineteenth-century second basemen. McPhee led American Association second basemen in double plays every season the Red Stockings played in that league. In six out of eight seasons, McPhee led in fielding percentage. Playing bare-handed for most of his 18 seasons in Cincinnati, McPhee led American Association (1882-1889) and National League (1890-1899) second baseman in putouts eight times, assists six times, double plays eleven times, total chances per game six times, and fielding percentage nine times. McPhee remains the all-time leader among second basemen in putouts (6,545), and his 529 putouts in 1886 is the single-season major league record. He is also second in total chances (14,241) and fourth in assists (6,905).
As a hitter, McPhee was a consistent leadoff man with surprising power. He led the American Association in home runs with eight in 1886 (seven were inside-the-park homers). The following season, McPhee batted .289 with a league-leading 19 triples. He set a career-high in three-base-hits in 1890 with 22.
In that season, Cincinnati's first in the National League, McPhee had perhaps his greatest day at the plate on June 28th when he hit 3 triples in a game against New York's future Hall of Fame pitcher Amos Rusie (another future Hall of Famer, slugger Jesse Burkett, relieved Rusie midway through the contest, won by the Reds, 12-3).
McPhee stole 568 bases during his career, but that figure is misleading. No stolen base records were kept in the American Association before 1886, and from then until 1898, stolen bases were credited to base runners who went from first to third on a single or advanced an extra base on an out. McPhee was also a prolific run scorer with ten seasons in which he topped 100 runs. For his career, McPhee batted .271 with 2,250 hits.
McPhee's offensive accomplishments aside, it was his bare-handed wizardry at second base that continued to set records and brought him fame. In an 1890 interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, McPhee stated, "No, I never use a glove on either hand in a game. I have never seen the necessity of wearing one; and besides, I cannot hold a thrown ball if there is anything on my hands. The glove business has gone a little too far. It is all wrong to suppose that your hands will get battered out of shape if you don't use them. True, hot-hit balls do sting a little at the opening of the season, but after you get used to it there is no trouble on that score."
Standing 5'8" tall and weighing just 152 pounds, the dapper-looking McPhee, complete with classic handle-bar moustache, was particularly adept at double-steal attempts with men on first and third. His quickness and savvy allowed him to decide whether to nail the man coming to second or return the ball to the catcher for a play on the man coming from third.
Earlier in McPhee's career, "batsmen" were permitted to choose whether they wanted the pitcher to deliver a high or low ball. As a result, McPhee and other infielders found it relatively easy to tell where the ball would be hit. When this practice was ended in 1887, McPhee used his skills and knowledge to determine proper positioning for each batter. Also, because of the efforts of McPhee and two of his outstanding contemporaries, Fred Pfeffer and Fred Dunlap, the position of second baseman evolved in the 1880's from one of playing directly on or near the hag to placing themselves to the left, ranging towards first.
On the field and off McPhee was a gentleman. He was never fined or ejected from a game, and he was always sober and in playing condition. An 1897 ankle injury, the only serious one of his career, kept McPhee out of action for three months. Cincinnati fans and sportswriters staged a special benefit that raised $3,500 for him,
When he opened the 1896 season with an injured finger,. McPhee finally broke down and started to use a fielder's glove. The result was his major league record fielding percentage of .978, not topped until 1925, when Sparky Adams fielded 983.
McPhee retired from active play after the 1899 season. He returned to manage the Reds to a last place finish in 1901. In 1902, the Reds showed some improvement, but McPhee resigned after only 65 games amid rumors that former Baltimore Oriole Joe Kelley was about to take his place. He continued to scout for the Reds until 1909 when he severed all his connections with baseball.
McPhee moved to Ocean Beach, California, a suburb of San Diego, and lived there in quiet retirement, all but forgotten by the baseball world. In the January 28, 1932 edition of The Sporting News, it was mentioned that McPhee was dead. This prompted a letter from Corwin Sage of Los Angeles in which he stated "John A. McPhee is an exceedingly lively corpse. We have been intimate friends for a great many years and exchange letters nearly every week. I wrote to him today (March 1. 1932). He is rot as lively as in the days from '82 to 1900, but still is able to give some of them pointers on how to play second base and might be able to line one to the fence if he was served a cold one... Bid cut out the article from The Sporting News and mailed it to me with the remark that it was not often a man had the pleasure of reading his own obituary. McPhee was one of the finest players and most perfect gentlemen the game has ever known."
McPhee's actual death occurred on January 3, 1943, at his home in Ocean Beach. In March, 2000, 57 years after his passing and a century after his playing career ended, Bid McPhee was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by a vote of the Veterans' Committee. In addition to his considerable accomplishments as a ballplayer, McPhee's Hall of Fame plaque notes his "sober disposition and exemplary sportsmanship."
Thanks for adding bios
Originally Posted by Baseball Guru
Dummy Hoy 1862-1961
If William Ellsworth Hoy were playing today, he would not be called "Dummy"-not by players nor by fans nor by the media. He'd be "Bill" or "Billy," perhaps "Will" or "Willie," maybe even "Ellie." He wouldn't be a deaf mute, either. He'd be "aurally and vocally challenged." But back when Hoy was playing, nicknames were descriptive, often to the point of cruelty. To Hoy, his condition wasn't an excuse; it was what it was. Indeed, he referred to himself as "Dummy" and politely corrected those who, for whatever reason, called him "William."
Hoy would have been an exceptional man with or without his handicap. After his baseball career was over, he used his celebrity status to foster the needs and concerns of the deaf. He had a zest for life and once walked 72 blocks at the age of 80 to see his son, Judge Carson Hoy preside in court. At that advanced age he also danced the Charleston and pruned trees on his farm.
William Ellsworth Hoy was born in Houcktown, Ohio, on May 23, 1862. His parents, Rebecca Hoffman and Jacob Hoy, were of English-German and Scottish stock and had a farm in Houcktown. He had a brother and a sister, John and Ora. Contracting meningitis when he was three years old left William deaf and mute. Hoy attended the Ohio State School for the Deaf, completing grade school and high school in six years. Highly intelligent and hardworking, he was valedictorian of his high school class. In those days many deaf people were either employed or self-employed as shoemakers or shoe repair people. Hoy was no exception and in his early twenties opened his own shoe shop. During the summer in his hometown many of the rural people went barefoot. Business would grind almost to a halt then, and Dummy would play ball outside his shop with the local kids. One day a man passed by and saw Dummy playing. He was impressed but moved on when he found out Dummy was deaf. The man returned the next day, however, and asked Hoy if he would be interested in playing on the Kenton, Ohio, team against its bitter rival Urbana. Hoy accepted the invitation. Billy Hart, the Urbana pitcher, was a professional, but Dummy had no trouble solving him for some base hits. The following day Dummy closed his shop and set out for the Northwest League in search of starting a professional baseball career. Some teams turned him down because of his handicap, but he caught on with Oshkosh in Wisconsin. Hoy was a smart, fast and alert ballplayer who put together arguably the greatest career of any seriously handicapped player.
Hoy began his major league career in 1888 with Washington of the National League. A left-handed batter and right-handed thrower, he played with Buffalo, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Louisville. When Hoy joined the Washington ballclub, he posted a statement on the clubhouse wall: "Being totally deaf as you know and some of my teammates being unacquainted with my play, I think it is timely to bring about an understanding between myself, the left fielder, the shortstop and the second baseman and the right fielder. The main point is to avoid possible collisions with any of these four who surround me when in the field going for a fly ball. Whenever I take a fly ball I always yell I'll take it-the same as I have been doing for many seasons, and of course the other fielders let me take it. Whenever you don't hear me yell, it is understood I am not after the ball, and they govern themselves accordingly." Hoy's yell was actually a squeak. Hoy was with Buffalo in the Players League in 1890, with the St.Louis team of the American Association in 1891, then back with Washington in the National League in 1892 and 1893. He moved on to Cincinnati of the National League in 1894, where he stayed until going to Louisville of the National League in 1898 and 1899. He then played for Chicago of the American League in 1900 and 1901. He spent one more season with Cincinnati in 1902 and finally ended his baseball career with Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League in 1903. Hoy's moving around made him one of 29 players to play in four major leagues.
All told, Hoy played in 1,796 games with an average of .287 that included 2,004 hits, 1,426 runs, 40 homers and 726 runs batted in. Possessing great speed, he is credited with 597 steals. However, it is difficult to compare him to modern-day players because during his time going from first to third or second to home on a single was considered a steal. This rule was in effect from 1886 to the end of the 1897 season. Nevertheless, Hoy's ability to take the extra base shows he was an outstanding runner. A small man standing only 5' 4" inches tall and never weighing more than 150 pounds, he gave all he had in his small stature. Hoy is one of three men to throw out three base runners at home plate in one game. On June 19, 1889, he threw perfect strikes to catcher Connie Mack to throw out runners attempting to score from second base. In 1900 with the White Sox Hoy had 45 assists. He has a career mark of 328 assists.
Tommy Leach, who roomed with Hoy in 1899, said of Hoy: "We got to be good friends. He was a real fine ballplayer. When you played with him in the outfield, the thing was that you never called for a ball. You listened for him and if he made this little squeaky sound, that meant he was going to take it." Leach went on to say, "We hardly ever had to use our fingers to talk, though most of the fellows did learn the sign language, so that when we got confused or something we could straighten it out with our hands."
Some historians credit Hoy with umpires using hand signals for balls and strikes and safe and out calls, but their view is open to question. Bill Deane challenges that claim. Deane said, "We can find no contemporary articles about Hoy, or even any written while he was alive, that claim a connection between Hoy and the umpire's hand signals-much less any claim by Hoy himself." Bill Klem, a showboating umpire who began his umpiring career two years after Hoy retired, is officially credited with inventing hand signals as noted on his Hall of Fame plaque.
Hoy was directly involved in a funny situation when he was with the Washington club. The team was scheduled to play an exhibition game in Paterson, New Jersey, but the travelling secretary forgot to make a special note of it to Hoy. When the team was rounded up for the train trip to Paterson, Dummy was among the missing. A few players went up to his room to see what was the matter. Loud knocking and raised voices, of course, were of no avail. One little guy tried to squeeze inside the transom but couldn't get through. Then the players threw several plugs of tobacco at Hoy, hitting him in the shoulder but also to no avail. A pack of cards went into effect as they sailed all around Hoy. Still no response. Finally, a set of keys was sent through the transom tied to a bed sheet and dragged across Hoy until it caught in his night shirt whereupon he sleepily awoke to find a bunch of playing cards lying all over him. Thinking his mates were playing a trick on him, he quickly grabbed a pitcher of water and flung it at the heads peeping at him from the transom. Apologies and explanations followed, but from then on Hoy was always informed of any changes that were to occur.
A historic moment came about on May 26, 1902, when Luther Haden "Dummy" Taylor, pitching for the Giants, faced Dummy Hoy of the Cincinnati Reds. When Hoy came to bat for the first time, he greeted Taylor by hand signing, "I'm glad to see you!"-and then cracked a single to center. Forty years later the two met in Toledo during the Ohio State Deaf Softball Tournament held on Labor Day Weekend in 1942. They were batterymates (Taylor pitching and Hoy catching). At the time Taylor was 66 and Hoy 80.
On October 26, 1898, Hoy married Anna Maria Lowry, who was also deaf. Anna Maria became a prominent teacher of the deaf in Ohio. They raised three children, Carson, Carmen and Clover. Two others died when small. Carson became a lawyer and a jurist. Carmen and Clover became schoolteachers.
A caring human being, Hoy took on the responsibility of raising his nephew, whose mother had passed away and whose father was in bad health. Hoy did a good job of raising Paul Hoy Helms, who became the founder and sponsor of the Helms Athletic Foundation and Helms Hall, in Los Angeles.
After his retirement from baseball Hoy bought a farm in Mount Healthy, Ohio, where he succeeded as a dairy farmer. He also worked for a time as a personnel director for the Goodyear Tire Company. When all his children had reached adulthood, he sold the farm and made a connection with a book firm and remained there until he was 75. After retiring from business, he continued his involvement in baseball. He received a silver pass from both the American and National League presidents and used it frequently. He never liked to go to opening day games because he felt there was too much of a crowd. He also attended five or six meetings a year of the old timers club. In 1951 Hoy became the first deaf athlete elected into the American Athletic Association of the Deaf Hall of Fame. A baseball field at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, was named for him.
Anna Maria died after several months of illness on September 24, 1951, at age 75.
There has been a push by many people to have Dummy Hoy elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, but all attempts have failed. The 19th century figure picked for the Hall in 1999 was Frank Selee, the manager of the Oshkosh team where Hoy got his start in baseball. In 2000 Bid McPhee was the 19th century player chosen despite the push for Hoy. Hoy supporters asked, "What's McPhee have that Hoy doesn't?" Since 1991, the USA Deaf Sports Federation has been lobbying to get Hoy into the Hall of Fame. The committee has four honorary members including writer Lawrence S. Ritter and Brooks Robinson, former third baseman of the Orioles. Joan Sampson, Hoy's granddaughter living in Cincinnati, said, "I'm sure my grandfather would love to be in Cooperstown. He was very proud of his career." But she felt his chances of entering the Hall were very slim. However, in 1941 Hoy was inducted into the Louisville Colonels Hall of Fame.
In 1961 Hoy at the age of 99, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before game three of the World Series between the Reds and the Yankees in Cincinnati. He died on December 15, 1961. Hoy by living to the age of 99 was a bridge between the old game and the modern one. He was living proof of how the game had changed over the years. Hoy set the record at the time for the oldest living ex-major leaguer. Surviving him were son Carson, daughter Clover Skaggs of Sacramento, seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Two of the grandchildren are Judson Hoy, a Cincinnati lawyer, and Bruce Hoy, a Hollywood and New York entertainer.
Hoy never sought the limelight and did not look for praise. However, in December of 1987, a play called The Signal Season of Dummy Hoy was produced telling of the 1886 season when hand signals were supposedly developed to aid Hoy. The play received mixed reviews.
William Ellsworth Hoy overcame his handicap not only in a successful baseball career but also as an ordinary citizen. He was admired both as a hero and as a solid citizen. Hoy was truly a man for all seasons.
Last edited by Bill Burgess; 08-03-2008 at 11:02 AM.
Dave Orr 1859-1915
Big Dave Orr was truly one of the giants of baseball in his day, not only in stature but with the impressive statistics he accumulated in his short career. Dave was tragically struck down by a paralyzing stroke in the prime of his career and likely lost his place beside fellow American Association stars like Charlie Comiskey and Dan Brouthers in Baseball's Hall of Fame.
David L. Orr was born in the Richmond Hill section of Brooklyn, New York, not far from the current Shea Stadium, home of the NY Mets, on September 29, 1859, to Irish immigrant parents James and Rachel Orr. James was a stonecutter, while Rachel kept the house and raised David and his older brothers James, George and William. All four sons were born in New York City. Dave attended elementary school in New York but it appears he did not attend high school. Orr would only spend one year away from his beloved Brooklyn and that was to play baseball for the Buckeyes of Columbus, Ohio (American Association) in 1889. Dave was married to Emily Ann Orr who passed away in 1906. The couple did not have any children.
At 5'11" and 250 pounds, Dave's size did not hurt his ability to hit for average throughout his career, nor did it seem to hamper his agility playing first base. During his eight-year major league career Orr never hit below .305 and his .965 fielding average over that same period was very respectful. In fact Dave led all American Association first basemen in fielding in 1886 with a .981 fielding percentage. Nonetheless, his massive size was a major factor in his career-ending stroke, suffered at the age of 31.
Dave's first taste of organized baseball came with various clubs in the northeast, including Newark, Hartford and a Brooklyn team called the Alaskas. Orr was both a right-handed batsman and thrower.
In 1883, at the age of 24, Orr was playing for Hartford when he signed with the New York Gothams (Giants) of the National League. Dave made his major league debut on May 17 replacing future Hall of Famer Roger Conner. After only one game, Orr was transferred to the New York Mets of the American Association (John Day owned both the Gothams and the Mets, and often transferred players between the two teams.)
Dave finished the 1883 season as a fill-in player for the Mets, mostly for injured regulars. In only 14 games and 50 at bats, Orr was able to leave a good impression by batting a very respectable .320. Unfortunately Dave's father passed away that year and did not live to see his son make a name for himself in the Majors.
Only three players of the nineteenth century won the equivalent of baseball's Triple Crown: Paul Hines (Providence, National League, 1878), Tip O'Neill (St. Louis, American Association, 1887) and Hugh Duffy (Boston, National League, 1894). In 1884, Dave Orr's first full season in the majors, he came two home runs from winning his own Triple Crown as he led the American Association in batting at .354 and RBI's with 112. His nine homers were two shy of tying John Reilly of Cincinnati for the title.
In addition, Orr finished in the top 10 in several other categories including hits, total bases, extra base hits, slugging percentage, games played, doubles, triples and on base percentage. The 24-year-old also led the Mets to their first pennant, as they paced the American Association by 6 1/2 games over Columbus and earned a trip to the first "official" World Series.
The only blemish for the season for Orr and the Mets was getting drubbed by the powerful Providence Grays in the World Series in three straight games. In fact, none of the games were close and Orr managed only a single hit for the series.
In 1885 Orr followed his sensational rookie season with another big year. Although the Mets finished in seventh place, 33 games behind the St. Louis Browns, Orr ended up second to Pete Browning in the batting race (.342). Orr also managed to lead the circuit in slugging percentage and triples while finishing in the top ten in home runs, total bases and extra base hits. On June 12th Big Dave went six for six at the plate while hitting for the cycle, one of just four players in the ten-year history of the American Association to accomplish the latter feat.
It was obvious that John Day put more emphasis on his National League Gothams than he did on his Metropolitans. Day essentially used the Mets as a farm team for his League squad over the next two years. With the decline in his team's fortunes, Orr was even called on to pitch. Dave pitched in 3 games totaling ten full innings with no decisions, but a 7.20 ERA.
As remarkable as Orr's first two seasons in baseball were, his best year was his third, 1886. Dave repeated as slugging king of the Association with a .527 mark. He also topped the league in hits, a career best 193, set a major league record with 31 triples (still second-most in history, and the most for a right-handed hitter), and became the first player in major league history to total 300 bases in one season. His career-high 63 extra base hits also led the league. Tack on the third best batting average in the league (.338) and the second most homers (7), and it was clear that Orr was one of baseball's premier hitters.
Orr also had a fine year in the field, pacing league first baseman with a .981 fielding percentage and 1445 put outs. Once again, however, Orr's fine performance could not translate into wins as the hapless Mets finished in seventh place, a full 38 games behind the St. Louis Browns.
In 1887, Dave had another fine year, though not up to par with his first three seasons. While belting out a .368 batting average, he also had to deal with some injuries (including one suffered in a collision with teammate Pete Sommers), and he only played in 84 games, his career-low. With the team struggling to stay alive and compete, the Mets called on Orr to manage the team, and he replaced Bob Ferguson in mid-season. Orr managed only 8 games, going 3-5, before giving way to O. P. Caylor. This would be the final act for the woeful Mets, as the team folded at the end of the season after finishing 50 games behind the St. Louis Browns. The franchise was gone after only five years, and Orr was sold off to the new Brooklyn Bridegrooms.
Dave's first year with the new Brooklyn team, 1888, was not a particularly good one for him, although the team was successful. While the Dodgers finished second in the Association, only six-and-a-half games behind the perennial champion Browns, Dave managed to hit only .305, the weakest average of his career. (Balancing that, the Washington Post, in its May 7, 1888 issue, reported, "Dave Orr is said to be the most popular man on the Brooklyn Club.") Once again, Dave played less than 100 games due to injuries, and at the conclusion of the season he was sold to the Columbus Buckeyes.
In Columbus, Orr was named team captain, and his play seemed to be rejuvenated. At the age of 29 Orr had gained respect throughout the league and enjoyed one of his finer years in baseball with the Buckeyes. Orr finished the season in the top 10 in several offensive categories including his fourth place showing in the batting race with his .327 average. He also finished high in hits, RBIs, doubles, triples, total bases, slugging, and extra base hits. While his recent Brooklyn teammates captured the Association pennant, the Buckeyes would finish the 1889 season in sixth place.
Dave had a hand in helping Brooklyn win the 1889 flag, as this story from the January 7, 1906 Washington Post attests: "Perhaps the most historic hit ever made was a swat that Big Dave Orr gave the ball at Columbus, when, with one blow, he knocked St. Louis--the three time champions--out of their fourth pennant and gave Brooklyn the flag. The situation was a fair one to dream about! One ball to decide a pennant. The pitcher heaved up the ball and Orr swung. There was a crack and the ball started toward the city. It crossed the right center fence, still going higher. It crossed the canal, hit just above the second story window of a cottage, bounded and rolled up an alley- and the Comiskey's men yielded the pennant." (The author of this article miscalculated St. Louis's dominance as they had won four straight pennants and were attempting to gather their fifth consecutive flag).
After the 1889 season, Dave joined many of his fellow players in joining the newly formed Players League. The Columbus club was not happy at all with their star captain jumping ship. Ironically, the change moved Orr back to his hometown of Brooklyn where he was named captain of the Brooklyn Wonders managed by John Ward.
The Wonders, often referred to as "Ward's Wonders," finished in second place just six-and-a-half games back of the Boston Reds. Orr was now 30 years old, but showed he was still a fine hitter by posting a career high .371 mark, losing the league crown by two points to Pete Browning. Orr was again among the league leaders in several categories including batting, slugging, hits, RBIs, total bases and extra base hits.
As the season ended, it was clear that Dave Orr still had plenty of good years ahead of him. With the demise of the Players League, after just one season, we can only speculate where Orr's career would have taken him, what accomplishments lie ahead.
Tragically, Big Dave Orr was stricken with a career ending stroke just a few weeks after the 1890 season ended and just days after his 31st birthday. His left side was completely paralyzed. The stroke occurred while he was competing in an exhibition game against a local team in the tiny town of Renova, Pennsylvania.
Just weeks after his stroke, Orr was reportedly telling friends and teammates he would return to the game of baseball after rehab. He never did. Dave's brilliant baseball career was over.
In only seven full seasons, Orr left an indelible mark on the game of his time. He may have been the best player in his league four different times, including his last. He led his team in batting average each of his eight seasons in the majors, and is the best all-time hitter for three different franchises: the Metropolitans, the Buckeyes and the Brooklyn Wonders of the Players League. Dave's .373 batting average in his final season is the second best "swan song" campaign, trailing only Shoeless Joe Jackson's .382 with the 1920 White Sox. Dave's lifetime bating average of .342 is tied with Babe Ruth for 11th
all-time and is the 3rd highest ever for a right-handed hitter.
Life with paralysis would not be easy for Orr. In his passion to stay with the game, he frequently umpired games, including major league contests in Brooklyn. He also did odd jobs, working as a watchman, laborer and stagehand. He worked as a caretaker for the new Ebbets Field (which opened in 1913) in Brooklyn and in 1914 worked at Washington Park for the Brooklyn Tip Tops of the Federal League as a press box attendant and gate guardian.
On June 6th, 1915 Dave died of heart disease at the age of 55, joining his beloved Emily (who had passed away in 1906) at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.
Orr has also been immortalized in Columbus, Ohio, at Cooper Stadium, home of the Triple-A Columbus Clippers, on its Wall of Fame. Even though Dave only played one season with the Columbus Buckeyes, he ranks as one of the best hitters in the five-year history of the Buckeyes Franchise.
Had Dave Orr not encountered his tragic stroke he likely would have played ball for several more years and warranted careful consideration for the Hall of Fame. In David Nemec's classic book on the American Association, The Beer and Whiskey League, the author names Dave Orr as the best first baseman in league history.
Baseball history has many tragic stories of ball players cut down in their primes with career ending stories including Roberto Clemente, Thurman Munson, Addie Joss and Roy Campanella. Dave Orr is also on this list.
Dave Orr is a forgotten baseball hero of the 19th century and it's a tragedy that he along with a few others from that era are not in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown as true pioneers of the game.
Lip Pike 1845-1893
Born May 25, 1845, Lipman Emanuel Pike was the first great Jewish baseball player, playing professionally from 1866 to 1881. While no comparable statistical records exist for his career through 1870, from 1871 through 1881 Pike appeared in 425 National Association and National League games, hitting .321 with a slugging average of .463. Despite being "small by modern standards...(5'8", 158 lbs.),"1 Pike nonetheless was among the premier sluggers of his time.
The son of a haberdasher2, Pike, according to the Big Book of Jewish Baseball,
"...[W]as born in New York City. He was the son of Emanuel and Jane Pike. The Pike family were Jews of Dutch origin. Lip had an older brother, Boaz, two younger brothers, Israel and Jacob, and a sister, Julia. The Pike family moved to Brooklyn when Lipman was very young.
"Boaz was the first of the Pike brothers to play base ball. Just one week after his bar mitzvah, Lip appeared in his first recorded game, along with Boaz. This was an amateur game."3
Playing for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1866, for whom the "long ball was a prominent part of [their] arsenal", Pike "had numerous multi-homer games" on a team that boasted several sluggers "capable of smashing the ball beyond the reach of opposing fielders."4 A description in The Baseball Chronology of the events of July 16, 1866, gives an indication both of Pike's home run prowess and of the nature of the game at the time:
"Lipman Pike of the Athletics of Philadelphia hits six  home runs, five in succession, against the Alert club of Philadelphia. Final score is 67-25."5
Also in 1866, Pike played a major role in the professionalizing of the game as "Philadelphia City Item publisher Fitzgerald...charged the club with paying two or possibly three members of the first nine (reportedly Dockney, McBride and Pike) $20 per week."6 Meanwhile, The Biographical History of Baseball reports:
"Pike was one of the first players to be acknowledged as a professional. While others had certainly been paid before 1866, Pike, along with two teammates on the ostensibly amateur Philadelphia Athletics, was ordered to appear before the judiciary committee of the governing National Association of Base Ball Players to answer charges that he had accepted $20 for his services. Although the matter was dropped when nobody bothered to show up for the hearing, the incident exposed for the first time the wide spread practice of paying supposedly amateur players."7
This was perhaps the first step in legitimizing the practice of play for pay. By 1869 acceptance of this idea allowed all-professional teams to be admitted to the Association. However, the professional teams proved to be so far superior to the amateur teams that matches between them were laughable. This led to the formation of the first all-professional league in 1871. This, in turn, sounded the death knell for organized amateur baseball and its governing body, The National Association of Base Ball Players.
Overall, Pike seems to have had a fine season with the outstanding Philadelphia Athletic club of 1866, appearing in sixteen of twenty-five games for a team that went 23-2. Playing the outfield as well as second and third base, Pike, in the rudimentary statistics of the day, made an average of 2.7 outs per game while scoring 6.4 runs per game.8
At the conclusion of the1866 season, dissatisfaction with non-native professional players became a major issue with the Philadelphia club, leading to Pike's dismissal from the team:
"The two salaried players who had been imported from New York (Dockney and Pike) were jettisoned in favor of Philadelphians. This experiment had never worked the way management had hoped. Whenever the play of the Athletics had been considered suspicious, the two 'foreigners' had been the most suspected. It seemed that, as nonnatives [sic], their loyalty was perpetually in question. With the exception of Reach, all of the 1867 regulars were local boys."9
In 1867, Pike played for the well-respected and powerful Irvingtons of New Jersey, (in 6 of the Irvingtons' 23 games, all at third base) and for the first rate Mutuals of New York (in 21 of the Mutuals' thirty games, in the outfield, first, second, and third base). He appeared exclusively for the New York Mutuals in 1868, hitting a robust .497, with a .661 slugging average for a Mutuals team that went 31-10.10
Pike returned to his native Brooklyn in 1869 where he played for one of the nation's leading teams, the Brooklyn Atlantics. For the first time the National Association of Base Ball Players recognized the professional class of player and team. Overall, against all comers, the Atlantics racked up 40 wins against six losses, with two ties. However, the Atlantics record against teams composed exclusively of professionals fell off to 15 wins, six losses, and one tie. This was Pike's first season as a full time player, as he appeared in all 48 games, hitting .610 with an astonishing slugging average of .883. Without diminishing Pike's performance, the modern reader is reminded that in 1869 the batter called for his pitch, telling the pitcher his preference for either a high or low ball, and foul balls did not count as strikes. In addition, the pitcher tossed the ball up to the batter in an under hand motion without snapping his wrist. In other words, the batter did not have to contend with either blazing fastballs or any sort of curve balls. The game was very similar to today's slow pitch softball.
Pike stayed with the Atlantics through the 1870 season, in which the team went 41-17, with 20 wins and 16 losses against professional teams. Pike again played second base in all of the Atlantic games, averaging 2.48 hits and 4.58 total bases per game.11
When the first system of government for professional baseball teams was organized for the 1871 season, The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, Pike joined the entry from Troy, New York, with the New York Clipper announcing that he "has been elected captain of the Haymakers of Troy..."12 In the nineteenth century the captain was in fact the field manager. He determined who played what position, the batting order, as well as directing play on the diamond, while the manager filled what today would be called the role of the general or business manager.
The season got off to an auspicious start for Pike and his nine, as "[t]he heavily favored Mutuals [we]re soundly defeated by the Haymakers of Troy, in Brooklyn, 25-10. Lipman Pike, the Troy second baseman, collect[ed] six hits."13
Pike's first year in the newly formed professional league was a smashing success. Playing outfield, first base and second base for a Troy team that finished sixth in a nine-team league, Pike tied for the league lead in home runs (with 4 dingers), placed second in slugging average (.654), third in total bases, fourth in RBIs, and sixth in batting average (.377). However, Pike did not fare too well as captain, turning the helm over to second baseman Bill Carver after three losses in four games.
Lip Pike joined the Baltimore team for the 1872 season. Officially, the team name was "The Lord Baltimores" but because of their bright yellow shirts with matching caps and hose, they were popularly known as "The Canaries." The team owners had vigorously recruited outstanding players during the off-season, and their efforts were rewarded with a second place finish (in an eleven team league). Overall, Pike, playing 56 of his team's 58 games, led the league in home runs (with 6), and RBIs, finishing second in total bases, while hitting a respectable .292.
Continuing with Baltimore in 1873, Pike hit a fine .315 while again leading the league in home runs with four. As reported in The Baseball Chronology, Pike also found time for an exhibition of his speed on August 16:
"At Baltimore's Newington Park, Baltimore outfielder Lipman Pike races against a horse named 'Clarence.' Pike has a short lead after 75 yards when the trotter breaks into a run. Pike holds on to win in 10 seconds flat."14
Prior to the 1874 season, "Power hitting Lip Pike, released from his contract with the bankrupt Baltimore organization, signed on as Captain and center fielder" for the Hartford Blue Stockings.15 As the Blue Stockings' "one bona fide star,"16 Pike enjoyed another excellent season, finishing third in hitting at .355, second in on-base percentage and first in slugging (.504).
For the 1875 season, Pike signed on with the St. Louis club, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of many in Hartford:
"Pike, never reticent, offended many in Hartford with his constant boasting of the havoc his new team would wreak on the old."17
In 1876, the National League replaced the National Association as the premier organization for professional teams. Indeed, virtually all the old Association teams, at the urging of the League's principal motive force, William Hulbert, simply registered with the new League, leaving the Association an empty shell. It vanished into history without a trace. Pike remained with the new St. Louis NL squad that finished a very respectable second behind the overpowering Chicago White Stockings. Pike batted a solid .323, finished third in slugging (.472), and fifth in total bases. Batting cleanup, then later moving to the leadoff spot, he led his team in every major offensive category, except runs scored and walks.
Prior to the 1877 season, Pike changed teams yet again, this time signing on as captain with the lackluster Cincinnati Reds. "The new fair-foul rule (for 1877) did not hurt the hitting style of...Pike, a four time home run champion in the 1870s,"18 but despite leading his league in home runs again, hitting .298, and "excel[ling] defensively as a swift center fielder...his heroics were not enough to keep Cincinnati from finishing last in the league for the second consecutive year."19 All that losing seems to have cost Pike the captain's helm, as "Pike resign[ed] as Cincinnati Captain (following a 13-2 loss to St. Louis)" on June 10, and was "succeeded by Bob Addy. Pike continue[d] as the starting center fielder."20
It appears that being a left-handed middle infielder finally caught up with Pike in 1877, as David Nemec reports:
"Pike played the most games on the [Cincinnati] team at both second base and center field. He moved permanently to center field following a game played in Brooklyn on Aug. 18, 1877. The New York Clipper observed, 'Pike is a splendid outfielder and quick in handling the ball on the bases, but his left-handed throwing unfits him from second-base playing.' "21
Despite league-leading home run totals that are miniscule compared to the modern era, Pike's status as a true power hitter should not be dismissed. As stated in Before They Were Cardinals, while "Pike's totals...were ludicrous by today's standards - he won his four (home run) titles by hitting a combined total of eighteen home runs....As the home run became more commonplace, the game's leading sluggers actually hit a smaller percentage of the overall home runs. In Pike's best season, 1872, his league-leading six home runs accounted for 17.1 percent of the thirty-five home runs hit in the National Association that year. Thus, the 1872 season marked one of only twenty-one occasions in baseball history when a league's leading home run hitter accounted for more than 10 percent of all the league's home runs."22 In addition, he finished in the top ten in slugging and in doubles in seven consecutive seasons, in total bases and triples six times, and OPS five times. All this was accomplished in a career spanning just eight relatively full professional seasons.
Perhaps his most famous feat of power probably occurred in this season of 1877, as the Sporting Life of May 27, 1883, reflecting on the demolition of Brooklyn's Union Grounds, spoke of "the pagoda from which rises the rod once bent by a ball struck from the home plate by 'Lip' Pike."23 How far from home plate was the rod atop the pagoda? The precise dimensions of the Union Grounds were lost forever when it was razed on May 28, 1883. However, the late Larry Zuckerman (a SABR member whose specialty was reconstructing the dimensions of the ball grounds of yesteryear) provided the following information:
"Union Grounds was between Harrison and Marcy Avenues (sort of east and west) and Rutledge and Lynch Streets (sort of north and south). The field featured a horseshoe shaped grandstand, facing west from Harrison. There was a board fence about 10 feet high surrounding the park, parallel to the streets and about 10 feet inboard of the sidewalks. Assuming a midline location of home plate, the foul lines would have been about 310 feet with dead center about 470 feet..............The pagoda seems to be in right center, more or less on a line drawn from home plate to the Marcy-Rutledge corner. I would put it at about 360 feet from home plate, perhaps more distant..."24
Imagine a batted ball crashing into a metal rod about forty feet above the ground level, and 360 feet away from home plate, with sufficient force to bend the rod!!!
"In 1877 Pike hit the ball over the ladies stand - I have no idea what that means or where it was - but the ball was still in play and he beat it out for an inside the park home run. The paper said it was the longest home run at the park since the introduction of the dead ball, suggesting that it was not as long as some of the 1876 shots..."25
Pike re-signed with the Cincinnati nine for the 1878 season. The infamous reserve rule was not enacted until 1879, and the players were free agents once their contract expired at season's end. An account in the May 21, 1878 Redleg Journal gives further evidence of Pike's enormous power:
"Lip Pike's long drive highlights a 13-2 win at Lakefront Park in Chicago. Pike's blast not only cleared the fence, but a freight shed and a half dozen railroad cars. Pike only earned a double on this hit, however, because of the ground rules of the ball park. Built on a narrow lot between Michigan Avenue and the railroad yards, Lakefront Park had foul line of less than 200 feet. Balls hit over the fence were considered doubles. Pike's hit was of such force, however, that the Enquirer felt obliged to estimate the distance: 200 yards! No doubt Pike's drive was a mighty wallop, but 600 feet strains credulity."26
The left field line at Lake Front Park was 180 feet, while the right field line measured 196 feet. Straight away center field was about 300 feet. There were two poles located along the outfield fence - one in left center and the other in right center. The ground rule provided that any fly ball clearing the fence between these two poles was an "automatic" home run. Any other over-the-fence fly balls were merely doubles. Pike must have pulled his ball rather sharply down the right field line.
Cincinnati's acquisition of "Buttercup" Dickerson spelled the end of Pike's tenure there, as related by David Nemec:
"After playing 31 games and hitting .324 in the lead-off position, Lip Pike was released by the Cincinnati team. This is due to Louis 'Buttercup' Dickerson joining the team, even though Pike went 2-for-6 in his last game vs. the Providence Gray's on July 9th. Dickerson batted .309 in 29 games for the Reds. Lip was signed by the Providence team and debuted with them on July 31st. He played second base and batted third. On August 8th, he went 0-for-7, made three errors and was released the next day. Pike was replaced by Charlie Sweasy at second base. Sweasy hit only .175 in 55 games and committed 54 errors so it is difficult to understand how he improved the team."27
But Pike got some measure of revenge, as The Baseball Chronology reports the events of July 31, 1878:
"Lip Pike, released by Cincinnati, goes 4 for 5 with 3 RBIs for Providence, as the Greys beat his old team 9-3."28
Pike slipped down to the minor leagues in 1879 and played for teams in Springfield and Albany. Captain and center fielder for the Springfield club, he appeared in a total of 53 games and hit .356.
Beginning the 1880 season with Albany, Pike showed he still had home run power, as evidenced by this report in The Baseball Chronology regarding the game of May 21, 1880:
"In Albany's Riverside Park, Lip Pike hits a ball over the wall and into the river. Right fielder Lon Knight begins to go after the ball in a boat but gives up. Few parks have ground rules about giving the batter an automatic home run on a hit over the fence."29
According to David Nemec:
"Pike played for the Albany team until it disbanded in July. He then played for the Unions of Brooklyn in a three-team tournament held at the Union Grounds on August 18th, featuring the Washington and Rochester teams. Pike also played for the New York Metropolitan team. He appeared in a total of 12 games and batted .241.30
"Pike opened the  season playing second base for his old Atlantic team in a minor league and working in the mercantile business. However, in late August he was called up by the National League Worchester Ruby Legs when Arthur Irwin was disabled. He joined Worchester on August 27th, played center field and batted second. In six games he went 3-for-25, a mere .120 batting average."31
Pike's miserable play for the Worchester club led to controversy, as noted in The Baseball Chronology's account of events as the season of 1881 drew to a close:
"Center fielder Lip Pike makes 3 errors in the 9th inning to give Boston 2 runs and a 3-2 victory over Worchester. The losing club immediately accuses Pike of throwing the game and suspends him."32
"At a National League meeting in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., the league adopts a blacklist of players who are barred from playing for or against any NL team until they are removed by the unanimous vote of the league clubs. These men are: Sadie Houck, Lip Pike, Lou Dickerson, Mike Dorgan, Bill Crowley, John Fox, Lew Brown, Emil Gross, and Ed Caskins."33
His baseball career essentially over, Pike "became a haberdasher in Brooklyn...Lip's haberdashery became a successful business and a meeting place for local base ball enthusiasts. After the expiration of his year's ban, Lip decided to continue with his business enterprise."34
While his professional career was over, Pike continued an interest in the game, "playing center field for an amateur club on Long Island."35
Finally, as reported by David Nemec, Pike made one final attempt to play at the major league level. It came on July 28, 1887:
"At the age of 42 Pike played center field and batted 6th for the New York Metropolitans, an American Association team. He was supposed to pitch, but switched to the outfield at the last moment. The papers reported that his fielding was good, but 'at the bat he was quite weak.' "36
Pike "died of heart disease on October 10, 1893 in Brooklyn, at the age of forty eight. His funeral was a notable event, attended by much of the Jewish and base ball communities of Brooklyn. The services were conducted by Rabbi Geismer of Temple Israel and, according to the Brooklyn Eagle, he 'paid fitting tribute to the exemplary life led by the deceased.' "37
In subsequent issues, the Sporting News published a series of tributes to Pike, indicating his stature as one of the greats of his time:
"Pike was the center fielder of the Atlantics of Brooklyn in the latter's palmiest days and as an all-round batsman, fielder and base runner he had few if any superiors. He was a left-handed batsman and in his day could hit the ball as hard as any man in the business. He was a right field hitter and during his career had sent balls over the right field fence of nearly every park in which he had played in."38
"Pike...was one of the few sons of Israel who ever drifted to the business of ball playing. He was a handsome fellow when he was here, and the way he used to hit that ball was responsible for many a scene of enthusiasm at the old avenue grounds...The roster of ball players who once wore the red and who have been called out by Umpire Death is not very large, but in the passing away of 'Lip' Pike one of the greatest sluggers who ever batted for Cincinnati has joined the file in eternity."39
"The death of 'Lip' Pike removes another of the veterans of the seventies from the ranks of the men who played as stars when most of the present favorites were babies. I remember Pike's ball playing best through a hit which I saw him make at Cincinnati...He hit the first ball pitched and none who saw that ball sail out over the right fielder's head will ever forget it. It went not only over the right field fence, but continued to sail until it cleared the brick kiln beyond and dropped into the high weeds bordering on Mill Creek. I am impressed with the belief that if the distance could be measured that hit of Pike's would go on record as the longest fly ball ever made. The last time I saw Pike - which was during the New York's last series of Championship games at Eastern Park - we rode together in the elevated train from the ball ground, and he recalled that famous home run with a great deal of pride. Some one of the players on that day had made a home run, and 'Lip' could not refrain from comparing it with the greatest incident in his professional career.
"...Those who knew Pike appreciated him most. He was one of the few ball players of those days who were always gentlemanly on and off the field, a specie which is becoming rarer as the game grows older. Such men as Pike, Barnes, Spalding, Reach, Jim White, George Wright, and Morill, creditable to the game professionally and personally, are becoming scarcer every year."40
Several honors came to Lipman Pike in the years following his death. The publisher of Philadelphia's prestigious Sporting Life, Francis Richter, constructed hypothetical All-Star teams in 1911. Richter selected Pike as one of his three outfielders for the 1870-1880 time period.
The Base Ball Writers of America held the inaugural election for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1936. Despite the fact that Pike had been dead for more than forty three years and his playing career had ended years before most, if not all, of the electors were born, he still received one vote. So to some small extent his achievement as baseball's first notable slugger was recognized.
Finally, the Big Book of Jewish Baseball reports that Lipman Pike was elected to the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Netanya, Israel, in 1985.41
CHARLIE FERGUSON (1863–1888)
Charlie Ferguson was the Philadelphia Phillies’ first star pitcher but his untimely death in 1888, allowed Ferguson only four National League seasons. Born on April 1, 1863, Charlie Ferguson made his debut on May 1, 1884, for the then Philadelphia Quakers. He would win 99 games in his career, never winning less than 21 games in any season. Ferguson would strikeout two and one half batters for every one that he walked, and finished with a career earned run average of 2.67. He twice pitched over 400 innings in a season, including his rookie season and would average 378½ innings per year.
On August 29, 1885, he pitched the first no-hitter in Phillies history with a 1–0 win over the Providence Grays. In 1886, the year before many major pitching rule changes were instituted, he had his finest season. Ferguson won 30 games and lost only nine. His ERA of 1.98 was second best in the National League and the Phillies won 15 more games than the previous season.
In Ferguson's final season the Phillies would finish in second place, 3.5 games behind the eventual “World Series” winners, the Detroit Wolverines. His 22 wins in 1887, were not the only reason for the teams's great finish. Philadelphia's manager, the legendary player and strategist Harry Wright, saw the hitting potential of Ferguson. Towards the end of the season, Wright decided that Ferguson was too good a hitter to play only when he pitched. Wright decided that Ferguson would play second base for the final eight weeks of the season, replacing two players who hit a combined .214.
Philadelphia would win 16 and tie another in their final 17 games to move ahead of the Chicago White Stockings into second place. Playing every day allowed Ferguson to drive in a team-leading 85 runs in only 264 at bats, or one RBI for every 3.1 at-bats. He would hit .337, which also led the team and was fourth best in the National League.
During spring training in 1888, Charlie Ferguson contracted typhoid fever. He died on April 29. Charlie Ferguson was 25 years old.
Cap Anson (1852-1922)
Adrian Constantine "Cap" Anson (April 11, 1852, Marshalltown, Iowa - April 14, 1922, Chicago, Illinois) was a professional baseball player in the National Association and Major League Baseball for the Rockford Forest Citys, Philadelphia Athletics, and Chicago White Stockings.
Anson spent a year at the University of Notre Dame before he started playing professionally in 1871 in the National Association. His best years in the NA were 1872 and 1873, when he finished in the top 5 in batting, OBP (leading the league in 1872), and OPS both years. He fell off a little after that, but was still good enough that he was sought by White Stockings Secretary-turned-President William Hulbert as he strove to improve his club for the 1876 season. Hulbert broke league rules by negotiating with Anson and several other stars while the 1875 season was still in progress, ultimately founding the new National League to forstall any disciplinary action. Anson, who had married a Philadelphia native in the meantime, had second thoughts about going west, but Hulbert held Anson to his contract and he eventually warmed to the Windy City.
The White Stockings won the first league title, but fell off the pace the following two seasons. During this time, Anson was a solid hitter, but not quite a superstar. Both his fortunes and those of his team would change after Anson was named captain-manager of the club in 1879. With Anson pacing the way, the White Stockings won five pennants between 1880 and 1886. They were helped to the titles using new managerial tactics, including the rotation of two star pitchers. After the expression first became popular, in the 1890s, he retroactively claimed to used some of the first "hit and run" plays, and, especially aided by clever base runner Mike Kelly in the first half of the 1880s, had his players run the bases in a way that forced the opposition into making errors. In a modern sense of going South right before a season, he shares credit as an innovator of spring training along with then-Chicago President Albert Spalding. An aggressive captain and manager, he regularly helped players play better, and his contributions helped make baseball a higher-quality sport, while at the same time making it more popular with fans. On the field, Anson was the team's best hitter and run producer. In the 1880s, he won two batting titles (1881, 1888) and finished second four times (1880, 1882, 1886-87). During the same period, he led the league in RBIs an incredible seven times (1880-82, 1884-86, 1888). His best season was in 1881, when he led the league in batting (.399), OBP (.442), OPS (.952), hits (137), total bases (175), and RBIs (82). He also became the first player to hit three consecutive home runs, five homers in two games, and four doubles in a game, as well as being the first to perform two unassisted double plays in a game. He is one of only a few players to score six runs in a game, a feat he accomplished on August 24, 1886.
Unfortunately, Anson was well known to be a racist. While baseball would have become segregated without him, his regular refusal to play in exhibition games versus dark-skinned players helped to usher in segregation. Despite this, Anson remained very popular in Chicago while playing for the White Stockings, which were increasingly known as the Colts starting with an influx of new players in the mid-1880s. Anson signed a ten year contract in 1888 to manage the White Stockings (which, because of a typographical error he failed to spot, ended after the 1897 season instead of the 1898 one), but his best years were behind him. He led the league in walks in 1890 and garnered his eighth and final RBI crown in 1891, but declined precipitously thereafter. On the managerial front, he failed to win another pennant. He also mellowed enough that his nicknames became "Uncle" and "Grandpa." When he was fired as manager after the 1897 season, it also marked the end of his 27-year playing career. The following season, the Colts were called the Orphans to reflect Anson's departure.
There is much controversy as to whether he became the first player ever to make 3,000 hits in a major league career; for many years, recognized statistics credited him with precisely that total. Researchers in the 1990s argued that he was incorrectly credited with extra hits in 1887, when bases on balls were counted as hits. Eliminating the 60 walks Anson received that year would drop his hit total to 2,995 according to statistics officially recognized by Major League Baseball. However, if one counts his 423 earlier hits in the NA, the major leagues' predecessor (which Major League Baseball does), he is well over the mark. He was, by any standard, the first player to make 3,000 hits in his professional career. Major League Baseball recognizes him as seventh all time in hits.
Anson briefly made a return to baseball managing the New York Giants in June and July of 1898, but fully retired afterward. He was later named president of a new American Association, but he scuttled the venture at the first sign of trouble, leaving him a laughingstock. He was later elected city clerk of Chicago in 1905, and failed in the Democratic primary to become sheriff in 1907. After going bankrupt, he toured in vaudeville and as late as 1920 had delusions of becoming commissioner of baseball. Anson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939, one of the first 19th-century players selected. Over 100 years after his retirement, he still holds several Cubs franchise records, including most career hits and runs. In addition, the White Sox owe their name to the team he made famous, the White Stockings of the 19th century and Anson, in part motivated by his dislike for the current management of the Chicago National League club, played an unorthodox role in helping Charles Comiskey place the White Sox in Chicago for the 1900 season.
Cap Anson died in 1922 and was interred in the Oak Woods Cemetery, Chicago.
Other great source for reading: http://bioproj.sabr.org/bioproj.cfm?...d=1257&pid=305
Ross Barnes (1850-1915)
Roscoe Conkling Barnes (May 8, 1850 in Mount Morris, New York – February 5, 1915 in Chicago, Illinois) was one of the stars of baseball's National Association (1871-1875) and the early National League (1876-1881, playing second base and shortstop. He played for the dominant Boston Red Stockings teams of the early 1870s, along with Albert Spalding, Cal McVey, George Wright, Harry Wright, Jim O'Rourke, and Deacon White. Despite playing for these star-studded teams, many claim that Ross was the most valuable to his teams.
From 1868 to 1870, Ross starred for the Rockford Forest Citys, along with Albert Spalding, attaining professional status in the second year. When the National Association was formed in 1871, Harry Wright signed both men to his new team in Boston. Barnes' major league career thus started when he was only 21. He split time between second base and shortstop for the Boston Red Stockings of the new National Association. Barnes led the league with 66 runs scored and 91 total bases, finishing second in batting average at .401.
In 1872 he led the Association with a .432 batting average, a .585 slugging percentage, 99 base hits, 134 total bases, and 28 doubles. The Red Stockings began a four-year dominance of the Association, with Barnes a key player each year.
Barnes again led the Association in 1873, hitting .425, as well as leading in on base percentage (.456),slugging percentage (.584), base hits (137), runs scored (125), total bases (188), doubles (29), bases on balls (28), and stolen bases (13).
His .340 BA in 1874 was only good enough for eighth in the league, while his .364 was good for second in 1875, while leading again in runs scored (115), base hits (143) and on base percentage (.375).
Before the 1875 season ended, Barnes and four other Boston players signed contracts with the Chicago White Stockings. When word leaked out in Boston before the end of the season, Barnes and his teammates were reviled by Boston fans, being called "seceders", a strong epithet just a decade after the Civil War. It was likely that the National Association would void the signing, but Chicago owner William Hulbert preempted the move by forming the National League, and causing the NA to disband.
Barnes' new team finished first in the NL's first season with a 55-12 record, while Boston fell to fourth. Ross led the National League batting (.429), on base percentage (.462), slugging (.562), runs (126), hits (138), bases (190), doubles (21), triples (14), and walks (20). In the 1876 season, Barnes also established the single-season record for runs per game (1.91), a mark which still stands.
For those first six years of major league play, Barnes had hit .397. However, 1876 was to be his last dominant season.
In 1877, he fell ill with what was then only described as an "ague" (fever), played only 22 games, and did not play well when he was in the lineup. The illness robbed Barnes of much of his strength and agility, and shortened his career. While many baseball histories originally blamed the change in rules that outlawed the "fair-foul" hit, of which Barnes was an acknowledged master, his illness has become a more widely accepted explanation for his loss of productivity.
The remainder of his career was an effort to return to glory ending in mediocrity. He played for the Tecumseh team in the International Association (arguably baseball's first minor league) in 1878, returned to the National League with the Cincinnati club in 1879, sat out all of 1880, and finished his professional career in 1881, playing his last season in Boston, site of his former glory. After 1876, he never hit better than .272, and his other totals were barely half of those from his glory days. He retired at age 31. He finished his career with 859 hits, 698 runs, and a .359 average, in only 499 games played and 2392 at bats. His 1.4 runs per game played remains the best of all time.
Barnes has been rated as the best player of the National Association, and during his peak, from 1871 to 1876, he was a dominant offensive force. His skill at the fair-foul bunt caused rule changes, and his defensive abilities were highly regarded. A teammate of multiple members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, he was the most valuable batter. He also has the distinction of having hit the first home run in National League history, on May 2, 1876.
A lifelong bachelor, Barnes held a variety of white-collar jobs in the Chicago area after his baseball career ended until his death from heart disease in 1915.
Dan Brouthers (1858-1932)
Dennis Joseph Brouthers (May 8, 1858 - August 2, 1932) was a pre-1900 era Major League Baseball player. He was nicknamed "Big Dan". His surname was pronounced with a long "o" and a hard "th", the way one would say "smoothers" if such a word existed.
Brouthers' career began in 1879 and didn't finish until 1904 (with a gap between 1896 and 1904), a span of four decades. From the last weeks of the 1886 season to the first month of the 1890 season, Brouthers had more career home runs than any other player. He was the third Major Leaguer to reach 100 or more career homers (after Harry Stovey and Roger Connor).
Major League Baseball claims his career batting average was .349. Other sources such as baseball-reference.com indicate his career mark was .342. This disparity results from a league rule in effect in 1886 and 1887, which counted walks as hits. Some sources reflect the statistics as originally recorded, while others change them retroactively.
After retiring from the Major Leagues, Brouthers played minor league baseball for Poughkeepsie of the Hudson River League. He hit a league-leading .373 at age 46.
Brouthers was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1945.
Dan Brouthers is interred in Saint Mary's Cemetery in Wappingers Falls, New York.
Bob Caruthers (1864-1911)
Robert Lee Caruthers (January 5, 1864 - August 5, 1911), nicknamed "Parisian Bob," was an American right-handed pitcher and right fielder in Major League Baseball who played primarily for the St. Louis Browns and Brooklyn Bridegrooms. The star pitcher on five league champions in a ten-year career, he was the top pitcher in the American Association, leading that league in wins and shutouts twice each, winning percentage three times, and earned run average once. His 175 wins in the Association were the second most of any pitcher, and his league ERA of 2.62 was the lowest of any pitcher with at least 2000 innings in the league; he was also the only pitcher to have 40-win seasons for two different Association teams. His career winning percentage was the highest of any pitcher prior to 1950 with at least 250 decisions; some sources recognize him as having compiled the highest winning percentage of any pitcher with at least 200 decisions (and retired as of 2006) in major league history.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Caruthers debuted with a 4-hitter for the Browns in late 1884, and the following year led the team to its first pennant. He led the league in wins (40), ERA (2.07), shutouts (6) and winning percentage (.755) in 1885, and was 30-14 for the 1886 champions after a lengthy contract dispute which he conducted from Paris, earning him his nickname. In 1886 he also played right field when not pitching, batting .334 to place him among the league's top five hitters, and leading the league in on base percentage. On August 16 of that year, he became the fourth pitcher to hit two home runs in a game, while also getting a double and a triple; after the last he was thrown out at the plate, ending the game, in trying for a third home run. In 1887, despite battling malaria, he again led the league in winning percentage with a 29-9 record as the Browns won their third consecutive title; he also batted .357 with 73 runs batted in, while finishing second in the league in slugging average for the second consecutive year.
After the team's 1887 postseason loss, during which the team was criticized for its recreational activities, his contract was sold to Brooklyn by team owner Chris von der Ahe, who largely blamed Caruthers, an expert billiards and poker player, for the failure. He posted a record of 29-15 in 1888, though his batting average dropped to .230; in 1889 he egain led the league in wins (40), shutouts (7) and winning percentage (.784) as the team captured its first title, but rarely played in the field when not pitching. Brooklyn changed leagues following the 1889 season, joining the National League. Caruthers' 175 wins during six Association seasons would stand as the second-best total in the league's ten-year existence, behind Tony Mullane's 203 wins in seven seasons; Caruthers' league ERA of 2.62 was the best of any pitcher with at least 2000 innings, and put him behind only Ed Morris and Will White among those with 1500 innings.
In 1890, Caruthers posted a record of 23-11 as Brooklyn won the NL title in their first season in the league; he also saw considerable playing time in left field and batted .265. In 1891 his record slipped to 18-14, and he played only occasionally in right field though he hit .281. In 1892 he returned to the Browns, who had joined the NL that season in a league merger; it marked his last season as a pitcher as he earned only two victories, though he played regularly in right field, hitting .277 with 69 RBI. He also managed the team for the final third of the season, compiling a 16-32 record. In 1893 the pitching distance was increased from 50 feet to 60 feet 6 inches, and after playing one game in center field with the Chicago Colts, he ended his major league career with several games in right field for the Cincinnati Reds. He continued to play in the minor leagues until 1898, and later became an American League umpire in 1902 and 1903. During his career he threw 298 career complete games among his 310 starts, including 24 shutouts, and had a career ERA of 2.83 in 2828 2/3 innings pitched. He also batted .282 lifetime with 29 home runs and 259 RBI. He was the only 19th-century pitcher to lead the league in winning percentage three times.
Caruthers is often considered one of the most deserving candidates for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Many sources recognize him as having compiled 218 wins and 99 losses, making his .688 winning percentage 5th all-time behind Pedro Martínez, Whitey Ford, Dave Foutz (his teammate for eight seasons) and Tim Hudson among pitchers with at least 200 major league decisions. However, that is based on a total of 10 losses in the 1892 season (his last as a pitcher), a total revised from the contemporary record; the official league records for that year, which are recognized by Major League Baseball, charged him with only 8 losses, a figure which some other sources also recognize. The reduction of two losses would increase his career winning percentage to .691, which would place him behind only Martínez (through the 2005 season).
Caruthers died in Peoria, Illinois at age 47.
Sam Crawford (1880-1968)
Samuel Earl Crawford (April 18, 1880 – June 15, 1968), nicknamed "Wahoo Sam", was an American right fielder in Major League Baseball who primarily played for the Detroit Tigers. He batted and threw left-handed, standing 6'0" tall and weighing 190 pounds. His nickname comes from his birthplace, Wahoo, Nebraska.
Crawford played 19 big league seasons, starting his career in 1899 with the Cincinnati Reds, before jumping to the newly founded American League's Detroit Tigers in 1903, where he finished out his career.
Crawford twice led the major leagues in home runs, hitting 16 in 1901 and 7 in 1908. He still maintains the major league record for the most inside-the-park home runs in a season with 12 in 1901, and the most in a career with 51.
Crawford also holds the career major league record for triples with 309, a record unlikely to be beaten given the difference in the style of baseball played in the modern era compared to that of the dead-ball era of Crawford. When he retired, he had a career batting average of .309. Crawford fell just short of the magical 3000 hit club, compiling 2961. There has been debate about whether Wahoo Sam deserves inclusion in the 3,000 hit club. Crawford maintained that the 87 hits he got in the Western League, which became the American League in 1900, were supposed to be included in his official total under the 1903 agreement between the two leagues.
He played twelve years in the same outfield with Ty Cobb, accompanying him to the 1907, 1908, and 1909 World Series, falling to Honus Wagner's Pittsburgh Pirates in 1909 in seven games.
In retirement, he became somewhat reclusive, staying away from official baseball functions. In 1962, he was interviewed by Lawrence Ritter for his book The Glory of Their Times, a series of interviews with the players of the early 20th Century. Crawford's tales of Tiger teammates such as Cobb, Cincinnati teammates like deaf player William "Dummy" Hoy, and opponents such as Wagner helped to make the book one of the most admired ever written about baseball.
He was selected by the Veteran's Committee to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1957. He was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1968. On his passing in 1968, Sam Crawford was interred in the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California. In 1999, he ranked Number 84 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.
Hugh Duffy (1866-1954)
Hugh Duffy (November 26, 1866 - October 19, 1954) was a 19th century Major League Baseball player.
Duffy entered the National League with the Chicago White Stockings in 1888 and shortly thereafter earned the reputation of an outstanding outfielder and powerful hitter. He switched leagues, joining the American Association's Boston Reds in 1891; he then returned to the NL with the Boston Beaneaters in 1892, where he enjoyed his best seasons. Playing in Boston from 1891 until 1900, Duffy knocked in 100 runs or more 8 times. In 1894 Duffy had one of the greatest seasons in baseball history, leading the league with 18 home runs, with 145 RBI and a .440 batting average (see Triple crown). Duffy's .440 average is the Major League single season batting average record. He worked throughout his career with some of the all-time better outfielders including Tommy McCarthy as half of the "Heavenly Twins", Chick Stahl as well as hall-of-famer Billy Hamilton.
Duffy finished his career in 1906 with 106 home runs which was, at the time, one of the highest career totals ever. However, in 1906, Hugh Duffy only got to play once.
Duffy was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945.
Buck Ewing (1859-1906)
William Buckingham "Buck" Ewing (October 17, 1859 - October 20, 1906) was a 19th century Major League Baseball player and manager, and is widely regarded as the best catcher of his era and is often argued to be the best player of the 19th century. He was born in Hoagland, Ohio. Ewing joined the National League in 1880 as a member of the Troy Trojans, but rose to stardom in 1883 as a member of the New York Gothams, later known as the Giants. That year he became the first player in major league history to hit 10 home runs in a season (a feat he would never repeat), while batting .303. Playing in an era when triples were more common than home runs due to the spacious parks and poor quality of the balls used, he led the league in 1884 with 20 triples, and was often among the league leaders.
Playing until 1897 with the Giants, Cleveland Spiders and Cincinnati Reds, Ewing posted consistently superb offensive numbers. Arguably his best season was in 1893 with the Spiders when he batted .344 with 6 home runs, 122 RBI, 47 stolen bases and 117 runs.
In 1890, when a player revolt led to the formation of the short-lived Players League, Ewing led the New York franchise as both star player and manager. Lingering resentment in the wake of the league's establishment and demise has often been suspected as a reason for his limited play in 1891 and subsequent move to Cleveland following the 1892 season. Ewing finished his career with a .303 lifetime batting average, 71 home runs, 883 RBI, 1129 runs, 250 doubles and 178 triples - totals made more impressive by the fact he was playing annual seasons only 100-130 games long.
In addition to playing, Ewing managed for seven seasons: the 1890 (Players League) Giants, the 1895-1899 Cincinnati Reds and half of the season with the 1900 Giants. He compiled a 489-395 record for a .553 winning percentage.
Ewing died of diabetes at age 47 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was elected to membership in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939, the year of the Hall's opening; he was the first catcher, and (with Cap Anson) the first 19th-century player, to be selected.
Pete Browning 1861-1905
A genuine pre-modern national star, one of the major league game's pioneers, and one of the sport's most enduring and intriguing figures, Louis Rogers "Pete" Browning was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on June 17, 1861, at 13th and Jefferson on the city's west side.
A lifelong resident of Louisville, Pete Browning was the youngest of eight children born to Kentucky natives Samuel Browning (1814-1874) and Mary Jane Sheppard Browning (1826-1911). They were married in Jefferson County, of which Louisville is the county seat, the day after Valentine's Day in 1849. The family numbered, in addition to Pete, three sons and four daughters: Charles L., Henry D., Samuel L. Jr., Blanche N., Fannie E., Florence and Ida May.
In October of 1874, when Browning was 13, his father died at age 59 from injuries sustained during a cyclone. A prosperous merchant, Browning's father had for years run a grocery store at the corner of 15th and Jefferson Streets in Louisville, not too far from the family's residence. Browning's mother, with whom the confirmed bachelor lived all his life, lasted substantially longer. She died April 6, 1911, at age 84 of old age at her home, 1427 West Jefferson Street, on the near west side of the city, having lived there for more than a half-century.
A skilled marbles player and name figure skater, Browning was a talented baseball player from the start. He made his first imprint on July 28, 1877, when he pitched a 4-0 win over the National League Louisville Grays. The young righthander's strikeout victims that day included slugging outfielder George Hall and ace pitcher Jimmy Devlin -- both participants in that season's National League pennant-fixing scandal, which eventually cost the city its major-league team and resulted in the lifetime ban of five Louisville players
Browning's reputation progressively increased during the next four years, spent principally with the city's nationally known semipro club, the Louisville Eclipse.
Louisville went major league again in 1882, this time as a charter member of the fledgling American Association, the National league's first great rival. His skills honed to a fine edge, Browning ran away with the American Association's inaugural batting race, posting a .378 average. Thirty-six points better than that of his nearest rival, Cincinnati's Hick Carpenter, it was also the best average in the majors, topping Dan Brouthers' National League top mark by ten points.
During the course of 13 major league seasons, from 1882 through 1894, the bulk of that with Louisville in first the American Association and later the National League, Browning compiled a .341 lifetime batting average. Tied for eighth place on the all-time list with Cooperstown enshrinees Wee Willie Keeler and Bill Terry, the .341 mark ranks today as the fourth-best among the game's right-handed batsmen. Only Hall of Famers Rogers Hornsby (.358), Ed Delahanty (.346) and Harry Heilmann (.342) have ever done better work from that side of the plate.
The work included one .400 season, and a trio of batting titles in two separate leagues. The latter makes Browning one of three 19th-century players to have won batting titles in two different leagues. Ross Barnes and Dan Brouthers are the others.
An instant major league star, Browning had a virulent drinking problem which didn't take much longer to reach major league proportions itself, making its public bow in an August 13, 1882, contest against the Athletics. Despite the Louisville Courier-Journal's story the following day over Browning's drunken state, the team did not release its star, nor did it tighten the reins at all on him. Regardless of Browning's heavy drinking, the club wasn't going to release its homegrown, sensational rookie star who was on his way to a batting title and who had brought major-league baseball back to Louisville with a flourish.
Deaf and illiterate, the six-foot, 180-pound Browning was eccentric as well. He refused to slide; played defense standing on one leg to prevent anyone running into him; stared into the sun to improve his "lamps" (eyes); treasured his "active" bats because of the hits they still contained; was constantly on the prowl for the next, new "magical" stick with hits in it; reportedly favored bats that were 37 inches in length and 48 ounces in weight; maintained a warehouse of "retired" bats in his home -- all of them named, many after Biblical figures; kept his batting statistics on his shirt cuffs; and when traveling over the circuit, frequently alighted from trains and introduced himself as the champion batter of the American Association.
Unlike many major-leaguers, Browning cut a swath through the sophomore jinx in 1883, batting .338 and finishing second to Pittsburgh' s Ed Swartwood for league honors.
On May 12 the following season, while the team was on the road, Browning underwent major surgery for the first time for mastoiditis, an inflammation of the mastoid process. Located behind the ears and connected to the temporal bones that run along both sides of the head, the mastoid process are two honeycomb-like areas that occasionally aid the ear by acting as a surplus receiving area for violent sound vibrations that the ear cannot handle by itself, such as a sudden, nearby explosion.
For nearly his entire life, Browning was plagued by mastoidal problems. The impact of this malady is significant. It robbed Browning of his hearing. Because he could not hear, he refused to go to school out of frustration and embarrassment; the lack of schooling made him a virtual illiterate. The resulting sense of isolation, coupled with the savage physical discomfort attendant to the condition, fueled his uncontrollable drinking. It also prompted his commitment to an insane asylum, and was a major factor in his early death --both the product of a brain infection. In short, the mastoiditis was responsible for all his personal and professional problems.
However, the results of the 1884 surgery were unmistakable. Freed from mastoidal pain for the time being, Browning was highly productive that season, finishing third in the league with a .336 average.
Far and away, however, Browning's 1884 season is best-remembered for the famed Louisville Slugger bat incident. In the spring of that year, so the story goes, John Andrew "Bud" Hillerich custom-made a bat for Browning, who was in a slump. "The Gladiator" then went out and got three hits the next day, and, as they say, the rest is history. The incident forged modern batmaking, birthing two American icons -- the Louisville Slugger bat and its equally renowned manufacturer, Hillerich & Bradsby.
In recent years, this story has come under inspection because no reference to it exists in either Browning's obituaries or in that season's baseball coverage. There are several other versions, also suspect, involving Gus Weyhing and Arlie Latham. Unquestionably, however, Browning is the namesake of the Louisville Slugger bat, and that is more than enough to sustain the longstanding historical link between the two. (At least three years before the name "Louisville Slugger" was registered as a trademark, Browning was referred to as the "Louisville Slugger" in the sub-headline of a June 17, 1891, Louisville Post article.)
Switched permanently to the outfield in 1885, Browning improved his 1884 average by 26 points, notching his second American Association batting title with a .362 mark.
In 1886, Browning narrowly lost the American Association batting title to Guy Hecker, the only pitcher ever to win a batting crown. Also the only pitcher ever to win a batting title and a pitching Triple Crown, Hecker held off Browning .341 to .340 (.3411078 to .3404710) as the race went down to the final day of the season. Hecker's work also included a 26-23 mound slate.
Browning's 1886 season also included hitting for the cycle for the first time against the New York Metropolitans on August 8, and being the victim of an unassisted pickoff play by Dave Foutz. Today, it remains the only documented case of a hurler picking off a runner unassisted without the benefit of a rundown.
There have been some two dozen legitimate .400 campaigns in baseball history, and Browning had one of them in 1887, hitting a career-best .402. It produced only a runner-up finish, however, as St. Louis' Tip O'Neill hit .435. In 1888, Browning came up with a .313 average. The one-season drop in average was a direct consequence of baseball restoring the three-strikes-and-out rule, plus rescinding its one-season experiment (1887) in which walks were counted as hits.
Spiraling downward, Browning batted a career-low .259 in 1889. His average was a reflection of the doomed season as the Louisvilles finished in the cellar with a 27-111 record and a .196 winning percentage, 661/2 games back of the league champion Brooklyn Bridegrooms.
Along the way, they posted a streak of 26 consecutive losses, still the all-time major-league record; suffered the humiliating takeover of the team by the league, which was followed by the sale of the club; endured arbitrary fines and pay dockings by capricious owner Mordecai Davidson; survived a close call with the lethal Johnstown, Pa., flood; and engaged in a brief players' strike, the first ever in major-league history, the participants including Browning.
Six players took part in the strike over Davidson's refusal to forgive what the Louisville Courier-Journal called "heavy fines" he had imposed on two teammates. "Three amateur players were called into requisition," the newspaper reported, to make up for the strikers. Louisville, without the six players withholding their labor, lost 4-2 on the road to Baltimore in a rain-shortened five-inning game, the 20th loss in the skein; the scheduled nightcap was washed out.
Oddly enough, Browning picked up his second career cycle game on June 7, during the middle of the losing streak. However, his season ended abruptly on August 11 when he was suspended the remainder of the campaign (a career-high two months) for drunkenness.
Jumping to the Cleveland Infants of the new Players League in 1890, Browning took the only batting title of that circuit with a .3732 average that just barely nipped Davey Orr's .3728 work. But the season wasn't just all hitting.
As a major-leaguer, Browning gained the nickname of "The Gladiator" for his ongoing battles with the fourth estate and his pathological alcoholism, best phrased by another memorable quote: "I can't hit the ball until I hit the bottle!"
The moniker also was a reference to his battles with fly balls. However, recent research indicates that Browning's fielding deficiencies, at the very least, deserve re-examination for several reasons: the crude equipment of the times, the typical fielding averages of his era, and the fact that Browning played three up-the-middle positions on the defensive spectrum: shortstop, second base and center field.
Moreover, the newspapers of his day published numerous accounts of his defensive prowess, those accounts running the entire length of his active major-league career. One of the best examples is an item that ran in the June 6, 1890, issue of the Cleveland Plain Dealer: "The one act of the afternoon which stands out like a wart on a man's nose was a catch by Col. Browning (an embellishment; he was never in the military) in the fifth inning. Mr. [Hugh] Duffy, a distinguished townsman with whom it is a genuine pleasure to deal, tripped to the bat with his teeth set so hard that his jaw bones stuck out like handles on an Etruscan vase. He reached for the first ball which Mr. [Jersey] Bakely was good enough to land over the rubber.
"The sound that followed was the same as when the slats fall down in an old-fashioned bed. The ball mounted towards the town of Jefferson until it was lost to sight. It came into view again in a few moments in the extreme left field, and then it was observed that Mr. Browning was only a few rods away.
"He rattled his lengthy legs towards his heart's desire as long as possible, and then jumped in a northwesterly direction, turning four times in the air and stretching one arm for the ball in a manner of a boy after his second piece of pie.
"He got it.
"Then applause went up from the grandstand like an insane man experimenting with a French horn. Pete had to doff his cap a dozen times."
The 1891 season marked Browning's third different league in as many seasons, and his first in the National League. Splitting the season between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds, Browning batted .317 overall. The work included bunting into a triple play in early May. His season ended prematurely in early September after Kid Gleason hit him.
(For the record, this hit-by-pitch incident is indirectly related to one of three longstanding and persistent historical or statistical errors about Browning. All have been recently corrected by documentation, and here is how the record should read. Browning was first hit by a pitch early in his career, in July of 1883, not in May of 1890 as reported by at least one newspaper. Secondly, Browning's correct number of cycle games was two, not three -- the current major-league record. Finally, Browning did not die in an insane asylum.)
By 1892, major-league baseball found itself with only one league, the Players League having folded after the 1890 campaign and the American Association closing shop following the 1891 season. Back in his home city, Browning hit .247 in 21 games for Louisville before being released in mid-May. Once again, he caught on quickly with Cincinnati, batting .303 for them in 81 games and ending the season at .292.
The next year, Browning signed a contract with Louisville in late May and delivered on both sides of the diamond, playing sterling defense and batting .355 in just 57 games. Inexplicably, however, he was released in early August and played no more that year.
Browning's major-league career came to a close on Sunday, September 30, 1894, in the finale of a closing-day doubleheader in his native Louisville. Playing right field for Brooklyn, The Gladiator singled twice in two official at-bats, walked once and scored once.
Officially, the final stop came in 1896 when Browning played his last recorded season of organized baseball at any level, batting .333 in 26 games with Columbus of the Western League.
The late 1890s found Browning working as a cigar salesman. He had owned a bar at 13th and Market Streets in Louisville, but that venture failed. Later, Browning turned to caring for his mother, and during baseball season, Browning was seen frequently at local baseball games. As in previous years, Browning was always well-received by the attendant crowds.
Browning's comfortable retirement came to an abrupt end, however. On June 7, 1905, Browning was produced in the criminal division of Jefferson County Circuit Court, where he was declared a lunatic and ordered to the Fourth Kentucky Lunatic Asylum at nearby Lakeland.
After some improvement, Browning was removed from Lakeland by one of his sisters on June 21, 1905. A month later, he was admitted to old City Hospital (later renamed General Hospital and now called University Hospital), where he underwent surgery for ear trouble and a tumor of the breast. Following several stints in and out of the hospital, Browning died there on Sunday afternoon, September 10, 1905, at 2:15. Survivors included his mother; two sisters, Florence and Fannie; and two brothers, Henry and Charles (the father of famed film director Tod Browning, a protégé of the legendary D.W. Griffith).
Though the official cause of death was asthenia (a general weakening of the body), Browning's medical problems no doubt included brain damage sustained by both the crudely treated mastoid condition and his longstanding defense against that malady - heavy drinking; cirrhosis of the liver, a product of his lifelong alcoholism; cancer; and most likely paresis, the third and final stage of syphilis.
Incurable even today, paresis is characterized by a total mental breakdown and is fully consistent with the times and Browning's profession; his unstable mental condition toward the end of his life; and his personal habits, which included a longstanding fondness for prostitutes (newspapers on occasion referred to him thusly: "Pietro Gladiator Redlight Distillery Browning").
Funeral services were held the following afternoon, September 12, at 2:30 at the home of Browning's mother. From there, Browning was taken to Cave Hill Cemetery, the final resting place for many of Louisville's major league ballplayers, as well numerous nationally prominent local and state figures.
His pallbearers included John Dyler, his first manager, and former teammate John Reccius, the latter a childhood friend and member of a noted Louisville baseball family that also included brothers Philip and William.
On September 10, 1984, as part of the centennial anniversary of the Hillerich & Bradsby Company, the company joined with the city of Louisville to honor Browning with a new grave marker that correctly spelled his name and fully detailed his lifetime baseball achievements.
A perennial candidate for Cooperstown via the Veterans Committee, Pete Browning made his most recent appearance on that committee's 2003 Hall of Fame preliminary ballot.
Cupid Childs 1867-1912
Cupid Childs was one of the best hitting major league second basemen during the late nineteenth century, not to mention a better-than-average fielder who possessed great range on the diamond. Only four other second basemen in the history of major league baseball have averaged more total chances per game than Childs. His all-around outstanding play made him an integral part of the great Cleveland Spiders teams of the 1890s.
A natural middle infielder, Childs threw right-handed and batted left-handed. He played shortstop during his early years in the minors but eventually settled in at the keystone position for the remainder of his career. Childs, who seldom struck out, was a great contact hitter with an excellent batting eye. In his prime, he batted anywhere from first to fourth in the batting order. His best years in the majors produced batting averages of .345, .317, .326, .353, .355 and .338. Childs' lifetime major league on-base percentage of .417 is higher than every second baseman in the Hall of Fame except Rogers Hornsby and Eddie Collins. His .306 lifetime batting average is higher than nine of the second basemen who have already been inducted into the Hall. Childs scored over one hundred runs in a season seven times and reached double figures in triples five years in a row. However, for some reason the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee continually overlooks this talented multi-tooled player when it comes time to vote in new inductees. It seems that for now, Cupid's arrow has missed its mark in Cooperstown.
Clarence Lemuel "Cupid" Childs was born to Singleton and Caroline Childs near Sunderlandville in Calvert County, Maryland, on August 8, 1867. Singleton Childs was a planter and farmer. According to the 1860 census, the Childs' farm was valued at one thousand dollars. The 1870 census notes that Singleton and Caroline had 11 children living at home. Sadly, Singleton Childs died a few years after Clarence was born. At this time Mrs. Childs moved her large family to Baltimore City. While growing up in Baltimore, Cupid learned to play baseball on the local sandlots. Clarence eventually grew to 5'8" and weighed a solid 185 pounds. In later years, his playing weight was listed at 192 pounds. It's safe to assume that his resemblance to the fictional matchmaker was the reason for his cherubic nickname. He is also referred to in various newspaper accounts as "Fats," "Fatty," "Paca," and even "The Dumpling."
Childs' obituary notes that he first played organized baseball in 1883 when he was sixteen years old for Durham in the North Carolina State League. According to the obituary, he was paid four dollars a week, and the team paid his room and board. Not much is known about Childs' baseball career at this time. By May of 1885 Childs was playing shortstop for the very talented Monumental team in Baltimore. The Monumentals were playing in the Maryland Amateur Association in 1885. Future major league pitcher Frank Foreman pitched for the Woodberry team in the league that same year. At this time, Cupid Childs was living at 77 South Gilmore Street in Baltimore. His occupation is listed as can-maker in the 1885 Baltimore City Directory.
Childs started out the following season playing for the Brooklyn Harlems semi-pro team. The Harlem team traced its roots back to the New York City amateur leagues of the 1850s. By June of 1886, Childs had moved on and was playing shortstop with Petersburg in the Virginia State League. He played for Petersburg from June 25 to August 11. He left the Petersburg team and signed on with Scranton of the Pennsylvania State League for the rest of the 1886 season. He played in 24 games at shortstop for Scranton from August 17 to September 30. His final statistics for the 1886 Pennsylvania State League season were 27 hits, 6 doubles, 1 triple, 1 home run, 8 stolen bases and a .267 batting average.
Childs began the 1887 season with Johnstown of the Pennsylvania State League. He played with Johnstown from May 7 to July 4, when the Johnstown team folded. He then signed on with the Allentown team of the same league.
The Allentown Chronicle and News of July 7, 1887, observed: "The Allentown nine has secured Childs, the second baseman of the disbanded Johnstown club. Childs is a good hitter and a splendid baseman, and will prove a strong addition to the team."
An article in the same paper on July 12 mentions Childs coming through with a clutch triple in a 14-8 Allentown victory over the Bradford team: "Then Childs picked up the stick and drove the ball to right field for three bases sending home Beatin and O'Brien which tied the score and caused such yelling that several boards back of the catcher split."
Childs was with Allentown from July 8 to July 15, 1887, when the team dropped out of the league. Childs appeared in a total of 38 games during the 1887 Pennsylvania State League season. He had 51 hits, 7 doubles, 6 triples, 2 home runs and 14 stolen bases, finishing the year with a .373 batting average.
On August 4, Cupid signed with the Shamokin team of the Central Pennsylvania League. He played second base for the team until a broken collarbone ended his season on September 19, 1887. The Shamokin team went on to win the league championship.
In 1888, Childs signed with baseball pioneer Harry Wright's Philadelphia Quakers of the National League. He made his major league debut on April 23 against Boston and future Hall of Fame pitcher John Clarkson in Philadelphia. Childs went hitless at the plate that day. In the field, he played second base and handled six chances with one error while turning one double play. Clarkson pitched a complete game that day beating the Philadelphia team by the score of 3-1. The Quakers managed only six hits off Clarkson. Cupid Childs appeared briefly in the next game and then was released from the Philadelphia team. The Philadelphia Inquirer explained Childs' pending release: "Childs and Hallman are good players but they lack experience and that is worth a great deal in this league."
In June of 1888, Childs traveled out to Kalamazoo, Michigan, to try out for that city's local professional baseball team. The Chicago Tribune of March 25, 1900, described Childs' audition with the Kalamazoo team of the Tri-State League. The article is mistaken about Kalamazoo's being Childs' first professional team, but the story is an amusing look at how Childs was perceived by his peers:
"CHILDS' DEBUT AS A BALL PLAYER
He Wears Divided Skirts for a Uniform
at His First Practice.
The Grand Rapids (Mich.) Democrat gives the following story of Cupid Child's debut
in professional baseball:
"Childs is the most curiously built man in the baseball business: he is about as wide as he is long and weighs about as much as Jeffries, yet there are few men in the league who can get over the ground faster than the 'dumpling.' He started in the business as a professional with the Kalamazoo club in the Tristate league in 1888 and his work was so good that year that he graduated into fast company, where he has been ever since. When he reported to the Kalamazoo club he came in on a 'side-door Pullman' and presented himself to the management of the 'Celery Eaters' and asked for a trial. The manager thought he was joking after looking at his short length and broad girth, telling him he would make a better fat man in a side show than a ball player. Showing them he was anxious for a trial he was told to go to the grounds and practice with the rest of the team. A search was made for a uniform that would fit him, but none could be found, the only thing of that nature large enough for him being a pair of divided skirts, which he put on, cutting them off at the knees. His appearance with this costume on can be imagined and was so ludicrous that it threatened to break up the practice. However, as soon as he got out on the diamond and began to practice they began to open eyes and wonder. Such stops and throws were made as they never saw before and with such ease and grace that all were at once convinced he was a wonder. The management signed him on the spot and at a good salary, a move they never regretted, as his playing was the sensation of league all the season. Besides being one of the greatest ball players in the business, he is said to be one of the best humored, not a single instance of his ever losing his temper in a game being on record."
Childs appeared in 53 games for Kalamazoo from June 9 to September 1. His statistics for the 1888 Tri-State League included 11 doubles, 3 triples, 19 stolen bases and a .282 batting average. Childs left the Kalamazoo team in early September and came back east in time to play nine games at the end of the season with the Syracuse Stars of the International League. He played for Syracuse from September 8 to September 19. For the Stars, Childs had 11 hits, 1 double, 1 triple and a batting average of .297.
Childs stayed on with the Syracuse ball club for the following year. He played the entire season with the Stars, appearing in 105 games. Childs finished the 1889 International League season with 145 hits, 21 doubles, 12 triples, 53 stolen bases and a .341 batting average.
Childs and the Syracuse team left the International League in 1890 and moved up to the majors by joining the American Association. Childs appeared in 126 games for Syracuse in 1890. He amassed 170 hits, 70 walks, 13 triples and scored 109 runs. He led the American Association that year with 33 doubles and finished the 1890 season with a .345 batting average and 56 stolen bases.
On January 26, 1891, Childs signed with his hometown Baltimore Orioles, who were also members of the American Association. His Oriole contract stipulated that he was to be paid a salary of $2300 by the Orioles for the 1891 season. He was also given a $200 advance on the day he signed. In early February, the American Association withdrew from Baseball's National Agreement and decided to conduct operations as an independent major league. This meant that all of the American Association teams, including the Orioles, were no longer bound by the by-laws and clauses that were part of the National Agreement.
The American Association's withdrawal led Childs to conclude that his Oriole contract had been voided. The Orioles did not agree and still considered him under contract. News of Childs' availability spread, and in early February the Boston team of the American Association sent their manager, Arthur Irwin, to Baltimore in an attempt to sign Childs. Newspaper accounts stated that Irwin was unable to locate Childs in Baltimore. It appears that Childs did not want anything to do with any of the teams in the American Association. Childs, now considering himself a free agent, signed with the Cleveland team of the National League on February 16, 1891. Childs met with Orioles manager and part owner Billy Barnie on March 2. Childs informed Barnie that he would not be playing for the Orioles in the upcoming season. Barnie said, "The only explanation Childs gave him for leaving the team was that he could do better." Childs also attempted to return the advance money to Barnie, but the Oriole manager refused to take it.
Baltimore team management then filed an injunction in Baltimore City Circuit Court to force Childs to honor his Oriole contract. Judge Phelps of Baltimore City was selected to rule over the case. The trial opened on April 5, 1891. William Shepard Bryant and the Honorable Bernard Carter represented the Baltimore Baseball and Exhibition Company, and Thomas I. Elliot represented Childs. One hundred and thirteen pages of testimony were read on the opening day of the trial. "The courtroom was crowded with professional and amateur ball players and lovers of the game," wrote the Baltimore Morning Herald after the first day's session. The trial gained national attention and on April 22, 1891, the judge finally reached his decision. Phelps ruled in favor of Childs and the injunction filed by the Orioles was dissolved. Childs' Oriole contract had stated that he was due all of the rights accorded to professional baseball players designated by the National Agreement. Because the National Agreement no longer bound the Orioles, the team could not offer Childs the conditions that they had originally agreed upon, thus voiding the contract. This was the main point of Judge Phelps' summation in explaining his verdict. By the time the case was eventually settled, the Orioles had already filled the second base position. It seems that Oriole management pursued the Childs case on principle rather than necessity.
Baseball fans in Cleveland were overjoyed at the outcome. When the verdict was announced, the Cleveland management telegraphed Oriole manager Billy Barnie with the phrase, "He who laughs last, laughs best."
Cupid Childs went on to play his next eight major league seasons with the Cleveland Spiders of the National League. The Spiders were led by their hardnosed and hot- tempered player-manager Patsy Tebeau. Baseball historian Lee Allen said, "Patsy Tebeau was the prototype of all hooligans and his players cheerfully followed his example." At one time, Tebeau's Cleveland Spiders lineup included Hall of Fame players Cy Young, Jesse Burkett, Buck Ewing, John Clarkson and Bobby Wallace. The Spiders also had outstanding players like Chief Zimmer and Ed McKean.
Childs hit .281 batting and stole 39 bases in his first year as a Spider. He scored 120 runs and worked the National League pitchers for 97 walks in 141 games. The following year, Childs had a .317 batting average while playing in 146 games. He also led the National League that season with 136 runs scored and a .443 on-base percentage.
The next year Childs had a .326 batting average and stole 23 bases for the Cleveland team. He finished the season with 120 walks and 145 runs scored while playing in124 games. Amazingly, Cupid struck out just twelve times for the entire 1893 season.
Childs had another good year in 1894, hitting .353. He had 158 hits, 107 walks, 21 doubles and 12 triples for the year. He also scored 143 runs and stole 17 bases. Throughout his career Childs missed his share of games due to injuries and sickness but he also was capable of playing hurt. On August 8, 1894, Childs fell and broke his collarbone after he was tripped by Pittsburgh first baseman Jake Beckley while he was running down the first base line. Cupid must have had great recuperative powers because he was back in the Cleveland lineup at second base just 13 days later. In September of that year, Childs handled 16 chances without an error in the first game of a double header against Brooklyn. Remarkably, Childs finished the 1894 National League season with just 11 strikeouts.
In the spring of 1895, Childs was having contract problems and briefly left the club on April 23. He and the Cleveland team were at odds over a difference of $300 in his contract. Childs declined to leave on the train with the ball club for a road trip and said that he wanted to join the New York team. Childs and Cleveland management eventually came to terms and Cupid rejoined the team for the rest of the 1895 season.
The contract troubles must have affected Childs because his batting average slipped to .288 that year. However, he was on base enough to score 96 runs and steal 20 bases. He also hit his career high in home runs that season with four and knocked in 90 runs in 119 games.
Childs bounced back in 1896 with a monster year. He had 177 hits, 100 walks, 24 doubles, 106 RBI, and scored 106 runs in 132 games. Childs struck out just 18 times during the season. He finished the 1896 National League season with a .425 on-base percentage a .356 batting average and 25 stolen bases.
The 1897 season was Cupid Childs' last great year in the major leagues: a .338 batting average, 105 runs, and 25 stolen bases accompanied by 15 doubles, 9 triples, and 1 home run.
Childs played his final year for Cleveland in 1898. He closed out with a .288 batting average and 90 runs scored. Injuries took their toll on Cupid, and he ended up missing 46 games during the season.
The Cleveland Spiders played in three postseason Championship Series while Childs was a member of the team. The first was in 1892 when the National League played a split season. The Boston Bean-eaters had the best record for the first half of the season, and Cleveland had the best record for the second. The two teams played each other at the end of the year in a Championship Series that Boston eventually won. Childs played great for Cleveland, finishing the series with a .409 batting average. He had 9 hits including 2 triples and 5 walks in the five Championship games. Childs handled 32 chances at second base during the series without an error.
The other two post-season appearances the Spiders made were in the Temple Cup in back-to-back years. The Temple Cup was a Championship Series that was played at the end of the regular season between the first and second place teams of the National League. It was played from 1894 through 1897. The Cleveland Spiders played the Baltimore Orioles in two hotly contested Series in 1895 and 1896. The Spiders were the second place team during the regular season in each of the two years they participated in the Series. Cleveland won the Temple Cup in 1895 but lost to the Orioles in 1896. Childs did not hit well in either of the Temple Cup Series. Even though the Spiders and Orioles were bitter rivals on the ball field, Childs always remained popular in his hometown. "Cleveland second baseman Paca Childs is a Baltimorean and has many friends in this city," wrote the Baltimore Sun after an Orioles home stand against the Spiders during the 1894 season.
Childs was the all-time base on balls leader for the Spiders team with 758. His .434 on-base percentage as a Spider was the second highest in team history to Jesse Burkett's .436. His .318 career batting average as a Spider is second on the team's all-time list, well behind Burkett's .356. Childs ranks third on the Spiders all-time hit list with 1238 after Ed McKean (1693) and Burkett (1453). He finished third on the team with 70 triples (McKean had 127, Burkett 92) and third in runs scored with 941 close behind McKean (996) and Burkett (987). Finally, he leads the Spiders with 52 sacrifice hits. Childs, Burkett, and McKeanthey were the Big Three of the Cleveland Spiders.
The Spiders had an overall record of 679 wins and 439 losses while Childs was with them. In 1899, the Robison Brothers, owners of the Cleveland team, bought the struggling St. Louis club and assumed joint ownership of both National League franchises. The Cleveland ownership then transferred Patsy Tebeau, Cy Young, Jesse Burkett, Ed Mc Kean, Bobby Wallace, Harry Blake, Cupid Childs and a few others over to St. Louis in an effort to strengthen the ball club. Unfortunately, Childs contracted malaria while playing for St. Louis that year. When Childs was finally healthy enough to return to the lineup, he was not up to par and finished the 1899 season with a .265 batting average. The year before in 1898, the St. Louis team had won 39 games and finished last in the twelve-team National League. With the addition of the new manager and players from Cleveland, the St. Louis Perfectos won 84 games and finished fifth.
The following season, the Chicago Orphans of the National League purchased Childs' contract from the St. Louis club. Childs and the Orphans management came to terms, and he became a member of the Chicago team for the 1900 season. Only after second baseman Bill Keister had committed to the St. Louis team, did St. Louis manager Tebeau agree to let Childs go.
When a reporter asked Childs how he felt about joining the Chicago team he replied, "I am pleased with the idea of playing in Chicago. I had a little hard luck last season and my relations with the St. Louis club were not pleasant for the club or myself. This Chicago team looks good to me, and I think is stronger than ever. The Chicago club always troubled us to beat it and it is much stronger in the box. I have been riding horseback and taking light exercise all winter in Philadelphia to keep myself fit, for I do not want to take any chances of another attack of malaria and another bad season."
On April 11, 1900, Chicago Orphans manager Tom Loftus announced his starting lineup for the upcoming season. Childs had won the starting second baseman position and was batting second in the batting order. "Childs is showing beautiful form at second and his work is a sign of promise," wrote the Chicago Tribune regarding Cupid's play in late April of the 1900 season.
Childs was getting older now, but he evidently still possessed the old Cleveland Spiders fighting spirit. In May of 1900, Childs and Pittsburgh player manager and future Hall of Fame member Fred Clarke got in a fistfight at the train station in Pittsburgh. Childs and Clarke had collided with each other at second base in a recent game. Clarke had dared Childs to fight him on the field that day, but the two were separated before the trouble could escalate. Childs and Clarke then ran into each other at the train station in Pittsburgh when both teams were leaving the city. The two exchanged words and a fistfight ensued. Sources at the time said that there had been bad blood brewing between the two players that had dated back to previous seasons. Eyewitness accounts said both players took a beating but that Clarke got the worst of it.
At some point early in the 1900 season, Childs began to feel the effects from his previous bout of malaria. His weakened state was causing his hand-eye coordination and reflexes to fail him. Although the press was relatively kind to Childs, there were many instances of thrown balls going right through his hands on potential double play opportunities. Childs evidently knew something was wrong because in early June of 1900 he told the Chicago Tribune, "If I last through this season I will quit baseball. I have an excellent business opportunity and will get out of the business." Further along in the article the Tribune observed, "Childs is playing good ball for Chicago and helping the team by his clever bunting. He is drawing more base on balls than any man on the team and fielding well." Nevertheless, Childs finished the season with an uncharacteristically low batting average of .241.
The business deal must have fallen through because Childs returned to the Chicago team for the 1901 season. He never got on track and hit just .258 in 63 games. He was released from the Chicago team on July 8, 1901. Dating back to the nineteenth century, major league players who were past their prime would often catch on with minor league teams to finish out their professional careers. Childs took this route and signed on with Toledo of the Western Association. He appeared in 71 games for Toledo in 1901. He had 17 doubles with 14 stolen bases and ended the season with a .247 batting average.
Childs must have regained some of his strength because he bounced back to have a good year in the minors in 1902. Cupid started out the season with the Jersey City Skeeters of the Eastern League. He played in 33 games for the Jersey City team and hit a solid .290 with 5 doubles, 2 triples, and 6 stolen bases. Childs then moved on to the Syracuse team of the New York State League, where he had 102 hits, 12 doubles, 6 triples, 14 stolen bases and a .358 average in 74 games.
In 1903, Childs signed on with manager Wilbert Robinson and his hometown Baltimore Orioles. The Birds were starting their inaugural season in the Eastern League. Childs came to spring training in good shape and played well. On April 28, the Orioles played an exhibition game against the University of Maryland baseball team at Oriole Park. The Orioles won the game by the score of 26-0. Cupid was three for five with two triples and three runs scored. He played flawlessly at second base that day with one putout and three assists. "Childs made a sensational catch of a fly ball in the first inning," wrote the Baltimore Sun in their comments on the game
Childs was with the Orioles in spring training and through the first six games of the regular season. Unfortunately for Childs, his services had been reserved for the 1903 season by another team. The Montgomery, Alabama, team of the Southern League had engaged Childs prior to his signing with Baltimore. The Orioles tried to acquire Childs' contract back from the Montgomery team, but that club's management refused to deal. It was reported that the Orioles offered a sum of four figures to the Montgomery club for Childs' release. On May 4, Childs sent a telegram to Montgomery manager Lew Whistler stating that he would not play for the Montgomery team under any circumstances. Unfortunately for Childs, the final decision was made for him. On May 6, Eastern League President P.T. Powers wired the Orioles saying that Childs would no longer be allowed to play in the Eastern League and that he must report to the Montgomery ball club. Childs was so distraught over the matter that he threatened to play for the Johnstown team of the New York State League. Childs soon came to realize that he had no other alternatives available to him so he reluctantly boarded a southbound train for Montgomery and reported to the team.
Childs played the entire 1903 season with the Montgomery Legislators. He appeared in 108 games and had 104 hits, 7 doubles, 1 triple and he finished the year with a .318 batting average. The Atlanta Constitution on June 17 reprinted a brief article about Childs from the Shreveport Times that described Childs' work in glowing terms: "'Cupid' Childs is about one half of the Montgomery team. The way the old leaguer covers the ground and swats the ball reminds one of 'Cupid's' palmy days when he was the 'whole thing' with the Clevelanders."
In February of 1904, Childs was listed on the Montgomery team's reserve list at second base, but he does not appear in any of the Southern League statistics for the season.
Childs did play in the New York State League in 1904, appearing in 41 games for the Schenectady and Scranton teams. Cupid was now at the end of the line and finished the 1904 season with just a .245 batting average. Childs may have made some attempts to continue his baseball career in 1905. In August of that year, a brief line in a local newspaper reported that Childs had made an attempt to catch on in the New York State League. Childs does not show up in league records that season and more than likely did not play any organized baseball after the 1905 season.
With his baseball career over, Cupid Childs began working as a coal driver in Baltimore City. As did many people of his generation, Clarence "Cupid" Childs died at a young age. He passed away after a lengthy illness at age 45 on November 8, 1912, at Saint Agnes Hospital in Baltimore. The cause of death was listed as Bright's disease. His wife Mary and his eight-year-old daughter Ruth survived him. Childs had just recently bought a coal business and home that were both located at 1800 West Pratt Street in Baltimore. Unfortunately for Childs, his debilitating illness had rendered him bedridden. Because of this he was no longer able to oversee the daily operations of his coal company. A few weeks before his death, a local paper had reported that the bank was ready to foreclose on his new house and business. When Childs passed away, his obituary stated that his funeral service would take place at his residence at 1800 West Pratt Street. Since that was the address of his new home, it appears that the bankers may have worked out a last-minute deal to allow the Childs family to keep their home. Clarence L. "Cupid" Childs is buried in Loudon Park Cemetery in the southwestern section of Baltimore City.
A portion of Cupid Childs' obituary from the Baltimore Sun of November 9, 1912, read:
"Childs was considered the fastest second baseman and one of the heaviest hitters in the major leagues. He was the idol of baseball fans and although never playing on the old Oriole team in Baltimore, he was always given a warm welcome because he was a Baltimore boy."
Cupid Childs played a total of 13 seasons in the major leagues. He appeared in 1456 major league games and finished with 1720 hits. He ended his major league career with 991 walks, 1214 runs scored, 205 doubles, 100 triples and 269 stolen bases. His .416 career lifetime on-base percentage is right below Stan Musial's .417.
Taking into consideration the era in which he played, Childs has to be considered a better-than-average second baseman. Cupid averaged 6.3 chances a game at second base during his thirteen-year major league career. That places him fifth on the all-time list for chances per game by a second baseman. Childs finished his major league career with a .930 fielding percentage. However, taking into consideration his outstanding offensive production and given a little luck, Childs might already be in Cooperstown. He compares favorably with many of the second baseman in the Hall of Fame. Maybe it is time to take another look at him.
Wilbert Robinson 1863-1934
Though he was an outstanding catcher for the Baltimore Orioles during the 1890s, Wilbert Robinson is remembered today primarily as the jovial, rotund "Uncle Robbie" who managed the Brooklyn Robins to two National League pennants and a 1,399-1,398 record from 1914 to 1931. His congenial nature and happy-go-lucky attitude made him one of the most beloved characters in baseball, but on the diamond he was a never-say-die competitor who specialized in getting the most out of his pitchers. "It is doubtful that baseball ever produced a more colorful figure than the esteemed Wilbert Robinson," wrote John Kieran in the New York Times. "Like Falstaff, he was not only witty himself but the cause of wit in others. His conversation was a continuous flow of homely philosophy, baseball lore, and good humor. He knew baseball as the spotted setter knows the secrets of quail hunting, by instinct and experience."
One of seven children of Henry and Lucy Jane (Handley) Robinson, Wilbert Robinson was born on June 29, 1863, in Bolton, Massachusetts. Wilbert (then known as "Billy Rob") inherited his father's butcher shop after Henry passed away in 1883, but his heart was in baseball, not the meat business. Following in the footsteps of his older brother Fred, who played three games for Cincinnati of the Union Association in 1884, 22-year-old Billy Rob signed with Haverhill of the Eastern New England League in 1885. His manager, William Prince, described him as looking like a "choice cut of sirloin," but he batted .269 in a league in which nobody hit .300 and demonstrated his natural leadership ability. "Robinson was a great catcher from the first day we placed him behind the bat, but to my mind his greatest quality was, and is, his personality," Prince recalled in 1913. "His good nature was a sure remedy to drive away all the blues. No cliques could last while Robbie was around. He taught us to look at all such things as a joke, and drew us together as a sociable, harmonious club."
The following year Robinson joined the Philadelphia Athletics of the major-league American Association, where he averaged a paltry .227 over the next four-and-a-half seasons. Strapped for cash towards the end of the 1890 season, the Athletics sold Robinson and star pitcher Sadie McMahon to the Baltimore Orioles. After batting just .216 in his first full year as an Oriole, the 29-year-old backstop raised his average to .267 in 1892. On June 10 of that season Robbie enjoyed one of the finest offensive games in the history of baseball, driving in 11 runs and racking up seven hits in seven at-bats, a record that has been matched only once--by Rennie Stennett of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1975. Over the next seven seasons in Baltimore, the 5' 8", 215 lb. catcher hit .312, including a career-high .353 in 1894, as Baltimore--"the toughest, rowdiest, dirtiest, most foulmouthed team in history"--won three consecutive National League pennants from 1894 to 1896.
During his years with the Orioles, Robinson developed a close and long-lasting friendship with teammate John McGraw, who was 10 years younger. The two men eventually went into business together, opening the Diamond Café, a Baltimore billiards parlor that included a bar, dining room, and bowling alley. Under a joint ownership arrangement, Baltimore manager Ned Hanlon and star players Joe Kelley, Willie Keeler, and Hughie Jennings moved to Brooklyn in 1899, but Robinson and McGraw stayed behind, refusing to leave their prospering business. When the season ended, and they again refused to move to Brooklyn, they were traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. Robinson and McGraw spent the 1900 season in St. Louis, then returned to Baltimore in 1901 to play for the new Orioles of the American League, with McGraw serving as player-manager. After hitting .301 during the AL's inaugural season, Robbie took over the reins as manager on July 8, 1902, when McGraw left the Orioles to manage the New York Giants. The big catcher batted .293 in 91 games during his final season as a major-league player.
Robinson remained in Baltimore, splitting his time between the Diamond Café, a butcher shop that he owned, and catching for Baltimore's Eastern League franchise through July 1904. After four-and-a-half years away from baseball, he accepted an invitation to go to spring training with McGraw's Giants in 1909 and work with the pitchers. Robbie did the same thing in 1910, and in midseason the following year he signed on as a full-time coach. His main duties were keeping the club loose, jockeying the opposition, and helping develop the pitching staff--pet projects included Rube Marquard, Jeff Tesreau, and Al Demaree. Robinson remained with the Giants through 1913, though he and McGraw quarreled throughout that last season. At a reunion with some old-time Orioles at a New York saloon after the last game of the 1913 World Series, McGraw got drunk and criticized Robinson's third-base coaching in that day's 3-1 loss to the Athletics. Robinson snapped back that McGraw's managing had been pretty lousy, too. "This is my party. Get the hell out of here," snarled McGraw. Robbie showered him with a glass of beer on the way out.
About a month later Robinson signed to manage the Brooklyn Dodgers, which eventually became best known as the Robins after several seasons under his leadership. He managed the club for the next 18 years, winning pennants in 1916 and 1920 but finishing in fifth place or worse 12 times. Developing a great rapport with his players (which is how he came to be known as "Uncle Robbie"), Robinson seemed to get the most out of a group of unproven youngsters and over-the-hill castoffs, often challenging for pennants when nobody expected him to. But even during the bad years, Robbie gained some measure of satisfaction if his club helped prevent McGraw's Giants from winning the pennant; though the two old friends shook hands for cameramen, neither made any effort to mend the rift between them.
The single incident for which Wilbert Robinson is most famous occurred during Brooklyn's 1915 training camp in Daytona Beach, Florida. A female aviator, Ruth Law, was making daily flights in the area, dropping golf balls as a publicity gimmick for a local golf course, and eventually the talk in camp turned to the idea of catching a baseball dropped from the plane. Though none of his players was brave enough to try, Robinson, three months shy of his 53rd birthday, agreed to accept the challenge. On the big day, Law forgot the baseball back in her hotel room so she substituted a grapefruit from the lunch of one of her ground crew at the last minute. The grapefruit landed in Robinson's mitt and exploded, knocking him down and drenching him in warm juice. Thinking he was covered in his own blood, Robbie called for help. The players rushed over and began laughing uproariously when they realized what had happened. Robinson always suspected that Casey Stengel or trainer Fred Kelly had played a prank on him, and Casey later claimed that he had been the one to drop the grapefruit, but Law herself told the true story in a 1957 interview.
When Brooklyn owner and president Charles Ebbets passed away in 1925, his heirs held a directors meeting and voted to give Robinson a new three-year contract as manager and president, along with a hefty raise in salary. He held both positions for the next five years, a period during which the Brooklyn team became known as the "Daffy Dodgers." Apocryphal stories abound from that period, tending to portray Robinson as the tolerant, easy-going Uncle Robbie or, worse, as some sort of comic buffoon. For instance, Robbie supposedly tried to discipline his team by instituting a Bonehead Club, assessing heavy fines on whomever became a member; according to the story, he became the first member himself when, prior to a game, he handed the umpire a laundry list instead of a lineup card. In reality, Robinson was still a sound baseball man who was simply overwhelmed by the responsibilities of his dual roles. He probably felt relief when the Robins replaced him as president in 1929, allowing him to focus on managing.
Robinson and McGraw finally reconciled at the National League winter meetings in December 1930, ending their 17-year feud. Robbie remained on as Brooklyn manager through the end of the 1931 season, after which he left for his hunting camp, Dover Hall, near Brunswick, Georgia. He wasn't there long when he received word that the Dodgers had replaced him as manager with Max Carey. In 1932 Robinson became president and manager of the Atlanta Crackers of the Southern Association, serving for two seasons. In early August 1934 he fell in his hotel room, hitting his head on the bathtub and breaking his arm. While being administered to, he uttered his most famous line: "Don't worry about it, fellas. I'm an old Oriole. I'm too tough to die."
He was wrong. Having suffered a brain hemorrhage, Wilbert Robinson died in Atlanta on August 8, 1934, with his wife at his bedside. It was just five months and 14 days after the death of McGraw. The two old Orioles are buried at New Cathedral Cemetery in Baltimore, not far from each other.
Jake Beckley 1867-1918
When Jake Beckley gained election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971, 53 years after his death, most baseball fans had no idea who he was or why he should be honored with a plaque in Cooperstown. Beckley's reputation suffered because he never played on a pennant winner, and only one team he played for (the 1893 Pirates) finished as high as second place. Still, the colorful "Eagle Eye" compiled a .308 lifetime average, hit .300 or better in 13 of his 20 seasons (including the first four seasons of the Deadball Era), and retired in 1907 as baseball's all-time leader in triples. Beckley still stands fourth on the all-time list of three-baggers, behind only Sam Crawford, Ty Cobb, and Honus Wagner. He held the career record for games played at first base until 1994, when Eddie Murray passed him, but he still leads all first basemen in putouts and total chances.
Jacob Peter Beckley was born on August 4, 1867, in Hannibal, Missouri, the Mississippi River town that Mark Twain made famous. A left-handed batter and thrower, Jake played in his teenage years for fast semipro teams in the Hannibal area. Bob Hart, a former teammate from Hannibal, arranged his introduction to professional ball. While pitching in the Western League for Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1886, Hart recommended the 18-year-old Jake Beckley to his manager. Beckley traveled to Leavenworth and batted .342 in 75 games, playing mostly second base and the outfield. Though left-handed throwers still played second, short, and third in the 1880s, Jake really didn't have the arm strength to play any position except first base. Leavenworth moved him there the following season, and that is where he remained for the rest of his lengthy career.
Beckley batted over .400 in 1887 (walks counted as hits that season), splitting the summer between Leavenworth and another Western League team in Lincoln, Nebraska. The following year Lincoln sold the steadily improving first baseman to the Western Association's St. Louis Whites. Beckley played only 34 games before the Whites sold him in June 1888 to the National League's Pittsburgh Alleghenies for $4,000. Still only 20 years old, Jake batted .343 as a rookie and solidified the right side of the Pittsburgh infield with his defensive play. The next year he again led the club's regulars in batting and soon earned the nickname "Eagle Eye"--not for his ability to draw bases on balls (his walk totals were consistently below the league average) but for his batting skill. The hard-hitting Beckley brought a dash of excitement to the Alleghenies, and before long he became the most popular player on the Pittsburgh team.
In the spring of 1890 Beckley interrupted his NL career when he, along with eight of his teammates and manager Ned Hanlon, jumped to the Pittsburgh entry of the new Players League. Jake considered staying with the Alleghenies but the new league offered him a higher salary, and, as he explained, "I'm only in this game for the money anyway." He belted 22 triples to lead the Players League, while the Alleghenies missed him and their other stars so much that they fell all the way to last place. The Players League collapsed after one season and Beckley returned to the Alleghenies (soon to be called the Pirates) for the 1891 campaign.
Jake married in 1891 but his wife Molly died after only seven months. He slumped badly after her death, with his batting average plummeting to a career-low .236 in 1892. Jake didn't marry again until his baseball career was over. "Eagle Eye" returned to the .300 mark from 1893 to 1895, but when he slumped again in 1896 the Pirates, over the loud objections of their fans, traded him to the New York Giants for Harry Davis and $1,000 in cash. Beckley didn't hit well in New York, either, and most people thought his career was over when the Giants released him in May 1897. Fortunately for Jake, the Cincinnati Reds needed a first baseman and signed him a few weeks later. His bat came alive again in Cincinnati, and on September 26, 1897, Beckley belted three homers in a game against St. Louis. No other major leaguer performed that feat again until Ken Williams did it in 1922.
Beckley was a handsome man, though one of his eyes was slightly crossed, and kept his impressive mustache long after all but a handful of players had relinquished theirs; at the time of his retirement he was one of only three men in the majors who still sported facial hair. He also displayed several other idiosyncrasies. Beckley yelled "Chickazoola!" to rattle opposing pitchers when he was on a batting tear, and he perfected the unusual (and now-illegal) practice of bunting with the handle of his bat. As the pitch approached the plate, Jake flipped the bat around in his hands and tapped the ball with the handle. Casey Stengel was a teenager when he saw the maneuver performed. "I showed our players," said Stengel 50 years later, when he was managing the Yankees, "and they say it's the silliest thing they ever saw, which it probably is but [Beckley] done it."
Jake Beckley wasn't afraid to bend the rules. Despite his stocky build (he stood 5'10" and weighed 200 lbs.), he ran well enough to reach double figures in stolen bases and triples almost every year, but he also didn't mind cutting across the infield if the umpire's back was turned. One day, when umpire Tim Hurst wasn't looking, Jake ran almost directly from second base to home, sliding in without a throw. Hurst called Beckley out anyway. "You big son of a bitch," shouted Hurst, "you got here too fast!"
Jake also loved pulling the hidden-ball trick and tried it on every new player who came into the league. Sometimes he hid the ball in his clothing or under his arm, and other times he hid it under the base sack and waited for the unsuspecting player to wander off first. One day, with Louisville's Honus Wagner on first, Jake smuggled an extra ball onto the field and put it under his armpit, partially exposed so Wagner could see it. When the umpire's back was turned, Wagner grabbed the ball and heaved it into the outfield. Wagner lit out for second, but the pitcher still held the game ball and threw Wagner out.
For seven years Beckley played first base for the Reds, batting over .300 in every season except 1898. His career nearly ended on May 8, 1901, when Christy Mathewson hit him in the head with a fastball, knocking him unconscious for more than five minutes. Beckley recovered, missing only two games, and hit .307 for the last-place Reds that season. He was "Old Eagle Eye" by then, but still a solid run producer with good range and quick reflexes on defense. His only weakness remained his poor throwing arm, and National League base runners always knew they could take an extra base on him. Beckley once fielded a bunt and threw wildly past first base. He retrieved the ball himself and saw the runner rounding third and heading for home. Rather than risk another bad throw, Jake raced the runner to home plate and tagged him in time for the out.
The veteran first baseman pitched for the only time in his career on the last day of the 1902 campaign. The Reds were in Pittsburgh on a rainy, muddy day, and Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss insisted on playing even though the Pirates had clinched the pennant weeks before. To show his dismay, Reds manager Joe Kelley tapped the scatter-armed Beckley as his starting pitcher and played other Reds out of position. Jake allowed nine hits and eight runs in his four innings of work, and the game degenerated into a farce. Catcher Rube Vickers, normally a pitcher, committed six passed balls and didn't even bother chasing Beckley's wild pitches. The Pirates won, 11-2, but the irate fans forced Dreyfuss to refund all the gate receipts.
Beckley batted .327 in 1903 but manager Kelley wanted to play first base himself, so in February 1904 the Reds sold the 36-year-old star to St. Louis. Jake hit well in his first two seasons with the Cardinals but his batting declined quickly as injuries began to slow him down. He served briefly as a National League umpire in 1906, while on injury leave from the Cardinals, and tried to play again the following spring. In May 1907 the Cardinals released Beckley, ending his 20-year career in the majors.
Jake wasn't yet finished with baseball. He signed with Kansas City of the American Association shortly after the Cardinals let him go, and he played there for three years and managed the team for one. After short stints in 1910 with Bartlesville and Topeka, Beckley returned in 1911 to his hometown of Hannibal, where he managed and batted .282 at age 44. In late 1911 he moved to Kansas City and retired from professional ball, though he played on semipro and amateur nines for several more summers. He also helped coach the team at nearby William Jewell College and umpired for the independent Federal League in 1913, the year before the circuit became a short-lived major league.
Jake Beckley operated a grain business in Kansas City after he stopped playing ball. He once placed an order with a Cincinnati company, which cabled back, "We can't find you in Dun and Bradstreet." Beckley replied, "Look in Spalding Baseball Guide for any of the last 20 years." Beckley suffered from a weak heart, and he was only 50 when he died in Kansas City on June 25, 1918. He was buried in Hannibal, where the townspeople erected a small monument to his memory after his election to the Hall of Fame.
Amos Rusie 1871-1942
Oliver Perry Caylor, the noted sportswriter for the New York Herald, wrote, "[T]he Giants without Amos Rusie would be like Hamlet without the Melancholy Dane." Caylor hyperbolized a bit, but it's difficult to overstate the importance of the man largely responsible for the rule change in 1893 that gave us baseball in the form we know it. Rusie's blinding fastball so terrified batters standing just fifty feet from the mound that League-Association officials moved the pitcher's box back to sixty feet six inches, where it has stayed ever since. In addition, he won 245 games in what was really a nine-year career and was at the center of some labor disputes that foreshadowed the dramatic changes of the 1970s and beyond. Ironically, so historically important a player is little more than a name today.
The son of mason and plasterer William Asbury Rusie and the former Mary Donovan, Amos Wilson Rusie was born May 30, 1871, in Mooresville, Indiana, then a small town of about two thousand people situated roughly ten miles southwest of Indianapolis. The Rusies lived in Mooresville in the Donovan home, a two-story frame house at the corner of East Main and Franklin Streets. While Amos was still young, the family moved to Indianapolis, where his ability to throw a ball at terrific speed was first noticed by the scouts.
Rusie's career as a pitcher came about serendipitously. He had quit school to work in a factory. While playing the outfield on a semi-pro team in Indianapolis, he replaced the pitcher. One look at his fastball and his pitching days had begun. When he shut out both Boston and Washington of the National League while pitching for an Indianapolis team called the "Sturm Avenue Never Sweats," he was released from factory work into the world of big league baseball.
The Indianapolis team of the National League signed the eighteen-year-old Rusie. His fastball was awesome, but he was wild, walking 116 batters and giving up 246 hits in 225 innings.
Baseball in 1890 was in turmoil, as an owners' plan to rank players and pay them accordingly backfired. The players organized the Players League in protest. Many National League and American Association stars jumped to the new league. The New York Giants, the National League Champs in 1888 and 1889, lost many stars to the Players League.
The Indianapolis team of the National League folded after the 1889 season. Seeing the importance of a strong New York franchise, the National League transferred several of the best Indianapolis players, including Rusie, to New York. Fans of the day were openly angered by the constant squabbling between the Players League and the National League and by the players jumping from team to team. For all three leagues-the National, the American Association and the Players League-it was disastrous. They all lost money, the Players League and the American Association collapsed, and the National League barely survived.
Enter Amos Wilson Rusie. His record in 1890 was only 29-34, but he thrilled the fans with 341 strikeouts and frustrated them with an all-time record 289 walks. The walks erased Mark Baldwin's one-year-old record of 274. Indeed, walks were Rusie's bugaboo throughout his career. With 267 in 1892 and 262 in 1891, he ranks third and fourth on the list of free passes given up in a season. He also comes in tenth with 218 in 1893 and twenty-fourth with 200 in 1894. The walks didn't hurt him as much as one might expect; he had his best overall year in 1894, going 36-13 with a 2.78 ERA and had decent ERAs the other years to go with win totals of 31 and 33 (twice).
New York took to Rusie, who was only nineteen when he arrived and quite the callow youth. The fans dubbed him "The Hoosier Thunderbolt." His name was used in a Weber and Field's vaudeville act. A drink was named after him, and a paperback book, Secrets of Amos Rusie, The World's Greatest Pitcher, How He Obtained His Incredible Speed on Balls, sold for a quarter a copy. Lillian Russell, the reigning goddess of the time, asked to meet him. New York was a wonderful town.
Rusie settled down long enough to marry May Smith in the Delaware County Clerk's Office in Muncie on November 8, 1890.
In 1891, he led the league again in strikeouts with 337, and his record improved to 33-20. On July 31, 1891, he no-hit the Brooklyn team 6-0 and had six shutouts for the year. As wild as he was fast, he walked more than 260 batters each of his first three years. Rusie's wildness with his terrific fastball terrorized hitters. His fastball didn't make his life easy, though, as Rusie noted years later: "It took a lot of pitchin' to strike a man out in those days. The foul strike rule hadn't come in. A guy had to miss three of 'em clean before he was out."
A large man for those days at 6'1" and 200 pounds, Rusie threw so hard that catcher Dick Buckley said he put a sheet of lead wrapped in a handkerchief and a sponge in his mitt when he caught Rusie. More testimony about his fastball came from Cubs outfielder Jimmy Ryan: "Words fail really to describe the speed with which Rusie sent the ball. He was a man of great height, great width, prodigious muscular strength and the ability to put every ounce of his weight and sinew on every pitch. The distance was shorter then, Rusie had the whole box to move around in, instead of being chained to a slab; and the giant simply drove the ball at you with the force of a cannon. It was like a white streak tearing past you." Indeed, Rusie's fastball was so hot that many fans claimed that he did not always throw the ball but merely went through the motions.
Rusie occasionally found himself in bizarre situations. One day he accidentally beaned Baltimore shortstop Hughie Jennings. Jennings somehow finished the final six innings of the game, then fell unconscious for four days. When Jennings returned to the lineup a few days later, the batter following him, almost as an act of retribution, smashed a pitch off Rusie's ear causing permanent hearing damage. In another game Rusie refused to bat when his turn came, and only twenty-six outs were recorded in the box score. The paper that carried the box score gave only a cryptic footnote in trying to explain twenty-six outs.
Financial woes still dogged the Giants. Trying to save one month's salary, they released Rusie near the end of the 1892 season. The Giants planned to sign him later and thought they had an agreement with other clubs not to pick Rusie up. However, the Cubs signed Rusie for $6,500 and a bonus of $2,000. New York had to pay more than they bargained for to buy back Rusie.
Seeking to recover what they had to pay to regain Rusie, the Giants set the stage for animosity between Rusie and the club by trying to count the bonus against his salary. More problems arose between Rusie and Andrew Freedman, a Tammany Hall politico who bought the Giants. Freedman, a man with a vile temper, became the most detested owner in the league. In his first year as owner, he went through three managers. The third, a friend of Freedman's with no baseball background, was an actor. The team fared poorly and dropped from second place to ninth.
In order to save money, Freedman accused Rusie of offenses that Rusie denied. Freedman fined Rusie for these alleged offenses and refused to rescind the fines after the season ended. To make matters worse, Freedman offered a contract to Rusie for only $2,500 for the next season. Rusie held out the entire year and sued Freedman for $5,000. The controversy caused such a commotion in New York that some Wall Street brokers hung a large sign in a Manhattan store window urging fans to boycott the Giants' games, and police were called to break up a vociferous crowd that had surrounded the sign to show their approval.
Holding out was nothing new to Rusie, who would hold out because he hated spring training. Rusie always placed a high value on his talent, and if a contract did not suit him, he could be very stubborn. This time, however, Rusie had a solid case against Freedman and had John Montgomery Ward represent him in an appeal to the other club owners. Ward's appeal failed. The press, eager to know what was happening, dogged Rusie, who was silent on the matter. Not one to live like a monk, Rusie disliked the press because he felt they portrayed him as a carouser.
Players in Rusie's day were essentially indentured servants, having no control over their working conditions and little over their wages. Ward wanted to alleviate the players' working conditions, and Rusie's problems with Freedman were cases in point. When Rusie threatened to sue, Freedman refused to back down. However, the other owners feared that allowing the case to go to trial could expose their nefarious practices, especially the reserve clause and the ten-day clause. Accordingly, they paid Rusie what he demanded and avoided what could have been a test case for the reserve clause and the ten-day clause. It wasn't until the 1970s that baseball was finally forced by the courts to withdraw those clauses, beginning a new economic era for the game.
Extending the pitching distance to sixty feet six inches for the 1893 season did not hurt Rusie. In fact, it made his curveball more effective. He won 33, 36, and 23 games the next three years and led the league in shutouts each year. The greater distance brought his strikeouts down to about 200 each year, but he still led the league.
Rusie followed up his fine pitching by holding out for the entire 1896 season.
Returning to the Giants in 1897, Rusie won 48 games over the next two years. Late in 1898, as he was attempting a pick-off throw, something popped in his shoulder. His arm was useless. Only twenty-seven years old, he stayed out of baseball for two years and rested his arm.
In 1900, a young Christy Mathewson had been sent back to Norfolk after a disappointing debut with the Giants. Cincinnati drafted Mathewson off the Norfolk roster, then traded Mathewson for the once invincible Rusie. The trade turned out to be a one-sided deal with Cincinnati getting the worst of it. Rusie gave it a try with Cincinnati, and the fans gave him a big welcome, but he was knocked out of the box in his first two games and quit. His arm was gone, and his heavy drinking did not alleviate the situation. Rusie retired after ten years in the majors with a record of 245-174, with 1,934 strikeouts and 1,704 walks (not surprisingly, seventh on the all-time list). Of 427 starts, he completed 392.
Returning to Indiana, he worked in a paper and pulp mill in Muncie and did freshwater pearling in Vincennes. From 1911 to 1921, he was a steamfitter in Seattle. In 1921, John McGraw gave him a job as superintendent of the Polo Grounds. He held that position until 1929, when he returned to Seattle. Rusie's troubles accumulated. He worked in a paper mill that soon shut down. He bought a chicken farm in Auburn, Washington, that failed due to the Great Depression, and was injured in an automobile accident in July 1934, leaving him with a brain concussion and several broken ribs.
Rusie lived in retirement in Auburn, Washington, until his death on December 6, 1942, at age 71. His wife had died two months earlier. A daughter, Mrs. C.E. Spaulding of Seattle, and his brother John of Indianapolis survived him. He was buried in Acacia Cemetery in Seattle.
Having taken New York by storm, Rusie died in obscurity. Rick Johnson brought his name back to the forefront in an article in the Indianapolis Star Magazine on October 31, 1973. Spurred on in large part by Johnson's article, the House of the Indiana State Legislature introduced a bill on November 12, 1973, honoring him.
In 1977 the Veterans Committee elected Amos Rusie to the Hall of Fame. It was a fitting tribute to not only a winning pitcher but a man who was at the center of a labor dispute that foreshadowed the free-agency era of the 1970s and whose prowess forced the rule change that gave us baseball as we now know it.