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  • Jim Creighton

    JIM CREIGHTON (1841–1862)

    Born 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.

    I got this from http://www.19cbaseball.com/players.html
    Brooks Robinson
    Frank Robinson
    Luis Aparicio
    Robin Roberts
    Reggie Jackson
    Eddie Murray
    Hoyt Wilhelm
    Cal Ripken Jr.
    George Kell
    Earl Weaver
    Jim Palmer
    All Baltimore Orioles' hall of famers.
    P.S. Brooks Robinson was the best!!

  • #2
    Amazing...simply amazing. Such a shame someone who could have gone on to greatness and fame to this day died so young...guess it goes with the times though.
    Best posts ever:
    Originally posted by nymdan
    Too... much... math... head... hurts...
    Originally posted by RuthMayBond
    I understand, I lost all my marbles years ago

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    • #3
      His pitching revolutionized how it was done at the time. Before him, pitchers would deliver the ball to the batsman with the intent that his defense would put him out. In a sense, they would pitch for the intent that the batter put the ball in play. Creighton changed all that. He made pitching more deceptive. He was able to make a movement with his wrist that was virtually undetectable and used changes in speed very well. He had given up a very low amount of hits to batters through his second year. After him, most pitchers used his style and the game was changed radically.

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      • #4
        what really put him on the map was that the excelsiors were the first to actually travel and compete over an extended area - they faced competition in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and into Canada - this sparked a great deal of interest and provoked others to build the best nine they could and follow suit

        Comment


        • #5
          Does anybody think that his influence on the game warrants a Hall of Fame induction??

          I dont believe so, but figured I'd ask
          "Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamp post: for support, not illumination."
          -Vin Scully

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by BasEbaLlKnoItAll
            Does anybody think that his influence on the game warrants a Hall of Fame induction??

            I dont believe so, but figured I'd ask
            i don't really think so - he was dead at 21 - he was a good pitcher but we have nothing to compare him against during the 1850s-62 - but hey isn't candy cummings in the hall
            Last edited by Brian McKenna; 01-15-2006, 05:17 PM.

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            • #7
              I think a good case could be made fro him as a pioneer. His short life though makes it real questionable. I think I would at least mention him in the HOF, do they have a picture of him, or reference him in any of the exhibits? Been years since I been there.

              And as far as Cummings goes, he at least pitched 6 years in the NA and NL and had 145 wins to go along.
              "I don't like to sound egotistical, but every time I stepped up to the plate with a bat in my hands, I couldn't help but feel sorry for the pitcher."
              -Rogers Hornsby-

              "People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."
              -Rogers Hornsby-

              Just a note to all the active members of BBF, I consider all of you the smartest baseball people I have ever communicated with and love everyday I am on here. Thank you all!

              Comment


              • #8
                If the intent includes the documentation of important events in the timeline of the historical development of the sport, Creighton's contribution is noteworthy, independent of his longevity. However, I am not sure that such an objective is a part of the HOF's intent.

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                • #9
                  Cubsfan97 proposes Creighton as a "pioneer". It doesn't get much attention, but this is a separate category from players. Longevity is irrelevant in the pioneer category: Alexander Cartwright's imaginary invention of the game was a single event, and he left the area just a few years later.

                  The first approximation argument for Creighton is that he invented competitive pitching, thereby changing the fundamental nature of the game. The claim is, however, dubious. There were swift pitchers before him. Beyond that, the idea of the pitcher trying to get the batter out was an inevitable development once the environment of a community of clubs competing against each other. They would naturally look for an edge, and this edge was pretty obvious (and independently invented in the Massachusetts game).

                  What Creighton did was be better at it than anyone before him. He seems to have had good speed and control, and to have figured out how to put a bit of movement on the ball. None of this was really new: cricket bowlers knew about such things.

                  My criterion for the pioneer category is to ask myself how would baseball have developed differently if this person had never lived? As spectacular as Creighton's brief career was, I think the game would have been the same without him.

                  Of course this is true of several other "pioneers" in the Hall, but that is a different discussion.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Rarely does lightning strike resulting in an abrupt change, and when it does, what has happened is clear. More frequently change comes about in fits and starts, trials and restarts, tentative probings and experimentation; often involving several individuals, and sometimes decades and more (an example of this is the dissolution of the Reserve Clause).
                    I believe that although it is true that 'it would have happened eventually, anyway', that belief does not diminish that it did happen, and when and how it did.
                    And in this instance Creighton was the man on the cusp of the occurance, and by that stroke of luck and genius, Creighton deserves the accolades and credit which goes with this change, imho.

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                    • #11
                      I couldnt agree more with Gil about Creighton being credited with his style of pitching. Yea, someone would have eventually thought of it, but he did first. Same with Candy Cummings, someone would have thought of the curveball, but Cummings did first.
                      "I don't like to sound egotistical, but every time I stepped up to the plate with a bat in my hands, I couldn't help but feel sorry for the pitcher."
                      -Rogers Hornsby-

                      "People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."
                      -Rogers Hornsby-

                      Just a note to all the active members of BBF, I consider all of you the smartest baseball people I have ever communicated with and love everyday I am on here. Thank you all!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Creighton may have not have represented any major advancement or development in baseball, but there is the matter of his claim to being baseball's "first superstar", i.e., the first player that the baseball fraternity, if not public, clearly recognized as standing apart for his sheer ability. The memory of his accomplishments supposedly continued to be honored long after his premature death, something that could not be said of any ballplayer before, or or even a longtime after, his death.
                        This, I think, is his greatest "contribution" to baseball: the intangible image he established for baseball. When speaking
                        of Creighton it must not let pass unmentioned that he was also an
                        outstanding cricket player, considered to be one of the best bowlers in
                        New York, and even played for the USA team against Canada in 1862.
                        On that basis the argument could even be made he was also the first "two sport" star in American sports history.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I recently became aware of this picture, reportedly released following his death.
                          Attached Files

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by rrhersh View Post
                            The first approximation argument for Creighton is that he invented competitive pitching, thereby changing the fundamental nature of the game. The claim is, however, dubious. There were swift pitchers before him. Beyond that, the idea of the pitcher trying to get the batter out was an inevitable development once the environment of a community of clubs competing against each other. They would naturally look for an edge, and this edge was pretty obvious (and independently invented in the Massachusetts game).
                            I, at first considered this claim dubious, then saw your username. Being that you are who you are, do you know any names?
                            "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              "The pitching of Jones was much swifter than anything of the kind they had been accustomed to, and prevented them from making any great display of batting." New York Atlas September 12, 1858

                              'Mr. Pidgeon (their pitcher) [of the Eckford] at first annoyed the strikers on the opposite side somewhat, by his style of pitching–first very slow, then a very swift ball; but the Putnam players soon got posted, and were on the look-out for the “gay deceivers.”' New York Sunday Mercury July 3, 1859

                              'Norton pitched in his old-fashion style, putting lightning-speed on the ball, causing the striker frequently to tip, and occasionally to strike out three times. He is “pisen” [i.e. poison] to a batter not accustomed to swift balls.' New York Atlas October 9, 1859

                              'The play was at first in favor of the San Francisco Club, when in the third or fourth inning the Red Rover boys imagining that their opponents’ pitcher was not doing the fair thing by them, objected to him. The ground of their objections, as stated to the umpire, was that he pitched too swift, and put too much of a twist on the ball. This they contended was underhand bowling, and not pitching. They finally succeeded in talking another pitcher in for that innings, the result of which was, that they made, before being put out, thirteen runs on the new pitcher.
                              ...
                              'I had watched the pitcher for the last three innings, and consider him as fair a pitcher as ever took ball in hand. His motion in delivery, the speed and twist of the ball, form an exact counterpart to the pitching of P.B. Kelly, of the Putnam Club.' New York Sunday Mercury April 1, 1860

                              By way of contrast, here is an account of Creighton:

                              'The Excelsiors lost more hands by tips than their opponents, notwithstanding the swiftness of Creighton’s pitching, and the twist which he is known to [illegible] to the ball. The pitcher of the Charter Oak side [Shields] delivers the ball with his left hand, and also with great force and precision, though apparently requiring much greater exertion on his part than on the part of Creighton, whose easy action and motion was the subject of general remark.' New York Sunday Mercury May 20, 1860

                              and contemporary with Creighton:

                              'On the Eagle side, the pitching of Salisbury was in his best style, and tended greatly to the success of his nine; he gave the ball a “big twist,” and the Gothams found great difficulty in hitting a fair ball–tips or sky rockets being most in fashion.' New York Sunday Mercury October 20, 1861

                              We see here three tools used by pitchers to get outs: swift pitching, change of pace, and putting a "twist" on the ball. This last was certainly not a true curve ball, but it shows that they understood the idea of putting a spin on the ball. This was well established in cricket, but the effects in baseball are more subtle, as pitching relies on aerodynamic effects without bowling's bouncing the ball off the ground. It is pretty clear that these were known before Creighton. Creighton's contribution was doing it better than anyone else, pushing the boundaries of what could be done.

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