P-Kid Nichols, BSN
P-Kid Gleason, PHI
P-Billy Rhines, CIN
P-Amos Rusie, NYG
P-John Clarkson, BSN
P-Bill Hutchinson, CHC
P-Adonis Terry, BRO
P-Pretzels Getzein, BSN
P-Mickey Welch, NYG
P-Tom Lovett, BRO
C-Jack Clements, PHI
C-Charlie Bennett, BSN
1B-Cap Anson, CHC
1B-Dave Foutz, BRO
2B-Hub Collins, BRO
2B-Bid McPhee, CIN
3B-George Pinkney, BRO
3B-Doggie Miller, PIT
SS-Jack Glasscock, NYG
SS-Ed McKean, CLV
SS-Jimmy Cooney, CHC
SS-Ollie Beard, CIN
LF-Billy Hamilton, PHI
CF-Mike Tiernan, NYG
27-19, 2.23 ERA, 222 K, .247, 0 HR, 23 RBI
Wins Above Replacement-13.2
WAR for Pitchers-13.1
Strikeouts/Base on Balls-1.982
Fielding Independent Pitching-2.98
Adj. Pitching Runs-67
Adj. Pitching Wins-6.3
1st Time All-Star-Charles Augustus “Kid” Nichols was born on September 14, 1869 in Madison, WI and his first year in baseball was a year of chaos around the Major Leagues. Many of the greats from the National League helped form the Players League, giving 1890 three Major Leagues and meaning I’m going to have to write 75 of these. What it also meant is there are more new people than ever on the NL All-Star team, including this young rookie who is off to a Hall of Fame career. Even a cursory glance at his stats tells me the right choice was made. Also, even though he’s going to have a long and prosperous career, 1890 was his best season ever and he was also the best player on the Beaneaters.
Nichols finished first in WAR (13.2) and first in WAR for Pitchers (13.1), pitching 424 innings with a 2.23 ERA and a 170 ERA+. He’s just getting started on a streak of 10 consecutive 20-win seasons.
How much did this help Boston? Not much. The Beaneaters could definitely pitch, they’ll have three pitchers on this team, but their hitting wasn’t up to par to keep them in the pennant race. Managed by Frank Selee, they finished in fifth place with a 76-57 record. As late as August 27, Boston was one game out of first, but then went 6-19 the rest of the year to fall out of contention. Just as it was Nichols’ first year of a Hall of Fame career, the same held true for Selee. Boston has many great years ahead.
38-17, 2.63 ERA, 222 K, .210, 0 HR, 17 RBI
1st Time All-Star-William J. “Kid” Gleason was born on October 26, 1866 in Camden, NJ as the National League completely runs out of nicknames and starts calling everyone “Kid.” Well, he was only 21 when he started for Philadelphia in 1888 and he was tiny – five-foot-seven and 158 pounds. He is going to have a long career, though certainly not an All-Star career. He’d never be better than this season when he finished second in WAR (11.6) and second in WAR for Pitchers (11.9), pitching 506 innings with a 2.63 ERA and 139 ERA+. He’d never reach any of those figures again on the mound and ended up spending much of his career as a weak hitting second baseman. However, Gleason was the best player on the Phillies this year. Of course, Gleason is more famous for being the manager of the Black Sox.
Wikipedia says of Gleason: “Gleason was born in Camden, New Jersey. He acquired the nickname ‘Kid’ early in life, not only because of his short stature (growing to only 5-foot-7, 155 pounds) but also because of his energetic, youthful nature.
Dan Lindner of SABR writes, “He is remembered as the manager of the most infamous baseball team ever, but less well known as a versatile and gutsy ballplayer of the 19th century. His counseling and humor became crucial to the success of many big leaguers in the years between the World Wars. He was the Kid from the coal country who rose above his humble beginnings to become a much-loved figure in the national pastime.”
28-17, 1.95 ERA, 182 K, .188, 0 HR, 11 RBI
1890 NL Pitching Title
Earned Run Average-1.95
Walks & Hits per IP-1.121
1st Time All-Star-William Pearl “Billy” or “Bunker” Rhines was born on March 14, 1869 in Ridgway, PA, long before All in the Family ever debuted. Bunker had his best season ever and was the best player on the Reds. Rhines finished third in WAR (11.0) and third in WAR for Pitchers (11.4), pitching 401 1/3 innings with a 1.95 ERA and a 186 ERA+. Not bad for a rookie.
Rhines’ team, the Reds, played well, finishing 77-55 under the coaching of Tom Loftus. It was Loftus’ fourth of nine years managing and would be his best season. His Reds were in first place as late as July 10, but finished the season 35-32 to fall out of contention. Their pitching was excellent, they had the league’s best ERA, but their hitting lacked what it needed to bring them the crown.
Cincinnati Reds Blog, which put the same creativity into its name as I did for mine, says the following about Rhines: “Rhines was a Pennsylvania native and alumnus of Bucknell, most famous for producing Christy Mathewson. So, Rhines is only the second-best pitcher to come out of Bucknell. Rhines pitched in a submarine style that was becoming less common in those days as overhand pitching emerged, and threw a variety of curveballs. There are reports that ‘Iron Man’ Joe McGinnity copied his pitching motion.
“Rhines was signed by the Reds and 1890 was his rookie season. He made 45 starts, pitched 401 innings, and posted a 28-17 record with a 1.95 ERA that led the league. Rhines also led the league in ERA+ and WHIP, not that anyone was tracking that at the time. Still, all that pitching seemed to cost him. He was less effective the next year, pitched little the next two seasons and not at all in 1894.”
29-34, 2.56 ERA, 341 K, .278, 0 HR, 28 RBI
Hits per 9 IP-7.152
Strikeouts per 9 IP-5.594
Bases on Balls-289
Home Runs per 9 IP-0.049
Assists as P-129
Errors Committed as P-20
1st Time All-Star-Amos Wilson “The Hoosier Thunderbolt” Rusie was born on May 30, 1871 in Mooresville, IN. He is the first person I’ve written up that wasn’t born until Major League baseball began in 1871. This guy looks like he would have been fun to watch pitch, as the results were usually a walk or a strikeout. He was the best player on the Giants, finishing fourth in WAR (9.1) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (7.8). The Hoosier Thunderbolt (now, that’s a nickname!) pitched 548 2/3 innings with a 2.56 ERA and a 134 ERA+. He set the record for walks in a season (289) that still holds to this day, beating the record of 274 established by Mark “Fido” Baldwin the previous year.
As for the Giants, oh, how the mighty hath fallen! After winning the World Series the previous season, New York lost many of its stars and fell to a 63-68 record under Manager Jim Mutrie. Mutrie has one season left in his Major League career.
Rusie started in 1889 as a pitcher for Indianapolis. From the beginning, he was wild, walking 116 batters in only 225 innings, while only striking out 109. This saddled him with a 5.32 ERA and a 77 ERA+. It released him and he ended up as the Giants’ ace. I can live with him making the Hall of Fame, though I’ll doubt he’ll make the ONEHOF. He’s off to a stretch of time where he’ll lead the National League in walks five straight seasons, with 200 or over bases on balls in each of them.
26-18, 3.27 ERA, 138 K, .249, 2 HR, 26 RBI
7th Time All-Star-Clarkson the Great made the All-Star team for his seventh consecutive season, though his year wasn’t nearly as dominant as his previous one. He finished fifth in WAR (9.1) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (8.8). This is actually the first even-numbered year in which Clarkson finished in the top 10 in overall WAR. He’s not done yet.
I mentioned in Clarkson’s 1888 blurb which you can click on above (it’s okay, I can wait. Are you back? OK) that it was his salary that had much to do with the creation of the Players League this season. Of course, the shocking thing is he’s not in the Players League, but stuck around in the National League.
We’ve talked a lot about Clarkson’s stats, but not much about his actual pitching. Fortunately Wikipedia does the hard work again and tells us, “Clarkson had a wide variety of curve balls and was considered to be a calculating, scientific pitcher who carefully analyzed every hitter’s weaknesses. Hall of Fame hitter Sam Thompson said of Clarkson: ‘I faced him in scores of games and I can truthfully say that never in all that time did I get a pitch that came where I expected it or in the way in which I guessed it was coming.’”
Now here’s Brian McKenna in SABR about Clarkson remaining in the NL. I should note there is quite a bit on the page and I urge you to read the whole thing. McKenna says, “On December 18, the Brotherhood met again to firm up the new league. The members expelled Clarkson and 14 others, officially blacklisting them. On January 11, 1890, the men returned to Chicago from San Francisco. The Chicago Tribune wrote, ‘The Brotherhood sentiment was strong in all excepting Clarkson, who did not move about with the others.’ Hardy Richardson took the opportunity to publicly blast the pitcher, calling him out for his double-agent activities and disloyalty to his colleagues. The two didn’t speak for many months.”
41-25, 2.70 ERA, 289 K, .203, 2 HR, 27 RBI
Def. Games as P-71
Putouts as P-44
1st Time All-Star-William Forrest “Wild Bill” Hutchinson was born on December 17, 1859 in New Haven, CT. He started by pitching two games for the Union Association Kansas City Cowboys in 1884 and then didn’t play Major League ball until 1889, where the White Stockings picked him up. Starting in 1890, two things happened – the White Stockings became the Colts and Wild Bill became the ace of Chicago’s staff. This season, he finished sixth in WAR (7.8) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (8.3), pitching 603 innings with a 2.70 ERA and a 137 ERA+. He’s got a couple of great seasons left, but Hutchinson would never have a higher Adjusted ERA+. He was the Colts’ best player.
According to the Norwich Historical Society, “After graduating in 1875 he went on to Yale where he played shortstop and pitched. In 1880, his graduation year, William was chosen team captain. Following graduation, William moved to Kansas City, Missouri to work for the railroad, but he never lost his love for the game and played for Springfield (Northwestern League) and in 1884 the Kansas City Cowboys (Union Association). He apparently had offers to play pro and semi pro ball for various teams but declined due to health issues. During the 1887-88 season he reportedly played for Des Moines earning a $3800 salary, considered the highest in the league at the time. After turning in a 23-10 (win-loss) performance in 1888, William was moved up to the majors. In 1889, he began his rookie year at 29 with the National League’s Chicago White Stockings/Colts (now Chicago Cubs), as a right handed pitcher. He was the club’s first player to hold a college degree. Hutchison possessed a blazing fastball which enabled him to strike out 136 batters and led him to 16 wins 17 losses and an ERA of 3.54 his first year. The following season he went 42-25, striking out 289 with an ERA of 2.70.”
P-Ice Box Chamberlain, STL
P-Jesse Duryea, CIN
P-Bob Caruthers, BRO
P-Silver King, STL
P-Matt Kilroy, BAL
P-Jack Stivetts, STL
P-Jim Conway, KCC
P-Lee Viau, CIN
P-Frank Foreman, BAL
P-Red Ehret, LOU
C-Jim Keenan, CIN
C-Jocko Milligan, STL
1B-Tommy Tucker, BAL
1B-Henry Larkin, PHA
1B-Dave Orr, COL
2B-Bid McPhee, CIN
3B-Denny Lyons, PHA
3B-Lefty Marr, COL
3B-Billy Shindle, BAL
SS-Ollie Beard, CIN
LF-Harry Stovey, PHA
LF-Tip O’Neill, STL
LF-Darby O’Brien, BRO
CF-Curt Welch, PHA
RF-Oyster Burns, BRO
32-15, 2.97 ERA, 202 K, .199, 2 HR, 31 RBI
Wins Above Replacement-9.4
WAR for Pitchers-9.4
Adj. Pitching Runs-54
Adj. Pitching Wins-4.7
2nd Time All-Star-Ice Box, who has one of the best nicknames ever, also had his best season ever, leading the league in WAR (9.4) and WAR for Pitchers (9.4). He pitched 421 2/3 innings with a 2.97 ERA and a 140 ERA+, matching his 1888 season Adjusted OPS+ total. Chamberlain would never reach that total again, though he would still be an effective pitcher for the next few years.
As for Ice Box’s team, the perennial champion St. Louis Browns, they finally ended their streak of four consecutive league titles, finishing two games behind Brooklyn with a 90-45 record. Manager Charlie Comiskey had the team in first place as late as August 30, with a 71-35 record at the time. The rest of the season the Browns went 19-10, including a 12-game winning streak, but they could never catch the hot Bridegrooms. This would be Comiskey’s last year managing St. Louis.
As for the reason why, it peripherally involves Chamberlain so that’s good enough to but it here. From Wikipedia, “The Cincinnati Reds talked to St. Louis about acquiring Chamberlain in 1889, but Cincinnati balked when St. Louis asked $8,000 for him. That year, Chamberlain pitched in a career-high 53 games and finished with 32 wins; his win total was the third highest in the league. Following the 1889 season, a new major league was forming known as the Players’ League. A players association known as the Brotherhood of Professional Ball Players had served as a union and bargaining agent since the mid-1880s; now the group’s new league was attempting to compete with established baseball. Browns owner Chris von der Ahe was afraid that Chamberlain would jump to the Chicago team in the new league; the manager of the Browns from the previous season, Charles Comiskey, had been hired there. Von der Ahe agreed to match the $800 pay increase that Chamberlain would have gotten in Chicago.”
32-19, 2.56 ERA, 183 K, .272, 0 HR, 17 RBI
1st Time All-Star-James Newton “Jesse or Cyclone Jim” Duryea was born on September 7, 1859 in Osage, IA, same home state of Cap Anson. He finally made it to the Major Leagues as a 29-year-old rookie and had his best season ever, finishing second in WAR (9.0) and third in WAR for Pitchers (8.3). Cyclone Jim pitched 401 innings with a 2.56 ERA and a 153 ERA+. He also was a decent hitter, slashing .272/.330/.346. Though he was already older, it looked like he was off to a good career. Spoiler alert! He wasn’t.
The Red Stockings were never in the race, though they had a decent season. Managed by Gus Schmelz, Cincinnati went 76-63, finishing in fourth place. Schmelz jumped to National League Cleveland Spiders in 1890.
According to book Iowa Baseball Greats: Sixteen Major Leaguers Who Were in the Game for Life by Don Doxsie, Duryea still holds the single season Iowa pitcher record for innings pitched (401), wins (32), and complete games (38). Most of the career records are held by Red Faber and Bob Feller.
Here’s a summary of Duryea’s career from Wikipedia, which says, “James Newton ‘Jesse’ Duryea (September 7, 1859 – August 19, 1942) was a pitcher in Major League Baseball for six seasons. He made his big league debut for Cincinnati Red Stockings as a 29-year-old on April 20, 1889. He came to stay in Cincinnati for another three years, later with the Reds, until he was released in July 1892 and joined Washington Senators. He however played three games with St. Louis Browns the year earlier. During his 13 days long spell at St. Louis, he received his nickname ‘Cyclone Jim’ by Ted Sullivan for his pitching abilities. He played his last MLB game for Washington Senators on July 15, 1893.” He died on August 19, 1942 in Algona, Iowa, the same year my father, Robert Kitchell, was born in the same state.
40-11, 3.13 ERA, 118 K, .250, 2 HR, 31 RBI
Wins-40 (2nd Time)
Win-Loss %-.784 (3rd Time)
Bases on Balls per 9 IP-2.103
5th Time All-Star-Parisian Bob continued to pitch dominantly and lead his teams to titles. He finished fourth in WAR (8.7) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (6.6). As usual, he was a good two-way player. Well, I should rephrase that, throughout his career, Caruthers has been a great two-way player, but he is now just down to good. On the mound, he pitched 445 innings with a 3.13 ERA and a 110 ERA+. At the plate, Caruthers slashed .250/.408/.366 for an OPS+ of 127. He still was the best hitting pitcher in the league and would never have an Adjusted OPS+ under 100, not counting his 1885 season.
Bill McGunnigle managed his second season with Brooklyn and led the future Dodgers to their first ever crown. You might able to stump your Dodger loving friends with that bit of trivia, depending on how you phrase it. The Bridegrooms were no longer bridesmaids, winning the American Association crown with a 93-44 record, two games ahead of the Browns, ending St. Louis streak at four straight pennants.
Caruthers was part of his fourth World Series and struggled against the National League Giants, pitching four games, two of them being starts, and going 0-2 with a 3.75 ERA. He allowed 19 runs, with 10 of them being earned. As a hitter, Parisian Bob hit .250 with no extra base hits, though he did walk three times and have a .455 OBP. Brooklyn lost to New York, six games to three. It would be the first of many battles between the Giants and Dodgers.
35-16, 3.14 ERA, 188 K, .228, 0 HR, 30 RBI
3rd Time All-Star-King made his third consecutive All-Star team and will be making his fourth (and most likely last) one next season, for a whole new league. From 1887-through-1890, he had one of the great stretches of pitching in baseball history. As for this season, King finished third in WAR (8.7) and second in WAR for Pitchers (8.4). He pitched 458 innings, down from 584 2/3 in 1888, and had a 3.14 ERA and a 132 ERA+. With all that he has done, it’s hard to believe King is only 21 at this point in his career.
When you look up Silver King on Google, you might get information about the pitcher or you might get information about the Silver King mine. Wikipedia says, “The Silver King Mine traces its beginning to 1870, during the Apache Wars. General George Stoneman, desiring an easier access route to Apache strongholds, had ordered the construction of a road from Camp Picketpost into the Pinal Mountains. The road became known as the Stoneman Grade. A soldier named Sullivan, who was assigned to the construction, discovered some heavy black rocks that flattened when struck. Interested in the rock, he collected several samples but did not mention this to his fellow soldiers. After completing his term of service, Sullivan went to work on a ranch owned by Charles Mason. Sullivan routinely showed off the rocks, known as ‘nugget silver’ to prospectors of the region, but never divulged the location of the discovery. After a time, Sullivan disappeared and was assumed to have been killed by Apache.”
29-25, 2.85 ERA, 217 K, .274, 1 HR, 26 RBI
Complete Games-55 (3rd Time)
Assists as P-129 (3rd Time)
Errors Committed as P-17 (2nd Time)
3rd Time All-Star-Let’s put the obvious on the table, baseball was a different game in 1800s. The pitching distance changed frequently, as did the rules. It’s what allowed Kilroy to still have the record for strikeouts in a season (513 in 1886) and wins for a left-handed pitcher (46 in 1887). Needless to say, neither of those is ever going to be broken. Matches didn’t make the All-Star team in 1888 as he was down to “only” 321 innings with a 4.04 ERA and a disappointing ERA+ of 71. He rebounded this season, finishing fifth in WAR (8.5) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (7.1). He pitched 480 2/3 innings with a 2.85 ERA and a 141 ERA+. It will most likely be his last All-Star team. I have to fudge a little on these predictions because sometimes a player can make it on a fluke that I don’t expect, like being the best player on a bad team.
Baltimore, being coached by Billy Barnie for the seventh straight season, didn’t do bad, finishing fifth with a 70-65 record, 22 games out of first. Barnie would end up coaching 14 seasons and never win a title. He still has two seasons left for the Orioles. In case you’re wondering, this is not the same Oriole team which now exists. This team would fold in 1899.
Wikipedia wraps up Kilroy’s career, saying, “The 1889 season was Kilroy’s comeback season and his last productive season as a pitcher. He completed 55 of his 56 starts, while also pitching in 3 relief appearances, the first of his career. He had a 29–25 record and 5 shutouts in 480 2⁄3 innings. On July 29 of that season, he pitched his second no-hitter, this time a 7-inning affair against the St. Louis Browns that ended in 0–0 tie. It was Kilroy’s own baserunning error that negated the only run scored, when he missed third base in the 3rd inning and was called out.
“After his baseball career ended, Kilroy lived in Philadelphia and owned a saloon. He and his wife had seven children. Kilroy died at the age of 73; he was buried at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Wyncote, Pennsylvania.”
12-7, 2.25 ERA, 143 K, .228, 0 HR, 7 RBI
1889 AA Pitching Title
Earned Run Average-2.25
Walks & Hits per IP-1.153
Hits per 9 IP-7.184
Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.715
Strikeouts/Base on Balls-2.103
Fielding Independent Pitching-2.93
1st Time All-Star-John Elmer “Happy Jack” Stivetts was born on March 31, 1868 in Ashland, PA. Wikipedia says, “’Happy Jack’ (nicknamed due to his pleasant demeanor) was born to German immigrants…He initially followed his father into the coal mining industry before playing professional baseball. After playing two and half seasons in minor league baseball, he was signed by the Browns. Over the next few seasons, he was regarded as one of the best pitchers in baseball.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks, Wikipedia! If Happy Jack would have pitched more than the 191 2/3 innings he tossed this season, St. Louis might have won yet another title. Because when he was on the mound, no one dominated like Stivetts this season. He led the league in ERA (2.25) and Adjusted ERA+ (185). He’d never do that over a full season, you know the ones where he pitched 400 or more innings, but he’d be an effective pitcher for a few years.
More Wikipedia: “He began the 1889 season with the York representative of the Middle States League. It was there when an umpire named Tim Hurst noticed Stivetts’ talent; who then recommended him to Charles Comiskey, the manager of the St. Louis Browns of the AA. Comiskey was impressed by the velocity of Stivetts’ pitches, and offered him a contract. The Philadelphia Athletics soon made an offer of their own, but he accepted the Browns’ salary offer of $275 a month, with a $200 signing bonus.
19-19, 3.25 ERA, 115 K, .208, 0 HR, 12 RBI
1st Time All-Star-James P. “Jim” Conway was born on October 8, 1858 in Upper Darby, PA. His was an interesting career as he had started with Brooklyn in 1884 as a part-time 25-year-old pitcher, going only 3-9 with a 4.44 ERA and a 74 ERA+. The Atlantics said, “Bye.” He was picked up in 1885 by Philadelphia, where he pitched two games and allowed 16 runs (10 earned) in 12 1/3 innings. The Athletics said, “Bye,” and he wouldn’t pitch in the Major Leagues until this season where he finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (4.4), with 335 innings pitched, a 3.25 ERA, and a 127 ERA+, all at the age of 30. Yet he’d never pitch in the Majors again.
That may have been because his team, the Cowboys, would be done after this season also. Led by Bill Watkins, who two years prior led the Detroit Wolverines to a World Championship, they finished in seventh place with a 55-82 mark. Watkins still has a few years managing left.
Jim’s brother, Pete, actually made the 1888 National League All-Star team. He won 30 games that year and actually pitched for the NL Pittsburgh Alleghenys this season, going 2-1 with a 4.91 ERA. However, he, like his brother, would never pitch in the Major Leagues again, but at least he had put together a nice five-year career. He’d always be able to hold that over his brother. Poor Jim! Of course Jim could tell Pete that at least he lasted until he was 30 years old. Pete was only 22 his last season.
22-20, 3.79 ERA, 152 K, .143, 0 HR, 9 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-Viau, pronounced Vee-oh, made his second consecutive All-Star team with the Red Stockings, but most likely, it’s his last. He finished seventh in WAR for Pitcher (4.9), pitching 373 innings with a 3.79 ERA and a 104 ERA+. In comparison to the league, this season might have been better than his 1888 season, but his numbers are better in the previous year. After this season, Cincinnati is going to go the National League and Viau will follow, temporarily, and then go to Cleveland for 1890 and 1891. In 1892, he’ll split his time with Cleveland, Louisville, and Boston and then end his career with an 83-77 record and 3.33 ERA.
Here’s an interesting note on Viau from SABR: “In a spring training exhibition game in Gainesville, Florida, on March 26, 1891, Lee Viau played an unwitting role in launching the career of John McGraw. Charles C. Alexander describes the day’s events in his biography of the Hall-of-Famer:
“John McGraw, hitherto an obscure minor leaguer, gained a measure of recognition that day. Years later he admitted that Lee Viau, Cleveland’s pitcher, was still working his arm into condition and didn’t really bear down on the Gainesville batters. Nevertheless, McGraw’s performance against the major leaguers — three doubles in five times at bat, three runs (of six Gainesville scored to Cleveland’s nine), errorless play at shortstop — made his name widely known when the telegraphed reports of the game appeared in the Cleveland newspapers, were picked up by other dailies, and were also noted in the baseball weeklies Sporting Life and Sporting News. Within a week or so, McGraw had heard from a score of professional clubs seeking his services for the coming season.”
23-21, 3.52 ERA, 180 K, .144, 1 HR, 11 RBI
Hit by Pitch-40
1st Time All-Star-Francis Isaiah “Frank” or “Monkey” Foreman was born on May 1, 1863 in Baltimore, MD. He started out pitching in 1884 with the Union Association Chicago/Pittsburgh squad and then moved that same year to Kansas City. In 1885, with the UA defunct, Foreman then pitched for the American Association Baltimore Orioles. In those two years, Monkey was just monkeying around, pitching just a total of 53 innings. Afterward, he didn’t pitch in the Majors again until this season. He was too busy working on roller skating. No, I’m not joking, SABR has the info: “After the  season Foreman managed and served as an instructor at a roller rink. (1885 was a banner year for roller skating. In 1884 ball bearings had been added to roller skates, creating the modern roller skate. For the first time virtually everyone could skate with minimal effort or athleticism. This kicked off a worldwide craze for four-wheeled relaxation. Rinks popped up everywhere from the smallest country hamlets to the largest cities. Foreman got in on the ground floor and profited handsomely.)”
This season, he finished eighth in WAR for Pitchers (4.9), pitching 414 innings with a 3.52 ERA and a 114 ERA+. He most likely has another All-Star Team left in him, as he would be pitching for numerous teams over his 11-year career. Monkey also has a brother, Brownie, who would pitch two seasons in the National League in the 1890s. Oh, the nickname. SABR has that story, too: “His nickname came from one of his favorite on-field impersonations. So well did he impersonate a simian that Sporting Life was led to comment, ‘Frank Foreman should dispose of his inimitable impersonations. His portraiture of the monkey has a tendency to strengthen the Darwinian Theory.’”
10-29, 4.80 ERA, 135 K, .252, 1 HR, 31 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Philip Sydney “Red” Ehret was born on August 31, 1868 in Louisville, KY, exactly 121 years before my first niece entered the world. About 19 years later, Ehret entered the Major Leagues, pitching for the 1888 Kansas City team and then was purchased by the Colonels in 1889. Red made the team as the lone representative of Louisville, not necessarily because of his pitching prowess. He pitched 364 innings with a 4.80 ERA and a 79 ERA+, which wasn’t good, but for the Colonels, it would have to do.
Speaking of this terrible club, Dude Esterbrook (2-8), Chicken Wolf (14-51), Dan Shannon (10-46), and Jack Chapman (1-6) all took their shots at managing Louisville and, as you can see, none succeeded. It finished in last place with a 27-111 record, only 66-and-a-half games out of first place. Just a little break here or there and the Colonels are right back in the race! Hey, you think I’m kidding (and I am), but Louisville is going to have the greatest bounce back season of all-time. (I think). And it would be led by the aforementioned Chapman. Makes you want to actually wait for my 1890 write-ups, doesn’t it?
SABR has a wonderful article on the Colonels losing 26 games in a row. Here’s a little from the article featuring Ehret, but I urge you to read the whole thing. It all starts because the Louisville owner Mordecai Davidson was imposing insane fines on his players. “The result was that six players—Guy Hecker, Pete Browning, Dan Shannon, Harry Raymond, Red Ehret, and Paul Cook—refused to take the field for the game on June 15. Filling out their lineup with local amateurs, Louisville lost a 20th straight game, 4–2. Baltimore manager Bill Barnie intervened and persuaded the six strikers to return to the field, telling them that the league would determine the outcome of the fines.”
.287, 6 HR, 60 RBI
Double Plays Turned as C-11
3rd Time All-Star-Keenan, the Red Stockings’ ancient predecessor to other great catchers like Ernie Lombardi and Johnny Bench, had another good season. He finished seventh in Defensive WAR (1.1), as it was always his glove that kept Keenan in the league. He keeps making All-Star teams because of the lack of good catchers in the American Association at this time. Actually, it’s not so much a lack of good catchers, but the brutality of playing the position limited playing time and made it difficult for catchers to compile stats.
Keenan had a pretty good hitting year, slashing .287/.395/.453 for an OPS+ of 138. Those were his highest OBP and SLG for his career. This, combined with his good fielding, made him the best catcher in the AA this season.
However, his hitting would falter after this season, as would his hitting, so I can confidently say he has made his last All-Star team. He would play two more season for the Red Stockings and then call it a career.
Interestingly, it was Keenan who first scouted the Reds’ pitcher, Lee Viau, according to SABR, which says, “For whatever reason, Lee Viau did attract the attention of a major leaguer named Jim Keenan, who caught for the American Association’s Cincinnati Reds. Keenan recommended him to Gus Schmelz, the Reds’ newly-appointed manager, and in the fall of 1886 Viau signed with a minor league club in St. Paul, Minnesota, for a salary of $275 per month.”
.366, 12 HR, 76 RBI
Range Factor/9 Inn as C-7.22 (2nd Time)
Range Factor/Game as C-7.15 (2nd Time)
3rd Time All-Star-Despite playing only half of the Browns’ games this season, Milligan put up some gaudy stats. He finished 10th in Offensive WAR (3.1), despite, I mention again, playing in only 74 of the Browns’ 141 games. Wait until you see his slash line! Are you waiting? OK, enough suspense, it was .366/.408/.623 for an OPS+ of 179. He didn’t bat enough to lead the league in slugging, but he would have by a long shot. This was his best hitting season ever, but he has a better overall year still to come.
Let’s enjoy more about Milligan from the fine pen of Ralph Berger on SABR: “Milligan probably didn’t relish being miscast in a supporting role but still created his own niche as a solid defensive catcher and a good hitter. He hammered away at his trade in baseball as he hammered shoes on to horses. One thinks of the poem about the smithy and his anvil under the spreading chestnut tree pounding shapeless metal into something recognizable. Milligan shaped his baseball career on accepting what was handed to him and pounding it into a respectable one.
“Milligan was a full-time catcher for only one year, but his statistics as measured by the Total Baseball’sTotal Player Rating, outrank those of fellow-catchers Lave Cross, Wilbert Robinson and Deacon McGuire. With his solid hitting and fielding combined Milligan ranks twentieth among position players of his era and among the top 250 players of all time. Bill James in his New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract ranks Jocko Milligan as the 103rd best all-round catcher. One wonders why managers overlooked these abilities during his baseball days and why he did not get more playing time.”
.372, 5 HR, 99 RBI
1889 AA Batting Title
WAR Position Players-5.5
On-Base Plus Slugging-.934
Adj. Batting Runs-47
Adj. Batting Wins-4.7
Times on Base-271
Offensive Win %-.787
Hit By Pitch-33 (2nd Time)
3rd Time All-Star-It was a great season for the bellicose Tucker, a fantastic year, easily his best ever. Yet, I’ll be surprised if he makes another All-Star team after making three straight. It’s a puzzling season, to be sure, but there have been plenty of those. I think of Brady Anderson’s 1996 season when he hit 50 homers despite never hitting over 24 in any other year. It’s true Tucker has been an All-Star for the last few years, so this season didn’t come completely out of the blue, but it’s still quite an aberration.
For the season, Tucker finished seventh in WAR (5.5), first in WAR Position Players (5.5), and first in Offensive WAR (5.7). At the plate, he slashed .372/.450/.484 for an OPS+ of 162. He wasn’t much of a power hitter, he never would be, but the .484 slugging average was his highest ever.
After this season, he would move to Boston in the National League for eight seasons and then play for five different teams from 1897-99. He’d have a respectable career, though a divisive one due to his constant chatter and vulgarity.
SABR sums up his career, saying “Tucker’s .372 mark in 1889 still stands as the season record for a switch-hitter. In addition he is #3 on the all-time hit-by-pitch list and held the record from 1893 to 1901 when Hughie Jennings passed him. An interesting task awaits future researchers: determining whether Tucker hit better from the left or right side of the plate. Most batsmen in the nineteenth century experimented at one time or another during their careers with switch-hitting, but few remained switch-hitters throughout. Tucker stands alone among 19th-century hitters with lengthy careers, not only in that his batting fell off markedly after the pitching distance was lengthened in 1893, but also because he apparently never tried to determine if he might have been better served by batting only from one side of the plate.”
.318, 3 HR, 74 RBI
Double Plays Turned as 1B-88
3rd Time All-Star-Larkin appears again on the All-Star team after not making it in 1887 or 1888. He moved to first base in ’88 and would be here the rest of his career. His last two All-Star teams were made as an outfielder, but he never had much of a glove. Every season, he had a negative dWAR. But he could hit! This season, he finished sixth in WAR Position Players (3.8) and fourth in Offensive WAR (4.5), slashing .318/.428/.426 for an OPS+ of 147. It was a typical great hitting year.
Philadelphia put together a good season finishing 75-58 and in third place. Managed by Bill Sharshig for the third time, they finished 16 games out of first. No one was going to beat Brooklyn and St. Louis in 1889.
Larkin would be one of many players trying his fortunes in the newly formed Players League in 1890 as he jumped from the Athletics to the Cleveland Infants. While there, he would…I’m sorry, the Cleveland Infants?! How did this seem like a good idea? I’m sure I’ll write more on this when I get to the 1890 Players League All-Star Team. Hey, it’s coming, don’t be so impatient.
At the time of this writing, the 2016 World Series just ended and the Chicago Cubs won their first championship in 108 seasons by beating the Cleveland Indians. That nickname is seen as offensive and I can certainly understand that, but is it worse than the Infants? I think even Native Americans would prefer Indians.
.327, 4 HR, 87 RBI
Assists as 1B-61
4th Time All-Star-From 1884-to-1886, the big Orr was one of the all-time greatest hitters, with Adjusted OPS+s of 190, 202, and 185. Then he slumped enough in 1887 and 1888 not to make the All-Star team. He moved from New York to Brooklyn in 1888, but missed out on a league championship this season, when he was purchased by the Columbus Solons, a team that started this season and would exist for three years.
Understand that Orr’s slump isn’t like mortal people’s way of declining. He still had OPS+s of 161 and 130 the previous two seasons and even though he had a 130 OPS+ this season also, it was good enough to make the All-Star team. He slashed .327/.340/.446 while his team, the Solons, finished sixth in the league. Al Buckenberger led them to a 60-78 season.
Though I’m fairly certain Orr will make the All-Star team next season, I’m hedging my bets and putting a little bit about the sudden end to his career from Wikipedia: “In September 1890, Orr sustained a stroke while playing in an exhibition game in Renovo, Pennsylvania. He was paralyzed on his left side, but by January 1891, he was reportedly “able to walk out on pleasant days.
“In September 1891, 4,000 tickets were sold for ‘a grand benefit picnic’ held in Orr’s honor at Euler’s Washington Park, the home of the Brooklyn baseball club. Former teammates, including John Montgomery Ward attended, and the park was lit with Chinese lanterns, a marching band led a parade, and a dance platform was ‘festooned with flags.’ A newspaper account stated that ‘Dave’s big right hand finally grew tired of wagging. His left was there, too, but it has not done duty for almost a year and this is why he was given a picnic.’”
.269, 5 HR, 67 RBI
Assists as 2B-446 (4th Time)
Double Plays Turned as 2B-85 (8th Time)
Fielding % as 2B-.946 (6th Time)
3rd Time All-Star-After not making the All-Star team in 1888, McPhee was back as the American Association’s lone representative at second base. His hitting would never be spectacular, but he did finish fourth in Defensive WAR (1.3), the fifth time he’s been in the top 10 in that category. At the plate, McPhee slashed .269/.346/.369 for an OPS+ of 101. He also played a game at a position other than second base for the first time in his career, playing a game at third base, a contest that lasted 13 innings, in which he made two errors.
From John Reilly’s SABR page, there is this on his camaraderie with McPhee: “The core of the team was its infield, especially Reilly together with future Hall of Famer Bid McPhee at second base and Reilly’s 1880 teammate Hick Carpenter at third. These three men played together as regulars from Reilly’s debut with the team in 1883 until Carpenter was released on the eve of the 1890 season. ‘The seasons come and go,’ the Pittsburgh Dispatch remarked, ‘but Biddy McPhee, Long John Reilly and Hick Carpenter always come winner in the shuffle, and look as natural around the bases as sign-boards at the forks of country cross-roads’ (quoted in Cincinnati Commercial Gazette, May 13, 1886).”
The fascination with McPhee always has to do with his fielding prowess while not wearing a glove. Here’s more on it from Bid’s Hall of Fame page: “’He was the outstanding player of his time at his position, certainly comparable to Bill Mazeroski,” baseball historian Ralph Moses said. “He was breaking records barehanded and when he put on a glove, he set a standard so high that it wasn’t broken until 30 years later.’”
.329, 9 HR, 82 RBI
Double Plays Turned as 3B-29
3rd Time All-Star-Lyons thrived again at third base for the Athletics, making his third straight All-Star team as the best third baseman in the league. It was his best season ever, as Lyons finished eighth in WAR (5.5), second in WAR Position Players (5.5), and second in Offensive WAR (5.1). In Jefferson Street Grounds, a pitchers’ park, Lyons slashed .329/.426/.469 for an OPS+ of 159. Offensively, he’s going to have a great year in 1890, but this year was better overall.
Apparently, like so many players of this era, Lyons liked his libations. Here’s an excerpt from a story from Baseball History Daily, which reprints a story from The Philadelphia Times: “’Watch your men, Manager (Bill) Sharsig.
“’It is a matter of notorious publicity that a portion of the best players on the Athletic Base Ball Club are not living up to their contracts. They drink, carouse and make exhibitions of drunkenness that are disgusting the people who so liberally contribute to the support of the national game, and unless the management put an immediate stop to such proceedings the club will be certain to finish the season with a balance on the wrong side of the ledger
“’It is an open secret that (Denny) Lyons, (Curt) Welch, (Mike) Mattimore, (Henry) Larkin, (Harry) Stovey and sometimes (Frank) Fennelly and (Lou) Bierbauer are frequently in a beastly state of intoxication, and it is easy to prove when and where they have recently been seen so in public places.’” How much better would Lyons have been without the alcohol?
.306, 1 HR, 75 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Charles W. “Lefty” Marr was born on September 19, 1862 in Cincinnati, OH. His career was short, four years, but this was his best season ever. He started by playing eight games as an outfielder for Cincinnati in 1886. He didn’t play Major League ball until this season when, as a left-hander, he played third base. This would be the only season when he played third as his main position, the rest of his career would be spent as an outfielder, for the most part.
In this season, Marr finished fourth in WAR Position Players (4.3) and fifth in Offensive WAR (4.4). He slashed .306/.407/.414 for an OPS+ of 141. He showed decent speed, leading the league in triples and stealing 29 bases. He’d steal more in 1890 (44), but go down after that. After this season, he’d play for the National League Cincinnati Reds in 1890, and then finish his career playing for two teams in 1891: the Reds and the American Association Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers. Yes, boys and girls, baseball teams used to be named like youth soccer teams.
In 1885, in the minor league Southern Leagues, Marr played part in a tragedy, according to Baseball History Daily, which says of this season: “On August 14 Atlanta was hosting the Nashville Americans, when according to The Macon Telegraph:
‘In the fourth inning Henke, in making the first base, ran violently against the knee of (Charles “Lefty”) Marr, of the Nashvilles, the knee joint striking him apparently full in the stomach. Henke showed immediately that he was badly hurt, and in a moment was lying stretched out almost on the base. He was carried from the field to the dressing room…Although he had clearly made his base after heavy hit, no one of the players, no one of the great crowd looking on, knew that the infallible umpire above had decided differently, and called him out.’
.314, 3 HR, 64 RBI
Def. Games as 3B-138
Putouts as 3B-225 (2nd Time)
Assists as 3B-323 (2nd Time)
Errors Committed as 3B-88
Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-4.17
Range Factor/Game as 3B-3.97
1st Time All-Star-William D. “Billy” Shindle was born on December 5, 1860 in Gloucester, NJ. He started his Major League career in 1886, playing seven games for the National League Detroit Wolverines in 1886 and was still a part-time player for them in 1887. Baltimore purchased him from Detroit before the 1888 season, where Shindle was made a fulltime third baseman and, from the beginning, showed great defensive skills, leading the American Association in Defensive WAR (2.1) in 1888. This season, his best ever, Shindle finished eighth in WAR Position Players (3.4) and slashed .314/.369/.397 for an OPS+ of 115 at the plate. This season and 1890 were his best hitting seasons, but for the most part he didn’t produce a lot with the bat. However, Shindle, according to dWAR, provided a lot with his fielding. Well, I should clarify this statement. He was great at range factor, but also made a record amount of errors, which we’ll look at in later years.
From the beginning, people touted his fielding. Baseball Reference writes, “’The surprising feature of the game was the wonderful work of Billy Shindle at third base. I was prepared to find in Shindle a clever young fellow who would probably need a great deal of coaching before making a reliable Leaguer. What, then, was my surprise when he settled down to work and played the third sack with a brilliancy, dash and steadiness that would have done credit to Denny.’ – from a correspondent writing in Sporting Life, March 30, 1887, about a spring training game involving the young Billy Shindle.”
.285, 1 HR, 77 RBI
Def. Games as SS-141
Assists as SS-537
Double Plays Turned as SS-63
1st Time All-Star-Oliver Perry “Ollie” Beard was born on May 2, 1862 in Lexington, KY, just 104 years before my brother, Rob. This season, the rookie had an impressive debut, finishing first in Defensive WAR (2.4). He wasn’t a great hitter, slashing .285/.328/.364 for an OPS+ of 94, but his glove kept him on the field and made him the only shortstop on this All-Star team.
I like finding odd details about these players. Wikipedia says of Beard, “Born in Lexington, Kentucky, it is claimed that his family invented the Kentucky version of the food, ‘Burgoo’.” Well, of course his family invented Burgoo, who else would have invented Burgoo? Wait a minute, what’s Burgoo? Back to Wikipedia.
“Burgoo is a spicy stew, similar to Irish or Mulligan stew, often served with cornbread or corn muffins. It is often prepared communally as a social gathering. It is popular as the basis for civic fund-raisers in the American Midwest and South.
“Burgoo making in Kentucky often serves as a social event, in which each attendee brings one or more ingredients. In Kentucky and surrounding states such as Indiana, burgoo is often used for fund-raising for schools. This kind of event has been claimed to have been invented by the family of Ollie Beard, a former Major League Baseball player.”
However, there is controversy: “In Brighton, Illinois, a local traditional burgoo is prepared and served annually at the village’s summer festival, the Betsy Ann Picnic. Franklin, Illinois identifies as the Burgoo Capital of the World; they have an annual burgoo cookout over July 3 and July 4. Burgoo events are also held in Cass County, Illinois in the towns of Chandlerville and Arenzville. Arenzville claims to be the home of the world’s best burgoo.”
.308, 19 HR, 119 RBI
Slugging %-.525 (2nd Time)
Runs Scored-152 (4th Time)
Total Bases-292 (2nd Time)
Home Runs-19 (4th Time)
Runs Batted In-119
Runs Created-114 (2nd Time)
Extra Base Hits-70 (4th Time)
AB per HR-29.3 (4th Time)
8th Time All-Star-The great Stovey keeps plugging along, making his eighth consecutive All-Star team. This will actually be the last season he hits over .300 – he did it four times – but he’d have good power numbers for a couple more years. This season, Stovey finished ninth in WAR (5.4), the last of three times he was in the top 10 in that category; third in WAR Position Players (5.4); and third in Offensive WAR (4.6). He continued bashing, slashing .308/.393/.525 for an OPS+ of 165. Stovey retook the all-time home run lead with 89 and would hold this title until 1895. According to SABR, “Called “Gentleman Harry” for his clean play, the 5-11, 175-pound star would play with the Athletics through the 1889 season. He ended up being the AA’s career leader with 76 homers and 883 runs scored, while placing in the top ten for games, hits, batting average, slugging and total bases.”
The book, “Home Run: The Definitive History of Baseball’s Ultimate Weapon,” says of Stovey, “Harry Stovey had become the career leader on August 11, 1885 by hitting home run number 46 and passing Charley Jones. He hit the inside-the-park four-bagger off Hardie Henderson of the Baltimore Orioles at the Jefferson Street Grounds in Philadelphia…Stovey regained the top spot two years later on August 13, 1889, when he hit two round-trippers off Lee Viau of the Reds at Cincinnati’s League Park and Stovey held the mark the second time for almost five years. Stovey is the only player to hold the career record, be passed by another batter at the end of the season, and then regain the record.”
.335, 9 HR, 110 RBI
4th Time All-Star-When I’m 120-years-old and finally reach the 1960s on this list, I’m anticipating a lot of complaints about Sandy Koufax. He had five dazzling seasons and deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, especially when compared to others. However, I can just about assure you he’s not going to make the ONEHOF, my Hall of Fame which elects the best player not in the ONEHOF. His stretch of dominance was awesome, but it wasn’t long enough for him to get by some of the others up for nomination at that time.
How can I predict the future like this? Am I a prophet? No, but I have Tip O’Neill to go by. His 1886-89 stretch is some of the most outstanding hitting in baseball history. His slash line for the four years was .357/.420/.511 for an OPS+ of 168. He led the league in batting twice and averaged 123 runs scored and 110 runs batted in.
Yet, if I had to guess, this is his last All-Star team. He’s going to fade out, it actually started this season. Yes, O’Neill was fifth in WAR Position Players (3.9) and ninth in Offensive WAR (3.1), but that’s not the standard he had built at this time. He slashed .335/.419/.478 for an OPS+ of 144, his lowest Adjusted OPS+ since 1884, but it will never be this high again. Next season, O’Neill is going to play in the Players League, but his stats in the weak league aren’t going to be mind-blowing.
.300, 5 HR, 80 RBI
1st Time All-Star-William Darby O’Brien was born on September 1, 1863 in Peoria, IL. The lanky outfielder started with the New York Metropolitans in 1887 before the Bridegrooms acquired much of that team after in folded before the 1888 season. O’Brien had his best season ever this year, finishing seventh in WAR Position Players (3.6) and seventh in Offensive WAR (3.3). Darby slashed .300/.384/.418 for an OPS+ of 134. His hitting would be better in 1890, but he only played 85 games as opposed to the 136 he played this season.
In the World Series against the National League Giants, O’Brien struggled like so many Bridegrooms’ players, hitting only .161 with one triple in 31 at-bats. He, along with this team, would be back in the postseason in 1890, but for a different league.
O’Brien would finish off his career in Brooklyn, playing three more seasons, but never at the caliber of this one. Then he, like so many players of this time, died tragically at the aged of 29 in 1893. According to Wikipedia, “O’Brien developed lung problems during his playing career and continued to play, despite his ill health. When he reported to spring training for the 1893 season, the team found that he was too ill to play and sent him to Colorado to try to recover. They played a benefit game to raise money for him.” He died of typhoid fever later that year. As of this writing, the Major Leagues just suffered the tragic loss of Jose Fernandez. Baseball, in its infancy, seemed to encounter these kinds of deaths every year.
.271, 0 HR, 39 RBI
3rd Time All-Star-Welch played his second consecutive season with the Athletics and made the All-Star team both years. This season, he finished 10th in WAR Position Players (3.2) while slashing .271/.375/.370 for an OPS+ of 116. The old-timers’ Ron Hunt was plunked only 19 times this season, down from his league-leading 29 of 1888 and not as many as his league-leading 34 of 1890.
Here’s a bit on Welch’s toughness from a book “Baseball in 1889: Players Vs. Owners,”: “Curt Welch, great, oft-inebriated center fielder for the Philadelphia Athletics, gave further evidence of expected player behavior during a June, 1889 game in Philadelphia. Sliding into second base, he contacted a hidden piece of glass, running his arm from the wrist to the elbow across the sharp edge. Welch calmly ‘doctored’ the freely bleeding wound with sand and saliva and stayed in the game. Periodically, he would add some more sand for ‘antiseptic purposes (Orem 393). Charlie Comiskey, Welch’s manager in St. Louis during the mid-80s, would have expected no less of him. In commenting about how players disregarded physical punishment in the 1880s, Commy once reminisced:
“Welch slid into a bag either way as, in fact, did most of the crack runners in my day. We only varied the performance as the bruises on our bodies dictated. It was much like broiling a steak. If rare on one side, turn it over. (Axelson 48).”
.304, 5 HR, 100 RBI
3rd Time All-Star-Burns, who had enough abrasiveness to form a pearl in an oyster (I have a million of ‘em!) was back on third consecutive All-Star team and part of his first league-winning squad. He finished ninth in WAR Position Players (3.3) and eighth in Offensive WAR (3.2) as the All-Star team’s only rightfielder. He slashed .304/.391/.423 at the plate for a 137 OPS+. Did this hitting continue in the World Series against the National League Giants? As with many of the Bridegrooms, the answer is “No,” though he did better than most. Burns slashed .229/.325/.486 with three doubles and two home runs, helping him garner 11 RBI.
There aren’t many tornados in Brooklyn, but one did take place before the season began in 1889. According to City Room, “On Jan. 9, 1889, a twister blew through what are now the neighborhoods of Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, Downtown, Fort Greene and Williamsburg, blowing roofs off houses and uprooting trees, but killing no one.
“The main difference, apart from the tornado striking in the middle of the winter rather than in the dead of summer, was the explosion of two Citizen’s Company gas storage tanks at Smith and Fifth Streets in what is now called Carroll Gardens, which inspired this impressive triple-stack headline in The Brooklyn Eagle of Jan. 10:
“FIRE & WIND
“South Brooklyn Treated to a Brilliant Display.
“Why Some of the Residents of That Section of the City Thought that the End of the World Had Come — The Ravages of the Tornado — Blazing gas and Shattered Tanks — The Navy Yard Barracks Decapitated — A Memorable Night.”
P-John Clarkson, BSN
P-Charlie Buffinton, PHI
P-Ben Sanders, PHI
P-Henry Boyle, IND
P-Mickey Welch, NYG
P-Jersey Bakley, CLV
P-Ed Beatin, CLV
P-Old Hoss Radbourn, BSN
P-Cinders O’Brien, CLV
P-Tim Keefe, NYG
C-Fred Carroll, PIT
C-Buck Ewing, NYG
1B-Cap Anson, CHC
1B-Dan Brouthers, BSN
1B-Roger Connor, NYG
1B-Jake Beckley, PIT
2B-Hardy Richardson, BSN
2B-Danny Richardson, NYG
3B-Billy Nash, BSN
SS-Jack Glasscock, IND
SS-Ed McKean, CLV
LF-Walt Wilmot, WHS
LF-George Van Haltren, CHC
CF-Jimmy Ryan, CHC
RF-Mike Tiernan, NYG
49-19, 2.73 ERA, 284 K, .206, 2 HR, 23 RBI
1889 NL Pitching Title
1889 NL Pitching Triple Crown
Wins Above Replacement-16.2 (3rd Time)
WAR for Pitchers-16.7 (3rd Time)
Earned Run Average-2.73
Wins-49 (3rd Time)
Walks & Hits per IP-1.277
Games Pitched-73 (3rd Time)
Innings Pitched-620.0 (4th Time)
Strikeouts-284 (3rd Time)
Games Started-72 (3rd Time)
Complete Games-68 (3rd Time)
Shutouts-8 (2nd Time)
Bases on Balls-203 (2nd Time)
Hits Allowed-589 (2nd Time)
Earned Runs Allowed-188
Batters Faced-2,641 (4th Time)
Adj. Pitching Runs-93 (3rd Time)
Adj. Pitching Wins-8.5 (3rd Time)
Def. Games as P-73 (3rd Time)
Putouts as P-36 (2nd Time)
Assists as P-172 (4th Time)
Errors Committed as P-27 (4th Time)
Range Factor/9 Inn as P-3.02 (2nd Time)
Range Factor/Game as P-2.85 (2nd Time)
6th Time All-Star-While most pitchers were cutting down on games and innings pitched, Clarkson kept plugging along, leading the National League in innings tossed for the fourth time in the last five years. He would never lead the league in that category again after this season. The other strange thing is how dominant Clarkson was in odd-numbered years. This is the third consecutive odd-numbered year in which he led the league in WAR (16.2). He also led the league in WAR for Pitchers (16.7). In his 620 innings pitched (led the league), he had a 2.73 ERA (led the league) and a 150 Adjusted ERA+ (led the league). You can also see the long list above that details all of the categories he led in.
Coached by Jim Hart, who had been an under-.500 manager with Louisville Colonels for two years in the American Association, Boston finished second with an 83-45 record, just one game behind the New York Giants. It was tied for first place entering its last game of the season, but lost to the lowly Alleghenys that day to lose the title. Hart would surprisingly never manage again.
Wikipedia says of Clarkson’s outstanding season, “While Clarkson’s 1889 numbers are comparable to those he posted in 1885, the game and distance to the plate had changed, and no other pitcher pitched nearly as many games or innings as Clarkson in 1889. As a measure of his dominance, Clarkson’s 49 wins were 11 more than any other pitcher; his 620 innings were 200 more than any other pitcher; and his 68 complete games were 22 more than any other pitcher. He also had twice as many shutouts as the next best pitcher. He was only the fourth pitcher to win the pitching Triple Crown, by leading the National League in wins, ERA and strikeouts.
28-16, 3.24 ERA, 153 K, .208, 0 HR, 21 RBI
5th Time All-Star-I mentioned this in Buffinton’s 1888 blurb, but how good of career would Buffinton achieved if it wasn’t for a couple off seasons in 1886 and 1887. Still, he continues to pitch well, finishing second in WAR (11.1) and second in WAR for Pitchers (11.3). Buffinton would never pitch this well again, though he’s not done making All-Star teams yet. He pitched 380 innings with a 3.24 ERA and a 132 ERA+. The league ERA was 4.02 this season, so ERAs are higher in general this season.
Despite the good pitching by Buffinton, Philadelphia had a tough season. Longtime manager Harry Wright led the team to a 63-64 fourth place finish. Both its hitting and pitching was just middle of the road, certainly not enough to beat the tough teams in the league. In 19 seasons of coaching, up to this point, Wright had only his fourth under-.500 season. He has four seasons left, but only three full ones and two of those would be winnings seasons. He would finish with a 1225-885 record, a .581 winning percentage. He never won a pennant after 1878, but he consistently led less-talented teams to decent seasons.
What a savior for Philadelphia Buffinton was after the tragic death of Charlie Ferguson before the 1888 season. During Ferguson’s short career, the Quakers finished sixth, third, fourth, and second. In the two seasons after his death, they finished third and fourth. Most teams would have been devastated losing their best player, but Philadelphia hung in there.
19-18, 3.55 ERA, 123 K, .278, 0 HR, 21 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-When you realize Philadelphia had two of the top three pitchers in the league, you would think they would finish higher than fourth place, but while the Quakers went 47-34 in games decided by Charlie Buffinton and Sanders, they only went 16-30 in games decided by their other hurlers. As for Sanders, he finished third in WAR (7.5) and third in WAR for Pitchers (6.9). He tossed 349 2/3 innings with a 3.55 ERA and a 120 ERA+. He still has another All-Star team left in him, but his career is almost over.
Sanders is going to be one of many players which goes over to the Players League in 1890. It’s going to be an interesting season as for one year there will once again be three years, but it will actually end up destroying two of them and strengthening the grip of the National League. We look at baseball now and how benchwarmers still get millions of dollars and grumble when the players complain about money, but in the 1800s, and actually for many years after that, the owners had all the power. We’ll look at that next year (in real time, in webpage time, approximately two weeks).
Due to their good pitching, the Quakers actually were tied for first place as of May 22, following a five game win-streak. They had a 14-6 record at that time, but ended up going 49-58 the rest of the season. This was all part of an 11-year streak in which the Quakers/Phillies finished fourth place or higher.
21-23, 3.92 ERA, 97 K, .245, 1 HR, 17 RBI
3rd Time All-Star-Boyle pitched his last season this year and, in his six seasons, made the All-Star team three times, all in odd-numbered years. It’s also the last season for the Indianapolis Hoosiers, who lasted three years. They didn’t have great teams, but between Boyle and Jack Glasscock, they had some pretty good players. Boyle had his best season ever, finishing sixth in WAR (6.3) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (5.9). He pitched 378 2/3 innings pitched (his highest ever) with a 3.92 ERA (his highest ever) and a 105 ERA+. In a league that had an ERA of 4.02, it was a good season.
Baseball Fever has this to say about the pitching staff of the Hoosiers: “The pitching staff was led by Henry Boyle, who led the team in victories in each season (13, 15, and 21, respectively), to compile a record of 49-69 as a Hoosier. John ‘Egyptian’ Healy, born in Cairo, Illinois, was a member of the staff for two seasons; his record was 24-53 during 1887-88. After the 1888 season he was a member of Al Spalding’s World Tour and played baseball with the other Tourists in Egypt.
“The 1889 staff included rookie pitcher Amos Rusie, who led NL pitchers in games finished as a reliever (11). His won-lost record with Indianapolis was 12-10. With the New York Giants in the 1890’s, he led the NL in strikeouts and walks five times each, in shutouts four times, and fielding his position he led NL pitchers in assists three times and in errors four times. Near the end of the 1898 season he seriously injured his arm on a pickoff throw, missed two full seasons and then retired after an aborted comeback with Cincinnati in 1901. He finished with 246 wins in just over nine seasons, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1977.”
27-12, 3.02 ERA, 125 K, .192, 0 HR, 12 RBI
9th Time All-Star-Though Welch is the 1888 ONEHOF Inductee, the Hall of Fame I created which allows only one player to enter per year, he never was the best pitcher of his league. Don’t get me wrong, he was always great, but he never had one of those dominant seasons like his longtime teammate, Tim Keefe. Still, as of this season, Welch’s career record was 285-187 and his ERA was 2.62 and most likely, he’s going to make one more All-Star team. This season, he pitched 375 innings with a 3.02 ERA and a 132 ERA+. Smiling Mickey also helped New York to another National League pennant.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, for the second consecutive year, the Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant! Managed by Jim Mutrie, they finished 83-43, one game ahead of Boston. As of June 24, New York was eight-and-a-half games out of first with a 24-19 record. It then went on a five-game winning streak and finished the season with a 59-24 stretch to edge out the Beaneaters. In the World Series, the Giants played their neighbors, the American Association Brooklyn Bridegrooms, and beat them six games to three. Welch only started one game, losing it, while allowing eight runs, with five of them earned, in five innings pitched.
Did you know, according to Welch’s Hall of Fame page, he had a surprising baseball first? “Welch was also the first ever major league pinch hitter. On Aug. 10, 1889, he batted for teammate Hank O’Day in the bottom of the fifth inning.”
12-22, 2.96 ERA, 105 K, .135, 1 HR, 8 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-On a team that moved from the American Association to the National League and changed its name from the Blues to the Spiders, Bakley moved with it. He made the All-Star team for his second consecutive season and most likely for the last time. He had his best season ever, finishing 10th in WAR (5.2) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (5.7). Jersey pitched 304 1/3 innings with a 2.96 ERA and a 140 ERA+.
The American Association Cleveland Blues finished sixth in 1888 and the Spiders of the National League did the same. Tom Loftus led them to a 61-72 record, 25-and-a-half games out of first place. Their pitching was sensational, as they allowed the least runs in the league, but their hitting was horrendous, scoring the least runs in the league. All of this a National League Park, truly a hitters’ park. As you can see in the list above, they will have three All-Star pitchers and only one as a position player.
Bakley would be part of baseball history, according to Wikipedia, which says, “On September 3, 1890, Bakley gave up Harry Stovey‘s 100th homer, which was the first time that milestone had ever been reached.” After this season, Bakley would stay with Cleveland, this time in the Players League in 1890, and then play his last season for Washington and Baltimore of the American Association in 1891. Later, according to SABR, “Bakely died at his Philadelphia home on Brandywine Street of a heart attack on February 17, 1915, and was buried in Philadelphia’s Greenmount Cemetery on the 20th.”
20-15, 3.57 ERA, 126 K, .116, 1 HR, 8 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Ebenezer Ambrose “Ed” Beatin was born on August 10, 1866 in Baltimore, MD. He started by pitching two games for Detroit in 1887 and then had his first official season pitching in 1888. When Detroit folded and Cleveland moved to the league, Beatin had his best season ever and, most likely, his only All-Star season this year. He finished sixth in WAR for Pitchers (5.7), pitching 317 2/3 innings with a 3.57 ERA and a 116 ERA+. After this season, he would pitch two more seasons for Cleveland and be done after 1891. However, this good season, along with Jersey Bakley’s and Cinders O’Brien’s helped the Spiders allow the least runs in the National League.
Remember the Bugs Bunny cartoon where he throws a ball with such little velocity the batter swings three times at one pitch and strikes out? Well, guess what Beatin’s best pitch was according to Wikipedia, “Beatin’s best pitch was his ‘slow ball.’ A report published in The Sporting Life stated: ‘His slow ball has never been equaled by any pitcher living, it would set such batters as Delehanty, Beckley and Anson perfectly wild, and the little cuss would use it with the bases chock full and a heavy hitter at bat. I should expect my release if I lobbed a slow one at such times, but Beatin’s teaser was the best thing in his repertoire.’ Another account, published in 1910, stated that Beatin threw his slow pitch with ‘the nerve of a wrestling promoter’ and added: ‘Beatin had the most deliberate slow ball that ever wearied its way toward a plate. Cy Young, Mathewson, Ed Walsh, Mordecai Brown, Addie Joss or any of the artists would gladly separate from $5000 for a loaf ball like Beatin’s.’”
20-11, 3.67 ERA, 99 K, .189, 1 HR, 13 RBI
7th Time All-Star-From 1881 to 1886, there weren’t many pitchers more dominant than Old Hoss. He won over 25 games all six of those seasons, 30 games or more three seasons, 40 games or more two seasons, and a record 59 games in 1884. I would have thought writing this article about 1889 that I’d be saying, Radbourn, a ONEHOF Inductee….but that’s not the case and it’s going to be close as to whether he makes it or not. He’s most likely going to make the All-Star team in 1890, giving him eight All-Star teams, so he’ll be in the running, but is that enough to make the ONEHOF, along with all of his dominant seasons? It’s tough to say.
In 1887, Radbourn tanked, there’s no other way to put it. His ERA+ dropped below 100 for the first time ever in his career and he had a 4.55 ERA. In 1888, he didn’t do bad, but pitched “only” 207 innings. He finally came back this season, finishing eighth in WAR for Pitchers (4.9), throwing 277 innings with a 3.67 ERA and a 112 ERA+. He’s going to be one of many players going to the Players League in 1890.
From SABR, “Radbourn rebounded in 1889 to post a solid 20-11 record in 33 games. The year was contentious though. He had always had an issue with management and their dominance in player relations during the era. In truth, he had a problem with authority figures, managers, owners and umpires. He saw himself as a victim of the reserve clause, knowing full well that he would have made substantially more money if allowed to play in New York during his Providence days.”
22-17, 4.15 ERA, 122 K, .250, 0 HR, 18 RBI
Hit By Pitch-24
1st Time All-Star-John F. “Cinders” O’Brien was born on April 15, 1867 in Troy, NY. If the three good Cleveland pitchers, Jersey Bakley, Ed Beatin, and O’Brien could have duplicated their 1889 seasons, the Spiders would have been much more successful. Unfortunately, it seems Beatin and O’Brien’s seasons were flukes, as neither will likely make another All-Star team. As for this season, Cinders finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (4.3), with 346 2/3 innings pitched, a 4.15 ERA, and a 100 ERA+. All of this in a hitters’ park.
Here’s some information for The Sports Daily on O’Brien: “In 1889 the Blues changed to the Spiders and jumped from the American Association to the National League, but kept the majority of the players around, including O’Brien. That year, Bakley took a reduced role of ‘just’ 34 starts and 304.1 innings with O’Brien taking over the ace spot after his tremendous rookie campaign. He increased his workload to the greatest it would ever be, 346.2 in 41 starts, 39 of which he completed. In addition to both those numbers, he also lead the team with 22 wins.
“Instead, in March of 1892, just before the next season was to begin, Cinders O’Brien caught pneumonia and died at the age of 24. His was a promising career and life cut short by a disease that is now fairly easily treated with simple antibiotics. It is almost fitting as his whole career was inconceivable by modern standards.” There sure a lot of players who died young in this era.
28-13, 3.36 ERA, 225 K, .154, 0 HR, 8 RBI
Hits per 9 IP-7.887 (6th Time)
Strikeouts per 9 IP-5.563 (3rd Time)
Strikeouts/Base on Balls-1.490
10th Time All-Star-Sir Timothy made the All-Star team every year in the 1880s and he’s also going to be good in the early ‘90s. This season, he finished 10th in WAR for Pitchers (4.2), pitching 364 innings with a 3.36 ERA and a 119 ERA+. In the World Series against the American Assocation Brooklyn Bridegrooms, Keefe pitched in two games, starting one, finishing 0-1 with an 8.18 ERA. Surprisingly, despite the great careers of Keefe and Mickey Welch, it was Ed Crane who started five games for the Giants and went 4-1 with a 3.79 ERA. Jim Mutrie, the Giants manager, was a genius!
Keefe was one of the highest paid players in baseball at the time, but it didn’t come without a fight, according to SABR, which says, “Two weeks into the 1889 season, Keefe and Day were still at loggerheads in their salary negotiation. On May 9 newspapers reported that Keefe said he’d accept $4,500, but not Day’s offer of $4,000. That day, with all four Giants pitchers either injured or sick, Buck Ewing pitched in the game against Boston. New York won, but clearly Keefe’s services were needed. Day caved in and offered Keefe the proposed $4,500 compromise. Keefe accepted and pitched his first game on May 10.”
I forgot to mention this in 1888’s write up, but according to SABR, “He was known for his change-of-pace pitch, which he used to establish a still-standing major-league record of 19 consecutive victories in 1888. ‘No more graceful, skillful and strategic pitcher ever tossed a ball over the plate to the bewilderment and dismay of opposing batsmen,’ one writer wrote of Keefe in 1890.”
.330, 2 HR, 51 RBI
On-Base Plus Slugging-.970
3rd Time All-Star-Carroll continued to be one of the best hitting catchers of his time. His career wasn’t long, he would be gone after the 1891 season, but it was impressive, at least at the plate. When Pittsburgh moved from the American Association to the National League in 1887, Carroll moved with it. This season, he finished seventh in WAR Position Players (4.7) and fifth in Offensive WAR (5.3). Carroll slashed .330/.486/.484 for an OPS+ of 183. All of those numbers, except for slugging, are career highs. He played in 91 of Pittsburgh’s 134 games.
As for the Alleghenys, they improved from sixth to fifth place this season, though their record was worse. Horace Phillips (28-43), Fred Dunlap (7-10), and Ned Hanlon (26-18) led them to a 61-71 record, 25 games out of first place. It looks like they should have brought Hanlon on sooner. It would be the beginning of a Hall of Fame managerial career for him.
How impressive was Carroll’s 1889 season? Wikipedia says, “Carroll holds a major league catchers record for age 24 in OPS with a .970 mark, set in 1889. The same season, he posted a career-high .330 BA and a .930 fielding percentage as catching. An above-average runner with good instincts, he compiled 137 stolen bases in his career.”
Oh, and case you’re wondering what happened to Carroll’s monkey, Wikipedia has that also: “At the beginning of the 1887 season Carroll buried his pet monkey, which earlier served as an unofficial team mascot for the team, beneath the home plate at Pittsburgh’s Recreation Park in a pre-game ceremony. The stadium stood at the corner of North, Grant, and Pennsylvania Avenues on Pittsburgh’s Northside.”
.327, 4 HR, 87 RBI, 2-0, 4.05 ERA, 12 K
Def. Games as C-97
Putouts as C-524
Assists as C-149 (3rd Time)
Double Plays Turned as C-10 (2nd Time)
Range Factor/9 Inn as C-7.26
Range Factor/Game as C- 6.94
7th Time All-Star-Ewing made his seventh All-Star team in eight years and has at least one left. He’d be one of many players off to the Players League in 1890. As for this season, Buck finished ninth in WAR Position Players (4.2), 10th in Offensive WAR (3.8), and sixth in Defensive WAR (1.1). He continued to be a great all-around player at a brutal physical position in his day. Ewing slashed .327/.383/.477 for an OPS+ of 135. In the World Series, he was merely human, hitting .250 with four doubles.
SABR says of his 1889 season, “The Giants repeated in 1889 when he had his best overall season to date, hitting .327 and catching in a career high 97 games. But after that, although he was still just 29 years old, Ewing would go behind the plate in only 118 more contests in his eight remaining big league seasons and finish with just 636 catching appearances, tied for 11th among nineteenth century receivers. More importantly, he would never again be a member of a pennant winner.
“Ewing’s lustrous image first began to tarnish in 1890, if only among fellow players. After joining most of the game’s VIPs in jumping to the Players League and being named the New York entry’s captain, he stirred up a hornet’s nest in early July when he publicly admitted that owner Aaron Stern of the now National League Cincinnati Reds had offered him $8,000 to desert the Brotherhood. The following month, on August 11, the New York papers reported that his Players League cohorts feared he was about to abandon them after he had been seen conversing intensely with Giants owner John Day and pitcher Mickey Welch, one of the few Giants who had refused to join the Brotherhood”
.342, 7 HR, 117 RBI
Times on Base-268 (2nd Time)
Putouts-1,409 (4th Time)
Def. Games as 1B-134 (4th Time)
Putouts as 1B-1,409 (4th Time)
Assists as 1B-79 (7th Time)
Range Factor/Game as 1B-11.10 (5th Time)
Fielding % as 1B-.982 (4th Time)
15th Time All-Star-Incredibly, at the age of 37, Anson had his best season ever. He finished fifth in WAR (6.4), second in WAR Position Players (6.4), third in Offensive WAR (5.5), and seventh in Defensive WAR (1.0). He slashed .342/.440/.471 for an OPS+ of 150. He didn’t lead in any offensive categories, save times on base, but it was an outstanding overall year.
He continued to manage the White Stockings, though he’d never lead them to another title. This year, Chicago finished third with a 67-65 record. It started out 31-37 and never got back into the race. Led by Anson, it had good offensive, but some of the worst pitching in the league.
Early in his career, in 1874, Anson went with Al Spalding on a trip to England to play American baseball and spread it throughout the world. According to SABR, he did the same thing in 1888: “After the 1888 season Spalding, owner of the sporting goods company that still bears his name, took the Chicago club and a team of National League all-stars on a ballplaying excursion around the world. Virginia Anson accompanied the party as Anson directed the White Stockings in New Zealand, Australia, Ceylon, Egypt, and the European continent. The trip lost money for its backers, including Anson, but it introduced baseball (and advertised Spalding’s business) to countries that had never seen the sport before. The six-month adventure was the high point of Cap Anson’s life, and takes up nearly half of Anson’s autobiography, published in 1900. At the conclusion of the trip, in April of 1889, Spalding signed Anson to an unprecedented 10-year contract as player and manager of the White Stockings.”
.373, 7 HR, 118 RBI
1889 NL Batting Title
Offensive WAR-6.1 (6th Time)
Batting Average-.373 (3rd Time)
Adj. Batting Runs-48 (6th Time)
Adj. Batting Wins-4.7 (6th Time)
Offensive Win %-.808 (4th Time)
Hit By Pitch-14
AB Per SO-80.8 (2nd Time)
Double Plays Turned as 1B-78
9th Time All-Star-Finally, the great Brouthers makes the ONEHOF at the age of 31. It’s going to be tough to be the one player chosen by me every year to enter the Hall of Fame and it’s going to get tougher. However, this is one player who absolutely deserves any accolade thrown his way. Nowadays, we don’t care about history, so we don’t talk about Brouthers, but if you look at his stats and check out his career, you can’t help being impressed.
Brouthers entered the ONEHOF with style, finishing seventh in WAR (6.2), third in WAR Position Players (6.2), and first in Offensive WAR (6.1). He slashed .373/.462/.507 for his new team, the Beaneaters. His old team, Detroit, was now defunct. Brouthers was no longer the all-time home run leader, being overtaken by Harry Stovey, 89-81.
Unbelievably, Brouthers whiffed only six times during the season. He also was robbed of a home run, according to the book Big Dan Brouthers: Baseball’s First Great Slugger by Roy Kerr. It says, “On May 1 at Philadelphia, Brouthers had already collected a single, a double and a walk when he came to bat in the ninth inning with Boston down two runs and a man on base with two outs. The he met the ball ‘with a whunk that rang out like the crack of a whip, and the crowd saw the ball go straight toward the centrefield fence, and fully 15 feet higher than the top [of the fence]…But a high wire screen some 20 feet high…prevented the sphere from going over.’”
.291, 13 HR, 130 RBI
Runs Batted In-130
Extra Base Hits-62 (2nd Time)
8th Time All-Star-If Dan Brouthers and Connor played nowadays, there would be constant articles on espn.com about these two sluggers, with Cap Anson thrown in, of course. There were many great first basemen in the National League and Jake Beckley, next on the list, is no slouch himself. As a matter of fact, all four first basemen on this All-Star team will eventually make the Hall of Fame.
Connor helped lead the Giants to another league title by finishing ninth in WAR (5.6), fourth in WAR Position Players (5.6), and fourth in Offensive WAR (5.5). His slash line read .317/.426/.528 for an OPS+ of 161. He also had a great World Series against the American Association Brooklyn squad, going 12-for-35 for a .343 average with two doubles, two triples, and eight stolen bases in nine games. By the way, he’s my guess for ONEHOF inductee in 1890.
With Connor’s 13 home runs, he was now at 66, 23 behind Harry Stovey, who passed Brouthers for the all-time home run lead this season. For all of Connor’s power, he would only lead the Major Leagues in home runs in a season once and that will be next season.
Of 1889, SABR says, “At the season’s outset, the Giants had to contend with the loss of their ballpark, the original Polo Grounds having been razed to complete the uptown Manhattan traffic grid, the Tammany Hall connections of John B. Day notwithstanding. After unhappy stays in Jersey City and Staten Island, the team found a site for new grounds in far north Manhattan. Once their New Polo Grounds was erected, the Giants caught fire, nipping the Boston Beaneaters at the wire for a second consecutive pennant. New York then successfully defended its ‘World Series’ crown, defeating the American Association Brooklyn Bridegrooms in a championship match in which Connor batted .343 with 12 RBIs, a fitting coda to a season in which he had led the National League in that statistic with 130.”
.301, 9 HR, 97 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Jacob Peter “Jake or Eagle Eye” Beckley was born on August 4, 1867 in Hannibal, MO, hometown of fictitious Army veteran Colonel Sherman T. Potter, commander of the 4077th MASH unit. He’s going to have an interesting career. It will be long and it will be productive, but is it really Hall of Fame worthy? He would only lead a league in one major stat over his 20 years, triples in the Players League next season. Eagle Eye would lead in a lot of defensive categories, yet only once finish in the top 10 in Defensive WAR. He’s really good, but is he great? Is he possibly overrated because of his career .308 average? Batting average is yet another category in which Buckley never led the league.
Beckley started with Pittsburgh in 1888 as a part-time first baseman playing 71 games with an Adjusted OPS+ of 157, which, by the way, would be his highest in his career. I’m just saying. This season, he slashed .301/.345/.437 for an OPS+ of 127.
As for his nickname, SABR says, “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.” He would be the most famous player in Pittsburgh until a man named Honus Wagner came along.
.304, 6 HR, 79 RBI
7th Time All-Star-There’s an unusual pattern to Richardson’s All-Star career. He’s made seven All-Star teams and only one has been in an even-numbered year. Spoiler alert! He’ll be ruining this pattern next season. For this year, Old True Blue slashed .304/.367/.437 for an OPS+ of 119. He wasn’t the hitter he was in his youth, but he was still the best second baseman in the league.
Richardson was purchased from Detroit, along with Charlie Bennett, Dan Brouthers, Charlie Ganzel, and Deacon White and helped turn Boston into an instant contender. Because he’s going to play in the Players League in 1890, he’ll make another All-Star team, but he is starting to fade and will be out of baseball by 1892.
Here’s a recap of his 1889 season from Wikipedia: “During the 1889 season, Richardson played for the Boston Beaneaters, appearing in 86 games as a second baseman and 46 as an outfielder. He compiled a .304 batting average and 3.9 WAR rating and ranked among the National League leaders with 122 runs scored (8th), 163 hits (9th), 47 stolen bases (8th), and 10 triples (10th). He also had the second highest range factor (6.47) among the league’s second basemen. In his only season with the Beaneaters, he helped the team to a second place finish with an 83-45 record.”
As I compile this team, it’s been interesting to see the amount of these men who are going to leap to the Players League in 1890. It’s amazing that league wasn’t able to continue with all of that talent, but it only lasted one season.
.280, 7 HR, 100 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Daniel “Danny” Richardson was born on January 25, 1863 in Elmira, NY. He was in his sixth straight year with the Giants. In the first three, he was a part-time outfielder and for the last three, he moved to second base, where according to dWAR, he was one of the best fielders in the league. In 1888, he led the league in Defensive WAR (2.3) and was second this season to Jack Glasscock (1.7-1.4). At the plate, Richardson slashed .280/.342/.398 for an OPS+ of 103. The three slash numbers were career highs. In the World Series in 1888, he hit only .167 with two doubles, while in 1889, Richardson hit .314 with a double, a triple, and three home runs.
In the World Series, the Giants faced the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, starting off an age-old rivalry which is nowadays the Giants vs. the Dodgers. SABR has a great article on this. Here’s part of it: “The Giants came back with two runs in the top of the second as right fielder ‘Oyster’ Tommy Burns let a hit go by him for three bases. They could have had more, but Johnny Ward was thrown out stealing third for the first out. Brooklyn got one back in the bottom of the inning on Hub Collins’s home run, for a 6–2 lead. It was Collins’s second of four runs scored in the game, part of his still-standing record of 13 for the series. But the Giants fought back. After both Ewing and Ward were thrown out trying to steal third in the fourth, Danny Richardson hit a long line drive to center that Pop Corkhill got his hands on but then dropped as he tumbled head over heels. Richardson circled the bases for a two-run homer before Brooklyn could retrieve the ball. Corkhill had to come out of the game with an injured neck; Joe Visner, usually a catcher, replaced him.”
.274, 3 HR, 76 RBI, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 K
3rd Time All-Star-Nash made the All-Star team for the third consecutive year as the only representative for the hot corner. He finished ninth in Defensive WAR (1.0) and slashed .274/.379/.343 for an OPS+ of 98 at the dish. It wasn’t a great season, but good enough for a league lacking good third basemen. It was Nash’s only season with an Adjusted OPS+ under 100 in a stretch from 1886-to-1893. He never was a great hitter, but he was always a little above average and combined with his good fielding, Nash was a valuable third baseman to have.
It has always seemed there have been a lack of good third basemen in baseball. If I gave you any position and said, “Name the greats at this position,” you would do well at all of them, but if I gave you third basemen, you’d struggle. Well, maybe you wouldn’t, but I would. There’s Mike Schmidt and then a bunch of really good ones, but not great. None have made the ONEHOF so far and I’m not sure how many will, except for the aforementioned Schmidt. Of course, if I’m still writing this blog by the time I get to Mike Schmidt’s era, I will be dictating it into a floating smart phone in my WALL-E style floating chair.
Jean-Pierre Caillault, who must need more of a life than I do, wrote a book called A Tale of Four Cities: Nineteenth Century Baseball’s Most Exciting Season, 1889, in Contemporary Accounts. Just the title just about wipes out my 250-word limit. Maybe someday I’ll check it out.
.352, 7 HR, 85 RBI, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 K
WAR Position Players-6.7
Defensive WAR-1.7 (3rd Time)
Assists-485 (4th Time)
Def. Games as SS-132 (2nd Time)
Putouts as SS-246 (2nd Time)
Assists as SS-478 (6th Time)
Double Plays Turned as SS-60 (4th Time)
Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-5.76 (5th Time)
Range Factor/Game as SS-5.48 (3rd Time)
Fielding % as SS-.915 (6th Time)
9th Time All-Star-Glasscock, the hard-lucked shortstop, found himself stuck on Indianapolis for the third consecutive year and for the third straight year, it was a terrible team. Of course, some of it had to do with Glasscock himself, who coached the last half of the season, but actually led this pathetic team to a winning record under his reign. The Hoosiers finished seventh with a 59-75 record, with Frank Bancroft guiding them to a 25-43 record and Glasscock managing them to 34-32 mark.
Pebbly Jack’s best player was his shortstop, one Jack Glasscock. He had his best season ever at the age of 31, finishing fourth in WAR (6.6), first in WAR Position Players (6.7), second in Offensive WAR (5.9), and first in Defensive WAR (1.7). At the plate, he slashed .352/.390/.467 for an OPS+ of 138. He truly was one of the great 1880s players, but hasn’t made the Hall of Fame and isn’t highly regarded historically. It is baffling to me.
I personally believe it’s because he didn’t have huge overall numbers and he didn’t win any league titles. He didn’t hit above .300, he ended up with 2,041 hits, and he wasn’t a power hitter, ending up with a career slugging average under .400. But he was a good hitter and a great fielder and was the best shortstop in the National League year-after-year. He will probably make the ONEHOF, but he should definitely be in the easier-to-make Cooperstown Hall of Fame. There are many lesser players in the Hall of Fame from that era.
.318, 5 HR, 75 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-McKean moved with his team from the American Association to the National League this season, but still continued to be productive. That didn’t always happen. Sometimes going from the weaker league to the NL brought people down to a lower level, but not at this point for McKean. He finished eighth in WAR Position Players (4.5), ninth in Offensive WAR (3.9), and fourth in Defensive WAR (1.4). McKean slashed .318/.375/.424 for an OPS+ of 120 as he continued to be one of the eras great hitting shortstops.
The book, Ed McKean: Slugging Shortstop of the Cleveland Spiders says this about the Spiders nickname: ”It was in May that the team had acquired its distinctive nickname. Sportswriters had initially relied on the default sobriquets for a first-year team, calling them the Babes or, sometimes mockingly, Babies. F.H. Brunell bestowed the moniker that would stick, as he watched some Cleveland players practicing. ‘They look skinny and spindly, just like spiders,’ he was overheard to remark. ‘Might as well call them Spiders and be done with it.’
“Out of spring training, McKean was Tom Loftus’ third batter in the order, his pick for a dependable run producer to hit behind his fleet men on the bases, Cub Stricker and McAleer. McKean, however, was the one Spider whom Loftus would occasionally bench for what he thought to be selfish play. The clash between manager and shortstop was a fundamental disagreement, one that would necessarily limit McKean’s offensive production in his early years in Cleveland.”
.289, 9 HR, 57 RBI
1st Year All-Star-Walter Robert “Walt” Wilmot was born on October 18, 1863 in Plover, WI. He started with the Nationals in 1888, would be purchased by the White Stockings in 1890, and would finish his career as a part-time player for the Giants in 1897 and 1898. This would be his best season ever, as Wilmot was the only representative of the Nationals on this team. He finished 10th in WAR Position Players (4.0), slashing .289/.367/.484 for an OPS+ of 144. It would be highest Adjusted OPS+ ever.
As for Washington, this was its last year in the league and, so appropriately, finished last in the league. John Morrill (13-38) and Arthur Irwin (28-45) led the team to 41-83 record. It would be the last season Morrill, who led the 1883 Beaneaters to the NL Pennant, would ever manage. He would finish with a 348-334 record, a .510 winning percentage. For Irwin, this was his first year ever managing and he has some good years ahead.
Since he most likely won’t make another All-Star team, here’s some career highlights of Wilmot’s career from Wikipedia: “While playing for the Nationals in 1889, Wilmot led the league with 19 triples and 139 games played. The following season, he tied with Oyster Burns and Mike Tiernan for the National League lead in home runs with 13, also a career-high. He also set a career best with 76 stolen bases while driving in 99 runs in 1890. On the August 22, 1891, he became the first player in major league history to be walked 6 times in 1 game.
“Wilmot died in Chicago, at the age of 65.”
.322, 9 HR, 81 RBI
1st Time All-Star-George Edward Martin “Rip” Van Haltren was born on March 30, 1866 in St. Louis, MO. He played part-time for the White Stockings in 1887 and 1888, before becoming the team’s fulltime leftfielder this season. He finished eighth in Offensive WAR (3.9), slashing .322/.416/.446 for an OPS+ of 137. He would always have a high batting average and on-base percentage over his 17-year career.
Here’s some snippets of Van Haltren’s life from Wikipedia: “Van Haltren was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1866. In 1868, his family moved to Oakland, California. Van Haltren played baseball as a kid and became a pitcher. His play attracted the attention of the major leagues, and in 1887, he signed with the Chicago White Stockings.
“Van Haltren made his major league debut in June 1887. He was a pitcher and outfielder that season and had a win–loss record of 11–7 and a batting average of .203. The following year, he went 13–13 and batted .283. As a full-time left fielder in 1889, Van Haltren batted .322 with 126 runs scored and 81 runs batted in.
“In 1889, Van Haltren married Blanche O’Brien. They had two daughters, Mary Elizabeth (born in 1890) and Dorothy (born in 1895).”
SABR adds, “Until a devastating ankle injury effectively ended his major-league career, George Van Haltren was late 19th-century baseball’s premier leadoff man. A lefty hitter with keen strike-zone awareness and a quick bat, Van Haltren topped the .300 mark in 13 of his 14 seasons as a lineup regular.”
.325, 17 HR, 72 RBI
Total Bases-297 (2nd Time)
Runs Created-118 (2nd Time)
Extra Base Hits-62
Power-Speed #-24.7 (2nd Time)
Double Plays Turned as OF-9
Range Factor/Game as OF-2.72
2nd Time All-Star-Pony Ryan continued his stellar play of 1888 with a great 1889 season. He finished sixth in WAR Position Players (5.0) and sixth in Offensive WAR (5.1). Ryan slashed .325/.403/.516 for an OPS+ of 151. It was his highest slugging ever. He would have a good long career, but these two years of 1888 and 1889 were his best.
SABR has a good article, as always, on Jimmy Ryan, from writer Arthur Ahrens. It says, “The SABR 19th Century Committee recently polled its members to determine the top ten players of the pre-1900 era not in the Hall of Fame. Heading the list in a three-way tie were Jimmy Ryan, Harry Stovey, and George Van Haltren. My favorite is Ryan, the great Chicago outfielder. A brief review of his life and career should tell you why.
“In mid-1885 Ryan went professional, joining Bridgeport of the Eastern League, and had but 29 games of minor league experience when Cap Anson signed him with the Chicago White Stockings (Cubs) at the close of the season. Stationed at shortstop in place of Tommy Burns, Jimmy made his debut October 8, 1885, at Chicago. Although he went only one-for-four in a 5-3 loss to the Phillies, the Chicago Tribune noted that ‘Ryan, the young Bridgeport player, . . . . proved himself a strong batter, a quick fielder and very clever between the bases.’ The following day he went four-for-six but the Phillies again won, 12-11.
“In 1889 Jimmy reached a career high with 17 homers but did not lead the league because Sam Thompson of the Phillies belted 20. On September 30 Ryan hit George Haddock’s first pitch for his sixth leadoff homer of the year as Chicago took care of Washington, 9-5. This remained a major league record until broken by Bobby Bonds in 1973.”
.335, 10 HR, 73 RBI
Bases on Balls-96
Times on Base-268
2nd Time All-Star-Tiernan turned 22 before this season and still showed all the signs of being a great player. He finished fifth in WAR Position Players (5.2) and seventh in Offensive WAR (5.1), slashing .335/.447/.497 for an OPS+ of 159 in helping the Giants once again win the National League pennant. In the World Series, Silent Mike didn’t fare as well as 1888, but still hit .289 with a double, a triple, a home run, and three stolen bases as New York beat Brooklyn, six games to three.
His 1888 and 1889 seasons are detailed by SABR: “In 1888, the Giants (84-47) captured their first National League pennant, with now everyday right fielder Mike Tiernan filling a solid supporting role. Usually hitting in the second spot, Mike posted a .293 batting average and stole 52 bases. He continued his fine work in the post-season, batting .342, with eight runs scored, six RBIs, and five steals in ten games, as the Giants defeated the American Association St. Louis Browns to claim the title of world champions. Tiernan backed up this performance with an even better one in 1889. He led the NL in walks (96) and runs scored (147), and was among the league top five in batting (.335), slugging (.497), on-base percentage (.447), OPS (.944), total bases (248), and triples (14). Every bit of this output was needed, as the Giants had to rally down the stretch to nip the Boston Beaneaters for the 1889 NL pennant. The club then successfully defended its world champions crown, besting the AA Brooklyn Bridegrooms in a post-season match that featured second tier Giants hurlers Cannonball Crane and Hank O’Day in improbable starring roles. For his part, Tiernan hit .289 and tallied a team-high 12 runs.”
P-Silver King, STL
P-Ed Seward, PHA
P-Bob Caruthers, BRO
P-Mike Smith, CIN
P-Nat Hudson, STL
P-Mickey Hughes, BRO
P-Ice Box Chamberlain, LOU/STL
P-Adonis Terry, BRO
P-Jersey Bakley, CLE
P-Lee Viau, CIN
C-Jim Keenan, CIN
C-Jocko Milligan, STL
1B-John Reilly, CIN
1B-Tommy Tucker, BAL
2B-Yank Robinson, STL
3B-George Pinkney, BRO
3B-Denny Lyons, PHA
3B-Arlie Latham, STL
3B-Jumbo Davis, KCC
SS-Ed McKean, CLE
SS-Oyster Burns, BAL/BRO
LF-Harry Stovey, PHA
LF-Hub Collins, LOU/BRO
LF-Tip O’Neill, STL
CF-Curt Welch, PHA
45-20, 1.63 ERA, 258 K, .208, 1 HR, 14 RBI
1888 AA Pitching Title
Wins Above Replacement-15.8
WAR for Pitchers-14.5
Earned Run Average-1.63
Walks & Hits per IP-0.874
Bases on Balls per 9 IP-1.170
Innings Pitched-584 2/3
Strikeouts/Base on Balls-3.395
Fielding Independent Pitching-2.38
Adj. Pitching Runs-91
Adj. Pitching Wins-9.1
Def. Games as P-66
2nd Time All-Star-Even though innings pitched were dropping for the most part during this era of baseball history, there was still the occasional rubber-armed pitcher. That was King. Charlie Comiskey found his ace and worked him to the bone. It would have its effect as King would be done pitching before he was 30. Let’s not dwell on that, let’s look at this great season in which he finished first in WAR (15.8) and first in WAR for Pitchers (14.5). He pitched 584 2/3 innings with a 1.63 ERA and a 195 ERA+. All of those numbers led the league.
So King led St. Louis to its fourth consecutive American Association pennant as it compiled a 92-43 record. The Browns then lost their second straight World Series, 6-4, to the National League New York Giants. In the Series, King pitched five games, going 1-3 with a 2.31 ERA. His fielding really let him down, as he allowed 23 runs, of which 14 were unearned.
Here’s a blurb from Baseball Reference on King’s pitching style: “’Speaking of the changes in the pitching distance’, said Captain Tebeau, ‘I can remember a 16 to 15 game under the old rules. Silver King was one of the pitchers. You could hide the ball then, and he used to come, whirling around like a serpent up to the 45 foot mark, and let go.’ ” – Patsy Tebeau, recalling Silver King’s pitching style, in Sporting Life, March 2, 1895.”
And on his nickname: “The nickname ‘Silver’ King owed its origin to the famous ‘Silver King Mine,’ located in Arizona and one of the richest silver mines in American history. Its peak production coincided with the height of ‘Silver’ King’s own peak pitching performance.”
35-19, 2.01 ERA, 272 K, .142, 2 HR, 14 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-Seward made the All-Star team in 1887, but it was this season which was his best, as he finished second in WAR (9.9) and second in WAR for Pitchers (9.9). He pitched 518 2/3 innings with a 2.01 ERA and a 146 ERA+. It was a great season, but it’s also most likely his last All-Star team. Seward would pitch two more seasons with the Athletics and finish his career with the 1891 National League Cleveland Spiders.
As for the Athletics, Manager Bill Sharsig, coaching for his second season – he had coached the Athletics for the last part of the 1886 season – led them to a third place finish with a 81-52 record, 10 games behind the Browns. Even as late as Sept. 10, Philadelphia was just three games out of first. However, it played only .500 ball after that and fell away.
Seward had a great game against the Cincinnati Red Stockings, pitching a no-hitter on July 26, as the Athletics won 12-2. Or as the St. Paul Daily Globe reported: “There was a gala time at the Athletic Park this afternoon at the slaughter of the Cincinnatis by the Athletics. Seward pitched ‘the game of his life,’ Cincinnati not making the semblance of a base hit in the entire nine innings.”
29-15, 2.39 ERA, 140 K, .230, 5 HR, 53 RBI
4th Time All-Star-Caruthers was purchased by the Bridegrooms from the Browns for $8,250 and continued having success with his new team. Parisian Bob finished third in WAR (6.8) and third in WAR for Pitchers (5.6). From the mound, Caruthers tossed 391 2/3 innings with a 2.39 ERA and a 126 ERA+. His Adjusted ERA+ fell from 160 in 1885 to 147 in 1886 to 137 in 1887 to 126 this season, his pitching becoming less effective. It would continue to drop in 1889 and Caruthers would never have an ERA under three again.
Did adding the great Caruthers help the newly-named Bridegrooms? Absolutely! They improved from a sixth-place finish in 1887 to a second-place finish this season. Bill “Gunner” McGunnigle managed a Major League team for the first time ever and led Brooklyn to an 88-52 record, six-and-a-half games behind St. Louis.
Wikipedia tells us why Brooklyn had the name change: “With the 1888 season, the Brooklyn Grays underwent a name change to the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, a nickname that resulted from several team members getting married around the same time. Also, owner Charles Byrne decided to withdraw from managing the team’s on field activities and turned the reins over to more experienced baseball manager Bill McGunnigle. That, along with the Bridegrooms’ purchase of several top players from the defunct New York Metropolitans, led to a dramatic on field improvement as the team finished in second place in the American Association.”
22-17, 2.74 ERA, 154 K, .225, 0 HR, 9 RBI
Home Runs Allowed per 9 IP-0.026
2nd Time All-Star-Here’s the interesting thing about Smith, he’s probably made his last All-Star team as a pitcher this season. It’s well deserved, as he finished sixth in WAR (5.1) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (4.4). He threw 348 1/3 innings with a 2.74 ERA and a 113 ERA+. Meanwhile, at the plate, Smith slashed .225/.329/.271 for an OPS+ of 90. Oh, back to the interesting thing. When his arm gave out and his pitching fell off, he left the Major Leagues in 1889. However, he would be back with the National League Pirates in 1892 and all of a sudden, this man, who had a total slash line of .251/.330/.350 in the American Association, was put in leftfield and could hit. He’s going to make a couple of All-Star teams as a position player. How does a player who couldn’t hit in a weak league learn to hit in a better league?
With Gus Schmelz managing the team for his second straight season, the Red Stockings dropped from second place to fourth place, despite having a nearly identical record to 1887. That season, their record was 81-54, this season it was 80-54. Schmelz would continue managing next season and that record would continue dropping.
In my time as a Reds’ fan, this team never seems to have a dominant pitcher. In franchise history, Noodles Hahn, who pitched from 1899-1905 for Cincinnati has the highest WAR at 44. But he is 10th on this team in WAR all-time, behind nine position players. Even during the Big Red Machine era, it’s tough to name a great pitcher.
25-10, 2.54 ERA, 130 K, .255, 2 HR, 28 RBI
Putouts as P-42
1st Time All-Star-Nathaniel P. “Nat” Hudson was born on January 12, 1869 in Chicago, IL. He started as a 17-year-old pitcher for the Browns in 1886 and would have a short four-year career. This season, he finished seventh in WAR (5.1) and eighth in WAR for Pitchers (4.0). Hudson pitched 333 innings with a 2.54 ERA and a 125 ERA+. It was easily his best season ever, but he didn’t pitch in the World Series.
Due to a fluke in 1886, Hudson didn’t make that All-Star team despite having the numbers to do so. Sorry about that, Nat.
Here are some interesting tidbits from Wikipedia about the short career of Hudson:
“Hudson started his professional baseball career at the age of 15, with Quincy of the Northwestern League. In 1886, he signed with the Browns and went 16–10 for them. He also started and won one game in that year’s ‘World Series’ against the National League‘s Chicago White Stockings.
“On July 17, 1889, Hudson was traded to the Louisville Colonels in exchange for Toad Ramsey; however, he refused to report to Louisville and never played another major league game. On August 18, he was sold for $1,000 to the Minneapolis Millers of the Western Association. He played two seasons for them before retiring.
25-13, 2.13 ERA, 159 K, .137, 0 HR, 10 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Michael F. “Mickey” Hughes was born on October 25, 1866 in New York, NY. He had a great rookie year this season, finishing eighth in WAR (4.7) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (5.3). It’s rare a pitcher’s anemic hitting drops his so far from his rating in WAR for Pitchers to WAR, but Hughes was just terrible at the plate.
It looked good for the Bridegrooms to have a 21-year-old pitcher who just pitched a dazzling season, but this was as good as it gets for Hughes. He pitched two more years for Brooklyn, before being traded in 1890 to the Athletics, where he finished his three-year career. However, he was part of the Bridegrooms’ league-winning season of 1889.
This franchise started as the Brooklyn Atlantics in 1884, changed to the Grays in 1885, then to the Bridegrooms in 1888, moved to the National League in 1890, shortened their name to the Grooms in 1891, went back to being the Bridegrooms in 1896, became the Superbas in 1899, the Dodgers in 1911, went back to the Superbas in 1913, changed to the Robins in 1914, and finally permanently became the Dodgers in 1932. Then 18 years after that, the great Vin Scully started announcing for the team and would be with the team through the 2016 season, even after the team moved to Los Angeles in 1958. I don’t like much about the Dodgers, but I do like Vin.
Scully is so good that when you hear other announcers, they pale in comparison. I start to wonder why they can’t put in the effort Vin does. Some people are just gifted by the Lord and use those gifts in the right place.
25-11, 2.19 ERA, 176 K, .160, 1 HR, 5 RBI
Fielding % as P-.963
1st Time All-Star-Elton P. “Ice Box” or “Icebox” Chamberlain was born in November 5, 1867 in Buffalo, NY. The reason for his nickname isn’t clear, according to Wikipedia, which says, “In 1887, Chamberlain won 18 games for Louisville. The right-hander, who stood 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m) and weighed 168 lbs., earned the nickname ‘Ice Box’. Some sources attribute the nickname to his ability to remain cool when facing tough opposition, but at least one source links the nickname to chronic laziness.”
The lazy Chamberlain split his time between two teams in 1888 and did great. He finished 10th in WAR (4.4) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (4.4). Ice Box tossed 308 innings with a 2.19 ERA and a 140 ERA+. He then got to show his stuff in the World Series against the National League New York Giants, but unfortunately his stuff left him. He was 2-3 with a 5.32 ERA, allowing 36 runs in 44 innings, 26 of which were earned.
As for Chamberlain’s first team, the Louisville Colonels, they finished seventh in the league with a 48-87 record. Three people coached the team during the season, none with any success. Kick Kelly started the year, after leading the team to a fourth place finish in 1887, and went 10-29 before being let go. He’d never coach again. Kelly was followed by Mordecai Davidson who coached two different times during the season with a total record of 35-54. He’d never coach again. John Kerins also managed, garnering a 3-4 record. He actually would coach 17 games for the St. Louis Browns in 1890.
13-8, 2.03 ERA, 138 K, .252, 0 HR, 8 RBI
Hits per 9 IP-6.692
Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.369
4th Time All-Star-How do I put this delicately? Terry might be the worst player to make four All-Star teams. In 1888, he finished 10th in WAR for Pitchers (3.8) and never finished higher than that. As a pitcher, Terry pitched 195 innings with a 2.03 ERA and a 148 ERA+. At the plate, he slashed .252/.283/.304 for and OPS+ of 88. He actually will be a better hitter for a couple of seasons. Looking ahead to 1890, Terry is going to finish in the top 10 in WAR, but I’m not completely sure he’s going to make the All-Star team because his time was split between pitching and the outfield. We’ll see how accurate a prophet I am. Of course, if he’s the best player on the team, then all bets are off.
I mocked Terry earlier, but Wikipedia praises him this season, saying, “But it was not until 1888 that he turned into a star pitcher. In that season, he had a 13-8 record, a 2.03 ERA, and tossed his second no-hitter, this time against the Louisville Colonels on May 27, 1888.”
Believe it or not, there is actually an entire website devoted to Adonis Terry. The writer believes he should be in the Hall of Fame. Here is his argument: “Terry began his professional career in 1883 for the then minor league Brooklyn Grays and led them to the Interstate Championship. In 1884, Brooklyn was admitted to the major leagues and Adonis Terry became the first pitcher in Dodger history. From there Terry would go on to win about the same amount of games (197) as Hall of Famers of his era Rube Waddell and Jack Chesbro, pitch two no-hitters (Waddell and Chesbro never pitched a single no-hitter between them), surpassed each by a wide margin in complete games and innings pitched and was a far better hitter than either of them, but is not included in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.”
25-33, 2.97 ERA, 212 K, .134, 1 HR, 9 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Edward Enoch “Jersey” Bakley was born on April 17, 1865 in Blackwood, NJ. He started his career with the 1883 Philadelphia Athletics, and then moved to the Philadelphia Keystones, Wilmington Quicksteps, and Kansas City Cowboys of the Union Association. It was there he led that lower Major League in many negative categories – losses, earned runs allowed, walks allowed, and wild pitches. Probably for that reason, he didn’t get back to the Major Leagues until 1888. For the Blues, Bakley finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (3.9), pitching 532 2/3 innings with a 2.97 ERA and a 102 ERA+.
Jersey’s Cleveland team struggled, finishing in sixth place with a 50-82 record while being coached by Jimmy Williams (20-44) and Tom Loftus (30-38). Williams never coached again, but Loftus still has seven years of managing left.
SABR writes of Bakley (which it spells Bakely): “By late July of 1888 Bakely was among the top pitchers in the Association. After blanking the pennant-bound St. Louis Browns 1-0 on July 30, he fashioned three more shutouts the following month, including two on consecutive days in Cincinnati. In early September, Bakely owned a 25-24 record. Even though he ended the season with nine straight losses to finish 25-33, he collected exactly half of Cleveland’s wins and logged nearly half the team’s innings.”
Like many in his time, Bakley had trouble with the bottle. SABR says, “The next two seasons Bakely pitched for the Rochester Maroons of the International Association. Despite being arrested along with teammate Fred Lewis after an infamous drunken spree in September 1887 and fined $50 (a hefty sum in those days) in police court.”
27-14, 2.65 ERA, 164 K, .087, 0 HR, 8 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Leon A. “Lee” Viau, pronounced Vee-oh, was born on July 5, 1866 in Corinth, VT. This season was his rookie year and he was off to a fast start, finishing seventh in WAR for Pitchers (4.2) and having his best season ever. He pitched 387 2/3 innings with a 2.65 ERA and a 117 ERA+. He would never have an Adjusted ERA+ that high again in his remaining four seasons. He would have rated higher if his hitting wasn’t so dreadful, as he slashed .087/.150/.121 for an OPS+ of -14. If Cincinnati never thought they’d have a pitcher hit as bad as Will White, it was wrong.
SABR loves to write about these little-known American Association players. It writes of Viau, “After pitching well at St. Paul in 1887 (one newspaper regarded him as ‘the best pitcher in the league’), Viau signed a $2,500 contract with Cincinnati. The Reds gave him an early chance to prove himself, handing him the ball in their first exhibition game at New Orleans in the spring of 1888. The 21-year-old responded with a 6-0 shutout, then proved it was no fluke by opening the regular season with eight straight wins before suffering his first setback on June 1. For the season, Viau went 27-14 (fifth in the Association in wins and fourth in winning percentage), and compiled an ERA of 2.65 (tenth), 387.2 innings pitched (eighth), 42 complete games (seventh) and 164 strikeouts (tenth). On a pitching staff that included Tony Mullane and Elmer Smith, both 30-game winners in 1887, Viau emerged as the ace as the veterans slumped to 26 and 22 wins respectively.”
.233, 1 HR, 40 RBI
Fielding % as C-.946
2nd Time All-Star-It’s been four years since Keenan last made an All-Star team, but playing over 68 games (85 games) for the first time in his career helped boost his stats. He was good defensively, finishing fifth in Defensive WAR (1.4), but his bat lacked as he slashed .233/.294/.323 for an OPS+ of 94. He has a good season coming up in 1889, though I’m not sure it’s of All-Star caliber. My prediction is it will be because of the dearth of good catchers in the American Association.
Here’s a wrap-up of Keenan’s career from Wikipedia: “Keenan made his debut at age 17 with the New Haven Elm Citys of the National Association, but did not establish himself in the majors until 1884, when he became the regular catcher for the Indianapolis Hoosiers. He stayed in Indianapolis to start the 1885 season, with the city’s entry in the Western League, but the league quickly folded, and he was acquired by the Detroit Wolverines.
“Before he played a game for Detroit, however, Keenan jumped to the Red Stockings, where he split time at catcher with Pop Snyder. Over the next four seasons, he would split the catching duties for the Red Stockings with Kid Baldwin. In 1890 and 1891, he backed up Jerry Harrington.”
Catching is difficult nowadays, but it was truly a bruising position in the 1800s. In 1888, Jack Boyle of the Browns led the league in games caught with only 70, followed by Keenan and Doc Bushong with 69.
.251, 5 HR, 37 RBI
Double Plays Turned as C-11 (3rd Time)
2nd Time All-Star-Milligan is one of those catchers who didn’t even play half of his team’s games, but still was productive. That is the norm in the American Association during this time, because catchers were beat up. This is the amazing thing about Charlie Bennett. While most catchers either played about half of their teams games, or if they played more, toiled at other positions, Bennett played almost regularly, most of the time at catcher.
Milligan made the most of his 63 games. He finished eighth in Defensive WAR (1.0), while at the bat, he slashed .251/.311/.365 for an OPS+ of 108. He has some great hitting years ahead. His Adjusted OPS+ in 1888 was actually his second lowest up to this point in his then 5-year career. Where he really cut loose was in the World Series against the National League New York Giants, where he went 10-for-25 (.400) with two doubles and a triple, all in a losing cause.
Honest Jack Boyle caught more games for the Browns than Milligan, 70-63, but I’m not sure with SABR’s assessment that, “After leaving Philadelphia at the close of the 1887 season, Milligan again played second fiddle to Jack Boyle for the St. Louis Browns of the American Association. When the Browns played in the 1888 World Series against the New York Giants of the National League, Boyle could not catch more than a couple of games because of sore hands. This was Milligan’s only appearance in post-season play. He played in eight games, batting .400.” He caught 90 percent of the games that Boyle did, that hardly makes him second string, that makes him a second regular catcher.
.321, 13 HR, 103 RBI
Offensive WAR (5.0)
Slugging %-.501 (2nd Time)
On-Base Plus Slugging-.864 (2nd Time)
Total Bases-264 (2nd Time)
Home Runs-13 (2nd Time)
Runs Batted In-103
Adj. Batting Runs-40
Adj. Batting Wins-4.6
Extra Base Hits-55
AB per HR-40.5 (2nd Time)
Double Plays Turned as 1B-73 (6th Time)
4th Time All-Star-Reilly had his best season ever, finishing fifth in WAR (5.2), second in WAR Position Players (5.2), and first in Offensive WAR (5.0). He reminds me of Vladimir Guerrero, a free swinger who still hits for a high average. This season, he slashed .321/.363/.501 for an OPS+ of 171. His hitting would surprisingly fall off after this season and he would be gone from the Major Leagues in three years. This leads me to believe he’s made his last All-Star team.
There is a tremendous, but long, article on Reilly in SABR and it’s so hard to figure out what to put here, in what is likely Reilly’s last write-up. All I can say is read the whole thing. I guess I’ll put this on about 1888: “In 1888 with his best season since 1884. After beginning the year by homering in five consecutive games, he went on to lead the league again in homers and slugging, as well as runs batted in, and he finished near the top in doubles, triples, hits and batting average. In a day when statistics calculated to a players’ last at bat were not available to everyone with a computer, hopes persisted into November that Reilly had won the Association batting crown. After a long delay, the official statistics finally showed Reilly finishing fourth in the race. Today, statistical readjustments have moved him up two places, but Tip O’Neill of St. Louis is still given credit for his second consecutive batting title.”
.287, 6 HR, 61 RBI, 0-0, 3.86 ERA, 2 K
Assists as 1B-59
2nd Time All-Star-In his second year, Tucker made his second All-Star team. In his third year, he’ll make his third. Then, he’s going to play 10 more years and my guess is he’ll never make another. Hey, let’s dwell on the positive. Tucker had a heck of year, finishing seventh in WAR Position Players 93.7) and ninth in Offensive WAR (3.3). Foghorn slashed .287/.330/.400 for an OPS+ of 139 and for the only time in the stretch from 1887-1892, he didn’t lead his league in being hit by pitches.
Why Foghorn? According to SABR, “If his hitting decline were not burden enough, he also grew increasingly unpopular among fellow players with each passing year. His nicknames – ‘Foghorn’, ‘Noisy Tom’ and ‘Tommy Talker’ – provide an initial clue. By the time he took his last throw at first base in a major league game in 1899, few indeed were sorry to see him go.
“Whether it was a change to the National League brand of ball or playing for a better caliber of team, he evolved almost immediately into a very different sort of player than he had been with Baltimore. Always an aggressive, in-your-face type – he led his league five times in being hit by pitches – he became downright fractious, perfecting a trick on wild pickoff throws to first base of falling heavily on top of the runner to prevent him from advancing. His language, particularly when he was acting as a base coach, grew increasingly vulgar and his off-field antics began putting him into frequent skirmishes with Boston manager Frank Selee.”
.231, 3 HR, 53 RBI
Bases on Balls-116
3rd Time All-Star-Robinson continued to be the best second baseman in the American Association, making his third consecutive All-Star team. He also continued to add value by taking pitches, setting the all-time record for walks taken with 116. Yank finished 10th in WAR Position Players (3.5) and eighth in Offensive WAR (3.6). Yet this is probably Robinson’s last All-Star team. Because while he was great at taking pitches, his problem came when the bat actually came off of his shoulder. This season, he slashed .231/.400/.314 for an OPS+ of 121. It would be the last time his Adjusted OPS+ was in triple digits. Robinson walked six times in the World Series against the National League New York Giants, but he also struck out a third of his 36 at-bats, ending up slashing .250/.357/.361. His hitting would continue to get worse.
According to Wikipedia, rule changes helped Robinson’s cause: “Prior to 1880, nine balls (pitches outside the strike zone) were required for a batsman to draw a walk, and the major league record was 29 walks in a season. The number of balls required to draw a walk was progressively reduced to eight balls in 1880, six in 1884, five in 1887, and, finally, four in 1889.
“Robinson was one of the first players to exploit fully the new rules governing bases on balls. In 1887, his 92 walks and 17 times hit by pitch elevated his on-base percentage to .445. Then, in 1888 and 1889, Robinson became the master of the free pass. He set a new major league record in 1888 with 116 walks.”
.271, 4 HR, 52 RBI
Games Played-143 (2nd Time)
Plate Appearances-653 (2nd Time)
Times on Base-234
Def. Games as 3B-143 (2nd Time)
1st Time All-Star-George Burton Pinkney was born on January 11, 1859 in Orange Prairie, IL. He was short at five-foot-seven and 160 pounds and started his career in 1884 with the National League Cleveland Blues as a part-time second baseman. When the Blues folded, he then was purchased by Brooklyn, along six other players and has been here since. He finished eighth in WAR Position Players (3.6) and seventh in Offensive WAR (3.7). Pinkney slashed .271/.358/.351 for an OPS+ of 127. He would be an inconsistent hitter over his 10-year career, with some years better than others. This was one of his good ones. In 1889, he would slump again, but he’ll be back.
Pinkney was the original Iron Man. According to Wikipedia, “When he retired, he held Major League Baseball’s all-time record for most consecutive games played (577) and innings played (5,152).” Like Cal Ripken, Pinkney played at a tough position to be able to play day-after-day, the only tougher position in his day being catcher. However, one wonders if his career was shortened by not taking a rest once in a while. “One” is always wondering about things like that. One’s a pain in the neck.
Orange Prairie, Illinois, sounds like a lowly populated, lazy town like Stars Hollow, but it turns out it’s a bustling suburb of Peoria with a population in 2015 of over 186 thousand. In my minutes of research, I couldn’t find anything for which Orange Prairie is famous, but that makes sense. It’s easy to be outshined by Peoria.
.296, 6 HR, 83 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-Lyons made the All-Star team for his second consecutive year at the young age of 22. He finished ninth in WAR Position Players (3.6) and sixth in Offensive WAR (3.7), slashing .296/.363/.406 for an OPS+ of 148. His stats were down from the year before but, in a tough hitting season, they were still decent. Lyons’ fielding is starting to improve also, according to bWARdWAR.
According to John Reilly’s SABR page, Lyons was the target of a joke by Reilly in 1886. I put this so we can examine 1800s humor. “Late in the 1886 season, some Reds players were discussing how to pitch to the Athletics team that was coming to Cincinnati for a series. Rookie pitcher Elmer Smith was concerned about Denny Lyons, the notoriously bibulous but hard-hitting Athletics third baseman. ‘Pitch him a drop, Elmer,’ advised Reilly, meaning a drop ball. ‘Pitch him a drop and he’ll not hit it, for he told me he hadn’t touched a drop all summer.’” Sign this man up for America’s Got Talent!
At this point, Lyons is 22-years-old and is going to have a very good career. On the day of this writing, news came out a couple days ago about the death of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, at the age of 24. I’m not a Marlins fan and I don’t know a lot about the young man, but I know he was a great pitcher who enthused the Cuban fans in the Miami area. It reminds me of Charlie Ferguson, a pitcher here in Philadelphia, who died at 25 and missed out on an outstanding, possible Hall of Fame career.
.265, 2 HR, 31 RBI
Outs Made-419 (2nd Time)
4th Time All-Star-Latham’s fielding still dazzled for the Browns, but his hitting is starting to drop off. He slashed .265/.325/.326 for an OPS+ of 101. Only one time in his final 10 years would his OPS+ be over 100 again. As a fielder, however, the Freshest Man on Earth finished fourth in Defensive WAR (1.5). In the World Series against the National League Giants, Latham didn’t hit too well, batting .250 with no extra base hits. He did steal 11 bases, though.
It would have been fun to be around the mischievous Latham and St. Louis Browns owner Chris Von der Ahe. According to SABR, “Chris Von der Ahe was a colorful character himself. A large man who wore loud, checkered clothing, Chris sat in a special box behind third base with a whistle and binoculars. He used the whistle to get the attention of players, for someone to get him a beer, or for special cops he employed for personal use and to keep tabs on his players. He bought the Browns in order to put himself in the limelight and to advertise his saloon business.
“Arlie sometimes used his boss as a straight man. In one instance Der Boss (as Chris was known) called all the players into his office on the sixth floor of the building. Von der Ahe did not want anyone else to hear what he was about to tell his players. As Von der Ahe proceeded to talk, Arlie interrupted him and said, ‘Excuse me, sir, but the windows are open and somebody might hear you,’ whereupon der Boss thanked Arlie and promptly shut the windows.”
.267, 3 HR, 61 RBI
Errors Committed as 3B-91
Double Plays Turned as 3B-27
Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-4.39
Range Factor/Game as 3B-4.33
2nd Time All-Star-Davis made his 2nd All-Star team on a fluke, as every team needs a representative and Jumbo is Kansas City’s. It’s not like he was terrible. He slashed .267/.304/.363 for an OPS+ of 109, but if it weren’t for my every team must have a player rule, the American Association wouldn’t have had four third basemen on the All-Star team.
The Cowboys would be around for only two seasons. In this, their premier year, they finished last with a 43-89 record. Dave Rowe (14-36), Sam Barkley (21-36), and Bill Watkins (8-17) did the coaching. The team’s only problems were hitting, pitching, and fielding.
Wikipedia does mention a couple of good things about this bad franchise. “Although they had a win–loss record of 43–89 in their initial season, finishing last out of the league’s eight teams, and went through two managerial changes, there were a couple of bright moments; on June 6, Henry Porter threw a no-hitter, and on June 13, Sam Barkley hit for the cycle. The franchise’s only future Hall of Fame player, ‘Slidin’’ Billy Hamilton, began his career as a part-time outfielder in 1888, and was their starting right fielder in 1889.” They would actually improve a little in 1889, but I’m getting ahead of myself. You’ll have to wait like everyone else.
Nowadays, of course, we are too sophisticated to draw attention to anyone’s weight problems, because we don’t have Jumbo Sabathia or Jumbo Colon names in our box scores. There would be many Jumbo nicknames for umpires, for that matter.
.299, 6 HR, 68 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Edwin John “Ed” or “Mack” McKean was born on June 6, 1864 in Grafton, OH. He started with Cleveland in 1887 and would have this city as his home team for 12 straight years. Only in his last season, would he move to St. Louis. For Cleveland, Mack finished fifth in WAR Position Players (4.0) and fourth in Offensive WAR (4.2). He slashed .299/.340/.425 for an OPS+ of 149. It would be his best Adjusted OPS+ ever, but he still has a couple of All-Star teams left.
In a book called “Ed McKean: Slugging Shortstop of the Cleveland Spiders,” author Rich Blevins wrote, “Arguably, Ed McKean invented the slugging shortstop. Before McKean’s emergence in the big leagues, a club generally filled the shortstop position with a good defensive player who hit a little. Beginning in the late 1880s, a handful of other shortstops, most notably Jack Glasscock and Herman Long, also brought a new dimension to their team’s offense. But no early shortstop was able to fashion the dozen power-hitting seasons that McKean did. You might say, in terms of offensive production and physical build, Ed McKean was the original Honus Wagner. Upon his death, the Pittsburgh Press remembered that McKean, along with Jack Glasscock, Hugh Jennings, and Wagner, had been ‘classified in their day as the greatest shortstops in the game. Wonderful infielders and great-batsmen they were.’ Honus Wagner’s hometown newspaper went even further in its final judgment of Ed McKean’s slugging: ‘Perhaps McKean was the harder hitter of the four when it came to driving it out.’”
.293, 6 HR, 67 RBI, 0-1, 4.26 ERA, 2 K
2nd Time All-Star-If you’ve read Burns’ 1887 write-up (and if you haven’t, c’mon!), you’ll remember it was mentioned Oyster was no pearl to be around (stop groaning). He had a surly disposition and a bad temper. So you would think there would be many seasons like this one in which he jumps teams, but he’ll actually be with Brooklyn for quite a while. For this season, Burns had played 79 games with Baltimore before being sold to Brooklyn on August 10, where he played another 52 games. Altogether, he finished 10th in WAR Position Players (3.5) and fifth in Offensive WAR (4.0). Oyster slashed .293/.345/.435 for an OPS+ of 153. He did about the same on both teams.
Did adding an All-Star shortstop help Brooklyn? Well, as of August 10, the Bridegrooms were 54-33, a .621 winning percentage, while for the rest of the year, they were 34-19, a .642 winning percentage. Maybe it helped a little. He would definitely help the next couple years.
More on Burns’ charming disposition from Wikipedia: “After playing in 79 games for Baltimore, Burns was transferred to the Brooklyn Bridegrooms by Harry Von der Horst, the owner of both clubs. While he was playing for the Bridegrooms, the New York Clipper described Burns as ‘the noisiest man that ever played on the Brooklyn team. His voice reminds one of a buzz-saw.’”
And just a little more from The Good Phight: “A real chatty Cathy, Oyster [was a]…rabble-rouser, a troublemaker, and a disrupter, bringing Oyster onto a team was usually a hit on clubhouse chemistry, as the Brooklyn Bridegrooms found out in 1888.” Well, if it affected their chemistry, it doesn’t show in their record.
.287, 9 HR, 65 RBI
WAR Position Players-5.4
Triples-20 (3rd Time)
7th Time All-Star-Stovey continued to bash the ball, having his best season ever. He finished fourth in WAR (5.4), first in WAR Position Players (5.4), and second in Offensive WAR (4.5). One of the reasons it was his best season is because he actually added some defensive value. At the plate, Stovey slashed .287/.365/.460 for an OPS+ of 166, his highest Adjusted OPS+ since 1884. As for homers, Stovey, with 70 long balls, was four behind the all-time leader, Dan Brouthers, who had 74 at this point.
The National Pastime Museum says, “One other thing: Could he throw? In 1888, he participated in a distance-throwing contest and finished second to Ned Williamson with a throw of 123 yards, 2 inches, or 369-plus feet. Yes, he could throw. He could do it all.” Definitely a five-tool player.
I think Stovey has a good shot at making the ONEHOF, the One-player-a-year Hall of Fame of my own creation, but there are so many good players around right now that haven’t made it. If you read Mickey Welch’s blurb, you can see he is in the running next season.
Continuing the above article on Stovey’s arguments for being in the REAL Hall of Fame: “When Stovey died in 1937 at 80, his obituary described him as “what Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth were in their day.” How long can the Hall of Fame deny him his place in that pantheon? In 2011, SABR’s Nineteenth Century Research Committee voted Stovey its “Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legend” for 2011. The winner of the 2010 vote, Deacon White, was elected this year by the Veterans Committee. Stovey’s day will come.”
.307, 2 HR, 53 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Hubert B. “Hub” Collins was born on April 15, 1864 in Louisville, KY. Not wanting to leave his hometown, he started for Louisville in 1886 as a part-time outfielder, and became fulltime in 1887. This season, it all came together as he finished fourth in WAR Position Players (4.1) and third in Offensive WAR (4.4). Hub had an Adjusted OPS+ of 93 in 1887, but would never have one below 100 again in his short career and, spoiler alert!, he’s going to have a tragic end.
At the plate, Collins slashed .307/.373/.423 for an OPS+ of 159, including a league-leading 31 doubles. On September 30, the Bridegrooms acquired him from the Colonels for $4,500. You can see why the Bridegrooms are going to be successful the next few years, with all of the good players they’re acquiring. (See Oyster Burns).
The book, The Dodgers Encyclopedia, writes of Collins, “Traded to the Brooklyn Bridegrooms midway through the ’88 season, the .308 hitter was quickly converted to a second baseman by manager Bill McGunnigle, desperately in need of infield help. He immediately tightened up the Groom inner defense, helping the team jump from seventh place all the way to second.”
I’ll talk about this more in a later season, but Collins would die at the age of 28 in 1892 of typhoid fever. It just brings back to mind Jose Fernandez, who died at 24 just a few days before this was written. I don’t think Collins would have made the Hall of Fame, but he might have been one of the all-time great Dodgers, instead of just a footnote.
.335, 5 HR, 98 RBI
1888 AA Batting Title (2nd Time)
Batting Average-.335 (2nd Time)
Hits-177 (2nd Time)
Singles-138 (2nd Time)
Runs Created-91 (2nd time)
Offensive Win %-.798
3rd Time All-Star-After such a dazzling 1887 season, this season seems like kind of a letdown, but any batter would have been happy to hit like Tip did this year. He finished third in WAR Position Players (4.1) and 10th in Offensive WAR (3.1). O’Neill slashed .335/.390/.446 for an OPS+ of 158. Only compared to his monster previous season did these stats look humdrum. In the World Series against the Giants, Tip had his second bad Series in a row, hitting .243 with a double and two homers. Good for mortals, but nothing compared to his regular season stats.
Here’s something I didn’t know from Baseball Reference: “He got his nickname ‘Tip’ because he would hit foul tips on pitches in order to wait out a pitcher till he got the pitch he wanted, or till he drew a walk.
“He is the only player in baseball history to lead his league in hits, doubles, triples, and home runs in the same season (Stan Musial came close in 1948). He was the first major leaguer to hit 50 doubles in a season.” That’s info I didn’t have room for last season.
After these two outstanding seasons and now four consecutive seasons with an Adjusted OPS+ of over 150, O’Neill is going to start to lose a little of his hitting skill. He’s probably got another All-Star team left, but he’s going to start to fade and be gone by the time he’s 34. Tip’s not the first to start losing his stuff once he turns 30.
.282, 1 HR, 61 RBI
Hit By Pitch-29
2nd Time All-Star-Welch didn’t make the All-Star team in 1887 and after the season, he was traded along with Bill Gleason to Philadelphia for Fred Mann, Chippy McGarr, Jocko Milligan, and $3,000. In his first season with the Athletics, he had his best season ever, finishing sixth in WAR Position Players (3.9). At the plate, Welch slashed .282/.355/.357 for an OPS+ of 130. That Adjusted OPS+ would be his highest ever. He was also good at getting plunked, leading the league by getting hit 29 times, the third of seven consecutive seasons he would get nailed 10 or more times.
Since he didn’t make the All-Star team in 1887, let’s backtrack to this story from Baseball Reference: “On June 16, 1887, he was at the center of a huge brawl in a game against the Baltimore Orioles, when he bowled over second baseman Bill Greenwood in the 9th inning with the score tied at 8. Thousands of fans ran on to the field calling for Welch’s arrest – or worse, and police had to intervene to break up the riot. The game was called, and Welch was whisked away from the ballpark while Baltimore, MD native Dave Foutz, his teammate, talked to the crowd to calm them down. However, when Welch got to the train station to escape town, another mob had gathered, and he had to stay with his teammates at the team hotel, with more fans gathered around with hostile intentions. A court hearing was held the next day, where some Orioles fans asked for charges to be laid, but Greenwood pleaded in his favor, saying the play was nothing out of the ordinary for a baseball game. Welch was released but kept out of that day’s game in order to appease tensions.” Thug!
P-Charlie Buffinton, PHI
P-Tim Keefe, NYG
P-Ben Sanders, PHI
P-Mickey Welch, NYG
P-Pete Conway, DTN
P-Gus Krock, CHC
P-Pud Galvin, PIT
P-Ed Morris, PIT
P-John Clarkson, BSN
P-Hank O’Day, WHS
C-King Kelly, BSN
C-Buck Ewing, NYG
C-Charlie Bennett, DTN
1B-Roger Connor, NYG
1B-Cap Anson, CHC
1B-Dan Brouthers, DTN
2B-Fred Pfeffer, CHC
3B-Billy Nash, BSN
3B-Deacon White, DTN
SS-Ned Williamson, CHC
SS-Jack Glasscock, IND
CF-Jimmy Ryan, CHC
CF-Dick Johnston, BSN
CF-Dummy Hoy, WHS
RF-Mike Tiernan, NYG
Wins Above Replacement-12.0
WAR for Pitchers-12.1
Putouts as P-31
Assists as P-122
Range Factor/9 Inn as P-3.44
Range Factor/Game as P-3.33
4th Time All-Star-After missing the All-Star team the last two seasons, Buffinton is back, baby! (I just like the alliteration.) He had an underwhelming year in 1886 and then was purchased by Philadelphia in April of 1887. Buffinton had a winning season that year, finishing 21-17, but had a 3.66 ERA. This season, he finished first in WAR (12.0) and first in WAR for Pitchers (12.1), throwing 400 1/3 innings with a 1.91 ERA and a 154 ERA+. It was his best season ever, but he’s still going to make this team a couple more times.
Not too many managers stuck around for even two or three years, but Quakers manager Harry Wright was now in his 18th season of coaching. This season, he led Philadelphia to a 69-61 record and a third place finish, 14-and-a-half games out of first.
The website, Not in the Hall of Fame, wonders if Buffinton should be there. It says of him, “Throughout his career, Buffinton relied on a particularly effective sinkerball and would fan 1,700 batters and win 233 games. He also finished with a career WAR of 56.1 which is another impressive career tally. Buffinton retired mid-season in 1892 at the age of 31, when he was asked to take a pay cut. Although he was having the worst season of his career (and the following season would have the mound pushed back ten feet), it is conceivable that Buffinton would have continued to add to his statistics that would have made him a Hall of Famer. As it stands now, he is one of many who are enjoying a renewed look at his career, and way back in a long line for a Veteran’s Committee to look at.”
35-12, 1.74 ERA, 335 K, .127, 2 HR, 8 RBI
1888 NL Pitching Title (3rd Time)
1888 NL Triple Crown
Earned Run Average-1.74 (3rd Time)
Wins-35 (2nd Time)
Walks & Hits per IP-0.937 (4th Time)
Hits per 9 IP-6.569 (5th Time)
Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.942 (2nd Time)
Strikeouts-335 (2nd Time)
Adjusted ERA+-156 (3rd Time)
Fielding Independent Pitching-1.89 (2nd Time)
Adj. Pitching Runs-48 (2nd Time)
Adj. Pitching Wins-5.0 (2nd Time)
9th Time All-Star-Smiling Tim made his ninth consecutive All-Star team with another dominant season. If I had a Cy Young vote back in 1888, I would have said, “Who’s Cy Young?” and then cast my ballot for Keefe. If pitching is judged by WAR, the crown would have gone to Charlie Buffinton. I’ll compare them in a bit, but first, here are the stats for Keefe: He finished second in WAR (9.1) and second in WAR for Pitchers (10.3). He pitched 434 1/3 innings pitched with a 1.74 ERA and a 156 ERA+. Another incredible season for this Hall of Fame (and ONEHOF) pitcher.
As for Keefe’s team, the Giants, they finally broke through and won the pennant. Jim Mutrie managed the team to an 84-47 record, nine games ahead of the always dangerous White Stockings. New York’s hitting wasn’t as good as the White Stockings or Wolverines, but it easily had the best pitching. In the World Series, the Giants won six games to four over the American Association St. Louis Browns. Keefe won four of those games, completing all of them, with a 0.51 ERA.
Let’s compare the 1888 seasons of Buffinton and Keefe. Keefe led the league in ERA with a 1.74 mark, Buffinton was third at 1.91. Keefe pitched more innings 434 1/3 to 400 1/3. Keefe had a 156 Adjusted ERA+, which led the league and Buffinton’s was 154, good for third. Keefe’s home park, the Polo Grounds, tended towards favoring the pitcher, but in 1888, skewed heavily in that direction. Buffinton’s home park, Philadelphia Baseball Grounds, usually was a big hitters’ park, but this season, abnormally favored the hitter. It’s probably ballparks that give Buffinton the edge in WAR (12.1-10.3).
19-10, 1.90 ERA, 121 K, .246, 1 HR, 25 RBI
Bases on Balls per 9 IP-1.079
1st Time All-Star-Alexander Bennett “Ben” Sanders was born on February 16, 1865 in Catharpin, VA. The Quakers needed pitching to make up for the tragic loss of Charlie Ferguson, who died of typhoid fever in the offseason. They got it from veteran Charlie Buffinton, who had a bounce back year and from the rookie Sanders. Sanders, who was six-foot, 210 pounds, and surprisingly wasn’t nicknamed “Big Ben,” pitched 275 1/3 innings with a 1.90 ERA and 156 ERA+. He finished third in WAR (8.8) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (7.8). Sanders was off to a fantastic start, but this was his best season ever.
Wikipedia says of him, “As a pitcher, he displayed good control, but he used an unorthodox delivery which ended with him off-balance, and with his back turned toward home plate. This made it difficult for him to react quickly on batted balls in his area of responsibility, particularly bunts. On September 18 of that rookie season, Sanders lost a perfect game when his pitching opponent, Gus Krock, singled with one out in the 9th inning for the Chicago Colts. Sanders still achieved a 6–0 shutout victory.” That would have been fun to watch.
Sanders, like Ferguson before him, also could hit the ball. Though not nearly at Ferguson’s level, he still slashed .246/.276/.322 for an OPS+ of 86. He was a good enough hitter that he played 25 games in the outfield and would continue many games in the outfield throughout his short career.
26-19, 1.93 ERA, 167 K, .189, 2 HR, 10 RBI
8th Time All-Star-We look back fondly on the pitching duo of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale or even Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain, but the combo of Tim Keefe and Welch might be the best of them all. That pair finally won their first pennant this season, but, more importantly, Welch is now a member of ONEHOF, the Hall of Fame which allows only one entry per year. The nominees for 1889 are King Kelly, Charlie Bennett, Jack Glasscock, Dan Brouthers, Charley Jones, Fred Dunlap, George Gore, Monte Ward, Ned Williamson, Roger Connor, and Harry Stovey.
Welch finished fourth in WAR (7.9) and third in WAR for Pitchers (8.0). He pitched 425 1/3 innings with a 1.93 ERA and a 141 ERA+. In the World Series, Welch pitched two of the 10 games, completing both and going 1-1 with a 2.65 ERA.
Wikipedia writes of him, “Author David Fleitz writes that Welch did not swear, smoke or drink hard liquor. Welch liked beer enough that he would write poems about it, reciting them for sportswriters or for fans on the carriage ride to the ballpark on game days. Sometimes his poetry also advertised local bars and restaurants.” In my old days, I drank a lot of beer, but never wrote verses about it.
Speaking of the combo plate of Welch and Keefe, there’s this from Wikipedia: “Welch and Keefe remained friends long after they retired from baseball.” The only reason they didn’t pitch more seasons together is that Welch was a homebody, sticking with the Giants his whole career (once he got there from Troy) and Keefe occasionally had wanderlust, going to the American Association for a couple of seasons and to the Players League in 1890.
30-14, 2.26 ERA, 176 K, .275, 3 HR, 23 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Peter J. “Pete” Conway was born on October 30, 1866 in Burmont, PA. He started with Buffalo in 1885 and had a 4.67 ERA. In 1886, he pitched for Kansas City and Detroit with a 4.95 ERA. He finally clicked in 1887 for the Wolverines, as his ERA dropped to 2.90 and he went 2-2 in the World Series with a 3.00 ERA. This season, most likely his only All-Star season, Conway finished sixth in WAR (6.9) and eighth in WAR for Pitchers (5.6). He pitched 391 innings with a 2.26 ERA and a 122 ERA+. He was Detroit’s only regularly effective pitcher.
That’s why, despite Detroit’s powerful hitting, the Wolverines finished in fifth place with a 68-63 record. Bill Watkins (49-44) started as manager, before being relieved by Bob Leadley (19-19). Detroit finished 16 games out of first despite finishing second in the league in runs scored.
This would be the last season for the Wolverines, as they folded at the conclusion of the season, due to heavy financial losses. Still, they hold an important record, according to Wikipedia, which says, “Though they folded after only eight seasons, the Wolverines occupy an important place in baseball history. On September 6, 1883, they conceded 18 runs in a single inning against the Chicago White Stockings, the most ever in MLB.” In its history, Detroit certainly had some great players including Charlie Bennett and Dan Brouthers, among others. It’s hard to believe the team folded just one season after being the World Series champion. Of course, in 1901, Detroit would have a long-lasting team start in the American League.
25-14, 2.44 ERA, 161 K, .164, 1 HR, 11 RBI
1st Time All-Star-August H. Krock was born on May 9, 1866 in Milwaukee, WI and made his first All-Star team (and likely last) in his rookie season. The six-foot, 196 pound pitcher finished ninth in WAR (6.3) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (6.8) for his best season ever. On the mound, he tossed 339 2/3 innings with a 2.44 ERA and a 123 ERA+ and, now that John Clarkson was on Boston, was Chicago’s best pitcher.
Krock played only two more seasons, pitching for Chicago, Indianapolis, and Washington in 1889 and then for the Players League Buffalo Bisons in 1890. Whatever he had this season was gone for the rest of his career. His ERA in 1889 was 5.57 and in 1890, in a weak league, was 6.12. Then he was out of the league and would be dead by the age of 38.
You don’t meet too many people named Gus nowadays. I’m 51 years old, as of this writing, and I only know one, who I haven’t seen in years. I could count it as two if you count Burton Guster on the TV show, Psych. I miss that show. And even in that show, Shawn, the lead character, never wanted to call his crime-solving partner Gus, but by increasingly silly nicknames.
Who’s the most famous Gus? Well, it’s six in the morning right now and I can’t think of one. Gus always seemed the kind of name seen more on TV and the movies than it did in real life. Maybe because it’s a shortening of August and there are even fewer of those around.
23-25, 2.63 ERA, 107 K, .143, 1 HR, 3 RBI
9th Time All-Star-Though Galvin has 60 wins left in his stellar career, this is probably the last All-Star team for the 1887 ONEHOF inductee. In his fourth year with Pittsburgh, Pud finished 10th in WAR (5.7) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (6.6). He threw over 400 innings for the ninth and last time in his career, tossing 437 1/3 innings with a 2.63 ERA and a 100 ERA+. We can’t even imagine a pitcher throwing 400 innings. The last time a pitcher pitched even 300 was Steve Carlton throwing 304 in 1980.
As for the Alleghenys, Horace Phillips led the team to a 66-68 sixth place finish. Their pitching was great, as they allowed the third lowest amount of runs in the league, but their hitting was anemic, second worst in the National League.
According to SABR, “Galvin lasted four more seasons, retiring after the 1892 campaign with 365 victories to his credit, 361 of them in recognized major leagues. By that time Tim Keefe, Mickey Welch, Hoss Radbourn, and John Clarkson had also reached 300. But not until 1903 was Pud’s victory total surpassed, by Denton True Young, and only a handful have passed it since.
“Pud was not done with record-setting. Four seasons later, in his final major-league tour, he founded an even more exclusive club – only Cy Young has joined since then – when he became the first pitcher to lose 300 games.”
Wikipedia says of his end, “Galvin died poor at age 45 on March 7, 1902 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and, as a Roman Catholic, is buried in Calvary Catholic Cemetery. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1965 by the Veterans Committee. In honor of his achievements in Buffalo, Galvin was inducted into the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.”
29-23, 2.31 ERA, 135 K, .101, 0 HR, 6 RBI
Games Pitched-55 (2nd Time)
Games Started-55 (2nd Time)
Complete Games-54 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as P-55 (2nd Time)
Fielding % as P-.940
4th Time All-Star-Pittsburgh must have looked at its pitching, with the great Pud Galvin and the impressive Cannonball Morris, and thought to themselves they’d be competitive for a long time. But as for Galvin and Morris, this is most likely their last All-Star season. But let’s not be negative, Morris still had a good year, after not making the All-Star team in 1887. This season, he finished seventh in WAR for Pitchers (6.4). In 480 innings pitched, he had a great 2.31 ERA and a 114 ERA+. His arm, which had pitched over 429 innings for four of the last five seasons, would finally give out after this. For Morris’ last two seasons, one with the Alleghenys and one with the Players League Pittsburgh Burghers, his ERA was 4.13 and 4.86 respectively.
Wikipedia wraps up Morris’ career: “Career totals for 317 games played (311 as a pitcher) include a 171–122 record, 307 games started, 297 complete games, 29 shutouts, 4 games finished, and 1 save. His lifetime ERA was 2.82. At the plate he was 179-for-1,113 (.161) with 1 home run, 63 runs batted in, and 100 runs scored. Author David Nemec described Morris as ‘the first truly outstanding southpaw pitcher in major league history.’
“Morris died from an infection that began in an injured toe.”
Pittsburgh gives us both sides of pitcher careers in the 1800s. Some were like Pud Galvin, able to have long careers despite the incredible amount of innings pitched they had and some were like Morris, stars which burst onto the scene, but couldn’t handle the burden of being put on the mound every other day or, sometimes, every day, and quickly faded out.
33-20, 2.76 ERA, 223 K, .195, 1 HR, 17 RBI
Innings Pitched-483 1/3 (3rd Time)
Bases on Balls Allowed-119
Batters Faced-2,029 (3rd Time)
Errors Committed as P-19 (3rd Time)
5th Time All-Star-In 1887, Boston finished 16-and-a-half games out of first place, so when it was able to purchase Clarkson, arguably the best pitcher in the league, it must have thought it would contend in 1888. Well, they did improve, finishing only 15-and-a-half games out. Longtime manager John Morrill coached the team to 70-64 record and left the team after this season.
The story of Clarkson’s purchase by the Beaneaters is in his 1887 blurb. How much do personal catchers actually help? Clarkson led the league in WAR in 1885 and 1889 with King Kelly as a catcher, but also led the league in WAR in 1887 without him. As for 1888, the season I’m supposed to be writing about, he finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (4.3), his worst season in that category since 1884. He pitched a league-leading 483 1/3 innings with a 2.76 ERA and 105 ERA+. While Clarkson’s ERA looked good, the truth is the league-wide ERA was 2.83. He did get some help from pitching in a hitters’ park.
This website is slowly creeping towards the time of the Players League in 1890. Clarkson’s purchase by Boston had much to do with the creation of that league. As SABR says, “A lot of money was being thrown around between the owners, but the reserve clause was helping to hold down salaries and personal freedoms as well. The prevailing players union, the Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players, was busy solidifying its ranks in response to the disgruntlement. Clarkson joined his colleagues, pledged his support to the Brotherhood in early 1889, and paid his dues. Oddly, he did so at the urging of Boston Beaneaters director William Conant, who believed that the other men would play better behind him during the season if he did. According to Boston Globe sportswriter Tim Murnane, ‘The pitcher promised at the time that he would never hurt the Boston club.’”
16-29, 3.10 ERA, 186 K, .139, 0 HR, 6 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Henry M. “Hank” O’Day was born on July 8, 1859 in Chicago, IL. He started his career with the 1884 American Association Toledo Blue Stockings, then went to the AA Pittsburgh Alleghenys, before joining the National League in 1886 with the Nationals. This will most likely be his only All-Star season, as he finished 10th in WAR for Pitchers (4.3). O’Day pitched 403 innings with a 3.10 ERA and a 90 ERA+.
As for the Nationals, Walter Hewett (10-29) and Ted Sullivan (38-57) led the team to a 48-86 eighth place finish. At least Washington was consistent, scoring the least runs and allowing the most in the NL.
You might have heard O’Day made the Hall of Fame in 2013, but not for his pitching, but his umpiring. Wikipedia says, “O’Day was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on December 3, 2012 by the Hall’s new Pre-Integration Era Committee, which considers candidates from the era prior to 1947 once every three years, and was inducted the following July. His induction speech was given by his grandnephew Dennis McNamara, a former Chicago police officer with his own connection to baseball history, having introduced Hall of Famer Ron Santo to his wife Vicki.”
O’Day was the umpire on the field for the famous Merkle’s Boner play of 1908. He called Fred Merkle out at second base for not touching the bag. It led to Chicago beating the New York Giants, which led them to the World Series, where they would win for the last time until….to be determined.
.318, 9 HR, 71 RBI
Errors Committed as C-54
8th Time All-Star-At this point in Kelly’s career, he’s already made the All-Star team as a third baseman, shortstop, and outfielder, but this is the first season he made it as a backstop. Catcher would be Kelly’s main position for the rest of his career, but he always done some catching with his former team, the White Stockings. This season, Kelly finished eighth in WAR Position Players (4.5) and fifth in Offensive WAR (5.5). He slashed .318/.368/.480 for an OPS+ of 165 in what was a hitters’ league.
Kelly was certainly one of the most interesting players of his time. For instance, Wikipedia says, “One day in 1888, Boston player-manager John Morrill fined him $100 for not reporting to the grounds one day. After dinner the night before, Kelly had told Morrill he was ill, and Morrill said he should still report. The Boston Herald said, ‘Every man on the team thinks [the $100 fine] was deserved.’ The Herald also said of Kelly, ‘At times he goes in and plays with his whole spirit, and he puts life into the team. A sample of that was seen in yesterday’s game, a game that he won for the Bostons. At other times he plays carelessly and indifferently, puts on a spirit of independence, disobeys Morrill on instructions at will, and does as he pleases.’” Kelly seems to me to be more unpredictable Bryce Harper, who’s the best player when he wants to be, than Mike Trout, steady and solid every day.
.306, 6 HR, 58 RBI, 0-0, 2.57 ERA, 6 K
Double Plays Turned as C-12
6th Time All-Star-Ewing’s streak of five consecutive All-Star teams ended in 1887, but he was back this year as one of the best catchers in the league. (I would still give the edge to the hard-nosed, ironman Charlie Bennett.) The Hall of Famer finished seventh in WAR Position Players (4.8) and sixth in Offensive WAR (5.3). Ewing’s defense, always a strong point, was diminishing. At the plate, he had arguably his best season, slashing .306/.348/.465 for an OPS+ of 158. That Adjusted OPS+ was his highest ever. His great hitting continued in the World Series, where he slashed .346/.370/.615 with two triples and a homer in the 10 games played against the American Association St. Louis Browns.
Here’s SABR on his 1888 season: “In 1888 he began the season at second base, replacing the popular Joe Gerhardt, and later took over the third base slot again. At both positions he heard a constant stream of digs for his shoddy work in the field and his increasingly gingerly approach to the game in general from his shortstop neighbor and main disparager, John M. Ward.
“But it may simply have been that Ewing was aware by then that catching less frequently would prolong his career and had begun saving his efforts there for when it counted most. By midseason in 1888 he was back behind the plate on a regular basis when it appeared that the Giants would be a serious pennant contender. With Ewing playing in 100 games (103) for the first time in his career, New York marched to its initial NL flag.”
.264, 5 HR, 29 RBI
Fielding % as C-.966 (4th Time)
8th Time All-Star-The tough guy Bennett made his eighth consecutive All-Star at catcher and it’s tough to say how long this will last since his value is coming mainly from defense at this time. This year, he finished second in Defensive WAR (2.2). At the plate, he slashed .264/.347/.399 for an OPS+ of 137. It would be his last year of having an Adjusted OPS+ over 100 again.
Speaking of his last year, this was his last year with Detroit, mainly because it was the Wolverines’ last season of existence. In those eight years, which included one World Series victory, Bennett was the team’s all-time leader in WAR with 31. Dan Brouthers finished second with 20, though, in his defense, he played only two seasons in Detroit.
Of this season, Wikipedia says, “During the 1888 season, Bennett rebounded with one of the best seasons of his career. His overall 4.2 WAR rating was the third highest of Bennett’s career, and his 2.2 Defensive WAR rating was the highest of his career and the second highest in the National League. Despite being the eighth oldest player in the league, he broke his own major league record with a .966 fielding percentage. The Wolverines as a whole finished in fifth place with a 68-63 record. With high salaries owed to the team’s star players, and gate receipts declining markedly, the team folded in October 1888 with the players being sold to other teams. On October 16, 1888, the Wolverines sold Bennett, Dan Brouthers, Charlie Ganzel, Hardy Richardson and Deacon White to the Boston Beaneaters for a price estimated at $30,000.”
.291, 14 HR, 71 RBI
WAR Position Players-7.5 (2nd Time)
Bases on Balls-73
7th Time All-Star-In 1887, Connor’s beloved daughter died, but he just kept plugging along. This season, the giant of all Giants finished fifth in WAR (7.5), first in WAR Position Players (7.5), third in Offensive WAR (6.3), and fourth in Defensive WAR (1.4). It was certainly a great all-around season. At the dish, Connor slashed .291/.389/.480 for an OPS+ of 176. In the World Series win over the American Association St. Louis Browns, Connor went seven-for-23 with a double and two triples. At this point in his career, Connor has 53 long balls, trailing Dan Brouthers, who is at 74.
SABR on Connor’s season: “In 1888 the star-laden Giants roster finally played to its potential, coasting to the pennant. Apart from a substandard .291 batting average, Connor placed in the league top five in almost every offensive category. And as in years past, Connor’s performance was largely taken for granted, with press coverage of the team focused on more colorful personalities like manager Jim Mutrie and stars Buck Ewing and John Montgomery Ward. The lack of attention had no visible effect on Connor. He was his same reliable self in the postseason, batting .303 as the Giants topped the American Association champion St. Louis Browns in the 1888 postseason series.”
It’s no surprise he didn’t complain, considering the Baseball Hall of Fame webpage, quoting an article from the New York Clipper, says, “’Connor’s honorable and straightforward conduct and affable and courteous demeanor towards all with whom he is brought into contact have won him deserved popularity both on and off the ball field.’”
.344, 12 HR, 84 RBI
1888 NL Batting Title
Batting Average-.344 (2nd Time)
On-Base %-.400 (3rd Time)
On-Base Plus Slugging-.899 (2nd Time)
Runs Batted In-84 (7th Time)
Singles-133 (3rd Time)
Offensive Win %-.837 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as 1B-134 (3rd Time)
Double Plays Turned as 1B-85 (3rd Time)
Fielding % as 1B-.986
14th Time All-Star-There would no longer be a dominant White Stockings team under manager Cap Anson, but his best player continued to be his first baseman, one Cap Anson. He finished seventh in WAR (6.9), second in WAR Position Players (6.9), and second in Offensive WAR (6.4). At the age of 36, he slashed .344/.400/.499 for an OPS+ of 176.
Manager Anson, however, suffered through a disappointing year, as the White Stockings finished in second place with a 77-58 record, nine games behind the New York Giants. Ironically, the Giants used the same strategy as the White Stockings did, going around the leagues and snatching up the best players, sometimes stealing from their own American Association team. This time it worked against Chicago. As late as July 20, it was one-and-a-half games up in first place in the National League, but then lost six straight, including three to the weak Indianapolis squad and never sniffed the top of the league again.
Anson, who I mentioned before would have been a great reality show star, started his acting career this year. Wikipedia says, “Anson began acting during his baseball career. In 1888, he made his stage debut with a single appearance in Hoyt’s play A Parlor Match at the Theatre Comique in Harlem. He also played himself in an 1895 Broadway play called The Runaway Colt, written to take advantage of his fame. Later, Anson began touring on the vaudeville circuit, a common practice for athletes of the time, which lasted up until about a year before his death. He first appeared in vaudeville in 1913 doing a monologue and a short dance. In 1914, George M. Cohan wrote a monologue for him, and in 1917, Cohan, with Chicago Tribune sportswriter Ring Lardner wrote another piece for him, titled First Aid for Father. Anson appeared with two of his grown daughters, Adele and Dorothy, and would bat papier-mâché baseballs made by Albert Spalding into the audience. He appeared in 1921 accompanied by his two daughters in an act written by Ring Lardner with songs by Herman Timberg.”
.307, 9 HR, 66 RBI
Offensive WAR-6.8 (5th Time)
Runs Scored-118 (2nd Time)
Doubles-33 (3rd Time)
Adj. Batting Runs-48 (5th Time)
Adj. Batting Wins-5.5 (5th Time)
Times on Base-240 (4th Time)
AB Per SO-40.2
Errors Committed as 1B-42
8th Time All-Star-Brouthers made the All-Star team for the eighth consecutive season and it will be his last one for Detroit. It doesn’t matter, he’s not done yet. Is it surprising to you that the dominant Brouthers has not made the ONEHOF, my Hall of Fame in which only one player a year gets inducted. Well, my thought is that making the ONEHOF should be tough. It should take a long stretch of excellent play. I do think he’s got a good shot next year.
This season was considered an off-year for Brouthers and every player wish they could have an off-year like this one. He finished eighth in WAR (6.6), third in WAR Position Players (6.6.), and first in Offensive War (6.8). He slashed .307/.399/.464 for an OPS+ of 174. The batting average was his lowest ever as a fulltime player, the on-base percentage was his lowest from 1885-through-1894, and his slugging was his lowest since 1880.
According to a book called Big Dan Brouthers: Baseball’s First Great Slugger, “Detroit’s simmering pot of debt, discord and discontent boiled over in 1888, and the result was a fall from first to fifth place in the standings, the resignation of manager Bill Watkins, the sale of the club’s star players, and the demise of the franchise. Through it all, Big Dan played on.”
.250, 8 HR, 57 RBI
Assists-457 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as 2B-135 (3rd Time)
Putouts as 2B-421 (5th Time)
Assists as 2B-457 (3rd Time)
Errors Committed as 2B-65 (5th Time)
Double Plays Turned as 2B-78 (5th Time)
Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-6.67 (3rd Time)
Range Factor/Game as 2B-6.50 (3rd Time)
2nd Time All-Star-It’s been four years since Pfeffer made the All-Star team, but this season he not only made it but is the only second baseman on the National League team. Since Dandelion last made the team, he’d participated in the 1885 and 1886 World Series’, going 17-for-48 with two doubles and two homers. This season, it was his glove that put him on the team as he finished eighth in Defensive WAR (1.1). At the plate, Pfeffer slashed .250/.297/.377 for an OPS+ of 107, his highest Adjusted OPS+ since his All-Star season of 1884.
Bleed Cubbie Blue names Pfeffer the 55th greatest Cub of all time and has this to say about him: “Pfeffer has been credited with several fielding innovations. He was the master of intentionally dropping the soft line drive for an easy double play, and that’s a big reason why such a maneuver is no longer legal today. He’s credited with being the first to cut off the catcher’s throw to second for a play at the plate on a double steal of second and home. Additionally, along with Anson and Ned Williamson, Pfeffer played a role in developing what we now know as the proper way to operate a rundown, with running the runner back to the base and having a third fielder covering the base the fielder with the ball left vacant.”
I’ve always preferred hitters over glove men and I’m not sure how great Pfeffer actually was. He might have one All-Star team left in him, but I’m not so sure. His best hitting year was 1884, but that was the year Chicago designed its home stadium like a Little League park and balls were flying out of there like a home run derby.
.283, 4 HR, 75 RBI
Double Plays Turned as 3B-20
Fielding % as 3B-.913
2nd Time All-Star-Nash made his second consecutive All-Star team and had his best season ever, finishing fifth in WAR Position Players (5.3), eighth in Offensive WAR (4.4), and third in Defensive WAR (1.5). He slashed .283/.350/.397 for an OPS+ of 134 in a pitchers’ year. He would continue his solid play in Boston for many years. My prediction is he has an All-Star team or two left.
The runs scored in the National League really plummeted this season, from an average of 6.1 runs scored per game in 1887 to 4.5 this season. By 1889, it’s going to be up to 5.8 per game again. So what happened in 1888? That’s going to require what I like to call, research.
This is from The Pecan Park Eagle, which says, “Back in the 19th century, the rules of baseball scoring changed radically from year to year. The leaders of the professional movement responded to the complaints and criticisms of others in an ongoing struggle to fine tune the game to just the right balance between offense and defense as that sort of thing was perceived to be for that day at a time.
“In 1887, for example, the rules makers gave the batter a fourth strike before he could be retired. In 1888, they took it back, The batter was back to the key spot of ‘three strikes and you’re out’ in plenty of time to not mess up Jack Norworth’s and Albert Tilzer’s 1908 baseball anthem, ‘Take Me Out To the Ball Game’ – or that wonderful Mudville lament about the absence of joy after Casey took strike three.” Is that enough to explain it? Then why did they go up again in 1889? Research is hard!
.298, 4 HR, 71 RBI
Errors Committed as 3B-65 (2nd Time)
Oldest-40 Years Old (2nd Time)
9th Time All-Star-It was just three years ago, as of this writing, that the great Deacon White made the Hall of Fame. There are those who object. (In an earlier blurb, I mentioned Joe Posnanski being against it.) I think it’s a great thing, but I can see the point of view of those who dislike it. His greatest years were in the National Association and the early years of the National League. Since 1879, this is just the second All-Star team Old Man White has made and I’m surprised he’s on this team. As a matter of fact, in his 1884 blurb, I said he’d probably made his last All-Star team. I’m such a false prophet.
Deacon would have liked that language, being a hard-nosed dedicated Christian. When his National Association Boston teams were doing well, it had much to do with the consistency the choirboy players gave to the team. Most of the other teams, if not all of them, didn’t look so much for character in their squad and found they couldn’t count on players from one day to the next. Look up the career of Cherokee Fisher as an example. He was a great pitcher but a drunkard who bounced around from team to team.
Now I’m not using this as a blanket rule. Even here in 1888, Chicago and its owner, Al Spalding, tired of the rabble-rousers on its team and traded people like King Kelly to bring more stability to the White Stockings. They might have had more stability, but they didn’t have more wins. How to develop a winning squad in baseball is a whole study in itself, for which I don’t have the time or the smarts.
.250, 8 HR, 73 RBI
Def. Games as SS-132
Assists as SS-375
Double Plays Turned as SS-48
7th Time All-Star-And the bad prophecies keep on coming! After stating in Williamson’s 1885 blurb that he probably wouldn’t make another All-Star team and even going so far as to give details of his death at the age of 36, heeee’s back! It helped it was a bad year for shortstops, but he was going to make the team either way. It’s the first of his seven All-Star teams at shortstop, or at any position other than third base. Bill James pointed out that players tend to go right-to-left on the defensive spectrum (or is it left-to-right?), but that didn’t always happen in these early days of the sport.
For the season, Williamson slashed .250/.352/.385 for an OPS+ of 128. I know the numbers don’t look that great, but his Adjusted OPS+ this season was his highest since his aberrant year of 1884. As I mentioned in Billy Nash’s write-up, hitting was significantly down this year in the National League.
Since Williamson didn’t make the All-Star team in 1886, I didn’t get a chance to go over his World Series. It was bad….again. In 1885, he hit only .087 with no extra base hits in the Series, while in 1886, he hit even worse at .056 with a triple. It would be his last World Series. He wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last great player who stumbles in postseason play.
Here’s a sad story from 1888 by Wikipedia, which says, “It was during a game played on at the Parc Aristotique in Paris, France on March 8, 1889, when Williamson suffered a torn knee cap which forced him to be bedridden in England on doctor’s orders, missing the tour through Britain. Though players in the 19th century were responsible for their own medical care, Williamson asked Spalding to help him financially with the mounting medical costs. Spalding refused, citing that he was not obligated to assist, and Williamson never forgave him for this.”
.269, 1 HR, 45 RBI, 0-0, 54.00 ERA, 1 K
Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-5.19 (4th Time)
Fielding % as SS-.901 (5th Time)
8th Time All-Star-Pebbly Jack made his eighth consecutive All-Star team, despite having an off year. His hitting declined as he slashed .269/.302/.328 for an OPS+ of 100. But don’t count him out! He still has some hits in his bat. How hard is it for a great player like Glasscock to keep playing on these terrible teams year after year? Does this make him any less valuable? I’ve mentioned it in previous Glasscock blurbs, but it’s incredible he’s not in the Hall of Fame.
Did I say terrible team? Glasscock was its only All-Star member as Manager Harry Spence led the Hoosiers to a 50-85 seventh place finish. They had decent hitting, but their pitching allowed the most runs in the league. Glasscock didn’t help that cause, allowing three runs (two earned) in a third of an inning.
According to SABR, Glasscock was not having a good time for the Hoosiers. It says, “Personally, the Indiana experience created considerable stress for Glasscock. Sporting Life reported him ‘anxious…to get away from Indianapolis’ (SL, 9/28/1887) in June 1887, and still ‘not satisfied here’( SL, 9/28/1887) in September. Back home in Wheeling, he was jailed for being drunk and disorderly. As manager he drove his players and baited and bullied umpires. A Sporting Life reporter wrote ‘I have heard [him] swear and act like a blackguard before and [sic] audience partly composed of ladies.’ (SL, 3/2/90).” What a cad! When you’re giving it your all and the team around you doesn’t perform, the expletives will apparently fly!
.332, 16 HR, 64 RBI, 4-0, 3.05 ERA, 11 K
AB per HR-34.3
Games Finished-5 (2nd Time)
Assists as OF-34
1st Time All-Star-James P. “Jimmy” or “Pony” Ryan was born on February 11, 1863 in Clinton, MA. The small Ryan (five-foot-nine, 162 pounds) started by playing three games for Chicago in 1885 and until 1902, would never leave the Windy City. He played every year with the National League team, except for 1890, when he played for the Players League Chicago Pirates. Pony was with the White Stockings when they made the 1886 World Series, where he went-five-for-20 with a double.
In 1888, Ryan had his best season ever, finishing fourth in WAR Position Players (5.7) and fourth in Offensive WAR (6.1). He slashed .332/.377/.515 for an OPS+ of 174. Also, according to Wikipedia, “In that season, he also hit for the cycle on July 28. Ryan also appeared in that game as a pitcher, becoming the only player in major league history to hit for the cycle and pitch in the same game. The White Stockings beat the Detroit Wolverines 21–17.” All of this in a terrible year for hitters. He’ll be around these teams for a while.
Wikipedia also mentions Pony wasn’t afraid of scrapping: “On the tough side, Ryan was one of the few players to punch a reporter at least twice. After his first episode, in 1887, Charlie Seymour of the Chicago Herald wrote, ‘Ryan slugged the magnificent Chicago reporter in Pittsburg [sic] (Pittsburg was spelled without the H in the 19th century) the other day.’ In the other, in 1892, he took exception to George Beachel of the Chicago Daily News. In the clubhouse after a game, Ryan ‘picked a quarrel with [Beachel], and then attacked him, using him up pretty badly. No arrests have been made.’ In 1896, he punched a train conductor after losing his place and his teammates had gone to bed. A conductor who intervened was ‘called down by Mr. Ryan, who got in one upper cut before [his longtime-captain manager Cap] Anson stopped the fun’, wrote Tim Murnane of the Boston Globe.”
.296, 12 HR, 68 RBI
Extra Base Hits-61
2nd Time All-Star-Johnston joined Boston after his 1884 All-Star season and added very little to the team from 1885-to-1887. Then he woke up for this one season, easily having his best season ever, finishing ninth in WAR Position Players (4.5) and ninth in Offensive WAR (4.2). He slashed .296/.314/.472 for an OPS+ of 144. How strange was this season? Well, let’s compare his 1888 numbers with the second highest in a few categories. In 1888, he had 102 runs, in 1887, he had 87. In 1888, he had 173 hits, in 1887, he had 131. In 1888, he had 31 doubles, in 1886, he had 18. In 1888, he had 12 homers, in 1891, he had 6. In 1888, he hit .296, in 1884, he hit .281. In 1888, he had an OBP of .314, in 1891, it was .301. In 1888, he slugged .472, in 1884, he slugged .425. In 1888, he had an OPS of .786, in 1884, it was .715. In 1888, his OPS+ was 144, in 1884, it was 131. And in 1888, he had 276 total bases, he had 199 in 1887.
The Beaneaters must have thought they struck gold. Johnston was only 25 and starting to figure out Major League pitching. Yet, he ended up playing one more year for Boston, in the National League anyway, as he moved to the Players League in 1890, playing for the Boston Reds and the New York Giants, then finished his career at the age of 28 for the American Association Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers. (Whoa, is that really that team’s name?!)
.274, 2 HR, 29 RBI
Def. Games as OF-136
1st Time All-Star-William Ellsworth “Dummy” Hoy was born on May 23, 1862 in Houcktown, OH and is the poster child for why political correctness isn’t always a bad thing. The tiny (five-foot-six, 160 pounds) and fast Hoy got his nickname because he was deaf. Wikipedia says, “In Hoy’s time, the word ‘dumb’ was used to describe someone who could not speak, rather than someone who was stupid; but since the ability to speak was often unfairly connected to one’s intelligence, the epithets ‘dumb’ and ‘dummy’ became interchangeable with stupidity. Hoy himself often corrected individuals who addressed him as William, and referred to himself as Dummy. Said to have been able to speak with a voice that resembled a squeak, he was actually one of the most intelligent players of his time, and is sometimes credited with developing the hand signals used by umpires to this day, though this view is widely disputed.”
Hoy started quickly, though at 26-years-old, he was an old rookie. He finished 10th in WAR Position Players (4.3) and seventh in Offensive WAR (4.5), slashing .274/.374/.338 for an OPS+ of 134, all while leading the league with 82 stolen bases. It would start a stretch of 13 seasons of 27 or more steals.
SABR has more on Hoy: “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.”
.293, 9 HR, 52 RBI
Fielding % as OF-.960
1st Time All-Star-Michael Joseph “Silent Mike” or “Mike” Tiernan was born on January 21, 1867 in Trenton, NJ. As a rookie with the Giants in 1887, he showed right away he could rake, slashing .287/.344/.452 for an OPS+ of 123. In his second season, Tiernan finished sixth in WAR Position Players (4.8) and 10th in Offensive WAR (4.1), slashing .293/.364/.427 and helping lead the Giants to the World Series, where he went 13-for-38 (.342) with a home run and five steals.
Here’s SABR on Tiernan: “During the final decade of the 19th century, the right field post on the New York Giants was manned by Mike Tiernan. A quiet, amiable man, Tiernan was well liked by teammates, fans, and the baseball press. But he was not without aspects of a contrary streak. On a team where sporting a prominent moustache was virtually de rigueur, Tiernan remained resolutely clean-shaven. In an era when verbal abuse of opponents and noisy disagreement with umpires were ballpark norms, Tiernan was a gentleman, a player who spoke so infrequently on the field that he was dubbed Silent Mike. And at a time when discontent with management ran so deep that the players formed their own league, Tiernan was one of the few to spurn the movement and remain with his old team. Indeed, Mike Tiernan was one of only a handful of 19th century players to spend his entire major league career in a single city.” Ironically in the picture on the SABR article, Tiernan has a mustache.
P-Matt Kilroy, BAL
P-Mike Smith, CIN
P-Toad Ramsey, LOU
P-Tony Mullane, CIN
P-Ed Seward, PHA
P-Silver King, STL
P-Bob Gilks, CLE
P-Al Mays, NYP
P-Adonis Terry, BRO
C-Chris Fulmer, BAL
C-Sam Trott, BAL
1B-John Reilly, CIN
1B-Tommy Tucker, BAL
2B-Yank Robinson, STL
2B-Bid McPhee, CIN
2B-Reddy Mack, LOU
3B-Denny Lyons, PHA
3B-Jumbo Davis, BAL
3B-Arlie Latham, STL
SS-Oyster Burns, BAL
SS-Frank Fennelly, CIN
LF-Tip O’Neill, STL
LF-Harry Stovey, PHA
CF-Pete Browning, LOU
RF-Bob Caruthers, STL
46-19, 3.07 ERA, 217 K, .247, 0 HR, 25 RBI
Wins Above Replacement-11.9
WAR for Pitchers-10.8
Games Pitched-69 (2nd Time)
Innings Pitched-589 1/3
Games Started-69 (2nd Time)
Complete Games-66 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as P-69 (2nd Time)
Assists as P-157 (2nd Time)
2nd Time All-Star-There were still certain teams which pitched their players to death and the Orioles were one of them. For the second consecutive season, Kilroy pitched over 580 innings. The little man, standing at five-foot-seven and weighing in at 175 pounds, also had his best season ever. He finished first in WAR (11.9) and first in WAR for Pitchers (10.8). He pitched a league-leading 589 1/3 innings while garnering a 3.07 ERA and a 133 ERA+.
As for the Orioles, Manager Bald Billy Barnie, coaching his fifth season with Baltimore, led it to a third place finish with a 77-58 record. If you do the math, you see it went 46-19 in games pitched by Kilroy and 31-38 in the others.
Here’s SABR’s report of Kilroy’s 1887 season: “In 1887 the American Association instituted a rule requiring four strikes for a strikeout, and the number of strikeouts declined dramatically, but Kilroy’s effectiveness increased. He led the league with 46 wins and 66 complete games. He also topped the circuit in shutouts and finished second in strikeouts, third in won-lost percentage, and fourth in WHIP (walks and hits allowed per nine innings pitched). Most remarkable was his 46-19 record with a club that was 31-37 in games in which Kilroy was not the pitcher of record. This performance earned him the highest weighted rating (16,900) and the most Faber System points (138) ever attained by a pitcher of his tender years. His 46 wins is still the single-season record for a left-handed pitcher. The 75 wins he accumulated in his first two major-league seasons remain a record to this day.”
34-17, 2.94 ERA, 176 K, .253, 0 HR, 23 RBI
1887 AA Pitching Title
Earned Run Average-2.94
Hits Per 9 IP-8.048
Adjusted Pitching Runs-72
Adj. Pitching Wins-6.1
1st Time All-Star-Elmer Ellsworth “Mike” Smith was born on March 23, 1868 in Pittsburgh, PA. The five-foot-11, 178 pound pitcher started his career with Cincinnati in 1886, before becoming its ace pitcher this season. He had his best season ever, finishing third in WAR (10.6) and second in WAR for Pitchers (10.1). He pitched a very reasonable 447 1/3 innings with a league-leading 2.94 ERA and 148 ERA+.
As for my Red Stockings, Gus Schmelz took over the reins and managed the team to a second place finish, with an 81-54 record. Their pitching, led by Smith, was outstanding, but their hitting couldn’t keep up with the Browns. Surprisingly, Cincinnati didn’t struggle against St. Louis, going 12-6 against them. (Is that how far back I have to go in history for the Reds to beat the Cardinals?) They did have a losing record against third-place Baltimore and fourth-place Louisville.
For the era in which he managed, Schmelz had a fairly long career, coaching 11 seasons with six different teams. He coached the Columbus Buckeyes to a second place 69-39 record in 1884 and then would have three good seasons with Cincinnati, but the rest of his seasons weren’t as successful. He never did lead a team to a title.
After this season, Smith would slowly start pitching less and would eventually be a position player. Maybe it’s because he threw over 447 innings as a 19-year-old. He’d move to leftfield for the most part and will probably make a couple of All-Star teams there.
37-27, 3.43 ERA, 355 K, .191, 0 HR, 24 RBI
Strikeouts per 9 IP-5.695
Strikeouts/Base on Balls-2.126
Fielding Independent Pitching-3.20 (2nd Time)
Errors Committed as P-31
2nd Time All-Star-After his incredible 1886 season, Ramsey settled down, going only 37-27 after going 38-27 the year before and only pitching 561 innings instead of the 588 2/3 he pitched the previous season. See, he’s a whole different pitcher. Still, the Toad finished fourth in WAR (7.7) and third in WAR for Pitchers (8.2.). In those 561 innings, Ramsey had a 3.43 ERA and a 128 ERA+.
Led by the arm of Ramsey and the coaching of Kick Kelly in his first year, the Colonels finished in fourth place with a 76-60 record.
Here’s Wikipedia’s report on Ramsey’s 1887 season: “Ramsey had a similar 1887 season, pitching 561 innings and winning 37 games. His 355 strikeouts led the American Association, while his 561 innings pitched, 64 games started, and 61 complete games, were all second in the league to [Matt] Kilroy. Unfortunately, his dominant years stopped after that season, and his fortunes changed for the worse beginning during the 1888 season. His win–loss record was 8–30 in 40 starts. On July 25, 1888, Ramsey was arrested for not paying an overdue bar bill.”
The Sports Daily said Ramsey was the first person to bring up the concept of BABIP (batting average on balls in play): “The final proof that Toad Ramsey may indeed have been baseball’s equivalent of Nikola Tesla and/or was some kind of baseball terminator was his belief in BABIP.
“’If I yield up a groover and the fellow at bat gives it a slap and it goes to short, who fields it to first in time, why is that an out for the baseman and an assist for the shortstop, and all right for me, in a manner of speaking. But look at you – if that shortstop had been playing a slightly different position, and the ball had got by him, it would have counted as a hit off me. That’s funny as after the ball left my hands I had no further control over it.’”
31-17, 3.24 ERA, 97 K, .221, 3 HR, 23 RBI
Shutouts-6 (2nd Time)
5th Time All-Star-If I would have been a Reds fan in 1887 when I was (minus)-77 years old, I would have got to see one of the Reds’ all-time greats in Mullane. Even nowadays, he’s 17th on Cincinnati in all-time WAR with 39. And no one beats the nickname of Apollo of the Box. This season, he continued his dominant pitching, finishing fifth in WAR (7.6) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (7.1). He pitched 416 1/3 innings, his lowest since his rookie year, with a 3.24 ERA and a 134 ERA+. Looking at his overall stats and the remainder of his career, he could definitely be ONEHOF-bound.
What he isn’t, however, is in the real Hall of Fame, because of many years spent in the American Association. The Hall of Fame sure is picky, isn’t it? No gamblers, no American Associationers, no steroids users! C’mon, it’s just baseball!
Hardball Times has this to say about his 1887 season, “He had no interest in accepting less than what he believed he was worth, and no compunction about telling others where they could stick it. In 1887, he informed his manager that he didn’t want to pitch a game against Brooklyn because ‘I don’t intend to do any more work than the other pitchers.’ His manager fined him $100 and suspended him indefinitely, although the dispute was smoothed over before the end of the month, and he still managed to win 31 games that year.” Should someone pitching 416 innings complain about being overused?
25-25, 4.13 ERA, 155 K, .188, 5 HR, 28 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Edward William “Ed” Seward, born Edward William Sourhardt, was born on June 29, 1867 in Cleveland, OH. He pitched one game with the 1885 National League Providence Grays, pitching six innings and allowing no runs, but didn’t play Major League ball again until this season. His 4.13 ERA doesn’t look too good, but the league average was 4.29. Seward finished sixth in WAR (7.1) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (7.4), tossing 470 2/3 innings pitched with a 102 ERA+. If you were going to have a so-so year in pitching, this was the season and the league to do it.
As for the Athletics, Frank Bancroft (26-29) and Charlie Mason (38-40) led them to a fifth place 64-69 season. Bancroft managed multiple teams over his career, but this would be the only managing stint for Mason.
Seward wasn’t a big man, being five-foot-seven and 175 pounds, but he would still lead the league in strikeouts in 1888 (Spoiler Alert!) He wasn’t going to have much of a career, but his 25 wins as a rookie this season still ranks as one of the high marks of all-time.
There have been a lot of Philadelphia teams, but this one isn’t the one that would eventually become the Phillies, nor the one which would eventually become the A’s. It only has three seasons left of existence, despite an over-.500 lifetime mark. Seward is actually second on this team all-time in WAR, behind only the great Harry Stovey. Most of Seward’s success came in two seasons.
32-12, 3.78 ERA, 128 K, .207, 0 HR, 19 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Charles Frederick “Silver” King, born Charles Frederick Koenig, was born on January 11, 1868 in St. Louis, MO. He started in 1886, pitching five games for the National League Kansas City Cowboys, before coming over to the great Browns this season, where, as a rookie, he was their dominant pitcher. And there’s better years to come. As for this season, King finished ninth in WAR (5.6) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (6.2). He pitched 390 innings with a 3.78 ERA and a 119 ERA+.
The Browns won their third of four consecutive league titles, finishing 95-40. Charlie Comiskey led them to the title again as he proved to be one of the best managers of all-time. We forget that because we only know him as the skinflint which caused the Black Sox to throw the 1919 World Series.
Speaking of the World Series, St. Louis lost 10-5 to the National League’s Detroit Wolverines. King pitched in four of the games, going 1-3 with a 2.03 ERA.
“King was an unusual pitcher for his time. Gripping the ball with unusually large hands, he delivered the ball without a windup. He also was one of the first pitchers in major league history to employ a sidearm delivery…His strong fastball enabled him to become a notable strikeout artist; he finished among the league’s top 10 in that category six times.”
7-5, 3.08 ERA, 28 K, .313, 0 HR, 13 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Robert James “Bob” Gilks was born on July 2, 1864 in Cincinnati, OH. The five-foot-eight, 178 pound hurler picked a good year to debut as making the All-Star team as a pitcher this season wasn’t too difficult. Still, Gilks had his best season ever, finishing ninth in WAR for Pitchers (2.7), pitching 108 innings with a 3.08 ERA and a 141 ERA+.
His team, the Blues, definitely sang the blues this season, as Jimmy Williams coached them to a last place 39-92 finish. Gilks would be the team’s only All-Star.
This team started its existence this season and would last until 1899, when, if you thought this season was bad, wait till that one! Still, they would introduce one of the greatest players of all-time. He’s a pitcher. He has an award named after him. Well, that’s going to be a few years down the road.
Wikipedia says, “The Spiders first fielded a team in the American Association (then a major league) in 1887. At the time, they were known as the Cleveland Forest Citys or Cleveland Blues. The team was organized by Frank Robison, who eventually brought his brother Stanley aboard to help run the club.”
Here’s Baseball Reference on Gilks: “Bob Gilks tried just about everything on a ballfield. He had a playing career that lasted from 1885 to 1909. He also managed in the minors between 1903 and 1914 and umpired in the South Atlantic League in 1910. Gilks also scouted for the Cleveland Indians (1911-1913), New York Yankees (1914-1926, 1929), and Boston Braves (1928).”
17-34, 4.73 ERA, 124 K, .204, 2 HR, 23 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Albert C. “Al” Mays was born on May 17, 1865 in Canal Dover, OH. He started as a pitcher for the Louisville Colonels in 1885 before moving over to the Metropolitans. He had his best season ever, finishing 10th in WAR for Pitchers (2.6), pitching 441 1/3 innings with a 4.73 ERA and a 89 ERA+. It’s probably his last All-Star team.
If New York is giving 441 innings to a pitcher with a 4.73 ERA, you’re probably guessing they didn’t do too well and I say to you, huzzah for your wisdom! Bob Ferguson (6-24), Dave Orr (3-5), and Ollie Caylor (35-60) led the team to a 44-89 seventh place finish. Mays was New York’s only All-Star. The city of New York would have a much better Mays in the future.
And thus ends the run of the Metropolitans. They won a pennant in 1884, but finished seventh their last three seasons. Wikipedia writes of the team’s demise, “Prior to the 1886 season, Day and Mutrie sold the Mets to Erastus Wiman who moved the team to cricket grounds on Staten Island in hopes of promoting ferry trade across New York harbor. This business plan did not succeed, though, and the Mets ceased operation following the 1887 season. The team was bought by the Brooklyn Dodgers to gain territorial protection and the contracts of several of the Mets’ stars, including Dave Orr and Darby O’Brien. The current minor league Staten Island Yankees play in a stadium very near the cricket ground used by the Mets.”
16-16, 4.02 ERA, 138 K, .293, 3 HR, 65 RBI
3rd Time All-Star-As my regular reader (sic) know, players can make the All-Star teams in the following manners: be the best player on their team; be either one of two catchers, an infielder, or one of three outfielders; or just be a great player who didn’t make it in the other manners. Terry would have never made the All-Star team this season if he wasn’t the best the Grays had to offer. Still, he did manage to pitch 318 innings with a 4.02 ERA and a 107 ERA+. Not to mention, on a bad team, he had a .500 record. It’s not exactly Steve Carlton’s 1972, but it’s not terrible.
Charlie Byrne led Brooklyn to a 60-74 sixth place finish in the American Association. Terry was the only All-Star for the team. It was Byrne’s last year managing.
I put Terry in as a pitcher, but he could’ve also been an All-Star in the outfield. He played 49 games and 425 innings in the outfield, playing 33 in right, 12 in left, and four in center. Terry wasn’t the greatest hitter, slashing .293/.323/.392 for an OPS+ of 96, but he would eventually get a little better. Yet for the most part, his career was spent on the mound. He has more All-Star games coming in the future.
From Greek Mythology, here’s some facts about Adonis:
“In Greek mythology, Adonis was the god of beauty and desire.
“Adonis died when he was attacked by a wild boar that was sent by Artemis, who was jealous of his hunting skills. A different version of the myth has it that the boar was sent by Ares, as he was the lover of Aphrodite. When he died, Aphrodite poured nectar over his blood, and the flower anemone emerged.”
.269, 0 HR, 32 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-I never would have though Fulmer had another All-Star team in him, but look at me, always wrong! Fulmer was just one of two Baltimore catchers to make this team. Have patience, you can read about the other in a minute. Fulmer slashed .269/.382/.363 for an OPS+ of 113. Speaking of having patience, that was Fulmer’s specialty, as he was one of the great walkers of his time.
There used to be a rivalry between Baltimore and the Eastern Association Washington team. Here’s a highlight from DC Baseball History of a game they played in 1885: “Baltimore came for wool, but was shorn. Such, in brief, is the story of the contest at Capitol Park. Reinforced by Barr, the home team played a splendid game, and won by the errors which marked the visitors’ play an eight out of the nine innings. Since the season began Manager Barnie and his supporters in Baltimore have eloquently described how they would defeat the Nationals; but, like their predecessors of the League and American Associations, their scalps are now drying in the Nationals’ wigwam. The Baltimoreans were so confident that nearly 300 of them came over here with their pockets filled with money to invest upon their Orioles. They found ready takers, and they retired at 630PM with lighter pockets. The Washington Sunday Herald states that the crowd was announced at 3,000 spectators. The Washington National Republican estimated the crowd at 4,000. Outside the fumble by Jimmy Knowles the Nationals played a faultless game, their fielding being an improvement over that of several weeks ago. The fact that the fielding was better may be attributed to Barr being in the box. Chris Fulmer backed Barr up in splendid manner, considering the bad condition of his hands. Umpire Walsh. Time 1:45.”
.257, 0 HR, 37 RBI
Fielding % as C-.915
1st Time All-Star-Samuel W. “Sam” Trott was born in March, 1859 in Maryland. He actually started his career as a 21-year-old catcher for the Boston Red Stockings in 1880, moved to the Detroit Wolverines in 1881, and finally came to the Orioles in 1884. In a year and a league with very few good catchers, Trott finally made the All-Star team. He finished seventh in Defensive WAR (0.9), while at the bat, he slashed .257/.322/.330 for an OPS+ of 86. He’d actually hit very well in 1888, but didn’t play too many games, so I doubt he’ll make the All-Star team in that, his last year.
Wikipedia says of the beginning of Trott’s life, “Trott was born in Maryland in 1859. His father, Samuel E. Trott, was a Maryland native and a carpenter. His mother, Laura J. Trott, was also a Maryland native.”
And then of the end of his life: “By 1900, Trott was living with his wife Emma in Baltimore. They had two children then living with them, Bessie (born August 1890) and Samuel (born March 1900). Trott’s occupation was listed as a cigar salesman. Ten years later, Trott was still living in Baltimore with wife, Emma, and they by then had three children, Bessie, Samuel and Dorothy. His occupation in 1910 was traveling salesman. Trott died in Catonsville, Maryland, in June 1925 at the age of 66.”
Besides pitchers, it’s rare to have a team with two players making the All-Star team at the same position. Chris Fulmer was rated the higher catcher despite Trott catching more games.
.309, 10 HR, 96 RBI
Double Plays Turned as 1B-84 (5th Time)
3rd Time All-Star-Reilly is back on the All-Star team after missing it for the last two seasons. For some reason, Long John’s power took a hiatus, but this year it returned as he hit double digit homers for the second time. Altogether this year, Reilly finished seventh in WAR Position Players (3.5) and slashed .309/.352/.477 for an OPS+ of 127. It wasn’t his greatest season, but he was still the American Association’s best first baseman.
SABR has an excellent article on Reilly. Here’s a snippet: “A free-swinging hitter who rarely walked and had difficulty adjusting his big swing to the bunting and place hitting that came into fashion during the late 1880’s, Reilly nevertheless recorded consistently high batting averages. He had a strong throwing arm and, while a man of his size would hardly be a speed demon, with his long legs he covered ground rapidly enough and appeared repeatedly on contemporary lists of the Reds’ most effective base runners. In a day when most home runs were hit inside the park, his high totals for homers as well as triples testify to his speed as well as his power. He maintained the superior defensive skills that had kept him in the major leagues before his hitting had matured. In later years he would claim to have originated the practice of first basemen playing away from the bag, a distinction that was more frequently attributed to his contemporary, Charlie Comiskey of the St. Louis Browns. In fact, though, this practice had been followed sporadically for many years before Comiskey’s and Reilly’s time.”
.275, 6 HR, 84 RBI
Hit By Pitch-29
Def. Games as 1B-136
Putouts as 1B-1,346
Errors Committed as 1B-35
1st Time All-Star-Thomas Joseph “Tommy” or “Foghorn” Tucker was born on October 28, 1863 in Holyoke, MA and had a tremendous rookie year. He finished ninth in Defensive WAR (0.8) and has some good seasons ahead. From the beginning, Tucker was good at taking one for the team. This would be one of five seasons he would lead the league in being hit by pitches. Altogether, he would finish in the top 10 in that category 11 times and be plunked 272 times in his career, behind only Hughie Jennings and Craig Biggio. However, Tucker (13 seasons) played considerably less than Jennings (18 seasons) and Biggio (20 seasons).
As someone who grew up under the tutelage of Bill James’ Baseball Abstract, I learned about the defensive spectrum, which shows that there are tougher defensive positions than others on the field, with shortstop being the most difficult and first base being the easiest. I don’t know if WAR cares about the defensive spectrum, but it’s always a surprise to me when a first sacker makes the top 10 of dWAR, like Tucker did. He must have had quite a glove.
Speaking of his fielding, Wikipedia says, “He was a flashy first baseman in an era when using two hands was normal, making one-handed scoops of wild throws and pick-ups with his small glove, in contrast to the big-sized gloves employed by today’s first basemen.
.305, 1 HR, 74 RBI, 0-0, 3.00 ERA, 0 K
2nd Time All-Star-Robinson continued to be one of the reasons the Browns won the American Association pennant year after year. As the best second baseman in the young league, he finished sixth in WAR Position Players (3.5) and sixth in Offensive WAR (3.7). In the regular season, Yank slashed .305/.445/.405 for an OPS+ of 128. He was one of baseball’s first great walkers. In the World Series against Detroit, Robinson slashed .326/.446/.478 in a losing effort.
Here’s Wikipedia on Robinson’s penchant for walking: “During his peak years from 1887 to 1890, Robinson drew 472 free passes (427 walks and 45 times hit by pitch) and 400 hits in 2,115 plate appearances, giving him a ‘free pass’ percentage of .223 and an on-base percentage of .412. His Offensive WAR ratings of 3.8, 3.7 and 3.6 ranked sixth in the American Association in 1886 and 1887 and eighth in 1888.”
Nowadays, of course, walks are well-regarded, even worshiped by pagans. But there have always been those who understood the value of the base on ball. Getting on base is better than making outs; that should be obvious. Yet there’s still something psychologically wrong about watching a batter take pitches instead of going up there hacking. I’d much rather watch Mike Trout take a shot at the long ball rather than watching him jog down to first, though I know the walk is more valuable than a whiff.
So without written records, we don’t know how the fans in the beginning days of baseball liked watching batters walk. Before the sabermetric days, walks were the pitcher’s fault and not due to the caginess of the hitter.
.289, 2 HR, 87 RBI
Assists as 2B-434 (3rd Time)
Double Plays Turned as 2B-76 (6th Time)
Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-6.95 (3rd Time)
Range Factor/Game as 2B-6.79 (3rd Time)
2nd Time All-Star-McPhee, the gloveless wonder, continued to be a defensive wiz for the Red Stockings, finishing second in Defensive WAR (1.2). He also finished eighth in WAR Position Players (3.4), slashing .289/360/.407 for an OPS+ of 111. The Reds would have better second basemen, like Joe Morgan, but you have to appreciate someone like McPhee who did so well for so long.
I was never alive for the days where people could hit 19 triples on a regular basis. Oh, it still happens once in a while—Jose Reyes just hit 19 in 2008—but it’s not a common thing anymore and, as of this writing, that was eight years ago. From 1884-through-1906, the leading triple hitter had 19 or more. The record at this time was Dave Orr, who hit 31 in 1886.
Back to McPhee’s fielding, SABR says, “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 1880s from one of playing directly on or near the bag to placing themselves to the left, ranging towards first.” And remember, this was all without a glove.
.308, 1 HR, 69 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Joseph “Reddy” Mack, born Joseph McNamara, was born on May 2, 1866, exactly 100 years before my brother, Rob, in Ireland. (Rob wasn’t born in Ireland, just in case you were wondering). The Irishman started as a 19-year-old for Louisville in 1885, learned how to draw walks in 1886, and made the All-Star team, probably his last, in 1887. He slashed .308/.415/.395 for an OPS+ of 124. As you can see, he didn’t have much power. After this season, he’s also going to lose his ability to hit for average. But Mack, you have nothing to be ashamed of, many players before you have made only one All-Star team and they are very proud of that accomplishment. Oh, wait, all of them are dead, never mind.
Despite the fact that the American Association was in its sixth season, it still had a lack of consistency in keeping players around. The National League had great stability. Only four of the 25 players on its All-Star team made the team for the first time and two players, Cap Anson and Jim O’Rourke, have been All-Stars for double-digits seasons. The AA has 11 players making the team for the first time and the most All-Star teams for it is from Harry Stovey, who has made six so far.
So you will have many people like Reddy Mack (who is so glad Chris Berman wasn’t born yet so he didn’t have to go around with the moniker “Helen” Reddy Mack or Reddy “Set, Go” Mack) who have an occasional good season, but fade out after that.
.367, 6 HR, 102 RBI
Def. Games as 3B-137
Putouts as 3B-255
Double Plays Turned as 3B-29
1st Time All-Star-Dennis Patrick Aloysius “Denny” Lyons was born on March 12, 1866 in Cincinnati, OH, the baseball capital of the world! (Editor: Check this). He started by playing four games for the National League Providence Grays in 1885, before moving to Philadelphia the next season, where he will be for a while. Another place he’ll be for a stretch of time is right here on the All-Star teams. He’s going to have a good career that will end at the age of 31.
This season, Lyons, the best third baseman in the league, finished 10th in WAR (5.1), third in WAR Position Players (5.1), and fourth in Offensive WAR (5.8). At the dish, he slashed .367/.421/.523 for an OPS+ of 162. According to Baseball Reference, “Lyons reached base by hit or walk in 52 consecutive games in 1887.” He’s got one better hitting season coming up, but you’ll have to wait just like everybody else.
Since Hick Carpenter was the top third baseman in the American Association at its start in 1882 and 1883, the AA hasn’t had anyone be the top at that position for more than one year. In 1884, it was Dude Esterbrook; in 1885, it was Frank Hankinson; in 1886, it was Arlie Latham; and in 1887, it was Lyons. D.P.A. Lyons is going to be around for a while.
.309, 8 HR, 109 RBI
1st Time All-Star-James J. “Jumbo” Davis was born on September 5, 1861 in New York, NY. When you have someone nicknamed “Jumbo,” the first thing to check is his vital stats. He’s five-foot-11, 195 pounds. That’s big, but not jumbo. Well, maybe for his time. He had his best season ever, finishing ninth in WAR Position Players (3.3) and seventh in Offensive WAR (3.5). Davis slashed .309/.353/.485 for an OPS+ of 137. He also tied for the league lead in triples. How many times does someone named Jumbo lead the league in triples? It should be mentioned Dave Orr, who was the same height as Davis but weighed 250 pounds, holds the record at this time for triples with 31. Why wasn’t Orr nicknamed Jumbo?
Davis is yet another one of those players who had one season which was an aberration from the rest of his career. He’d never have a full season again in which he slugged over .400 or hit over .300. His 19 triples this season was over half of his seven-year career total (37).
He’d finish his career bouncing around the American Association, from Kansas City to St. Louis to Brooklyn to Washington. Davis died at the age of 59 in St. Louis on Valentine’s Day of 1921. He is the first of many Davises who will be making this All-Star team over the years.
.316, 2 HR, 83 RBI
3rd Time All-Star-Latham, the crazy, fun-loving third baseman continued to bring joy to others, play on a winning team, and make All-Star teams. This season, he finished 10th in WAR Position Players (3.3) and second in Defensive WAR (1.2). At the plate, Latham slashed .316/.366/.413 for an OPS+ of 108. In the World Series, he slashed .293/.388/.310 with 15 stolen bases. In the regular season, Latham stole 129 bases, second in the league to Cincinnati rightfielder Hugh Nicol, who swiped 138.
Of those steals, Wikipedia says, “Latham stole 129 bases during the 1887 season. His career total of 742 ranks seventh all-time in the majors. As a player-coach for the 1909 Giants, Latham at age 49 became the oldest MLB player to steal a base…This record is not recognized by Major League Baseball, as stolen bases were defined differently prior to 1898.”
SABR always has amusing stories about Latham, like this one: “Arlie’s great gymnastic ability paid off from time to time. During one game Arlie laid down a bunt and the opposing team’s first baseman, a big man, was in the baseline with the ball waiting to tag Arlie. Suddenly Arlie did a complete somersault over the startled first baseman and came down safely on the bag. Arlie and the St. Louis team were a pugnacious lot and were greatly encouraged by [St. Louis Browns Owner] Von der Ahe to intimidate the other teams. When the league fined them, which was often, Von der Ahe would pay off the fines.”
.341, 9 HR, 99 RBI, 1-0, 9.53 ERA, 2 K
1st Time All-Star-Thomas P. “Oyster” Burns was born on September 6, 1864 in Philadelphia, PA. He started his Major League career with the Union Association Wilmington Quicksteps in 1884, playing two games for them before moving on to the Orioles that same year. This was his best season ever as he finished fourth in WAR Position Players (5.0) and second in Offensive WAR (6.1). Despite 1887 being his crowning achievement, he’ll be around these lists for a while.
At the plate, Burns slashed .341/.414/.519 for an OPS+ of 164. It would be his highest on-base percentage, slugging average, and Adjusted OPS+ of his whole career, all at the age of 22.
Wikipedia tells us why Burns didn’t play in the 1886 season: “His offensive struggles led him to be demoted to the Newark Domestics for the 1886 season, where he helped the Domestics win the Eastern League pennant.”
However, still from Wikipedia, Burns didn’t seem much fun to be around. Here’s a quote from an anonymous teammate of Burns on the Orioles: “He was a disturber and one of the worst that ever played ball. His disposition was very bad, and he made it unpleasant for any of the boys that crested him. He is what you would call a bulldozer. [Bridegrooms manager Bill] McGunnigle may be able to handle Burns, but I doubt it.” Well, we’ve all worked with people like that, haven’t we?
And one last tidbit from Wikipedia: “By 1887, Burns had reentered the majors for the Orioles and became the team captain until he threw a baseball at an opposing pitcher following a groundout; he was later fined $25 ($658 in 2011).”
.266, 8 HR, 97 RBI
Errors Committed as SS-99 (2nd Time)
4th Time All-Star-Fennelly made his fourth consecutive All-Star team, finishing ninth in Offensive WAR (3.0) and 10th in Defensive WAR (0.8) and he’s probably got one or two teams left in him. He certainly was the crown jewel at shortstop for the American Association for a stretch of time here and one of the first great players of my Cincinnati Reds, but heck if I knew him before I started doing this webpage.
The great shortstop would never win a league title and this year is as close as he got as the Red Stockings finished in second place. It’s the old argument, can you be a great player but not win titles? Ask Mike Trout.
This is Fennelly’s last full season with the Red Stockings. He would start with them in 1888, but be traded to Philadelphia late in the season. His hitting is really going to take a fall next season. As it is, his OPS+ in 1885 was 141, in 1886 was 127, and then this season, he slashed .266/.369/.401 for and OPS+ of 112. It’d continue to fall, his Adjusted OPS+ being only 83 in 1888.
During Fennelly’s whole career with the Red Stockings, he played in a neutral hitters’ park, League Park, so it’s not like a change of park affected him. Maybe, looking above, you see that he led the league in strikeouts and your conclusion is he started striking out too much. You might be right, because you’re very smart. But we have no tracking of strikeouts before 1887, so it’s possible Fennelly was whiffing frequently even in previous seasons.
.435, 14 HR, 123 RBI
1887 AA Batting Title
1887 AA Triple Crown
WAR Position Players-6.9
On-Base Plus Slugging-1.180
Runs Batted In-123 (2nd Time)
Adj. Batting Runs-82
Adj. Batting Wins-7.8
Extra Base Hits-85
Offensive Win %-.907
AB per HR-36.9
2nd Time All-Star-Once in a while, you run into one of these seasons, where one hitter or one pitcher so dominates the league. Look at all those categories O’Neill led in. I don’t have to give his slash numbers because he was tops in all of them. I don’t have to give his Adjusted OPS+, because he finished first in that, too. I will tell you after a good 1886 World Series, Tip couldn’t keep up his great hitting in the 1887 version, slashing .200/.200/.308 as the Browns lost to the Wolverines.
According to Wikipedia, “His batting average was originally recorded at .492, bases on balls having been counted as hits during that season. At the time of his death in 1915, his unadjusted .492 average was recorded as the highest in major league history. Subsequently, batting averages for the 1887 season were adjusted by removing bases on balls from the calculations. Even after that adjustment, O’Neill’s 1887 batting average of .435 was a major league record until 1894 when Hugh Duffy established the current major league record by hitting .440. O’Neill’s adjusted average for 1887 remains the second highest single season batting average in major league history.”
As I write this, there is talk about baseball possibly limiting the number of pitcher changes allowed along with limiting the number of defensive shifts permitted. People look at those tweaks as abominations to the game of baseball, which has never changed. But the game changed all the time. In 1887, walks were counted in the batting average. I don’t know whether or not I agree with the changes, but I don’t think “the game is sacred and has never changed” is a good argument.
.286, 4 HR, 77 RBI
6th Time All-Star-Though I had Stovey at first base on the 1886 All-Star team, he actually played more outfield. This season, he’s on the team at leftfield for the first time. He has now made the team for the sixth consecutive year and has a good shot at making the ONEHOF (The One-a-Year Hall of Fame) someday. This season, Stovey slashed .286 (his lowest average in six years)/.366 (his lowest on-base percentage in four years)/.421 (his lowest slugging average in six years) for an OPS+ of 119 (his lowest Adjusted OPS+ in six years). This just shows how spectacular his career has been. Even with lower numbers, he still made the All-Star team.
In an article in philly.com in 1999 by writer Frank Fitzpatrick, he talks of Stovey being considered for the Baseball Hall of Fame. I suggest you read it all, but here’s a little bit: “In the years after he left baseball, Harry Stow walked a beat in New Bedford, Mass. The policeman’s territory was the fishing city’s dingy waterfront. He broke up fights, arrested prostitutes, and, one hot summer day in 1901, rescued a drowning 7-year-old boy who had fallen between two wharves. By the time he retired in 1923, the gentlemanly Stow had been a police captain for eight years.
“He died at his daughter’s home in 1937 at 80. Until they read his obituary in the next morning’s newspaper, not many of New Bedford’s younger residents knew anything about this quiet cop’s remarkable past.” Is it possible there are superstars walking among us nowadays and we don’t know about it? I doubt that in this Twitter era.
.402, 4 HR, 118 RBI
Singles-165 (2nd Time)
Times on Base-283 (3rd Time)
Errors Committed as OF-46 (2nd Time)
5th Time All-Star-It seems to me, reading over the past blurbs I’ve written of Browning, that more was written about his terrible defense than his amazing offense. But let’s not forget that great batting. This season, he finished eighth in WAR (6.0), second in WAR Position Players (6.0), and third in Offensive WAR (6.1). He slashed .402/.464/.547 for an OPS+ of 177. All of those categories rank second in the league behind the outstanding Tip O’Neill, except slugging, which ranks third.
Is the Louisville Slugger named after Browning? SABR says, “Of course the most widely know legend has to do with the Louisville Slugger line of bats. Browning was often referred to as the Louisville Slugger in his day. According to bat-maker Hillerich & Bradsby legend, the first custom made bat made by the now-famous firm was for Browning in 1884. This is most likely not true but it is part of baseball lore forever.” Their answer, probably not.
From a different SABR article, there’s this: “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.” Sad.
.357, 8 HR, 73 RBI, 29-9, 3.30 ERA, 74 K
Win-Loss %-.763 (2nd Time)
Walks & Hits per IP-1.167
Range Factor/9 Inn as P-3.48
Range Factor/Game as P-3.38
Fielding % as P-.971
3rd Time All-Star-In 1887, Caruthers played 50 games in rightfield and pitched 39 games, so he’s on the All-Star team as a position player for the first time. However, it’s mainly his pitching that led to this incredible season. He finished second in WAR (11.0), sixth in WAR for Pitchers (6.8), fifth in WAR Position Players (4.2), and fifth in Offensive WAR (4.0). Along with all of that, his team made the World Series again, where Parisian Bob started eight games on the mound, going 4-4 with a 2.15 ERA. At the plate, he wasn’t as valuable, slashing .239/.255/.239, much less than his regular season marks.
It was also his last season with the Browns. According to SABR, “In 1887, as they had each year since 1882, the champions of the American Association faced the National League titleholders in a postseason series. Billed as the World’s Championship Series, the contests were viewed as mere exhibition games by some of the players and with good reason. For example, the 1887 series consisted of 15 games between the Browns and the National League champion Detroit Wolverines, played in several different cities. One day the teams played a morning game in Washington and an afternoon encounter in Baltimore. In order to relieve the monotony of the travel and the meaningless (to them) games, some of the St. Louis players engaged in recreational activities that may have taken precedence over their preparations for baseball. At least that was the opinion of Chris von der Ahe, owner of the Browns. As Caruthers was an expert billiards and poker player as well as something of a carouser, the owner placed the onus on Parisian Bob for the loss of the series 10 games to 5. He put Caruthers on the market.”
P-John Clarkson, CHC
P-Charlie Ferguson, PHI
P-Dan Casey, PHI
P-Jim Whitney, WHS
P-Tim Keefe, NYG
P-Pud Galvin, PIT
P-Henry Boyle, IND
P-Mark Baldwin, CHC
P-Mickey Welch, NYG
P-Pretzels Getzien, DTN
C-Jim O’Rourke, NYG
C-Charlie Bennett, DTN
1B-Roger Connor, NYG
1B-Dan Brouthers, DTN
1B-Cap Anson, CHC
2B-Hardy Richardson, DTN
3B-Jerry Denny, IND
3B-Billy Nash, BSN
SS-Monte Ward, NYG
SS-Jack Glasscock, IND
SS-Sam Wise, BSN
SS-Jack Rowe, DTN
RF-Sam Thompson, DTN
RF-Jim Fogarty, PHI
RF-King Kelly, BSN
38-21, 3.08 ERA, 237 K, .242, 6 HR, 25 RBI
Wins Above Replacement-15.1 (2nd Time)
WAR for Pitchers-14.9 (2nd Time)
Wins-38 (2nd Time)
Games Pitched-60 (2nd Time)
Innings Pitched-523.0 (2nd Time)
Strikeouts-237 (2nd Time)
Games Started-59 (2nd Time)
Complete Games-56 (2nd Time)
Batters Faced-2,183 (2nd Time)
Fielding Independent Pitching-3.42
Adj. Pitching Runs-71 (2nd Time)
Adj. Pitching Wins-6.3 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as P-60 (2nd Time)
Putouts as P-34
Assists as P-125 (3rd Time)
4th Time All-Star-Clarkson’s great run continued, though Chicago’s pennant-winning streak came to an end. Still it was another monster season for the White Stockings pitcher, who finished first in WAR (15.1) and first in WAR for Pitchers (14.9). He was old-school, out on the mound game-after-game. In a time when pitchers’ innings pitched were starting to come down, Clarkson still tossed 523 innings with a 3.08 ERA and a 145 ERA+, his fourth straight season with an Adjusted ERA+ of 145 or higher.
Not all was well, however. According to Wikipedia, Clarkson missed his catcher:”In 1887, Clarkson was 38-21 for Chicago with 56 complete games and a 3.08 ERA. However, King Kelly was sold to Boston before the season began, and the team began a decline, dropping to third place in 1887. Clarkson, always a touchy temperament, reportedly became more difficult to handle after Kelly’s departure.”
And so the great Clarkson himself would go join his teammate in 1888. On the website, Baseball in the Garden of Eden, John Thorn writes, “In 1888 John Clarkson of Chicago was sold to Boston for the same sum as King Kelly had been one year earlier, thus providing Boston with its famous ‘$20,000 Battery.’ The winner of fifty-three games with Chicago in 1885, he would win forty-nine with Boston, so there was no doubt of his ability, yet he was always unsure of himself and hypersensitive to slights. He ended his years at age forty-seven in a variety of sanitariums and asylums, depressed, alcoholic, and disoriented. As Sporting Life noted at the time of his death, ‘He seemed to have no memory at all for things of today, but talked clearly and lucidly of matters connected with the past.’” He’ll have a sad ending for sure, but his All-Star days are not done.
22-10, 3.00 ERA, 125 K, .337, 3 HR, 85 RBI
Saves-1 (2nd Time)
3rd Time All-Star-It was old news, Ferguson had another great season. He finished second in WAR (10.4) and third in WAR for Pitchers (7.7). He also had a great year at the plate, slashing .337/.417/.470 for an OPS+ of 140. From the mound, he pitched 297 1/3 innings with a 3.00 ERA and a 141 ERA+. Ferguson had now pitched four straight seasons of 20 or more wins and looked to have many more. Same old, same old.
It was same old, same old for the team itself also, as they just fell short, finishing in second place with a 75-48 record, three-and-a-half games out of first behind Detroit. Managed by Harry Wright, the Quakers finished the season with a 16-game winning streak. With Ferguson only 24 and coached by one of the greatest managers in baseball history, they’d have to eventually win it all, wouldn’t they?
I’ll let SABR finish the story: “Sometime during the Quakers’ spring preparation for the 1888 season, Ferguson probably consumed contaminated food or water. Within days, the tiny red spots that signaled typhoid fever appeared on his chest. With his health quickly deteriorating, the Quakers’ star hurler was sequestered in the second-floor bedroom he and his wife rented from Quakers shortstop Arthur Irwin. Ferguson battled the ailment for nearly a month, periodically rallying, before succumbing on April 29, 1888, at 10:30 p.m., less than two weeks after his 25th birthday. Ferguson’s remains were returned to Charlottesville the next day and he was interred at Maplewood Cemetery after a funeral attended by the entire Quakers organization and players on the Princeton College team, which Ferguson had coached in the offseasons.. (Princeton College is now Princeton University.)
“Ferguson’s death sent shockwaves through the entire baseball community. To that point in baseball history, he may have been the most prominent active major leaguer to die during his playing career. To honor Ferguson, the Quakers along with the Washington Nationals, New York Giants, and Boston Beaneaters wore black crepe on their left sleeves during the season.”
28-13, 2.86 ERA, 119 K, .165, 1 HR, 17 RBI
1887 NL Pitching Title
Earned Run Average-2.86
2nd Time All-Star-Unbeknownst to Casey, he would have more responsibility in 1888 after the death of Charlie Ferguson. How well will he do? My guess is he has made his last All-Star team. Let’s not be negative. I think I’m still bummed over the Ferguson’s demise. Shake it off, Ron! Okay, I’m back. Casey this season finished third in WAR (9.3) and second in WAR for Pitchers (10.4). He pitched 390 1/3 innings with a 2.86 ERA and a 147 ERA+. Casey at the bat added nothing.
Scoring really went up in the National League this year. In 1886, teams averaged 5.2 runs per game, while in 1887, it increased by almost a run at 6.1. I don’t know if this has anything to do with it, but Vintage Base Ball Association says, “The changes made in the rules governing the delivery of the ball to the bat form the most radical of the amendments made to the code, and by far the most important. In the first place the size of the pitcher’s ‘box’ has been reduced from seven feet in length to five feet six, thus rendering it almost impossible for him to take more than one forward step in delivering, even if he were not expressly forbidden to do so. The new rule also requires the pitcher to keep one foot on the rear line of his position, and this foot he cannot lift until he has completed the forward throwing or pitching movement of his arm in delivery. The rule also says that he shall not ‘make more than one step in such delivery.’ Moreover, in taking his stand in the box, preparatory to the delivery of the ball, he must hold the ball fairly in front of his body, and in sight of the Umpire. This prohibits any holding of the ball behind his back, as was the general rule last year. When, too, he makes any pretence or feint to throw the ball to a base to put out a base runner, he must, after such feint, resume his original standing position, and make a distinct pause before actually delivering the ball to the bat.”
24-21, 3.22 ERA, 146 K, .264, 2 HR, 22 RBI
Bases on Balls per 9 IP-0.934 (5th Time)
Strikeouts/Base on Balls-3.476 (4th Time)
6th Time All-Star-Whitney was now pitching for his third team in three seasons, but he still made the All-Star team two of those three seasons. He might have made his last on. But if it is his last All-Star team, Whitney made the best of it, pitching 404 2/3 innings pitched with a 3.22 ERA and a 126 ERA+. It was the first time he had an Adjusted ERA+ over 100 since 1884 for Boston.
Despite having Whitney on the team, the Nationals had a tough season, finishing seventh with a 46-76 record. John Gaffney coached the team for his second and last season. Ironically on this team was the man who would coach the most games ever, catcher Connie Mack. Washington was 24-21 in games decided by Whitney and 22-55 in games decided by other pitchers. It needed more Grasshopper Jim.
Sports Illustrated talks about Whitney’s death at the age of 33. “That article also raises questions about Whitney’s death. ‘It generally has been supposed that he died of consumption,’ the article reads, but former opponent Al Maul offers another explanation.
“’That hit was the death of Grasshopper Jim Whitney,’ Maul said. ‘Jim was pitching for the Washington team, and the game in which he received the blow that cost him his life was played at Pittsburg. [Bill] Kuehne was a Sandow in strength, and the whole force of his body backed up that hit. Before Whitney could step aside or duck, the ball crashed into his chest, and he fell forward prone on his stomach. He was carried off the field, and a few days later hemorrhage of the lungs set in. Jim, though deep-chested and a man of steel, never recovered from that blow and died a few years later.’” The problem is this could have only occurred in 1888 and Whitney lived three more years.
35-19, 3.12 ERA, 189 K, .220, 2 HR, 23 RBI
Walks & Hits per 9 IP-1.124 (3rd Time)
Hits per 9 IP-8.081 (4th Time)
Errors Committed as P-15
8th Time All-Star-A year after making the ONEHOF, Keefe continued to pitch well and he isn’t done yet. In 1887, he finished fifth in WAR (7.5) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (7.1). Smiling Tim would never again pitch 600 innings like he did in 1883 or 500 innings like he did in 1886, but he still managed 476 2/3 innings, innings in which he garnered a 3.12 ERA and 121 ERA+. And as mentioned, he still has great seasons ahead.
As for the Giants, they still couldn’t bust through to the pennant. Jim Mutrie coached the team to a 68-55 record, fourth in the National League, 10-and-a-half games out of first.
Keefe and the other NL pitchers had to deal with rule changes designed to help the hitters. SABR says, “In 1887 a rule change required Keefe to abandon the ‘hop, skip, and jump’ delivery by pitching from a fixed position, with the ‘pitcher compelled to keep both feet on the ground and face the batter before delivering the ball,’ and keep his right foot on the back line of the pitcher’s box and allowed to take only one step forward. Other rule changes were instituted that year to reduce the advantage of the pitcher, such as needing four strikes for a strikeout (up from three) and five balls for a walk (down from six), and allowing a hit batsman to take first base.
“On August 20 Keefe held a 5-3 New York lead in the top of the ninth inning when Philadelphia loaded the bases with no outs. Pitcher Dan Casey, the next hitter, ‘then raised the crowd to its feet by hitting safely to right, bringing in McGuire and Irwin’ to tie the game. When the Giants failed to score in the bottom of the ninth, the game ended 5-5. Thus began the inspiration for baseball’s most famous poem, contend Jim Moore and Natalie Vermilyea, authors of the book Ernest Thayer’s “Casey at the Bat”: Background and Characters of Baseball’s Most Famous Poem. Moore and Vermilyea postulate that Thayer, then living in San Francisco, read about Casey’s exploits in The Sporting News, which included the phrase ‘Casey was at the bat,’ and modeled the pitching character in his poem after Keefe.”
28-21, 3.29 ERA, 76 K, .212, 2 HR, 22 RBI
Range Factor/9 Inn as P-2.96
Range Factor/Game as P-2.96
8th Time All-Star-After two years in the American Association, Galvin followed Pittsburgh back to the National League and made yet another All-Star team. Oh, and he is the 1887 ONEHOF (One-a-year in the Hall of Fame) Inductee. This is very prestigious, almost as important as making the real Hall of Fame. For 1888, the nominees will be Charley Jones, Fred Dunlap, George Gore, Monte Ward, King Kelly, Mickey Welch, Charlie Bennett, Jack Glasscock, Dan Brouthers, Davy Force, Ned Williamson, Ezra Sutton, Old Hoss Radbourn, Jim Whitney, Hardy Richardson, Roger Connor, and Harry Stovey. It’s going to be an exciting competition!
Gentle Jeems finished seventh in WAR (6.4) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (6.8). He pitched an incredible 440 2/3 innings with a 3.29 ERA and a 115 ERA+. At 30 years old, he has already pitched an incredible 4573 1/3 innings and has almost 1500 innings left. He would end up with the second most innings pitched of all-time.
Pittsburgh moved to the NL from the AA this season. According to Wikipedia, “After five mediocre seasons in the A.A., Pittsburgh became the first A.A. team to switch to the older National League in 1887.” Well, it was just as mediocre in the NL, as the Horace Phillips-managed team finished in sixth place with a 55-69 record. Of course, this would end up being the Pittsburgh Pirates, which still exist to this day, so it’s not like this bad start kept the franchise from thriving for a long time.
13-24, 3.65 ERA, 85 K, .191, 2 HR, 13 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-Boyle is having a fluky All-Star career. He didn’t make the 1884 Union Association All-Star team despite a 15-3 record, 1.74 ERA, and 174 ERA+ , mainly because of “only” 150 innings pitched. He then made the 1885 National League All-Star team despite a 16-24 record, a 2.75 ERA and a 101 ERA+, mainly because he pitched 366 2/3 innings. He didn’t make the NL All-Star team in 1886 despite a league-leading 1.76 ERA and 178 ERA+. Why? That’s right. “Only” 210 innings pitched. And then he made it again this season with 328 innings pitched, a 3.65 ERA and a 113 ERA+. It seems to me teams should have pitched him less; it seemed to help his effectiveness.
His team this season was the Indianapolis Hoosiers, since his former squad, the St. Louis Maroons relocated there. It was a different city with the same result, a bad team. The Hoosiers went 37-89, in last place, 43 games out of first. It took three men to manage this team to these depths – Watch Burnham (6-22 in his first and last time managing), Fred Thomas (11-18 in his first and last time managing), and Horace Fogel (20-49 in his first, but not last time managing).
Did you know Indianapolis has a rich baseball history? According to the Indy Star, “Albert Von Tilzer, composer of ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game,’ was an Indianapolis native and lived at 434 S. Illinois St.” If it wasn’t for Indianapolis, Harry Caray would have just been singing random nonsense during the seventh-inning stretch. It’s hard to believe Caray has been dead for 18 years.
18-17, 3.40 ERA, 164 K, .187, 4 HR, 17 RBI
Strikeouts per 9 IP-4.419
1st Time All-Star-Marcus Elmore “Mark” or “Fido” Baldwin was born on October 29, 1863 in Pittsburgh, PA. He must have thought he won the lottery as he was picked up by the perennial champion White Stockings for his rookie year. But he wasn’t part of a league title and wouldn’t be on this team for long. He has another All-Star left in his wild career. By wild, I speak of his bouncing around leagues and teams and also his pitches. He had a lot of wild pitches this season with 41, but two years later, he’d bury that amount with 83 wild pitches in 1889, still the all-time record.
For the season, Baldwin finished seventh in WAR for Pitchers (6.0), pitching 334 innings with a 3.40 ERA and a 131 ERA+.
If it was up to his coach, Baldwin would have started sooner. According to Baseball Reference, “Nicknamed ‘Fido’, Mark Baldwin played football at Penn. won 39 games in the minor leagues in 1886 and then signed with the Chicago White Stockings. Chicago manager Cap Anson tried to use Baldwin in the 1886 World Series against the St. Louis Browns, but Browns skipper Charlie Comiskey objected and Baldwin did not join the White Stockings until the next season.”
From the same article comes this quote, “’Although never known for a good curve, or changeup, [Baldwin] had plenty of speed and the gumption to challenge the best hitters.’ Robert L. Tiemann, Baseball’s First Stars.” It was that speed that led to all of those wild pitches.
22-15, 3.36 ERA, 115 K, .243, 2 HR, 15 RBI
Home Runs per 9 IP-0.182
7th Time All-Star-Welch made his fifth consecutive All-Star team and I have no doubt he’s a future member of ONEHOF, possibly as early as next season. The one thing Welch couldn’t do was be part of pennant-winning team, but that would soon change. For this season, Welch finished 10th in WAR for Pitchers (4.7), garnering a 3.36 ERA and a 112 ERA+ in 346 innings pitched.
SABR tells us how Welch acquired his nickname: “For the 1885 campaign, the New York team performed up to expectations. But an exceptional 85-27 record was good for only second place that season, as the Chicago White Stockings, with Cap Anson, King Kelly, and John Clarkson at their playing peak, came in two games better in final NL standings. During the season, the New York team acquired the nickname that would accompany the club to later baseball glory: Giants. Star pitcher Welch also received an enduring sobriquet: Smiling Mickey, a tribute to his even-temperedness in the pitching box – he never argued a call and was said to be the favorite pitcher of NL umpires – and the bemused grin that seemed plastered on his face.
“With an ever-growing family to support, Welch held out briefly during the off-season of 1885-1886, but club owner Day refused to yield to his ‘exorbitant’ demands. Welch later signed quietly, probably for about $3,000. He pitched well during the 1886 and 1887 seasons, but a nagging back and occasional arm miseries reduced his numbers: 33-22 in 500 innings pitched (1886), and 22-15 in 346 innings (1887). Meanwhile, Tim Keefe had gone a combined 75-39 in over 1,000 innings pitched, and had assumed the mantle of staff ace.”
29-13, 3.73 ERA, 135 K, .186, 1 HR, 14 RBI
Home Runs Allowed-24
2nd Time All-Star-Surprisingly for a team that won the league title, Getzien is the only pitcher to make the All-Star team for the Wolverines. Are you thinking they must have a lot of bats bashing in their lineup? You’re so smart, they do have five position players on the All-Star team. Back to Pretzels. He last made the All-Star team in 1884, but was a consistent pitcher for the Wolverines even in his non All-Star seasons. In 1886, he was 30-11 with a 3.03 ERA and a 107 ERA+, but there were a lot of good pitchers in the National League that year. This season, Getzien finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (4.7), with a 3.73 ERA and a 109 ERA+ in 366 2/3 innings pitched.
As for Detroit, its hitting was the best in the league and its pitching and defense was among the league’s best. This led the Wolverines to their first (and last) title. Surprisingly, despite its success, Detroit only has one more season left.
Enough focusing on the negative! The Wolverines, coached by Bill Watkins, finished 79-45, three-and-a-half games ahead of Philadelphia. They then played a 15-game World Series! You heard me. Acccording to Wikipedia, “The Detroit Wolverines defeated the St. Louis Browns in the 1887 World Series, 10 games to 5.
“After the Wolverines won the National League pennant, owner Fred Stearns challenged the American Association champion St. Louis Browns. The Wolverines and the Browns would play ‘a series of contests for supremacy’ of the baseball world. This early ‘world series’ consisted of fifteen games – played in Pittsburgh, Brooklyn, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, Baltimore and Chicago, as well as Detroit and St. Louis. The Wolverines claimed their eighth victory – and thus the championship – in the eleventh game.” Pretzels pitched six of the games, going 4-2 with a 2.48 ERA.
.285, 3 HR, 88 RBI
11th Time All-Star-Imagine nowadays a player who mainly roamed the outfield who at the age of 36 became a regular catcher. It’s usually the opposite, catchers moving to other positions as they age. People like Craig Biggio and Mike Napoli, among many others. But that’s what O’Rourke did as he continues to frustrate my prophecies that say “This is his last year.” I really think this one is, but what do I know? I’ve been wrong numerous times about the Hall of Famer.
Of course, O’Rourke made the team because of a lack of good catchers this season. And though he played more catcher than any other position, he only caught 40 games. And it’s not like he hadn’t caught before. Orator Jim had caught in 147 games in his career before this season and in 1886, actually caught more games than this season when he donned the tools of ignorance 47 times.
Now in his third season with the Giants, O’Rourke continued to be a productive player, slashing .285/.352/.411 for an OPS+ of 114. Incredibly, that Adjusted OPS+ would be higher the next five years. Maybe he will make more All-Star teams!
In his personal life, Wikipedia says, “He graduated from Yale Law School in 1887 with an LL.B., practicing law in Bridgeport between early playing stints, and earning the nickname ‘Orator Jim’ because of his verbosity on the field, his intellect, and his law degree—uncommon in a game regarded as a rough immigrant sport at the time.”
.244, 3 HR, 20 RBI
7th Time All-Star-Bennett’s career is so fascinating. He never played 100 or more games, because Bennett was a catcher. Many others were CINOs (Catchers in Name Only), but when Bennett played, it was mainly behind the plate. Even this season, he made the All-Star team despite playing in only 46 games, but 45 of them were at catcher. Despite the lack of games played, Bennett finished sixth in Defensive WAR (1.0) and now has made seven straight All-Star teams. His hitting was declining, but still more than adequate, as he slashed .244/.363/.400 for an OPS+ of 109, his lowest since 1880.
Shouldn’t all of this hard work and beat up hands have a reward? This year, it finally did, as Bennett won his first ever pennant. He then played in his first World Series, slashing .262/.311/.357 with two doubles and a triple. It’s my guess he caught in 10 of the 15 games.
There is a website called The Baseball Page which has a whole page devoted to the Detroit Wolverines’ 1887 season and it has this to say about Bennett: “Catching duties were divided between Charlie Ganzel (51 games at catcher) and Charlie Bennett (45 games at catcher). Both were good defensive catchers, though neither hit particularly well. Bennett had a better fielding percentage than Ganzel (.951 to .913), but Ganzel was stronger in range factor (6.78 to 5.64) and fielding runs (9 to 2).” However, Ganzel did not make the top 10 in dWAR and Bennett did. Also, Bennett was a much better hitter as Ganzel slashed .260/.288/.330 for an OPS+ of 69.
.285, 17 HR, 104 RBI
Def. Games as 1B-127 (2nd Time)
Putouts as 1B-1,325
Fielding % as 1B-.993
6th Time All-Star-Surprisingly for the man who would be the all-time home run leader until George Herman Ruth came along, Connor only led the league in home runs once and it wasn’t this season, his best long ball year ever. At this point, Dan Brouthers was the all-time home run leader with 65. Connor only has 39 at this point. We’ll keep watching this race.
Still, there was no doubt Connor was the best first baseman in league, finishing eighth in WAR (6.2), second in WAR Position Players (6.2), second in Offensive WAR (5.3), and seventh in Defensive WAR (1.0). It was a great all-around season for the big man. At the plate, he slashed .285/.392/.541 (his highest slugging thus far) for an OPS+ of 161. This season was the first time he hit double digit home runs, but he would do so six out of seven seasons. I have no doubt he’ll eventually be in the ONEHOF. He’s already in Cooperstown.
Though Connor had a good season, he had a terrible year. SABR explains: “For Connor, the Giants’ tepid performance was dwarfed by family tragedy. Late in the 1887 season, daughter Lulu contracted dysentery when brought on a road trip. She died in September, just before her first birthday. To add to Connor’s anguish, the child had not been baptized, a grave parental failing for one as devout as Roger Connor. According to granddaughter Margaret Colwell, Connor always deemed Lulu’s death divine retribution for having been married outside church to a non-Catholic.”
.338, 12 HR, 101 RBI
Offensive WAR-6.0 (4th Time)
On-Base %-.426 (3rd Time)
On-Base Plus Slugging-.988 (6th Time)
Doubles-36 (2nd Time)
Adjusted OPS+-169 (6th Time)
Adj. Batting Runs-50 (4th Time)
Adj. Batting Wins-4.8 (4th Time)
Extra Base Hits-68 (5th Time)
Times on Base-246 (3rd Time)
7th Time All-Star-Brouthers, the greatest hitter of his time, finally won a league title as Detroit took the National League title. It certainly had its share of great hitters. As for Big Dan, same ole, same ole. He finished fourth in WAR Position Players (5.3) and first in Offensive WAR (6.0). His defense, as rated by dWAR, was again terrible. Oh, well, I’m sure the Mona Lisa has a miniscule paint blotch on it somewhere.
Unfortunately for the great Brouthers, this would be the only World Series he would make and he only batted three times because of an injury. Because he’s Dan Brouthers, he did get two hits in those three at-bats, but those would be the only World Series plate appearances in his career.
Baseball Reference says, “Brouthers has one of the top ten highest batting averages of all time. There is no player truly similar to Brouthers, but all ten of the most-similar players to Brouthers are in the Hall of Fame, with the most similar being Roger Connor, another 19th century player. Brouthers has been compared to Mickey Mantle as well, due to the proclivity that both of them had for high on-base percentage along with high slugging average.”
The other nine similar players played in the early days of baseball, so did similar things to Brouthers. However, if Brouthers would have played in a live-ball era, there’s no doubt he would be one of the top home run hitters of all time. As it is, after 1887, he was the all-time home run leader with 65.
.347, 7 HR, 102 RBI
1887 NL Batting Title (3rd Time)
Assists as 1B-70 (6th Time)
13th Time All-Star-History gives us the ability to look over big swatches of time and know the final results. For Cap Anson, he had no way of knowing in his time he would never lead Chicago to another crown, that his last was in 1886. It would be a 20-year stretch of not winning the league crown.
For the season, the 35-year-old Anson finished sixth in WAR Position Players (5.2), seventh in Offensive WAR (4.3), and ninth in Defensive WAR (0.9). While Roger Connor and Dan Brouthers were certainly better hitters, they couldn’t field like Cap. Oh, and by the way, it’s not like he couldn’t hit. He slashed .347/.422/.517 for an OPS+ of 146.
Cap Anson has a website devoted to him called Cap Chronicled which is amazing. The writing is excellent and it’s very fair and thorough. I want to put a snippet of it here about Anson’s racism as there was no major or minor league black baseball players from 1887 to 1947. Excuse the language.
“The influx of blacks into the professional ranks had not gone unnoticed. On July 11, 1887, the ‘Sporting News’ prints its opinion of the situation, a decidedly racist one. In it, it says ‘A new trouble has just arisen in the affairs of certain baseball associations [which] has done more damage to the International League than to any other we know of. We refer to the importation of colored players into the ranks of that body.’
“Three days after the Sporting News article appeared, an exhibition game was played between the Chicago White Stockings and the Newark Little Giants. It is this infamous game that many point to as the ‘line in the sand’ that designates the beginning of baseball segregation. Before the game began, Anson is purported to have exclaimed ‘get that nigger off the field!’ in reference to Stovey. Unlike the 1883 incident, this time Anson did not back down from his insistence. Ultimately, Stovey feigned injury and withdrew himself from the game. He and Walker watched the game from the bench.” Click the link above and read the whole thing.
.328, 8 HR, 94 RBI
Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-7.22 (2nd Time)
Range Factor/Game as 2B-6.78 (2nd Time)
6th Time All-Star-Old True Blue continued to play well into his 30s and now was part of his first league-winning team. Richardson moved from the outfield in 1886 back to his regular position of second base this season and was the best second sacker in the league. He slashed .328/.366/.484 for an OPS+ of 131. It was his lowest OPS+ since his 1882 season. Richardson didn’t do too well in the 15-game World Series against St. Louis of the American Association, slashing .197/.209/.379 for the series.
Wikipedia says of the Detroit 1887 team: “The 1887 season was the pinnacle in the eight-year history of the Detroit Wolverines. The team won the National League pennant with a 79-45 record and then defeated the St. Louis Browns in the 1887 World Series. In an article published in 1911, Richardson called the 1887 Detroit team ‘one of the grandest collection of hitters ever seen together.’”
I’ve put Richardson at second base, where he toiled for 64 games, but he played almost as many games in the leftfield (58). His overall fielding was decent as it always was and I believe Richardson has another All-Star team left in him.
Like his teammate, Dan Brouthers, this season would be the only World Series appearance for Richardson, but that doesn’t mean neither of them ever won other titles. Both were part of the 1890’s Players League-winning Boston Reds and the 1891 American Association-winning team of the same name. There were older then but could still lead a team to the title.
.324, 11 HR, 97 RBI
Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-4.15 (3rd Time)
Range Factor/Game as 3B-3.99 (3rd Time)
2nd Time All-Star-Denny, the bare-handed fielding third baseman, had his best season ever after moving from St. Louis to Indianapolis. Because he refused to wear a glove long after they became commonplace in the league, he has the fifth highest amount of errors as a third baseman all-time. However, he was still had great range.
For the season, Denny had his best season ever, finishing eighth in WAR Position Players (4.4) and eighth in Offensive WAR (4.0). He slashed .324/.344/.502 for his highest Adjusted OPS+ ever of 136. Though he was the National League’s best at the hot corner this season, he’ll probably never make another All-Star team.
I mentioned in last year’s blurb that Denny’s real name was Jeremiah Dennis Eldridge. Wikipedia says the reason for the name change was, “Eldridge attended St Mary’s College, Phoenix in the late 1870s, and wanted to play semi-professional baseball during the summer months, when he wasn’t playing for the college as an amateur. He used the pseudonym ‘Jerry Denny’ to hide his professional play from the college.”
Indianapolis would last as a National League team for three seasons, from 1887-89 and never get above seventh place out of the eight teams. They had the great Jack Glasscock and the almost great Jerry Denny, but it wasn’t enough to push them over the top and just barely over the bottom.
.295, 6 HR, 94 RBI
Putouts as 3B-207
1st Time All-Star-William Mitchell “Billy” Nash was born on June 24, 1865 in Richmond, VA. He started as a 19-year-old with the 1884 American Association Richmond Virginians before moving to Boston the next season. Nash finished 10th in the league in Offensive WAR (3.8), slashing .295/.376/.434 for an OPS+ of 126. He has a couple more good seasons ahead.
Tomahawk Take says the Nash made the All-19th Century team for the Braves, as the Beaneaters would eventually become. “Playing 10 seasons in Boston, the third baseman Nash was a good hitter who played solid defense, worth about 27 WAR with the franchise. He was usually among the league leaders in walks, though walks were then considered to be the pitcher’s fault, not the batter’s skill.”
Baseball Reference notes, “When people say there weren’t any good third basemen in the early days of baseball, they forget about people like Billy Nash. Nash played 15 years and was both a decent hitter and a good fielder. Some have called him the best glove man of his era. The similarity scores method shows the most similar player to Nash as Willie Kamm, and Hall of Famer Jimmy Collins is also on his list of the most similar players. Bill James ranked Nash as the # 49 third baseman of all time.
“’It is Capt. Billy Nash, of the Boston League team. Here’s to you, Billy. Good things come high, but we must have them. Billy is good, very good, and is correspondingly high. For playing third base the triumvirs will pay him $4000. For captaining the team he will get $1000 more. For signing the little paper that gives Capt. William to our League nine he gets a cool $2500 as a bonus. In other words for the coming season Billy will get $7500. A nice little plum. . . But the triumvirs are not kicking. They are very happy. . . Bill Nash will take with him quite a following . . .’- Sporting Life, March 14, 1891.”
.338, 1 HR, 53 RBI
WAR Position Players-6.6
Games Played-129 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as SS-129 (3rd Time)
Putouts as SS-226 (3rd Time)
Fielding % as SS-.919
7th Time All-Star-I almost forgot about Monte Ward, who last made the All-Star team as a centerfielder in 1883. Since then, he moved to shortstop in 1885, where he would play the majority of the rest of his career. This season, he finished sixth in WAR (6.6), first in WAR Position Players (6.6), fifth in Offensive WAR (4.6), and first in Defensive WAR (2.7). That 2.7 dWAR was tied for the highest up to this point in baseball history with Jack Glasscock’s 1883 season. At the plate, he slashed .338/.375/.391 for an OPS+ of 116, his highest ever and his first time over 100 OPS+ since 1879. His 111 stolen bases certainly helped that.
I believe Ward has a couple more All-Star seasons left in him and could possibly sneak into the ONEHOF. I have no problem with him being in Cooperstown, since they obviously have much lower standards than this page. While looking up some articles on Ward, the most commonly mentioned subject was his not deserving the Hall of Fame nod. But his overall WAR is 64.0. He had six straight outstanding seasons from the mound and then made a new career for himself as a slick-fielding shortstop. There are much worse inductees in Cooperstown.
Ward would eventually become a lawyer, using this to help the players, according to Wikipedia, which says, “Ward graduated from Columbia Law School in 1885 and led the players in forming the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players, the first sports labor union. Ward and the players had become frustrated with the owners’ reserve clause, which allowed them to sign players to one-year contracts and then not allow them to negotiate with other teams when those contracts expired. The players felt that the owners had absolute power. At first, the players had some success, gaining the freedom to negotiate with other teams when they were asked to take a pay cut by their current team. In October 1887, Ward married actress Helen Dauvray.”
.294, 0 HR, 40 RBI, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 K
AB per SO-60.4 (2nd Time)
Assists-493 (3rd Time)
Assists as SS-493 (5th Time)
Errors Committed as SS-73
Double Plays Turned as SS-58 (3rd Time)
Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-6.09 (3rd Time)
Range Factor/Game as SS-5.77 (2nd Time)
7th Time All-Star-Glasscock made the All-Star team for the seventh consecutive season, six of them in the prestigious National League. He finished 10th in WAR (5.3), WAR Position Players (5.3), and second in Defensive WAR (2.4). His dWAR would have led the league in almost any other year, but Monte Ward was phenomenal. (See above). At the plate, Glasscock slashed .294/.361/.360 for an OPS+ of 104. He’s not done being a good hitter – in a couple years, he’ll have a resurgence – but he will start to fade. However, his fielding will be great for many years to know.
The Ohio County Public Library has many clips from various 1880s publications on Jack Glasscock. There seemed to be a rumor that Pebbly Jack was trying to purposely play bad to get out of Indianapolis. The Sporting Life of June 8, 1887 says, “I notice in one or two papers where the writers claim that Jack Glasscock is playing a listless game and writer claims that Jack is playing for his release. This talk is all nonsense. No matter how anxious Jack is to get away from Indianapolis he will never put up a poor game of ball in order to get away from the Hoosiers…When Jack is playing on a losing club he becomes low-spirited and remains that way until his club strikes a streak of luck, and I suppose his spirits must be pretty low just at the present time.” Glasscock is one of those hard-luck great players who never played on a league-winning team.
.334, 9 HR, 92 RBI
Errors Committed-81 (2nd Time)
1st Time All-Star-Samuel Washington “Sam” or “Modoc” or “Mordor” (j/k) Wise was born on August 18, 1857 in Akron, OH. He was only 50 or 60 years too early to have the nickname “Hobbit” like Glenn Hubbard. He also arrived late on the scene to the All-Star party. Wise started in 1881 playing one game for the Detroit Wolverines before moving to Boston the next season. He started catching fire in 1885, finishing 10th in Offensive WAR (3.7) and really busted forth this season. Modoc led the Beaneaters in WAR, while finishing seventh in WAR Position Players (4.7) and fourth in Offensive WAR (4.8) league-wide. From the plate, he slashed .334/.390/522 for an OPS+ of 153. All of those would be career highs.
SABR, in an article written by Mark Sternman, says of Wise, “Sam Wise teamed with Jack Burdock to form the double-play combination for the Boston Red Stockings for seven years during the 1880s. An unusual shortstop,i Wise was a Jekyll-and-Hyde player,a free swinger (‘When Sam Wise offers at a ball and misses it he takes a turn like a prize fighter landing the pivot blow’) with power who led the National League in strikeouts in 1884. While far-ranging, he possessed a highly erratic, scattershot throwing arm. With his unique combination of skills and deficiencies, managers moved him around the batting order and diamond. Called by future Hall of Famer Buck Ewing ‘the best short stop in the country,’ Wise for a short period compared favorably with some of the enduring legends of the game.”
.318, 6 HR, 96 RBI
5th Time All-Star-In his ninth season, Rowe finally was part of league-winning team, but has probably made his last All-Star team. This season he finished ninth in WAR Position Players (4.1) and fifth in Defensive WAR (1.1). At the plate, Rowe slashed .318/.368/.445 for an OPS+ of 122. In the 15-game World Series victory against the American Association champion St. Louis Browns, Rowe slashed .333/.354/.381 with five stolen bases. He is one of five Wolverines’ position player All-Stars.
Rowe would play three seasons after this one, with Detroit in 1888, with Pittsburgh in 1889, and with the Players League Buffalo Bisons in 1890. Age and probably his years of catching caught up with his hitting. Then, according to Wikipedia, “After retiring from baseball, Rowe operated a cigar store in Buffalo. His store was reportedly ‘a popular gathering place for sporting figures of the city.’ In January 1899, The Sporting Life described him as ‘one of the most contented men in Buffalo these days’, attending to his cigar business, and ‘ever ready to talk base ball.’
“Rowe became ill in 1910 and moved to St. Louis, Missouri, to live with his daughter, Helen. Rowe died in April 1911 at his daughter’s residence in St. Louis at age 55. His cause of death has been reported as aortic regurgitation and nephritis. He was buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis.”
.372, 10 HR, 166 RBI
Runs Batted In-166
Offensive Win %-.803
Def. Games as OF-127
2nd Time All-Star-For all of the fame of Detroit’s vaunted “Big Four,” it was Big Sam Thompson, who wasn’t part of that clique, who dominated on this team. He finished third in the league in WAR Position Players (5.3) and third in the league in Offensive WAR (5.1). Thompson slashed .372/.416/.565 for an OPS+ of 166. It was his best season ever. His 166 RBI would be the record until a man named Babe Ruth edged it in 1921. Also, on May 7, he became the first ever player to hit two triples with bases loaded in the same game.
With Big Sam leading the way, Detroit won the National League and played a 15-game World Series against the American Association St. Louis Browns. The Wolverines won 10-5, with Thompson slashing .362/.393/.500 with two doubles and two home runs.
Thompson’s Hall of Fame page says, “’He was a wonderful friend,’ Charlie Bennett said at his funeral. ‘No one ever quarrelled with Sam. No one ever knew him with all his strength to be rough or brutal. He was always even-tempered, simple and plain.’
“During a time when the play was rough and so were many of the players, being recognized as ‘plain’ was complimentary, and only reserved for true gentlemen. Samuel ‘Big Sam’ Thompson spent time over 15 seasons in the Major Leagues protecting that reputation, while also building a name for himself at the plate.” I’ve mentioned many times that in this era, players seemed to be hedonistic drunkards or clean-cut choirboys. Thompson was the latter.
.261, 8 HR, 50 RBI, 0-0, 9.00 ERA, 0 K
Bases on Balls-82
Assists as OF-39
Double Plays Turned as OF-9
1st Time All-Star-James G. “Jim” Fogarty was born on Lincoln’s Birthday in the year before the great president was assassinated. He was born in San Francisco and attended St. Mary’s College of California. He entered the Major Leagues in 1884 with the Quakers and in 1887, had his best season ever. He finished 10th in WAR Position Players (4.1) and 10th in Defensive WAR (0.9). Fogarty slashed .261/.376/.410 for an OPS+ of 113. He’ll most likely never make another All-Star team, but in a league with very few good outfielders, he slipped in this year.
Fogarty would play with the Quakers two more seasons, before playing his last season at the age of 26 with the Players League Philadelphia Athletics. Philadelphia must be cursed because they lost pitcher Charlie Ferguson at a young age. (See his blurb above.) Fogarty also died young, according to Baseball Reference, which says, “He died at age 27. He is rather grimly remembered in a 1907 newspaper article as follows: ‘Jimmy Fogarty, the idol of Philadelphia and one of the first really good men in sliding to bases, was too frail of physique to stand the strain of a severe athletic career and is in his grave, one of the few ballplayers to die of consumption.’ Consumption in this case refers to tuberculosis.”
.322, 8 HR, 63 RBI, 1-0, 3.46 ERA, 0 K
7th Time All-Star-Because of the reserve clause in baseball, teams didn’t generally have to worry about losing their star players. However, according to SABR, after the White Stockings lost the 1886 World Series, “Anson and Spalding decided to clean house and get some players who would be better able to keep in training. The Boston Beaneaters believed Kelly would attract the numerous Irish population of the city, and were willing to pay the amazing sum of $10,000 to purchase his contract. They paid Kelly $5,000 in salary, which was listed as the $2,000 National League maximum plus $3,000 for the use of his picture for advertising purposes.”
Kelly’s play didn’t falter being in a new city. He finished sixth in Offensive WAR (4.5), slashing .322/.393/.488 for an OPS+ of 145. On top of all of this, King managed the Beanaters to a 49-43 record, before John Morrill took over, leading Boston to a 12-17 record the rest of the year. It finished 61-60, fifth in the National League.
Being Irish certainly added to Kelly’s fame in Boston. More from SABR: “The record purchase price only increased Kelly’s celebrity. Young Boston fans began following him around town, asking him to sign his name on a piece of paper. Kelly may not have been the first baseball player fans followed for an autograph, but as the most famous he can certainly be given credit for popularizing the practice.
“Kelly also received extra income from endorsements. A ‘Slide, Kelly, Slide’ model sled was tried, as was a Kelly-branded shoe polish.”
P-Toad Ramsey, LOU
P-Bob Caruthers, STL
P-Dave Foutz, STL
P-Ed Morris, PIT
P-Guy Hecker, LOU
P-Matt Kilroy, BAL
P-Tony Mullane, CIN
P-Pud Galvin, PIT
P-Ed Cushman, NYP
P-Adonis Terry, BRO
C-Fred Carroll, PIT
C-Chris Fulmer, BAL
C-John Kerins, LOU
1B-Dave Orr, NYP
1B-Harry Stovey, PHA
2B-Bid McPhee, CIN
2B-Yank Robinson, STL
2B-Sam Barkley, PIT
3B-Arlie Latham, STL
SS-Frank Fennelly, CIN
SS-Pop Smith, PIT
LF-Tip O’Neill, STL
LF-Henry Larkin, PHA
CF-Curt Welch, STL
RF-Ed Swartwood, BRO
38-27, 2.45 ERA, 499 K, .241, 0 HR, 28 RBI
Wins Above Replacement-12.5
WAR for Pitchers-12.6
Hits per 9 IP-6.834
Innings Pitched-588 2/3
Bases on Balls-207
Fielding Independent Pitching-2.59
1st Time All-Star-Thomas H. “Toad” Ramsey was born on August 8, 1864, 91 years before my brother, Ernie, whose name is also a nickname. Little Toad was only five-foot-nine, 180 pounds but he had a heck of an arm. He didn’t always hit the strike zone, but he hit it enough to be effective. Toad missed the mark so much, he set a record for walks allowed in a season, a record which will be beat in three years. Then in four years, Amos Rusie will walk 289 batters, which is still the record.
In between all of that walking was some good pitching. Ramsey pitched 588 2/3 innings with a 2.45 ERA and a 148 ERA+. It was his second year with Louisville. His rookie year was also effective, with a 1.94 ERA, but he only pitched 79 innings in 1885.
Louisville did pretty well when Ramsey started, but not so good otherwise. Ramsey went 38-27, while the Colonels went 66-70 overall, finishing in fourth place, 25-and-a-half games out. Manager Jim Hart coached for the second straight season, but was gone afterwards.
Ramsey struck out the second most batters of all time, but he was unfortunately in the same league in the same year as the man who struck out the most. We’ll get to him later.
Finally, was Toad the inventor of the knuckleball? Read this from Wikipedia: “Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, and a former bricklayer, Ramsey is credited as the inventor of the knuckleball pitch. He had severed the tendon in the index finger of his pitching hand with a trowel. The result was that Ramsey’s pitches had a natural knuckleball motion. He threw with a fastball motion, holding the ball with his index finger retracted, since he could not straighten it, and with just his finger tip on the ball. Some historians have disputed that he threw a knuckleball in the modern sense, in that his ball movement was like what is now known as knuckle curve.”
30-14, 2.32 ERA, 166 K, .334, 4 HR, 61 RBI
On-Base Plus Slugging-.974
2nd Time All-Star-Parisian Bob, the precursor to the two-way genius of Babe Ruth, stuffed a lot into one season. He had his best season ever, finishing second in WAR (11.9), fourth in WAR for Pitchers (7.6), and fifth in WAR Position Players (4.3). From the mound, Caruthers pitched 387 1/3 innings with a 2.32 ERA and a 147 ERA+. He’d never really pitch this well again, but combined with his monster bat, he’d still be effective. Did I mention his hitting? He slashed .334/.448/.527 for and OPS+ of 201. Quite a year.
And that year was the main reason for second straight American Association pennant for the St. Louis Browns. One thing about doing this page is I get to see the unmentioned stories about famous people. People like Charlie Comiskey, known for his cheapness which led to the 1919 White Sox throwing the World Series. But this man was a heck of a manager. He led St. Louis to a first place finish this year with a 93-46 record, 12 games ahead of the second place team.
This took St. Louis to the World Series against the National League White Stockings. In 1885, they tied, but this season, the team from the weaker league, the AA, actually won. St. Louis beat Chicago, four games to two. In the Series, Caruthers pitched three games, going 2-1 with a 2.42 ERA. At the plate, he didn’t do as well as he did in the regular season, hitting .250 with a double and two triples.
41-16, 2.11 ERA, 283 K, .280, 3 HR, 59 RBI
1886 AA Pitching Title
Earned Run Average-2.11
Adj. Pitching Runs-69
Adj. Pitching Wins-6.4
Putouts as P-57
2nd Time All-Star-Now in his third season with the Browns, Foutz had his best season ever, finishing third in WAR (11.4) and third in WAR for Pitchers (9.8). Bob Caruthers had a better overall season, from the mound and the batters’ box, but Scissors was the better pitcher. He pitched 504 innings, with league-leading totals of a 2.11 ERA and 162 ERA+. From the plate, he slashed .280/.297/.389 for an OPS+ of 111. These Browns pitchers sure could rake.
In the World Series, Foutz pitched two games with a 1-1 record and a 3.60 ERA while hitting .200 with a double and a triple. As mentioned in Caruthers’ blurb, St. Louis went on to win the World Series, 4-2.
The Sporting News, according to Wikipedia, has this to say about a particular play made by Foutz this season: “’During) Sunday’s game between St. Louis (and) Louisville, and in the presence of 6,000 persons, Foutz played the sharpest trick ever seen on the ball field. Browning was on first base and Kerins on second, with no one out. Pete played far off from the base, while Comiskey took a stand back into right field. Pete had his back turned toward second base, and was keeping an eye on the movements of Comiskey, while he eagerly pranced back and forth to show the crowd that he was not afraid to steal off a bag. Foutz pretended not to watch Browning, but suddenly Bushong signaled, and Foutz dashed over toward first base with the ball in hand, touching Browning before the latter knew what had happened. Such a play was never before seen, and the spectators howled with delight. Pete was mighty mad, and, as he has a faculty for being caught napping, the play was doubly embarrassing.’ The Sporting News, September 13, 1886.”
41-20, 2.45 ERA, 326 K, .167, 1 HR, 24 RBI
Walks & Hits per IP-1.032 (2nd Time)
Shutouts-12 (2nd Time)
3rd Time All-Star-Morris didn’t have as good of season as he did in 1885, but not too many pitchers have. He still pitched great, tossing 555 1/3 innings with a 2.45 ERA and a 135 ERA+. He’d never have this good of season again, though I have no doubt he has another All-Star team left in his quickly deteriorating arm.
As for Pittsburgh, led by Morris, it finished in second place with an 80-57 record. Horace Phillips managed the team for the third straight season and continually improved. But in 1887, coaching became more difficult as the Alleghenys moved to the National League, where they are to this day, though now they’re buccaneers not rivers.
Morris is not going to make the ONEHOF and certainly not make the real Hall of Fame. As a matter of fact, according to the American Association article in Wikipedia, “No player who spent the majority of his career in the AA is in the Hall of Fame. The living legacy of the old Association is the group of teams that came over to the National League to stay. The Pirates moved to the NL after the 1886 season, the Bridegrooms/Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds after the 1889 season, and the Browns/Cardinals after the American Association folded following the 1891 season. Following the reorganization and contraction of the NL from 12 teams down to 8 in 1900, half of the eight surviving teams were former members of the AA. Several of the AA’s home-field venues survived into the 1960s: The ballpark used by the 1891 Washington club evolved into Griffith Stadium; the home of the St. Louis Browns, Sportsman’s Park; and the city block occupied by the Reds, which evolved into Crosley Field. Crosley was the last physical remnant of the AA to go, other than the clubs themselves, when it was replaced by Riverfront Stadium in mid-1970.”
26-23, 2.87 ERA, 133 K, .341, 4 HR, 48 RBI
1886 AA Batting Title
5th Time All-Star-In his best season, 1884, Hecker threw 670 2/3 innings. Since that time, his innings pitched dropped to 480 in 1885 and then to 420 2/3 innings this season. Starting next season, he going to be more of a first baseman than a pitcher, which makes sense with the way he hit. This year, Hecker finished sixth in WAR (6.2), ninth in WAR for Pitchers (3.3), and 10th in Offensive WAR (3.3). From the mound, he had a 2.87 ERA and a 126 ERA+. At the plate, he slashed .341/.402/.446 for an OPS+ of 161. My guess is he has made his last All-Star team since his pitching and hitting would both fade after 1886. As far as I know, he’s the only pitcher to lead the league in batting.
Hecker would continue playing for Louisville for the next three seasons. In 1890, his last season, he moved to the National League to play with the Pittsburgh Alleghenys.
The pitcher did have one great game on August 15, 1886. Bob Bailey of SABR writes, “The trail of statistics was not as well marked in 1886 as it is today, so some of the details of Hecker’s record run have been lost. But we do know he set single-game records for runs scored (7), total bases (15), and home runs by a pitcher (3). Those three homers also tied the single-game record by a player at any position, and Hecker’s six hits equaled the existing single-game record in that category as well.”
29-34, 3.37 ERA, 513 K, .174, 0 HR, 11 RBI
Strikeouts per 9 IP-7.919
Strikeouts/Base on Balls-2.819
Def. Games as P-68
Assists as P-116
Errors Committed as P-28
1st Time All-Star-Matthew Aloysius “Matt” or “Matches” Kilroy was born on June 21, 1866 in Philadelphia, PA. A man I had never heard of had an incredible rookie year. He finished seventh in WAR (5.9) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (6.0). He pitched an arm-numbing 583 innings with a 3.37 ERA and a 101 ERA+. Oh, and he struck out more people in a season than anyone ever has or ever will.
Kilroy’s team, the Orioles, did much better with him on the mound, going 29-34, than they did without him, going 19-49. Altogether, Manager Billy Barnie led the team to a last-place 48-83 record, 41 games out of first. Surprisingly he would coach the team for another five seasons.
More on the strikeout record from SABR: “In 1886 the pitcher’s box was made a foot deeper and the rule requiring the pitcher to keep both feet on the ground when delivering a pitch was lifted, prompting an increase in strikeouts in both the American Association and the National League.
“Nowhere did this change have more impact than in Baltimore, where Matt ‘Matches’ Kilroy, a rookie pitcher for the American Association Orioles, set a record for strikeouts in a season with 513. On October 3, in a game against Louisville, Kilroy surpassed the previous strikeout record of 483, set in 1884 by Hugh ‘One Arm’ Daily.
“The hard-throwing 19-year-old made his debut in Baltimore on April 7, 1886, in an exhibition game against Washington, and struck out 15 while earning the win. ‘He pitched a speedy and curved ball, and gave promise of good work,’ the Washington Post wrote. The Baltimore American noted, ‘His curves are peculiar and deceptive, especially the in and out shoots.’”
33-27, 3.70 ERA, 250 K, .225, 0 HR, 39 RBI
Home Runs Allowed-11
4th Time All-Star-After missing a year due to a suspension (see his 1884 blurb), Mullane was back with his fifth team in five seasons of pitching, now throwing for Cincinnati. He’d finally settle down and be here for quite a while. This season, the Apollo of the Box finished eighth in WAR (5.4) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (5.2). He tossed 529 2/3 innings with a 3.70 ERA and a 94 ERA+. It was going to be his worst season, at least according to Adjusted ERA+, for quite a stretch.
The Red Stockings finished fifth in the American Association with a 65-73 record. Ollie Caylor managed them for the second consecutive season, but was gone after the season.
Tony Mullane was inducted in the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 2010. They introduced him by saying “Born in County Cork, January 30, 1859, Tony Mullane is often remembered for being one of the handful of ambidextrous pitchers in the history of Major League baseball. While pitching for Louisville in the American Association in 1882, Mullane suffered an injury to his right arm and resorted to pitching a few games left-handed, a practice he employed on a few other occasions throughout his long career. Interest in Mullane’s feat of pitching effectively with both arms has, for many fans, reduced Mullane to little more than an answer to a trivia question. Lost in this limited focus on Mullane’s career is one of the finest resumes ever compiled by a Major League pitcher.”
29-21, 2.67 ERA, 72 K, .253, 0 HR, 21 RBI
Base on Balls per 9 IP-1.553 (2nd Time)
7th Time All-Star-Galvin pitched in the American Association just two seasons – in 1885, when he pitched a partial season for Pittsburgh and this one. That 1885 season was the first time he missed making the All-Star team since he became a regular pitcher, but now getting to face the AA competition, Pud is back. He finished ninth in WAR (5.1) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (4.8). He was no longer the Gentle Jeems that threw 500 innings, this season throwing “only” 434 2/3, but in those innings, he had a 2.67 ERA and a 124 ERA+, his second highest Adjusted ERA+ in his career.
In a league and season in which the two highest strikeout performances of all-time were pitched, Galvin surprisingly had only 72 Ks. As mentioned in SABR, “Galvin’s inability to throw a curveball may have been a blessing in disguise, as he perfected a simple approach to pitching that yielded consistent results. Watching Tony Mullane struggle while throwing breaking pitches one day in 1886, Galvin remarked, ‘Just watch them slug Tony with his ups and downs, while I keep right on winning with my little old straight-ball delivery.’ Additionally, Galvin’s limited repertoire may have been a factor in his longevity during an era in which pitchers had very short careers, because his arm did not sustain the stress of throwing hard breaking pitches.
“Galvin also relied on good defense and a devastating pickoff move. He was one of the premier fielding pitchers of the era, consistently recognized for his fielding prowess in the press. His pickoff move was extraordinarily effective and incontrovertibly the most successful of the 19th century.”
17-21, 3.12 ERA, 167 K, .151, 0 HR, 5 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-Because every team needs a representative on my All-Star teams, Cushman made the Union Association squad in 1884 despite pitching only four games for the Milwaukee Brewers. In 1885, he pitched for the American Association Athletics and Metropolitans. He kept pitching for New York this season, finishing eighth in WAR for Pitchers (4.6). In 425 2/3 innings pitched, Cushman had a 3.12 ERA and a 108 ERA+.
The Metropolitans, coached by Jim Gifford (5-12) and Bob Ferguson (48-70), finished 53-82, seventh place in the AA. Their pitching, led by Cushman, wasn’t too bad, as they allowed the third least runs in the league, but their hitting definitely lacked, with only big Dave Orr giving them any pop at the plate.
After this season, Cushman pitched one more season with New York and then, according to Wikipedia, “For the 1888 season he returned to the minors, this time in the Western Association and played for Charlie Morton‘s Des Moines team. When Morton took over the minor league Toledo Maumee team, he moved several of his Des Moines players with him, including Cushman, who would play for that team through the 1889 season, and in 1890 season when the team earned Major League status by joining the American Association. This was the only season the Maumees played in the Majors.
“After his playing days, he worked as a conductor on the New York Central Railroad, and was also a restaurant owner at one time. Ed died in Erie, Pennsylvania at the age of 63, and was buried in Erie Cemetery.”
18-16, 3.09 ERA, 162 K, .237, 2 HR, 39 RBI
Home Runs per 9 IP-0.031
Range Factor/9 Inn as P-2.66
Range Factor/Game as P-2.50
2nd Time All-Star-After having an off-year for Brooklyn in 1885, Terry is back on the All-Star team this season. He never was one to rack up 400 or more innings (not counting his rookie year), but he consistently pitched well throughout his 14-year career. In 1886, he finished 10th in WAR for Pitchers (2.4), throwing 288 1/3 innings with a 3.09 ERA and a 113 ERA+. I mentioned in his 1884 blurb, he’s the start of many great Dodgers pitchers over their history. Oh, what the great Vin Scully could have done with the name Adonis!
Brooklyn did well in the American Association, despite allowing the same amount of runs as it scored, which should have led to a .500 record. Instead the Grays were 76-61, as Charlie Byrne must have done some great managing. Part of the reason is that Brooklyn went 15-8 in one run games, but was 23-25 in blowouts, games decided by five runs or more. As late as June 12, Brooklyn was in first with a 24-16 record, but faltered at that point, never getting back into the race.
Interestingly, the first place St. Louis Browns had six All-Stars, the second place Pittsburgh Alleghenys had five, but third place Brooklyn just had two, Terry and rightfielder Ed Swartwood. It had the same amount of All-Stars as last place Baltimore.
Of Terry, Wikipedia says, “Over the next three seasons [starting in 1885], Terry had average-to-good seasons, had a combined record of 40 wins and 49 losses, even throwing a no-hitter against the St. Louis Browns on July 24, 1886.”
.288, 5 HR, 64 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-After being an All-Star rookie for the Columbus Buckeyes in 1884, Carroll moved to Pittsburgh where he would spend most of the rest of his career. This season, he had his best season ever, finishing sixth in WAR Position Players (4.0) and sixth in Offensive WAR (3.8). He continued his hot hitting, slashing .288/.362/.422 for and OPS+ of 150. Also, according to Baseball Reference, “Fred Carroll holds the major league record with 95 passed balls in the 1886 season.” He also had nine hits in a doubleheader on July 5 which is still tied for Major League record.
Carroll got into a brouhaha this season, according to Wikipedia, which says, “In August 1886, Carroll was briefly suspended after fighting with a teammate, first baseman Otto Schomberg. Schomberg was unpopular with his teammates, and the fight started after Carroll referred to him with what The Sporting News subsequently termed ‘vile names’. The pair were separated by Frank Ringo and Ed Glenn, and while Carroll was immediately suspended, the suspension was short-lived. The directors of the Pittsburg Alleghenys convened a meeting that night, and after the players refused to testify, Carroll was reinstated and his penalty was reduced to a $50 fine.”
It is tough to be a good hitting catcher, which is why so much of Carroll’s eight-year career is impressive. He will be over 150+ Adjusted OPS+ half of those eight seasons, including this year, and he will end up with impressive overall stats. He didn’t add much defensively, but it didn’t hurt the team too much.
.244, 1 HR, 30 RBI, 0-0, 4.50 ERA, 0 K
1st Time All-Star-Christopher “Chris” Fulmer was born on the Fourth of July, 1858, just 82 years after the birth of the United States, in Tamaqua, PA. Just 73 years later, on November 9, 1931, he died in that same hometown. He didn’t burst onto the scene with fireworks, starting as a catcher for the 1884 Union Association Washington Nationals. He took a season off before coming back this season and having his best season ever. Fulmer finished 10th in WAR Position Players (3.9) and second in Defensive WAR (2.2). I mentioned in Fred Carroll’s write-up that Baseball Reference said he holds the all-time record for passed balls, but that turns out not to be true. And it’s not Fulmer either. It’s actually Rudy Kemmler, who had 114 for the American Association Columbus Buckeyes in 1883. Fulmer fell one short. Missed it by that much! (Don Adams, we salute you!)
During the season, Fulmer slashed .244/.363/311 for an OPS+ of 115. His main contribution at the plate was walks, as he walked 48 times in 80 games. He’d never play 80 games again, finishing his career as a part-time catcher and outfielder for Baltimore. He played his last Major League game in 1889. Though his career was short, it was decent, as he wound up with a final slash line of .247/.343/.313 for an OPS+ of 105. He never hit for much power, with only one home run in his career. Defensively, he would never add much to a team after this season.
.269, 4 HR, 50 RBI
Assists as C-157
Range Factor/9 Inn as C-9.21
Range Factor/Game as C-9.91
1st Time All-Star-John Nelson Kerins was born on July 15, 1858 in Indianapolis, IN. It’s rare that these All-Star teams have three catchers, but this season is an exception. Well, not rare, but more often than not it’s just the two that are required. Kerins made it in his best season ever, finishing eighth in Defensive WAR (1.0). His bat was adequate, as he slashed .269/.360/.370 for an OPS+ of 125.
Kerins played his entire career in the American Association, starting with his hometown Indianapolis Hoosiers in 1884, before moving to Louisville the next season. Starting in 1889, he played limited duty with Louisville, Baltimore, and St. Louis.
Baseball Reference says, “’John Kerins had a solid year in 1886 for Louisville. He was headed for an even better one in 1887 before breaking his right hand . . . Kerins . . . was never the same player.’ – from the book The Beer and Whisky League, which features a baseball card of him.
“He died in Louisville in 1919.”
The Louisville franchise started as the Eclipse in 1882, before becoming the Colonels for the rest of its existence, from 1885-to-1891 in the AA and from 1892-to-1899 in the National League. As you’ll read about sometime down the road, it was the first franchise for the great Honus Wagner, before he moved permanently to Pittsburgh.
.338, 7 HR, 91 RBI
WAR Position Players-6.3 (2nd Time)
Offensive WAR-5.4 (3rd Time)
Slugging %-.527 (2nd Time)
Hits-193 (2nd Time)
Total Bases-301 (2nd Time)
Triples-31 (2nd Time)
Runs Created-108 (2nd Time)
Adj. Batting Runs-48 (2nd Time)
Adj. Batting Wins-5.2 (2nd Time)
Extra Base Hits-63
Putouts as 1B-1,445
Range Factor/9 Inn as 1B-11.31
Range Factor/Game as 1B-10.88
Fielding % as 1B-.981
3rd Time All-Star-Orr was on the wrong New York team, the 250-pounder should have been on the Giants, not the Metropolitans. The big man had his best season ever, finishing fifth in WAR (6.3), first in WAR Position Players (6.3), and first in Offensive WAR (5.4). At the plate, Orr slashed .338/.363/.527 for an OPS+ of 185. Incredibly the large Orr led the league in triples with 31, which set a record which would last until 1912, when Chief Wilson set the all-time record with 36.
I put part of Dan Brouthers’ quote about Orr in his 1885 write-up, but here’s the full quote from Wikipedia, “Though largely forgotten in the modern era, Orr was remembered by both fellow players and sports writers as one of the greatest hitters of the 19th century. In 1894, Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Dan Brouthers opined that Orr was the greatest hitter to ever play the game:
“’The greatest hitter that ever played ball was old Dave Orr. He didn’t care whether they were over the plate or not. If they were within reach of that long bat of his he would hit them out, and when he hit them there was no telling whether they would be found again or not. I have always held that Dave Orr was the strongest and best hitter that ever played ball.’”
.294, 7 HR, 59 RBI, 0-0, 27.00 ERA, 0 K
AB per HR-69.9
5th Time All-Star-Mr. Power-Speed continued to produce for the Athletics at the plate and on the base paths. This season he finished eighth in WAR Position Players (4.0) and fourth in Offensive WAR (4.2). Stovey slashed .294/.377/.440 for an OPS+ of 158. He also stole 68 bases but they didn’t count caught stealings in these days, so it’s hard to know how effective all of that running was.
His great play didn’t help the Athletics do too well, as they finished 63-72, in seventh place, while being coached by Lew Simmons (41-55) and Bill Sharsig (22-17). Did Sharsig’s good record allow him to keep managing the team? Not in 1887, but he’d be back in 1888 and lead the team to a good record, though not a title.
Why isn’t a player of Stovey’s caliber in the Hall of Fame. According to Baseball Reference, “Stovey has been overlooked for the Hall of Fame because his greatest years were in the American Association, deemed by most (and all research on the subject) to be an easier league than the National League. However, he was also well above average as a young player in the National League and as a player in the Players League in 1890.
“He played all three outfield positions as well as first base. He managed in 1881 (when he was 24 years old) and 1885. He was said to be well-behaved and articulate.
“John Shiffert argues that Stovey is the very best player who is not yet in the Hall of Fame.”
.268, 8 HR, 70 RBI
Putouts as 2B-529 (4th Time)
Assists as 2B-464 (2nd Time)
Double Plays Turned as 2B-90 (5th Time)
Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-7.21 (2nd Time)
Range Factor/Game as 2B-7.09 (2nd Time)
Fielding % as 2B-.939 (4th Time)
1st Time All-Star-John Alexander “Bid” McPhee was born on November 1, 1859 in Massena, NY. The little man, standing five-foot-eight, 152 pounds, would eventually make the Hall of Fame. Bid started with the Red Stockings in 1882 and was their regular second baseman from the beginning. He’d always been a great defensive player, but this year put it all together. McPhee finished sixth in WAR Position Players (4.0) and 10th in Defensive WAR (0.9). At the plate, he slashed .268/.343/.395 for an OPS+ of 129.
At most, McPhee seems to be a weak Hall of Famer. Oh, there are worse *cough* Candy Cummings *cough* but while he was a great defensive player, it doesn’t seem that he produced enough with the bat to put him in Cooperstown. Your mileage may vary.
McPhee was the last second baseman who didn’t wear a glove. SABR says, “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.’”
.274, 3 HR, 71 RBI, 0-1, 3.00 ERA, 1 K
Errors Committed as 2B-95
1st Time All-Star-William H. “Yank” Robinson was born on September 19, 1859 in Philadelphia, PA. He was born about 20 years too soon to be a Yankee which would have been the ultimate in symbiosis. Oh, well, he’d have to settle for winning his second pennant. Yank finished 10th in WAR Position Players (3.9) and seventh in Offensive WAR (3.8). Robinson slashed .274/.377/.385 for an OPS+ of 135, his highest Adjusted OPS+ ever.
Yank started off his career as a part-time player for the 1882 National League Detroit Wolverines, then didn’t play Major League ball (or as Bill James would put it, “major league ball”) until 1884 for the Union Association Baltimore Monumentals. He was one of the rare players who lasted from that league and then got to be part of the pennant-winning Browns of 1885. In that season’s World Series, he went four-for-23 (.174) with a triple, but in 1886’s Series, which St. Louis won, he did well, going six-for 19 (.316) with a double and a triple.
As with many of these old-time players, modern metrics tend to expose fielding lapses in players who had good reputations by the eyeball test. Robinson’s overall dWAR would be -1.6, but Wikipedia says, “At least two modern accounts support the notion that Robinson was a good fielder. In his 1999 book on the early St. Louis Browns, J. Thomas Hetrick stated:
“’Performing gloveless at second base, Robinson was known for his range, accurate throwing arm, and double-play acrobatics. Ambidextrous, Robinson sometimes startled the opposition with lefthanded throws across his chest to nail base runners heading to third.’”
.266, 1 HR, 69 RBI
3rd Time All-Star-Again my prophetic talents are lacking as I said Barkley would make no more All-Star teams, but he did. He was purchased by the Alleghenys from St. Louis for a thousand dollars and continued to play well for his new team, slashing .266/.345/.370 for an OPS+ of 129. His OPS+ would never be above 91 again in the three seasons he has left, one with Pittsburgh (National League) and two with Kansas City (American Association).
Here’s Wikipedia on the finale of his career: “That first season with Pittsburgh, the 1886 season, he hit .266 with 31 doubles, and he also stole 22 bases, while playing in 122 games. He stats declined significantly in 1887, only playing in 89 games, hitting only .224. After the season was over, Pittsburgh sold him to the Kansas City Cowboys of the American Association.
“He was given good playing time in 1888 by the Cowboys, playing in 116 games, but his batting average slid further down, to .216, but the season was not uneventful. On June 13, he hit for the cycle, and he was given the managerial reins, which lasted 58 games and 21 wins.”
According to Baseball Reference, Kansas City really wanted him: “The Wheeling Daily Register from March 30, 1888 carried this about him (Barkley was from Wheeling):
“Kansas City, of the Association, is making a big effort to secure Sam Barkley, and the wires were burthened with telegrams regarding the affair. Barkley has been signed with Pittsburg, but it is understood that that club is anxious to release him. All the clubs in the League will have to consent to his release . . .”<
.301, 1 HR, 47 RBI
Errors Committed as 3B-88 (2nd Time)
2nd Time All-Star-Latham didn’t make the All-Star team in 1885, but his team won the American Association pennant, so there’s always that. No, the years you want are like this one, in which you win the pennant AND make the All-Star team. The Freshest Man on Earth finished fourth in WAR Position Players (4.3) and fifth in Offensive WAR (3.9), slashing .301/.368/.374 for an OPS+ of 129. All of this while having baseball’s best nickname.
In the World Series, which his team won, Latham couldn’t match his season success, going four-for-23 (.174) with a triple and two stolen bases. This didn’t match his 1885 World Series success in which he hit .318 with three doubles.
SABR says, “Arlie Latham, known as ‘The Freshest Man on Earth’ or the ‘Dude,’ would drive St. Louis Browns owner Chris Von der Ahe so crazy that Von der Ahe would blame Arlie when things spun out of control even if Latham wasn’t involved. He would yell ‘dot Latams is driving me crazy.’ Arlie was a carefree guy who loved life and baseball. Before Nick Altrock and Al Schacht, Arlie was the clown prince of baseball.
“Latham’s mischievous behavior on the diamond earned him the name as the ‘Freshest Man on Earth,’ a popular song at that time.
“Arlie jockeyed and taunted opposing players not only from the bench but also as a third base coach. At that time there was no coaching box that the third base coach was supposed to stay in, so Arlie took full advantage of it by running up and down the third base line while yelling invectives at the pitcher while he was in the middle of his windup. The rule makers, taking notice of Arlie running up and down the line like a lunatic, soon put into the rules the coaching box.”
.249, 6 HR, 72 RBI
Hit By Pitch-18
Assists as SS-485
Errors Committed as SS-117
Double Plays Turned as SS-54 (2nd Time)
3rd Time All-Star-In 1871, Harry Schafer, playing third base for the National Association Boston Red Stockings committed 59 errors in 31 games. That record was broken in 1872 when John Radcliff, playing shortstop for the Baltimore Canaries, committed 74 errors in 56 games. Then the year after that, Bob “Death to Flying Things” Ferguson, playing third base for the Brooklyn Atlantics, committed 110 errors in 51 games.
That’s the record which was broken in 1886 by Fennelly, who booted the ball 117 times in 132 games. Just for fun, if we extrapolate Ferguson’s 1873 errors over 132 games, he would have committed 284 errors! At least Fennelly has the excuse of playing a long season.
Remember in the BBJ era (before Bill James), when we used to think the worst fielders were those with the worst fielding percentage. We’ve grown up a lot now and know that you can commit errors and still be a great fielder. That was Fennelly.
As for this season, Fennelly finished ninth in WAR Position Players (3.9), ninth in Offensive WAR (3.5), and seventh in Defensive WAR (1.1). See, good fielder.
At the plate, he slashed .249/.351/.380 for an OPS+ of 127, his worst hitting season ever. He’s pretty much done providing value from the plate, but his fielding would shine for many years.
This only has to peripherally to do with Fennelly, but, well, who cares! SABR, in an article written by Paul Browne, mentions a game between the first formed black baseball team beating the Red Stockings. Read the whole thing, it’s very good, but here’s the beginning of the article: “Formed by Frank P. Thompson, headwaiter of the Argyle Hotel in Babylon, Long Island, New York, and Stanislaus Kostka ‘Cos’ Govern, who acted as manager, the Cuban Giants were the first salaried black baseball team. They began play in August of 1885 and took on their first major-league opponent, the American Association Metropolitans, on October 5 of that year.”
.217, 2 HR, 57 RBI
Fielding % as SS-.895
3rd Time All-Star-Much has happened to Smith’s career since making the All-Star team in 1884. Colorado folded at the end of that season and Smith was purchased by the Alleghenys. Then he was moved to shortstop this season, for the first time ever in full season. He did well at his new position, where he would remain for the majority of his career.
For this season, Smith had his best defensive season ever, finishing third in dWAR (2.0). He wasn’t great with the bat, slashing .217/.288/.308 for an OPS+ of 91, but his hands more than made up for it.
SABR speaks about his early life: “Little is known of Smith’s family or his early years. His birth in the coastal city of Digby, Nova Scotia, on October 12, 1856, belies the fact that he may never have played baseball there. Boys in Nova Scotia played baseball using New York rules by 1872, but it is not known if young Smith was one of them, because his family moved to Boston sometime in the 1870s, likely when the commercial economy of Nova Scotia crashed with the financial panic of 1873 (Howell, 24).
“Young Smith had little time for school. Working class children in the Canadian Maritimes typically left school around age ten to contribute to the family income (Howell, 38). By 1874 he worked as a laborer and played baseball on amateur teams in the Massachusetts Bay area.” It’s interesting to read about these times which came before drafts or free agency and yet people from many different places still made Major League rosters.
.328, 3 HR, 107 RBI
Runs Batted In-107
1st Time All-Star-James Edward “Tip” or “The Woodstock Wonder” O’Neill was born on May 25, 1858 in Springfield, Ontario, Canada. He would have an outstanding, though short, career. O’Neill started as a part-time pitcher for the 1883 National League New York Giants, then moved to the outfield for the 1884 American Association St. Louis Browns, where he would remain for the majority of his career. Playing only 52 games in 1885, O’Neill slashed .350/.399/.466 for an OPS+ of 166 and then hit .208 with no extra base hits in the World Series. Had he played more, this would have been his second All-Star team.
Once he played fulltime this season, O’Neill showed the world his skills. He finished 10th in WAR (4.9), second in WAR Position Players (4.9), and eighth in Offensive WAR (3.6). He slashed .328/.385/.440 for an OPS+ of 155. In the World Series against the National League Chicago White Stockings, Tip went crazy, hitting .400 with two triples and two homers in 20 at-bats. He slashed .400/.500/.900.
You might remember another Tip O’Neill from an episode of “Cheers” or maybe his long run as a congressman. Well, according to Wikipedia, “Years later, the future American politician and Speaker of the House, Thomas “Tip” O’Neill (1912–94), was given the nickname ‘Tip’ as a boy, due to his shared surname with the 19th century baseball player.”
Baseball Reference has this quote: “I think that the golden age of batting was from 1885 to 1891. . . The hits that Brouthers, O’Neil and Browning made were the real thing. They fairly smoked as they sped along. . . I think that those three fellows . . . if they could be back in the game, and as husky as they were then, would beat .350 easy . . .” – Hall of Famer Jake Beckley, who broke into the majors in 1888 and was still around in 1903 to make this comment comparing O’Neill to more modern players.
.319, 2 HR, 74 RBI
Doubles-36 (2nd Time)
Times on Base-246
Def. Games as OF-139
Errors Committed as OF-44
2nd Time All-Star-Larkin continued to be one of the best hitters in the American Association. He moved from centerfield to leftfield this season to lessen the effects of his bad fielding and would eventually wind up at first base, for the same reason. Larkin finished third in WAR Position Players (4.4) and third in Offensive WAR (4.2). Ted slashed .319/.390/.450 for an OPS+ of 165.
Philadelphia played its games in Jefferson Street Grounds, a neutral park for hitters and pitchers.
SABR, in an excellent article about the park, says, “The Athletics began the 1886 season with an advertisement claiming to be the ‘oldest playing organization in the United States.’ They asserted that they gave the Jefferson Street patrons ‘honest ball playing’ when they posted the opening season schedule of games. These contests began at 4:00 pm and admission remained at 25 cents. Even the train schedule from Broad Street was publicized. Despite this confidence, the ballfield was again threatened by city officials. These ambitious politicians were deterred when they were reminded that no one except the Athletics was willing to pay the $2,000 lease for the grounds. Once this issue was settled the Athletics re-dedicated their resources to repairing the grounds. They raised the infield, put in new cinder paths, and purchased ‘an immense canvas to cover the entire infield.’ Two years later, Mason and Simmons, looking for revenue, changed the ticket prices. General admission became 50 cents, and for an extra quarter women and their escorts could sit on cushioned seats in parts of the grandstand. This new revenue was intended to cover the expenses of erecting a new fence, replacing old floorboards, and re-painting the pavilions. In spite of these changes, the growing threat of a players’ strike put the Athletics and their ball park in jeopardy.” Read the whole thing.
.281, 2 HR, 95 RBI
Putouts as OF-297 (3rd Time)
Range Factor/Game as OF-2.29 (2nd Time)
Fielding % as OF-.952 (2nd Time)
1st Time All-Star-Curtis Benton “Curt” Welch was born on February 10, 1862 in Williamsport, OH. He started with the 1884 American Association Toledo Blue Stockings before coming over to St. Louis to be a part of their two pennant winning teams. In 1885, he hit only .148 in the World Series, with a double and a triple. This season, he slashed .281/.332/.393 for an OPS+ of 124. In the 1886 World Series, he turned it on, hitting .350 with two doubles and two stolen bases. He’d have a decent if not great career.
Here’s more on Welch’s part in the World Series. According to SABR, St. Louis needed one more win to take the series when, “Welch led off the bottom of the tenth and was hit by a pitch. But Anson protested that he had made no effort to avoid the pitch, and the umpire made him bat again. On the next pitch Welch lined a single to center. A fumble by shortstop Williamson put two men on. Yank Robinson calmly bunted the men to second and third, bringing up Bushong. On the second ball pitched, catcher King Kelly signaled for a low ball outside. But Clarkson’s pitch sailed in high and inside, bouncing to the backstop. Welch ran home with the championship-winning run as Sportsman’s Park turned into a madhouse.
“Although the winning run has come down in history with the label ‘Curt Welch’s $15,000 Slide,’ there is no contemporary evidence that he actually slid. In fact, the Missouri Republican said he ‘trotted home,’ and the Globe-Democrat said that ‘Kelly made no effort to get (the ball), and … in a dazed manner stood and watched Welch come in.’As for the money, the Chicago News put the winnings at ‘exactly $13,781.95.’ These discrepancies notwithstanding, the 1886 St. Louis Browns were world champions, the only American Association team with an undisputed claim to that title.”
.280, 3 HR, 58 RBI
Bases on Balls-70
Assists as OF-32
4th Time All-Star-For his first two seasons, there weren’t too many better hitters than Swartwood. Even now, far below that level, he’s still good enough to make the All-Star team after not making it the previous season. He slashed .280/.377/.369 with his ability to walk his best attribute.
Of Swartwood, SABR says, “By some standards, Ed Swartwood toiled in relative obscurity, playing nearly his entire career in the American Association, an under-appreciated major league in the 19th century. Even the teams he played on weren’t impressive. During the league’s inaugural season, 1882, he came up with the Pittsburg Alleghenys, a poor club during his three summers there. Of the teams he played for, only the 1886 Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers finished as high as third place, yet still a distant 16 games behind.” Baseball Reference has them listed as the Grays. Was this team already the Trolley Dodgers?
More from SABR: “Over the winter, Swart worked out at home in Pittsburgh with teammates Germany Smith and Steve Toole at a ‘large rink.’ In March 1886, the Brooklyn Eagle looked forward to a new season from Swartwood: ‘He gave such satisfaction as captain of the team last year that the management has determined to place the team in his hands again this year. His fairness and considerate treatment have won him the respect and goodwill of all the players and it is believed good teamwork will naturally result. He is a good coach for his men, a powerful batter and last year he made a great reputation as a base runner.’ He appeared in 122 games in 1886, mostly in right field, and led the league in bases on balls with 70. After the season, he was chosen as one of the players to sit on the combined National League and American Association rules committee.”
P-Charlie Ferguson, PHI
P-Lady Baldwin, DTN
P-Tim Keefe, NYG
P-Jim McCormick, CHC
P-John Clarkson, CHC
P-Dan Casey, PHI
P-Old Hoss Radbourn, BSN
P-Jim Whitney, KCN
P-Mickey Welch, NYG
P-Dupee Shaw, WHS
C-Charlie Bennett, DTN
C-Buck Ewing, NYG
1B-Dan Brouthers, DTN
1B-Roger Connor, NYG
1B-Cap Anson, CHC
2B-Fred Dunlap, SLM/DTN
3B-Jerry Denny, SLM
SS-Jack Glasscock, SLM
SS-Jack Rowe, DTN
LF-Hardy Richardson, DTN
CF-George Gore, CHC
CF-Paul Hines, WHS
CF-Jim O’Rourke, NYG
RF-King Kelly, CHC
RF-Sam Thompson, DTN
30-9, 1.98 ERA, 212 K, .253, 2 HR, 25 RBI
Wins Above Replacement-11.8
Range Factor/9 Inn as P-2.95
2nd Time All-Star-When you see someone has a WAR of 11.8, you figure they led in multiple categories, but that wasn’t the case with Ferguson. He had a great season, maybe the best in the league, but he didn’t put up monster stats, at least compared to his contemporaries. He did lead the league in WAR (11.8) and finish second in WAR for Pitchers (10.5). Ferguson tossed 395 2/3 innings with a 1.98 ERA and a 161 ERA+. It was his best season ever.
As for his team, the Quakers, they had a great year, finishing 71-43. The great manager Harry Wright guided them, but surprisingly that gaudy record only led them to a fourth place finish. Philadelphia allowed less runs than any other team, but its hitting lacked a bit.
We’ll look at Ferguson’s tragic end next season. Here’s some highlights from SABR, which has an outstanding article on him: “Despite all the success he enjoyed on the mound, the season was not free of controversy for Ferguson. On August 27, upon the Quakers’ arrival in Chicago for a three-game set, the young right-hander jumped the team and headed back to Charlottesville. The situation suggests that all may not have been well with the Quakers’ star. Ferguson began explaining his actions by stating, ‘It is true that I jumped the Philadelphia club at Chicago, but I did not take “French leave” because I feared the Chicago batsmen.’The lineup of the first-place Chicago club was indeed one to be feared as they tallied 13 runs in each of the three contests against the Quakers.”
42-13, 2.24 ERA, 323 K, .201, 0 HR, 25 RBI
WAR for Pitchers-10.8
Walks & Hits per IP-0.967 (2nd Time)
Hits per 9 IP-6.856
Fielding Independent Pitching-2.69 (2nd Time)
Adj. Pitching Runs-57
Adj. Pitching Wins-5.4
2nd Time All-Star-Detroit would be a team known for its “Big Four” hitting crew and would definitely be dominant at the plate this season. But thanks to Lady Baldwin, the Wolverines also did well on the mound. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t beat a dynamic, All-Star-filled Chicago squad.
As for Baldwin, the 27-year-old would have won the Cy Young this season had Cy Young yet existed in baseball. (He’s actually not that far out. Ooo, exciting!) He pitched 487 innings with a 2.24 ERA and a 144 ERA+. However, after this season, he would never be the same and it’s his last All-Star team.
Back to Detroit. Bill Watkins managed the team to an outstanding 87-36 record that still fell behind the White Stockings by two-and-a-half games. The Wolverines were in first place through their 90th game on August 25, before losing ground for good to Chicago. It’s not like the team fell apart, going 23-12 from this point. But the White Stockings were in the midst of a 14-game winning streak druing this stretch and never looked back.
Back to Baldwin. Are you keeping up? Speaking of looking back, it was at this point in his career he would look back and realize he’d never be the same. Well, I should mention he has one more highlight in his career, according to Wikipedia, which says, “Baldwin had his best season in 1886 when he compiled a 42–13 record and a 2.24 earned run average (ERA), threw 55 complete games, and led the National League with 323 strikeouts. Baldwin’s 42 wins in 1886 set the major league record for a left-handed pitcher and remains the second highest single season total by a southpaw. Baldwin also pitched five complete games for a 4–1 record and a 1.50 ERA in the 1887 World Series. Arm troubles cut short Baldwin’s major league career at age 31.”
42-20, 2.56 ERA, 297 K, .171, 1 HR, 20 RBI
Games Pitched-64 (2nd Time)
Innings Pitched-535.0 (2nd Time)
Games Started-64 (2nd Time)
Complete Games-62 (2nd Time)
Batters Faced-2,173 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as P-64 (2nd Time)
7th Time All-Star-It’s always a synergetic joy when a member of ONEHOF is also a member of the Cooperstown Hall of Fame and that is the case with Smiling Tim Keefe. He was not a difficult selection, especially having yet another gigantic year on the mound this season. As for next year’s ONEHOF nominees, they are Charley Jones, Pud Galvin, Fred Dunlap, George Gore, Davy Force, Monte Ward, Ned Williamson, Ezra Sutton, King Kelly, Mickey Welch, Old Hoss Radbourn, Charlie Bennett, Jack Glasscock, and Dan Brouthers. It’s a crowded field and it goes to show how many great players never got their recognition in the 1800s.
For this season, Keefe finished third in WAR (9.5) and third in WAR for Pitchers (10.1). He pitched an incredible 535 innings with a 2.56 ERA and a 174 ERA+.
Giants’ owner John B. Day’s plan to use his two teams to shuffle players around and win a pennant was foiled again. New York, coached again by the outstanding skipper, Jim Mutrie, finished in third place with a 75-44 record, 12-and-a-half games out of first. Led by Keefe, it had great pitching, but its hitting didn’t match the top tier teams.
From Keefe’s Hall of Fame page: “’Keefe was one of the first pitchers celebrated for his head work,’ Hall of Fame historian Lee Allen said. ‘Teaming with…Mickey Welch, he assured the Giants of a well-pitched game almost every day.’
31-11, 2.82 ERA, 172 K, .236, 2 HR, 21 RBI
9th Time All-Star-After seven consecutive years of making the All-Star team, including making two of them in 1884, McCormick didn’t make it in 1885, despite having a 21-7 record between two clubs, Providence and Chicago. He did pitch in the World Series in 1885, going 3-2 with a 2.00 ERA. This season McCormick, who is making his last All-Star team, finished seventh in WAR (7.0) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (7.3). He pitched 347 2/3 innings with a 2.82 ERA and a 126 ERA+. He didn’t quite the same success in the World Series this season, pitching in just one game and allowing 12 runs (six earned).
In 1887, McCormick would go to the Pittsburgh Alleghenys and go 13-23 with a 4.30 ERA. According to Wikipedia, he was traded because, “In March, McCormick was still the property of Chicago when Spalding said ‘the only trouble between McCormick and the club has been a difference of opinion between him and me as to his habits. Anson is and always has been very partial to “Mac,” and wants him this season.’ Ten days later in Louisville, Anson said, ‘I desire his services very much, however, for I think that, under the new [pitching] rules [allowing for unrestricted overhand throwing], he will be the best pitcher on the diamond. If he is released, it will only be for a good sum of money.’ About a week after that, Spalding sold him.”
He would end up his career with a 265-214 record over 10 years, with a 2.43 ERA and a 118 ERA+. He has already made the ONEHOF, but is a longshot for the real Hall of Fame, despite having the second highest WAR among those who have not been admitted. Not counting steroid users, of course.
36-17, 2.41 ERA, 313 K, .233, 3 HR, 23 RBI
Home Runs Allowed-19 (2nd Time)
Strikeouts/Base on Balls-3.640
Assists as P-114 (2nd Time)
Errors Committed as P-19 (2nd Time)
3rd Time All-Star-It’s not often a team has two pitchers of the caliber of Jim McCormick and Clarkson, but of course Chicago did and was able to win the league. Clarkson finished fifth in WAR for Pitchers (7.1), tossing 466 2/3 innings with a 2.41 ERA and a 147 ERA+.
He also pitched in the World Series, starting four games and finishing 2-2 with a 2.03 ERA, including one shutout. However, he was on the mound when the White Stockings lost, according to this from Wikipedia, “The sixth game, at St. Louis, was considered one of the greatest games ever played to that time. With the Browns ahead three games to two, Anson called on Clarkson to start his fourth game in six days. Clarkson responded with seven shutout innings, but gave up three runs in the eighth inning, and the game went to extra innings. In the bottom of the tenth inning, the Browns’ center fielder Curt Welch singled (only the fourth hit off Clarkson) and moved to third on a sacrifice. Welch and Browns’ third base coach Arlie Latham tried to distract Clarkson with heckling and faking moves toward home. When Welch finally attempted the steal, Chicago’s catcher, King Kelly, had called for a pitchout, but Clarkson threw a wild pitch, and Welch scored the World Series winning run.”
Clarkson had an amazing stretch in his career of eight years, from 1885-to-1892, in which he went 293-146 with a 2.64 ERA and a 137 ERA+. Though his career was only 12 years long, he definitely deserves to be in the Hall.
24-18, 2.41 ERA, 193 K, .152, 0 HR, 9 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Daniel Maurice “Dan” Casey was born on November 20, 1862 in Binghampton, NY. Was he the “Casey” of “Casey at the Bat?” No. That was probably King Kelly. However, Wikipedia says, “In his later years, Casey claimed to be the Casey about whom Ernest L. Thayer wrote his famous poem, ‘Casey at the Bat.’ Casey was given a parade honoring him as the famed ‘Casey’, was featured on a national radio broadcast, and participated in a ‘re-enactment’ of ‘Casey at the Bat’ when he was age 78. The poem’s author denied that his work was based on any real player, and several sources have called Casey’s claim into doubt. Casey had a career batting average of .162 and one home run.” Read the whole article about the furor over who the real Casey was. It’s fascinating!
He was the Casey who started his career with the Union Association Wilmington Quicksteps in 1884, before pitching 12 games for Detroit in 1885, and then moving to Philadelphia this season. As the sidekick to Charlie Ferguson, he helped Philadelphia to a fourth place finish.
Casey finished sixth in WAR for Pitchers (6.2), pitching 369 innings with a 2.41 ERA and a 132 ERA+. When Casey was at the bat, however, he was awful, bringing no joy to Mudville by slashing .152/.200.192 for an OPS+ of 21. He couldn’t have been the famous Casey, because if he came up in a clutch situation, no doubt the manager would have put in a pinch-hitter.
27-31, 3.00 ERA, 218 K, .237, 2 HR, 22 RBI
Putouts as P-39
6th Time All-Star-I mentioned way back in Radbourn’s 1882 blurb whether he would have the longevity to make the ONEHOF. I try not to look so much at one or two dominant seasons as much as a good breadth of work over a career. I’m going to say, yes, Radbourn will make the ONEHOF, but it’s going to be close. If he had a good season in 1887, there’s no doubt he’d be there, but it’s going to be a few seasons before he makes another All-Star team.
Radbourn moved from Providence to Boston this season after the Grays folded. He finished 10th in WAR for Pitchers (4.6), pitching 509 1/3 innings with a 3.00 ERA and a 104 ERA+, his lowest Adjusted ERA+ to that time. It’s going to get lower.
As for Boston, John Morrill coached the team to a 56-61 record and fifth place finish. He’s got three more years of managing left, but would never win another pennant.
Radbourn’s most famous act of 1886 was giving the finger in Boston’s 1886 team picture. From History by Zim, “In a 1886 photograph of the Boston Beaneaters (Radbourn was their pitcher) and their rivals, the New York Giants, Radbourn was photographed extending his middle finger to the camera, the earliest known photograph of a public figure using this gesture.” Due to the family nature of this page, I will not be showing that photo, but it’s easy to find online. Of course, you could say that about anything nowadays, couldn’t you? Kids, get off my lawn!
12-32, 4.49 ERA, 167 K, .239, 2 HR, 23 RBI
Bases on Balls per 9 IP-1.260 (4th Time)
Range Factor/Game as P-2.76
5th Time All-Star-For the second time in his career, Whitney made the All-Star team with a losing won-loss record. That’s mainly because Kansas City needed a representative. It’s not like he wasn’t effective. Pitching in hitter-friendly Association Park, Whitney pitched 393 innings with a 4.49 ERA and an 83 ERA+.
Kansas City entered the National League this season and would exit afterwards. Coached by Dave Rowe, the Cowboys finished seventh in the league with a dismal 30-91 record. The Cowboys, coached by Rowe, would be part of the American Association in 1888, but he wouldn’t last all season.
Here’s Wikipedia on the short history of the Cowboys: “The Cowboys were admitted to the National League on a trial basis for the 1886 season. The team went out of business in February, 1887, having been forced to sell its players back to the league for $6,000. They were replaced in the league by the Pittsburg Alleghenys, which moved to the league from the American Association.”
At this point in his career, Whitney might be the only five-time All-Star who has three sub-.500 seasons. Despite his pinpoint control, he would wind up his career with a 191-204 record. There will more about the end of his career later, but I will tease this: He doesn’t live a long time.
Whitney would wind up with five consecutive years of leading the league in Bases on Ball per 9 IP. That wouldn’t be matched until the 1890s when the great Cy Young would pitch.
33-22, 2.99 ERA, 272 K, .216, 0 HR, 18 RBI
Bases on Balls-163 (3rd Time)
6th Time All-Star-Smiling Mickey continues to make the All-Star team year-after-year and he’s not done. The Hall of Famer will almost no doubt be a ONEHOFer in the future. Welch won 30 games for the third consecutive year, but it would be the last time he does so. Because of how commonplace 30-win seasons are in this era, I forget how impossible it seems such a mark will ever be reached again. Even as I write this, Clayton Kershaw is having a great season, but he’s headed for “only” 22 wins.
Welch finished eighth in WAR for Pitchers (4.9), tossing 500 innings for the third time in his career, with a 2.99 ERA and a 107 ERA+. He also set the National League record for walks that wouldn’t be broken until 1889. Toad Ramsey of the American Association set the Major League mark this season with 207. During this season, the NL required seven balls to walk and the AA required six. In 1887, both leagues are going to require five and the walk totals are going to jump. By 1889, both leagues would be down to the current four balls to walk.
The card at the top is Welch’s 1886 baseball card. Look at the spelling of his name – it’s Welsh not Welch. Nowadays children can collect baseball cards, some with gum in them. In the 1880s, apparently kids would have had to buy cigarettes in order to build up their card collection. Do kids nowadays even collect baseball cards anymore?
13-31, 3.34 ERA, 177 K, .088, 0 HR, 6 RBI
3rd Time All-Star-Shaw continued to move around, as he was picked up by Washington this season. He pitched well, finishing seventh in WAR for Pitchers (5.4), throwing 385 2/3 innings with a 3.34 ERA and a 96 ERA+. At that bat, however, Dupee stunk. He went 13-for-148 for an .088 average and ended up with a -14 OPS+. There are bad hitting pitchers nowadays, but they never get the amount of at-bats they did in the 1800s.
The Washington Nationals were new this season and played like an expansion team, finishing last with a 28-92 record. They were coached by Mike Scanlon (13-67) and John Gaffney (15-25). Both men would manage two seasons each in their career. Ironically on the team at this time was a man who would coach more seasons than anyone, backup catcher Connie Mack, who would eventually coach 53 seasons in his life, the last one when he was 88 years old in 1950.
Shaw would finish his career with Washington, playing his last Major League game in 1888. After that, according to Wikipedia, “After retiring from baseball, Dupee lived in the Boston area and was successful in business there. At the time of the 1900 U.S. Census, he was employed as a bartender in Boston, and in 1910 he was a grocer there. He also continued to follow baseball and to participate in ‘old timers’ games in Boston. He died at age 78 in Wakefield, Massachusetts, and was interred at Glenwood Cemetery in Everett, Massachusetts.”
.243, 4 HR, 34 RBI
Putouts as C-425 (3rd Time)
Double Plays Turned as C-13 (2nd Time)
Fielding % as C-.955 (3rd Time)
6th Time All-Star-Bennett’s hitting is starting to decline, but his defense continued to be stellar. This despite how beat up his hands were at the time (see the 1885 blurb). At the plate, Bennett slashed .243/.371/.391 for an OPS+ of 131. That’s not terrible, but it’s because of his glove that he’s on the All-Star team for his sixth straight season.
Nowadays, a lot of teams will move their good-hitting catchers to first base to keep them from wearing themselves out at an earlier age. How much better could have Bennett’s career have been had that strategy been employed with him? Go back and read his past write-ups and see how tough this man was. No doubt, his beat-up hand started affecting his hitting.
As for his fielding, however, Wikipedia says, “Putouts. In 1886, Bennett set a major league, single-season record with 445 putouts by a catcher. His career total of 5,123 putouts was also a major league record that stood until 1901.
“In The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, sports historian Bill James wrote that Bennett was perhaps the best defensive catcher of the era. In comparing Bennett to Buck Ewing, James noted: ‘Buck Ewing was supposedly a brilliant catcher, but Bennett caught 50% more innings than Ewing, with a lot fewer mistakes: per 1000 defensive innings, Ewing was charged with 59 errors and 66 passed balls, while Bennett was charged with 46 errors and 43 passed balls.’ Although James ranked Ewing ahead of Bennett as an overall player, he chose Bennett as the catcher on his Gold Glove Team for the 1880s. On the offensive side, Ewing compiled a .303 career batting average, 47 points higher than Bennett. However, with Bennett’s talent for drawing walks, Ewing’s career on-base percentage (.351) was only 11 points higher than Bennett (.340).”
.309, 4 HR, 31 RBI
5th Time All-Star-I wonder if back in this day there were heated arguments about who the best catcher was? Was it the defensive-minded Charlie Bennett or the better hitter, Ewing? This is the fourth straight season both men have made the National League All-Star team at catcher.
Ewing actually slumped with the bat a little this year, the key word there being a little. He slashed .309/.347/.444 for an OPS+ of 137. It was his highest batting average and on-base percentage thus far in his career, but his slugging was the lowest it’d been since 1882.
I mentioned in Mickey Welch’s blurb that Old Judge Cigarettes started offering baseball cards with their product. Here’s a little about the early history of baseball cards from Wikipedia: “During the mid-19th century in the United States, baseball and photography were both gaining popularity. As a result, baseball clubs began to pose for group and individual pictures, much like members of other clubs and associations posed. Some of these photographs were printed onto small cards similar to modern wallet photos. As baseball increased in popularity and became a professional sport during the late 1860s, trade cards featuring baseball players appeared. These were used by a variety of companies to promote their business, even if the products being advertised had no connection with baseball. In 1868, Peck and Snyder, a sporting goods store in New York, began producing trade cards featuring baseball teams. Peck and Snyder sold baseball equipment, and the cards were a natural advertising vehicle. The Peck and Snyder cards are sometimes considered the first baseball cards.”
.370, 11 HR, 72 RBI
WAR Position Players-8.2 (3rd Time)
Offensive WAR-8.0 (3rd Time)
Slugging %-.581 (6th Time)
On-Base Plus Slugging-1.026 (5th Time)
Total Bases-284 (3rd Time)
Home Runs-11 (2nd Time)
Adjusted OPS+-208 (5th Time)
Runs Created-126 (3rd Time)
Adj. Batting Runs-67 (3rd Time)
Adj. Batting Wins-7.0 (3rd Time)
Extra Base Hits-66 (4th Time)
AB per HR-44.5 (2nd Time)
6th Time All-Star-Brouthers dominated again (yawn) and I can’t help but think how many home runs this man would have hit in a different era. He’s definitely the dominant hitter of his day and it’s not even close. This season, he and the rest of the Big Four – Brouthers, Hardy Richardson, Jack Rowe, and Deacon White – all came to the Wolverines this season after Buffalo folded and Detroit improved from sixth to second.
As for Brouthers, he finished fourth in the National League in WAR (8.2), first in WAR Position Players (8.2), and first in Offensive WAR (8.0). He slashed .370/.445/.581 for his highest ever OPS+ of 208. For this season, anyway, Recreation Park in Detroit was a hitters’ park, but it was generally neutral.
During the 1886 season, according to Wikipedia, Big Dan had a big game. “On September 10, 1886, Brouthers hit three home runs‚ along with a double and a single, to set the NL record with 15 total bases in one game. This mark tied the Major League record at the time, as Guy Hecker of the Louisville Colonels totaled 15 the previous month in the American Association.”
Wikipedia also says, “During the off-season, on November 11, 1886, The Executive Council of the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players‚ formed in 1885 as the first organized players’ union, met and re-elected John Montgomery Ward as president, and elected Brouthers as vice president.” Unfortunately for ballplayers, they never were able to get rid of the Reserve Clause, at least until the Curt Flood era, a rule that allowed teams to put a hold on five players and not allow them to switch clubs.
.355, 7 HR, 71 RBI
Triples-20 (2nd Time)
5th Time All-Star-Starting next season, Connor is about to go on a home run tear which would allow him to be the all-time home run leader until Babe Ruth came around. As it was, he did hit his career high thus far with seven this year. He wouldn’t dip below that total until 1897. If Connor wouldn’t have had to contend with Dan Brouthers, he would have led in many more categories.
For the year, Connor finished sixth in WAR (7.1), third in WAR Position Players (7.1), and fourth in Offensive WAR (6.4). He slashed .355/.405/.540 (his highest slugging so far) for an OPS+ of 183. I’ve always been one to favor great offense over great pitching, so Connor and Brouthers would have probably been among my favorite players.
Speaking of the big man’s homer power, Wikipedia says, “On September 11, 1886, Connor hit a ball completely out of the Polo Grounds, a very difficult park in which to hit home runs. He hit the pitch from Boston’s Old Hoss Radbourn over the right field fence and onto 112th Street. The New York Times reported of the feat, ‘He met it squarely and it soared up with the speed of a carrier pigeon. All eyes were turned on the tiny sphere as it soared over the head of Charlie Buffinton in right field.’ A group of fans with the New York Stock Exchange took up a collection for Connor and bought him a $500 gold watch in honor of the home run.”
.371, 10 HR, 147 RBI
Runs Batted In-147 (6th Time)
Def. Games as 1B-125 (2nd Time)
Assists as 1B-66 (5th Time)
Errors Committed as 1B-48 (4th Time)
Double Plays Turned as 1B-69 (2nd Time)
12th Time All-Star-You can say what you will about Anson’s character and you’d certainly be justified, but he was a phenomenal ballplayer. He has made more All-Star teams than anyone so far and not only succeeded as a player, but also a manager. First, his props as a player. Anson finished 10th in WAR (6.9), sixth in WAR Position Players (6.9), and third in Offensive WAR (6.8). He slashed .371/.433/.544 (his highest slugging percentage ever) for an OPS+ of 180. He also set the all-time record for runs batted in with 147, which will be broken next season by Sam Thompson. It should be noted that Anson was the all-time RBI leader from 1881-through-1932, when Babe Ruth took the lead.
As for the White Stockings, they won their sixth National League pennant, five of them under Cap, and their second straight. It would be Anson’s last crown. They finished 90-34, finished two-and-a-half games ahead of the Wolverines. However, in the World Series, Chicago lost four games to two to the American Association St. Louis Browns. Cap, who tended to rise to the occasion in big situations, didn’t do so against St. Louis, going five-for-21 (.238) with a double. The White Stockings, to a man, were stymied by the Browns’ pitching, slashing .195/.254/.300, this for a team that hit .279 during the regular season. According to SABR, “In 1886 Anson drove in 147 runs in 125 games and led the White Stockings to the pennant once again, but his charges lost the six-game World’s Series against the Browns when some of the Chicago players appeared to be inebriated on the field.”
.274, 7 HR, 69 RBI
Assists-393 (2nd Time)
Assists as 2B-393 (4th Time)
7th Time All-Star-From my 1885 Dunlap blurb: “Without doing what many call ‘research,’ I can only guess that it’s possible the 26-year-old superstar has made his last All-Star team.” Well, there you go, I am a false prophet, break out the stones. The reason Sure Shot made the All-Star team for his seventh consecutive year is because there was a lack of good second basemen in the National League. Dunlap slashed .274/.335/.387 for an OPS+ of 123. His hitting was similar whether playing for the Maroons or the Wolverines.
St. Louis, managed by Gus Schmelz, still couldn’t reach the playing level of its one Union Association season. The Maroons finished 43-79, in sixth place, 46 games out of first.
Why would the Maroons trade their best player? According to Wikipedia, “In early August 1886, Dunlap was sold to the Detroit Wolverines for $4,700, the most expensive purchase price at the time. In addition to the sum paid to the Maroons to grant the release, the Detroit team signed a contract to pay Dunlap $4,500 a season for two seasons, with an advance of $1,500 on the first day of November 1886 and 1887, respectively. The mid-season sale led to concerns about the Maroons: ‘The transfer of Dunlap to Detroit is a small thing in itself, but its bearing on the entire base ball world is so great as to almost revolutionize the present order of things. He was the king pin of the St. Louis Club and his sale makes a certainty of the dissolution of the Maroons.’” The answer, of course, is money.
.257, 9 HR, 62 RBI
Putouts as 3B-182 (3rd Time)
Assists as 3B-270
Double Plays Turned as 3B-22
Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-4.08 (2nd Time)
Range Factor/Game as 3B-3.86 (2nd Time)
1st Time All-Star-Jeremiah “Jerry” Dennis Denny born Jeremiah Dennis Eldridge was born on March 16, 1859 in New York, NY, went across the country to attend St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga before starting his Major League baseball career with the Providence Grays in 1881. Third base was always Denny’s position, but he didn’t make an All-Star team until moving to the Maroons this season. He finished fourth in Defensive WAR (1.5), which is where his true value was. At the plate, he slashed .257/.278/.389 for an OPS+ of 108. It wasn’t a great season, but considering the lack of good third basemen in the National League, it was good enough.
“At the time Denny began his professional career, fielding gloves had not yet become standard equipment, other than padded mitts for catchers and first basemen. Fielding gloves gradually gained acceptance between 1885 and the mid-1890s, but Denny refused to adapt. He was one of the few ambidextrous major league players; although he threw primarily with his right arm, he could also toss with his left. This gave him a defensive advantage at his customary field position—in ranging to his left on a ground ball, if he saw a play at second base, instead of having to transfer the ball to his right hand while pivoting and repositioning his body (as third basemen would customarily do), Denny could dispatch the ball to second with his left hand. This skill contributed to his refusal to wear a glove in the field, long after most players considered gloves essential.”
.325, 3 HR, 40 RBI
AB per SO-37.4
Assists as SS-392 (4th Time)
Fielding % as SS-.906 (4th Time)
6th Time All-Star-There are many players from this era that are not in the Hall of Fame for various reasons. There are some pitchers not there because of the proliferation of innings pitched during this time leading to them being overrated. There are others which did well in other leagues, but not so well in the tougher National League. None of this applies to Pebbly Jack Glasscock, who played only 38 games outside of the NL, played the toughest position, and played it well. It’s baffling to me.
St. Louis had a terrible season, but they had a great infield with Fred Dunlap (for part of the year), Jerry Denny, and Glasscock. Glasscock finished eighth in WAR (7.0), fourth in WAR Position Players (7.0), sixth in Offensive WAR (6.1), and second in Defensive WAR (1.8). He slashed .325/.374/.432 for an OPS+ of 153, his highest Adjusted OPS+ outside of his 38 games in Union Association. It was a great year, but it was typical for great Glasscock.
In 1941, Glasscock wrote an autobiographical letter which you can see at cycleback.com, but if you don’t want to spend the energy to click on the link, here’s a sample: “Well, I was in St. Louis in 1880 to 1886, and Mr. Lucas lost money and throwed up the franchise. And then the Indianapolis step in. The fans at St. Louis presented me with a diamond pin. And that fall when Lucas quit, I could have gone to Boston. Theys offered to give me, the St. Louis club, $7,500 for me. And the league stepped and paid us players. And no clubs buy us. That was done so no club to get us and sell us. That was the way we went to Indianapolis, under those conditions.” The whole letter is over 1,000 words and one continuous paragraph. Which you’d know if you clicked the link.
.303, 6 HR, 87 RBI
4th Time All-Star-Catchers in the 1800s could only tolerate so much, excluding Charlie Bennett, of course. Their hands were beat up and many of them just partially played behind the plate, spending the rest of the time at other positions. Well, in 1885, after playing six seasons as the catcher for Buffalo, Rowe moved to short. Then this season, with the folding of the Bisons, he moved to Detroit. Now it’s hard to picture someone like Johnny Bench moving from catcher to shortstop. It was hard enough watching him play third base. Yet Rowe was more a typical shortstop size, being five-foot-eight and 170 pounds, so maybe it wasn’t such a big deal.
For this season, Rowe finished eighth in WAR Position Players (4.2), 10th in Offensive WAR (4.1), and seventh in Defensive WAR (1.0). He slashed .303/.340/.425 for an OPS+ of 130. He wasn’t the best player on the team, but he helped add to Detroit’s already powerful arsenal.
According to the Detroit Wolverines article at Wikipedia, its owner was trying some shenanigans. “In 1885, new owner Frederick Kimball Stearns began spending heavily in an attempt to create a ‘super-team’ by buying high-priced players. Most notably, he purchased the entire Buffalo Bisons franchise that August, to secure the services of its stars: Dan Brouthers, Jack Rowe, Hardy Richardson, and Deacon White, the so-called ‘Big Four’. This strategy quickly met resistance from his fellow owners, who changed the league’s rules governing the splitting of gate receipts, reducing the visiting team’s maximum share to $125 per game. Detroit was not yet the Motor City, and its population was too small to support a highly paid team. The Wolverines’ home gate receipts were not sufficient to sustain their payroll, and Stearns was forced to sell his stars to other clubs.”
.351, 11 HR, 61 RBI, 3-0, 4.50 ERA, 5 K
5th Time All-Star-For the first time in his career, Richardson made an All-Star team two years in a row and also made one in an even-numbered year. It’s Old True Blue’s fifth All-Star team and he’s now made one at four different positions (3B, CF, 2B, and LF). This season was Richardson’s best season ever, finishing ninth in WAR (7.0), fifth in WAR Position Players (7.0), and fourth in Offensive WAR (6.4). At the plate, he slashed .351/.402/.504 for an OPS+ of 173. All four of those numbers are career highs.
Richardson did something that has only been done four times in all of the history of baseball this season, and never since the live-ball era. He led the league in singles and home runs. The only others to do it were Nap Lajoie in the American League in 1901, Ty Cobb in the American League in 1909, and Dave Robertson in the National League in 1916. It was a little easier to do it when home runs weren’t as plentiful. Richardson ripped 11 home runs, Lajoie launched 14, Cobb crushed nine, and Robertson rocked 12.
My guess for Richardson is he has one or two more All-Star seasons left and is not going to make the ONEHOF. As for the real Hall of Fame, Old True Blue got 1.3 percent of the votes from the veterans committee in 1936. As the years roll on, it will get more difficult to make my One-A-Year Hall of Fame, in which only one player can make the Hall of Fame each year. If Richardson had started his career earlier, there’s a chance he would have made it.
.304, 6 HR, 63 RBI
Bases on Balls-102 (3rd Time)
7th Time All-Star-Gore made the All-Star team for the seventh consecutive time and was the league’s best centerfielder. He was part of the crew that led Chicago to another league title. Yet he was 32 years old and he played his last season with the White Stockings. Gore might have also made his last All-Star team.
For this season, Gore finished seventh in WAR Position Players (4.5) and eighth in Offensive WAR (4.6). He slashed .304/.434(highest ever)/.444 for an OPS+ of 154. But after seven consecutive seasons of having an Adjusted OPS+ of 138 or higher, it will dip significantly next season.
In the World Series, Gore didn’t produce up to his standards, going four-for-23 with a home run and three walk. After the loss to the American Association Browns in the Series, Wikipedia says, “In the aftermath of the St. Louis series, there were not only charges of drunkenness among many of the players, but also allegations that players intentionally lost games for money, known then as “hippodroming“.King Kelly had the reputation as being the hardest drinker, as well as the having the most active social life, which management tolerated due to his stellar play. However, that meant instilling discipline in the other players, who used Kelly as an example, was extremely difficult. On November 24, 1886, Gore was the first to go, when he was sold to the New York Giants for approximately $3,500. Writer Henry Chadwick said Gore ‘cannot play in harmony with Captain and Manager Anson, and Mr. Spalding has wisely released a discontented player whose skill as a fielder, batter, and base runner was offset by his unpleasant relations with the team captain.’”
.312, 9 HR, 56 RBI
9th Time All-Star-After eight years on Providence, Hines was obtained by Washington after the Grays folded. He continued to be productive in what was now his 15th year of Major League baseball. Hines finished ninth in WAR Position Players (4.1) and seventh in Offensive WAR (4.9). He slashed .312/.358/462 for an OPS+ of 157, his highest adjusted OPS+ since his 177 in 1879. I’ve been writing about Hines for so long now, it’s incredible to me he’s only 31-years-old as this point.
In the early days of baseball, things seemed to happen so fast. I’m not talking about all of the firsts or the records, but how quickly things could change. In 1884, the Providence Grays were the National League champions. After the 1885 season, due to financial problems, they folded. This happened frequently in 1800s, so give credit to the National League that it stayed solid enough to last for 140 years and running.
Here’s some anecdotes from Baseball Reference: “In 1885, it was reported that Hines had accepted the challenge to catch a ball dropped from the top of the Washington Monument but this was canceled a week later.
“He lost some hearing after being hit in the head by a pitch from Jim Whitney in 1886 according to a source published 49 years later.” On his hearing loss, I did write something about that in an earlier blurb that I’m too lazy to look up, but it seems to me he had lost some hearing long before 1886.
.309, 1 HR, 34 RBI
10th Time All-Star-Remember when I said in O’Rourke’s 1885 write-up it would probably be his last All-Star team? Fuhgeddaboudit! He’s back! He slashed .309/.365/402 for an OPS+ of 131. He’s certainly having quite a run here towards the end of his career.
The National League had its share of good first basemen, people like Cap Anson and Dan Brouthers, but it also has quite a few good centerfielders, like George Gore, Paul Hines, and O’Rourke. The NL didn’t have a lot of great outfielders, but the ones that did perform well tended to be in centerfield.
O’Rourke incredibly played minor league ball until he well-advanced in age. SABR says, “Baseball was not the only thing taking a smaller place in Jim O’Rourke’s life. His children were now mostly married and out of the house. So was his mother, Catherine O’Donnell O’Rourke, who had died in 1907, aged about 85. But the real blow came on June 14, 1910, when Annie, Jim’s wife of 38 years, died from the lingering complications of a fall. A year later that loss was compounded by the death of brother John, felled by a heart attack while handling baggage on a Boston railway platform. Jim endeavored to fill the void by remaining engaged in the affairs of the National Association of Professional Baseball Players and the Connecticut State League. And on September 14, 1912, Connecticut State League president O’Rourke donned the pads a final time, catching nine innings for the New Haven Wings in a game against Waterbury. He was then 62 years old.” Read SABR’s whole article on the incredible life of Orator Jim.
.388, 4 HR, 79 RBI
1886 NL Batting Title
Batting Average-.388 (2nd Time)
On-Base%-.483 (2nd Time)
Runs Scored-155 (3rd Time)
Times On Base-258 (2nd Time)
Offensive Win %-.878 (2nd Time)
6th Time All-Star-King had his best season ever and also was part of his fifth league title, all for the White Stockings. He finished fifth in WAR (7.3), second in WAR Position Players (7.3), and second in Offensive WAR (7.5). He slashed .388/.483/.534 for an OPS+ of 193. All four of those numbers would be career highs. In the World Series against the American Association St. Louis Browns, Kelly didn’t perform as well as he did the previous year, going five-for24 with a home run. Chicago lost the Series, 4-2.
More on Kelly’s, um, competiveness from Baseball Reference: “’His convenient way of forgetting that there is a third bag in the circuit has astonished many base ball enthusiasts. . . John Morrill broke into a laugh and said: — “Kelly gets caught sometimes. We were playing in Chicago one day when he tried to cut off third. I did not see him although I was covering first, but I happened to look at Billy Hawes, who was umpiring, and he was pointing at Kelly and laughing as hard as he could. That was the first I knew that anything was wrong. Billy Hawes was too smart for him, and he was so amused to think that he had caught Kelly in one of his tricks, that all he could do was to dance up down and to poke fun at him.” ‘ – Sporting Life of Feb. 3, 1886, in which George Wright and John Morrill swapped stories about Mike Kelly.”
.310, 8 HR, 89 RBI
Double Plays Turned as OF-11
1st Time All-Star-Samuel Luther “Big Sam” Thompson was born on March 5, 1860 in Danville, IL and was on his way to a Hall of Fame career. This season, he finished 10th in WAR Position Players (4.1), slashing .310/.355/.445 for an OPS+ of 141. It was his second year with Detroit and he, in addition to “The Big Four,” would provide great hitting to the Wolverines for numerous years.
Big Sam lived up to his nickname. The left-handed hitter stood six-foot-two, 207 pounds, gigantic for the time he played. He came right into the Major Leagues hitting. In 1885, his first season, he slashed .303/.344/.500 for an OPS+ of 171. He would have probably made the All-Star team, but only played 63 games. Thompson’s hitting will always be his top asset to the game. That and that sweet, sweet mustache!
How did Detroit acquire Thompson? Chicanery, of course! From Wikipedia: “Thompson later told the colorful story of his acquisition by Detroit. Detroit sent two representatives (Marsh and Maloney) to Indianapolis, principally to sign the Hoosiers’ battery of Larry McKeon and Jim Keenan. The Wolverines were outbid by the Cincinnati Reds for McKeon and Keenan but wound up with the Hoosiers’ manager (Bill Watkins) and the rest of the team’s starting lineup. The only catch was that a 10-day waiting period would allow other teams to outbid Detroit. Marsh and Maloney promptly sent the players to Detroit and quartered them in a hotel there. The next morning, the players were told that the team had arranged a fishing trip for them. The players boarded the steamship Annette and enjoyed the first day and night of successful fishing. After three days, the players became suspicious, but the ship captain laughed when asked when they would return to Detroit. As the players became mutinous on the sixth day, the captain admitted he had been ordered to keep them ‘out at sea’ for 10 days.”
P-Ed Morris, PIT
P-Bob Caruthers, STL
P-Guy Hecker, LOU
P-Henry Porter, BRO
P-Hardie Henderson, BAL
P-Bobby Mathews, PHA
P-Dave Foutz, STL
P-Larry McKeon, CIN
P-Will White, CIN
P-George Pechiney, CIN
C-Doc Bushong, STL
C-Jocko Milligan, PHA
1B-Dave Orr, NYP
1B-Harry Stovey, PHA
1B-Bill Phillips, BRO
2B-Sam Barkley, STL
3B-Frank Hankinson, NYP
SS-Candy Nelson, NYP
SS-Germany Smith, BRO
SS-Frank Fennelly, CIN
LF-Charley Jones, CIN
CF-Pete Browning, LOU
CF-Henry Larkin, PHA
CF-Chief Roseman, NYP
RF-Tom Brown, PIT
39-24, 2.35 ERA, 298 K, .186, 0 HR, 14 RBI
Wins Above Replacement-13.0
WAR for Pitchers-13.6
Walks & Hits per IP-0.964
Hits per 9 IP-7.017 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as P-63
Errors Committed as P-20
2nd Time All-Star-When the American Association went down from 13 teams to eight, Pittsburgh fortunately acquired Morris, who had his best season ever and was the best pitcher in the league. He finished first in WAR (13.0) and WAR for Pitchers (13.6), tossing 581 innings with a 2.35 ERA and a 138 ERA+. No sophomore slump for Cannonball.
Horace Phillips, who had never managed a team to a winning record before, finally did it with the Alleghenys. They finished in third place with a 56-55 record, 22 games out of first. Who knows where they would have been without Morris.
Baseball Reference says, “Ed Morris was a star left-handed pitcher who set several records, some of which stand. One of the first players from California to star in the major leagues, he was the ace of the Pittsburgh Alleghenies in the mid-1880s. He was arguably the top southpaw hurler of the 19th Century. He played for Pittsburgh in three different leagues. He was nicknamed ‘Cannonball’ for the velocity with which he threw. He was a temperamental player who would often sulk, earning him accusations of not trying his best. Off the field, he had jobs ranging from the ownership of a billiards hall to deputy warden of a jail.”
Can you throw 581 innings and stick around for a while? Not if you’re Ed Morris, whose blazing fastball would give him another good year or two, but, even at 22, he’s going to start heading downhill. Well, after next year anyway.
40-13, 2.07 ERA, 190 K, .225, 1 HR, 12 RBI
1885 AA Pitching Title
Earned Run Average-2.07
Home Runs per 9 IP-0.056
Adj. Pitching Runs-63
Adj. Pitching Wins-6.1
1st Time All-Star-Robert Lee “Parisian Bob” Caruthers was born on January 5, 1864 in Memphis, TN. He was tiny, standing at five-foot-seven and weighing in at 138 pounds. He would be one of the great two-way players, mowing down batters from the mound and also impressive in rightfield. He started in 1884 for the Browns, playing 16 games in rightfield and pitching 13 games. This season, he focused on pitching, playing 53 of his 60 games at that position. He finished second in WAR (10.0) and WAR for Pitchers (9.5). Had there been a Cy Young pitching yet, he had a good argument for winning that award. Caruthers pitched 482 1/3 innings while leading the league in both ERA (2.07) and Adjusted ERA+ (160). He would have a short but significant career.
As for his team, the Browns, they came back from a fourth place finish in 1884 to win the division this season. Coached by the wily Charlie Comiskey, they finished 79-33, 16 games ahead of the second place team. They would garner four All-Stars.
In the World Series against the National League White Stockings, Caruthers started three of the seven games, finishing 1-1 (with one tie), pitching 26 innings with a 2.42 ERA. The Series ended up deadlocked, 3-3-1.
Caruthers received his nickname after the season. According to SABR, “During the offseason Caruthers and a teammate, Doc Bushong, vacationed in France. While overseas Caruthers engaged in lengthy contract negotiations via trans-Atlantic cable, earning for himself the nickname Parisian Bob.” His high winning percentage and the greatness of the teams he played on make him a candidate for the Hall of Fame to some. But more importantly, will he make the ONEHOF?
30-23, 2.18 ERA, 209 K, .273, 2 HR, 35 RBI
4th Time All-Star-After his outstanding 1884 season in which he won 52 games, Hecker settled down this year, though he still played great. He finished third in WAR (8.5) and WAR for Pitchers (7.5). Hecker threw “only” 480 innings this season, after tossing 670 2/3 in 1884, with a 2.18 ERA and a 149 ERA+. He had his worst season hitting yet, slashing .273/.287/.337 for an OPS+ of 96, the first time his Adjusted OPS+ had ever been below 100.
In 1885, the Eclipse became the Colonels and fell from their third place 1884 year. Coached by Jim Hart, managing for his first time, the team went 53-59 and finished sixth.
Of this season for Hecker, SABR says, “But records were not something players or fans thought much about in the 1800s, and Hecker opened the 1885 campaign ready to continue his mastery of the American Association. However, after a game on April 21 he complained of a sore arm. He tried to pitch though the arm trouble and had flashes of his old brilliance. There were various conjectures as to the cause of his troubles, including the enforcement of the rule requiring a pitcher to keep his delivery below his shoulder level. But no medical cause was ever announced, and Hecker compiled a 30-23 record in 480 innings pitched. His decline concerned the Louisville management enough that they purchased the contract of a young lefty from Chattanooga, Tom (Toad) Ramsey, late in the season. Hecker’s decline as a pitcher was matched in the batter’s box as his average dropped to .273 and his slugging average dropped nearly 100 points to .337.”
33-21, 2.78 ERA, 197 K, .205, 0 HR, 16 HR
1st Time All-Star-Walter Henry Porter was born in June, 1858 in Vergennes, VT. He started in 1884, pitching six games for the Union Association Milwaukee Brewers and was one of the rare players to find a place in the National League. There, Porter had his best season ever and, most likely, his only All-Star season. He finished fifth in WAR (6.1) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (6.4). In 481 2/3 innings pitched, he had a 2.78 ERA and 120 ERA+.
As for the Grays, which would someday be the Dodgers, Charlie Hackett (15-22) and Charlie Byrne (38-37) led them to a 53-59 fifth place finish. Brooklyn’s two other pitchers, John Harkins and Adonis Terry, couldn’t match the success of Porter, with neither having ERAs under 3.75.
Baseball Reference says of Porter, “He was one of the earliest major leaguers born in Vermont, and the only one through 2008 born in Vergennes, VT, located in northwest Vermont not far from Burlington, VT. As of 1892 he was living in southern New Jersey.
“His obituary in Sporting Life called him ‘a crack pitcher on the old Brooklyn team’, saying he first became prominent in baseball in 1880, was later with Bay City, and also Milwaukee.
“’The new rule permitting a new man to be put in at the end of any even inning is certain to add to the interest of the game. . . Time and again have I seen Henry Porter pitch an invincible game for six or seven innings and then be pounded out of the box. A dozen times last season Kansas City had games won up to the eighth inning with Henry twirling, when all of a sudden he would let down and be a perfect picnic for the opposing team.’ – from Sporting Life’s Kansas City correspondent, December 5, 1888.”
25-35, 3.19 ERA, 263 K, .223, 1 HR, 21 RBI
Bases on Balls-117 (2nd Time)
Earned Runs Allowed-191
Wild Pitches-51 (2nd Time)
2nd Time All-Star-When you look at the categories in which Henderson led the league, you’re not thinking All-Star pitcher. But when you consider that it was a weak pitching year for the league in general and that Hardie still had a relatively low ERA in numerous innings pitched, well, here he is. As a matter of fact, I would dub this his best season ever. He was fourth in WAR (7.6) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers. Henderson tossed 539 1/3 innings with a 3.19 ERA and a 103 Adjusted ERA+. All that being said, he has most likely made his last All-Star team.
Speaking of teams, Henderson pitched for the worst one in the league. Billy Barnie was back as manager, but the team dropped from 63-43 to 41-68. Most of the problems occurred when Henderson was not on the mound, as the Orioles’ other pitchers combined for a 4.80 ERA.
“Henderson made his Brooklyn pitching debut on August 19, 1886 against the New York Metropolitans, losing the game 5-1. He would pitch in 14 total games for Brooklyn in 1886, finishing with a 10-4 record and a 2.90 earned run average. Brooklyn finished in third place in the American Association that season. Henderson would play the 1887 season in Brooklyn, but he was acquired by the Pittsburg Alleghenys for 1888, pitching in five games for Pittsburgh. He would not play in the major league again. He finished with an 81-121 win-loss record, a 3.50 earned run average, and 930 strikeouts. Over Henderson’s 230 major league games, 210 of them were as a pitcher, 16 of them as an outfielder, two as a shortstop, and one as a second baseman and third baseman. After not playing at any level in 1889, Henderson returned to baseball in 1890, playing for Sioux City in the minor league Western League, now known as the American League.”
30-17, 2.43 ERA, 286 K, .168, 0 HR, 12 RBI
Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.095 (4th Time)
Strikeouts/Base on Balls-5.018 (3rd Time)
Fielding Independent Pitching-2.17 (3rd Time)
10th Time All-Star-And finally, 14 years after he started, I believe we are seeing Mathews making his last All-Star Team. He’s surprisingly only 33 years old, but his innings and effectiveness are going to go down after this season. As for this year, Mathews finished sixth in WAR (5.8) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (6.5). He pitched 422 1/3 innings with a 2.43 ERA and an all-time career high 142 ERA+. Quite a feat for the old man.
Mathews would remain with Philadelphia for the remainder of his career, pitching for the Athletics for the next two seasons. His ERA inflated to 3.96 in 1886 and 6.67 in 58 innings as a 35-year-old in 1887. He would no longer pitch in the majors after that.
Because of his vices, Mathews would not have a good end to his life. According to SABR, “By the middle of 1895, Mathews was virtually penniless, living and working at a roadhouse outside Providence owned by his ex-teammate of six years Joe Start. In May 1897, the first indication that Mathews was ill was found in Sporting Life: ‘According to the veteran, George Wood, that once famous pitcher, Bobby Matthews, is at Joe Start’s roadhouse, near Providence, a physical wreck.’ In July, he was moved to Maryland General Hospital under the care of Dr. T.P. Lloyd for a brain disorder. Lloyd held out no hope for his recovery, proclaiming that he was ‘suffering from organic brain trouble, not paresis,’ (a sexually-transmitted disease) as had been rumored.” He died at the age of 46 in 1898.
33-14, 2.63 ERA, 147 K, .248, 0 HR, 34 RBI
Assists as P-101
1st Time All-Star-David Luther “Scissors” Foutz was born on September 7, 1856 in Carroll County, MD and started his Major League career late, at the age of 27 as a pitcher-outfielder for the 1884 American Association St. Louis Browns. By 1885, he was one of the best pitchers in the AA. He finished eighth in WAR (5.1) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (4.5). Scissors pitched 407 2/3 innings with a 2.63 ERA and a 126 ERA+. In the World Series, Foutz pitched four games, going 2-2 with a 0.62 ERA. However, terrible defense behind him caused him to allow 18 unearned runs. At the plate, he hit two singles in 12 at-bats.
Wikipedia says of Foutz’ early life: “[H]e was asthmatic all his life. When he was 21 Foutz drifted out to Leadville, Colorado and worked for a while in the lead mines. While in Leadville, Foutz started playing baseball, pitching for the Leadville Blues, an amateur team. Shortly after, he signed with the Bay City, Michigan minor league team, where he played until 1884. By 1884, Foutz’s talent had been spotted by Chris von der Ahe, the owner of the American Association St. Louis Browns. He wanted Foutz’s contract so badly he bought the entire Bay City, Michigan franchise. Before joining the major league, Foutz acquired a reputation as a gambler and drinker, figuring if he was going to die young, he would enjoy himself before.
20-13, 2.86 ERA, 117 K, .165, 0 HR, 8 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Lawrence G. “Larry” McKeon was born on March 25, 1866 in New York, NY and had his best season and only All-Star appearance this year. He started as a pitcher for the American Association Indianapolis Hoosiers in 1884, leading the league in losses with 41. This year, with his innings cut significantly, from 512 to 290, he pitched much better, finishing eighth in WAR for Pitchers (4.5). He had a 2.86 ERA and a 115 ERA+.
With McKeon and Will White leading the way from the mound, the Red Stockings finished second in the league with a 63-49 record. Ollie Caylor took over as manager from Will White and Pop Snyder and improved the team from fifth to second. It should be noted the Red Stockings’ record was worse than 1884, however.
Though McKeon had a short career, it was an interesting one and there’s an excellent SABR article on him. Read the whole thing. Here, I put just a smidge: “When the rebel Union Association ceased operations after the 1884 season and the AA trimmed to eight teams, McKeon‘s Indianapolis club was among the casualties and descended to the minor Western League in 1885. In June 1885, the Detroit National League entry bought out the Indianapolis franchise for $4,000 in cash but a total of $5,000, the additional $1,000 being stock in the Detroit club, with the proviso that $2,000 would be paid immediately and the rest would come only if all the key Indianapolis players signed with Detroit as agreed. But when the two most coveted members of the Hoosiers, McKeon and Keenan, made a deal on their own and jumped to Cincinnati in the AA instead, Detroit reduced its buy-out price to $2,000 and the transaction became the subject of a lawsuit.”
18-15, 3.53 ERA, 80 K, .169, 0 HR, 10 RBI
Hit By Pitch-27
8th Time All-Star-Welcome to the ONEHOF, Whoop-La! He finally made it due to a decent 1885 season in which he was ninth in WAR for Pitchers (2.2), pitching “only” 293 1/3 innings – remember, he’s the record holder for innings pitched in a season with 680 in the 1879 National League – with a 3.53 ERA and a 93 ERA+. He would not have made the All-Star team in a league with more depth in pitching.
Does Will White deserve the prestigious One-a-Year Hall of Fame honor? His career WAR was 34.3, tied with people like B.J. Surhoff and Rick Sutcliffe. His best years were in the American Association, though it should be noted that his Adjusted ERA+ was 116 in his five NL seasons, not that far below his 124 in the AA. He also was a train wreck at the plate. It’s a close call, but he’s been a consistent pitcher for many years throughout two leagues, won 40 games three times, and has a lifetime ERA of 2.28, so he’s going in. It should be noted that, as of this time, Will and his brother, Deacon, have the same amount of All-Star teams made, 8.
White’s life ended tragically, according to Wikipedia, which says, “White died in August 1911 at his summer home in Port Carling, Ontario, Canada. The cause of death was drowning. According to one account, he was teaching his niece to swim, suffered a heart attack while in the water and died. He was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo.”
7-4, 2.02 ERA, 49 K, .150, 0 HR, 1 RBI
1st Time All-Star-George Adolphe “Pisch” Pechiney was born on September 20, 1861 in Cincinnati, OH and would never leave Ohio for his Major League career. The season of 1885 was Pisch’s best season ever as he finished 10th in WAR for Pitchers (1.9), pitching 98 innings with a 2.02 ERA and a 163 ERA+. It was a good season, but wouldn’t have been an All-Star season in a year where the American Association had more depth on the mound.
Wikipedia says about this season, “He began the 1885 season with the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Southern League. He also played for the Columbus Stars of the Southern League in 1885 before joining the Major Leagues with the Cincinnati Red Stockings of the American Association later that year. He made his Major League debut for the Red Stockings on August 4, 1885. With the Red Stockings in 1885, Pechiney pitched in 11 games, starting and completing all of them, with a win-loss record of 7–4, a 2.02 earned run average and 49 strikeouts in 98 innings pitched. His winning percentage of .636 ranked 4th in the American Association behind just Bob Caruthers, Dave Foutz and Bobby Mathews.
“On June 12, 1925, Pechiney appeared at the Golden Jubilee celebration of Redland Field, along with other former Reds and Red Stockings players. Pechiney died at the age of 81 in Cincinnati and is buried at Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati.”
.267, 0 HR, 21 RBI
Def. Games as P-85
Putouts as C-429
Assists as C-122 (2nd Time)
1st Time All-Star-Albert John “Doc” Bushong was born on September 15, 1856 in Philadelphia, PA. Though this is his first All-Star team, he’d be around quite a while. He started with the National Association Brooklyn Atlantics in 1875, moved to the National League Philadelphia Athletics in 1876, then took three years off from the Major Leagues. He was back in 1880 catching for the Worcester Ruby Legs and stayed there for three seasons. In 1883, he moved to the Cleveland Blues, where we would last for two seasons. This season, he found himself on the league champion Browns.
The reason he hasn’t made an All-Star team before now wasn’t his fielding, which was always stellar. No, Doc couldn’t hit. His highest average coming into 1885 was .236. He finally had a decent year at the plate, slashing .267/.297/.343 for an OPS+ of 97. That, along with his defense, in which he ranked second in Defensive WAR (1.7), propelled him onto the team.
I have a feeling he could make it again next year, wholly on his defense. He led the league in Defensive WAR in 1886 (2.5), so we’ll see.
And just to solidify his reputation, in the World Series, Bushong again stunk at the plate, going two-for-13, both singles.
Wikipedia has a long article on Bushong, but here’s a little bit about his part in inventing the catcher’s mitt: “But it is easy to believe that on September 18, 1887 when he returned, Bushong had seriously padded a mitt to protect his hand as well his dentistry profession.”
.268, 2 HR, 39 RBI
Double Plays Turned as C-11
Range Factor/9 Inn as C-8.07
Range Factor/Game as C-8.25
1st Time All-Star-John “Jocko” Milligan was born on August 8, 1861, exactly 94 years before my brother, Ernie, in Philadelphia, PA, meaning both All-Star catchers were born in the City of Brotherly Love. Jocko was in his second year with the Athletics and would prove to be a steady catcher over a 10-year career. This season, he finished third in Defensive WAR (1.6). At the plate, Milligan slashed .268/.289/.377 for an OPS+ of 104. His offense would improve over the years.
I wish I could write as well as those at SABR. Here’s Ralph Berger’s opening salvo on Milligan: “Life is an accident. We are born to parents not of our choosing. We bear up under the tragedies and events that we have no control over. Then we are faced with our life. What to do with it? How to live it? Who to turn to? The questions multiply when both parents die before one is barely eight years old. This was the task John Milligan faced. Luckily, he was enrolled in Girard College, a school for orphans in Philadelphia. There he was educated, learned a trade, and played baseball and other sports. At the age of eighteen he was graduated and walked out the gates of the institution to make his life-no easy task for anyone, let alone a parentless boy. The sadness turned to happiness for John Milligan, who went on to carve out a productive life despite the odds that were initially against him.
“Philadelphia in the late 1800s was crazy for baseball. Dozens of local teams competed with each other for the honor of being the best team in the area. School teams were few and far between, with playing areas limited and no permanent organizations for recreation for children of that day. Moreover, sweatshops still employed a great number of children, greatly limiting their recreational time.” There will more All-Star teams for Milligan and more chances to read Berger’s prose.
.342, 6 HR, 77 RBI, 0-0, 7.20 ERA, 1 K
Offensive WAR-5.4 (2nd Time)
Adjusted OPS+-202 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as 1B-107 (2nd Time)
2nd Time All-Star-Orr continued to pound the ball in American Association. He was arguably its best hitter. Orr finished ninth in WAR (4.5), second in WAR Position Players (5.0), and first in Offensive WAR (5.4). He slashed .342/.358/.543 for an OPS+ of 202. The big man could certainly hit, though his fielding definitely lacked.
As for the Metropolitans, they dropped from first to seventh. Losing the great pitcher Tim Keefe will do that to a team. They allowed more runs than any other team and ended up finishing 44-64. New York also lost Jim Mutrie as a coach and instead were coached by Jim Gifford.
Well, you couldn’t put the blame on Orr. According to Wikipedia, “On June 12, 1885 Orr hit for the cycle for the first time in his career; he accomplished the feat again on August 10, 1887.” For a man who weighed was under six feet tall and weighed 250 pounds, he still had the speed to leg out triples.
It’s incredible to imagine what Orr would have done if his career wasn’t cut short (more on that in future posts). His contemporaries certainly admired him. Baseball Reference has this quote: “’. . . the greatest hitter that ever played ball was old Dave Orr. . . I have always held that Dave Orr was the strongest and best hitter that ever played ball.’ – Hall of Famer Dan Brouthers, quoted in Sporting Life of September 22, 1894, after discussing Willie Keeler, Joe Kelley, Sam Thompson and himself.”
.315, 13 HR, 75 RBI
Runs Scored-130 (3rd Time)
Home Runs-13 (3rd Time)
AB per HR-37.4 (2nd Time)
Assists as 1B-28
4th Time All-Star-Stovey, the 1800s version of Bobby Bonds, brought speed and power into every game. In 1886, the American Association is going to start counting stolen bases and it will be apparent how fast Stovey was. As for this season, he finished sixth in WAR Position Players (3.7) and third in Offensive WAR (4.1). He slashed .315/.371/.488 for an OPS+ of 163 and was now the all-time career home run leader with 50. According to Wikipedia, “The offensive explosiveness continued throughout his stay in Philadelphia, leading the league in runs scored four times, doubles once, triples three times, and home runs three times. The accumulation of home runs led to him becoming the career home run leader, overtaking Charley Jones with his 51st career homer on September 28, 1885.” Did he have 50 or 51?
Along with playing at first base, Stovey managed the team to a fourth place finish with a 55-57 record. It’s hard to rate how much managers affect the team, but the Athletics scored 73 more runs than they allowed and yet still finished two games under .500. According to the Pythagorean W-L, the Athletics should have finished 61-51. Can that be blamed on Stovey?
The Athletics could bash the ball, leading the AA in scoring. It was their fielding which killed them. They were fourth in the league in ERA, but allowed more runs than any team, due to letting 331 unearned runs score. Second baseman Cub Sticker committed 81 errors, while shortstop Sadie Houck booted 77 balls.
.302, 3 HR, 63 RBI
Putouts as 1B-1,109
Range Factor/9 Inn as 1B-11.48
Range Factor/Game as 1B-11.44
Fielding % as 1B-.973
1st Time All-Star-William B. “Bill” Phillips was born in April, 1857 in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada and had a decent, if not noteworthy career. According to Wikipedia, “A native of Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, he has the distinction of being the first Canadian to play in the major leagues.” I’m not sure that’s true, I know there have been other All-Stars born in the Great North. Also from Wikipedia, “He was later enshrined into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988 for his accomplishments, and is considered by some to be greatest Canadian first baseman in baseball history.” Um, Joey Votto anyone? It’s like you can’t trust Wikipedia anymore!
Before this season, Phillips played six straight seasons with the National League Cleveland Blues. In 1885, his first season in the American Association, he makes the All-Star team. Before you get all up in my grill and start saying “See, the AA is a minor league! Why do we even have to read about it!,” let me say that after this season Phillips was back down to mediocre hitting.
As for this season, his best year ever, Phillips finished ninth in WAR Position Players (2.9) and first in Offensive WAR (3.0). He slashed .302/.364/.422 for an OPS+ of 146. All four of those numbers were the highest in his career.
As for his demise, back to Wikipedia (we’ve made up): “Phillips never married, and he died on October 7, 1900 in Chicago at the age of 43, of syphilitic locomotor ataxia, and he is interred at Graceland Cemetery.”
.268, 3 HR, 53 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-Barkley got a break and was purchased by the American Association champion St. Louis Browns and was an All-Star for his second (and most likely) last time. He finished 10th in WAR Position Players (2.9) and fifth in Defensive WAR (1.4). He slashed .268/.312/380 for an OPS+ of 113. His hitting was down from 1884, but his defense continued to shine. In the World Series, Barkley’s “hitting” was pathetic. He went two-for-23 with two walks.
The second baseman sure had his share of legal difficulties. You can read about one of them in the 1884 blurb. There’s also this from Wikipedia: “In March 1886, Browns owner Chris von der Ahe offered Barkley for $1000 to the first team to pay the money. Billy Barnie was able to have Barkley sign an undated contract with the Baltimore Orioles and wired the asking price to Von der Ahe, but he had already secured a deal with owner of the Pittsburg Alleghenys, Denny McKnight, and Sam was convinced to play for the Allegheny club instead. The American Association suspended and fined Barkley for signing with Pittsburgh this action. Barkley sued the Association, but they settled out of court with suspension being lifted although the fine stayed in place. Baltimore was offered and accepted Milt Scott as payment.
“After his career in baseball ended, Barkley became a cigar maker. He died at the age of 53 in his hometown of Wheeling, and was buried in Peninsula Cemetery.” Do you know any cigar makers?
.224, 2 HR, 44 RBI, 0-0, 4.50 ERA, 0 K
Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-3.56
Range Factor/Game as 3B-3.38
Fielding % as 3B-.906
2nd Time All-Star-It’s been six years since Hankinson made an All-Star team. He last made it in 1879 as a pitcher for the National League Chicago White Stockings. He then played moved to third base for the Cleveland Blues in 1880 and would be at that position for most of the remainder of his career. In 1881, he played for Troy and then didn’t play Major League ball in 1882. In 1883, Hankinson was back, playing for the Gothams for two years before taking his first tour in the American Association here in 1885.
‘Twas Hankinson’s glove that put him on the team as he finished sixth in Defensive WAR (1.0). He might have a shot at one more All-Star team due to his fielding. As for his bat, Hankinson slashed .224/.251/.285 for and OPS+ of 103. One thing that helped him is that Polo Grounds were brutal on hitters, one of the worst hitters’ parks of all-time.
The reason the Metropolitans sank and the Giants thrived was because of some foul play by the owner, John Day. This will be long but instructive. From Day’s SABR page: “Events during the offseason manifested Day’s intention to make a champion of the Gothams. And to that end, the Mets would be sacrificed. First, manager Mutrie was transferred to the NL team. Then he and Day engaged in some rule-bending chicanery to bring Mets stars Keefe and Esterbrook over. Shortly before the start of the 1885 campaign, Mutrie chaperoned the two on a vacation voyage to Day’s onion farm in Bermuda, the trip ostensibly a reward for sterling work during the previous season. Once Keefe and Esterbrook were safely at sea, the MEC released them from the Mets roster. While Keefe and Esterbrook were incommunicado somewhere on the Atlantic, the ten-day period that other teams had to sign them as free agents elapsed. Once that happened, Mutrie inked the two to Gothams contracts. Upon discovery that star players had been slipped out of its league, the American Association executive board howled in protest. But all it could do was ban Mutrie from the league, an empty gesture as Mutrie had already left for the National League. The American Association directors also voted to expel the Mets franchise, but quickly reconsidered. Instead, the Mets were fined $500 for the manner in which Keefe and Esterbrook had been released.”
.255, 1 HR, 30 RBI
Bases on Balls-61 (3rd Time)
Oldest-36 Years Old
2nd Time All-Star-Nelson might be the first player whose main value was walking. Due to that skill, he made another All-Star team, probably his last one. He had his best season ever, finishing fifth in WAR Position Players (3.9), fifth in Offensive WAR (3.7), and ninth in Defensive WAR (0.9). He slashed .255/.353/.310 for an OPS+ of 126 in the pitcher-friendly Polo Grounds. After this season, he would continue to draw bases on balls, but his average would start going down.
Nelson concluded his career playing for the Metropolitans in 1886 and 1887, moving over to the Giants for one game that season. After two years off in the majors, he finished by playing for the American Association Brooklyn Gladiators in 1890.
In 1885, 1886, and 1890, Nelson was the AA’s oldest player. We’re used to having at least a player or two who is 40-years-old or older, but it wasn’t always like that in the early days of baseball. Even at 36, Nelson played outstanding defensive shortstop. I’d say even better than Derek Jeter at that age. Ooo, burn!
“His Sporting Life obituary in 1910 called him ‘Johnnie’ Nelson, and said he had started in baseball with the Eckfords at age 16. He played about 30 years, according to the article, for minor league clubs, and also managed. He died of heart failure.”
.258, 4 HR, 62 RBI
Assists as SS-455
Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-5.85
Range Factor/Game as SS-5.70
2nd Time All-Star-Smith’s last All-Star appearance was with the Union Association Altoona Mountain City, mainly because every team needed a representative. It wouldn’t have been my guess he would continue to have a productive career, but I was wrong. He did and it was because of his outstanding fielding. As a matter of fact, over his career, Smith is going to make the top 10 in Defensive WAR 12 times. Also, because of the era in which he played, he would end up fourth all time in errors committed. He was one of the original all glove-no bat shortstops.
This year was his best season ever, as he finished seventh in WAR Position Players (3.4) and first in Defensive WAR (2.4). Smith slashed .258/.275/.379 for an OPS+ of 104. He would have only one other season in which his OPS+ was higher, 107 in 1887.
There was one sour note to this season, according to Wikipedia, which says, “On June 17, 1885, Germany reportedly committed seven errors intentionally, when his team decided to punish new pitcher, Phenomenal Smith, losing the game 18-5. All 18 runs against the brash left-hander were unearned‚ due to a total of 14 Brooklyn ‘errors’. ‘Phenomenal’ gave himself his nickname before he joined the team‚ saying that he was so good that he didn’t need his teammates to win. The intentional misplays of his teammates caused club President Lynch to fine the guilty players $500 each‚ but he reluctantly agrees to release Smith to ensure team harmony.”
.273, 10 HR, 89 RBI
Runs Batted In-89
Def. Games as SS-112
Double Plays Turned as SS-46
2nd Time All-Star-Remember back in the Stone Ages when we Neanderthals used to judge ballplayers by primitive stats such as batting average and runs batted in. Why it wasn’t too long ago that Most Valuable Player awards used to be handed out based on such nonsense. Yet there is still a part of me, having grown up during those ancient times, that still likes to think the best players have the best counting stats.
You look, for instance, at the All-Star shortstops for the American Association this season. They are Candy Nelson (WAR 3.9), Germany Smith (WAR 3.4), and Fennelly (WAR 3.3). Fennelly beat both of the others in those counting stats yet is below them in WAR. Yet if I’m picking a starting shortstop for my team, it would be hard to resist the allure of 10 home runs and 89 runs batted in. Hey, I’m just being honest!
Fennelly finished eighth in WAR Position Players (3.3) and sixth in Offensive WAR (3.6). He will be improving defensively very soon. He slashed .273/.333/.445 for an OPS+ of 141. He’d never hit this well again over a full season.
This Red Stockings team would end up with a history of shortstops who could hit. Certainly in my era there was Dave Concepcion and the great Barry Larkin. Both of those were great with the glove, too. Or were they? I haven’t actually looked that up. (OK, I checked. Concepcion, excellent in the field, Larkin, more than decent. My eyes weren’t lying.)
.322, 5 HR, 35 RBI
Games Played-112 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as OF-112 (2nd Time)
7th Time All-Star-There is no doubt that, had I been alive in this era, Jones would have been my favorite player. For one thing, I’m a Cincinnati Reds fan and, secondly, I also like hitters over pitchers. My favorite players over the years have been Johnny Bench, Eric Davis, Barry Larkin, and Joey Votto. (Though my actual favorite player at this time is a non-Red, Mike Trout.) Baby Jones was the best player in this early iteration of the Reds and proved it year after year.
In 1885, Jones finished fourth in WAR Position Players (3.9) and seventh in Offensive WAR (3.2). He slashed .322/.362/.462 for an OPS+ of 155. It was another great season, but it’s most likely his last All-Star team.
I promised in Charley Jones’ 1884 blurb that I would talk about his death and I don’t want to break my promise, so here goes.
From Baseball Reference: “Charley Jones was the best-known player for whom no death details were known. One could only assume he was dead, because otherwise he would have been over 150 years old. SABR researchers solved the mystery about his death in 2012 – 100 years after the event.
“In late 2011, researcher Greg Perkins, who was interested in the Ludlow team from northern Kentucky on which Jones had been the star player in the early 1870s, took an interest in Jones’s case. Digging through the file on Jones held by the Hall of Fame, he found a letter addressed to National Commission chairman Garry Herrmann in 1913 from a reporter from the Cincinnati Enquirer that mentioned he had written an article about Jones. Perkins found the article, in which it stated that Jones had died at Bellevue Hospital in New York City in July of 1911. That lead allowed Perkins to narrow his search in the New York City death index and to uncover a listing for a Charles W. Jones, who died on June 6th that year. The death certificate in the city archive had names for Charles’ parents matching those in earlier census records, confirming that this person was the ballplayer. It also rectified Jones’s year of birth.”
.362, 9 HR, 73 RBI
1885 AA Batting Title
WAR Position Players-5.2 (2nd Time)
Batting Average-.362 (2nd Time)
On-Base %-.393 (2nd Time)
On-Base Plus Slugging-.923 (2nd Time)
Runs Created-100 (2nd Time)
Adj. Batting Runs-48 (2nd Time)
Adj. Batting Wins-5.3 (2nd Time)
Times on Base-199 (2nd Time)
Offensive Win %-.846 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as OF-112
4th Time All-Star-When you look over Browning’s stats by looking at his Baseball Reference page, it is amazing he is not in the Hall of Fame. Especially because he excelled in that one area the Hall of Fame adores, batting average. In over 1100 career games, Gladiator would hit .341. However, he was hurt by playing his career in the lower American Association.
Also interesting is that Browning is 24 years old, with a lifetime .352 average at this point, and easily the dominant outfielder in the AA. And with all this, Browning drew a salary of $1,800. By the end of his career, he would be up to $4,000. What would this man be paid nowadays?
For the year, Browning was seventh in WAR (5.2), first in WAR Position Players (5.2), and second in Offensive WAR (4.8). Again I don’t pretend to understand WAR, but how does an Offensive WAR of 4.8 added to a Defensive WAR of -0.2 add up to 5.2. It must be Common Core!
Speaking of his inept fielding, I promised more on that this year. Wikipedia says, “After being used primarily as an infielder in his first three seasons, playing every position except catcher over that span, he was shifted to the outfield on a permanent basis in 1885. While the inferior equipment of the time is somewhat of a mitigating factor, Browning’s playing record presented various evidence against any hidden defensive prowess. So did his unusual habit of playing the infield while standing on one leg, which he claimed to have adopted in order to avoid collisions with other players; however, some sources have noted that his probable rationale was to gain an advantage against baserunners he could not hear by aiming one leg toward them, and that he continued to do so in the outfield because he couldn’t hear his teammates on either side. An oft-reported story, possibly apocryphal, features one of Browning’s managers claiming that the team would be better off with a wooden statue of an Indian in the outfield, since there was at least a slim chance that a batted ball might strike the statue and rebound back in the direction of the field.”
.329, 8 HR, 88 RBI
Extra Base Hits-59
Double Plays Turned as OF-9
1st Time All-Star-Henry E. “Ted” Larkin was born on January 12, 1860 in Reading, PA. He started his short, but efficient, career in 1884 with the Athletics, with a decent 136 OPS+. This season, he caught on fire, having his best season ever. Ted finished 10th in WAR (4.2), third in WAR Position Players (4.2), and fourth in Offensive WAR (3.9). He slashed .329/.373/.525 (his highest slugging ever) for an OPS+ of 175. He would always be able to hit, though, like Pete Browning, his glove lacked.
He was a doubles machine, according to, well, stats, but also Wikipedia, which says, “At age 24, Larkin started his career with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1884. On June 16, 1885 he hit for the cycle. That same year in a single game he recorded four doubles, still a major league record that has been tied many times, but never broken.”
“He worked as a boilermaker and played amateur ball with the Hibernians in the late 1870’s. In 1881 he began play as a second baseman for the professional Actives of Reading, an independent team.
“In the off-season, it was said he swung a sledge hammer in a boiler shop.” If you have your name in the same sentence as Babe Ruth, you must be doing something right.
.278, 4 HR, 46 RBI
1st Time All-Star-James John “Chief” Roseman was born exactly 80 years after the country was born, on July 4, 1856, in Brooklyn, NY. Ironically, exactly 82 years after that, Chief Roseman would leave this mortal coil, dying in Brooklyn. But we come not to bury Chief, but to praise him. The diminutive New Yorker (five-foot-seven, 167 pounds) had his best season ever, finishing eighth in Offensive WAR (3.0). He slashed .278/.335/.407 for an OPS+ of 150, all of this in the hitters’ graveyard, Polo Grounds.
Roseman started with the National League Troy Trojans in 1882, before moving to the Metropolitans the next season. After good hitting years in 1884 and 1885, Roseman would falter. He had batting averages of .227 in 1886 and 1887 and then took two years off of the Majors, before coming back in 1890 with a very good season. He then retired, having played seven seasons, six in the American Association, with a lifetime slash line of .263/.312/.360 for an OPS+ of 109.
Like so many of these old-time outfielders, Roseman’s fielding marks are not good. He never was above 0.0 dWAR in any season and ended up his career with a lifetime -5.2 mark in the field. Teams in this era seemed to put their good gloves in the infield.
One stat in which Chief was always around the leaders was in being plunked. He was in top 10 in Hit by Pitches four times, including an incredible 29 times in 1890. He wasn’t first that year, however. Curt Welch was nailed by pitchers 34 times.
.307, 4 HR, 68 RBI, 0-0, 3.00 ERA, 2 K
Errors Committed as OF-43
1st Time All-Star-Thomas Tarlton “Tom” Brown was born on September 21, 1860 in Liverpool, Merseyside, United Kingdom. Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles! Just kidding, he was born about a century before England’s greatest band formed in his birthplace. Hey, but this Liverpoolian had some hits, too! (See what I did there.) He finished 10th in Offensive WAR (2.9), slashing .307/.366/.426 for an OPS+ of 151.
The Englishman would bounce around for his career, starting in 1882 for the American Association Baltimore Orioles, moving to Columbus in 1883, and then being purchased by the Alleghenys this season, along with the rest of the Buckeyes team.
It’s possible this All-Star team has the worst fielding outfield of any of the teams. Brown committed 43 errors this season and, as an outfielder, still holds the career mark of 491 errors. Of course, it wasn’t until the mid-1890s that gloves were the norm, so it’s possible Brown was still bare-handing it in these days.
Brown wasn’t done travelling. He’d play for a total of nine teams, all of which probably appreciated his decent hitting, but none of which wanted his putrid fielding. He would play in three different leagues, the National League, the AA, and the Players League in its one season of existence in 1890. He’s probably got another All-Star team left in him.