P-Bobby Mathews, NYU
P/CF-Al Spalding, BOS
P-Candy Cummings, BAL
P-George Zettlein, PHI
P/RF-Dick McBride, ATH
P-Hugh Campbell, RES
C-Deacon White, BOS
C-Cal McVey, BAL
C-Doug Allison, RES/NYU
1B-Cap Anson, ATH
1B-Jim O’Rourke, BOS
1B-Everett Mills, BAL
2B-Ross Barnes, BOS
3B-Davy Force, BAL
3B-Levi Meyerle, PHI
SS-George Wright, BOS
SS-Dickey Pearce, BRA
SS/P-Chick Fulmer, PHI
LF-Charlie Pabor, BRA
LF-Paul Hines, WAS
LF/P-John McMullin, ATH
CF-Dave Eggler, NYU
CF-Levin Jones, MAR
RF/P-Cherokee Fisher, ATH
RF/P-Phonney Martin, NYU
29-23, 2.58 ERA, 79 K, .193, 0 HR, 14 RBI
Wins Above Replacement-9.6
WAR for Pitchers-10.0
Strikeouts per 9 IP-1.605
Strikeouts-79 (2nd Time)
Bases on Balls-62 (2nd Time)
Adj. Pitching Runs-33
Adj. Pitching Wins-2.4
3rd Time All-Star-The 21-year-old Mathews was getting to see the country, playing for his third team in three years, moving from the Fort Wayne Kekiongas in 1871 to the Baltimore Canaries in 1872 to the Mutuals this season. Mathews had a great season pitching, finishing first in both WAR (9.6) and WAR for Pitchers (10.0). He had a 2.58 ERA and a 127 ERA+, pitching 443 of the Mutuals’ 477 innings. His hitting was cringeworthy. From the very beginning of baseball history, pitchers concentrated on pitching not hitting.
New York started out the season being coached by 3B John Hatfield and got off to a bad start, going 11-17 during that time. The team was handed over to 1B Joe Start, who finished strong with an 18-7 record to guide the Mutuals to an overall 29-24 record and a fourth place finish.
From SABR: “In September, Mathews re-signed with Baltimore, but didn’t rejoin the team the following spring. Instead, he essentially traded places with Candy Cummings, who was the main pitcher for the New York Mutuals. Mathews took his batterymate, Dick Higham, to New York. Higham split the catching duties with Doug Allison and Mathews’ old training partner Nat Hicks.
“Researcher Daniel Ginsburg unearthed some alleged game-fixing scandals involving Mathews. As Ginsburg put it, ‘Bobby Mathews was named in many National Association scandals.’ The scandals involved the pitcher’s time with the New York Mutuals, a club with a long history of suspicious play. Two specific games received the most attention. On August 9, 1873, the Mutuals lost to the Brooklyn Atlantics, 12-2, amid heavy betting. Mathews pitched a poor game, sparking numerous accusations – especially after the Atlantics went up 4-1 in the first inning.” The second game was played in 1874, we can look at it then.
41-14, 2.99 ERA, 50 K, .328, 1 HR, 71 RBI
Wins-41 (3rd Time)
Fielding Independent Pitching-3.25 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as P-60
Putouts as P-36
Assists as P-125 (2nd Time)
Range Factor/9Inn as P-2.92 (2nd Time)
Range Factor/Game as P-2.68 (2nd Time)
Fielding % as P-.885
3rd Time All-Star-Even if WAR disagrees, Spalding continued to be the National Association’s best pitcher. He was second in WAR (8.9) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers. Despite there being six games he didn’t start, he still led the league in innings pitched with 496 2/3. What hurt him with WAR was a relatively high ERA of 2.99 and low ERA+ of 115. Still, I don’t think the Red Stockings were complaining.
Boston, coached by Harry Wright, won its second consecutive title with a 43-16 record. This .704 Winning Percentage was its lowest in its four-year run of titles. The Red Stockings finished “only” four games ahead of the Philadelphia Whites and were as far as nine games back as of July 26. However, they then won 18 of their next 20 games and were up two games by October 9 and never looked back.
From 19cbaseball, “In 1873, Harry Wright having visions of his 1867-1870 Cincinnati Club took Boston on an August tour of Canada. The Red Stockings would win all 14 games and outscore their opponents 524-48 but the gate receipts barely covered the traveling expenses, which did not please the stocker holders.
“In the winter of 1873, after only having played three years of truly professional baseball, Harry Wright selected his star 23 year-old pitcher, Albert Spalding, to sail to England and to garner interest for a baseball tour featuring the Boston Red Stockings and the Philadelphia Athletics. The tour did little to raise interest in England and was not a financial success and again angered the stocker holders.”
28-14, 2.80 ERA, 34 K, .250, 0 HR, 36 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-Cummings went from the New York Mutuals in 1872 to the Canaries in 1873, but still was a great pitcher. He was third in WAR (7.9) and third in WAR for pitchers. He didn’t throw as many innings with the Canaries as he did with the Mutuals but still had a solid ERA+ of 124.
Whenever people talk about the bad choices made for the Hall of Fame, Cummings is one of the first names mentioned. Part of this is the lack of respect for the National Association. SABR remarks about this: “Candy Cummings, at first glance, appears to be one of the least qualified pitchers in the Baseball Hall of Fame. His major league won-lost record is usually listed as 21-22, because most career totals begin with the formation of the National League in 1876. Cummings earned his stardom in amateur play during the late 1860s and in the National Association, precursor to the National League, in the early 1870s. He enjoyed great success, but threw his last major league pitch when he was only 28 years old. However, Cummings, despite his short career, was one of the most influential pitchers in baseball history. He was selected for Cooperstown immortality because he, according to most baseball historians, was the man who invented the curveball.
“Candy Cummings pursued increasingly generous financial offers with different teams in the National Association. In 1873 he signed with Baltimore, where he shared the pitching chores with Asa Brainard. Candy posted a 28-14 record as Baltimore finished a strong third.”
36-15, 2.86 ERA, 29 K, .207, 0 HR, 21 RBI
3rd Time All-Star-Zettlein continued his tour of the National Association, playing for his fourth team in three seasons. Teams wanted him because he could flat out throw the horsehide. He tossed 460 of the 481 innings for the Philadelphia Whites, now the second team in the City of Brotherly Love. Zettlein finished fourth in WAR (7.7) and second in WAR for Pitchers (8.5). He would’ve had greater value if he could swing the bat.
On Wikipedia, Zettlein’s team is known as the Philadelphia White Stockings, but on Baseball Reference, it’s known as the Whites. I’m going to go with Baseball Reference. In their initial National Association season, the Whites did great, finishing 36-17 and in second place. They were coached by catcher Fergy Malone, who went 8-2 as the captain, and second baseman Jimmy Wood, who led them to a 28-15 record. It helped that Levi Meyerle came over from the Athletics.
In this era of WAR, Zettlein would have been a hero. He was one of the dominant pitchers in the NA, along with Al Spalding, Candy Cummings, Bobby Mathews, and Dick McBride. He still had some great seasons to come, but he wouldn’t do much in the National League. He might have been more of a star if he could stick with one team.
How bad of hitter was Zettlein? Over the course of his career, from 1871-76, he never had an OPS+ over 53 and that was with two teams in 1872. He never hit above .250, never hit a home run, and never slugged over .277.
24-19, 3.34 ERA, 25 K, .281, 0 HR, 40 RBI
3rd Time All-Star-McBride, the Athletics’ manager, decided to give McBride, the Athletics’ number one pitcher, some rest this year due to Cherokee Fisher now being on the team. After pitching every inning for the team in 1872, McBride started “only” 46 of 52 games and pitched 382 2/3 of the team’s 475 innings. He finished fifth in the league in WAR (6.5) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (6.3).
The Athletics continued to slide. After finishing first in 1871 and fourth in 1872, they fell to fifth in 1873 with a 28-23 record. Despite having four All-Stars on the team, they couldn’t put it together and this season weren’t only competing against the great Red Stockings but against the hometown Whites as well.
As a matter of fact, the Athletics had a winning record of 5-4 against the Red Stockings. They actually had a winning record against every team in the league except for the Whites, going 1-8 against them. They also had a wide split between their home record (21-6) and away (7-17).
There were other teams in Philadelphia during this time. From philly.com: “The Pythians became arguably the nation’s first truly evolved African-American hardball team when they coalesced in 1866 under the direction of civil-rights pioneer Octavius Catto. Then, in 1869, they shattered barriers again when they played the Olympics, Philly’s oldest white ballclub, and became part of the first documented game of interracial base ball (two words back then).” There had been black baseball going on for a long time, even pro black baseball, but that would end in the 1800s until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947.
2-16, 2.95 ERA, 7 K, .151, 0 HR, 7 RBI
Bases on Balls per 9 IP-0.436
1st Time All-Star-Hugh F. Campbell was born in 1846 in Ireland. As you can tell, there is not a lot of information on this man who played only the 1873 season. He finished eighth in WAR for Pitchers at 0.2. It’s surprising that this is the only season played by Campbell, because he wasn’t bad, despite what the win-loss record shows.
Surprisingly, one of Campbell’s two wins was against the mighty Red Stockings. In the first game of a doubleheader on the Fourth of July, Campbell pitched the team to an 11-2 victory. That just seemed to enrage Boston, who pummeled Elizabeth 32-3 in the second game.
Here’s a bit from Wikipedia on Campbell: “Hugh F. Campbell (1846 – March 1, 1881) was an Irish professional baseball player who pitched in just one season. He was a starting pitcher for the 1873 Elizabeth Resolutes of the National Association. His younger brother, Mike Campbell, was the team’s starting first baseman.
“He pitched much better than his 2-16 record would indicate. The Resolutes won 2, lost 21, and made 247 errors, an average of 10.7 per game, with Campbell himself making 21 of them. As a result, he gave up 213 runs in 165 innings pitched, but only 52 of them were earned runs. His ERA was 2.84, which was better than the league average, and was in fact sixth-best in the league.
.392, 1 HR, 77 RBI
Runs Batted In-77
Def. Games as C-56 (2nd Time)
Putouts as C-227 (2nd Time)
Double Plays Turned as C-7 (2nd Time)
Passed Balls-74 (2nd Time)
1st Time All-Star-James Laurie White was born on December 7, 1847 in Caton, NY. Despite averages of .322 and .339 in 1871 and 1872 respectively, this is surprisingly the first time White made the All-Star team. It won’t be the last. He finished eighth in WAR (2.7), third in WAR Position Players (2.7), and second in Offensive WAR (2.8). As if Boston didn’t have enough great players, they obtained White from the disbanded Cleveland squad and were truly an all-star team of their own.
A site called helmarblog.com extrapolated White’s season into 162 games and shows he would have ended the season with 327 hits and 206 RBI. We’ll have to do the same for Ross Barnes’ season. It’s truly impressive.
This is from Wikipedia about White’s part in baseball history: “White learned baseball from a Union soldier who returned to his hometown after the Civil War in 1865. His pro career began in 1868 with the Cleveland Forest Citys club, at a time when no team was entirely composed of professional players. He earned the first hit in baseball’s first fully professional league – a double off Bobby Mathews of the Fort Wayne Kekiongas in the first inning of the first game in National Association history on May 4, 1871; he also made the first catch.”
White just recently made the Hall of Fame, in 2013. It was long overdue as he had a long and great career, playing until he was 42 in a total of three different leagues. He also had a reputation as an honest player, a light in a league full of hooligans.
.380, 2 HR, 35 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-This would be the only season of McVey’s five in the National Association that he wouldn’t play for the Red Stockings and one of the last in which he would be a regular catcher. Once he went back to Boston in 1874, he would move to the outfield, allowing the catching to be done by Deacon White. McVey was never known for his hands anyway, but for his lumber. He was eighth in WAR Position Players (1.7) and ninth in Offensive WAR (1.7). His best seasons were yet to come.
McVey started the season as Baltimore’s manager, guiding it to a 20-13 record, before handing the reins to Tom Carey, whose record was 14-9. Altogether, the Canaries finished 34-22 and third in the league. They will surprisingly only have one year left in the NA, an awful 9-38 campaign in 1874. Part of the reason for the fall is losing the great McVey.
I’m sure McVey would be glad to move from catcher to other positions, because catching without a glove was butchering his hands. His frequent manager Harry Wright would tell him, according to the Des Moines Register, “Well, Mac, the hands look kind of bad. You can rest up today. Go out and play first.”
As a child, I lived in Iowa for five years. My dad’s side of the family hails from there. So it’s worth noting McVey was the first great Iowan player. From SABR: “Millions of boys have grown up dreaming of becoming a professional ballplayer. For a young Iowa farmboy named Calvin McVey playing ball for a living was the furthest thing from his mind. There were no openly professional ballclubs during his childhood. However, he was to become one of the first to play for pay, a member of the team that forged the longest winning streak in the history of the sport.”
.266, 0 HR, 11 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-Allison was one of the better catchers of the National Association, but unluckily bounced from bad team to bad team. He played on the Washington Olympics in 1871; the Troy Haymakers and Brooklyn Eckfords in 1872; and then the Resolutes and Mutuals in 1873. He made the All-Star team as the Resolute’s best player, but that’s much like being Saved by the Bell’s best actor. Dustin Diamond, we salute you!
Along with catching, Allison also managed the Resolutes for the whole of their existence, a total of 23 games in which they went 2-21. In case you’re wondering where the city of Elizabeth is located, it’s one of two Major League teams ever that were based in New Jersey. The 1915 Newark Peppers of the Federal League were the other.
Elizabeth Resolutes is also the name of a team which plays vintage baseball in leagues in New Jersey. The teams play real contests under 1800s rules. Here’s a snippet of an article from northjersey.com: “The Brooklyn Atlantics, Elizabeth Resolutes and Flemington Neshanocks took turns competing during what turned out to be a beautiful day on the grounds of Ringwood Manor. The players wore period-style uniforms and used game rules dating back to 1864. Fielders did without baseball gloves, which did not come into popular use until the mid-1870s.”
Allison did much better for the Resolutes than he did for the Mutuals. With Elizabeth, he slashed at .300/.317/.375 for a 111 OPS+ while for the Mutuals, his slash line was .208/.224/.208 for an OPS+ of 30.
.398, 0 HR, 36 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-I’m wondering how many times Anson will make my All-Star teams? He’s going to end up having such a long career and, at the age of 21, already has made two of them. In 1873, the future Hall-of-Famer was 10th in WAR (2.0), fifth in WAR Position Players (2.0), and fourth in Offensive WAR (2.0). He would never match his OPS+ of 200 in 1872, but he would never be below 120 OPS+ until he was in his 40s. This season, he slashed at .398/.409/.449 with an OPS+ of 147.
Unlike many in this era, Anson was loyal. He was loyal to his teams, playing on just three in his 27-year career; and he was loyal to his young wife (see 1872) and didn’t want to move to Chicago because she didn’t want to.
Anson, thankfully, didn’t play in our modern times. He would certainly have his own reality show. He was outgoing and outspoken with a dominating personality. Towards the end of his baseball career, he was already acting in plays. There is no doubt he was baseball’s first superstar.
Of course, his racist attitude wouldn’t have played at all during our days, so his popularity would have been fleeting. We’re a forgiving nation, so if he would have apologized, he might have been accepted back.
At this point in his career, Anson wasn’t known as Cap, but Adrian. Anything written about him from this era verifies that. He wouldn’t be known as Cap until becoming the manager of the White Stockings, who would later be the Cubs, in 1879.
.350, 1 HR, 49 RBI
1st Time All-Star-James Henry “Orator Jim” O’Rourke was born on September 1, 1850 in Bridgeport, CT. According to Wikipedia, “[O’Rourke] worked on his family’s farm while playing youth league and semi-pro baseball. He began his professional career as a member of the Middletown Mansfields in 1872, joining the one-year-old National Association team as a catcher. The Mansfields were not a top-tier team, and folded in August, but O’Rourke had impressed other teams sufficiently enough to be offered a contract with the Boston Red Stockings, with whom he played until 1878.” As if the mighty Red Stockings needed any more fire power.
O’Rourke finished sixth in WAR Position Players (1.8) and seventh in Offensive WAR (1.8). He slashed at .350/.383/.450 with an OPS+ of 138. From 1872-to-1877, his OPS+ would increase each season. O’Rourke would actually end up being more of an outfielder than a first baseman. For Boston, he played 34 games at first, 21 games in rightfield, and 12 games at catcher.
More from Wikipedia: “One legend concerning O’Rourke is that he was asked to drop the ‘O’ from his last name when he signed a contract with Boston and its Protestant backers. The son of Irish immigrants and the husband of a woman born in Ireland, O’Rourke refused, saying ‘I would rather die than give up my father’s name. A million dollars would not tempt me.’
.332, 0 HR, 56 RBI
Fielding % as 1B-.949
1st Time All-Star-Everett Mills was born on January 20, 1845 in Newark, NJ. Wikipedia writes, “In 1872, he became player-manager for the final 17 games of the season while a member of the Baltimore Canaries. The team finished in second place, and he would never manage again.” There’s not a load of information on him. He’ll probably never make another All-Star team, but he had a great season in 1873, finishing 10th in WAR Position Players (1.7) and 10th in Offensive WAR (1.7). He slashed at .332/.337/.477 for an OPS+ of 137, one of only two seasons (1872 being the other one) in which his OPS+ was over 100. It never would be so again.
Mills was a rarity in his day and age, playing only one position, first base. He wasn’t moved around like almost everyone else during this era. He did move to a couple different teams. He started in 1871 with the Washington Olympics, played his two best seasons in 1872 and 1873 with Baltimore, and then finished his career from 1874-76 with the Hartford Dark Blues.
How much would a lunch box carrying, every day, good-but-not-spectacular first baseman make in these days? Everett made $1,000 in 1873, the only year for which Baseball Reference has a salary for him. That would be $19,714 in modern day money, not even the league minimum. The great Al Spalding made $1,800 in 1873.
.431, 2 HR, 60 RBI
1873 NA Batting Title (2nd Time)
WAR Position Players-4.9 (3rd Time)
Offensive WAR -4.5 (2nd Time)
Batting Average-.431 (2nd Time)
Slugging %-.616 (2nd Time)
On-Base Plus Slugging-1.080 (2nd Time)
Runs Scored-125 (2nd Time)
Hits-138 (2nd Time)
Total Bases-197 (3rd Time)
Doubles-31 (2nd Time)
Triples-11 (2nd Time)
Bases on Balls-20
Adjusted OPS+-207 (2nd Time)
Runs Created-99 (2nd Time)
Adj. Batting Runs-44 (2nd Time)
Adj. Batting Wins-4.1 (2nd Time)
Extra Base Hits-44 (2nd Time)
Times on Base-158 (3rd Time)
Offensive Win %-.877 (2nd Time)
Assists as 2B-168 (2nd Time)
Range Factor/Game as 2B-7.13 (2nd Time)
Fielding % as 2B-.857 (2nd Time)
3rd Time All-Star-Can we all just take a second to say, “WOW!” This was the kind of dominating season done by people like Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds. Barnes had this game of baseball figured out and with him on the team, it was going to be virtually impossible to knock Boston from its throne. Not to pile it on, but Barnes finished sixth in WAR (4.9), first in WAR Position Players (4.9), first in Offensive WAR (4.5), and ninth in Defensive WAR (0.5). By Defensive WAR, it was his worst defensive season in the five National Association years.
Just for fun, let’s project Ross Barnes’ 1873 season from his 60 games to a 162 game season:
Incredible, isn’t it? He would have had 338 runs scored, 373 hits, 84 doubles, and 116 stolen bases.
Sometimes, it’s just best to let people from his own era speak. This is from Baseball Reference, it’s a quote by Tim Murnane, writing in the Sporting Life of March 24, 1886: ““Can any ball player of the present day be compared to the phenomenal Barnes? . . . His left-handed stops of hard-hit balls to right field were the prettiest stops ever made on the Boston grounds. As a base-runner no man of the present day is his equal, and as a batsman he must be reckoned very high . . . His fair foul hitting was imitated by many, but no one could approach the original.”
.365, 0 HR, 30 RBI, 1-1, 2.50 ERA, 0 K
Fielding % as 3B-.830 (2nd Time)
3rd Time All-Star-Surprisingly, for a man with a reputation for jumping from team-to-team, Force played his second consecutive season with the Canaries. He was ninth in WAR (2.2), fourth in WAR Position Players (2.2), fifth in Offensive WAR (1.9), and eighth in Defensive WAR (0.5). As I mentioned in his 1872 write-up, the reason Force could jump from team-to-team was because he was a great ballplayer. It’s also important to remember, Force was small, even for his time, at 5-foot-4, 130 pounds. That’s why he had the unfortunate nickname of “Tom Thumb.”
He would never be the hitter in the National League that he was in the National Association, but his fielding continued to be stellar. Force’s hitting in the two leagues show the difference between the NA and the NL and also show why many don’t consider the NA a major league. Force hit .335 in his five NA seasons and .211 in his 10 NL years. If you hate batting average and only like modern stats, Force had an OPS+ of 58 in the NL and 134 in the NA. According to Baseball Reference, “Force’s .211 batting average (National League only/ NA excluded) is the lowest all time of any player who was not primarily a pitcher or catcher.”
For a man with a reputation of going after the money, the only season Baseball Reference has a salary figure on Force is this season. He made $1,500 or $29,571 in modern day money. Still, it was a lot for playing 60 or so games a season.
.349, 3 HR, 59 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-Meyerle stayed in Philadelphia, but moved from the Athletics to the Whites for the 1873 season. He was ninth in WAR Position Players (1.7) and eighth in Offensive WAR (1.8). He slashed at .349/.354/.479 with an OPS+ of 140, his lowest in seven full seasons. Meyerle was never much of a walker, walking only 10 times in his 1,443 at-bat career. He walked only twice in 1873. Also, I know RBI are not to be taken seriously, but his 59 RBI were a personal all-time high.
Meyerle was always a liability at defense. In 48 games at third base, he made 66 errors. His defensive WAR was 0.0 and that would be the highest he would have for the rest of his career, meaning he would cost more runs than even a mediocre defensive player at his position, which was mostly third base. He did, however, start a triple play on Oct. 16 against Baltimore.
In his 1871 blurb, I wondered what Meyerle would do in a hitters’ park. Well, Jefferson Street Grounds and 23 Street Park were hitters’ parks in 1873 and Meyerle did have a good season, but he’d never get close to the numbers he put up in the National Association’s first year.
One thing about playing in a league with Ross Barnes is it is tough to lead in too many offensive stats. So Long Levi’s 1874 season is going to be quite a feat. Spoiler Alert! And just to make the comparison easy, he’s going to mainly play at second base during that year.
.387, 3 HR, 43 RBI
Def. Games as SS-59
Putouts as SS-89 (2nd Time)
Assists as SS-247 (2nd Time)
Double Plays Turned as SS-17 (3rd Time)
Fielding % as SS-.826
3rd Time All-Star-Wright continued to dominate as the best shortstop in the National Association on the best team in the NA. He finished seventh in WAR (3.3), second in WAR Position Players (3.3), third in Offensive WAR (2.7), and second in Defensive WAR (0.9). He slashed at .387/.404/.511 for an OPS+ of 160, which he’d never match again, but would get close in the next couple of seasons.
From Wikipedia: “Born in Yonkers, New York, twelve years younger than Harry, George Wright was raised as a cricket ‘club pro,’ assisting their father (Samuel Wright) as Harry had done. Before George’s birth, Samuel Wright’s St. George’s Cricket Club moved from Manhattan across the Hudson River to Elysian Fields, Hoboken, New Jersey, where many New York and New Jersey base ball clubs played in the 1850s. Both boys learned base ball, too, but George grew up with the ‘national game’ and was barely in his teens when the American Civil War curtailed its boom; Harry was already twenty-two when the baseball fraternity convened for the first time, and thirty when the war ended.
“Meanwhile, brother Harry had acquired baseball duties and had organized for Cincinnati the strongest team in the West, led in 1868 by a handful of players from the East—presumably compensated somehow by club members if not by the club. When the NABBP permitted professionalism for 1869, Harry augmented himself and four incumbents with five new men including brother George, who was highest paid at $1400 for nine months. George remained a cornerstone of Harry’s teams for ten seasons.”
.275, 1 HR, 23 RBI
Double Plays Grounded Into-7
Errors Committed as SS-77
1st Time All-Star-Richard J. Pearce was born on February 29, 1836 in Brooklyn, NY. He was already 35 years old when the National Association debuted in 1871, but still had enough game to make the All-Star team this season. He was fourth in defensive WAR (0.7). Over his seven-year career, he contributed 5.2 in Offensive WAR and 4.9 in Defensive WAR.
The Atlantics were coached by 1872 All-Star Bob Ferguson and had a bad season, finishing 17-37 and sixth in the NA. Ferguson coached close to a thousand games and ended up with a 417-516 career record. It’s amazing people kept hiring him.
From SABR: “One could pull up Dickey Pearce’s statistics at the reference sites and be completely unimpressed. His numbers in the National Association and the National League are unremarkable. This is only part of the story; he was 35 years old when the National Association started and 40 when the National League began. Pearce’s reputation and contributions were made long before. He was one of the most famous and respected of all the early ballplayers. He and James Creighton were two of the game’s most recognizable stars. They were also among the first to be paid for their skills. Creighton’s fame blew bright but short because of his early death, but Pearce played until he was pushing 50 years old.
“Pearce’s contributions as a pioneer were numerous. As noted, he was one of the first professionals. Upon joining the Atlantics, Pearce, short and squat (5-feet-3½, 161 pounds), was assigned to the short field position, a roving spot much like the short fielder in present-day softball. At the time the three infielders hugged their bags. Pearce quickly decided he was more valuable moving into the infield to the open spot to the left of second base; hence, he redefined the infield, in the process creating the now-familiar shortstop position. With the bat, Pearce also redefined strategic hitting. He introduced the bunt, and this led to introduction and/or refinement of the sacrifice bunt, squeeze play, fair-foul hit, and place hitting.”
.280, 1 HR, 38 RBI, 0-0, 3.60 ERA, 0 K
Range Factor/9Inn as SS-6.18
Range Factor/Game as SS-6.14
1st Time All-Star-Charles John Fulmer was born on February 13, 1851 in Philadelphia, PA. He made the team due to 10 pitchers having to make the team and there was a lack of good pitchers in the National Association during these times. That shouldn’t take away from what he did add to the Whites, as he finished third in Defensive WAR (0.9) and 10th in WAR for Pitchers (0.1). He wasn’t a terrible hitter, slashing at .280/.286/.364 for an OPS+ of 88.
From SABR: “It is not known when Charles acquired the nickname Chick. Charley, Charlie, Chuck, and Chick have long been used as nicknames for Charles, so it is not surprising that the lad was tagged with that cognomen. Nor is it known when Chick first started playing baseball. During his boyhood, Philadelphia was a hotbed of amateur baseball. It is likely that the Fulmer brothers played on local clubs. At any rate, two of the siblings reached the major leagues – one for a long career, the other for a one-day stand.
“In 1873 Fulmer was on the move again, playing for the Philadelphia Athletics (ed. actually the Whites), his third team in three years. He claimed to have made the first unassisted triple play in baseball history, while playing for Philadelphia in a game against Troy in 1873. According to Fulmer, the Haymakers had loaded the bases with no one out. The next batter hit a line drive that Fulmer caught with one hand; then he tagged the man who had been on second and ran down the man who had been on first.” SABR must be wrong about a lot of the information above. Troy didn’t play in 1873 and Fulmer never played for the Athletics.
.360, 0 HR, 41 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-See the blurb on Pabor in 1872 for the prediction he would make the All-Star team in 1873. Did I call it or what? No, I didn’t cheat! How dare you think I would do that! Pabor was sixth in Offensive WAR (1.8), slashing at .360/.376/.425 for an OPS+ of 147. This was easily his best season. He was one of four position players who had the highest WAR on their team, but the only one with any large amount of playing time. Doug Allison of Elizabeth, Paul Hines of Washington, and Levin Jones of the Baltimore Marylands were the others.
From Wikipedia: “[Pabor] played his early baseball in and around the New York City area until he joined the Cleveland Forest Citys of the National Association as a left fielder and manager. On May 4, 1871, Pabor managed and played while batting 0-4 for in the first game of the season, which is considered the first all professional game ever played, a game between his Forest Citys and the Fort Wayne Kekiongas. Cleveland finished 8th that season, and Pabor was replaced as manager in 1872. He had also batted well in 1871, with a .296 batting average, but it dropped to .207 in 1872.
“The Cleveland team folded after the season, and Pabor got a fresh start with the Brooklyn Atlantics. He had his best season that year, hitting .360 and driving in 42 runs batted in. After a short season in 1874 with the Philadelphia White Stockings in which he only played in 17 games, he returned to the Atlantics for the 1875 season as the player-manager. The season was a disaster, the Atlantics only won two games for the season. Pabor did not finish the year in Brooklyn, as he signed with the New Haven Elm Citys toward the end of the 1875 season, playing and managing six games and winning only one. Although his record of 13-64 as manager is not prolific, he is credited as starting the careers of both King Kelly and Fred Goldsmith.”
.331, 1 HR, 29 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Paul Aloysius Hines was born on March 1, 1855 in Virginia. He played for the terrible Washington Nationals in 1872 and for the equally dreadful Washington Blue Legs in 1873. He finally figured out his problem was playing in our nation’s capital and moved to Chicago to start a thriving, big league career. Even at the age of 18, he gave a glimpse of what was to come, slashing at .331/.335/.414 for a 123 OPS+. His fielding stunk, but would come around eventually.
Okay, Washington, you want a team to succeed? Can I suggest not hiring Nick Young as your manager? He was five games below .500 with the Washington Olympics in 1871-72, yet the Blue Legs brought him in, where he went 8-31 and finished seventh.
To give you a taste of what Hines’ contemporaries thought of him, here’s a clip from Baseball Reference: “’The greatest play I ever saw was made by Paul Hines . . . he caught a low fly ball behind shortstop on a full run, continuing on to third base where he put out the two men . . . from second and third bases, making the triple play unassisted.’ – from the book A History of the Boston Base Ball Club, 1897, quoting Arthur Irwin regarding one version of the famous event.”
According to that same write-up, he was quite the athlete and quite a ladies’ man: “Hines was known for his attraction to the ladies and one newspaper clipping from 1890 states that ‘many of the girls are badly “gone” on his shape’ and when he wore a tightly-fitting shirt, it ‘would have brought a blush to the face of many a fair maid, well accustomed as she might be to the exposure of a decollette costume.’”
.273, 0 HR, 28 RBI, 1-0, 2.25 ERA, 2 K
2nd Time All-Star-McMullin became a second year All-Star by again being one of the rare above 0.0 WAR pitchers in the league. He finished seventh in WAR for Pitchers at 0.3 by pitching just one game. In that one game, he started, pitching eight innings and allowing five runs, two of them earned. He got the win. As a hitter, he slashed at .273/.298/.313 for a 76 OPS+. His hitting continued to worsen every year but that would change in 1874.
McMullin played on his third team in three seasons, moving from the New York Mutuals in 1872 to the Athletics this season.
According to Wikipedia, here are some 1873 baseball highlights: “March 3 – For the first time, the NA adopts a standardized ball to be used in all league games.” Before that, I guess teams could just throw out any old ball – footballs, basketballs, golf balls…
“May 14 – Nearly 5,000 fans watch the upstart Philadelphia White Stockings defeat the established Philadelphia Athletics 5–4 in 13 innings. Only once before, in 1865, had that many innings been played in one game.” That record would be shattered many times. I seem to remember a 26-inning game.
“June 7 – The New York Mutuals and Philadelphia White Stockings combine for 40 errors in a game won by the White Stockings. The White Stockings, aided by the Mutuals 26 miscues, win 12–10.” Remember, there were no gloves in these days. I hope that standardized ball wasn’t too hard.
“November 6 – A benefit game is played between the Philadelphia White Stockings and Philadelphia Athletics under a proposed rule of 10 men on the field and 10 innings for a game. The extra player is placed on the infield as a right shortstop and with most observers feeling the extra player unnecessary, the rule is never implemented.” We do use the 10 man rule on my slo-pitch softball team, however.
.338, 0 HR, 35 RBI
3rd Time All-Star-For the third consecutive season, according to WAR, Eggler was the National Association’s best outfielder. This season didn’t match his numbers in 1872, but it wasn’t bad. He was seventh in WAR Position Players at 1.8. He slashed at .338/.353/.417 for an OPS+ of 129. After three straight years with the Mutuals, Eggler would be going to the Whites in 1874.
Wikipedia has more stats: “Dave Eggler, center fielder: Batted a .338 with 35 runs batted in and two strikeouts at the plate. He had 266 at bats, striking out once every 133 at bats. He played in every game in the 1873 season for the Mutuals. He was fourth in the NA with 82 runs scored and fifth in fielding runs-outfield.”
If you look at the picture on Baseball Reference (but not the one on this write-up), which is also on his 1871 blurb, he looks a lot like Neil Patrick Harris. So if they ever make a movie about Dave Eggler, they have a star. They better hurry, though. Doogie Howser isn’t getting any younger. My wife, Melanie, would probably disagree with me, because we never agree in those “that actor looks like that person” discussions.
Even though Eggler will no longer be in the top 10 in any of the WAR categories, it is my guess that he will make at least one more All-Star team due to the lack of outfield depth in the NA. In 1874, for instance, he finished eighth in total bases and 10th in Adjusted Batting Wins, but we’ll see.
.750, 0 HR, 1 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Levin T. Jones was born on July 4, 1847 in Baltimore, MD. He would have a total of 11 at bats in the National Association, but still make an All-Star team. He is the lone representative of the Baltimore Marylands, who just played this one season and only six games at that. Jones just played one game, going three-for-four, with three singles and an RBI.
The Marylands were coached by centerfielder Bill Smith, who led the team to an 0-6 record. Baseball Reference has Smith’s record listed as 0-5 and doesn’t say who coached them to that sixth loss.
In 1873, there was a huge fire in Baltimore on July 26. From gendisasters.com: “A Baltimore special says the fire in several portions in the burned district swept rapidly through roofs and left the lower portions of whole rows scarcely damaged. This seemed to be caused by the large number of shingle roofs which are so exceedingly dry as to burn like grass. In this way the fire actually crossed over streets in which engines continued to work, and left a portion of the fire brigade working in the very center of the burning blocks. Water was so nearly exhausted before the fire was under control as to make it necessary to dam up the gutters, and so supply some of the fire engines. The casualties were of no importance, except the case of sister RINALDI, a nun in the convent of St. Alphonso’s Church, who died from fright. During the fire an engine exploded, injuring two firemen.”
.261, 1 HR, 37 RBI, 3-4, 1.81 ERA, 14 K
1873 NA Pitching Title (2nd Time)
Earned Run Average-1.81 (2nd Time)
Walks & Hits per IP-1.186 (2nd Time)
Hits per 9 IP-9.605 (2nd Time)
Strikeouts/Base On Balls-1.400 (2nd Time)
Adjusted ERA+-196 (2nd Time)
3rd Time All-Star-Fisher moved from Baltimore to Philadelphia, pitching for his third team in as many years, but continued to be effective in his specialty role. In his day, there wasn’t usually a quality second pitcher, but Fisher had now done that for the last two seasons. He finished sixth in WAR for Pitchers (1.3), despite a losing record of 3-4.
In 1872, Fisher pitched 110 innings and in 1873, he tossed 84 1/3. The league leaders in those two seasons were Candy Cummings with 497 innings pitched in 1872 and Al Spalding who, in 1873, threw 496 2/3 innings. Because pitchers were still throwing underhanded, it didn’t seem to affect their arms like it would today.
Incredibly, Dick McBride, the manager and main pitcher for the Athletics, let Fisher pitch in 13 games and start five of them. In the past, McBride threw almost every inning for Philadelphia. It didn’t help as the Athletics dropped to fifth place.
Despite his awesome pitching, there isn’t a lot on the interwebs about Cherokee Fisher, like, for example, why he goes by the name Cherokee. Was he Native American? It’s hard to tell from the picture. Without trying to sound stereotypical, Native Americans have a reputation for heavy drinking and Fisher certainly did that. He would play seven seasons and all of them would be for different teams. Has that been done since? Yet he would end up with a lifetime 2.61 ERA and 106 ERA+. His two best seasons were when he pitched the least amount of innings.
.221, 0 HR, 14 RBI, 0-1, 3.44 ERA, 1 K
1st Time All-Star-Alphonse Case Martin was born on August 4, 1845 in New York, NY. The only reason he is an All-Star is due to a lack of pitching depth in the National Association of 1873. He was ninth in WAR for Pitchers at 0.1. However, as a hitter and fielder, his WAR was -0.8. Hey, let’s see some of those other All-Star teams have someone with an overall -0.7 WAR make their squads!
According to Wikipedia, Martin may have invented the curve ball ahead of Candy Cummings: “Martin, born in New York, New York, and an American Civil War veteran, played in organized baseball as far back as 1869 when he pitched for the Brooklyn Eckfords. That year, a reporter for the New York Clipper described him as an ‘extremely hard pitcher to hit for the ball never comes in a straight line‚ but in a tantalizing curve.’ If the observation is true, this would pre-date Candy Cummings, the pitcher given credit as the inventor of the curveball. His pitching style led to his nickname of ‘Old Slow Ball.’”
Wikipedia also describes a dispute on whether or not Martin ever managed: “[In 1872], he is given credit for managing the Eckfords for nine games, with a record of 1 win and 8 losses. There is a level of dispute on this, sabr and retrosheet.org list Andy Allison, Jimmy Wood, and Martin as managing the team that year, while baseball-reference.com list Jim Clinton and Wood as the managers.”
One thing not in dispute, Martin died in Hollis, NY at the age of 87.