P-Jim Devlin, LOU
P-Tommy Bond, BSN
P-Tricky Nichols, STL
P-George Bradley, CHC
P-Terry Larkin, HAR
P-Laurie Reis, CHC
P-Bobby Mitchell, CIN
P-Joe Blong, STL
P-Will White, BSN
C-John Clapp, STL
C-Cal McVey, CHC
1B-Deacon White, BSN
1B-Joe Start, HAR
2B-Joe Gerhardt, LOU
2B-George Wright, BSN
3B-Cap Anson, CHC
3B-Bob Ferguson, HAR
3B-Joe Battin, STL
SS-John Peters, CHC
SS-Davy Force, STL
LF-Charley Jones, CIN/CHC
LF-Tom York, HAR
CF-Jim O’Rourke, BSN
RF-John Cassidy, HAR
RF-Orator Shafer, LOU
35-25, 2.25 ERA, 141 K, .269, 1 HR, 27 RBI
Wins Above Replacement-13.6 (2nd Time)
WAR for Pitchers-13.3 (2nd Time)
Games Pitched-61 (2nd Time)
Innings Pitched-559.0 (2nd Time)
Games Started-61 (2nd Time)
Complete Games-61 (2nd Time)
Losses-25 (2nd Time)
Batters Faced-2,328 (2nd Time)
Adj. Pitching Runs-54 (2nd Time)
Adj. Pitching Wins-5.0 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as P-61 (2nd Time)
Putouts as P-30
Assists as P-110 (2nd Time)
Range Factor/Game as P-2.30
2nd Time All-Star-The sad story of Devlin ends this season as he was booted from baseball for gambling. More on that later. First, let’s look at this incredible season. He led the league in WAR (13.6) and WAR for Pitchers (13.3). He pitched 559 innings with a 2.25 ERA and a 146 ERA+. He did it while having Louisville Baseball Park as his home field and it was a huge hitters’ park.
Jack Chapman was back for his second year as the Grays’ manager, leading the team to a second place finish with a 35-25 record. It wouldn’t have been that close if it wasn’t for the rubber arm of Devlin. Ironically, he might have also won it all if it wasn’t for the loose morality of Devlin.
Here’s Baseball Reference’s take on the Louisville Gambling Scandal of 1877: “After this disastrous late-season road trip in which the seemingly pennant-bound Louisville club lost seven straight games, Jim Devlin was accused by his club of helping to throw games. The losing streak was characterized by unusual ‘bonehead’ plays and poor pitching. The Grays relinquished their lead and eventually finished second, trailing Boston by three games. Meanwhile, certain Grays were seen around town donning fancy new jewelry and ostentatiously dining at exclusively top restaurants. This suspicion increased as the players performed very well in post-season exhibition matches and as the Louisville Courier-Journal discovered that utility infielder Al Nichols had received an abnormally high number of telegrams. Courier-Journal writer John Haldeman, who was the son of the team president and sometimes played second base in the team’s exhibition games, was the first to publicly accuse the Grays of throwing games. Team vice president Charles Chase, who had earlier received but disregarded telegrams informing him that gamblers were betting against the Grays in certain games, began an investigation.
“Admitting his involvement, he was expelled from the club along with the others. William Hulbert, the president of the National League, decided to make a stand against gambling. He immediately banned Devlin, Hall, Nichols and Craver for life. Craver, against whom no evidence of gambling has ever been found, was outraged and appealed the sentence. Devlin also appealed to the League for reinstatement every year for the rest of his life, even writing his friend, legendary manager Harry Wright, for help. However, Hulbert remained resolute and none of the Louisville Four ever played major league baseball again.”
40-17, 2.11 ERA, 170 K, .228, 0 HR, 30 RBI
1877 NL Pitching Title
1877 NL Triple Crown
Earned Run Average-2.11
Walks & Hits per IP-1.086
Hits per 9 IP-9.156
Bases on Balls per 9 IP-0.622 (2nd Time)
Home Runs-5 (2nd Time)
Strikeouts/Base on Balls-4.722 (3rd Time)
Range Factor/9 Inn as P-2.30 (3rd Time)
4th Time All-Star-Bond moved from the Dark Blues in 1876 to the Red Stockings this season and it’s just what Boston needed to take their first National League title. Bond was in the midst of an incredible stretch of pitching. He finished second in WAR (11.3) and second in WAR for Pitchers (11.6), with a league-leading 2.11 ERA over 521 innings pitched. Bond had a 135 ERA+. South End Grounds, Bond’s home park, was a slight hitters’ park.
You can’t keep Harry Wright down as the manager of the Red Stockings won his fifth title in seven years, counting the four straight championships he won in the National Association. Boston finished with a 42-18 record, seven games ahead of Louisville. In order to win titles in the 1800s, you needed a dominating number one pitcher and the acquisition of Bond moved them to the top.
Now if you believe in the pitching triple crown, which is leading the league in wins, earned run average, and strikeouts, then Bond was indeed the first to perform this feat. As a matter of fact, the Irishman was the first pitcher to lead the league in wins whose name wasn’t Al Spalding.
18-23, 2.60 ERA, 80 K, .167, 0 HR, 9 RBI
Base on Balls Allowed-53
1st Time All-Star-Frederick C. “Tricky” Nichols was born on July 26, 1850 in Bridgeport, CT. He started out his career with the 1875 New Haven Elm Citys with a 4-29 record for a bad team. He then went to Boston in 1876, where he started and completed one game, allowing five runs, one of them earned. This season, on St. Louis, he had his best season ever, finishing fourth in WAR (3.2) and third in WAR for Pitchers (4.1). Nichols pitched 350 innings with a 2.60 ERA and 101 ERA+. This was definitely a two-tiered league this season, led by Jim Devlin and Tommy Bond in the upper echelon, and then some adequate but nowhere near as talented pitchers beneath them.
After finishing in third place with a 45-19 record the year before, St. Louis, coached by George McManus, slipped to 28-32 and a fourth place finish, out of six teams. Its three-year existence would end after 1877. After this season, they picked up Devlin and George Hall from the Grays, but after those two players were expelled, the Brown Stockings folded.
Some players have elaborate write-ups on the internet that paint gorgeous pictures of their outstanding careers. Some people are Tricky Nichols. Here’s his entire entry from Wikipedia: “Frederick C. ‘Tricky’ Nichols (July 26, 1850 – August 22, 1897) was a pitcher in Major League Baseball for six seasons from 1875 to 1882. He played for six teams: New Haven Elm Citys in 1875, Boston Red Caps in 1876, St. Louis Brown Stockings in 1877, Providence Grays in 1878, Worcester Ruby Legs in 1880, and Baltimore Orioles in 1882. He died in his hometown of Bridgeport, Connecticut at the age of 47, and is interred at Lakeview Cemetery.” He was born, he pitched, he died. Hey, but he made one All-Star team!
18-23, 3.31 ERA, 59 K, .243, 0 HR, 12 RBI
Earned Runs Allowed-145
Wild Pitches-39 (2nd Time)
Fielding % as P-.950
3rd Time All-Star-Using what I’m sure was a maniacal laugh, the powers-that-be for the White Stockings said, “Yesss, we’ll acquire George Bradley, the best pitcher in baseball, for our already powerful team and we’ll RULE THE WORLD. Bwah, hah, hah!” What’s that they say about the best laid plans? Bradley was decent, but not the unstoppable force he was in 1876. He finished fifth in WAR (2.9) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (3.0), pitching 394 innings with a 3.31 ERA and a 90 ERA+. He had some decent seasons ahead, including what I would guess to be All-Star seasons, but would never hit the mountaintop of his 1876 performance.
Oh, how the mighty hath fallen! Al Spalding coached Chicago to a 26-33 record and a fifth place (out of six teams) finish. Cal McVey, Cap Anson, and John Peters were still powerhouses, but Ross Barnes, either because of a disease or a new rule outlawing the “fair-four” hit, crashed to earth and Spalding himself could no longer pitch and instead was a banjo hitting first baseman. It’s why the White Stockings picked up Bradley in the first place. Along with all of that, Deacon White went back to Boston. Chicago, however, will recover.
In 1878, Bradley didn’t play in the National League and afterwards would bounce around from team-to-team and league-to-league. He would also be mainly a position player after this season, mostly playing third base, despite being an anemic hitter. He never had an OPS+ over 100 in his 11-year career.
29-25, 2.14 ERA, 96 K, .228, 1 HR, 18 RBI
Bases on Balls Allowed-53
Errors Committed as P-15
1st Time All-Star-Frank S. “Terry” Larkin was born in 1856 in Brooklyn, NY. He completed one game for the Mutuals in 1876, allowing seven runs, three of them earned. This year, he was Hartford’s, um, Brooklyn’s main pitcher. Larkin finished sixth in WAR for Pitchers (1.5), throwing 501 innings with a 2.14 ERA and 116 ERA+.
I just want to throw a teaser at you. Baseball Reference starts out its article about Larkin with the following sentence: “Terry Larkin was both a good player and a criminal.” Yes, he’s going to be one of those players who lives a tragic life and dies young, but you’ll have to keep reading these All-Star team webpages to find out why. (Or you could look it up online, your choice).
The Hartford Dark Blues started in 1874 in the National Association and then moved to the National League in 1876. According to many pages on the net, they moved to Brooklyn before the 1877 season, but kept the name of Hartford Dark Blues, usually being referred to as the Brooklyn Hartfords. According to Wikipedia: “The team disbanded after the 1877 season. Author Mark Twain was a fan of the team.” If you’re wondering who Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, or F. Scott Fitzgerald rooted for, you’ll have to look it up yourself.
Still, it’s fascinating to me that Mark Twain was a baseball fan. I haven’t read all of his works and maybe baseball is mentioned frequently in them, but I don’t remember. Maybe he’s like Terrance Mann and wrote an obscure article about the game that would eventually lead Kevin Costner to meeting his dad. Who knows?
3-1, 0.75 ERA, 11 K, .125, 0 HR, 1 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Laurence P. Ries was born on November 20, 1858 in Chicago, IL. It was his rookie season and his best season ever as he finished fifth in WAR for Pitchers (2.0). That was despite throwing only 36 innings with a 0.75 ERA and a 402! ERA+. He started four games, completed them all, allowing eight runs, three earned, in those 36 innings pitched.
Listen, I’ve heard the complaints. OK, that’s not true, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who’s ever read my website, but I could imagine if someone read this that they would complain that I should just pick the 25 best players in the league and not worry about having 10 pitchers or a player from each team. And I say to you, write your own baseball history! No, I wouldn’t say that, I’d say that by doing this site in this way, I get to meet, figuratively, interesting people like Laurie Ries.
Next season, in 1878, Ries is going to start exactly four games again, complete all four of them again, and pitch exactly 36 innings again, but that’s where the comparison stops. In the four 1878 games, Ries allowed 34 runs, 13 earned, and had an ERA of 3.25 and an ERA+ of 76. It was quite a drop off and his major league career was done.
Here’s some interesting information from Baseball Reference: “Lawrence “Laurie” Reis is (through 2009) one of four major leaguers with the last name ‘Reis’, including Bobby Reis, Jack Reis and Tommy Reis. There is also an Al Reiss.”
6-5, 3.51 ERA, 41 K, .204, 0 HR, 5 RBI
Home Runs per 9 IP-0.000
Fielding Independent Pitching-2.35
1st Time All-Star-Robert McKasha Mitchell was born on February 6, 1856 in Cincinnati, OH. The rookie had a good year for a bad team, finishing seventh in WAR for Pitchers (0.9). He pitched 100 innings with 3.51 ERA and a 76 ERA+ in a huge pitchers’ park, Avenue Grounds.
The Reds finished last for the second straight year while being managed by three men, each as bad as the last. Lip Pike went 3-11, Bob Addy went 5-19, and Jack Manning went 7-12. Who knows, if they had Manning all season they might have finished fifth. Cincinnati has some better years ahead, but would be folding after the 1880 season.
What is Mitchell famous for? Let’s let Baseball Reference tell us: “Bobby Mitchell was a sensation in 1877 as the first lefty in the National League, demolishing the belief that left-handers could not be successful pitchers. Although Mitchell was in only 15 games in 1877, he led the Cincinnati Reds in victories with 6 and had 40% of their total wins for the season. He pitched for three more seasons but without as much notoriety.”
With the pitchers the Reds had coming into the season, you would have thought they’d do better than they did. They had Candy Cummings, a future Hall of Famer, and Bobby Mathews, who has made the All-Star team the previous six seasons. Yet it was Mitchell who pitched the best for Cincinnati, as Cummings and Mathews both had ERAs over 4.00. Teams trying the Chicago plan to have quick turnarounds by acquiring star players weren’t having much success.
10-9, 2.74 ERA, 51 K, .216, 0 HR, 13 RBI
Home Runs per 9 IP-0.000 (2nd Time)
2nd Time All-Star-Just as I predicted in Blong’s 1876 blurb, he made the All-Star team again. Blong was more of a position player than a pitcher, but did pitch in 25 games and made the team as a hurler for the second consecutive season. He finished eighth in WAR for Pitchers (0.7), throwing 187 2/3 innings with a 2.74 ERA and 96 ERA+.
Here’s more on Blong from Baseball Reference: “A web page about Joe Blong says he attended the University of Notre Dame in the 1860’s along with his brother, where they both played on the baseball team. Afterwards, Joe played on amateur teams in St. Louis with his brothers, two of whom had played on the St. Louis Brown Stockings team before it joined the National Association.
“The page says that Blong, McSorley, and others left the Brown Stockings to go to the Covington Stars. Joe’s brother Andy was part of the Brown Stockings management, and most likely had a role in the move. So it’s not completely clear whether Joe engaged in crooked play or whether that was an accusation which came about in the midst of an angry break-up. In any case, after a short while in Covington, Joe left the club under unclear circumstances to go play in Indianapolis.
“Blong was again kicked out of baseball in 1877, accused of crooked play along with several players, including Davy Force. Force came back, but Blong never did. He played with other (apparently amateur) teams thereafter.
2-1, 3.00 ERA, 7K, .200, 0 HR, 1 RBI
1st Time All-Star-William Henry “Whoop-La” White was born on October 11, 1854 in Caton, NY. He’s the brother of Hall of Famer Deacon White. He finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (0.4), pitching 27 innings with a 3.00 ERA and a 96 ERA+. He has many great years ahead. Because of the lack of pitching depth in 1877’s National League, White made the All-Star team. His brother, Deacon, joined him, making them the first brother combo to make this team.
Wikipedia, in its article on 1877 baseball, says, “July 20 – Will White makes his major league debut. White is the first professional player to wear glasses. No other big-leaguer will wear glasses until Lee Meadows in 1915.”
While we’re on this article, here are some tidbits about some of the game’s biggest players of the time: “February 3 – Cherokee Fisher admits taking $100 to throw a game from the 1876 season. Fisher will only appear in 1 more game in his career (1878) after his admission.
“June 5 – Star pitcher Albert Spalding makes his last career start on the mound.”
And from that same article, some information about the rules at that time: “March 22 – The National League publishes the 1877 schedule. It is the first time the league has handled scheduling and continues to this day.
“May 17 – The National League votes to change to a livelier ball to replace the one described as being ‘dead enough to bury’ in a special league meeting.
.318, 0 HR, 34 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-Clapp had his best season ever, finishing ninth in WAR (2.2), sixth in WAR Position Players (2.2), and eighth in Offensive WAR (2.2). He slashed at .318/.338/.388 for an OPS+ of 134 during his second season with the Brown Stockings. He didn’t get to catch the great George Bradley anymore, but still got to be the backstop for Tricky Nichols, Joe Blong, and Joe Battin.
Baseball Almanac posts the following about Clapp: “’John (Clapp) is a cool, easy-going fellow, not easily “rattled” and not much of a manager. As a player he ranks high.’ – The Sporting News (Frank V. Phelps, Nineteenth Century Stars, 1989)”
Clapp was never a power hitter, never hitting more than 21 extra base hits and never slugging about the .436 he had in 1874, when he hit three home runs. What he did well was field his position and hit for average, as 1877 was the second of three consecutive seasons he would hit over .300.
After playing 15 games, the Brown Stockings were tied for first place with a 10-5 record and even as late in the season as August 25, their record was 24-20 and they were only three games out. Then they played 12 consecutive road games, losing 10 of them and their season was over. Well, actually as mentioned in Tricky Nichols’ write-up, their existence was pretty much over as they would fold after the end of the season. They have their own gambling issues but I’ll touch on that in Joe Battin’s article.
.368, 0 HR, 36 RBI, 4-8, 4.50 ERA, 20 K
Singles-82 (2nd Time)
6th Time All-Star-After three straight seasons away from the wear and tear of catching, McVey went back behind the plate. This season is the story of the two battery positions. At catcher, he dazzled, slashing at .368/.387/.455 and an OPS+ of 153. As a position player, his WAR was 2.3. On the mound was a different story. He pitched 92 innings with a 4.50 ERA and a 66 ERA+. His Pitching WAR was -1.3, making his overall WAR 1.0.
Part of the reason McVey had to pitch so many innings was because six-time All-Star Al Spalding effectively retired from the mound and, as manager, put himself at first base, which was McVey’s position in 1876. I don’t know whether Spalding’s arm was done or he was more interested in his off-field pursuits. The website 19cbaseball.com says, “Spalding ventured into the print media and first published a league book which contained the baseball constitution, previous season’s statistics, the current playing rules and the next season schedule in 1877. The booklet was entitled 1877 Constitution and Playing Rules of the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs. This annual guide would continue to be printed well after the turn of the century and during the 19th century Spalding would use this forum to help voice his opinions on the players, state of the game and the direction that the game should follow. He retired from baseball as a player after only appearing in one game in 1878 to pursue the lucrative market in baseball products which he created. He would end his playing career with a pitching record of 252-65, for a .795 winning percentage and a .313 batting average. There has been no pitcher in the history of baseball to compile the pitching record of Albert Spalding and he also became the fist pitcher to win 250 professional games.”
.387, 2 HR, 49 RBI
1877 NL Batting Title (2nd Time)
WAR Position Players-3.3
Batting Average-.387 (2nd Time)
On-Base Plus Slugging-.950
Runs Batted In-49 (3rd Time)
Adj. Batting Runs-27
Adj. Batting Wins-2.9
Extra Base Hits-27
Offensive Win %-.846
5th Time All-Star-Deacon White is one of my favorite players of this era and, in 1877, he had his best season ever. He finished third in WAR (3.3), first in WAR Position Players (3.3), and first in Offensive wAR (3.4). He slashed .387/.405/.545 for a league-leading OPS+ of 193. He won his fifth consecutive title, moving from Chicago in 1876 back to Boston. According to SABR, Harry Wright lured him back. He’d be going to Cincinnati in 1878.
For the first time in White’s career, catcher was not his regular position and you have to wonder if leaving the pain and suffering of being behind the plate led to this great season. He wasn’t completely done with catching and would still be temporarily catching as a 36-year-old in 1884, but before long, the corner infield positions of first and third base would be his main homes.
White was among the first catchers to start using equipment. This is from a Slate article written by Deacon’s great-grandson James B. Jackson. This will probably not be the last time he is quoted and it will almost certainly not be the last time I urge you to read this article! “Gloves came first—one thin one for each hand—and catchers had to learn how to catch with one hand and throw with the other, not an easy transition to make. In 1877, the catcher for the Harvard team showed White and several of his Boston teammates the first catcher’s mask. The approval of Deacon and his teammates helped to popularize this novel piece of equipment. Deacon himself soon went home and, with the help of a blacksmith, fashioned his own mask out of iron. It had no padding whatsoever and was held in place with a single strap.”
.332, 1 HR, 21 RBI
AB per SO-135.5
Def. Games as 1B-60 (2nd time)
Putouts as 1B-704
Range Factor/9 Inn as 1B-11.81
Range Factor/Game as 1B-11.90
Fielding % as 1B-.964 (4th Time)
3rd Time All-Star-Start finally moved from the New York Mutuals, but it took the team folding for him to do it. Now on the Hartfords, he had his best season ever. He finished seventh in WAR (2.5), third in WAR Position Players (2.5), and seventh in Offensive WAR (2.4). He slashed .332/.347/.399 for an OPS+ of 146, all of this in pitching friendly parks, Union Grounds and Howard Avenue Grounds.
If you look at the stats above, you get the impression Start was a slick fielding first baseman, but WAR doesn’t show that. You can see how he got his nickname of Old Reliable. Unlike most of the players in this era, he didn’t move from team to team or position to position. For 13 of his 16 seasons, he was a first baseman for either the New York Mutuals or the Providence Grays.
Start hasn’t made the All-Star team since 1874, so here’s some highlights from his career during the last few seasons from Baseball Library: “Jul 21, 1875 – The use of a lively ball is reflected in the score as the Mutuals defeat the Philadelphias 16-13 at the Union Grounds in Brooklyn. 1B Joe Start hits 3 HRs and a triple. (Ed. Note-Was he the first ever to hit three home runs in a game in a major league?)
.304, 1 HR, 35 RBI
Assists as 2B-244
Double Plays Turned as 2B-30
Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-7.06
Range Factor/Game as 2B-7.21
1st Time All-Star-John Joseph “Move Up Joe” Gerhardt was born on Valentine’s Day, 1855 in Washington, DC. He started his career in his birthplace with the Blue Legs in 1873 as a part-time shortstop. He moved down the road to play with the Baltimore Canaries in 1874, still as a backup shortstop. In 1875, he moved again, not only cities, as he now played for the New York Mutuals, but positions, sliding over to third base. Once the National League started, he came to Louisville, playing mostly first base in 1876 and moving to his last infield position, second base, in 1877. His fielding was always his calling card, as for his career, Gerhardt will end up with a 1.9 Offensive WAR and a 7.2 Defensive WAR. His hitting wasn’t terrible this season as he slashed at .304/.318/.380 for an OPS+ of 106. He finished eighth in the National League in WAR (2.1) and first in Defensive WAR (1.2). Second base seemed to be his niche.
It’s strange to have an All-Star team without Ross Barnes at second base. Playing for Chicago, he only played in 22 games, slashing at .272/.323/283 for an OPS+ of 84. This was after six straight seasons of 143 or higher OPS+, batting averages of over .340, on-base percentage of over .360, and slugging over .417. Barnes has two seasons left, but his peak is over.
Why “Move Up Joe?” According to Wikipedia, “Gerhardt’s nickname, ‘Move ‘Em Up Joe’ came from his war cry, ‘Move ’em up,’ which he would shout from the bench or base line when his teammates were on base. Gerhardt was an early advocate of the sacrifice play to move base runners forward. Upon Gerhardt’s death, New York sports writer John M. Foster went so far as to call Gerhardt the ‘original inventor of the sacrifice theory in baseball.’” So he’s the one that’s the bane of sabermetricians to this day!
.276, 0 HR, 35 RBI
Games Played-61 (2nd Time)
At Bats-290 (4th Time)
Plate Appearances-299 (3rd Time)
Outs Made-210 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as 2B-58
Errors Committed as 2B-53
7th Time All-Star-I said in a previous Wright article that his Hall of Fame case was sketchy, but I’m changing my mind. He’s the first of all players to make the All-Star team seven straight seasons, and he’s got a couple more coming, I would guess. This season, he was a major cog in his fifth championship team, finishing eighth in Defensive WAR (0.7) despite moving to second base, allowing Ezra Sutton to play short. However, this was his only season where shortstop wasn’t his main position and he’d be moving back there in 1878. Wright’s hitting really deteriorated as he slashed .276/.298/.334 for an OPS+ of 96.
Wright is the only one to make this team seven consecutive years. Al Spalding, Bobby Mathews, and Ross Barnes all fell apart and wouldn’t be joining George. Wright was actually the last one I picked to make the All-Star team and he was saved by his defense.
No one names their sons George anymore, but back in the 1870s, it was a very popular name. According to Wikipedia, there was George Wright, the Solicitor General for Ireland; George G. Wright, a United States Senator from Iowa; George Merrill Wright, an American businessman and politician; and many others.
There was also another ballplayer named George Wright, who played five years with the Texas Rangers and Montreal Expos from 1982-86. It’s going to be a while before I get to those All-Star teams and I don’t think THAT George Wright is going to make it, though he did get a tenth place vote for MVP in 1983.
.337, 0 HR, 32 RBI
Doubles-19 (2nd Time)
Double Plays Turned as 3B-9 (2nd Time)
5th Time All-Star-Adrian Anson hasn’t hit his prime yet, but still has made five of these All-Star teams. He’s going to gain fame not only for his hitting, but managing, and, of course, gain infamy because of his racism. I cringe whenever I do these write-ups for Anson, because I know it’s coming. That shouldn’t take away from his greatness, though, and it’s important to note that in Anson’s day, his attitude towards blacks wasn’t as despised as it is nowadays.
Anson finished 10th in WAR (2.2), seventh in WAR Position Players (2.2), and ninth in Offensive WAR (2.2). He slashed .337/.360/.420 for an OPS+ of 134.
According to Wikipedia, Anson’s family started in 1877. “The Ansons had seven children, three of whom died in infancy. Daughter Grace was born in October 1877; son Adrian Hulbert was born in 1882 and died four days later; daughter Adele was born in April 1884; son Adrian Constantine, Jr. was born in 1887 and died four months later; daughter Dorothy was born in 1889; son John Henry was born in 1892 and died four days later; and daughter Virginia Jeanette was born in 1899.” I point out it’s only because Anson is so famous that this kind of information is recorded at all.
SABR says, “The Chicago team failed to repeat as champions under Spalding in 1877. Spalding then moved into the club presidency, but passed over Anson and appointed Bob Ferguson as his successor. Ferguson’s regime was a failure, and Spalding named Anson as captain and manager for the 1879 season.”
.256, 0 HR, 35 RBI, 1-1, 3.96 ERA, 1 K
Putouts as 3B-109 (3rd Time)
Assists as 3B-155 (3rd Time)
Errors Committed as 3B-50 (3rd Time)
Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-4.79 (3rd Time)
Range Factor/Game as 3B-4.71 (3rd Time)
2nd Time All-Star-Ferguson made his first All-Star team since 1872. Since then he played on the Brooklyn Atlantics in the National Association during 1873 and 1874 and then moved to Hartford in 1875. Of course, since this team is now the Hartfords of Brooklyn, it’s like playing for both! Death to Flying Things finished second in Defensive WAR at 1.1. He was always known for his defense, but starting next year for Chicago, his offense is going to improve for a while. As for this season, he slashed .256/.265/.299 for an OPS+ of 86. He still hasn’t hit a home run in his career.
Along with playing third base, Ferguson also managed the Hartfords to a third place finish with a 31-27 record. He will manage nine more seasons, but his teams will never finish above .500 again. Here’s Wikipedia with more on Ferguson’s managing: “The Dark Blues had turned to Ferguson to play for and manage the team because of his reputation as the most authoritarian captain in the game. He was an honest and upstanding citizen in a time when not many ballplayers could say the same. However, he was also a domineering, dictatorial captain with a violent streak. Team discipline did improve in his first season, but his overbearing ways proved divisive, causing the team to bicker amongst themselves. Ferguson’s temper would flare up often, even when the team was winning. The Chicago Tribune reported that if anyone on the Hartford nine committed an error, ‘Ferguson [would] swear until everything looks blue.’ He was particularly rough on second baseman Jack Burdock, who on more than one occasion heard his captain publicly threaten ‘to ram his fist down Burdock’s throat.’ Some players tolerated his behavior; others, however, refused to comply. Shortstop Tom Carey and center fielder Jack Remsen did not hesitate to yell back, while Burdock and pitcher Candy Cummings, on the other hand, often sulked. The situation in Hartford came to a head after a tough loss to the Red Stockings, a game in which Ferguson had committed several errors. Hartford’s main pitcher, Tommy Bond, suggested that Ferguson was ‘crooked’. Ferguson denied the charge, and Bond quickly retracted his statement, claiming that he said it in anger. Bond then requested that he be able to leave the team because he could not play for Ferguson, a request that was granted by league president Morgan Bulkeley, a former owner of the Dark Blues.”
.199, 1 HR, 22 RBI, 0-0, 4.91 ERA, 1 K
2nd Time All-Star-Just call me a prophet as I predicted the terrible Battin would make this season’s All-Star team on a fluke and he did. There was such a lack of good pitchers in this league that Battin finished 10th in WAR for Pitchers (0.1). He pitched 3 2/3 innings with a 4.91 ERA and a 62 ERA+. Like I said, it was a horrible year for pitchers, not to mention there were only six teams in the league this year, depleting the talent pool.
No doubt Battin had the least accurate name of anyone in the history of baseball as his battin’ was terrible. If you take out his 1875 and 1876 seasons, Battin’s Offensive WAR is -1.7. This season he slashed .199/.220/.288 for an OPS+ of 63 and he had worse seasons ahead! It still stuns me, as I wrote about him in 1876, that he received a Hall of Fame vote.
Baseball Reference ties Battin to gambling: “A Wikipedia article claims that he was identified by gamblers as someone willing to lose a game (see August 25, 1877), although there is no more information given. Battin did not play in the National League after 1877.” He does have four seasons left in the American Association.
More on the gambling scandal from a website, This Game of Games: “The gambling scandal that rocked the St. Louis Brown Stockings organization in 1877 and, combined with the clubs financial troubles, helped bring about their resignation from the League in December of 1877 was not one scandal or one event but rather several.
“-On August 24, 1877, Joe Blong and Joe Battin conspire with Chicago gamblers to throw the Brown Stockings’ game against Chicago. The next day they attempt to do the same but are put on notice that Brown Stocking management are aware of their activities when McGeary moves Blong off the mound after suspicious activities in the second inning. The conspiracy to throw the games of August 24 and 25 does not come to light until William Spink reveals them in the Globe-Democrat on November 1, 1877, although the club was aware of what was happening before the start of the game on August 25.”
.317, 0 HR, 41 RBI
Def. Games as SS-60
Putouts as SS-124
Assists as SS-215
Double Plays Turned as SS-23 (2nd Time)
Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-5.71
Range Factor/Game as SS-5.65
3rd Time All-Star-Peters played his fourth straight season with the White Stockings and continued to be solid at shortstop. He finished 10th in WAR Position Players (1.9) and fifth in Defensive WAR (0.8). Up to this point in his career, he’s been a great fielder, according to WAR, but this is going to change next season when he moves to the Milwaukee Grays and also moved to second base. For this season, Peters slashed .317/.320/.377 for an OPS+ of 110. His hitting is about to start fading, but that’s a couple of seasons away.
For the most part, fielders in this era are still not wearing gloves and it’s just hard to believe infielders picking grounders without the leather. And don’t even talk to me about catchers! Since Peters’ manager is Al Spalding, whose sporting goods business was just getting off the ground, it’s possible he had a glove. There really should be a website that labels players in the 1870s as “glove-no glove.”
My guess would have been that it was the drop off in pitching which led to the fall from first to fifth of Chicago and the stats seem to confirm that. The White Stockings finished second in the league in runs scored, while allowing the second most runs in the league. It does show one of the main differences of baseball during this time, when one great pitcher could carry a team a long way, but if you didn’t have a good season from that main guy, you’d be in a lot of trouble.
.262, 0 HR, 22 RBI
Fielding % as SS-.914
6th Time All-Star-After taking a season off from the All-Star team, Force is back. After his 1875 season, he stayed on the Athletics for most of the 1876 season and then moved to New York, before moving to St. Louis this year. On the field, he finished third in Defensive WAR (1.0). His hitting in the National League was never anything special and this season was no different. He slashed at .262/.297/.311 for an OPS+ of 97. It would be his highest OPS+ in his 10 National League seasons.
There is an article on SABR about a 15-inning scoreless tie game that, for whatever reason, raked in tons of publicity in 1877. It was between an independent team in Syracuse and the Brown Stockings. Here’s the part pertinent to Force: “The team’s best player, shortstop Davy Force, was in the middle of what would become a 22-year career. He had started as an under-the-table pro with the Olympic club of Washington in 1867, bouncing from one team to another until his contract-jumping became the focal point of the reserve clause, after which Force settled down with the Buffalo Bisons.
“The ‘Grandest Game Ever Played’ was boring by high-scoring standards, but in the day it featured ‘heavy batting, splendid fielding, and universal brilliancy of play.’ The Stars were baffled by Nichols, managing to hit only eight fly balls to the outfield in 15 innings. Most hits were grounders to the infield. Five Stars reached base because of errors while only two batters made safe hits. Never before had two clubs played so long without scoring. While the Stars struggled, the Brownies swatted seven base knocks and reached first four more times on errors. The Browns spent most the game popping up McCormick’s curveballs to catcher Higham. The closest either team got to scoring came in the eighth inning, when Syracuse center fielder Hotaling made a nifty catch and throw to nip the speedy Force, who was trying to score on an outfield fly.”
.313, 2 HR, 38 RBI
Putouts as OF-138
Errors Committed as OF-28
Range Factor/9 Inn as OF-3.12
Range Factor/Game as OF-3.19
2nd Time All-Star-Jones had an unusual season, starting with the Reds, then going to the White Stockings for two games, before heading back to the Reds. According to Baseball Library, “In 1877, he caused a furor by signing a contract with the Cubs when he believed that his Cincinnati team was about to fold. After two games with Chicago, he returned to the still-struggling Reds.”
The Reds were struggling, Jones was not. He finished seventh in WAR (2.5), third in WAR Position Players (2.5), and fifth in Offensive WAR (2.5). His slash line was .313/.353/.471 for an OPS+ of 171. It would be his second of five consecutive years of an OPS+ of 157 or higher. He was truly a great hitter in baseball’s early days.
If you only count the National League, Jones, with his six home runs, was the career home run leader in the National League, and thus the major leagues. He would hold this position through 1884 and then be passed by Harry Stovey. However, if you count the National Association, the all-time leader is Lip Pike, who had 21 at this point in his career. However, Jones will also pass him in 1880.
Speaking of Pike, he played next to Jones in centerfield for the Reds and had a pretty good offensive season, but didn’t do much in the field, finishing with a -0.9 Defensive WAR. His career was just about done, having only a partial season left in 1878 for Cincinnati and Providence and just six games left after that. At this point, he holds the all-time home run record with seven in 1872, but Jones would top that in a couple of seasons.
.283, 1 HR, 37 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Thomas Jefferson York was born on July 13, 1850 in Brooklyn, NY, which begets the question, how many kids named Barack are we going to have in the future? Though this is his first All-Star season, York had been playing since 1871. He played that season in Troy, moved to Baltimore in 1872 and 1873, then played in Philadelphia in 1874, before settling in Hartford for three seasons. He’s up and moving again next season and might have an All-Star team or so left in him.
York never played any position except outfield and even there, played primarily leftfield. He started out his career doing well defensively, even finishing ninth in Defensive WAR in 1872 with a 0.5 mark. But that started fading quickly and he would be a defensive liability for the rest of his career.
Offensively, it was the opposite. He didn’t do much with the bat when he first started, but got progressively better and still has some good offensive seasons left. This season, he slashed .283/.292/422 for an OPS+ of 134.
From what I understand, I, Ron Kitchell, was also named for a president, Ronald Reagan. However, it wasn’t because of his politics, but his career as an actor, since I was born in 1964, before he held elected office.
While I have no information for the 1870s, in the 1880s, the most popular boys names were John, William, James, George, and Charles. For females, they were Mary, Anna, Emma, Elizabeth, and Margaret. Just in case you’re wondering, the most popular baby name for males in 2014 was Noah and for females, Emma.
.362, 0 HR, 23 RBI
Games Played-61 (2nd Time)
Bases on Balls-20
Times on Base-116
5th Time All-Star-O’Rourke had been getting progressively better and he had his best season ever in 1877, helping lead the Red Stockings to the championship. He finished sixth in WAR (2.6), second in WAR Position Players (2.6), and fourth in Offensive WAR (2.5). He slashed at .362/.407/445 for an OPS+ of 165.
SABR has much to say about O’Rourke’s 1877 season: “In 1877 O’Rourke had a breakout season, batting a career-high .362 while pacing the National League in runs scored (68), walks (20), and on-base percentage (.407). He was among the leaders in hits, total bases, and slugging percentage. With first baseman Deacon White returned to Boston and leading the league in most of the other offensive categories, and pitcher Tommy Bond posting all but two of the team’s 42 victories, the Red Caps rallied to capture the pennant – an achievement subsequently diminished by the discovery that players from the second-place Louisville club had dumped crucial late season games. The 1877 season also occasioned the first of Jim O’Rourke’s clashes with team boss [Arthur H.] Soden. With many National League franchises operating in red ink, the league had imposed a $30 fee for uniforms on the players. O’Rourke refused to pay it and, after much wrangling, Soden relented, exempting him from the charge. The following season, Soden levied a $20 charge on his players for laundering their uniforms while they were on the road. And again, O’Rourke balked at paying the charge, precipitating another dispute with Soden.” Can you imagine a team nowadays asking their players to pay for their uniforms?
.378, 0 HR, 27 RBI, 1-1, 5.00 ERA, 2 K
1st Time All-Star-John P. Cassidy was born in 1855 in Brooklyn, NY and surprisingly did not have the nickname Butch. Of course, that Cassidy is only 11 years old at this time and has the name Robert Leroy Parker. This Cassidy had his best season ever, finishing ninth in WAR Position Players (2.1) and second, to only Deacon White, in Offensive WAR (2.6). Yes, he was terrible defensively. He slashed at .378/.386/458 for an OPS+ of 178.
Baseball has its share of fluke seasons and the 1877 season for Cassidy certainly fits that description. His .378 average was .112 over his next highest of .266 in 1878 for Chicago. His 178 OPS+ was 75 over his next highest of 103 for Troy in 1880. Those two seasons would be the only ones in which his OPS+ is over the century mark. As for WAR, his 2.1 Wins Above Replacement in 1877 bested his second best season of 1878 by 1.5.
I would go so far as to say that his 1877 season kept Cassidy around much longer than he should have been in baseball. He would play another eight seasons and even lead the National League in plate appearances in 1881, despite a 66 OPS+. You can see why. Here’s a 22-year-old player who just had a monster season in a pitchers’ park. You could only think he’s got great things ahead. He doesn’t.
After baseball, according to Baseball Reference: “In 1886 he became a politician, getting elected to the Brooklyn Democratic General Committee. In 1887 it was said he was in business and not pursuing a baseball career.”
.285, 3 HR, 34 RBI
Assists as OF-21
Errors Committed as OF-28
1st Time All-Star-George W. “Orator” Shafer was born on October 4, 1851 in Philadelphia, PA. He had limited duty with Hartford, New York, and the Philadelphia Whites in the National Association and didn’t play in 1876. This season, however, he caught fire and has a few good seasons left. He mainly contributed in the field, finishing fourth in Defensive WAR at 0.9. Offensively, he slashed .285/.309/.392 for an OPS+ of 106 which is why his offensive WAR was only 0.5. He has much better years ahead, especially in 1878.
His 21 outfield assists set an all-time record up to that time and that would not be his highest total. As a matter of fact, he set the all-time outfield assist record with….wait a minute, if I tell you now, you won’t stick around for future write-ups of Shafer. We’ll talk about it then.
Wikipedia says of his nickname, “Shafer was known during his playing career by the nickname ‘Orator’. According to Alfred Henry Spink, founder of The Sporting News, he received the nickname because he ‘was a great stickler for his rights and talked to himself when not talking to the Umpire.’ Another player of the era, future Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Orator Jim O’Rourke, shared the same nickname.
“Shafer joined the National League’s Louisville Grays in 1877. He earned a job as the team’s starting right fielder, and he led the league in games played (61), outfield assists (21), and outfield errors (28). He also batted .285 and had the second-most home runs in the league with three. (Lip Pike had four homers.)”