P-Tommy Bond, BSN
P-Jim McCormick, CLE
P-Monte Ward, PRO
P-Pud Galvin, BUF
P-Terry Larkin, CHC
P-Harry McCormick, SYR
P-Bobby Mathews, PRO
P-Will White, CIN
P-Frank Hankinson, CHC
C-Deacon White, CIN
C-Silver Flint, CHC
C-John Clapp, BUF
1B-Joe Start, PRO
2B-Mike McGeary, PRO
3B-Ned Williamson, CHC
3B-King Kelly, CIN
3B-Hardy Richardson, BUF
SS-George Wright, PRO
LF-Charley Jones, BSN
LF-Tom York, PRO
CF-Paul Hines, PRO
CF-John O’Rourke, BSN
RF-Jim O’Rourke, PRO
RF-Jake Evans, TRO
RF-Bill McGunnigle, BUF
43-19, 1.96 ERA, 155 K, .241, 0 HR, 21 RBI
1879 NL Pitching Title
Wins Above Replacement-14.4 (2nd Time)
WAR for Pitchers-14.4 (2nd Time)
Earned Run Average-1.96 (2nd Time)
Walks & Hits per IP-1.021 (2nd Time)
Bases on Balls per 9 IP-0.389 (3rd Time)
Shutouts-11 (3rd Time)
Adj. Pitching Runs-46 (2nd Time)
Adj. Pitching Wins-4.4 (2nd Time)
Assists as P-144 (2nd Time)
Fielding % as P-.957
6th Time All-Star-Bond pitched his best season ever, finished in the top three in WAR for the fifth straight year, made the ONEHOF, and….most likely has made his last All-Star team. It can happen that quickly. Bond’s 23-year-old arm has tossed 2866 innings up to this point and he’ll pitch another 493 in 1880, but he’ll never be as successful as he was before. He’d be out of the game by 28 years old.
This season, however, was incredible. Pitching his third straight season with the Red Stockings, he led the league in WAR (14.4) and WAR for Pitchers (14.4), pitching 555 1/3 innings with a 1.96 ERA and a 129 ERA+. He won 40 games for the third consecutive season, at a time the leagues were only playing 84 games a season.
Boston didn’t win another title, with part of the problem being that when Bond wasn’t pitching, Curry Foley was a big drop in quality, finishing 9-9. The Red Stockings, still coached by Harry Wright, were 54-30, finishing second, five games behind Providence. Wright had many more years of coaching left, but would never win another title. I guess he’ll just have to settle for his six titles in seven years.
According to Baseball Reference, “Bond coached Harvard University in 1879. After his playing days, Bond was briefly an umpire (1883 and 1885). He later worked in the Boston assessor’s office for 35 years.” Bond died on January 24, 1941 in Boston at the age of 84.
20-40, 2.42 ERA, 197 K, .220, 0 HR, 20 RBI
Bases on Balls Allowed-74
Putouts as P-39
2nd Time All-Star-Oh, how this selection would upset those who see win-loss record as the pinnacle of baseball stats! But when you pitch well and do it over numerous innings, you’re going to be rated high and McCormick was. He finished second in WAR (9.5) and second in WAR for Pitchers (9.6). McCormick pitched 546 1/3 innings with a 2.42 ERA and a 105 ERA+. It’s the first of four straight seasons he’ll pitch 500 or more innings.
According to Cleveland Blues Base Ball Club, “The Original Cleveland Blues team began in 1878 as an amateur club. In 1879 they became part of the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs. The team played at Kennard Street Park (also know as National League Park), which is currently East 46th Street & Cedar Ave. During their 6 seasons in the NL, they never finished above 3rd place.” This inaugural National League season, they were coached by McCormick and finished sixth with a 27-55 record. He would again coach them in 1880.
In baseball’s early days, there certainly were a lot of young managers. McCormick was only 22-years-old when he was handed the reins to a newly formed ball club. He definitely went through a learning curve, mainly due to the fact that he was the only All-Star on this entire team.
National League Park, mentioned above, was a neutral park for hitters and pitchers, maybe slightly favoring the hitter. It certainly didn’t help Cleveland hitters, who scored the second least runs per game in the league.
47-19, 2.15 ERA, 239 K, .286, 2 HR, 41 RBI
Strikeouts/Base on Balls-6.639
2nd Time All-Star-Ward turned 19 this season and was proving that he was going to be an outstanding player for a long time. This was the second of three seasons he would mainly pitch, before moving to the field, but he was making the most of it. Ward finished third in WAR (9.3) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (7.4) while leading Providence to its first title. He pitched 587 innings with a 2.15 ERA and a 112 ERA+.
When Babe Ruth made the transition from pitcher to the outfield in 1920, it was because of the obvious value of his hitting. This wasn’t the case with Ward, who was a great pitcher and an average hitter. He had an OPS+ of 112 this season and it would be his highest in that category until 1887, a season he stole 111 bases. Even then his OPS+ was 116, good but not great. As a matter of fact, looking over his stats, I wonder if he’s even going to make the ONEHOF, though he did make the real Hall of Fame.
One place I read mentioned Ward’s arm went out and that’s why he moved, but he would end up playing a lot of shortstop, centerfield, and rightfield, all positions which require some arm strength. His ERA+ stayed regularly between 110 and 126 in the years he mainly pitched (1879-1883), so it still seems like an unusual move. Of course, he pitched 587 innings this year and would pitch 595 the next, so who’s to doubt his arm couldn’t continue at that pace.
37-27, 2.28 ERA, 136 K
Strikeouts (as batter)-56
Errors Committed as P-26
1st Time All-Star-James Francis “Pud” or “Gentle Jeems” or “The Little Steam Engine” Galvin was born on Christmas Day, 1856 in St. Louis, MO. He started in 1875 for the St. Louis Brown Stockings and led the league in ERA and ERA+ that season, with 1.16 and 169 marks respectively. After that good season, he didn’t pitch again in the majors until this season. Then the newly formed Buffalo Bisons must have said, “Hey, remember that one kid who pitched eight great games for St. Louis, I wonder if he’s still around.” And he was.
Galvin finished fourth in WAR (9.1) and third in WAR for Pitchers (9.0). He pitched 593 innings with a 2.28 ERA and a 116 ERA+. The young man has a lot of good pitching years ahead. Wikipedia mentions, “The nickname ‘Pud’ originated because Galvin was said to make hitters ‘look like pudding.’ Galvin was also nicknamed ‘The Little Steam Engine,’ a tribute to his power in spite of his small size. He was sometimes known as ‘Gentle Jeems’ because of his kind disposition.”
SABR speaks of his early life: “He was born to Irish immigrants who lived in the Kerry Patch, a section of the city so named because many of its initial settlers hailed from County Kerry in southwestern Ireland, an area devastated by the Great Irish Famine of 1845-1849. Galvin’s parents were likely part of this large emigration. Inhabitants of the Kerry Patch, located in the northern part of St. Louis, settled the area as squatters since they did not have rights to the land. The district was essentially a concentration of shacks, and was known for particularly tough living conditions and frequent violence. Its inhabitants consisted primarily of laborers, and young James, in preparation for a blue-collar life, received training as a steamfitter. However, his life went in a different direction as a result of his ability to play baseball.”
31-23, 2.44 ERA, 142 K, .219, 0 HR, 18 RBI
3rd Time All-Star-As mentioned in the 1878 write-up, Larkin threw his third season of 500 or more innings and by 1880, he would be done. He finished fifth in WAR (4.9) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (5.0). He pitched 513 1/3 innings with a 2.44 ERA and a 107 ERA+. He certainly looked like a long-term prospect, but life interferes with our plans sometimes.
Here’s the story of the decline from Wikipedia: “In the midst of the 1879 season, Larkin developed arm trouble and the main pitching duties fell to third baseman Frank Hankinson, although Larkin continued to pitch. His arm problems worsened and after five games, the 1880 Troy Trojans released him and he was out of Major League Baseball until 1884.
“Larkin made headlines on April 24, 1883 when he shot and injured his wife and a police officer, then tried to commit suicide. Failing in that, he attempted suicide again the next day. Larkin’s wife refused to press charges and he was soon released by the police. Larkin was arrested again on February 18, 1884 for threatening to shoot his father. Soon released again, Larkin managed to sign and play for the Richmond Virginians of the American Association and was their everyday second baseman when they became a mid-season replacement for the disbanded Washington Nationals.
“Larkin was later institutionalized after challenging his former employer to a duel with pistols, and while apparently still hospitalized committed suicide by slitting his throat with a razor on September 16, 1894 in Brooklyn, New York. He is interred at Calvary Cemetery in Woodside, New York.”
18-33, 2.99 ERA, 96 K, .222, 1 HR, 21 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Patrick Henry “Harry” McCormick was born on October 25, 1855 in Syracuse, NY. Fortunately for him, his hometown now had a baseball team and he was the best player on it. As a matter of fact, he was the team’s only All-Star. He finished sixth in WAR (4.7) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (4.9) in what would be his best season ever. McCormick tossed 457 1/3 innings with a 2.99 ERA and an 80 ERA+.
In its only season of existence, the Stars didn’t fare so well, finishing 22-48, seventh in the league. They were coached by Mike Dorgan (17-26), Bill Holbert (0-1), and Jimmy Macullar (5-21). Dorgan is the only one who would manage again, but looking at their Baseball Reference pictures, I can say this, no team has been led by three gentlemen with such impressive mustaches.
Here’s the history of the Stars from Wikipedia: “Established as an independent team in 1877, the Stars joined the International Association for the 1878 season. They finished second to the pennant-winning Buffalo Bisons, and following the season both teams jumped to the National League, a devastating blow for the IA, which lasted just two more seasons.
“The Stars lone year in the NL, 1879, was not so successful. The team had a record of 22 wins and 48 losses, and did not finish their season, folding on September 10. They were 7th in the 8-team National League, ahead of the 19-56 Troy Trojans, who also did not complete their schedule. The club officially disbanded at the end of the season.”
12-6, 2.29 ERA, 90 K, .202, 1 HR, 10 RBI
7th Time All-Star-After two seasons off, Mathews is back to making All-Star teams. He pitched terribly for Cincinnati in 1877 and then didn’t play in the National League in 1878. Now with the Grays, Matthews finished eighth in Pitching WAR (2.6), throwing 189 innings with a 2.29 ERA and 105 ERA+. It was his best ERA+ ever in his five National League seasons. He also won his first championship.
Mathews long ago made my Hall of Fame, the ONEHOF, in 1873, because my Hall of Fame is not going to make moral judgments and just be a place to walk through baseball history. And I think there is room in the real Hall of Fame for Mathews, but the rumors of his gambling certainly doesn’t help his case, so I can live with him not being in Cooperstown, though I’m still glad he’s in the Hall in Kitchelltown.
SABR talks about Mathews’ championship-winning season: “Providence won the National League pennant in 1879 under manager George Wright by five games over Boston. Mathews won 12 and lost 6 subbing for John Montgomery Ward (47-19) on the mound. As a strategy, Ward also finished ten of his colleague’s games. Mathews joined the club in mid-June, initially playing in right field. On June 27, he hit the only home run of his career, a two-run shot off Tommy Bond of Boston. Mathews made his first start on July 19 and started 25 of the club’s remaining 46 games.” He wouldn’t be in the major leagues in 1880, joining the San Francisco Stars of the Pacific league. He’s not done making All-Star teams, however.
43-31, 1.99 ERA, 232 K, .136, 0 HR, 17 RBI
Wild Pitches-49 (2nd Time)
Strikeouts (as Batter)-56 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as P-76
3rd Time All-Star-White had a record setting year, as he still holds the all-time records for innings pitched, games started (tied with Pud Galvin in 1883), complete games, and batters faced. He also had a good ERA at 1.99, second in the league to Tommy Bond’s 1.96. So why is his WAR only 3.9, seventh among pitchers. It makes no sense to me. Admittedly, Cincinnati’s Avenue Grounds was a pitchers’ park, but it can’t really affect his WAR this much, can it? Adjusted ERA+ takes league and park adjustments into consideration and his ERA+ was 120, still second in the league to Bond. It’s a puzzler.
White’s overall WAR was 1.7 because he was a terrible hitter. I’m sorry, did I say terrible? I meant atrocious, horrendous, pathetic; break out a thesaurus and finish this for yourself. He stunk. He slashed .136/.153/.156 for an OPS+ of, drum roll, please, four. You’re reading that right. It was 4, four, one greater than three. And remember, he had just about every at-bat from the pitchers’ slot. I don’t know who batted ahead of him for Cincinnati, but that man should have set a record for intentional walks.
In 1879, White was also part of a interesting demonstration, according to Wikipedia: “O. P. Caylor, one of the founders of the American Association, recalled that White was given the task in 1879 of demonstrating the curveball to Col. John A. Joyce, the ‘moving spirit’ behind the Red Stockings. White was at the time ‘one of the most expert curvers in the profession.’”
15-10, 2.50 ERA, 69 K, .181, 0 HR, 8 RBI
Home Runs per 9 IP-0.000
Range Factor/9 Inn as P-3.23
Range Factor/Game as P-3.19
1st Time All-Star-Frank Edward Hankinson was born on April 29, 1856 in New York, NY. He started as a slick fielding third baseman for Chicago in 1878, but spent most of his time on the mound in 1879. It would be the only year in which he primarily pitched and his best season ever. He finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (1.4), throwing 230 2/3 innings with a 2.50 ERA and a 104 ERA+. His hitting certainly wasn’t that of a position player and yet that’s where he would be for the rest of his 10-year career.
Nowadays, when it comes to third base, we want bruisers, people who can bash, but that’s obviously not what they were looking for from Hankinson in the 1800s. He finished in the top 10 in Defensive WAR three times, so he was a good fielder, but he never could hit. He still batted over 3,000 times with an OPS+ of 77 for his career, never once reaching the century mark.
Here’s some excerpts from Baseball Reference: “Frank Hankinson was a third baseman who also had one excellent year as a pitcher.
“Over his major league career Hankinson had a fielding percentage that was well above the league averages at third, and his range factor was also good.
“As of 1895 he was running a saloon.
.330, 1 HR, 52 RBI
7th Time All-Star-White would play his last year as a regular catcher in 1879, moving to mainly third base for the rest of his career. He left on top as he was the best catcher in the league. White finished sixth in position players (3.7) and fifth in Offensive WAR (3.4). He slashed .330/.342/.423 for an OPS+ of 153. His hitting would start falling off at this point, though he would still be over 100 OPS+ for the next nine seasons.
Deacon coached for the first time since he managed two games for the Cleveland Forest Citys in 1872. He lost those two games and only lasted 18 games with the Reds this season, going 9-9 before being replaced by Cal McVey. Altogether the Reds finished 43-37, fifth in the National League.
My favorite baseball writer, Joe Posnanski, wrote a story around the time I wrote this blurb about the fact that there are too many pre-integration people already in the Hall of Fame. (I agree, that’s why ONEHOF just allows one person a year.) In the article, he mentions White, saying, “Here’s how you know that the Pre-Integration Committee should not only be renamed but ended promptly. Three years ago, with all the candidates on this year’s ballot available to them, the ‘Committee to keep honoring segregated baseball’ — or ‘Pre-Integration Committee,’ whatever — voted for only one player, a man named (perhaps poetically) James White. Everyone called him Deacon because of his virtuous and religious ways.” There’s more, you should read the whole article, but it seems to me it was an injustice that White wasn’t in the Hall of Fame.
.284, 1 HR, 41 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Frank Sylvester “Silver” Flint was born on August 3, 1855 in Philadelphia, PA. He started his career as a 19-year-old backup catcher for the St. Louis Red Stockings in 1875 and had one of the worst offensive seasons ever. He went five-for-65, slashing .082/.097/.082 for an OPS+ of -35. So it was no surprise it took him three years, till 1878, to get back into the majors, playing for the Indianapolis Blues. This season, he moved to the Chicago White Stockings and would never leave the team, playing 11 straight seasons for them.
Flint had his best season ever, finishing ninth in WAR (3.2) and second in Defensive WAR (1.7). Throughout his career, he would always add more value defensively than with the bat. He had his best season offensively this season, slashing .284/.297/.398 with an OPS+ of 119.
Along with catching, Flint took over the managing reins of the White Stockings when Cap Anson was sidelined with an illness in August. Altogether, Chicago went 46-33, finishing fourth in the National League. It went 41-21 under Anson and 5-12 under Flint. It would be Silver’s last time managing.
Speaking of Anson, since he took over the White Stockings managing this year, it’s the year he went from being Adrian Anson to Cap Anson. He would manage Chicago for 19 straight years and lead them to five pennants. He’ll also be making a few All-Star teams in the future. Along with helping to lead to a racial fissure that would devastate baseball for decades to come.
.264, 1 HR, 36 RBI
4th Time All-Star-As mentioned in last year’s blurb, the latter half of Clapp’s career is going to be bouncing from team to team. This season, he’s the manager and catcher for the Buffalo Bisons. Clapp finished seventh in Defensive War (1.1) and his hitting wasn’t too bad, as he slashed .264/.290/.349 for an OPS+ of 106. Decent hitting plus very good fielding equals his fourth consecutive All-Star team. My guess is he has one to come.
Clapp would end up coaching in six different seasons for six different teams in his career, but 1879 was the only year he led a team to an above-.500 record. The Bisons finished in third place with a 46-32 record. Here’s a snippet on the Bisons from Wikipedia: “The original Buffalo Bisons baseball club played in the National League between 1879 and 1885. The Bisons played their games at Riverside Park (1879–83) and Olympic Park (1884-85) in Buffalo, New York. The NL Bisons are included in the history of the minor-league team of the same name that still plays today.”
Despite its good season, Buffalo wouldn’t bring Clapp back for the 1880 season as he was off and moving again to play for and manage the Cincinnati Reds. That season isn’t going to be as successful. It’s always strange to me that teams bring in managers that have continually bad records. The Bisons brought in Clapp despite the fact he had a 29-45 record as a manager up to this point. Sure, he did well for them, but as it turned out, it was a fluke.
.319, 2 HR, 37 RBI
Fielding % as 1B-.973 (5th Time)
Oldest Player in League-36
5th Time All-Star-Start played on his fourth team in four seasons, but he’s done moving for a while. He finished 10th in WAR Position Players (2.9) and 10th in Offensive WAR (2.5) and is the only first base representative on this team. Start slashed .319/.333/.404 for an OPS+ of 141. It was the third of nine consecutive seasons his OPS+ would be 108 or higher. The old man, Old Reliable, was certainly having a resurgence. And since he played for the Providence Grays, Start also won his first championship. Not to mention, he’s not done making All-Star teams yet.
Here’s a little blurb from 19cbaseball.com, “Wanting to return to the east he joined the Providence Grays for the 1879 season, helping to lead them to the National League Whip Pennant.” What is a Whip Pennant? I’ve never heard this team before. Hey, wait a minute! I have Google! Don’t go away, I’ll be right back…
OK, I’m back. According to Baseball Chronology in its article about the National Association, “A ‘whip pennant’ was awarded to the team with the most victories at the end of the season.” That makes sense, as that is how championships were won in these days of inconsistent schedules and no World Series’.
I only know two things with certainty: 1. Joe Start was a well-regarded fielding first baseman who has the reputation of changing the way the position was played and 2. Defensive WAR is unreliable. Those things being said, you would still expect Start to be more of a Mark Grace than an Adam Dunn, a light-hitting defensive guru, but it’s the opposite as his fame was achieved with the bat not the glove, er, hands.
.275, 0 HR, 35 RBI
Errors Committed as 2B-62
4th Time All-Star-I had predicted back in 1874 that McGeary had made his last All-Star team and he’s made two since. Part of it is just a lack of good second basemen. There no longer is a Ross Barnes to dominate at the position and McGeary would be the only representative this season. He never played Major League ball in 1878 and now moved to the Grays. He slashed .275/.285/.305 for an OPS+ of 114 and would be part of his first championship team.
In this dark period of the National League, there are no records being kept for stolen bases, which was one of McGeary’s strong points in the National Association. The little man — his playing weight was 138 — could fly, but there’s no way to know how well he did on the base paths.
There’s something written about on McGeary’s Wikipedia page that isn’t mentioned on Baseball Reference, which has George Wright listed as the full-time Grays manager. “After spending the 1878 seasons playing for Springfield in the International Association, McGeary returned to the National League in 1879 with the Providence Grays and served as a player-manager for a portion of the season. He led the Grays to an 8-7 record in his brief turn as manager, and appeared in 85 games as a player (73 games at second base, 12 at third base).” Don’t believe it, Wikipedia messed up. He actually managed part of the 1880 season.
McGeary was accused of gambling many times in his career. From Wikipedia: “In 1888, The Sporting Life published a story suggesting that McGeary had used ‘a very peculiar yellow umbrella’ to communicate with gamblers at the ball park.” I suggest you read the whole thing.
.294, 1 HR, 36 RBI
Putouts as 3B-84
Assists as 3B-193
Double Plays Turned as 3B-13
Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-3.94
Range Factor/Game as 3B-3.96
Fielding % as 3B-.871
1st Time All-Star-Edward Nagle “Ned” Williamson was born on October 24, 1857 in Philadelphia, PA. He played third base for the Indianapolis Blues in 1878 before moving to the White Stockings this season. Williamson would play almost the entirety of his career for the team and would be part of a fluky record in 1884, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Williamson finished 10th in WAR (4.2), fourth in WAR Position Players (4.2), seventh in Offensive WAR (3.0), and fifth in Defensive WAR (1.5). From the very beginning, he was a great all-around player. He slashed at .294/.343/.447 for an OPS+ of 149, his highest ever not counting the fluky 1884 season in which he…hey, stop trying to get me ahead of myself! You’ll just have to read it then.
Here’s Wikipedia on Williamson’s 1879 season: “The Blues were only a major league team for the 1878 season, resulting in Williamson joining the Chicago White Stockings for the 1879 season. He was their regular third baseman, leading the league in multiple fielding categories for his position, including fielding percentage, assists, putouts, and double plays. As a hitter, his numbers improved. He finished second in the league with 13 triples, and eighth in doubles with 20, while also raising his batting average to .294.”
Chicago has some good seasons ahead and Ned would be a big part of them. He would be one of the game’s first true home run sluggers, along with Charley Jones, and speaking of that, boy, you should have seen that 1884 season when he….oh, you guys!
.348, 2 HR, 47 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Michael Joseph “King” Kelly was born on December 31, 1857 in Troy, NY. He started his major league career in 1878 with the Reds, playing mainly in rightfield. This would be the only season the five-foot-10, 170 pound Kelly would be predominantly at third base, as he would be an outfielder for most of his career. Kelly is in the baseball Hall of Fame.
Kelly finished fifth in WAR Position Players (4.1) and first in Offensive WAR (4.1). Needless to say, he didn’t add much in fielding. That would be Kelly’s weakness throughout his career as whether he was an outfielder, catcher, or third baseman, he stunk in the field. His career Defensive WAR was -4.4.
However, Kelly sure could hit. This season, he slashed .348/.363/.493 for a league-leading OPS+ of 182. Avenue Grounds, the Reds’ home park, was a terrible place for hitters, but it didn’t stop the King.
When I was a kid, I remember having this Archie comic in which the gang time traveled back to the 1800s to watch baseball. That comic, I recall, mentioned King Kelly and that, because of the lack of umpires in those days, he would run straight from first-to-third, cutting across the diamond.
Here’s a bit from Wikipedia on Kelly’s time in Cincinnati: “After playing in Cincinnati for two years as an outfielder and backup catcher, Cincinnati and Chicago White Stockings players went on a tour of California. While there, Chicago secured him for 1880, then-Chicago Secretary Albert Spalding doing the signing. Later from San Francisco, Kelly wrote Spalding, who was back in Chicago, ‘Cincinnati Club has gone back on us. Please send expenses. Am broke.’ Cincinnati had fallen on hard times by 1879 and released all their players at the end of that season to save having to pay them a last paycheck.”
.283, 0 HR, 37 RBI
Def. Games as 3B-78
Errors Committed as 3B-44
Double Plays Turned as 3B-13
1st Time All-Star-Abram Harding “Hardy” or “Old True Blue” Richardson was born on May 1, 1879 in Clarksboro, NJ. For the era in which he played, Richardson started a little late in the majors at 24 years old, but he did well from the beginning, slashing .283/.315/.396 for an OPS+ of 128. His OPS+ numbers would be above 100 for the next 13 seasons.
Wikipedia has information on Richardson’s early life: “Richardson was born in 1855 at Clarksboro, which is located in the existing municipality of East Greenwich Township, New Jersey. His father, Robert D. Richardson, was a New Jersey native who worked in 1870 as a house carpenter. His mother, Naomi (Jones) Richardson, was a Pennsylvania native. Richardson grew up in Greenwich Township, Gloucester County, and Gloucester City, New Jersey. By 1870, Richardson, at age 15, was working on a farm.
“Richardson began playing organized baseball with semipro teams in South Jersey and Philadelphia in the early 1870s. In 1875, he played at third base and catcher for the Gloucester City, New Jersey club. For a portion of the 1876 season, he played with the Philadelphias, but that team disbanded in July 1876. Richardson next played for the ‘Crickets’ from Binghamton, New York, during the 1876 and 1877 seasons. In 1878, he played for the Utica, New York club in the International Association for Professional Base Ball Players. While playing for Utica, the New York Clipper called him the best fielding center fielder in baseball; he also won ‘The Clipper medal for best fielding average.’”
.276, 1 HR, 42 RBI
Defensive WAR-2.1 (2nd Time)
Games Played-85 (3rd Time)
Def. Games as SS-85 (4th Time)
Putouts as SS-96 (5th Time)
Assists as SS-319 (4th Time)
8th Time All-Star-Wright, the 1876 ONEHOF inductee and future Baseball Hall of Famer, decided to leave big brother Harry’s team and try managing a team on his own. Of course, Providence won the championship with a 59-25 record and George said, “This doesn’t seem that hard” and then….never managed again.
As a matter of fact, this would be Wright’s last full season, but it was a good one. He finished ninth in WAR (4.3), third in WAR Position Players (4.3), eighth in Offensive WAR (2.7), and first in Defensive WAR (2.1). He slashed .276/.299/.374 for a 120 OPS+. In his first nine pro seasons, Wright made eight All-Star teams and won seven championships. In his 1871 write-up, I wondered why he made the Hall of Fame, but I’m convinced now he belongs there.
Wikipedia talks about his post-baseball career: “George was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937 and inducted by the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 2005. Elder brother Harry is another member of both Halls. Unfortunately, the official National ‘Hall of Fame Biography’ of George credits him with ‘piloting’ six championship teams in Boston, which was Harry’s achievement, beside managing his one Providence champion. Younger brother Sam Wright also played baseball professionally, with brief appearances in the major leagues.
“George Wright served on the 1906–1907 Mills Commission that identified Cooperstown, New York as the birthplace of baseball. President Mills and secretary Sullivan probably did the work, with the others lending gravity and celebrity.
“Wright lived long enough to be consulted regarding the baseball centennial celebrations of 1939, including the establishment of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown. Soon after his own election, he died in Boston of a stroke, aged 90. He is buried in Holyhood Cemetery, in Brookline, Massachusetts.”
.315, 9 HR, 62 RBI
WAR Position Players-4.5
Runs Batted In-62
Bases on Balls-29
Extra Base Hits-41
AB per HR-39.4
Fielding % as OF-.933
4th Time All-Star-Some ballplayers seem to be part of the wrong era. Tony Gwynn, as great as he was, would have been a superstar in the dead ball era. Jones was a home run hitter in a time no one cared about home runs. In 1872, Lip Pike set the all-time major league record for homers in a season with seven. In 1876, George Hall set the National League record with five. In 1879, Jones buried both of those records by taking nine deep. It would hold until 1883.
Jones had his best season ever, finishing seventh in WAR (4.5), first in WAR Position Players (4.5), and fourth in Offensive WAR (3.6). He also probably had his best ever defensive season. On offense, Baby Jones slashed .315/.367/.510 for an OPS+ of 180. However, even though he moved from Cincinnati to Boston, he still didn’t have a championship as the Red Stockings finished second.
Much of the difference in Jones’ hitting had to do with him moving from Cincinnati’s Avenue Grounds, a pitchers’ park, to Boston’s South End Grounds I, a hitters’ park. Just as some players seem stuck in the wrong era, some tend to get stuck in the wrong park.
Baseball Reference has a sentence about Jones’ last home run in 1879: “Charley’s final circuit clout came on August 20, 1879, as Boston pummeled Troy by the score of 15-3.” That same article has this: “With Cincinnati from 1876 to 1878, he became the Reds’ most popular player but was sometimes criticized in the press for carousing.”
.310, 1 HR, 50 RBI
3rd Time All-Star-In his second year with the Grays, York had his best season ever, finishing ninth in Offensive WAR (2.6). He slashed .310/.346/.421 for an OPS+ of 151. He’s actually going to have a terrible hitting season in 1880, but would be back to hitting well starting in 1881. He also won his first, and last, championship, but he’s probably got another All-Star team left in him.
Wikipedia mentions the champion Grays might have been a part of baseball history, saying, “The team had a putative claim to being the first Major League Baseball team to field an African-American baseball player, William Edward White, a Brown University student who played one game for the Grays on June 21, 1879. Evidence is strong but not conclusive: Peter Morris of the Society for American Baseball Research has researched this issue, as reported by the Wall Street Journal on January 30, 2004.”
I’m doing this from memory, but when Bill James wrote his first Historical Abstract, one of his categories per decade was the ugliest and best looking players. Well, sorry York family, but if Tom York’s picture in Baseball Reference is accurate, he’s up for the ugly award. I’m not judging, I’m no Brad Pitt myself, I’m just reporting. He actually doesn’t look too bad in the picture I have above. Maybe he’s like that woman “Two-Face” in that Seinfeld episode, who only looks good in certain light. I have a friend, Brian, and he tells me all the time, everything eventually leads back to Seinfeld.
.357, 2 HR, 52 RBI
Batting Average-.357 (2nd Time)
Total Bases-197 (2nd Time)
Runs Created-73 (2nd Time)
Adj. Batting Runs-33
Adj. Batting Wins-3.7
Times on Base-154
Def. Games as OF-85
5th Time All-Star-Hines had another monster year and was part of his second championship team. He finished eighth in WAR (4.4), second in WAR Position Players (4.4), and first in Offensive WAR (4.1). Hines slashed .357/.369/.482 for an OPS+ of 177. The great Hines (Oooo, I heard about the great Hines, yeah, it just about blew my mind, yeah…where was I?) has many good seasons left and is a good candidate to one day make the prestigious ONEHOF, though he did not make the real Baseball Hall of Fame.
The website, 19cbaseball.com, has this on Hines: “More investigation helped Hines gain his fifth ‘first’ in 1879. Spalding’s Official Base Ball Guide awarded the 1879 batting title to Chicago White Stockings first baseman, Cap Anson with a .407 average. Spalding claimed Anson had compiled 90 hits in 221 at bats. Years later, a subsequent investigation showed that in fact, Anson had only 72 hits in 227 at bats for a .317 average. Hines hit .357 in 1879, the highest average that year and the first major leaguer to lead the National League in batting average for two consecutive years. Also in 1879, the National League introduced, for one season only, the ‘Reached First Base’ statistic. It included times reached via hits, walks and errors, but not hit by pitch because batter did not receive a base after being hit in 1879. Paul Hines, in 85 games, reached first base 193 times to lead the league-his sixth ‘first.’” In case you’re wondering, I’m using Baseball Reference’s stats, which has Anson, who didn’t make this year’s All-Star team, as hitting .317.
.341, 6 HR, 62 RBI
On-Base Plus Slugging-.877
Runs Batted In-62
Offensive Win %-.807
1st Time All-Star-John W. O’Rourke was born on August 23, 1849 in Bridgeport, CT, a year ahead of his Hall of Fame brother, Jim. In 1879, his rookie year, starting at the late age of 29, John said, “This game is easy-peasy” and went on to have an awesome season. He finished seventh in WAR Position Players (3.5) and sixth in Offensive WAR (3.1). He slashed .341/.357/.521 for an OPS+ of 180. Hey, Jim, why didn’t you tell your brother about this game earlier!
As it turns out, according to SABR, John took Jim’s place as centerfielder for the Red Stockings: “As John had struggled to get his professional career moving, his younger sibling’s had flourished. Signing with Boston in 1873, Jim had been a key member of league championship teams in both the National Association and its successor, the National League. By the close of the 1878 season Jim O’Rourke was a bona fide major-league star. He had also become an unhappy one, particularly after command of the Boston franchise had been assumed by Arthur Soden in December 1876. Clashes with the tough, tight-fisted Soden eventually prompted Jim to abandon Boston and sign with the Providence Grays for the 1879 season. Soden, however, quickly secured a promising replacement for his departing centerfielder: a seasoned minor-league fly chaser named John O’Rourke.
“Although he retained a Bridgeport address – likely for voting purposes – John lived in New York and Boston during most of his railroad years. On June 23, 1911, he was officially a resident of Dorchester when stricken by a heart attack while loading baggage on a South Boston railway platform. John died before medical help could be summoned, aged 61.” It’s a surprisingly thorough article on a man who only played three seasons, so you should check it out.
.348, 1 HR, 46 RBI
On-Base %-.371 (2nd Time)
6th Time All-Star-Orator Jim made the All-Star team again after missing out in 1878. He was also part of his sixth championship team. O’Rourke finished eighth in WAR Position Players (3.3) and third in Offensive WAR (3.7). He slashed .348/.371/.459 for an OPS+ of 171, tied for his highest OPS+ ever. Also, for the second consecutive year, Providence had all three outfielders make the All-Star team, as O’Rourke replaced 1878 All-Star Dick Higham in rightfield.
From SABR: “Unhappy in Boston, O’Rourke joined Red Caps mainstay George Wright in a move to Providence for the 1879 season. Once with the Grays, O’Rourke quickly regained his batting stroke. His .348 batting average and 126 hits were second only to the league leader, teammate Paul Hines (.357 and 146), while Jim’s .371 on-base percentage was the league best. More importantly, O’Rourke and his mates had the satisfaction of winning the pennant, their 59-25 record five games better than that of a Boston nine that featured a standout rookie outfielder named John O’Rourke. Shortly after the 1879 season ended, the league’s magnates adopted the first version of the reserve clause, a contractual restraint that bound five designated players from each team to the club they had played for the previous season. The owners of the Providence club, however, chose not to reserve Jim O’Rourke for the 1880 campaign. And Jim, anxious to play alongside his older brother, signed with Boston, his previous difficulties with team owner Soden notwithstanding.” I’m sure he thought he’d play more with brother John, but his sibling never recovered from running into a fence in late May.
.232, 0 HR, 17 RBI
Double Plays Turned as OF-4
1st Time All-Star-Uriah L.P. “Bloody Jake” or “Jake” Evans was born on September 22, 1856 in Baltimore, MD. He is the only representative of a terrible Troy team. He finished eighth in Defensive WAR (0.9) in this, his rookie season. Evans slashed .232/.246/.300 for an OPS+ of 82.
Troy, managed by Horace Phillips (12-34) and Bob Ferguson (7-22), finished in last place out of eight teams with a 19-56 record. Surprisingly, the Trojans are going to last for a few more seasons before finally folding. They didn’t have a lot of great players, but among those players was Dan Brouthers, who no doubt is going to make his share of All-Star teams and was the best hitter on Troy.
I don’t have much to say about Evans, but thank God, Wikipedia does: “In 1884, Evans’ right arm popped out of its socket as he was throwing the ball in from right field, leaving his arm in a ‘fragile condition.’ Evans played the rest of the year wearing a fitted rubber cap on his arm to keep it from popping back out, and he batted a career-high .259 while leading the National League’s outfielders in fielding percentage (.917). However, that was his last full season in professional baseball.
“Evans played 20 games for the Baltimore Orioles in 1885 before retiring from the game at the age of 28. He died in Baltimore in 1907 and was buried in Baltimore Cemetery.” Evans was known as a good outfielder with a rocket arm, but 1879 was the only season he finished in the top 10 in Defensive WAR.
.175, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 9-5, 2.63 ERA, 62 K
Hits per 9 IP-8.475
Strikeouts per 9 IP-4.650
Home Runs per 9 IP-0.000
Fielding Independent Pitching-2.11
1st Time All-Star-William Henry “Bill” or “Gunner” McGunnigle was born on January 1, 1855 in Boston, MA. As a part-time rightfielder and pitcher for the Bisons, he had a pretty good rookie season, finishing 10th in WAR for Pitchers (1.3). Over 120 innings pitched, he had a 2.63 ERA and a 101 ERA+. He was another one of those players who looked like he was going on to great things. He wasn’t. McGunnigle would play one more season for the Bisons, not pitch as well, hit worse than his already putrid 1879 batting, and be gone after that.
So here’s a recap of McGunnigle’s life from Wikipedia, which has a surprisingly long article for a man who played only two major league seasons. “After moving to East Stoughton as a child, McGunnigle began his career in the Massachusetts League with the Howard Juniors club of nearby Brockton. He went to the Fall River team in 1875, primarily pitching and catching, but also serving as a utility player for the club.
“In 1876, he left to play pitcher and catcher for a club in Buffalo which would eventually come to be known as the Bisons, winning the International Association pennant in 1878. The team became a professional club and joined the National League as the Buffalo Bisons in 1879.
“An automobile struck a carriage carrying McGunnigle and other men in an 1897 accident, throwing them out of the vehicle. McGunnigle was chronically ill thereafter, and homeridden for the last months of his life. He died at age 44 and is buried at St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Brockton.”