P-Will White, CIN
P-Sam Weaver, PHA
P-Tony Mullane, LOU
P-Denny Driscoll, PIT
P-Harry McCormick, CIN
P-Jumbo McGinnis, STL
P-Harry Salisbury, PIT
P-Bert Dorr, STL
P-Bill Wise, BAL
C-Pop Snyder, CIN
C-Jack O’Brien, PHA
C-Billy Taylor, PIT
C-Dan Sullivan, LOU
1B-Guy Hecker, LOU
1B-Charlie Householder, BAL
2B-Pete Browning, LOU
3B-Hick Carpenter, CIN
SS-John Peters, PIT
SS-Chick Fulmer, CIN
SS-Bill Gleason, STL
LF-Joe Sommer, CIN
LF-Mike Mansell, PIT
CF-Oscar Walker, STL
RF-Ed Swartwood, PIT
RF-Chicken Wolf, LOU
40-12, 1.54 ERA, 122 K, .266, 0 HR, 25 RBI
Wins Above Replacement-11.1
WAR for Pitchers-10.9
Innings Pitched-480 (2nd Time)
Complete Games-52 (2nd Time)
Batters Faced-1,975 (2nd Time)
Adj. Pitching Runs-59
Adj. Pitching Wins-5.8
Assists as P-223
Range Factor/Game as P-4.56
5th Time All-Star-For the first time in baseball history, there are now two major leagues. Of course, there are those who put say the American Association is a “major” league, not a Major League, but for our purposes, it qualifies. The AA apparently appealed to those who would eventually have to go to AA to kick their drinking habits. Here’s its history from Wikipedia: “The American Association distinguished itself in several ways from what it considered to be the puritanical National League. The new league established teams in what the NL leaders pejoratively called ‘river cities’, including Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville and St. Louis, with the inherent implication of lower morality or social standards in those cities. Living ‘down’ to the NL’s Victorian prejudices, the AA offered cheaper ticket prices, Sunday games and alcoholic beverages to its patrons. As such, the American Association was the world’s first professional sports league designed to out-compete another by better accommodating blue-collar tendencies and attitudes toward spectator sport.”
It would make sense the dominating players in the AA would be those who were stars in the National League and so the first great pitcher was White. He finished first in WAR (11.1) and WAR for Pitchers (10.9), pitching 480 innings with a 1.54 ERA and 171 ERA+. White has some good seasons ahead, though this was his best season ever.
Now that he was facing weaker pitching, White’s hitting improved. In his three full seasons in the National League, White had OPS+ numbers of 14, 4, and 39. In his first season in the AA, it was up to 87 as he slashed .266/.283/.285, his best season hitting ever.
26-15, 2.74 ERA, 104 K, .232, 0 HR, 8 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-Weaver had a great season now that there was a new league in which to pitch. He finished second in WAR (6.7) and second in WAR for Pitchers (6.6). Weaver pitched 371 innings with a 2.74 ERA and a 107 ERA+. In 1883, for the first time in his career, he is going to pitch two seasons in a row in the Major Leagues. He started in 1875 for the National Association Philadelphia Whites, skipped two seasons, pitched in 1878 for the National League Milwaukee Grays, skipped three years, and then pitched this season.
In its inaugural season, the American Association had six teams. Philadelphia finished third, 11-and-a-half games behind Cincinnati. It was managed by Jumbo Latham, who, as a 22-year-old, had been one of three managers for the NA New Haven Elm Citys where he went 4-14. This season the Athletics were 41-34, yet it was Latham’s last season at the helm of any team.
Weaver would pitch in 1883 for the AA Louisville Eclipse, in 1884 for the Union Association Philadelphia Keystones, skip yet another year, and then finish his career with the 1886 AA Philadelphia Athletics. He was a true City of Brotherly Love boy, being born there, pitching four of his six years there for various teams and then dying there on February 1, 1914 at the age of 58. He is, of course, buried there in the Mount Peace Cemetery.
One other strange fact about Weaver is his ERA rose every time he pitched in the majors. It started at 1.50 (1875), and then rose to 1.95 (1878), 2.74 (1882), 3.71 (1883), 5.76 (1884), and finally ended at 14.73 in 1886.
30-24, 1.88 ERA, 170 K, .257, 0 HR, (No RBI recorded)
Bases on Balls-78
Def. Games as P-55
Putouts as P-54
1st Time All-Star-Anthony John “Tony” or “Count” or “The Apollo of the Box” Mullane was born on January 30, 1859 in Cork, Ireland and after all of those nicknames, I’m now out of my allotted space to write about him. Goodnight, everybody! Just kidding! There’s plenty of room to tell you that Mullane started in 1881 with the National League Detroit Wolverines as a pitcher who went 1-4 with a 4.91 ERA. However, the American Association gave his arm a chance to succeed and it sure did, as Mullane ended up winning at least 30 games five consecutive seasons from 1882-to-1887 (he didn’t play in 1885). This season, Mullane finished third in WAR (6.4) and third in WAR for Pitchers 5.4. He pitched 460 1/3 innings with a 1.88 ERA and a 132 ERA+. He was off to a good career. A ONEHOF career? We’ll have to see.
Led by Mullane, Louisville finished 42-38 and in second place, 13 games behind Cincinnati. Denny Mack coached his only season. This was the first major league season for Louisville since they had to disband due to a gambling scandal in 1877.
There is so much interesting stuff about Mullane but I’m going to print a bit about his time throwing with both hands in a game this season, from SABR. Please read the whole thing, it’s gold, Jerry, gold! “’Mullane, of the Eclipse club, changed hands in the fourth inning and pitched with his left,’ the Sun reported, retiring the Baltimores, ‘in good style.’ Mullane had just become the first ambidextrous pitcher in major-league baseball history.”
13-9, 1.21 ERA, 59 K, .138, 1 HR, (No RBI recorded)
1882 AA Pitching Title
Earned Run Average-1.21
Home Runs Per 9 IP-0.000
1st Time All-Star-John F. “Denny” Driscoll was born on November 19, 1855 in Lowell, MA. He would have a short career, but have a couple good seasons, including this one. Driscoll started as a part-time pitcher for the 1880 National League Buffalo Bisons, before finding his niche in the American Association. Driscoll finished fourth in WAR (4.9) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (5.3). He pitched 201 innings with a league-leading 1.21 ERA and a league-leading 218 ERA+.
Pittsburgh was led by Harry Salisbury, who will be written up later, and Driscoll, who had a combined 33-27 record. Unfortunately for the Alleghenys, they were 6-12 in games not decided by their two All-Stars, and finished 39-39. Al Pratt coached them and would continue to manage them for a little while in 1883. Pittsburgh finished fourth in the AA, 15 games behind Cincinnati.
There’s a great article in SABR about Driscoll, of which I urge you to read the whole thing. Here’s a little bit from it: “In the inaugural American Association season in 1882, Allegheny had trouble holding onto pitchers, as the club fined, suspended, and then eventually released several pitchers for rules infractions. Harry Salisbury became the primary pitcher, with Harry Arundel the number two man. Arundel was let go in July, and after the club tried out other pitchers, the Boston Globe reported on July 23 that the Allegheny Club have released Morton and engaged Driscoll as a change pitcher. Driscoll may have been helped by his connections to managers of top independent teams such as Mutrie, Barnie, and Sharsig, all of whom would be managing teams in the American Association by 1886.”
14-11, 1.52 ERA, 33 K, .129, 0 HR, 3 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-The inaugural American Association’s best team’s second best pitcher, McCormick was another pitcher who was happy for the creation of a new, lesser league. (Ed. Note-That last sentence needs an editor.) He finished eighth in WAR (2.9) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (3.7). McCormick pitched 219 2/3 innings with a 1.52 ERA and a 174 ERA+. After his All-Star season of 1879, he took a year off and then had a 1-8 record for the National League Worcester Ruby Legs in 1881. At the very least, McCormick would have a championship on his resume before he retired at the age of 27 in 1883.
Here are some tidbits about McCormick from SABR: “Born into poverty, raised by a single mother, and dead of cholera at age 33, Harry McCormick led a short but eventful life. Some of his accomplishments will endure in baseball lore forever. Baseball historian Lloyd Johnson wrote, ‘Rarely would a star shine so brightly and burn out so quickly.’
“McCormick did not play in the famous game of July 21,1882. (Will White was scheduled to pitch for Cincinnati that day.) Nevertheless, McCormick made an important contribution to the game. The Reds had just completed a series in St. Louis and were scheduled to start a series in Columbus that afternoon. Habitually late, third baseman Hick Carpenter had missed the train out of St. Louis. He wired manager Pop Snyder that he would arrive at the Columbus train station at four o’clock, the exact time the game was scheduled to begin. According to the rules of baseball in 1882, Carpenter could not play unless he was in the starting lineup. Shortstop Chick Fulmer solved the problem by feigning a sickness, causing the start of the game to be delayed. Meanwhile, Snyder ordered McCormick to grab a horse and carriage and ‘drive like hell’ to the Columbus depot with Carpenter’s uniform. On the way back Carpenter changed into his uniform. As Columbus manager Horace Phillips was apologizing to the crowd about the delay due to Fulmer’s illness, McCormick’s carriage came tearing into the grounds at full speed, with Carpenter in full uniform. Fulmer’s serious illness suddenly went away. The Reds were at full strength to play the game.”
25-18, 2.60 ERA, 134 K, .217, 0 HR, (No RBI recorded)
1st Time All-Star-George Washington “Jumbo” McGinnis was born on February 22, 1854 in St. Louis MO and no doubt if he had been born on February 12, we would have started this write up with “Abraham Lincoln…” Despite the nickname Jumbo, he was 5-foot-10, 197 pounds, big but not exactly Jumbo. Bartolo Colon, CC Sabathia, now those are deserving of the moniker Jumbo. This Jumbo finished sixth in WAR for Pitchers with a 2.5 mark. McGinnis pitched 388 1/3 innings with a 2.60 ERA and a 107 ERA+.
St. Louis was coached by Ned Cuthbert, who led the team to a 37-43 fifth place finish, 18 games behind Cincinnati. Like many managers we’ve mentioned, this would end up being his only season, but I’m not sure why. It wasn’t a terrible record for a first-year team.
According to Baseball Reference, which calls him by the nickname, Jumbo, George Washington McGinnis wasn’t known by that nickname in the time he played: “’In 1878 the St. Louis Browns withdrew from the League. In 1879 I organized the St. Louis Browns. George McGinnis pitched . . . the Gleason brothers (Billy and Jack) played short and first . . . Our chief rivals in St. Louis were the St. Louis Reds . . . Galvin and Silver Flint were the best men turned out by the Reds. We beat everything, the Akrons, of Akron, O., with Tony Mullane in the box, being our only superiors.’ – reminiscences of Ned Cuthbert in Sporting Life, 1892.”
20-18, 2.63 ERA, 135 K, .152, 0 HR, (No RBI recorded)
1st Time All-Star-Henry Houston “Harry” Salisbury was born on May 15, 1855 in Providence, RI. He didn’t have a long career but in this, his last of two seasons, he made the All-Star team and that’s a prize no one can take away. Salisbury finished seventh in WAR for Pitchers with a 1.8 mark. He pitched 335 innings with a 2.63 ERA and a 100 ERA+.
Salisbury’s other season was with the National League Troy Trojans, in which he was 4-6 in 89 innings. He would end up with a 24-24 record and a 103 ERA+, before he hung it up in the Major Leagues.
From Baseball Reference: “Salisbury and Lee Richmond were the first two players out of Brown University to come to the major leagues, which they both did in 1879. They were both at Brown from 1877 to 1879.”
I’m sure further research would reveal what happened with Salisbury after his major league career or why, when he had pitched so well, it was so short. Nowadays, young boys dream of making the pros and the big money. It most likely wasn’t like that in Salisbury’s day. The money was big for its time, sure, but there was no MLB station and no commercials, so it’s not like young boys dreamed of a big league career. They just dreamt of surviving and Salisbury made it to 77, so he did that well.
2-6, 2.59 ERA, 34 K, .154, 0 HR, (No RBI recorded)
1st Time All-Star-Charles Albert “Bert” Dorr was born on Groundhog Day, 1862 in New York, NY. Bert?! Bert Dorr! I thought it was you! This was his only season and thanks to the weakness of the American Association, he made the All-Star team. He finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers with a 0.6 mark. Dorr pitched 66 innings with a 2.59 ERA and a 108 ERA+.
Here’s Dorr’s complete Wikipedia entry: “Charles Albert “Bert” Dorr (February 2, 1862 – June 16, 1914) was an American Major League Baseball pitcher from New York City who played a total of eight games for the 1882 St. Louis Brown Stockings. He started and completed all eight games he appeared in, finishing with a record of 2–6 and had a 2.59 ERA.
“Dorr died at the age of 52 in Dickinson, New York, and is interred at Glenwood Cemetery.”
He was born, he pitched, he died, and such is life. I’ve heard pastors say that on our tombstones is a birth date and a date of death and in between them is a dash. The quality of life is established in what is done with the dash. What are you doing with your dash?
Dorr’s dash was used for one season of major league pitching, very good major league pitching as it turns out, and then a life of 32 years after that point. It seems unusual that Dorr would be a good pitcher at the age of 20 and then never pitch in the majors again, but it happens a lot in this era. It’s the first season of the AA and there are new names all over the place and a lesser quality of play. It was “the Wild West” of the major leagues, meant to give an option to the staidness of the National League, so these are the kinds of players you end up with.
1-2, 2.77 ERA, 9 K, .100, 0 HR, 1 RBI
1st Time All-Star-William E. “Bill” Wise was born on March 15, 1861 in Washington , DC and he had a long life ahead of him. It just wasn’t a long baseball life. Wise finished 10th in WAR for Pitchers with a 0.5 mark. He pitched 26 innings with a 2.77 ERA and a 99 ERA+. He’s probably got another All-Star team left in him. He would pitch three seasons, only in even numbered years, for three different leagues. This was his first season, he would pitch in the Union Association in 1884, and then finish his career in the National League in 1886.
Every league needs a last place team and that was the role of the Orioles in the American Association in 1882. They finished 19-54, 32-and-a-half games behind Cincinnati. Henry Myers coached them in his only season at the helm and his one-time stint is understandable.
Despite Wise’s decent pitching, it was Doc Landis who would be the main starting pitcher for Baltimore. He came over from the Philadelphia Athletics and finished 11-28 with a 3.37 ERA and an 80 ERA+ for the Orioles. Still that wasn’t as bad as former All-Star Tricky Nichols, who was 1-12 for Baltimore with a 5.02 ERA and a 54 ERA+. You can see now why the Orioles were so bad.
However, despite this less-than-stellar beginning, Baltimore would stick around. They would be in the American Association every year of its existence and then switch over to the National League, where they would last until 1899.
.291, 1 HR, 50 RBI
Putouts as C-358 (3rd Time)
1st Time All-Star-Charles N. “Pop” Snyder was born on October 6, 1854, exactly 75 years before my mom was born. It’s unusual for someone that has been playing baseball for nine years to make his first All-Star team, but that’s what Pop did. He finished ninth in WAR (2.8), fourth in WAR Position Players (2.8), and first in Defensive WAR (1.6). Snyder was another one helped by the weakness of the American Association. Before this season, Snyder slashed .228/.237/.279 for an OPS+ of 63. This season, he slashed .291/.311/.353 for an OPS+ of 117.
Snyder also managed the Red Stockings to the first American Association championship and his second as a player. His other one for the 1878 National League Boston Red Stockings. Maybe he just had to be on a team called the Red Stockings to win or maybe he was mentored by the great Boston manager, Harry Wright. Cincinnati finished 55-25, 13 games ahead of second place Louisville. Part of the reason the Red Stockings won was their six All-Stars.
According to Wikipedia, “During his playing and managerial career, he would perform duties as an umpire when the need arose, but it wasn’t until 1890, in the Players League, that he began to see significant time in that capacity. It was after his career as a player and manager that began a full-time career as an umpire. This lasted intermittently from 1892 to 1901. In total he umpired 390 games in four different leagues; the National Association, the American Association, the Players League, and the National League.”
.303, 3 HR, 37 RBI
Fielding % as C-.925
1st Time All-Star-John K. “Jack” O’Brien, who was born John K. Bryne, was born on June 12, 1860 in Philadelphia, PA. He had his best season ever, finishing fifth in WAR Position Players (2.6), sixth in Offensive WAR (1.8), and fourth in Defensive WAR (1.1). He slashed .303/.339/.419 for an OPS+ of 144. Hitting in the first year of the American Association at the spry age of 22 proved to be easier than hitting in it for his next seven seasons, as he never matched those numbers again.
Since I don’t think he’s making another All-Star team, here’s a recap of his career from Baseball Reference: “Jack O’Brien, born John Byrne, played eight seasons in the majors and was an above-average hitter, which is surprising since many of his games were at catcher, a position which took a toll on players of the time.
“He spent most of his major league career with the A’s, leaving only to play once with Brooklyn and once with Baltimore. He was always primarily a catcher except in his last year, 1890, when he mostly played first base. His bat was good enough that he stayed in the lineup, playing every position on the diamond except for pitcher.
“After the majors O’Brien played in the Western Association.” O’Brien died on November 20, 1910 in his birthplace of Philadelphia.
.278, 3 HR, (No RBI recorded), 0-1, 16.20 ERA, 1 K
1st Time All-Star-William Henry “Bollicky Bill” or “Billy” Taylor was born on May 21, 1881 in Washington, DC. Bollicky? Well, he of the interesting name would have an interesting career. He started in the National League in 1881 playing for three teams — Worcester, Detroit, and Cleveland. He then came to the American Association this season and proved he could rake the ball. He slashed .278/.297/.447 for an OPS+ of 148, finishing fourth in Offensive WAR (2.2).
He didn’t do that great in his one game on the mound this season, but Taylor would become a pitcher and have more games at that position than any others. In the many positions he played, he was never a good fielder, but had a three-year stretch of very good hitting. Taylor will end up on multiple All-Star teams.
Wikipedia says, “Taylor was born in 1855 in Washington, D.C. He started his professional baseball career in 1879 with the Northwestern League‘s Dubuque Red Stockings. The following year, he played for San Francisco of the California League.
“Taylor spent 1882 and 1883 with the American Association‘s Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He had arguably his best hitting season in 1882 when – splitting his time between five positions – he batted .281 and ranked third in the league with a .452 slugging percentage. In 1883, Taylor batted .260 and also appeared in 19 games as a pitcher. He led the league with nine games finished and went 4-7 with a 5.39 earned run average.” He had a short but quirky career.
.273, 0 HR, (No RBI Recorded)
Range Factor/9 Inn as C-7.14
Range Factor/Game as C-7.20
1st Time All-Star-Daniel C. “Dan” Sullivan was born on May 9, 1857 in Providence, RI. Almost exactly 25 years later, Sully would debut in Major League baseball, or whatever you want to call the American Association of 1882, and make the All-Star team in his first season. It’s probably also his last. There was a dearth of talent in the league this year and four of the six full-time catchers were All-Stars. Sullivan slashed .273/.295/.315 for an OPS+ of 110. This season was easily his best offensive season. For the rest of his career, he would slash .210/.243/.274 for an OPS+ of 69. It’s the reason he made the team this year.
Here’s the whole entry on Wikipedia about Sullivan: “Daniel C. Sullivan (May 9, 1857 in Providence, Rhode Island – October 26, 1893 in Providence, Rhode Island), nicknamed ‘Link’, was a professional baseball player who played catcher in the Major Leagues from 1882–1886. He would play for the St. Louis Browns, Pittsburg Alleghenys, and Louisville Eclipse. He caught the sixth and seventh no-hitters (by Tony Mullane and Guy Hecker, respectively) eight days apart on September 11 and 19, 1882.”
Like many in this time, Link lived a short life. Seven years after his last season in 1886, he would die at the age of 36 in his birthplace of Providence. In my seconds of research, I’m unable to find how he died. It was a tougher time for the ballplayers of the 1800s and they were not paid the high salaries that today’s athletes are.
.276, 3 HR, (No RBI recorded), 6-6, 1.30 ERA, 33 K
Walks & Hits per IP-0.769
Hits Per 9 IP-6.490
Bases on Balls per 9 IP-0.433
Strikeouts/Base On Balls-6.600
Home Runs per 9 IP-0.000
Fielding Independent Pitching-2.27
Assists as 1B-22
Errors Committed as 1B-31
Double Plays Turned as 1B-43
Range Factor/9 Inn as P-4.76
Fielding % as P-1.000
1st Time All-Star-Guy Jackson Hecker was born on April 3, 1856 in Youngsville, PA and wouldn’t you have guessed that Guy would be a nickname? You would be wrong, as was I. Hecker’s going to have, well, a heck of a career and it all started this season as the first baseman/pitcher for the Eclipse. It seems the Eclipse were the forerunners to nicknames like the Heat and the Magic, which are not pluralized. Hecker finished 10th in WAR (2.7), eighth in WAR for Pitchers (1.1), and ninth in Offensive WAR (1.7). It’s very rare you have a player that’s in the top 10 in WAR in pitching and hitting. According to Wikipedia, “Hecker is considered by some baseball historians to be the best combination pitcher and hitter to play in the 19th century. He remains as one of the only two pitchers in Major League history to hit three home runs in one game, alongside Jim Tobin and the only pitcher to win a batting title. In addition, he is the only pitcher in baseball history to get six hits in a nine-inning game.
“Hecker was the second pitcher ever in the American Association to pitch a no hitter. He did this as a rookie on September 19, 1882. He narrowly missed becoming the first pitcher in AA by a week when his teammate Tony Mullane threw one. He also set a WHIP record of 0.77, which remained the MLB record until 2000, when it was broken by Pedro Martínez‘ mark of 0.74, yet Hecker’s mark remains the baseball rookie record.”
From the batter’s box, Hecker slashed .276/.287/.368 for an OPS+ of 124. He had a couple better hitting years ahead, but this was a good season for this inaugural American Association year. From the mound, Hecker pitched 104 innings with a 1.30 ERA and a great 191 ERA+. He has some good pitching years ahead also.
.258, 1 HR, (No RBI recorded)
1st Time All-Star-Charles W. “Charlie” Householder was born on February 8, 1854 in Philadelphia, PA. He was the best player on the Orioles this season, which speaks more about Baltimore than it does about Householder. Heck of a picture up top, isn’t it? He slashed .258/.268/.346 for an OPS+ of 114. He would take 1883 off and then play again in the American Association in 1884 at the age of 30 and then end his major league career.
According to Wikipedia, “On July 18, 1882, pitcher Tony Mullane of the Louisville Eclipse, normally a right-handed pitcher, began to pitch left-handed whenever a Baltimore Oriole left-handed hitter would come to bat. This strategy appeared to work until the ninth inning when left-handed hitting Charlie Householder hit a home run to win the game for the Orioles.
“For the 1883 season, Householder signed with and was playing for the Merrits of Camden, New Jersey, when Charlie Byrne of fellow league team, the Brooklyn Grays bought his contract, along with other Merrits Sam Kimber, Bill Greenwood, Frank Fennelly, and Jack Corcoran. He finished out the year and transitioned with the team over to the American Association, where they would be known as the Atlantics.
“Householder died in his hometown of Philadelphia at the age of 59, and is interred at the Mount Vernon Cemetery in Philadelphia.”
In the upcoming American Association years, there are going to be many great players that make the All-Star team, players which would last and have long and prosperous careers. But in this first AA season, it was a crap shoot as the league was trying to establish itself for the long term. It’d eventually fold, but the league certainly gave it its best shot.
378, 5 HR, (No RBI recorded)
1882 AA Batting Title
WAR Position Players-4.4
On-Base Plus Slugging-.940
Adj. Batting Runs-38
Adj. Batting Wins-4.3
Times on Base-135
Offensive Win %-.878
1st Time All-Star-Louis Rogers “Pete” or “Gladiator” Browning was born on July 17, 1861 in Louisville, KY. You know Daniel Day-Lewis would be playing this guy in the movies. No one could have been happier about the creation of a new major league than Gladiator and no one could be happier that there’s a player with the nickname of Gladiator than me. In his rookie year, Browning had his best season ever, finishing fifth in WAR (4.4), first in WAR Position Players (4.4), and first in Offensive WAR (4.5). He couldn’t play defense, which can be a liability at a middle infield position, but that’s why he would eventually be moved to the outfield later in his career. At the bat, I’ll just repeat what’s mentioned in the leaders column. He slashed .378/.430/.510 for an OPS+ of 223. Gladiator was off to a monster start.
What a character this player was! I couldn’t even begin to tell you all of the interesting aspects of his life mentioned on Wikipedia, so check it out for yourself. Here’s a little: “Nicknamed the ‘Louisville Slugger’, he was enormously attentive to the bats he used, and was the first player to have them custom-made, establishing a practice among hitters which continues to the present. Playing in spite of serious medical afflictions which rendered him virtually deaf and subjected him to massive headaches, he resorted to alcohol to subdue the pain, but continued to hit well even as his drinking increased. He was also known as ‘The Gladiator’, though sources differ as to whether the nickname applied to his struggles with ownership, the press, his drinking problem, or particularly elusive fly balls.”
.342, 1 HR, 67 RBI
Runs Batted In-67
Def. Games as 3B-80
Putouts as 3B-137 (2nd Time)
Fielding % as 3B-.835
1st Time All-Star-Warren William “Hick” Carpenter was born on August 16, 1855 in Grafton, MA. He was the American Association’s first star third baseman. Unlike many we’ve talked about, Carpenter was not a rookie this season. He played three seasons in the National League – in 1879 with Syracuse, in 1880 with Cincinnati, and in 1881 with Worcester. He never had an OPS+ of 81 in the National League, but the formation of the AA was a sweet elixir to Hick. He had his best season ever, finishing sixth in WAR (3.2), second in WAR Position Players (3.2), third in Offensive WAR (2.9), and ninth in Defensive WAR (0.6). Carpenter slashed .342/.360/.422 for an OPS+ of 155 and also had his first ever championship.
Incredibly, Carpenter played his entire career at third base despite being left-handed. You would never see that nowadays, but he did a decent job with a career dWAR of 0.2. His first three years in the National League added a lot of negative dWAR to his career total and he holds the record for most errors ever by a left-handed player.
From Wikipedia: “In the winter of 1879–80, Carpenter and Jimmy Macullar became the first North Americans to play in the Cuban League. They were signed by the Colón club and were so dominant that other teams refused to play against them.”
In a league with a bawdy reputation, Hick was a shining light, according to Baseball Reference. “’. . . no better behaved or more popular player ever lived. . . There are few Hick Carpenters in the base ball profession or any other profession for that matter. In all his long career before the public there is not a flaw. It stands out clear and distinct a straight line of honesty and good faith.’ – Sporting Life of August 27, 1892, on the occasion of Hick Carpenter’s retirement.”
.290, 0 HR, (No RBI recorded)
4th Year All-Star-After taking a four-year break from making the All-Star team, Peters is back and as happy as anyone the American Association formed. He finished sixth in WAR Position Players (2.5), ninth in Offensive WAR (1.7), and second in Defensive WAR (1.4). Remember, in WAR Math, 1.7+1.4=2.5. And people complain about Common Core!
After playing with Chicago for two seasons in the National Association, Peters played for them for two more seasons in the National League. That’s where he made all three previous All-Star teams and also won his only championship in 1876. He then went to Milwaukee in 1878, back to Chicago in 1879, continued his travels to Providence in 1880, hopped back on the train to Buffalo in 1881, and now in 1882, is in Pittsburgh.
However, his career pretty much ended after this season. Peters would play two more seasons for Pittsburgh in 1883 and 1884, but only eight games and one game, respectively. In other words, he was good enough for the AA’s first season, but age caught up with him quickly. It always does.
You would have thought he had a good shot at the ONEHOF in 1877, after making three All-Star teams and being only 27 years old, but that’s baseball for you. You’re great one moment, out of the game the next.
.281, 0 HR, 27 RBI
Def. Games as SS-79
Fielding % as SS-.897
2nd Time All-Star-An amazing nine years after making his first All-Star team, Fulmer was back. (Thanks, American Association!) He played for Philadelphia for three years in the National Association, moved to Louisville in the National League in 1876, took two years off, then played for Buffalo in 1879 and 1880, took another year off, and then won his first ever championship for the Red Stockings this season. It was his best season ever. Fulmer finished eighth in WAR Position Players (2.3) and third in Defensive WAR (1.2). He slashed .281/.302/.346 for and OPS+ of 112, but is going to drop sharply after this season.
Could the weaker AA compete with the NL? According to Fulmer’s SABR biography, the answer is yes! “The two pennant winners of 1882, the Cincinnati Reds of the new American Association, and the Chicago White Stockings of the established National League, met in two postseason exhibition games. The contests have been called the first World Series, but there were not considered such at the time. They were two exhibition games, not a series to determine the world championship. Although they were exhibition games, they were taken seriously by the Cincinnatians.
“Although Fulmer was known primarily for his fielding prowess, not for his hitting, he was the hitting star of the first contest between the two league champions. The game was scoreless going into the bottom of the sixth inning. With one out, Hick Carpenter and Ecky Stearns hit safely, and Fulmer singled to center field, sending Carpenter home with the game’s first run. Fulmer was credited with the game-winning run batted in. Later in the inning he scored a run himself, as the Reds scored the only four runs of the game to win, 4-0.”
.288, 1 HR, (No RBI recorded)
Def. Games as SS-79
Putouts as SS-131
Assists as SS-294
Errors Committed as SS-85
Double Plays Turned as SS-23
Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-5.56
Range Factor/Game as SS-5.38
1st Time All-Star-William G. “Bill” or “Will” Gleason was born on November 12, 1858 in St. Louis, MO. He made the All-Star team in his rookie year, finishing 10th in WAR Position Players (1.8) and fifth in Offensive WAR (1.9). He slashed .288/.300/.363 for an OPS+ of 119. He would have an OPS+ higher than that in 1883, but that was the only time. He started quickly, but would fade out just as speedily.
Gleason seems like he would have been a fun player to watch. He seemed to get to everything, his range factor was high, but after he got to the ball, it was anyone’s guess what would happen. He had a league-leading 85 errors in 79 games played. Sure, there were a lot of errors in this era. (If Vin Scully said that last sentence, could you tell the difference between errors and era?) Still, 85 errors is a bunch.
Of the six inaugural American Association teams, St. Louis still exists, nowadays as the Cardinals; as does Cincinnati, now as the Reds; and Pittsburgh, now as the Pirates. Interestingly, all three play in the NL Central Division. Louisville lasted in the AA and the National League until 1899, as did Baltimore; and Philadelphia folded one year before the AA folded, after its 1890 season.
.288, 1 HR, 29 RBI
Def. Games as OF-80
Putouts as OF-188
Range Factor/9 Inn as OF-2.46
Range Factor/Game as OF-2.46
Fielding % as OF-.925
1st Time All-Star-Joseph John “Joe” Sommer was born on November 20, 1858 in Covington, KY, which is across the river from Cincinnati, OH. I stayed in a hotel there once, when my wife and I took a vacation to watch my favorite team, the Reds. Speaking of Cincinnati, Sommer started with the NL Reds in 1880, took a year off and came back to the Reds (now the Red Stockings) this season, where he had his best year ever. Sommer finished seventh in WAR Position Players with a 2.3 mark. He slashed .288/.333/.364 for an OPS+ of 129, his highest ever, and won his first championship.
From Wikipedia: “Sommer and Jimmy Macullar unsuccessfully attempted to engineer the departure of Pop Corkhill and Chick Fulmer from the Reds in 1883, and as a consequence Sommer and Macullar were sent to Baltimore that offseason. There, they helped engineer a turnaround for the Orioles in 1884, which secured the status of manager Billy Barnie. Cincinnati replaced Sommer that season by signing Browns outfielder Tom Mansell, with a $400 raise as an inducement.
“In 1886, Sommer set the record for the lowest single-season batting average (.209) by a player with 500 or more at-bats. His record was broken in 1888 by Al Myers of the Washington Nationals, who hit .207 that year.
“In the 1880s, the New York Clipper praised Sommer as one of the strongest defensive outfielders in baseball.”
.275, 2 HR, (No RBI recorded)
Extra Base Hits-34
Errors Committed as OF-34
1st Time All-Star-Michael R. “Mike” Mansell was born on January 15, 1858 in Auburn, NY. He started his career with Syracuse of the National League in 1879, moved to NL Cincinnati in 1880, took a year off, and then moved to Pittsburgh of the American Association this season. He slashed .275/.289/.431 for an OPS+ of 140. He only had two seasons left, with Pittsburgh in 1883 and then with three teams – Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Richmond – in 1884.
According to Baseball Reference, Mansell had wheels. “’. . . he was considered one of the fastest sprint runners in the country . . .’ – from Mike Mansell’s obituary.
“’Mike Mansell, our genial centre fielder, is doing grand work at the bat and on the field; he is a great base-runner, and an invaluable coacher.’ – Sporting Life’s Hamilton correspondent, July 27, 1887.
Of course, from the same article, his defense started lagging. “Mansell played only outfield, mostly in left field. At first his range was great, but as he aged it dropped to below average.”
After he left the major leagues, Baseball Reference says, “After his time in the majors he played in the International League and in the Eastern League. After baseball, he worked in a prison and then ran a saloon.”
Finally from his obituary at thedeadballera.com, “The death of Michael R. Mansell, which occurred yesterday morning at his home 17 Cross St, will come as a great shock to his many friends in this city as well as different parts of the country. The deceased had been ill but a week with pneumonia and would have been 45 years of age next January.”
.239, 7 HR, (No RBI recorded)
AB per HR-45.4
Double Plays Turned as OF-4
1st Year All-Star-Oscar Walker was born on March 18, 1854 in Brooklyn, NY. He had his best season ever, slashing .239/.262/.396 for an OPS+ of 116. There sure are a lot of blurry American Association photos. He started in 1875, playing one game for the National Association Brooklyn Atlantics, took three years off of major league ball and then played for the National League Buffalo Bisons in 1879 and 1880. He didn’t play in the majors in 1881 and now found himself with St. Louis. He’s going to end up taking 1883 off also.
Here’s a rundown of his career from Baseball Reference: “In 1877, he started the season playing for a semi-pro team in Memphis, TN, then when that team disbanded in mid-July, he agreed to terms with the St. Paul Red Caps of the League Alliance, a loose association of professional teams from around the country, for $75 per month and a train ticket to Minnesota. However, later that month, he jumped the team when they were playing in Manchester, NH and joined the local squad. It was one of the first publicized cases of ‘contract-jumping’. The Red Caps complained to other organized leagues at the time, including at the National League’s winter meetings, and St. Paul won the day over Walker’s objection that he had never had never signed an actual contract. As a result, Walker was suspended for a year.
“He died at age 35 in Brooklyn, the town in which he had been born and the town in which he had played in 1875 and 1884.”
.331, 4 HR, (No RBI recorded)
1st Time All-Star-Cyrus Edward “Ed” Swartwood was born on January 12, 1859 in Rockford, IL. He started his major league career playing one game for the National League Buffalo Bisons in 1881 before moving to the Alleghenys this season. He finished seventh in WAR (2.9), third in WAR Position Players (2.9), and second in Offensive WAR (4.5). He’s slashed .331/.371/.489 for an OPS+ of 188. He’s off to a decent, but short career.
Baseball Reference records, “’That man Swartwood can hit anything.’ – the Courier-Journal in 1881, when Swartwood played for Akron.” That was the year before this one, on a non-major league team. That hitting didn’t stop.
More from Baseball Reference: “Ed Swartwood was a top hitter for a couple years in the American Association and an above-average hitter for several more years.
“Swartwood was born in Rockford, IL, an early hotbed of baseball. He was born in 1859, the same year that Charlie Comiskey was born in Chicago, IL, 84 miles away. Prior to his major league career, Swartwood played three years with the Akrons.”
SABR writes, “A versatile right-handed thrower who batted left-handed, Ned Swartwood was a big and powerful guy for the era – just under 6 feet tall and a solid 200 pounds in his early 20s. He struggled with his weight during much of his career and took laxative diet pills at times to control the flab that eventually accrued.
.299, 0 HR, (No RBI recorded)
Assists as OF-21
1st Time All-Star-William Van Winkle “Chicken” Wolf was born on May 12, 1862 in Louisville, KY and yes! There’s a player named Chicken Wolf! This season was his rookie year and he was off to a good start, finishing ninth in WAR Position Players (1.8) and eighth in Offensive WAR (1.8). He slashed .299/.318/.384 for an OPS+ of 141. There’s no mention about whether he did all this while running around like his head was cut off.
Oh, man, I just noticed he was born in Kentucky! Chicken Wolf was born in Kentucky! KFC? Are you tracking with me?
Here’s SABR on that awesome nickname: “To his family he was ‘Willie.’ As a teenager a friend dubbed him ‘Chicken,’ and later he was known as ‘Jimmy’ to baseball fans in Louisville. ‘Willie’ was a common diminutive of William in the German-American home of the Wolfs. ‘Chicken’ was allegedly given to him by his boyhood friend and major league teammate, Pete Browning. The story goes that when Wolf and Browning were teenagers they were both members of the then semi-pro Louisville Eclipse team. Their manager instructed the team to eat lightly before a certain game, but Wolf surrendered to his appetite and stuffed himself on stewed chicken. He then played poorly in the game, committing several errors. Browning made a connection between the chicken and the lackluster play and hung the nickname ‘Chicken’ on him. The name caught on with his teammates and the local press. How Wolf felt about the name has gone unrecorded, but about halfway through his professional career he was known as ‘Jimmy’ Wolf in the Louisville newspapers. We do not know the origin or reason for this change.”