P-Old Hoss Radbourn, PRO
P-Jim Whitney, BSN
P-Pud Galvin, BUF
P-Jim McCormick, CLV
P-Hugh Daily, CLV
P-Larry Corcoran, CHC
P-Charlie Buffinton, BSN
P-Mickey Welch, NYG
P-Stump Weidman, DTN
C-Charlie Bennett, DTN
C-Buck Ewing, NYG
C-Emil Gross, PHI
1B-Dan Brouthers, BUF
1B-Roger Connor, NYG
1B-John Morrill, BSN
2B-Jack Farrell, PRO
2B-Fred Dunlap, CLV
2B-Jack Burdock, BSN
2B-Hardy Richardson, BUF
3B-Ezra Sutton, BSN
SS-Jack Glasscock, CLV
SS-Arthur Irwin, PRO
LF-George Wood, DTN
CF-Monte Ward, NYG
CF-George Gore, CHC
1883 ONEHOF Inductee-Paul Hines
For the second time, a player was inducted into the ONEHOF without making the All-Star team that season. The ONEHOF is the one player a year Hall of Fame, in which, every year since 1871, I’ve chosen the best player who isn’t already in the ONEHOF to enter the Hall. Here’s a recap of the ONEHOF inductees thus far. The yes or no following their name will be whether or not they are part of the real Hall of Fame. The position given to them will be their most played position in their whole career:
1871-George Zettlein, P (No)
1872-Al Spalding, P (Yes)
1873-Bobby Mathews, P (No)
1874-Dick McBride, P (No)
1875-Ross Barnes, 2B (No)
1876-George Wright, SS (Yes)
1877-Cal McVey, 1B (No)
1878-Deacon White, 3B (Yes)
1879-Tommy Bond, P (No)
1880-Cap Anson, 1B (Yes)
1881-Jim O’Rourke, LF (Yes)
1882-Joe Start, 1B (No)
1883-Paul Hines, CF (No)
So far, out of the 13 players that are part of the ONEHOF, five of them also made the Cooperstown Hall of Fame. However, spending so much time in the 1800s convinces me that if the Hall of Fame is a building to tell the history of the sport of baseball, many of these ONEHOF inductees should also be real Hall of Famers.
Hines had an off season, though it was still good, just not good enough to make the All-Star team. He slashed .299/.326/.416 for an OPS+ of 120. That Adjusted OPS+ was his lowest since 1877. At this time in his career, Hines is just 28-years-old.
48-25, 2.05 ERA, 315 K, .283, 3 HR, 48 RBI
Wins Above Replacement-14.8
WAR for Pitchers-13.5
Walks & Hits per IP-0.979
Adj. Pitching Runs-72
Adj. Pitching Wins-6.6 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as P-76
Assists as P-139
3rd Time All-Star-Old Hoss had an amazing season, piling up the big numbers, mowing down the hitters, and yet 1884 would be even better. This season, Radbourn finished first in WAR (14.8) and first in WAR for Pitchers (13.5). He pitched 632 1/3 innings with a 2.05 ERA and a 150 ERA+. He started 68 of the Grays’ 98 games and pitched in 76 total. Most teams weren’t putting so much on one pitcher anymore, but Radbourn continued to be an Old Horse on the mound.
Led by Old Hoss, Providence finished third in the league, with a 58-40 record, only five games behind Boston. That must have been especially grating to the Grays’ manager, Harry Wright, who had coached in Beantown for so many years. They were in first place as late in the season as July 28 with a 41-20 record, but then lost eight straight after that and never came back, but they hung around for a long time.
SABR writes of this incredible season (and a little about his unbelievable 1884): “Providence fell to third place in 1883 but the word fell is misleading as they landed only five games out of first place. Rad tossed a no-hitter on July 25 versus Cleveland, an 8-0 win on the road. He took on the lion’s share of Providence’s pitching that season, appearing on the mound for 632 1/3 innings. Many know that Rad owns the single-season victory record with 59 in 1884 but few realize that he already owned the record. His 48 in 1883 set the major league mark. The 300-strikeout mark was surpassed for the first time in ’83. Rad amassed 315 along with Jim Whitney in the National League, Tim Keefe in the American Association and Charlie Sweeney who straddled the two leagues. The new heights can be partially attributed to the expanded schedule, as each team played over ninety games for the first time. After the season, Radbourn joined [Ted] Sullivan on a barnstorming trip through the south. The roster included Buck Ewing, [Charlie] Comiskey, Tony Mullane and Pete Browning among others. In November, it was reported that Rad signed with Providence for $2,000. As the Cleveland Herald put it, ‘Radbourn has signed with Providence for about half of the $4000 called for…’ Obviously, he wasn’t happy even before the new season started.”
37-21, 2.24 ERA, 345 K, .281, 5 HR, 57 RBI
Bases on Balls per 9 IP-0.613
Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.041
Strikeouts/Base on Balls-9.857
Wild Pitches-37 (3rd Time)
Fielding Independent Pitching-2.29
3rd Time All-Star-Whitney pitched his third consecutive season for Boston, who changed its nickname from the Red Stockings to the Beaneaters. I’m sure there’s a reason for that which I’ll get to later. Whitney finished second in WAR (13.3) and second in WAR for Pitchers (11.0). He pitched 514 innings with a 2.24 ERA and a 139 ERA+. His 345 strikeouts would have set a record if it wasn’t for Tim Keefe of the American Association. Whitney also continued to be an outstanding hitting pitcher, slashing .281/.323/433 for an OPS+ of 123. He also won his first league championship.
Grasshopper Jim would never again pitch over 500 innings, but he does have five seasons of over 300 innings left. He also has some All-Star teams left, but I’m not sure he’ll make the ONEHOF. Looking at his height (6-foot-2) and weight (172 pounds), you can guess how he received the nickname Grasshopper. He would have been very lanky. However, SABR tells us he was the “Possessor of a nickname alternately attributed to the shape of his head and to the way he walked.”
That same SABR article, on Boston’s dominating four-game series against Chicago, which propelled it to the National League pennant, tells us it was Whitney who was responsible for the rout: “Hurling three complete games, Whitney had yielded a modest 13 hits, which in turn produced but two earned runs. Only two batters were able to milk him for walks, while 19 went down on strikes. [Cap] Anson, [King] Kelly, [George] Gore, [Fred] Pfeffer, and Ned Williamson together mustered a scant three safeties. After the series ended the Beaneaters won nine of their final ten to win the title, but the true turning point came in that series against Chicago, when Grasshopper Jim Whitney held sway over the 19th-century version of Murderers’ Row.”
46-29, 2.72 ERA, 279 K, .220, 1 HR, 19 RBI
Innings Pitched-656 1/3
Strikeouts (as Batter)-79 (4th Time)
Def. Games as P-76
5th Time All-Star-It seems the game plan of the Buffalo Bisons was simple – put the ball in the hands of Galvin, get a good game pitched, and let the hitting of Dan Brouthers and Hardy Richardson get them the runs. It was a formula that worked year after year. Galvin’s season was Galvinesque. He finished third in WAR (9.8) and third in WAR for Pitchers (11.0). He pitched 656 1/3 innings with a 2.72 ERA and a 117 ERA+.
Unfortunately when Gentle Jeems wasn’t pitching, the Bisons didn’t do so well, finishing 6-16 in games in which Galvin didn’t get the decision. Led by ONEHOF inductee Jim O’Rourke as manager, the Bisons finished 52-45, fifth in the National League. In games not pitched by Pud, the Bisons had a 5.28 ERA. It was tough to find good pitchers in these days, especially now that teams were playing more games and needed more arms.
SABR says, “In 1883 Galvin faced three other Hall of Fame pitchers, and went 3-3 against Mickey Welch, 1-1 against John Montgomery Ward, and 3-2 against Hoss Radbourn, including a defeat of the Providence pitcher in the final game of the season. At the plate, Galvin hit his first major-league home run in 1883.”
Also, according to the same article, all of these innings pitched would have their effect: “Galvin’s 1883 and 1884 seasons took their physical toll. He would never pitch more than 450 innings or win more than 29 games for the rest of his career. His career began its long, steady decline in 1885, when he turned in a subpar season.”
28-12, 1.84 ERA, 145 K, .236, 0 HR, 13 RBI
1883 NL Pitching Title
Earned Run Average-1.84
Home Runs per 9 IP-0.026 (2nd Time)
Range Factor/9 Inn as P-3.13
Range Factor/Game as P-2.77
6th Time All-Star-For the first time since 1878, and since joining the Blues, McCormick did not throw 500 or more innings. Next season, he would throw 500 innings again, split between two leagues, but that would be his last time. Is his arm finally failing? Possibly. But it’s more likely teams were operating differently and splitting the pitching duties more. However, in “only” 342 innings, McCormick had a good season. He finished fourth in WAR (8.3) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (8.5). He led the league in ERA (184) and ERA+ (170).
Cleveland moved from fifth in 1882 to fourth in 1883 with a 55-42 record. As was the Blues’ wont, they hired a new manager, Frank Bancroft, who was one year out from winning the World Series. Unfortunately for Cleveland, it would be with another team. Hey, it hasn’t changed for Cleveland, has it?
McCormick and fellow All-Star Hugh Daily were splitting the pitching duties with the Blues and, in the games they pitched, finished 51-31. However, in games pitched by others, mainly Will Sawyer, Cleveland finished 4-11. It would be Sawyer’s only season. It’s worth noting Sawyer’s ERA of 2.36 was fourth in the league, as was his ERA+ of 133, so maybe he just didn’t get the run support of McCormick and Daily. Still, if this would have been one of those seasons McCormick pitched 500 or more innings, it’s possible the Blues would have contended for the crown. It’s impossible to know, of course, without doing research and who has time for all that.
23-19, 2.42 ERA, 171 K, .127, 0 HR, 5 RBI
Bases on Balls-99
1st Time All-Star-Hugh Ignatius “One Arm” Daily was born on July 17, 1847 in Ireland. And yes, we have to start with that nickname. From Wikipedia: “His nickname, ‘One Arm’ Daily, is a reference to his left arm; he had lost his left hand to a gun accident earlier in his life. To compensate for this injury, he fixed a special pad over the affected area and caught the baseball by trapping it between the pad and his right hand. Sometimes, after long games of having to catch baseballs this way, his stump would become sensitive – so sensitive in fact, that he once punched his catcher for not heeding his warning to throw the balls back to him softer.”
Daily didn’t have his first Major League season until he was 34 in 1882. He pitched for Buffalo that season before coming over to the Blues, where he would only last this season. He would be bouncing around for the next four years and, yes, he has another All-Star team coming to him.
This season, he had his best season ever, finishing fifth in WAR (5.7) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (6.9). He pitched 378 2/3 innings with a 2.42 ERA and a 129 ERA+. He and Jim McCormick helped the Blues finish 13 games above .500, though Cleveland would fall apart in 1884 and fold after that season.
More from Wikipedia: “He was playing for the Cleveland Blues of the National League when he pitched a no-hitter on 13 September 1883 against the Philadelphia Quakers, a 1–0 victory…However, he did lead the league with 99 walks – a remarkable total, given that in 1882 and 1883 walks were issued after seven balls rather than four.”
34-20, 2.49 ERA, 216 K, .209, 0 HR, 25 RBI
Putouts as P-37
3rd Time All-Star-Corcoran pitched for the fourth consecutive season for the White Stockings, but for the first time, didn’t win a championship. It wasn’t Corkie’s fault. (I’m now making up my own nicknames.) He finished seventh in WAR (5.4) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (6.5). He pitched 473 2/3 innings with a 2.49 ERA and a 132 ERA+. Corkboard continued to walk a ton of batters, but he did win 30 games for the third time.
Chicago lost out on the league title for the first time in four seasons, finishing 59-39 and four games behind Boston. Cap Anson, of course, was its manager and had the team in first place as late as Sept. 10, 86 games into the 98 game season. They went 7-5 to finish the season, but four of the losses were to the Beaneaters, who went 12-1 in that same stretch to march to the crown.
I didn’t mention this in the 1882 write-up, but Corker had great run support during that season, according to SABR, “In 1882, Corcoran enjoyed two 10-game winning streaks: June 29 through July 29 and September 1 through September 30. The latter streak included a no-hitter against Worcester on Sept. 20. Chicago’s support at the plate for Corcoran was superlative; they scored six or more runs in 23 of his 40 games, including 35 runs scored on July 24.
“After returning to the 30-victory circle in 1883, Corcoran for awhile considered signing with the Chicago club of the fledgling Union Association for the succeeding season. He was, however, forced to rejoin the White Stockings for a reputed $2,100 after Chicago owner [Al] Spalding threatened him with blacklisting.”
25-14, 3.03 ERA, 188 K, .238, 1 HR, 26 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Charles G. “Charlie” Buffinton (born Charles G. Buffington) was born on June 14, 1861 in Fall River, MA. He pitched a few games for Boston in 1882, but 1883 was his rookie year and the six-foot-one, 180 pound hurler’s career was off to a good start. According to Baseball Reference, The Sporting News called him the Christy Mathewson of the 1880s. Back to his hot start, in his official first year, he now had a championship to his name. Buffinton finished seventh in WAR for Pitchers with a 5.2 mark, tossing 333 innings with a 3.03 ERA and a 103 ERA+. He was a good second pitcher to the great Jim Whitney, but he wouldn’t be second for long. Charlie has some good seasons ahead.
Wikipedia talks about his start: “Born in Fall River, Massachusetts, Buffinton – mainly known for his brilliant sinker ball – began his career with the Boston Red Stockings/Beaneaters. He played in the days of 2- or 3-man pitching staffs and was a big part of many of his teams’ successes. From 1883 to 1885 he was one of Boston’s two principal pitchers along with Jim Whitney; together they picked up 62 of Boston’s 63 wins in 1883 when the Beaneaters took the pennant.
In his career, Buffinton would play a lot in the outfield and at first base, but according to Baseball Reference, “Although Buffinton appeared frequently as a position player, he was not a particularly good hitter or fielder at those positions.” Another interesting point from that same article, apparently Fall River, Massachusetts was a hotbed of baseball.
25-23, 2.73 ERA, 144 K, .234, 2 HR, 30 RBI
Errors Committed as P-21
3rd Time All-Star-Little Mickey didn’t make the All-Star team in 1882, as, in his last season for Troy, he finished 14-16 with a 3.46 ERA, but he was back this season. Welch finished eighth in WAR for Pitchers with a 3.7 mark. He pitched 426 innings for the newly formed Gothams, with a 2.73 ERA and a 114 ERA+.
Troy and Worcester folded after the 1883 season and New York, which will eventually be the San Francisco Giants, and the Philadelphia Quakers, who will eventually be the Phillies, entered the league. John Clapp, who kept getting managing jobs despite very little success, led the team to a sixth-place finish with a 46-50 record, 16 games out of first. Clapp would be gone as manager after this season.
Surprising, it had been seven years since the United States’ largest city had a ballclub, the last one being the New York Mutuals in 1876. It would never be without one again. As for the Gothams, according to Wikipedia, “The team replaced the Troy Trojans when the National League awarded its franchise rights to John B. Day.”
The image above is the logo the Gothams wore on their uniforms this season. You can see the full uniform at Radon Thoughts. Another interesting note is New York played this inaugural season in the Polo Grounds. However, it wasn’t the one you’re thinking of. This Polo Grounds, according to Wikipedia, “opened in 1876 and demolished in 1889, was built for the sport of polo. Bounded on the south and north by 110th and 112th Streets and on the east and west by Fifth and Sixth (Lenox) Avenues, just north of Central Park, it was converted to a baseball stadium when leased by the New York Metropolitans in 1880.”
20-24, 3.53 ERA, 183 K, .185, 1 HR, 24 RBI
3rd Time All-Star-Weidman dropped off from his great 1882 season, but still mustered enough to make the All-Star team. This is most likely his last one. He finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (3.5), pitching 402 1/3 innings with a 3.53 ERA and an 88 ERA+. His ERA for the rest of his career would be 4.13 after this season and yet he was still allowed to pitch 1,276 more innings. With the American Association now in existence and going strong, there was a dearth of good pitching in the majors.
Jack Chapman took over for Frank Bancroft as the manager of the Wolverines, but it didn’t help. With their pitching falling apart, they dropped to a 40-58 record, seventh in the National League and 23 games out of first.
As for Weidman’s life after baseball, we turn to our friends at Wikipedia: “After retiring from baseball, Wiedman worked as an umpire for a time, including one season as an umpire in the National League. He then became a saloon operator in Rochester, New York. His first venture in the saloon business was the firm of Coughlin & Weidman. He later formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, Michael ‘Silk’ O’Loughlin, a well-known umpire. Wiedman and O’Loughlin operated a saloon for several years at 158 State Street in Rochester. That establishment was sold in approximately 1903, after which Wiedman and O’Loughlin conducted business at another location.
“By early 1905, Wiedman developed a tumor which was believed to be throat cancer. He traveled to New York City where he met with medical specialists and underwent an operation that resulted in his death. He died in a New York hospital in March 1905 at age 44. He was buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Rochester, New York. In an obituary, the Sporting Life wrote: ‘Weidman was a clean-cut, honest and well behaved ball player, and a credit to his profession at all times. Peace to his ashes.’”
.305, 5 HR, 55 RBI
Double Plays Turned as C-11
Fielding % as C-.944 (2nd Time)
3rd Time All-Star-For the third consecutive season, Bennett was the best catcher in the National League, excelling in all areas of the game. He finished 10th in WAR (4.9), third in WAR Position Players (4.9), sixth in Offensive WAR (3.6), and third in Defensive WAR (1.8). He slashed .305/.350/.474 for an OPS+ of 151. His Adjusted OPS+ for the last three seasons has been 150 in 1881, 151 in 1882, and 151 in 1883. He showed great consistency. He wouldn’t be below 100 OPS+ until 1888.
It was grueling to be a catcher during this era. For more information on this, let’s turn to Wikipedia. Wikipedia! “During Bennett’s era, catchers lacked the protective equipment present in 20th century baseball. It was not until 1888 that specialized catcher’s mitts began to be used on the non-throwing hand. As a result, catchers’ hands, fingers, legs, and bodies took a beating in Bennett’s time. For this reason, catchers in the era were not every-day players, needing time to recuperate after catching a game. When Bennett began his major league career, the major league record for games caught in a season was 63 games.
“Most catchers of the 1870s and 1880s minimized wear and tear on their hands by playing some games at other positions. For example, the three ‘catchers’ from the era who have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame each played less than half of their games as a catcher: (1) Buck Ewing, often cited as the greatest catcher of the 19th century, played only 636 of his 1,345 games (47%) as a catcher; (2) King Kelly played only 583 of his 1,455 games (40%) at catcher; and (3) Deacon White eventually moved to third base as his regular position, finishing his career with only 458 of 1,622 games (28%) as a catcher. Bennett, on the other hand, played 954 of his 1,084 games (88%) at the catcher position.”
.303, 10 HR, 41 RBI
AB per HR-37.6
2nd Time All-Star-Ewing moved from Troy to New York and his Hall of Fame career took off. He had his best season ever, finishing fifth in WAR Position Players (4.7), fifth in Offensive WAR (3.7), and fifth in Defensive WAR (1.5). He was just 0.2 from making the top 10 in overall WAR. Surprisingly, for a Hall of Famer, he never did make the top 10 in bWAR. He still had a great career. This season, he slashed .303/.338/.481 for an OPS+ of 146 and if it wasn’t for the existence of the American Association, he would have set the record for homers with 10. In the AA, Harry Stovey hit 14 and Charley Jones also hit 10. Doesn’t matter, because in 1884, all of these long ball records are going to be shattered. At least for one season, Ewing had the National League record for home runs.
According to Wikipedia, Ewing was known for his defense and his great arm: “Ewing was equally renowned for his defensive abilities. Writing in the 1938 Spalding Guide, John Foster said of him, ‘As a thrower to bases Ewing never had a superior, and there are not to exceed ten men who could come anywhere near being equal to him. Ewing was the man of whom it was said, “He handed the ball to the second baseman from the batter’s box.”’” And according to Ewing’s Hall of Fame page, “Connie Mack considered him the greatest catcher of all-time and was happy to tell anyone about it at the 1939 Induction Ceremony.”
.307, 1 HR, 25 RBI
Errors Committed as C-74 (2nd Time)
2nd Time All-Star-In Gross’ 1880 write-up, I wrote “he made his only All-Star team.” Obviously, I’m wrong. I’m a false prophet. But in my defense, in most other years, Gross would not have made the All-Star team. He just happens to be the lone Quakers representative on the team. How was I to know back when I was penning (computering?) 1880 that there would be a terrible first-year team in 1883 who would have such a lack of quality players that its non-descript catcher would make the cut?
Well, ours is not to reason why but to tell you about Gross’ 1883 season. After playing in 1881 for Providence, he wasn’t in the Major Leagues in 1882. Philadelphia then formed a team in the National League in 1883, taking over for Worcester, and it picked up Gross as its catcher. He slashed .307/.342/.489 for an OPS+ of 158. Even though Gross only played five seasons, he could always hit. His lifetime OPS+ is 146.
As for the Quakers, they finished in eighth place with a 17-81 record, 46 games out of first. Coached by Bob Ferguson (4-13) and Blondie Purcell (13-68), Philadelphia lost its first eight games and never came close to contending. Ferguson had his ups-and-downs as a manager, but kept getting jobs. Blondie Purcell would never coach again in the Major Leagues.
Gross’ defensive deficiencies were well known. According to Wikipedia, “When Gross’s name was offered as a possible outfielder in 1885, a St. Louis correspondent wrote: ‘Great Scot! He couldn’t judge a flour barrel twenty feet in the air.’” That correspondent’s name was obviously Doc Brown.
.374, 3 HR, 97 RBI, 0-0, 31.50 ERA, 2 K
1883 NL Batting Title (2nd Time)
WAR Position Players-5.8 (2nd Time)
Offensive WAR-5.5 (2nd Time)
Batting Average-.374 (2nd Time)
On-Base %- .397
Slugging %-.572 (3rd Time)
On-Base Plus Slugging-.969 (2nd Time)
Hits-159 (2nd Time)
Total Bases-243 (2nd Time)
Runs Batted In-97
Adjusted OPS+-187 (2nd Time)
Runs Created-96 (2nd Time)
Adj. Batting Runs-44 (2nd Time)
Adj. Batting Wins-4.5 (2nd Time)
Extra Base Hits-61 (2nd Time)
Times On Base-175 (2nd Time)
Offensive Win %-.832 (2nd Time)
Putouts as 1B-1,040
Range Factor/Game as 1B-11.08
3rd Time All-Star-I live in the Southern California area and along with being a Cincinnati Reds fan, I support my wife and also root for the Angels. Ever since he came up, I’ve got to watch the brilliance of one Michael Nelson Trout. People might not like WAR (and they definitely hate war), but there’s no doubt to me WAR is accurate when rating Trout as the best player in baseball season after season.
Had Brouthers played in a different era, he also would be rated the best player in baseball year-after-year by WAR, but pitchers’ importance to the game during this era always put them at the top. As a matter of fact, it will be in 1884 that the first position player leads a league in WAR and that will be Fred Dunlap in the newly formed Union Association. Like Trout, Brouthers is having monster season after monster season with no championships resulting. At the time of this writing, Trout has made the playoffs just once in his first four years whether it’s due to bad luck, bad managing, or bad ownership. Who knows? But it’s sad these great seasons seem to be wasted. It’s the same with Brouthers, though that would change eventually.
Well, here we go, the boring recap which is written every year for this awesome player. Brouthers finished sixth in WAR (5.5), first in WAR Position Players (5.8), and first in Offensive WAR (5.5). He slashed .374/.397/.572 for an OPS+ of 187, the lowest Adjusted OPS+ he would have from the seasons 1882-1886. Slacker!
In an era when RBI wasn’t an official stat, Brouthers set an all-time record with 97 this season, breaking the record set in 1882 by Cap Anson, who had 83. It will be broken again next season, but not by either Brouthers or Anson.
.357, 1 HR, 50 RBI
3rd Time All-Star-Connor moved from Troy to his new home in New York and continued killing the ball. Because Dan Brouthers bogarted all of the stats, Connor didn’t lead in one category this season despite finishing fourth in WAR Position Players (4.9) and second in Offensive WAR (4.8). He slashed .357/.394/.506 for an OPS+ of 171. The Empire State had the two best first basemen in the game.
Connor was a big man, six-foot-three and 220 pounds, and according to Wikipedia, “He later played for the New York Gothams, and, due to his great stature, gave that team the enduring nickname ‘Giants’.” Is that true? I don’t know, but New York started using the nickname Giants in 1885.
New York went from zero teams in 1882 to two teams, one in the National League and one in the American Association, in 1883. Connor’s SABR article tells us why: “The close of the 1882 campaign found baseball in a peculiar place. That season, the established National League had been challenged by a rival, the six-team American Association. Yet neither circuit had a team in either of the country’s two premier sporting markets, New York and Philadelphia. Both metropolises had been without a big-league team since their expulsion from the National League after the 1876 season. Since then, baseball fans in Gotham had had to content themselves with the play of independent teams, the best of which was an outfit called the Metropolitan of New York. The Mets were organized in August 1880 by a marginally talented Massachusetts shortstop named Jim Mutrie and bankrolled by John B. Day, a prosperous tobacco merchant originally from Connecticut. During the 1882 season the team demonstrated its mettle by playing National League and American Association opponents tough. With its small-market teams in Troy and Worcester slated for liquidation, a duly impressed National League invited the Mets to join the circuit for the 1883 season. At first, it appeared that Mets boss Day had declined the invite, placing the Mets in the American Association instead. But Day actually had bigger plans, namely, running a New York team in both major leagues. And the nucleus of his National League team would be refugees from the Troy Trojans, starting with Roger Connor.”
.319, 6 HR, 68 RBI, 1-0, 2.77 ERA, 5 K
Fielding % as 1B-.974
3rd Time All-Star-I haven’t written up the Beaneaters yet and I’ll save the major write-up for the Jack Burdock blurb, but it should be noted that after Morrill took over as the manager from Burdock, this team caught on fire and won the crown. Read the Burdock blurb for more info.
It’s puzzling as to why Boston felt the need to replace Morrill as a manager at all. He had led them in 1882 to a third-place finish. Maybe the city just got too used to titles under the great Harry Wright. Oh well, thanks to Morrill the manager, Morrill the player now had his third and last championship.
At a position dominated by flashy hitters like Dan Brouthers and Roger Connor, Morrill could be forgotten. However, he held his own, finishing eighth in Offensive WAR (3.4) and slashing .319/.344/.525 for an OPS+ of 155. Morrill actually had a higher slugging percentage than Connor.
Baseball Reference will sum up Morrill’s career: “Honest John Morrill, a first baseman, had his best year in 1883 when he was player-manager for the pennant-winning Boston Beaneaters during the last part of the season. As a player, he hit .319 and his slugging percentage of .525 was second in the league. He managed for eight years, with a winning percentage over .500, and played for 15 years, with an Adjusted OPS+ of 111.
“He appeared defensively at every position on the diamond. He was a two-way player of sorts, with 18 pitching appearances spread out over seven seasons.”
.305, 3 HR, 61 RBI
Assists as 2B-365 (2nd Time)
Double Plays Turned as 2B-51
Fielding % as 2B-.924
2nd Time All-Star-For the first time since 1879, a player other than Fred Dunlap would be the best second sacker in the league. Farrell had his best season ever, finishing eighth in WAR (5.2), second in WAR Position Players (5.2), and second in Defensive WAR (2.5). Though he could certainly hit – Farrell slashed .305/.329/.436 for an OPS+ of 126, his best ever – it was his glove that put him on the National League All-Star team.
A website called New Jersey Sports Heroes has a whole article on Farrell. Let’s steal, um, borrow from them, shall we: “The boy everyone called Jack (and later ‘Moose’) grew up watching two excellent early teams, the Newark Club and the Eurekas. A talented infielder with a potent bat, he came of age as professional baseball was just hitting its stride. Jack signed his first contract at the age of 19 with the Syracuse Stars, an independent minor-league club that held its own in games against National League teams. Among Jack’s teammates was Hick Carpenter, who would go on to become one of the most beloved players on the Cincinnati Reds.”
After this season, Farrell’s hitting would fall way off, he’d never be over 100 OPS+ again, but it’s possible he’s still going to make All-Star teams because of his fielding in the future. Who knows what happened to his hitting. From 1879-to-1883, Farrell slashed .273/.302/.376 for an OPS+ of 116. From 1884-to-1889, he slashed .214/.265/.293 for an OPS+ of 73. And he’s at the age baseball players usually are entering their prime.
.326, 4 HR, 37 RBI
Putouts as 2B-304
4th Time All-Star-Dunlap’s 1884 season is so amazing that I’m tempted to spend this blurb and next season’s on that incredible year. But that wouldn’t be fair to those of you who expect to read about the year we’re dealing with, so I will patiently wait. As for this season, Jack Farrell had an overall better season, but Dunlap continued to shine at second base. He finished sixth in WAR Position Players (4.5), fourth in Offensive WAR (3.7), and 10th in Defensive WAR (1.0). At the plate, Dunlap slashed .326/.361/.452 for an OPS+ of 146.
Here’s more on Dunlap’s 1883 season from Wikipedia: “Defensively, he led the league’s second basemen in putouts (304) and ranked third in assists (290) and fielding percentage (.911). Dunlap was the star of the Cleveland team in the early 1880s. So key was he to the Blues that one writer observed, ‘The Maroons without Dunlap are like the play of Hamlet without the melancholy Dane.’”
If you go back to Dunlap’s 1882 write-up, there was a quote about the meanness and selfishness of Dunlap, stating he only cared about himself. Don’t we all? Not wanting to get preachy, but Jesus said in the Bible, “Love others as you love yourselves.” He doesn’t have to tell us to learn to love ourselves, He assumes we already love ourselves and need to learn to love others in the same manner.
That being said Dunlap is going to leave Cleveland in 1884 for a whole new league and become the highest paid player in baseball. But when you see his 1884 season, playing as a man among boys, you can’t help but think he deserved it.
.330, 5 HR, 88 RBI
Def. Games as 2B-96 (5th Time)
1st Time All-Star-John Joseph “Jack” or “Black Jack” Burdock was born in April, 1852 in Brooklyn, NY. If you’re looking for his actual birthdate, it’s not there. He was either born on a random day in April 1852 or his poor mom had a brutally long labor. Burdock must have been a small baby because he was a small adult, playing at five-foot-nine, 158 pounds. He started in 1872 and 1873 playing for the Brooklyn Atlantics, moved in 1874 to the New York Mutuals, and finished his National Association career in 1875 with the Hartford Dark Blues. In 1876, he followed Hartford to the National League and played with them for two seasons. In 1878, he came to Boston, where he would be for most of the rest of his career.
Burdock easily had his best season, finishing eighth in WAR Position Players (4.2), seventh in Offensive WAR (3.5), and eighth in Defensive WAR (1.0). He slashed .330/.353/.475 for an OPS+ of 145. All of those were easily career highs. It was very much an aberrant season for Black Jack.
He was a part-time manager for Boston, going 30-24 in his games. John Morrill coached the rest of the season. They had an unusual managing set-up, according to SABR: “The only dark spot in an otherwise bright time occurred when Burdock began the season in the unusual role of manager for the Red Stockings’ home games, taking over for his friend John Morrill (and possibly at his recommendation), with Morrill serving as manager when the team was on the road. The position wasn’t a very good fit for someone of Burdock’s volatile personality, however. The Red Stockings lost their first 12 games and, even though the team reached second place in the standings by July, with 30 wins and 24 losses, it was clear that Burdock should concentrate concentrating [sic] on playing. Morrill took over again as full-time manager, adding 33 more wins and only 11 losses to the Beaneaters’ record and winning the championship.” It was Burdock’s only managing position. However, it was now his second and last pennant.
I mentioned earlier I would talk about the new team nickname for Boston, the Beaneaters, but it’s not that fascinating. They seem to always have been generally known as the Beaneaters, but in 1883, they somewhat officially adopted it as their name.
.311, 1 HR, 56 RBI
Range Factor/Game as 2B-6.88
3rd Time All-Star-Richardson made his third All-Star team at his third different position. He made it as a third baseman in 1879 and as a centerfielder in 1881. In 1882, he moved to his somewhat regular position of second base. This season, Richardson finished ninth in WAR Position Players (4.1), 10th in Offensive WAR (3.2), and seventh in Defensive WAR (1.1). He slashed .311/.347/.439 for an OPS+ of 134, his highest Adjusted OPS+ thus far, but not for long. He’s about to enter a dominating stretch of hitting.
He was an all-around good player and the fourth second baseman to make the team. There was a lack of good outfielders in the National League at this time, so infielders tended to dominate. For the second season in row, only three outfielders made the team.
Wikipedia mentions this interesting note about 1883: “In a game against Philadelphia on July 20, 1883, both Richardson and Jack Rowe were credited with home runs when outfielder Conny Doyle was unable to find balls they hit into a patch of deep of grass in the left field corner.”
This season was Richardson’s best fielding year according to dWAR. He was always a man known for his bat and not his glove and even in this season, Old True Blue made 68 errors and yet his fielding percentage was .013 above the league average. Bob “Death to Flying Things” Ferguson had 88 errors at second base. Apparently the flying things around Ferguson didn’t have a lot to fear.
.324, 3 HR, 73 RBI
4th Time All-Star-Sutton is such an interesting player as every few years he sneaks onto the All-Star team. Well, I shouldn’t say sneak, because he’s a great third baseman for this era and consistently provided good numbers for whatever team he played for. He’s been around a long time, incredibly starting in the National Association days as a third baseman for Cleveland. In 1883, Sutton played his seventh straight season with Boston and garnered his third and final National League championship. He finished third in Offensive WAR with a 4.0 mark, slashing .324/.350/.486 with an OPS+ of 147. It was his highest OPS+ since his rookie season, but even at 33, he still has better seasons ahead.
SABR says of Sutton, “By the time he was 20 years old, Sutton was being acknowledged as the finest third baseman in the country. He was known for his fearlessness at the position and for having perhaps the strongest arm in the game before an injury reduced its strength to merely average. Many today list him among the elite third sackers of the 19th century.”
It is rare during the 19th Century to have a player like Sutton who played on only three teams in his 18-year career. Players tended to bounce from team to team, though admittedly less of that happened after the reserve clause was implemented unofficially in 1879. There’s much to say about the end of his time in baseball, but I know for sure he’s making the All-Star team in 1884 and probably one after that, so I’ll leave his tragic end until later.
.287, 0 HR, 46 RBI
Fielding % as SS-.922 (2nd Time)
3rd Time All-Star-Glasscock was the top shortstop in the league for the third straight season. I think he’s got a good shot at making the ONEHOF. Glasscock finished sixth in WAR Position Players (4.5) and first in Defensive WAR (2.7). He slashed .287/.311/.368 for an OPS+ of 106, but it was his glove, as usual, that really carried him. He finished in top 10 in dWAR from 1881-to-1887 and, according to dWAR, he is the 33rd top fielder of all time. Obviously it was a different game – Sutton is ninth all-time in errors committed – but it would have been fun to watch Pebbly Jack in the field.
SABR writes, “John Wesley ‘Jack,’ ‘Pebbly Jack’ Glasscock is considered by many to have been the best shortstop of the nineteenth century, earning him the accolade ‘King of the Shortstops.’ His contemporary, Al Spink, founder and editor of The Sporting News, wrote of Glasscock ‘he was acknowledged by all his fellow players to be the greatest in [sic] his position’ and ‘one of the greatest players from a fielding standpoint the game has ever known.’ (Spink, 220) Current sabermetrician Charles Faber rates Glasscock the best shortstop of the nineteenth century. (Faber, 79)
“In 1883 he reached star level. Batting third in the Blues’ order, he tied Tom York for the team in runs batted in. He also pushed his hitting near .290. That, combined with his great fielding led Faber to rate him player of the year for 1883.” We can judge so many things with numbers, but it’s important to read the appraisals of the 19th Century players’ peers.
.286, 0 HR, 44 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-If you go back and look at Irwin’s 1880 write-up, you’ll see it was he who started the glove phase in baseball, as, during this season, he broke a couple of fingers and started using a glove for protection. By 1884, almost everyone was using one. If Candy Cummings deserves to be in the Hall of Fame for “inventing” the curve ball, Doc Irwin certainly deserves a look. I’m not saying he should be in the Hall of Fame, I’m saying Cummings shouldn’t, at least as an innovator. Cummings was a great pitcher in the National Association days and could get a look just for that.
According to Wikipedia, along with the nicknames “Doc” or “Sandy”, he was also known as “Cutrate” or “Foxy.” Irwin could be his own seven dwarves.
Wikipedia has a long article on Irwin and it’s impossible in our limited space to talk about all of the interesting things in his life, but let’s talk about his two wives. From Wikipedia: “During the investigation into Irwin’s disappearance and death, two widows emerged; one lived in Boston and the other lived in New York. He first married Elizabeth, the woman in Boston, in 1883. Together they had three children, including a son who was 37 at the time of Irwin’s death, and nine grandchildren. In the 1890s he married again, this time in Philadelphia to May, a woman he met while coaching baseball at the University of Pennsylvania. They settled in New York and had a son who was 24 when Irwin died.”
.302, 5 HR, 47 RBI, 0-0, 7.20 ERA, 0 K
Putouts as OF-226
1st Time All-Star-George Albert “Dandy” Wood was born on November 9, 1858 in Pownal, Prince Edward Island, Canada. The five-foot-10, 175 pound leftfielder said to heck with hockey, let’s give that American game there a go, eh? So he started in 1880 with Worcester, then went to Detroit, where he would be until 1885. He’d play for Philadelphia from 1886-to-1889 and then bounce around from team-to-team for the remainder of his career. It wasn’t a great career, but it was a steady one.
In 1883, his best season ever, Wood slashed .302/.339/.444 for an OPS+ of 139. He probably wouldn’t have made the All-Star team if the league had better outfielders, but that doesn’t take away from a good season.
If homers were more important in Wood’s time, he might have been more famous. He led the National League in dingers in 1882 with seven and finished in the top 10 in homers seven times in his career. Dandy ended up with 68 long balls for his career, which would be just one steroid-fueled season nowadays, but was a hefty total in Wood’s day.
The Canadian would end up playing for three different leagues in his career, as he also spent some time with Baltimore (1889) and Philadelphia (1891) in the American Association and Philadelphia in the one year of the Players League in 1890.
Wood never was part of a pennant-winning team and after retiring from Major League baseball in 1894, ended up living to the healthy age (for his days) of 65 and dying in the good ole United States, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on April 4, 1924.
.255, 7 HR, 54 RBI, 16-13, 2.70 ERA, 121 K
Games Finished-9 (3rd Time)
Range Factor/Game as OF-2.61
6th Time All-Star-Ward made his sixth All-Star team in a row and continued to add value to whatever team he played on from the plate and the mound. At this point of his career, that team was the New York Gothams, who signed him as a free agent. He finished ninth in WAR (5.0) and 10th in WAR for Pitchers (3.4). He made this team because of his pitching and because he was the best player on the newly-formed Gothams.
In 1884, Ward would pitch for the last time, playing mainly shortstop, and later second base, for the rest of his career. He dropped from pitching over 580 innings in 1879 and 1880 for Providence, to pitching 330 in 1881, 286 in 1882, and 277 in 1883, now for New York. He would pitch 60 2/3 in 1884. He’s on cusp of making the ONEHOF, but it’s too close to call.
Once Ward moved to shortstop, he became one of the better fielders in the game, making the top 10 in dWAR four times, including 1887 when he led the league. Even though his arm wasn’t strong enough to pitch, it apparently had no problem making the throw across the diamond.
Will Ward make another All-Star team? Yes, absolutely, he had an incredible year in 1887. It’s possible he’s got two or three left in him. To me, being one of the best players in his respective league seven or eight times definitely puts him in the ONEHOF, which as we know is just as valuable as his real Hall of Fame induction.
.334, 2 HR, 52 RBI
4th Time All-Star-Piano Legs Gore made his fourth consecutive All-Star team with another great season. The White Stockings centerfielder finished 10th in WAR Position Players (3.8), slashing .334/.377/.472 with an OPS+ of 147. Gore was consistently one of the best hitters in the league and that doesn’t take into account his speed, as stolen bases were not tracked in the National League this season.
In 1883, Gore had his third and last positive dWAR. At this point in his career, Gore had a total 0.7 dWAR. For the rest of his career, he would be 3.3 games below replacement level in the field. I mentioned in his 1882 write-up that this defense looked good to his peers, but if there’s anything the eyeball test seems to fail at most often, it’s defense.
Take Mike Trout, for instance. Because I live in Southern California, I’m able to watch Trout regularly; I watch the Angels more than any other team. And it always looks like he’s phenomenal in the field. The diving and leaping catches, how he chases down balls quickly, I always think Trout should win the Gold Glove yearly.
But that’s not what dWAR says. Yes, in his rookie season, Trout finished seventh in Defensive WAR, but since then, he’s been at negative dWAR two of his three seasons, including a terrible -0.9 in 2013. It certainly is at odds with the eyeball test. That was Gore. He looked good, apparently. His speed must have allowed him to track down many balls in his day, but the numbers don’t show it.