P-John Clarkson, CHC
P-Mickey Welch, NYG
P-Old Hoss Radbourn, PRO
P-Charlie Ferguson, PHI
P-Tim Keefe, NYG
P-Ed Daily, PHI
P-Charlie Buffinton, BSN
P-Lady Baldwin, DTN
P-Dupee Shaw, PRO
P-Henry Boyle, SLM
C-Charlie Bennett, DTN
C-Buck Ewing, NYG
1B-Roger Connor, NYG
1B-Dan Brouthers, BUF
1B-Cap Anson, CHC
2B-Fred Dunlap, SLM
2B-Hardy Richardson, BUF
3B-Ned Williamson, CHC
3B-Ezra Sutton, BSN
SS-Jack Glasscock, SLM
LF-Abner Dalrymple, CHC
CF-George Gore, CHC
CF-Jim O’Rourke, NYG
CF-Ned Hanlon, DTN
RF-King Kelly, CHC
53-16, 1.85 ERA, 308 K, .216, 4 HR, 32 RBI
Wins Above Replacement-13.0
WAR for Pitchers-13.1
Home Runs Allowed-21
Adj. Pitching Runs-69
Adj. Pitching Wins-6.9
Def. Games as P-70
Assists as P-174
Errors Committed as P-20
2nd Time All-Star-Clarkson went from barely making the All-Star team in 1884 to wow! He finished first in WAR (13.0) and WAR for Pitchers (13.1). In 623 innings pitched, Clarkson had a 1.85 ERA and a 163 ERA+. His Adjusted ERA+ would be his highest ever. All of this helped lead Chicago to the National League crown and onto the World Series, where, against the American Association St. Louis Browns, Clarkson, despite being the starter in 70 of Chicago’s 113 games, only started two games of the seven. Jim McCormick, last year’s ONEHOF Inductee and a great pitcher himself, started the rest. In Clarkson’s two games he was 0-1 with a 1.13 ERA, but had absolutely no help from his defense. He allowed 14 runs, but only two were earned.
Wikipedia tells of a highlight from Clarkson’s incredible season. “On July 27, 1885, he pitched the only no-hitter of his career with a 4-0 win over the Providence Grays.”
SABR says, “After the season, Clarkson barnstormed in St. Louis before returning to Chicago for the winter. He stayed in Chicago to split the distance with his girlfriend, Ella Moorhead McKenna. Ella, from Detroit, was born in May 1860. They met when he was with Saginaw. On March 4, 1886, the couple married. She traveled with the club that spring to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and back. Over the years she attended many games. It’s probably good that she did since Clarkson attracted more than his share of women to the park. He was a good-looking Irishman with dark hair and bluish-gray eyes. And he was a bit of a dandy when it came to his attire, as the Sporting Life noticed: ‘All of the Chicago players dress well off the field but Clarkson is the bright particular dude of the team. He is very scrupulous about his dress, and there is considerable of the English in his style.’ The Detroit Free Press said, ‘His uniform was always immaculate, his linen always possessed the fresh-from-the-laundry touch, he was always smoothly shaved, his manners were always faultless.’ He also wore a silk handkerchief on the outside of his uniform.”
44-11, 1.66 ERA, 258 K, .206, 2 HR, 19 RBI
Bases on Balls-131 (2nd Time)
5th Time All-Star-Smiling Mickey pitched his best season ever, despite a dreadful strikeout-to-walk ratio, especially for this era in which six balls constituted a base on balls. Despite that 258/131 ratio, Welch finished second in WAR (10.7) and second in WAR for Pitchers (10.5). He pitched 492 innings with a 1.66 ERA and a 164 ERA+ — both of those last two figures are career highs. He still has some good seasons left.
As for the newly-named Giants (they were the Gothams the year before), they battled with Chicago and fell two games short. Still, Jim Mutrie, who came over from the American Association champion New York Metropolitans, led New York to a 85-27 record. Mutrie and the Giants have some good seasons ahead.
The Giants had a winning record against every team in the rest of the league, and not only a winning record, but their lowest percentage was against the league-winning White Stockings, beating them 10 out of 16 times. Yet Chicago still did better. This was certainly Goliath vs. Goliath.
Wikipedia says about Welch, “After the 1885 season, Welch was one of nine Giants players to form baseball’s first union, which was known as the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players. The players were upset about the way they had been treated by baseball owners. The reserve clause, which restricted player movement and tempered increases in player salaries, had been instituted in 1880. The union spent the next several years recruiting new members and talking about the cause of player salaries. Though Welch was still an active player, he began saving money with the goal of opening a hotel.” Since the reserve clause stuck around until the 1970s, it’s hard to gauge how much good that union did.
28-21, 2.20 ERA, 154 K, .233, 0 HR, 22 RBI
5th Time All-Star-When you look at even the basic stats above, your first reaction isn’t that it’s a bad year, and it wasn’t. But it wasn’t an Old Hoss season. He had been the dominant pitcher in the National League in 1883 and 1884, but almost looked mortal this year. He dropped to third in WAR (8.4) and third in WAR for Pitchers (7.2). Radbourn pitched 445 2/3 innings with a 2.20 ERA and a 123 ERA+. The only way you would say “meh” to those numbers is if you’re comparing them to his past seasons.
As for Hoss’s team, Providence fell from first to fourth, finishing 53-57 under manager Frank Bancroft. It would also fall out of the NL as this was the Grays’ last year. They lasted eight seasons, with 1885 being the only season they finished under .500. Altogether, Providence went 438-278 with two pennants and one World Series victory.
Baseball was strange in the 1880s. Pitchers were expected to pitch sensationally every game, as least according to this from SABR, “Rad butted heads with management once again at the end of the season. On September 11, he was hit hard, giving up 15 hits and three wild pitches in a 9-1 loss to New York. The club directors suspended him for ‘indifferent work.’ Said Radbourn, ‘I tried to pitch the best I could.’ As the New York Times noted, that wasn’t good enough for club management. ‘Director (J. Edward, “Ned”) Allen (of the Providence club) said that all his players would be summarily dealt with in the future, and he would compel them to play good ball or they would not play at all.’”
26-20, 2.22 ERA, 197 K, .306, 1 HR, 27 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Charles J. “Charlie” Ferguson was born on April 17, 1863 in Charlottesville, VA. He is going to have a short career that will end in tragedy. More on that in later write-ups. He played four years, from 1884-to-1887, all with the Quakers. This season, he finished fifth in WAR (8.0) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (5.8). On the mound, Ferguson threw 405 innings with a 2.22 ERA and a 126 ERA+. He also threw a no-hitter against Providence on August 29. He also did well at the plate, slashing .306/.368/.379 for an OPS+ of 145. At 22 years old, with a great arm and a good bat, he looked like he was off to a long, prosperous career. Just a little taste of what’s upcoming – Charlie is still in the top 20 players in WAR in the Phillies’ history, despite playing only four seasons.
The Quakers were one of three teams which finished above .500 in the National League. Led by Harry Wright, Philadelphia went 56-54, still 30 games back of first.
Ferguson rescued the Quakers from being disregarded in Philadelphia, according to SABR, which says, “The Quakers finished their inaugural season in 1883 with a dismal 17-81 record, while their swashbuckling crosstown rivals had just captured the Association pennant in a thrilling race with the St. Louis Browns that went down to the season’s final days. Al Reach, owner of the Quakers, knew he needed something to turn the team around.
“That something came in the form of Charles Ferguson. He signed with the Quakers in the spring of 1884 for a salary of $1,500 and made his major-league debut against the Detroit Wolverines on May 1 at Recreation Park in Philadelphia. What a debut it was! Providing a preview of his all-around abilities, Ferguson pitched a complete game, tripled and singled twice to lead the Phillies in a 13-2 thrashing of the Detroit Wolverines. The young right-hander finished the season at 21-25 with a 3.54 ERA as he hurled 417 innings for a team that posted a 39-73-1 record.”
32-13, 1.58 ERA, 227 K, .163, 0 HR, 12 RBI
1885 NL Pitching Title (2nd Time)
Earned Run Average-1.58 (2nd Time)
Hits per 9 IP-6.750 (3rd Time)
Adjusted ERA+-174 (2nd Time)
Putouts as P-30
6th Time All-Star-There was chicanery going on in New York since the National League Giants and the American Association Metropolitans were owned by the same man. Having won the AA crown in 1884, John B. Day moved Manager Jim Mutrie and Keefe from the Metropolitans to the Giants for 1885 to see if they could lead the Giants to the NL pennant. If it weren’t for the outstanding White Stockings, that plan would have worked.
Keefe continued to dazzle on the mound. He finished sixth in WAR (6.7) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (6.9). In “only” 400 innings pitched (his lowest amount in a stretch of six years), he had a 1.58 ERA and a 174 ERA+. The Hall of Fame has got its share of players wrong, but they got it right with Keefe.
More on the deceitfulness of Day from SABR: “Keefe’s performance with the Metropolitans led Day to hatch a plan to reunite Keefe with his former Troy teammate Mickey Welch as the pitchers for the 1885 season on his National League team, to be managed by Mutrie. Day orchestrated a ruse to transfer Keefe and teammate Dude Esterbrook from Day’s American Association team to his National League team by having Mutrie take them both on a boat trip to Bermuda. On the ship Mutrie gave both players their ten-day release from their contracts with the Metropolitans, and then 11 days later signed them to National League contracts. Day and Mutrie had to hide the two players from the other major-league teams because at the time the ten-day release worked like today’s waiver wire, so any team could acquire the player’s contract during that ten-day period before the player was freed from the reserve clause and could negotiate with other teams.”
26-23, 2.21 ERA, 140 K, .207, 1 HR, 13 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Edward M. “Ed” Daily was born on September 7, 1862 in Providence, RI. The five-foot-10, 174 pound rookie had his best year ever, but he’ll be around for a while. Most of his career would be spent in the outfield, but he always managed to pitch a few games a year. As for this season, Daily finished seventh in WAR (6.4) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (6.5). He pitched 440 innings with a 2.21 ERA and a 126 ERA+. He would never have a season in which he pitched this well again.
Why Daily was given so much time in the outfield is a mystery. He never was a good hitter, not once did he ever have a season in which his Adjusted OPS+ was above 100. Of course, after this season, he also went through a long stretch in which his pitching wasn’t great either.
At least Daily was interesting. According to Baseball Reference, “He pitched with a handkerchief hanging out of his back pocket. Was it a way to distract the hitters?
“He is both pitcher and DH on one website’s All Rhode Island Team. He is listed in some sources as the brother of contemporary catcher Con Daily, although census records disprove this.” It’s a good thing he was born in Rhode Island, because Daily is not making the All-Star team in California or New York or Pennsylvania.
Even though Daily only pitched seven seasons, he is in the all-time top 100 in wild pitches, most of them coming this year (40). That sounds like a lot and it is, because the record will be set in 1889 by Mark Baldwin, who threw 83 wild pitches. Since then, no one has ever had more than 36 in a season.
22-27, 2.88 ERA, 242 K, .240, 1 HR, 33 RBI
3rd Time All-Star-Buffinton had a losing season, but it wasn’t bad. It certainly didn’t compare to his stellar 1884 season, but on a struggling team, he still managed to finish eighth in WAR (6.0) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (5.8). Buffinton pitched 434 1/3 innings with a 2.88 ERA and a 94 ERA+. Don’t worry, he’ll eventually bounce back to being a great pitcher.
John Morrill coached the Beaneaters *snicker* to a fifth place finish, with a 46-66 record. Boston was 41 games out of first. Morrill would never have the success he did in his first two years (1883-84).
You might be wondering what happened to Jim Whitney, who has been such a great pitcher the last four years. He fell a little this year and didn’t make the All-Star team, but he still had a 2.98 ERA, though that only works out to a 91 ERA+ in 1885. Part of the problem is that the ERA for the entire league was 2.82. It’s all about the context.
There were still plenty of errors in these times. Even though the league ERA was 2.82, the average amount of runs scored per game was 5.0. There were 4,407 runs scored in the National League, but only 2,442 of them were earned or 55 percent. In 2015, 92 percent of runs scored were earned. The lesson is that it’s easier to field when you wear gloves.
What would be the earliest year in which someone alive now would have seen baseball and remembered it? Let’s say you had to be six-years-old to remember a game you saw. If there’s a 115-year-old alive today, it means he would have remembered something from 109 years ago, or 1907. Yes, it’s true, there is possibly someone alive who might have watched the Cubs win the World Series in 1908.
11-9, 1.86 ERA, 135 K, .242, 0 HR, 18 RBI
Walks & Hits per IP-.0920
Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.775
Fielding Independent Pitching-1.99
1st Time All-Star-Charles B. “Lady” Baldwin was born on April 8, 1859 in Oramel, NY and is a tribute to the days which lacked political correctness. So, since his nickname Lady is the elephant in the room, let’s start with that. According to Wikipedia, “Baldwin was given the nickname ‘Lady’ because of his ‘quiet ways’ and his refusal to swear or to come into contact with either tobacco or liquor.” James “Deacon” White must have been happy about his nickname considering what it could have been. Of course, you must be a little subdued to let the nickname Lady stick in the first place.
Oh, his season? Not bad. He finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (3.9), tossing 179 1/3 innings with a 1.86 ERA and a 154 ERA+. He has a great year ahead before his career would start petering out.
Detroit was managed by Charlie Morton (7-31, terrible) and Bill Watkins (34-36, not bad) to a 41-67 sixth place finish, 44 games out of first. Stump Weidman and Pretzels Getzien couldn’t get it together on the mound this season and it affected the team. The Wolverines were actually a good hitting team, third in the league in runs scored per game. Next year, they’re going to be even better at the plate.
More on Baldwin. He was actually a rare transfer from the Union Association, where he played seven games for the Milwaukee Brewers. Detroit acquired him because of his work in the minor leagues, however. For the Western Association Brewers, Lady went 11-4 with a 0.68 ERA.
23-26, 2.57 ERA, 194 K, .133, 0 HR, 9 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-Shaw was one of the rare players to make a successful jump from the Union Association to the National League. While he didn’t strike out 451 batters as he did combined between two teams in 1884, he still had a decent season and, besides that, strikeouts were down all around anyway. Dupee finished eighth in WAR for Pitchers (4.3), throwing 399 2/3 innings with a 2.57 ERA and a 105 ERA+. He probably has one more All-Star team left in him.
I mentioned strikeouts being down. In 1884, the league leaders were Old Hoss Radbourn in the NL with 441; Guy Hecker in the American Association with 385; and Hugh Daily in the UA with a record 483. This season, the NL leader was John Clarkson with 308 and Ed Morris in the AA with 298. I’m not exactly sure why, except that in 1884, all rule restrictions were taken off of a pitcher’s delivery and maybe by this season, batters were starting to get used to it. Another rule the NL adopted by the way is that one side of that bat could be flat. That would last until 1893. I’m not sure how that would have changed the game, but it would have been interesting to watch.
One of those unusual deliveries by the way belonged to Shaw, according to Wikipedia, which quotes Alfred Henry Spink, founder of The Sporting News as saying, “After considerable swinging and scratching around with his feet, during which he would deliver a lengthy speech to the batter, to the effect that he was the best pitcher on earth and the batter a dub, he would stretch both arms at full length over his head. Then after gazing fixedly at the first baseman for a moment, he would wheel half around and both arms would fly apart like magic… [H]e would wind his left arm around again and let the ball fly, running at the same time all the way from the box to the home plate.”
16-24, 2.75 ERA, 133 K, .202, 1 HR, 21 RBI
1st Time All-Star-“Handsome Henry” J. Boyle was born on September 20, 1860 in Philadelphia, PA. When the St. Louis Maroons of the Union Association were finding every good player they could in order to dominate that league, Boyle was one of those chosen. He didn’t make the All-Star team in the UA, but he had a good 1884. He was 15-3 with a 1.74 ERA and a 174 ERA+ in 150 innings pitched. Of course, as we’ve seen, doing well in the UA doesn’t necessarily relate to doing well in the National League, but Boyle did, and he’s got other good years ahead.
Handsome Henry finished 10th in WAR for Pitchers (3.0), pitching 366 innings with a 2.75 ERA and a 101 ERA+. He might not have had a winning record but he had a decent year nonetheless.
Along with pitching 42 games, Boyle also played 31 games in the outfield and two games at second base. While he was a better hitter than many pitchers, he still didn’t seem to be good enough to regularly put him in the lineup. He slashed .202/.240/.256 for an OPS+ of 62. The Maroons probably wish the UA had lasted.
Baseball Reference is an incredible website, isn’t it? If I wanted to get all of this information in my youth, I would have had to buy a Baseball Encyclopedia, which was great, but not nearly as comprehensive as BR. Anyway, they list similarity scores telling which player is most similar to the other. Henry Boyle is most similar in his career to George Winter, who pitched eight seasons in the American League from 1901-08 and is also third in similarity to Dupee Shaw.
.269, 5 HR, 60 RBI
Range Factor/9 Inn as C-7.48 (2nd Time)
Range Factor/Game as C-7.00 (3rd Time)
5th Time All-Star-Bennett, the great Wolverine, was aging, but was once again the best catcher in the National League and has now made the All-Star team five consecutive years. Most teams’ leader in WAR was a pitcher because of all the innings pitched during this era, but for Detroit, it was their iron man catcher. Bennett finished fifth in WAR Position Players (4.5) and seventh in Offensive WAR (4.0). He slashed .269/.356/.456 for his highest OPS+ ever of 162.
Whatever you want to say about Bennett, you can’t question his toughness. I mentioned in a previous blurb for Bennett that there were other catchers in his day, but none of them played as many games behind the plate as him. He played over 80 percent of his games behind the plate. This led to a beat-up, bloodied body, according to Wikipedia, “Accounts of Bennett’s mangled or gnarled hands and fingers are common. In his book, Catcher: The Evolution of an American Folk Hero, Peter Morris cited one such account:
Bennett ‘declared that only a sissy would use a padded glove with the fingers and thumb cut off. During one of the games in which he figured a foul ball split the left thumb of Bennett’s hand from the tip right down to the palm. The flesh was laid open right to the bone. A doctor who examined it immediately told Bennett that it would be necessary for him to quit the game until such time as the thumb healed sufficiently. The physician pointed out … that blood poisoning might set in which would cause him the loss not only of the thumb but perhaps a hand or an arm. But despite all the doctor’s caution Bennett remained in the game catching day after day with his horribly mangled finger. He kept a bottle of antiseptic and a wad of cotton batting on the bench and between innings would devote his time to washing out the wound.’” Wow.
.304, 6 HR, 63 RBI, 0-1, 4.50 ERA, 0 K
Assists as C-102 (2nd Time)
4th Time All-Star-Sometimes when you get to the greats like Ewing, writing becomes repetitive. Ewing did great, would do great for many years, he’s great! He’s just so good that there isn’t a lot new to say. So let’s go through the drill again. Ewing finished eighth in WAR Position Players (4.1). He slashed .304/.330/.471 for an OPS+ of 156. It was his highest OPS+ ever and he would beat it just once in his career in 1888.
The Baseball Hall of Fame, of which Ewing is part, fascinates me and upsets me and saddens me. All of the above really. Writers much better than I, like Joe Posnanski or Bill James, have written much on the Hall of Fame and I don’t want to belabor points they’ve made like: Is the Hall of Fame for the morally good or a place to tell baseball history?
It irritates me that the BBWAA writers get to choose players to go in based on their own conceptions of morality. I’m all for morality, I’m a born-again Christian, but how do the writers get to determine who’s in and who’s out by who’s “good” and who’s “bad?” That being said, I think Pete Rose should not be in the Hall of Fame because he clearly broke the rules established at the time. He will be in mine, however, since the ONEHOF is based only on exploits on the field of play. I do think Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens should be in, because baseball had unclear and unenforced rules on steroids at the time they played.
.371, 1 HR, 65 RBI
1885 NL Batting Title
WAR Position Players-8.1
Offensive WAR-6.8 (2nd Time)
Adj. Batting Runs-52
Adj. Batting Wins-5.8
Times on Base-220
AB per SO-56.9
Assists as 1B-42
Double Plays Turned as 1B-66 (2nd Time)
4th Time All-Star-After not making the All-Star team in 1884, a year in which 75 different people made the teams (well, a few less, because some players made them in two different leagues), Connor is back and had his best season ever. He finished fourth in WAR (8.1), first in WAR Position Players (8.1), and first in Offensive WAR (6.8), and, for the first time, made the top 10 in Defensive WAR, finishing sixth (1.4). The man for whom the Giants were allegedly named had a gigantic season. As a matter of fact, his 8.1 WAR for a position player was the highest ever. Well, until next season, when Dan Brouthers would barely edge that mark (8.2). In case you’re wondering and you don’t want to wait until I’m 100 years old and writing up the 1923 season, Babe Ruth holds the all-time record for WAR Position Players with 14.1.
SABR writes about Connor’s 1885 season: “Perhaps even more remarkable, the lusty swinging lefty had struck out only eight times in 506 plate appearances. Connor even began to exhibit signs of fielding prowess. Relocated to first base, he posted a respectable .975 fielding average, an augury of the fine defensive play that he would soon become respected for. Another under-recognized Connor talent was also coming to the fore: baserunning. Fleet afoot for so large a man, Roger unnerved opposing infielders with base path daring and a hard pop-up slide, a maneuver he was the first to popularize.” Read that again, he struck out only eight times!
.359, 7 HR, 59 RBI
Slugging %-.543 (5th Time)
On-Base Plus Slugging-.951 (4th Time)
Adjusted OPS+-203 (4th Time)
Extra Base Hits-50 (3rd Time)
Offensive Win %-.860 (3rd Time)
5th Time All-Star-Big Dan, the Buffalo Basher, continued to be the National League’s best slugger.He was the Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, or Rogers Hornsby of the 1800s. He will eventually make the Hall of Fame, but not until 1945 by the Old Timers Committee. He wouldn’t have his induction ceremony until 2013. It would have been fun to watch this man play. For 1885, Brouthers was ninth in WAR (5.2), second in WAR Position Players (5.2), and second in Offensive WAR (6.0). He slashed .359/.408/.543 for an OPS+ of 203, his highest ever, well, until next season. I want to also point out he’s doing this all in the strongest league of all, the NL, and not in one of the other weaker leagues of the time.
Next season, he will not be on the Bisons, who folded after the season. In its last season, Buffalo finished seventh with a 38-74 record. They had two different managers, Pud Galvin (7-17) and Jack Chapman (31-57), in three different ballparks – Olympic Park, Maple Avenue Driving Park, and Wright Street Grounds. According to Wikipedia, “At the end of the 1885 season, Buffalo was going through financial trouble and were forced to sell off their players, so ‘The Big Four’ were sold to the Detroit Wolverines of the NL for US$7,000.” The “Big Four” consisted of Brouthers, Jack Rowe, Hardy Richardson, and Deacon White.
This season for the Bisons saw the fall of Pud Galvin, who made the All-Star team six consecutive seasons. He had pitched over 445 innings six straight years and won 20 or more every one of those seasons. In 1885, however, his ERA ballooned to 4.09 for Buffalo and he was traded to the American Association to pitch for Pittsburgh. Don’t fret for him, he still has some good seasons left.
.310, 7 HR, 108 RBI
Doubles-35 (3rd Time)
Runs Batted In-108 (5th Time)
Putouts-1,255 (3rd Time)
Def. Games as 1B-112
Putouts as 1B-1,253 (3rd Time)
Errors Committed as 1B-57 (3rd Time)
Range Factor/Game as 1B-11.54 (4th Time)
11th Time All-Star-There were some great first basemen at this time in the National League. So much so, that Anson had a good year and is still only the third best first baseman in the league. He finished fifth in Offensive WAR (4.3), slashing .310/.357/.461 for an OPS+ of 149. Unlike Dan Brouthers, who tended to just have great season after great season, Anson’s were sometimes great and sometimes just very good. I would put 1885 in the latter category.
Hey, Cap can’t worry about hitting, he was too busy managing Chicago to the National League title, with an 87-25 record, two games ahead of the Giants. They then played in the World Series against the American Association St. Louis Browns and in seven games, they tied, winning three, losing three, and tying one. It was an upset, considering how much stronger the NL was than the AA. You couldn’t blame the tie on Anson, though. He was 11-for-26 for a .423 average and also hit a double and a triple. SABR says the following about the matchup: “However, Anson’s team played poorly in a postseason ‘World’s Series’ against the St. Louis Browns of the American Association. The series ended, officially, in a tie after a disputed Browns victory caused no end of controversy.”
You might know RBI was not an official stat at this time, though researchers have retroactively gone back to fill in many of the blanks. SABR says, “The Chicago Tribune introduced a new statistic, runs batted in, in 1880 and reported that Cap Anson led the league in this category by a healthy margin. The statistic was soon dropped, but later researchers have determined that Anson led the National League in RBIs eight times. He is credited with driving in more than 2,000 runs, behind only Henry Aaron and Babe Ruth on the all-time list despite the fact that National League teams played fewer than 100 games per season for much of Anson’s career.”
.270, 2 HR, 25 RBI
Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-6.71 (2nd Time)
Fielding % as 2B-.934
6th Time All-Star-If there would have been snarky Internet blogs in the 1880s, one of the headlines would have surely read, “Union Association folds, Sure Shot Dunlap hardest hit.” It’s not that he wasn’t still a great player. He’s easily the best second baseman of this era. It’s just that his 1884 UA numbers so dwarf his other accomplishments. Still, in 1885, Dunlap finished sixth in WAR Position Players (4.3) and fourth in Defensive WAR (1.5). This will be the last season he’s in the top 10 in any of the WAR categories. At the plate, he slashed .327/.334/.333 for an OPS+ of 119. Compare that to his 1884 UA numbers of .412/.448/.621 for an OPS+ of 256. Totally different league, totally. (Square Pegs, we salute you! Oh, and apparently we’re saluting Hee Haw, too!)
Or maybe the headline would have read, “Union Association folds, Maroons hardest hit.” In the UA, the Maroons were stacked with the greatest players available. In the NL, that great lineup was only good for a last place finish. Led by Dunlap (30-40) and Alex McKinnon (6-32), St. Louis ended the season with a 36-72 record. Just to rub salt in the wounds, the American Association St. Louis club finished first and went on to play in the World Series against Chicago.
Without doing what many call “research,” I can only guess that it’s possible the 26-year-old superstar has made his last All-Star team. He’s going to actually be part of winning teams with Detroit in future years, but his hitting and his fielding started to decline. He never was above 1.0 Defensive WAR after 1885, nor above 2.0 Offensive WAR. So I’ll give the final word to Bill James, from Wikipedia, “However, Bill James, in his 2001 book The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, ranked Dunlap as the 89th greatest second baseman of all time (and the 8th best of those who played the majority of their careers in the 19th century). James wrote that Dunlap was ‘never a legitimate star in a legitimate major league, but a good second baseman and a .275 hitter.’” Way to end us on a downer note, James!
.319, 6 HR, 44 RBI, 0-0, 2.25 ERA, 1 K
4th Time All-Star-Richardson continued his unusual pattern of making All-Star teams only in odd-numbered years. He continued being part of the “Big Four” for Buffalo, but like Dan Brouthers, he’s off to Detroit in 1886. For this season, he finished eighth in Offensive WAR (3.9) and slashed .319/.350/.458 for an OPS+ of 157. Richardson also pitched for the first time ever, relieving in a game and tossing four innings. He allowed two runs, one of which was earned. Detroit would use him more as a pitcher in 1886.
Since Richardson didn’t make the All-Star team in 1884, let me relay this story from Wikipedia about that season: “Richardson was involved in another unusual circumstance in a game against the Chicago White Stockings on August 13, 1884. Chicago’s George Gore was instructed by player-manager Cap Anson to avoid the double play. When the next batter hit a ground ball, Gore tackled Richardson at second base before he could complete the relay throw. The umpire called both the batter and the runner out, and Anson protested the ruling and refused to resume play, leading the umpire to declare the game forfeited to Buffalo. The two teams then agreed to resume a game which had been postponed earlier in the season, as a way of placating the dissatisfied fans. In the later game, Anson decided to demonstrate of the right way to break up the double play. He reached first base, and when the next batter hit a ground ball to Richardson, Anson waved his arms while running to second in an effort to interfere with Richardson’s throw. Possibly flustered by this display, Richardson in turn struck Anson square in the head with his throw, which was delivered hard enough that it bounced all the way into the grandstands. A woozy Anson was forced to leave the game.”
.238, 3 HR, 65 RBI, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 K
Games Played-113 (2nd Time)
Bases on Balls-75
Def. Games as 3B-113 (2nd Time)
Assists as 3B-258 (6th Time)
Double Plays as 3B-18 (5th Time)
Fielding % as 3B-.892 (5th Time)
6th Time All-Star-Williamson continued to be the best third baseman in the National League and now was part of his fourth league-winning team. He finished seventh in WAR Position Players (4.1) and second in Defensive WAR (2.0). He slashed .238/.357/.324 for an OPS+ of 110. He had a bad World Series, going two-for-23, with no extra base hits and four walks. At the age of 27, Williamson has made six All-Star teams and yet it’s possible this is his last one.
After playing 1884 in Lake Front Park with all its short fences and setting many home run records, the White Stockings moved to West Side Park in 1885. Wikipedia says of it, “The park was located on a small block bounded by Congress, Loomis, Harrison and Throop Streets, with the diamond toward its western end. The elongated shape of the block lent a bathtub-like shape to the park, with foul lines reportedly as short as 216 feet. The stadium held roughly 10,000 fans. In addition to the diamond, the park held a bicycle track which encircled the playing field, at the height of the contemporary bicycle craze.” It still had close fences, but not nearly to the extent of the previous park. Surprisingly, West Side Park was even more of a hitters’ park than Lake Front Park. The home runs were down, but Chicago scored the same runs per game this season as they did the one before.
Since I don’t know if we’ll see Williamson again, here’s how he perished from Wikipedia, “In the spring of 1894, Williamson traveled to Hot Springs, Arkansas, in hopes that he could recover from a liver ailment and lose some weight as well, but the treatments did not work. Williamson died on March 3 of that year, at the age of 36 in Willow Springs, Arkansas, of dropsy (edema) complicated by consumption (tuberculosis). He is interred in an unmarked grave at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago.”
.313, 4 HR, 47 RBI
Double Plays Turned as 3B-10 (2nd Time)
6th Time All-Star-You can’t talk about 18th century third basemen without Ezra Sutton, who made his sixth and, most likely, last All-Star team. He finished 10th in WAR Position Players (4.0) and third in Offensive WAR (4.5). His defense, which had often been his strong suit, was fading and his offense would fall after this season. Sutton slashed .313/.338/.425 for an OPS+ of 149.
From SABR, here’s some notes on the end of his career: “Over the winter of 1884-85, Sutton, John Morrill, Jack Manning, Art Irwin, Arlie Latham and Joe Knight formed a polo team, playing the top clubs in the New England area. In 1886 the 35-year-old Sutton spent a good deal of time in the outfield, as young Billy Nash covered third. Nash became Boston’s starting third baseman, a job he kept through 1895. Sutton was relegated to a utility role. Tired of sitting on the bench, he was agitating for his release by 1887. He did have one of his final hurrahs on August 27, 1887, scoring six times against Pittsburgh in a 28-14 romp.”
Now go back and look at Sutton’s 1884 blurb, it’s okay, I can wait. Okay, you’re back, now read this, also from SABR, “Unable to care for himself, Sutton was admitted to Homeopathic Hospital, a long-term-care facility, in Rochester on April 3, 1906. A couple of months later, he wrote former teammate Tim Murnane, now a sportswriter for the Boston Globe, appealing for help: ‘I am at the Homeopathic Hospital in Rochester. I came here April 3 suffering from locomotor ataxia. I cannot go out. My sickness was brought on by overwork. The doctor says I used up all my money trying to get cured. My wife was burned to death last January through the explosion of a lamp.’ Sadly, he signed the letter ‘E.B. Sutton, a ball player in distress.’
“Sutton’s plight in his final years illustrated to many in the game a need for a system to help indigent ballplayers. The game had always done so, but through individual efforts on a case-by-case basis via fundraising efforts by fans, ex-teammates or league owners and officials. It wasn’t until the formation of the Association of Professional Ball Players of America in 1924 that an organized effort took hold.”
.280, 1 HR, 40 RBI
Defensive WAR -2.2 (2nd Time)
Assists-404 (2nd Time)
Assists as SS-397 (3rd Time)
Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-5.23 (2nd Time)
Fielding % as SS-.917 (3rd Time)
5th Time All-Star-Glasscock shuffled off to the Union Association in 1884, had an impressive All-Star season in just 38 games, but now he was back to the toughest league in baseball and he still played All-Star ball. I’m going to be writing about Pebbly Jack for a long time — his career is amazing and yet unbelievably he’s not in the Hall of Fame. I have no doubt he’ll make the ONEHOF, which is much more prestigious anyhow.
For the Maroons, Glasscock finished 10th in WAR (5.1), third in WAR Position Players (5.1), ninth in Offensive WAR (3.7), and, as mentioned above, first in Defensive WAR (2.2). At the plate, he slashed .280/.324/.341 for an OPS+ of 118, but it was really his glove which put him on this list.
Wikipedia notes, “He returned to the NL with the St. Louis Maroons for the next two years, becoming team captain. In 1885 he set an NL record for assists (397), breaking Arthur Irwin‘s 1880 mark of 339, and led the league in fielding average (.917); he also moved ahead of Davy Force to become the major league career leader in games at shortstop.”
His fielding is also heralded on the webpage, Baseball Hot Corner, which gives a list of the top 300 pre-1900 moments in the sport. At number 14 is Glasscock, of whom it is written, “Jack Glasscock revolutionizes the shortstop position with things like hand signals, shifts and backing up plays.” His only fault is he played outstanding ball for a lot of weak teams. Maybe that’s why he’s not in the Hall.
.274, 11 HR, 61 RBI
At Bats-492 (4th Time)
Plate Appearances-538 (3rd Time)
Extra Base Hits-50
AB per HR-44.7
Outs Made-357 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as OF-113 (3rd Time)
3rd Time All-Star-If you look at the 1880 write-up, I once again made a wrong prediction, saying that would be Dalrymple’s last All-Star team. And yet, five years later, here he is again. He slashed .274/.336/.445 for an OPS+ of 138 and helped Chicago to its fifth National League title, four of which Dalrymple was a part. In the World Series, Dalrymple hit .269 with one of the team’s two homers and two doubles. As a reminder, Chicago tied in the World Series with the American Association St. Louis Browns, both teams winning three games and tying in one more.
Dalrymple was one of the game’s first regular lead-off hitters, despite only having a lifetime .323 on-base percentage. Yes, even from the beginning of the sport, managers used criteria other than on-base percentage to pick leadoff hitters. Maybe he was fast, though for much of his career there were no stolen bases tracked, making it difficult to ascertain this.
From Baseball Reference: “Abner Dalrymple was the Opening Day lead-off hitter for the Chicago White Stockings each year from 1879 to 1886. George Gore batted second behind him on Opening Day each year. In 1887, Billy Sunday replaced him on the team as the Opening Day lead-off batter.”
And now a story that’s probably not true from Verdun2’s Blog: “He is credited with one of the more infamous plays of the 19th Century. The Sox were in Buffalo (which had a NL team from 1879-1885) playing in smokey conditions. It was late, making it even more difficult to see, when a Bisons player hit a long fly with two outs and the bases loaded. Dalrymple went back to the fence, leaped, and came out of the haze with the ball to end the inning. Later he admitted the ball went over the fence and he’d hidden a ball in his shirt, pulled it out, and held it high, knowing no one would be able to tell what actually happened in the haze. Great story, right? There are several problems with it. There is no date given, no batter mentioned, the inning is left in doubt. So maybe it’s true (it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility in 19th Century ball), or maybe it’s not, but it’s still a fun story.”
.313, 5 HR, 57 RBI
6th Time All-Star-Here’s the strange thing about Abner Dalrymple batting leadoff for the White Stockings. Right below him in the lineup was George Gore, who would have been a phenomenal first batter. He got on base often, finishing in the top 10 in OBP 10 times and was also fast, once stealing seven bases in a game and stealing 170 bases in his career, despite the fact SB weren’t recorded until Gore was 32 years old. Well, Cap Anson won a lot more titles than I ever have, so who am I to question his managing acumen.
For the season, Gore was the league-winning White Stockings’ leading position player, finishing fourth in WAR Position Players (4.9) and fourth in Offensive WAR (4.4). He slashed .313/.405/.454 for an OPS+ of 163, made his sixth consecutive All-Star team, and won his fourth National League title. Wikipedia says, “On July 9, 1885, in a games against the Providence Grays and their pitcher Charles Radbourn, he gathered five extra-base hits, three doubles and two triples. He is the first player to accomplish this feat, which has since been equalled many times, but never surpassed.”
In the World Series, Gore batted only three times, going oh-for-three, with a walk and a run scored. The reason he didn’t play more, according to Wikipedia, is because “After the tie game, Gore was suspended for drunkenness and indifference, and was replaced for the rest of the series by Billy Sunday. Sunday later converted to Christianity and became a well-known evangelist.”
.300, 5 HR, 42 RBI
9th Time All-Star-After four years with Buffalo, O’Rourke moved to the Big Apple and had another great season, though it’s possible it’s his last All-Star appearance. He finished ninth in WAR Position Players (4.0) and sixth if Offensive WAR (4.3). Orator Jim slashed .300/.354/.442 for an OPS+ of 156. His hitting would never be so good again, but it’s not like it was terrible. For the next seven seasons after this one, until he was 41 years old, O’Rourke would have an Adjusted OPS+ of 114 or higher. Only in his last full season when he was 42, did it drop below 100.
O’Rourke would also play one season in 1904, according to Wikipedia, which says, “In 1904 he made a final appearance with the New York Giants under manager and friend John McGraw, becoming at age 54 the oldest player ever to appear in the National League, and the oldest player to hit safely in a major league game. O’Rourke is one of only 29 players in baseball history to appear in Major League games in four decades.”
After this season, O’Rourke would play six more seasons with the Giants, a partial season in 1890 with the Players League Giants, and one season in 1893 with the Washington Senators before retiring. Then, again according to Wikipedia, “After leaving the major leagues following the 1893 season he continued to play in the minor leagues until he was over 50 years old. As an executive of the Bridgeport team in the Connecticut League, in 1895 O’Rourke hired the first African American minor league baseball player in history.” He was always a man of principles.
.302, 1 HR, 29 RBI
Errors Committed as OF-38 (2nd Time)
1st Time All-Star-Edward Hugh “Ned” Hanlon was born on August 22, 1857 in Montville, CT. This is his first and, most likely, last All-Star team. The only category he led in was errors made. He never finished in the top 10 in any of the WAR categories. Yet, Ned Hanlon is in the Hall of Fame. However, it is as a manager, not a player. As a player, he started with the Cleveland Blues in 1880, went to Detroit the next season and stayed with it until 1888. In 1889, he played for the National League Pittsburgh Alleghenys, moved to the Players League Pittsburgh Burghers the next season, then went back to the Alleghenys in 1891, and finally finished his career with the Baltimore Orioles in 1892.
At the plate, Hanlon slashed .302/.372/.389 for an OPS+ of 147. For his career, he played mostly centerfield and, according to dWAR, didn’t do too well, having a career dWAR of -6.5.
Hanlon has a long article about him on Wikipedia, saying he’s sometimes referred to as “The Father of Modern Baseball” and then goes on to explain why: “During his years in Baltimore, Hanlon became known as ‘Foxy Ned’ and was credited with inventing a new strategy that came to be known as “inside” baseball. The strategy focused on teamwork, speed and execution, and encompassed the hit and run play, the squeeze play, the sacrifice bunt, the double steal, and the Baltimore chop. The Sporting News wrote that Hanlon’s ‘introduction and perfection of “inside baseball”’ had ‘initiated and brought to their highest point of efficiency the hit and run, bunt, sacrifice, chop hit, and base running, always doing the unexpected.’ A writer in The Baltimore Sun noted, ‘It occurred to [Hanlon] that a run gained by strategy counted as big as a run gained by slugging. Accordingly, he evolved an offensive technique that made baseball into something of an art.’”
.288, 9 HR, 75 RBI
Runs Scored-124 (2nd Time)
Assists as OF-29
5th Time All-Star-There’s that advertising campaign, “The Most Interesting Man in the World,” for some beer. That could have been King Kelly. He was a great player on a great team in a major city and this all contributed to his popularity. For 1885, in which he played for his fourth league champion, Kelly slashed .288/.355/.436 for an OPS+ of 142. It wasn’t his best season ever, that’s coming up, but it was good enough for the All-Star team and that’s all that matters.
Kelly wasn’t blinded by the bright lights in the World Series. He hit .346 (nine-for-26), with nine runs scored and three doubles.
As for the World Series, according to Wikipedia, Game 1 was tie called by darkness and then the White Stockings and Browns split the remaining six games. Interestingly, Game 5 was not played in St. Louis or Chicago, but Pittsburgh, and Game 6 was played in Cincinnati. So if I’m reading this right, the World Series was almost like the Super Bowl, held in neutral cities.
I’d look at this article if I were you. I just want to mention two games, Game 2 and Game 7.
“Game 2 (Oct. 15), Sportsman’s Park, St. Louis — With Chicago leading 5–4 in the sixth inning, Browns manager Charles Comiskey called his team off the field to protest a ruling made by umpire Dave Sullivan. The game was forfeited to Chicago.
“Game 7 (Oct. 24), Cincinnati Base Ball Grounds, Cincinnati — Behind pitcher Dave Foutz, St. Louis defeated Chicago 13–4 in the 7th and final game. The Browns claim the game 2 forfeit didn’t count and therefore claim the championship. The two clubs split the $1000 prize.”