P-Ed Morris, PIT
P-Bob Caruthers, STL
P-Guy Hecker, LOU
P-Henry Porter, BRO
P-Hardie Henderson, BAL
P-Bobby Mathews, PHA
P-Dave Foutz, STL
P-Larry McKeon, CIN
P-Will White, CIN
P-George Pechiney, CIN
C-Doc Bushong, STL
C-Jocko Milligan, PHA
1B-Dave Orr, NYP
1B-Harry Stovey, PHA
1B-Bill Phillips, BRO
2B-Sam Barkley, STL
3B-Frank Hankinson, NYP
SS-Candy Nelson, NYP
SS-Germany Smith, BRO
SS-Frank Fennelly, CIN
LF-Charley Jones, CIN
CF-Pete Browning, LOU
CF-Henry Larkin, PHA
CF-Chief Roseman, NYP
RF-Tom Brown, PIT
39-24, 2.35 ERA, 298 K, .186, 0 HR, 14 RBI
Wins Above Replacement-13.0
WAR for Pitchers-13.6
Walks & Hits per IP-0.964
Hits per 9 IP-7.017 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as P-63
Errors Committed as P-20
2nd Time All-Star-When the American Association went down from 13 teams to eight, Pittsburgh fortunately acquired Morris, who had his best season ever and was the best pitcher in the league. He finished first in WAR (13.0) and WAR for Pitchers (13.6), tossing 581 innings with a 2.35 ERA and a 138 ERA+. No sophomore slump for Cannonball.
Horace Phillips, who had never managed a team to a winning record before, finally did it with the Alleghenys. They finished in third place with a 56-55 record, 22 games out of first. Who knows where they would have been without Morris.
Baseball Reference says, “Ed Morris was a star left-handed pitcher who set several records, some of which stand. One of the first players from California to star in the major leagues, he was the ace of the Pittsburgh Alleghenies in the mid-1880s. He was arguably the top southpaw hurler of the 19th Century. He played for Pittsburgh in three different leagues. He was nicknamed ‘Cannonball’ for the velocity with which he threw. He was a temperamental player who would often sulk, earning him accusations of not trying his best. Off the field, he had jobs ranging from the ownership of a billiards hall to deputy warden of a jail.”
Can you throw 581 innings and stick around for a while? Not if you’re Ed Morris, whose blazing fastball would give him another good year or two, but, even at 22, he’s going to start heading downhill. Well, after next year anyway.
40-13, 2.07 ERA, 190 K, .225, 1 HR, 12 RBI
1885 AA Pitching Title
Earned Run Average-2.07
Home Runs per 9 IP-0.056
Adj. Pitching Runs-63
Adj. Pitching Wins-6.1
1st Time All-Star-Robert Lee “Parisian Bob” Caruthers was born on January 5, 1864 in Memphis, TN. He was tiny, standing at five-foot-seven and weighing in at 138 pounds. He would be one of the great two-way players, mowing down batters from the mound and also impressive in rightfield. He started in 1884 for the Browns, playing 16 games in rightfield and pitching 13 games. This season, he focused on pitching, playing 53 of his 60 games at that position. He finished second in WAR (10.0) and WAR for Pitchers (9.5). Had there been a Cy Young pitching yet, he had a good argument for winning that award. Caruthers pitched 482 1/3 innings while leading the league in both ERA (2.07) and Adjusted ERA+ (160). He would have a short but significant career.
As for his team, the Browns, they came back from a fourth place finish in 1884 to win the division this season. Coached by the wily Charlie Comiskey, they finished 79-33, 16 games ahead of the second place team. They would garner four All-Stars.
In the World Series against the National League White Stockings, Caruthers started three of the seven games, finishing 1-1 (with one tie), pitching 26 innings with a 2.42 ERA. The Series ended up deadlocked, 3-3-1.
Caruthers received his nickname after the season. According to SABR, “During the offseason Caruthers and a teammate, Doc Bushong, vacationed in France. While overseas Caruthers engaged in lengthy contract negotiations via trans-Atlantic cable, earning for himself the nickname Parisian Bob.” His high winning percentage and the greatness of the teams he played on make him a candidate for the Hall of Fame to some. But more importantly, will he make the ONEHOF?
30-23, 2.18 ERA, 209 K, .273, 2 HR, 35 RBI
4th Time All-Star-After his outstanding 1884 season in which he won 52 games, Hecker settled down this year, though he still played great. He finished third in WAR (8.5) and WAR for Pitchers (7.5). Hecker threw “only” 480 innings this season, after tossing 670 2/3 in 1884, with a 2.18 ERA and a 149 ERA+. He had his worst season hitting yet, slashing .273/.287/.337 for an OPS+ of 96, the first time his Adjusted OPS+ had ever been below 100.
In 1885, the Eclipse became the Colonels and fell from their third place 1884 year. Coached by Jim Hart, managing for his first time, the team went 53-59 and finished sixth.
Of this season for Hecker, SABR says, “But records were not something players or fans thought much about in the 1800s, and Hecker opened the 1885 campaign ready to continue his mastery of the American Association. However, after a game on April 21 he complained of a sore arm. He tried to pitch though the arm trouble and had flashes of his old brilliance. There were various conjectures as to the cause of his troubles, including the enforcement of the rule requiring a pitcher to keep his delivery below his shoulder level. But no medical cause was ever announced, and Hecker compiled a 30-23 record in 480 innings pitched. His decline concerned the Louisville management enough that they purchased the contract of a young lefty from Chattanooga, Tom (Toad) Ramsey, late in the season. Hecker’s decline as a pitcher was matched in the batter’s box as his average dropped to .273 and his slugging average dropped nearly 100 points to .337.”
33-21, 2.78 ERA, 197 K, .205, 0 HR, 16 HR
1st Time All-Star-Walter Henry Porter was born in June, 1858 in Vergennes, VT. He started in 1884, pitching six games for the Union Association Milwaukee Brewers and was one of the rare players to find a place in the National League. There, Porter had his best season ever and, most likely, his only All-Star season. He finished fifth in WAR (6.1) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (6.4). In 481 2/3 innings pitched, he had a 2.78 ERA and 120 ERA+.
As for the Grays, which would someday be the Dodgers, Charlie Hackett (15-22) and Charlie Byrne (38-37) led them to a 53-59 fifth place finish. Brooklyn’s two other pitchers, John Harkins and Adonis Terry, couldn’t match the success of Porter, with neither having ERAs under 3.75.
Baseball Reference says of Porter, “He was one of the earliest major leaguers born in Vermont, and the only one through 2008 born in Vergennes, VT, located in northwest Vermont not far from Burlington, VT. As of 1892 he was living in southern New Jersey.
“His obituary in Sporting Life called him ‘a crack pitcher on the old Brooklyn team’, saying he first became prominent in baseball in 1880, was later with Bay City, and also Milwaukee.
“’The new rule permitting a new man to be put in at the end of any even inning is certain to add to the interest of the game. . . Time and again have I seen Henry Porter pitch an invincible game for six or seven innings and then be pounded out of the box. A dozen times last season Kansas City had games won up to the eighth inning with Henry twirling, when all of a sudden he would let down and be a perfect picnic for the opposing team.’ – from Sporting Life’s Kansas City correspondent, December 5, 1888.”
25-35, 3.19 ERA, 263 K, .223, 1 HR, 21 RBI
Bases on Balls-117 (2nd Time)
Earned Runs Allowed-191
Wild Pitches-51 (2nd Time)
2nd Time All-Star-When you look at the categories in which Henderson led the league, you’re not thinking All-Star pitcher. But when you consider that it was a weak pitching year for the league in general and that Hardie still had a relatively low ERA in numerous innings pitched, well, here he is. As a matter of fact, I would dub this his best season ever. He was fourth in WAR (7.6) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers. Henderson tossed 539 1/3 innings with a 3.19 ERA and a 103 Adjusted ERA+. All that being said, he has most likely made his last All-Star team.
Speaking of teams, Henderson pitched for the worst one in the league. Billy Barnie was back as manager, but the team dropped from 63-43 to 41-68. Most of the problems occurred when Henderson was not on the mound, as the Orioles’ other pitchers combined for a 4.80 ERA.
“Henderson made his Brooklyn pitching debut on August 19, 1886 against the New York Metropolitans, losing the game 5-1. He would pitch in 14 total games for Brooklyn in 1886, finishing with a 10-4 record and a 2.90 earned run average. Brooklyn finished in third place in the American Association that season. Henderson would play the 1887 season in Brooklyn, but he was acquired by the Pittsburg Alleghenys for 1888, pitching in five games for Pittsburgh. He would not play in the major league again. He finished with an 81-121 win-loss record, a 3.50 earned run average, and 930 strikeouts. Over Henderson’s 230 major league games, 210 of them were as a pitcher, 16 of them as an outfielder, two as a shortstop, and one as a second baseman and third baseman. After not playing at any level in 1889, Henderson returned to baseball in 1890, playing for Sioux City in the minor league Western League, now known as the American League.”
30-17, 2.43 ERA, 286 K, .168, 0 HR, 12 RBI
Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.095 (4th Time)
Strikeouts/Base on Balls-5.018 (3rd Time)
Fielding Independent Pitching-2.17 (3rd Time)
10th Time All-Star-And finally, 14 years after he started, I believe we are seeing Mathews making his last All-Star Team. He’s surprisingly only 33 years old, but his innings and effectiveness are going to go down after this season. As for this year, Mathews finished sixth in WAR (5.8) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (6.5). He pitched 422 1/3 innings with a 2.43 ERA and an all-time career high 142 ERA+. Quite a feat for the old man.
Mathews would remain with Philadelphia for the remainder of his career, pitching for the Athletics for the next two seasons. His ERA inflated to 3.96 in 1886 and 6.67 in 58 innings as a 35-year-old in 1887. He would no longer pitch in the majors after that.
Because of his vices, Mathews would not have a good end to his life. According to SABR, “By the middle of 1895, Mathews was virtually penniless, living and working at a roadhouse outside Providence owned by his ex-teammate of six years Joe Start. In May 1897, the first indication that Mathews was ill was found in Sporting Life: ‘According to the veteran, George Wood, that once famous pitcher, Bobby Matthews, is at Joe Start’s roadhouse, near Providence, a physical wreck.’ In July, he was moved to Maryland General Hospital under the care of Dr. T.P. Lloyd for a brain disorder. Lloyd held out no hope for his recovery, proclaiming that he was ‘suffering from organic brain trouble, not paresis,’ (a sexually-transmitted disease) as had been rumored.” He died at the age of 46 in 1898.
33-14, 2.63 ERA, 147 K, .248, 0 HR, 34 RBI
Assists as P-101
1st Time All-Star-David Luther “Scissors” Foutz was born on September 7, 1856 in Carroll County, MD and started his Major League career late, at the age of 27 as a pitcher-outfielder for the 1884 American Association St. Louis Browns. By 1885, he was one of the best pitchers in the AA. He finished eighth in WAR (5.1) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (4.5). Scissors pitched 407 2/3 innings with a 2.63 ERA and a 126 ERA+. In the World Series, Foutz pitched four games, going 2-2 with a 0.62 ERA. However, terrible defense behind him caused him to allow 18 unearned runs. At the plate, he hit two singles in 12 at-bats.
Wikipedia says of Foutz’ early life: “[H]e was asthmatic all his life. When he was 21 Foutz drifted out to Leadville, Colorado and worked for a while in the lead mines. While in Leadville, Foutz started playing baseball, pitching for the Leadville Blues, an amateur team. Shortly after, he signed with the Bay City, Michigan minor league team, where he played until 1884. By 1884, Foutz’s talent had been spotted by Chris von der Ahe, the owner of the American Association St. Louis Browns. He wanted Foutz’s contract so badly he bought the entire Bay City, Michigan franchise. Before joining the major league, Foutz acquired a reputation as a gambler and drinker, figuring if he was going to die young, he would enjoy himself before.
20-13, 2.86 ERA, 117 K, .165, 0 HR, 8 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Lawrence G. “Larry” McKeon was born on March 25, 1866 in New York, NY and had his best season and only All-Star appearance this year. He started as a pitcher for the American Association Indianapolis Hoosiers in 1884, leading the league in losses with 41. This year, with his innings cut significantly, from 512 to 290, he pitched much better, finishing eighth in WAR for Pitchers (4.5). He had a 2.86 ERA and a 115 ERA+.
With McKeon and Will White leading the way from the mound, the Red Stockings finished second in the league with a 63-49 record. Ollie Caylor took over as manager from Will White and Pop Snyder and improved the team from fifth to second. It should be noted the Red Stockings’ record was worse than 1884, however.
Though McKeon had a short career, it was an interesting one and there’s an excellent SABR article on him. Read the whole thing. Here, I put just a smidge: “When the rebel Union Association ceased operations after the 1884 season and the AA trimmed to eight teams, McKeon‘s Indianapolis club was among the casualties and descended to the minor Western League in 1885. In June 1885, the Detroit National League entry bought out the Indianapolis franchise for $4,000 in cash but a total of $5,000, the additional $1,000 being stock in the Detroit club, with the proviso that $2,000 would be paid immediately and the rest would come only if all the key Indianapolis players signed with Detroit as agreed. But when the two most coveted members of the Hoosiers, McKeon and Keenan, made a deal on their own and jumped to Cincinnati in the AA instead, Detroit reduced its buy-out price to $2,000 and the transaction became the subject of a lawsuit.”
18-15, 3.53 ERA, 80 K, .169, 0 HR, 10 RBI
Hit By Pitch-27
8th Time All-Star-Welcome to the ONEHOF, Whoop-La! He finally made it due to a decent 1885 season in which he was ninth in WAR for Pitchers (2.2), pitching “only” 293 1/3 innings – remember, he’s the record holder for innings pitched in a season with 680 in the 1879 National League – with a 3.53 ERA and a 93 ERA+. He would not have made the All-Star team in a league with more depth in pitching.
Does Will White deserve the prestigious One-a-Year Hall of Fame honor? His career WAR was 34.3, tied with people like B.J. Surhoff and Rick Sutcliffe. His best years were in the American Association, though it should be noted that his Adjusted ERA+ was 116 in his five NL seasons, not that far below his 124 in the AA. He also was a train wreck at the plate. It’s a close call, but he’s been a consistent pitcher for many years throughout two leagues, won 40 games three times, and has a lifetime ERA of 2.28, so he’s going in. It should be noted that, as of this time, Will and his brother, Deacon, have the same amount of All-Star teams made, 8.
White’s life ended tragically, according to Wikipedia, which says, “White died in August 1911 at his summer home in Port Carling, Ontario, Canada. The cause of death was drowning. According to one account, he was teaching his niece to swim, suffered a heart attack while in the water and died. He was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo.”
7-4, 2.02 ERA, 49 K, .150, 0 HR, 1 RBI
1st Time All-Star-George Adolphe “Pisch” Pechiney was born on September 20, 1861 in Cincinnati, OH and would never leave Ohio for his Major League career. The season of 1885 was Pisch’s best season ever as he finished 10th in WAR for Pitchers (1.9), pitching 98 innings with a 2.02 ERA and a 163 ERA+. It was a good season, but wouldn’t have been an All-Star season in a year where the American Association had more depth on the mound.
Wikipedia says about this season, “He began the 1885 season with the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Southern League. He also played for the Columbus Stars of the Southern League in 1885 before joining the Major Leagues with the Cincinnati Red Stockings of the American Association later that year. He made his Major League debut for the Red Stockings on August 4, 1885. With the Red Stockings in 1885, Pechiney pitched in 11 games, starting and completing all of them, with a win-loss record of 7–4, a 2.02 earned run average and 49 strikeouts in 98 innings pitched. His winning percentage of .636 ranked 4th in the American Association behind just Bob Caruthers, Dave Foutz and Bobby Mathews.
“On June 12, 1925, Pechiney appeared at the Golden Jubilee celebration of Redland Field, along with other former Reds and Red Stockings players. Pechiney died at the age of 81 in Cincinnati and is buried at Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati.”
.267, 0 HR, 21 RBI
Def. Games as P-85
Putouts as C-429
Assists as C-122 (2nd Time)
1st Time All-Star-Albert John “Doc” Bushong was born on September 15, 1856 in Philadelphia, PA. Though this is his first All-Star team, he’d be around quite a while. He started with the National Association Brooklyn Atlantics in 1875, moved to the National League Philadelphia Athletics in 1876, then took three years off from the Major Leagues. He was back in 1880 catching for the Worcester Ruby Legs and stayed there for three seasons. In 1883, he moved to the Cleveland Blues, where we would last for two seasons. This season, he found himself on the league champion Browns.
The reason he hasn’t made an All-Star team before now wasn’t his fielding, which was always stellar. No, Doc couldn’t hit. His highest average coming into 1885 was .236. He finally had a decent year at the plate, slashing .267/.297/.343 for an OPS+ of 97. That, along with his defense, in which he ranked second in Defensive WAR (1.7), propelled him onto the team.
I have a feeling he could make it again next year, wholly on his defense. He led the league in Defensive WAR in 1886 (2.5), so we’ll see.
And just to solidify his reputation, in the World Series, Bushong again stunk at the plate, going two-for-13, both singles.
Wikipedia has a long article on Bushong, but here’s a little bit about his part in inventing the catcher’s mitt: “But it is easy to believe that on September 18, 1887 when he returned, Bushong had seriously padded a mitt to protect his hand as well his dentistry profession.”
.268, 2 HR, 39 RBI
Double Plays Turned as C-11
Range Factor/9 Inn as C-8.07
Range Factor/Game as C-8.25
1st Time All-Star-John “Jocko” Milligan was born on August 8, 1861, exactly 94 years before my brother, Ernie, in Philadelphia, PA, meaning both All-Star catchers were born in the City of Brotherly Love. Jocko was in his second year with the Athletics and would prove to be a steady catcher over a 10-year career. This season, he finished third in Defensive WAR (1.6). At the plate, Milligan slashed .268/.289/.377 for an OPS+ of 104. His offense would improve over the years.
I wish I could write as well as those at SABR. Here’s Ralph Berger’s opening salvo on Milligan: “Life is an accident. We are born to parents not of our choosing. We bear up under the tragedies and events that we have no control over. Then we are faced with our life. What to do with it? How to live it? Who to turn to? The questions multiply when both parents die before one is barely eight years old. This was the task John Milligan faced. Luckily, he was enrolled in Girard College, a school for orphans in Philadelphia. There he was educated, learned a trade, and played baseball and other sports. At the age of eighteen he was graduated and walked out the gates of the institution to make his life-no easy task for anyone, let alone a parentless boy. The sadness turned to happiness for John Milligan, who went on to carve out a productive life despite the odds that were initially against him.
“Philadelphia in the late 1800s was crazy for baseball. Dozens of local teams competed with each other for the honor of being the best team in the area. School teams were few and far between, with playing areas limited and no permanent organizations for recreation for children of that day. Moreover, sweatshops still employed a great number of children, greatly limiting their recreational time.” There will more All-Star teams for Milligan and more chances to read Berger’s prose.
.342, 6 HR, 77 RBI, 0-0, 7.20 ERA, 1 K
Offensive WAR-5.4 (2nd Time)
Adjusted OPS+-202 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as 1B-107 (2nd Time)
2nd Time All-Star-Orr continued to pound the ball in American Association. He was arguably its best hitter. Orr finished ninth in WAR (4.5), second in WAR Position Players (5.0), and first in Offensive WAR (5.4). He slashed .342/.358/.543 for an OPS+ of 202. The big man could certainly hit, though his fielding definitely lacked.
As for the Metropolitans, they dropped from first to seventh. Losing the great pitcher Tim Keefe will do that to a team. They allowed more runs than any other team and ended up finishing 44-64. New York also lost Jim Mutrie as a coach and instead were coached by Jim Gifford.
Well, you couldn’t put the blame on Orr. According to Wikipedia, “On June 12, 1885 Orr hit for the cycle for the first time in his career; he accomplished the feat again on August 10, 1887.” For a man who weighed was under six feet tall and weighed 250 pounds, he still had the speed to leg out triples.
It’s incredible to imagine what Orr would have done if his career wasn’t cut short (more on that in future posts). His contemporaries certainly admired him. Baseball Reference has this quote: “’. . . the greatest hitter that ever played ball was old Dave Orr. . . I have always held that Dave Orr was the strongest and best hitter that ever played ball.’ – Hall of Famer Dan Brouthers, quoted in Sporting Life of September 22, 1894, after discussing Willie Keeler, Joe Kelley, Sam Thompson and himself.”
.315, 13 HR, 75 RBI
Runs Scored-130 (3rd Time)
Home Runs-13 (3rd Time)
AB per HR-37.4 (2nd Time)
Assists as 1B-28
4th Time All-Star-Stovey, the 1800s version of Bobby Bonds, brought speed and power into every game. In 1886, the American Association is going to start counting stolen bases and it will be apparent how fast Stovey was. As for this season, he finished sixth in WAR Position Players (3.7) and third in Offensive WAR (4.1). He slashed .315/.371/.488 for an OPS+ of 163 and was now the all-time career home run leader with 50. According to Wikipedia, “The offensive explosiveness continued throughout his stay in Philadelphia, leading the league in runs scored four times, doubles once, triples three times, and home runs three times. The accumulation of home runs led to him becoming the career home run leader, overtaking Charley Jones with his 51st career homer on September 28, 1885.” Did he have 50 or 51?
Along with playing at first base, Stovey managed the team to a fourth place finish with a 55-57 record. It’s hard to rate how much managers affect the team, but the Athletics scored 73 more runs than they allowed and yet still finished two games under .500. According to the Pythagorean W-L, the Athletics should have finished 61-51. Can that be blamed on Stovey?
The Athletics could bash the ball, leading the AA in scoring. It was their fielding which killed them. They were fourth in the league in ERA, but allowed more runs than any team, due to letting 331 unearned runs score. Second baseman Cub Sticker committed 81 errors, while shortstop Sadie Houck booted 77 balls.
.302, 3 HR, 63 RBI
Putouts as 1B-1,109
Range Factor/9 Inn as 1B-11.48
Range Factor/Game as 1B-11.44
Fielding % as 1B-.973
1st Time All-Star-William B. “Bill” Phillips was born in April, 1857 in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada and had a decent, if not noteworthy career. According to Wikipedia, “A native of Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, he has the distinction of being the first Canadian to play in the major leagues.” I’m not sure that’s true, I know there have been other All-Stars born in the Great North. Also from Wikipedia, “He was later enshrined into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988 for his accomplishments, and is considered by some to be greatest Canadian first baseman in baseball history.” Um, Joey Votto anyone? It’s like you can’t trust Wikipedia anymore!
Before this season, Phillips played six straight seasons with the National League Cleveland Blues. In 1885, his first season in the American Association, he makes the All-Star team. Before you get all up in my grill and start saying “See, the AA is a minor league! Why do we even have to read about it!,” let me say that after this season Phillips was back down to mediocre hitting.
As for this season, his best year ever, Phillips finished ninth in WAR Position Players (2.9) and first in Offensive WAR (3.0). He slashed .302/.364/.422 for an OPS+ of 146. All four of those numbers were the highest in his career.
As for his demise, back to Wikipedia (we’ve made up): “Phillips never married, and he died on October 7, 1900 in Chicago at the age of 43, of syphilitic locomotor ataxia, and he is interred at Graceland Cemetery.”
.268, 3 HR, 53 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-Barkley got a break and was purchased by the American Association champion St. Louis Browns and was an All-Star for his second (and most likely) last time. He finished 10th in WAR Position Players (2.9) and fifth in Defensive WAR (1.4). He slashed .268/.312/380 for an OPS+ of 113. His hitting was down from 1884, but his defense continued to shine. In the World Series, Barkley’s “hitting” was pathetic. He went two-for-23 with two walks.
The second baseman sure had his share of legal difficulties. You can read about one of them in the 1884 blurb. There’s also this from Wikipedia: “In March 1886, Browns owner Chris von der Ahe offered Barkley for $1000 to the first team to pay the money. Billy Barnie was able to have Barkley sign an undated contract with the Baltimore Orioles and wired the asking price to Von der Ahe, but he had already secured a deal with owner of the Pittsburg Alleghenys, Denny McKnight, and Sam was convinced to play for the Allegheny club instead. The American Association suspended and fined Barkley for signing with Pittsburgh this action. Barkley sued the Association, but they settled out of court with suspension being lifted although the fine stayed in place. Baltimore was offered and accepted Milt Scott as payment.
“After his career in baseball ended, Barkley became a cigar maker. He died at the age of 53 in his hometown of Wheeling, and was buried in Peninsula Cemetery.” Do you know any cigar makers?
.224, 2 HR, 44 RBI, 0-0, 4.50 ERA, 0 K
Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-3.56
Range Factor/Game as 3B-3.38
Fielding % as 3B-.906
2nd Time All-Star-It’s been six years since Hankinson made an All-Star team. He last made it in 1879 as a pitcher for the National League Chicago White Stockings. He then played moved to third base for the Cleveland Blues in 1880 and would be at that position for most of the remainder of his career. In 1881, he played for Troy and then didn’t play Major League ball in 1882. In 1883, Hankinson was back, playing for the Gothams for two years before taking his first tour in the American Association here in 1885.
‘Twas Hankinson’s glove that put him on the team as he finished sixth in Defensive WAR (1.0). He might have a shot at one more All-Star team due to his fielding. As for his bat, Hankinson slashed .224/.251/.285 for and OPS+ of 103. One thing that helped him is that Polo Grounds were brutal on hitters, one of the worst hitters’ parks of all-time.
The reason the Metropolitans sank and the Giants thrived was because of some foul play by the owner, John Day. This will be long but instructive. From Day’s SABR page: “Events during the offseason manifested Day’s intention to make a champion of the Gothams. And to that end, the Mets would be sacrificed. First, manager Mutrie was transferred to the NL team. Then he and Day engaged in some rule-bending chicanery to bring Mets stars Keefe and Esterbrook over. Shortly before the start of the 1885 campaign, Mutrie chaperoned the two on a vacation voyage to Day’s onion farm in Bermuda, the trip ostensibly a reward for sterling work during the previous season. Once Keefe and Esterbrook were safely at sea, the MEC released them from the Mets roster. While Keefe and Esterbrook were incommunicado somewhere on the Atlantic, the ten-day period that other teams had to sign them as free agents elapsed. Once that happened, Mutrie inked the two to Gothams contracts. Upon discovery that star players had been slipped out of its league, the American Association executive board howled in protest. But all it could do was ban Mutrie from the league, an empty gesture as Mutrie had already left for the National League. The American Association directors also voted to expel the Mets franchise, but quickly reconsidered. Instead, the Mets were fined $500 for the manner in which Keefe and Esterbrook had been released.”
.255, 1 HR, 30 RBI
Bases on Balls-61 (3rd Time)
Oldest-36 Years Old
2nd Time All-Star-Nelson might be the first player whose main value was walking. Due to that skill, he made another All-Star team, probably his last one. He had his best season ever, finishing fifth in WAR Position Players (3.9), fifth in Offensive WAR (3.7), and ninth in Defensive WAR (0.9). He slashed .255/.353/.310 for an OPS+ of 126 in the pitcher-friendly Polo Grounds. After this season, he would continue to draw bases on balls, but his average would start going down.
Nelson concluded his career playing for the Metropolitans in 1886 and 1887, moving over to the Giants for one game that season. After two years off in the majors, he finished by playing for the American Association Brooklyn Gladiators in 1890.
In 1885, 1886, and 1890, Nelson was the AA’s oldest player. We’re used to having at least a player or two who is 40-years-old or older, but it wasn’t always like that in the early days of baseball. Even at 36, Nelson played outstanding defensive shortstop. I’d say even better than Derek Jeter at that age. Ooo, burn!
“His Sporting Life obituary in 1910 called him ‘Johnnie’ Nelson, and said he had started in baseball with the Eckfords at age 16. He played about 30 years, according to the article, for minor league clubs, and also managed. He died of heart failure.”
.258, 4 HR, 62 RBI
Assists as SS-455
Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-5.85
Range Factor/Game as SS-5.70
2nd Time All-Star-Smith’s last All-Star appearance was with the Union Association Altoona Mountain City, mainly because every team needed a representative. It wouldn’t have been my guess he would continue to have a productive career, but I was wrong. He did and it was because of his outstanding fielding. As a matter of fact, over his career, Smith is going to make the top 10 in Defensive WAR 12 times. Also, because of the era in which he played, he would end up fourth all time in errors committed. He was one of the original all glove-no bat shortstops.
This year was his best season ever, as he finished seventh in WAR Position Players (3.4) and first in Defensive WAR (2.4). Smith slashed .258/.275/.379 for an OPS+ of 104. He would have only one other season in which his OPS+ was higher, 107 in 1887.
There was one sour note to this season, according to Wikipedia, which says, “On June 17, 1885, Germany reportedly committed seven errors intentionally, when his team decided to punish new pitcher, Phenomenal Smith, losing the game 18-5. All 18 runs against the brash left-hander were unearned‚ due to a total of 14 Brooklyn ‘errors’. ‘Phenomenal’ gave himself his nickname before he joined the team‚ saying that he was so good that he didn’t need his teammates to win. The intentional misplays of his teammates caused club President Lynch to fine the guilty players $500 each‚ but he reluctantly agrees to release Smith to ensure team harmony.”
.273, 10 HR, 89 RBI
Runs Batted In-89
Def. Games as SS-112
Double Plays Turned as SS-46
2nd Time All-Star-Remember back in the Stone Ages when we Neanderthals used to judge ballplayers by primitive stats such as batting average and runs batted in. Why it wasn’t too long ago that Most Valuable Player awards used to be handed out based on such nonsense. Yet there is still a part of me, having grown up during those ancient times, that still likes to think the best players have the best counting stats.
You look, for instance, at the All-Star shortstops for the American Association this season. They are Candy Nelson (WAR 3.9), Germany Smith (WAR 3.4), and Fennelly (WAR 3.3). Fennelly beat both of the others in those counting stats yet is below them in WAR. Yet if I’m picking a starting shortstop for my team, it would be hard to resist the allure of 10 home runs and 89 runs batted in. Hey, I’m just being honest!
Fennelly finished eighth in WAR Position Players (3.3) and sixth in Offensive WAR (3.6). He will be improving defensively very soon. He slashed .273/.333/.445 for an OPS+ of 141. He’d never hit this well again over a full season.
This Red Stockings team would end up with a history of shortstops who could hit. Certainly in my era there was Dave Concepcion and the great Barry Larkin. Both of those were great with the glove, too. Or were they? I haven’t actually looked that up. (OK, I checked. Concepcion, excellent in the field, Larkin, more than decent. My eyes weren’t lying.)
.322, 5 HR, 35 RBI
Games Played-112 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as OF-112 (2nd Time)
7th Time All-Star-There is no doubt that, had I been alive in this era, Jones would have been my favorite player. For one thing, I’m a Cincinnati Reds fan and, secondly, I also like hitters over pitchers. My favorite players over the years have been Johnny Bench, Eric Davis, Barry Larkin, and Joey Votto. (Though my actual favorite player at this time is a non-Red, Mike Trout.) Baby Jones was the best player in this early iteration of the Reds and proved it year after year.
In 1885, Jones finished fourth in WAR Position Players (3.9) and seventh in Offensive WAR (3.2). He slashed .322/.362/.462 for an OPS+ of 155. It was another great season, but it’s most likely his last All-Star team.
I promised in Charley Jones’ 1884 blurb that I would talk about his death and I don’t want to break my promise, so here goes.
From Baseball Reference: “Charley Jones was the best-known player for whom no death details were known. One could only assume he was dead, because otherwise he would have been over 150 years old. SABR researchers solved the mystery about his death in 2012 – 100 years after the event.
“In late 2011, researcher Greg Perkins, who was interested in the Ludlow team from northern Kentucky on which Jones had been the star player in the early 1870s, took an interest in Jones’s case. Digging through the file on Jones held by the Hall of Fame, he found a letter addressed to National Commission chairman Garry Herrmann in 1913 from a reporter from the Cincinnati Enquirer that mentioned he had written an article about Jones. Perkins found the article, in which it stated that Jones had died at Bellevue Hospital in New York City in July of 1911. That lead allowed Perkins to narrow his search in the New York City death index and to uncover a listing for a Charles W. Jones, who died on June 6th that year. The death certificate in the city archive had names for Charles’ parents matching those in earlier census records, confirming that this person was the ballplayer. It also rectified Jones’s year of birth.”
.362, 9 HR, 73 RBI
1885 AA Batting Title
WAR Position Players-5.2 (2nd Time)
Batting Average-.362 (2nd Time)
On-Base %-.393 (2nd Time)
On-Base Plus Slugging-.923 (2nd Time)
Runs Created-100 (2nd Time)
Adj. Batting Runs-48 (2nd Time)
Adj. Batting Wins-5.3 (2nd Time)
Times on Base-199 (2nd Time)
Offensive Win %-.846 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as OF-112
4th Time All-Star-When you look over Browning’s stats by looking at his Baseball Reference page, it is amazing he is not in the Hall of Fame. Especially because he excelled in that one area the Hall of Fame adores, batting average. In over 1100 career games, Gladiator would hit .341. However, he was hurt by playing his career in the lower American Association.
Also interesting is that Browning is 24 years old, with a lifetime .352 average at this point, and easily the dominant outfielder in the AA. And with all this, Browning drew a salary of $1,800. By the end of his career, he would be up to $4,000. What would this man be paid nowadays?
For the year, Browning was seventh in WAR (5.2), first in WAR Position Players (5.2), and second in Offensive WAR (4.8). Again I don’t pretend to understand WAR, but how does an Offensive WAR of 4.8 added to a Defensive WAR of -0.2 add up to 5.2. It must be Common Core!
Speaking of his inept fielding, I promised more on that this year. Wikipedia says, “After being used primarily as an infielder in his first three seasons, playing every position except catcher over that span, he was shifted to the outfield on a permanent basis in 1885. While the inferior equipment of the time is somewhat of a mitigating factor, Browning’s playing record presented various evidence against any hidden defensive prowess. So did his unusual habit of playing the infield while standing on one leg, which he claimed to have adopted in order to avoid collisions with other players; however, some sources have noted that his probable rationale was to gain an advantage against baserunners he could not hear by aiming one leg toward them, and that he continued to do so in the outfield because he couldn’t hear his teammates on either side. An oft-reported story, possibly apocryphal, features one of Browning’s managers claiming that the team would be better off with a wooden statue of an Indian in the outfield, since there was at least a slim chance that a batted ball might strike the statue and rebound back in the direction of the field.”
.329, 8 HR, 88 RBI
Extra Base Hits-59
Double Plays Turned as OF-9
1st Time All-Star-Henry E. “Ted” Larkin was born on January 12, 1860 in Reading, PA. He started his short, but efficient, career in 1884 with the Athletics, with a decent 136 OPS+. This season, he caught on fire, having his best season ever. Ted finished 10th in WAR (4.2), third in WAR Position Players (4.2), and fourth in Offensive WAR (3.9). He slashed .329/.373/.525 (his highest slugging ever) for an OPS+ of 175. He would always be able to hit, though, like Pete Browning, his glove lacked.
He was a doubles machine, according to, well, stats, but also Wikipedia, which says, “At age 24, Larkin started his career with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1884. On June 16, 1885 he hit for the cycle. That same year in a single game he recorded four doubles, still a major league record that has been tied many times, but never broken.”
“He worked as a boilermaker and played amateur ball with the Hibernians in the late 1870’s. In 1881 he began play as a second baseman for the professional Actives of Reading, an independent team.
“In the off-season, it was said he swung a sledge hammer in a boiler shop.” If you have your name in the same sentence as Babe Ruth, you must be doing something right.
.278, 4 HR, 46 RBI
1st Time All-Star-James John “Chief” Roseman was born exactly 80 years after the country was born, on July 4, 1856, in Brooklyn, NY. Ironically, exactly 82 years after that, Chief Roseman would leave this mortal coil, dying in Brooklyn. But we come not to bury Chief, but to praise him. The diminutive New Yorker (five-foot-seven, 167 pounds) had his best season ever, finishing eighth in Offensive WAR (3.0). He slashed .278/.335/.407 for an OPS+ of 150, all of this in the hitters’ graveyard, Polo Grounds.
Roseman started with the National League Troy Trojans in 1882, before moving to the Metropolitans the next season. After good hitting years in 1884 and 1885, Roseman would falter. He had batting averages of .227 in 1886 and 1887 and then took two years off of the Majors, before coming back in 1890 with a very good season. He then retired, having played seven seasons, six in the American Association, with a lifetime slash line of .263/.312/.360 for an OPS+ of 109.
Like so many of these old-time outfielders, Roseman’s fielding marks are not good. He never was above 0.0 dWAR in any season and ended up his career with a lifetime -5.2 mark in the field. Teams in this era seemed to put their good gloves in the infield.
One stat in which Chief was always around the leaders was in being plunked. He was in top 10 in Hit by Pitches four times, including an incredible 29 times in 1890. He wasn’t first that year, however. Curt Welch was nailed by pitchers 34 times.
.307, 4 HR, 68 RBI, 0-0, 3.00 ERA, 2 K
Errors Committed as OF-43
1st Time All-Star-Thomas Tarlton “Tom” Brown was born on September 21, 1860 in Liverpool, Merseyside, United Kingdom. Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles! Just kidding, he was born about a century before England’s greatest band formed in his birthplace. Hey, but this Liverpoolian had some hits, too! (See what I did there.) He finished 10th in Offensive WAR (2.9), slashing .307/.366/.426 for an OPS+ of 151.
The Englishman would bounce around for his career, starting in 1882 for the American Association Baltimore Orioles, moving to Columbus in 1883, and then being purchased by the Alleghenys this season, along with the rest of the Buckeyes team.
It’s possible this All-Star team has the worst fielding outfield of any of the teams. Brown committed 43 errors this season and, as an outfielder, still holds the career mark of 491 errors. Of course, it wasn’t until the mid-1890s that gloves were the norm, so it’s possible Brown was still bare-handing it in these days.
Brown wasn’t done travelling. He’d play for a total of nine teams, all of which probably appreciated his decent hitting, but none of which wanted his putrid fielding. He would play in three different leagues, the National League, the AA, and the Players League in its one season of existence in 1890. He’s probably got another All-Star team left in him.