P-Toad Ramsey, LOU
P-Bob Caruthers, STL
P-Dave Foutz, STL
P-Ed Morris, PIT
P-Guy Hecker, LOU
P-Matt Kilroy, BAL
P-Tony Mullane, CIN
P-Pud Galvin, PIT
P-Ed Cushman, NYP
P-Adonis Terry, BRO
C-Fred Carroll, PIT
C-Chris Fulmer, BAL
C-John Kerins, LOU
1B-Dave Orr, NYP
1B-Harry Stovey, PHA
2B-Bid McPhee, CIN
2B-Yank Robinson, STL
2B-Sam Barkley, PIT
3B-Arlie Latham, STL
SS-Frank Fennelly, CIN
SS-Pop Smith, PIT
LF-Tip O’Neill, STL
LF-Henry Larkin, PHA
CF-Curt Welch, STL
RF-Ed Swartwood, BRO
38-27, 2.45 ERA, 499 K, .241, 0 HR, 28 RBI
Wins Above Replacement-12.5
WAR for Pitchers-12.6
Hits per 9 IP-6.834
Innings Pitched-588 2/3
Bases on Balls-207
Fielding Independent Pitching-2.59
1st Time All-Star-Thomas H. “Toad” Ramsey was born on August 8, 1864, 91 years before my brother, Ernie, whose name is also a nickname. Little Toad was only five-foot-nine, 180 pounds but he had a heck of an arm. He didn’t always hit the strike zone, but he hit it enough to be effective. Toad missed the mark so much, he set a record for walks allowed in a season, a record which will be beat in three years. Then in four years, Amos Rusie will walk 289 batters, which is still the record.
In between all of that walking was some good pitching. Ramsey pitched 588 2/3 innings with a 2.45 ERA and a 148 ERA+. It was his second year with Louisville. His rookie year was also effective, with a 1.94 ERA, but he only pitched 79 innings in 1885.
Louisville did pretty well when Ramsey started, but not so good otherwise. Ramsey went 38-27, while the Colonels went 66-70 overall, finishing in fourth place, 25-and-a-half games out. Manager Jim Hart coached for the second straight season, but was gone afterwards.
Ramsey struck out the second most batters of all time, but he was unfortunately in the same league in the same year as the man who struck out the most. We’ll get to him later.
Finally, was Toad the inventor of the knuckleball? Read this from Wikipedia: “Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, and a former bricklayer, Ramsey is credited as the inventor of the knuckleball pitch. He had severed the tendon in the index finger of his pitching hand with a trowel. The result was that Ramsey’s pitches had a natural knuckleball motion. He threw with a fastball motion, holding the ball with his index finger retracted, since he could not straighten it, and with just his finger tip on the ball. Some historians have disputed that he threw a knuckleball in the modern sense, in that his ball movement was like what is now known as knuckle curve.”
30-14, 2.32 ERA, 166 K, .334, 4 HR, 61 RBI
On-Base Plus Slugging-.974
2nd Time All-Star-Parisian Bob, the precursor to the two-way genius of Babe Ruth, stuffed a lot into one season. He had his best season ever, finishing second in WAR (11.9), fourth in WAR for Pitchers (7.6), and fifth in WAR Position Players (4.3). From the mound, Caruthers pitched 387 1/3 innings with a 2.32 ERA and a 147 ERA+. He’d never really pitch this well again, but combined with his monster bat, he’d still be effective. Did I mention his hitting? He slashed .334/.448/.527 for and OPS+ of 201. Quite a year.
And that year was the main reason for second straight American Association pennant for the St. Louis Browns. One thing about doing this page is I get to see the unmentioned stories about famous people. People like Charlie Comiskey, known for his cheapness which led to the 1919 White Sox throwing the World Series. But this man was a heck of a manager. He led St. Louis to a first place finish this year with a 93-46 record, 12 games ahead of the second place team.
This took St. Louis to the World Series against the National League White Stockings. In 1885, they tied, but this season, the team from the weaker league, the AA, actually won. St. Louis beat Chicago, four games to two. In the Series, Caruthers pitched three games, going 2-1 with a 2.42 ERA. At the plate, he didn’t do as well as he did in the regular season, hitting .250 with a double and two triples.
41-16, 2.11 ERA, 283 K, .280, 3 HR, 59 RBI
1886 AA Pitching Title
Earned Run Average-2.11
Adj. Pitching Runs-69
Adj. Pitching Wins-6.4
Putouts as P-57
2nd Time All-Star-Now in his third season with the Browns, Foutz had his best season ever, finishing third in WAR (11.4) and third in WAR for Pitchers (9.8). Bob Caruthers had a better overall season, from the mound and the batters’ box, but Scissors was the better pitcher. He pitched 504 innings, with league-leading totals of a 2.11 ERA and 162 ERA+. From the plate, he slashed .280/.297/.389 for an OPS+ of 111. These Browns pitchers sure could rake.
In the World Series, Foutz pitched two games with a 1-1 record and a 3.60 ERA while hitting .200 with a double and a triple. As mentioned in Caruthers’ blurb, St. Louis went on to win the World Series, 4-2.
The Sporting News, according to Wikipedia, has this to say about a particular play made by Foutz this season: “’During) Sunday’s game between St. Louis (and) Louisville, and in the presence of 6,000 persons, Foutz played the sharpest trick ever seen on the ball field. Browning was on first base and Kerins on second, with no one out. Pete played far off from the base, while Comiskey took a stand back into right field. Pete had his back turned toward second base, and was keeping an eye on the movements of Comiskey, while he eagerly pranced back and forth to show the crowd that he was not afraid to steal off a bag. Foutz pretended not to watch Browning, but suddenly Bushong signaled, and Foutz dashed over toward first base with the ball in hand, touching Browning before the latter knew what had happened. Such a play was never before seen, and the spectators howled with delight. Pete was mighty mad, and, as he has a faculty for being caught napping, the play was doubly embarrassing.’ The Sporting News, September 13, 1886.”
41-20, 2.45 ERA, 326 K, .167, 1 HR, 24 RBI
Walks & Hits per IP-1.032 (2nd Time)
Shutouts-12 (2nd Time)
3rd Time All-Star-Morris didn’t have as good of season as he did in 1885, but not too many pitchers have. He still pitched great, tossing 555 1/3 innings with a 2.45 ERA and a 135 ERA+. He’d never have this good of season again, though I have no doubt he has another All-Star team left in his quickly deteriorating arm.
As for Pittsburgh, led by Morris, it finished in second place with an 80-57 record. Horace Phillips managed the team for the third straight season and continually improved. But in 1887, coaching became more difficult as the Alleghenys moved to the National League, where they are to this day, though now they’re buccaneers not rivers.
Morris is not going to make the ONEHOF and certainly not make the real Hall of Fame. As a matter of fact, according to the American Association article in Wikipedia, “No player who spent the majority of his career in the AA is in the Hall of Fame. The living legacy of the old Association is the group of teams that came over to the National League to stay. The Pirates moved to the NL after the 1886 season, the Bridegrooms/Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds after the 1889 season, and the Browns/Cardinals after the American Association folded following the 1891 season. Following the reorganization and contraction of the NL from 12 teams down to 8 in 1900, half of the eight surviving teams were former members of the AA. Several of the AA’s home-field venues survived into the 1960s: The ballpark used by the 1891 Washington club evolved into Griffith Stadium; the home of the St. Louis Browns, Sportsman’s Park; and the city block occupied by the Reds, which evolved into Crosley Field. Crosley was the last physical remnant of the AA to go, other than the clubs themselves, when it was replaced by Riverfront Stadium in mid-1970.”
26-23, 2.87 ERA, 133 K, .341, 4 HR, 48 RBI
1886 AA Batting Title
5th Time All-Star-In his best season, 1884, Hecker threw 670 2/3 innings. Since that time, his innings pitched dropped to 480 in 1885 and then to 420 2/3 innings this season. Starting next season, he going to be more of a first baseman than a pitcher, which makes sense with the way he hit. This year, Hecker finished sixth in WAR (6.2), ninth in WAR for Pitchers (3.3), and 10th in Offensive WAR (3.3). From the mound, he had a 2.87 ERA and a 126 ERA+. At the plate, he slashed .341/.402/.446 for an OPS+ of 161. My guess is he has made his last All-Star team since his pitching and hitting would both fade after 1886. As far as I know, he’s the only pitcher to lead the league in batting.
Hecker would continue playing for Louisville for the next three seasons. In 1890, his last season, he moved to the National League to play with the Pittsburgh Alleghenys.
The pitcher did have one great game on August 15, 1886. Bob Bailey of SABR writes, “The trail of statistics was not as well marked in 1886 as it is today, so some of the details of Hecker’s record run have been lost. But we do know he set single-game records for runs scored (7), total bases (15), and home runs by a pitcher (3). Those three homers also tied the single-game record by a player at any position, and Hecker’s six hits equaled the existing single-game record in that category as well.”
29-34, 3.37 ERA, 513 K, .174, 0 HR, 11 RBI
Strikeouts per 9 IP-7.919
Strikeouts/Base on Balls-2.819
Def. Games as P-68
Assists as P-116
Errors Committed as P-28
1st Time All-Star-Matthew Aloysius “Matt” or “Matches” Kilroy was born on June 21, 1866 in Philadelphia, PA. A man I had never heard of had an incredible rookie year. He finished seventh in WAR (5.9) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (6.0). He pitched an arm-numbing 583 innings with a 3.37 ERA and a 101 ERA+. Oh, and he struck out more people in a season than anyone ever has or ever will.
Kilroy’s team, the Orioles, did much better with him on the mound, going 29-34, than they did without him, going 19-49. Altogether, Manager Billy Barnie led the team to a last-place 48-83 record, 41 games out of first. Surprisingly he would coach the team for another five seasons.
More on the strikeout record from SABR: “In 1886 the pitcher’s box was made a foot deeper and the rule requiring the pitcher to keep both feet on the ground when delivering a pitch was lifted, prompting an increase in strikeouts in both the American Association and the National League.
“Nowhere did this change have more impact than in Baltimore, where Matt ‘Matches’ Kilroy, a rookie pitcher for the American Association Orioles, set a record for strikeouts in a season with 513. On October 3, in a game against Louisville, Kilroy surpassed the previous strikeout record of 483, set in 1884 by Hugh ‘One Arm’ Daily.
“The hard-throwing 19-year-old made his debut in Baltimore on April 7, 1886, in an exhibition game against Washington, and struck out 15 while earning the win. ‘He pitched a speedy and curved ball, and gave promise of good work,’ the Washington Post wrote. The Baltimore American noted, ‘His curves are peculiar and deceptive, especially the in and out shoots.’”
33-27, 3.70 ERA, 250 K, .225, 0 HR, 39 RBI
Home Runs Allowed-11
4th Time All-Star-After missing a year due to a suspension (see his 1884 blurb), Mullane was back with his fifth team in five seasons of pitching, now throwing for Cincinnati. He’d finally settle down and be here for quite a while. This season, the Apollo of the Box finished eighth in WAR (5.4) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (5.2). He tossed 529 2/3 innings with a 3.70 ERA and a 94 ERA+. It was going to be his worst season, at least according to Adjusted ERA+, for quite a stretch.
The Red Stockings finished fifth in the American Association with a 65-73 record. Ollie Caylor managed them for the second consecutive season, but was gone after the season.
Tony Mullane was inducted in the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 2010. They introduced him by saying “Born in County Cork, January 30, 1859, Tony Mullane is often remembered for being one of the handful of ambidextrous pitchers in the history of Major League baseball. While pitching for Louisville in the American Association in 1882, Mullane suffered an injury to his right arm and resorted to pitching a few games left-handed, a practice he employed on a few other occasions throughout his long career. Interest in Mullane’s feat of pitching effectively with both arms has, for many fans, reduced Mullane to little more than an answer to a trivia question. Lost in this limited focus on Mullane’s career is one of the finest resumes ever compiled by a Major League pitcher.”
29-21, 2.67 ERA, 72 K, .253, 0 HR, 21 RBI
Base on Balls per 9 IP-1.553 (2nd Time)
7th Time All-Star-Galvin pitched in the American Association just two seasons – in 1885, when he pitched a partial season for Pittsburgh and this one. That 1885 season was the first time he missed making the All-Star team since he became a regular pitcher, but now getting to face the AA competition, Pud is back. He finished ninth in WAR (5.1) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (4.8). He was no longer the Gentle Jeems that threw 500 innings, this season throwing “only” 434 2/3, but in those innings, he had a 2.67 ERA and a 124 ERA+, his second highest Adjusted ERA+ in his career.
In a league and season in which the two highest strikeout performances of all-time were pitched, Galvin surprisingly had only 72 Ks. As mentioned in SABR, “Galvin’s inability to throw a curveball may have been a blessing in disguise, as he perfected a simple approach to pitching that yielded consistent results. Watching Tony Mullane struggle while throwing breaking pitches one day in 1886, Galvin remarked, ‘Just watch them slug Tony with his ups and downs, while I keep right on winning with my little old straight-ball delivery.’ Additionally, Galvin’s limited repertoire may have been a factor in his longevity during an era in which pitchers had very short careers, because his arm did not sustain the stress of throwing hard breaking pitches.
“Galvin also relied on good defense and a devastating pickoff move. He was one of the premier fielding pitchers of the era, consistently recognized for his fielding prowess in the press. His pickoff move was extraordinarily effective and incontrovertibly the most successful of the 19th century.”
17-21, 3.12 ERA, 167 K, .151, 0 HR, 5 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-Because every team needs a representative on my All-Star teams, Cushman made the Union Association squad in 1884 despite pitching only four games for the Milwaukee Brewers. In 1885, he pitched for the American Association Athletics and Metropolitans. He kept pitching for New York this season, finishing eighth in WAR for Pitchers (4.6). In 425 2/3 innings pitched, Cushman had a 3.12 ERA and a 108 ERA+.
The Metropolitans, coached by Jim Gifford (5-12) and Bob Ferguson (48-70), finished 53-82, seventh place in the AA. Their pitching, led by Cushman, wasn’t too bad, as they allowed the third least runs in the league, but their hitting definitely lacked, with only big Dave Orr giving them any pop at the plate.
After this season, Cushman pitched one more season with New York and then, according to Wikipedia, “For the 1888 season he returned to the minors, this time in the Western Association and played for Charlie Morton‘s Des Moines team. When Morton took over the minor league Toledo Maumee team, he moved several of his Des Moines players with him, including Cushman, who would play for that team through the 1889 season, and in 1890 season when the team earned Major League status by joining the American Association. This was the only season the Maumees played in the Majors.
“After his playing days, he worked as a conductor on the New York Central Railroad, and was also a restaurant owner at one time. Ed died in Erie, Pennsylvania at the age of 63, and was buried in Erie Cemetery.”
18-16, 3.09 ERA, 162 K, .237, 2 HR, 39 RBI
Home Runs per 9 IP-0.031
Range Factor/9 Inn as P-2.66
Range Factor/Game as P-2.50
2nd Time All-Star-After having an off-year for Brooklyn in 1885, Terry is back on the All-Star team this season. He never was one to rack up 400 or more innings (not counting his rookie year), but he consistently pitched well throughout his 14-year career. In 1886, he finished 10th in WAR for Pitchers (2.4), throwing 288 1/3 innings with a 3.09 ERA and a 113 ERA+. I mentioned in his 1884 blurb, he’s the start of many great Dodgers pitchers over their history. Oh, what the great Vin Scully could have done with the name Adonis!
Brooklyn did well in the American Association, despite allowing the same amount of runs as it scored, which should have led to a .500 record. Instead the Grays were 76-61, as Charlie Byrne must have done some great managing. Part of the reason is that Brooklyn went 15-8 in one run games, but was 23-25 in blowouts, games decided by five runs or more. As late as June 12, Brooklyn was in first with a 24-16 record, but faltered at that point, never getting back into the race.
Interestingly, the first place St. Louis Browns had six All-Stars, the second place Pittsburgh Alleghenys had five, but third place Brooklyn just had two, Terry and rightfielder Ed Swartwood. It had the same amount of All-Stars as last place Baltimore.
Of Terry, Wikipedia says, “Over the next three seasons [starting in 1885], Terry had average-to-good seasons, had a combined record of 40 wins and 49 losses, even throwing a no-hitter against the St. Louis Browns on July 24, 1886.”
.288, 5 HR, 64 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-After being an All-Star rookie for the Columbus Buckeyes in 1884, Carroll moved to Pittsburgh where he would spend most of the rest of his career. This season, he had his best season ever, finishing sixth in WAR Position Players (4.0) and sixth in Offensive WAR (3.8). He continued his hot hitting, slashing .288/.362/.422 for and OPS+ of 150. Also, according to Baseball Reference, “Fred Carroll holds the major league record with 95 passed balls in the 1886 season.” He also had nine hits in a doubleheader on July 5 which is still tied for Major League record.
Carroll got into a brouhaha this season, according to Wikipedia, which says, “In August 1886, Carroll was briefly suspended after fighting with a teammate, first baseman Otto Schomberg. Schomberg was unpopular with his teammates, and the fight started after Carroll referred to him with what The Sporting News subsequently termed ‘vile names’. The pair were separated by Frank Ringo and Ed Glenn, and while Carroll was immediately suspended, the suspension was short-lived. The directors of the Pittsburg Alleghenys convened a meeting that night, and after the players refused to testify, Carroll was reinstated and his penalty was reduced to a $50 fine.”
It is tough to be a good hitting catcher, which is why so much of Carroll’s eight-year career is impressive. He will be over 150+ Adjusted OPS+ half of those eight seasons, including this year, and he will end up with impressive overall stats. He didn’t add much defensively, but it didn’t hurt the team too much.
.244, 1 HR, 30 RBI, 0-0, 4.50 ERA, 0 K
1st Time All-Star-Christopher “Chris” Fulmer was born on the Fourth of July, 1858, just 82 years after the birth of the United States, in Tamaqua, PA. Just 73 years later, on November 9, 1931, he died in that same hometown. He didn’t burst onto the scene with fireworks, starting as a catcher for the 1884 Union Association Washington Nationals. He took a season off before coming back this season and having his best season ever. Fulmer finished 10th in WAR Position Players (3.9) and second in Defensive WAR (2.2). I mentioned in Fred Carroll’s write-up that Baseball Reference said he holds the all-time record for passed balls, but that turns out not to be true. And it’s not Fulmer either. It’s actually Rudy Kemmler, who had 114 for the American Association Columbus Buckeyes in 1883. Fulmer fell one short. Missed it by that much! (Don Adams, we salute you!)
During the season, Fulmer slashed .244/.363/311 for an OPS+ of 115. His main contribution at the plate was walks, as he walked 48 times in 80 games. He’d never play 80 games again, finishing his career as a part-time catcher and outfielder for Baltimore. He played his last Major League game in 1889. Though his career was short, it was decent, as he wound up with a final slash line of .247/.343/.313 for an OPS+ of 105. He never hit for much power, with only one home run in his career. Defensively, he would never add much to a team after this season.
.269, 4 HR, 50 RBI
Assists as C-157
Range Factor/9 Inn as C-9.21
Range Factor/Game as C-9.91
1st Time All-Star-John Nelson Kerins was born on July 15, 1858 in Indianapolis, IN. It’s rare that these All-Star teams have three catchers, but this season is an exception. Well, not rare, but more often than not it’s just the two that are required. Kerins made it in his best season ever, finishing eighth in Defensive WAR (1.0). His bat was adequate, as he slashed .269/.360/.370 for an OPS+ of 125.
Kerins played his entire career in the American Association, starting with his hometown Indianapolis Hoosiers in 1884, before moving to Louisville the next season. Starting in 1889, he played limited duty with Louisville, Baltimore, and St. Louis.
Baseball Reference says, “’John Kerins had a solid year in 1886 for Louisville. He was headed for an even better one in 1887 before breaking his right hand . . . Kerins . . . was never the same player.’ – from the book The Beer and Whisky League, which features a baseball card of him.
“He died in Louisville in 1919.”
The Louisville franchise started as the Eclipse in 1882, before becoming the Colonels for the rest of its existence, from 1885-to-1891 in the AA and from 1892-to-1899 in the National League. As you’ll read about sometime down the road, it was the first franchise for the great Honus Wagner, before he moved permanently to Pittsburgh.
.338, 7 HR, 91 RBI
WAR Position Players-6.3 (2nd Time)
Offensive WAR-5.4 (3rd Time)
Slugging %-.527 (2nd Time)
Hits-193 (2nd Time)
Total Bases-301 (2nd Time)
Triples-31 (2nd Time)
Runs Created-108 (2nd Time)
Adj. Batting Runs-48 (2nd Time)
Adj. Batting Wins-5.2 (2nd Time)
Extra Base Hits-63
Putouts as 1B-1,445
Range Factor/9 Inn as 1B-11.31
Range Factor/Game as 1B-10.88
Fielding % as 1B-.981
3rd Time All-Star-Orr was on the wrong New York team, the 250-pounder should have been on the Giants, not the Metropolitans. The big man had his best season ever, finishing fifth in WAR (6.3), first in WAR Position Players (6.3), and first in Offensive WAR (5.4). At the plate, Orr slashed .338/.363/.527 for an OPS+ of 185. Incredibly the large Orr led the league in triples with 31, which set a record which would last until 1912, when Chief Wilson set the all-time record with 36.
I put part of Dan Brouthers’ quote about Orr in his 1885 write-up, but here’s the full quote from Wikipedia, “Though largely forgotten in the modern era, Orr was remembered by both fellow players and sports writers as one of the greatest hitters of the 19th century. In 1894, Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Dan Brouthers opined that Orr was the greatest hitter to ever play the game:
“’The greatest hitter that ever played ball was old Dave Orr. He didn’t care whether they were over the plate or not. If they were within reach of that long bat of his he would hit them out, and when he hit them there was no telling whether they would be found again or not. I have always held that Dave Orr was the strongest and best hitter that ever played ball.’”
.294, 7 HR, 59 RBI, 0-0, 27.00 ERA, 0 K
AB per HR-69.9
5th Time All-Star-Mr. Power-Speed continued to produce for the Athletics at the plate and on the base paths. This season he finished eighth in WAR Position Players (4.0) and fourth in Offensive WAR (4.2). Stovey slashed .294/.377/.440 for an OPS+ of 158. He also stole 68 bases but they didn’t count caught stealings in these days, so it’s hard to know how effective all of that running was.
His great play didn’t help the Athletics do too well, as they finished 63-72, in seventh place, while being coached by Lew Simmons (41-55) and Bill Sharsig (22-17). Did Sharsig’s good record allow him to keep managing the team? Not in 1887, but he’d be back in 1888 and lead the team to a good record, though not a title.
Why isn’t a player of Stovey’s caliber in the Hall of Fame. According to Baseball Reference, “Stovey has been overlooked for the Hall of Fame because his greatest years were in the American Association, deemed by most (and all research on the subject) to be an easier league than the National League. However, he was also well above average as a young player in the National League and as a player in the Players League in 1890.
“He played all three outfield positions as well as first base. He managed in 1881 (when he was 24 years old) and 1885. He was said to be well-behaved and articulate.
“John Shiffert argues that Stovey is the very best player who is not yet in the Hall of Fame.”
.268, 8 HR, 70 RBI
Putouts as 2B-529 (4th Time)
Assists as 2B-464 (2nd Time)
Double Plays Turned as 2B-90 (5th Time)
Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-7.21 (2nd Time)
Range Factor/Game as 2B-7.09 (2nd Time)
Fielding % as 2B-.939 (4th Time)
1st Time All-Star-John Alexander “Bid” McPhee was born on November 1, 1859 in Massena, NY. The little man, standing five-foot-eight, 152 pounds, would eventually make the Hall of Fame. Bid started with the Red Stockings in 1882 and was their regular second baseman from the beginning. He’d always been a great defensive player, but this year put it all together. McPhee finished sixth in WAR Position Players (4.0) and 10th in Defensive WAR (0.9). At the plate, he slashed .268/.343/.395 for an OPS+ of 129.
At most, McPhee seems to be a weak Hall of Famer. Oh, there are worse *cough* Candy Cummings *cough* but while he was a great defensive player, it doesn’t seem that he produced enough with the bat to put him in Cooperstown. Your mileage may vary.
McPhee was the last second baseman who didn’t wear a glove. SABR says, “McPhee’s offensive accomplishments aside, it was his bare-handed wizardry at second base that continued to set records and brought him fame. In an 1890 interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, McPhee stated, ‘No, I never use a glove on either hand in a game. I have never seen the necessity of wearing one; and besides, I cannot hold a thrown ball if there is anything on my hands. The glove business has gone a little too far. It is all wrong to suppose that your hands will get battered out of shape if you don’t use them. True, hot-hit balls do sting a little at the opening of the season, but after you get used to it there is no trouble on that score.’”
.274, 3 HR, 71 RBI, 0-1, 3.00 ERA, 1 K
Errors Committed as 2B-95
1st Time All-Star-William H. “Yank” Robinson was born on September 19, 1859 in Philadelphia, PA. He was born about 20 years too soon to be a Yankee which would have been the ultimate in symbiosis. Oh, well, he’d have to settle for winning his second pennant. Yank finished 10th in WAR Position Players (3.9) and seventh in Offensive WAR (3.8). Robinson slashed .274/.377/.385 for an OPS+ of 135, his highest Adjusted OPS+ ever.
Yank started off his career as a part-time player for the 1882 National League Detroit Wolverines, then didn’t play Major League ball (or as Bill James would put it, “major league ball”) until 1884 for the Union Association Baltimore Monumentals. He was one of the rare players who lasted from that league and then got to be part of the pennant-winning Browns of 1885. In that season’s World Series, he went four-for-23 (.174) with a triple, but in 1886’s Series, which St. Louis won, he did well, going six-for 19 (.316) with a double and a triple.
As with many of these old-time players, modern metrics tend to expose fielding lapses in players who had good reputations by the eyeball test. Robinson’s overall dWAR would be -1.6, but Wikipedia says, “At least two modern accounts support the notion that Robinson was a good fielder. In his 1999 book on the early St. Louis Browns, J. Thomas Hetrick stated:
“’Performing gloveless at second base, Robinson was known for his range, accurate throwing arm, and double-play acrobatics. Ambidextrous, Robinson sometimes startled the opposition with lefthanded throws across his chest to nail base runners heading to third.’”
.266, 1 HR, 69 RBI
3rd Time All-Star-Again my prophetic talents are lacking as I said Barkley would make no more All-Star teams, but he did. He was purchased by the Alleghenys from St. Louis for a thousand dollars and continued to play well for his new team, slashing .266/.345/.370 for an OPS+ of 129. His OPS+ would never be above 91 again in the three seasons he has left, one with Pittsburgh (National League) and two with Kansas City (American Association).
Here’s Wikipedia on the finale of his career: “That first season with Pittsburgh, the 1886 season, he hit .266 with 31 doubles, and he also stole 22 bases, while playing in 122 games. He stats declined significantly in 1887, only playing in 89 games, hitting only .224. After the season was over, Pittsburgh sold him to the Kansas City Cowboys of the American Association.
“He was given good playing time in 1888 by the Cowboys, playing in 116 games, but his batting average slid further down, to .216, but the season was not uneventful. On June 13, he hit for the cycle, and he was given the managerial reins, which lasted 58 games and 21 wins.”
According to Baseball Reference, Kansas City really wanted him: “The Wheeling Daily Register from March 30, 1888 carried this about him (Barkley was from Wheeling):
“Kansas City, of the Association, is making a big effort to secure Sam Barkley, and the wires were burthened with telegrams regarding the affair. Barkley has been signed with Pittsburg, but it is understood that that club is anxious to release him. All the clubs in the League will have to consent to his release . . .”<
.301, 1 HR, 47 RBI
Errors Committed as 3B-88 (2nd Time)
2nd Time All-Star-Latham didn’t make the All-Star team in 1885, but his team won the American Association pennant, so there’s always that. No, the years you want are like this one, in which you win the pennant AND make the All-Star team. The Freshest Man on Earth finished fourth in WAR Position Players (4.3) and fifth in Offensive WAR (3.9), slashing .301/.368/.374 for an OPS+ of 129. All of this while having baseball’s best nickname.
In the World Series, which his team won, Latham couldn’t match his season success, going four-for-23 (.174) with a triple and two stolen bases. This didn’t match his 1885 World Series success in which he hit .318 with three doubles.
SABR says, “Arlie Latham, known as ‘The Freshest Man on Earth’ or the ‘Dude,’ would drive St. Louis Browns owner Chris Von der Ahe so crazy that Von der Ahe would blame Arlie when things spun out of control even if Latham wasn’t involved. He would yell ‘dot Latams is driving me crazy.’ Arlie was a carefree guy who loved life and baseball. Before Nick Altrock and Al Schacht, Arlie was the clown prince of baseball.
“Latham’s mischievous behavior on the diamond earned him the name as the ‘Freshest Man on Earth,’ a popular song at that time.
“Arlie jockeyed and taunted opposing players not only from the bench but also as a third base coach. At that time there was no coaching box that the third base coach was supposed to stay in, so Arlie took full advantage of it by running up and down the third base line while yelling invectives at the pitcher while he was in the middle of his windup. The rule makers, taking notice of Arlie running up and down the line like a lunatic, soon put into the rules the coaching box.”
.249, 6 HR, 72 RBI
Hit By Pitch-18
Assists as SS-485
Errors Committed as SS-117
Double Plays Turned as SS-54 (2nd Time)
3rd Time All-Star-In 1871, Harry Schafer, playing third base for the National Association Boston Red Stockings committed 59 errors in 31 games. That record was broken in 1872 when John Radcliff, playing shortstop for the Baltimore Canaries, committed 74 errors in 56 games. Then the year after that, Bob “Death to Flying Things” Ferguson, playing third base for the Brooklyn Atlantics, committed 110 errors in 51 games.
That’s the record which was broken in 1886 by Fennelly, who booted the ball 117 times in 132 games. Just for fun, if we extrapolate Ferguson’s 1873 errors over 132 games, he would have committed 284 errors! At least Fennelly has the excuse of playing a long season.
Remember in the BBJ era (before Bill James), when we used to think the worst fielders were those with the worst fielding percentage. We’ve grown up a lot now and know that you can commit errors and still be a great fielder. That was Fennelly.
As for this season, Fennelly finished ninth in WAR Position Players (3.9), ninth in Offensive WAR (3.5), and seventh in Defensive WAR (1.1). See, good fielder.
At the plate, he slashed .249/.351/.380 for an OPS+ of 127, his worst hitting season ever. He’s pretty much done providing value from the plate, but his fielding would shine for many years.
This only has to peripherally to do with Fennelly, but, well, who cares! SABR, in an article written by Paul Browne, mentions a game between the first formed black baseball team beating the Red Stockings. Read the whole thing, it’s very good, but here’s the beginning of the article: “Formed by Frank P. Thompson, headwaiter of the Argyle Hotel in Babylon, Long Island, New York, and Stanislaus Kostka ‘Cos’ Govern, who acted as manager, the Cuban Giants were the first salaried black baseball team. They began play in August of 1885 and took on their first major-league opponent, the American Association Metropolitans, on October 5 of that year.”
.217, 2 HR, 57 RBI
Fielding % as SS-.895
3rd Time All-Star-Much has happened to Smith’s career since making the All-Star team in 1884. Colorado folded at the end of that season and Smith was purchased by the Alleghenys. Then he was moved to shortstop this season, for the first time ever in full season. He did well at his new position, where he would remain for the majority of his career.
For this season, Smith had his best defensive season ever, finishing third in dWAR (2.0). He wasn’t great with the bat, slashing .217/.288/.308 for an OPS+ of 91, but his hands more than made up for it.
SABR speaks about his early life: “Little is known of Smith’s family or his early years. His birth in the coastal city of Digby, Nova Scotia, on October 12, 1856, belies the fact that he may never have played baseball there. Boys in Nova Scotia played baseball using New York rules by 1872, but it is not known if young Smith was one of them, because his family moved to Boston sometime in the 1870s, likely when the commercial economy of Nova Scotia crashed with the financial panic of 1873 (Howell, 24).
“Young Smith had little time for school. Working class children in the Canadian Maritimes typically left school around age ten to contribute to the family income (Howell, 38). By 1874 he worked as a laborer and played baseball on amateur teams in the Massachusetts Bay area.” It’s interesting to read about these times which came before drafts or free agency and yet people from many different places still made Major League rosters.
.328, 3 HR, 107 RBI
Runs Batted In-107
1st Time All-Star-James Edward “Tip” or “The Woodstock Wonder” O’Neill was born on May 25, 1858 in Springfield, Ontario, Canada. He would have an outstanding, though short, career. O’Neill started as a part-time pitcher for the 1883 National League New York Giants, then moved to the outfield for the 1884 American Association St. Louis Browns, where he would remain for the majority of his career. Playing only 52 games in 1885, O’Neill slashed .350/.399/.466 for an OPS+ of 166 and then hit .208 with no extra base hits in the World Series. Had he played more, this would have been his second All-Star team.
Once he played fulltime this season, O’Neill showed the world his skills. He finished 10th in WAR (4.9), second in WAR Position Players (4.9), and eighth in Offensive WAR (3.6). He slashed .328/.385/.440 for an OPS+ of 155. In the World Series against the National League Chicago White Stockings, Tip went crazy, hitting .400 with two triples and two homers in 20 at-bats. He slashed .400/.500/.900.
You might remember another Tip O’Neill from an episode of “Cheers” or maybe his long run as a congressman. Well, according to Wikipedia, “Years later, the future American politician and Speaker of the House, Thomas “Tip” O’Neill (1912–94), was given the nickname ‘Tip’ as a boy, due to his shared surname with the 19th century baseball player.”
Baseball Reference has this quote: “I think that the golden age of batting was from 1885 to 1891. . . The hits that Brouthers, O’Neil and Browning made were the real thing. They fairly smoked as they sped along. . . I think that those three fellows . . . if they could be back in the game, and as husky as they were then, would beat .350 easy . . .” – Hall of Famer Jake Beckley, who broke into the majors in 1888 and was still around in 1903 to make this comment comparing O’Neill to more modern players.
.319, 2 HR, 74 RBI
Doubles-36 (2nd Time)
Times on Base-246
Def. Games as OF-139
Errors Committed as OF-44
2nd Time All-Star-Larkin continued to be one of the best hitters in the American Association. He moved from centerfield to leftfield this season to lessen the effects of his bad fielding and would eventually wind up at first base, for the same reason. Larkin finished third in WAR Position Players (4.4) and third in Offensive WAR (4.2). Ted slashed .319/.390/.450 for an OPS+ of 165.
Philadelphia played its games in Jefferson Street Grounds, a neutral park for hitters and pitchers.
SABR, in an excellent article about the park, says, “The Athletics began the 1886 season with an advertisement claiming to be the ‘oldest playing organization in the United States.’ They asserted that they gave the Jefferson Street patrons ‘honest ball playing’ when they posted the opening season schedule of games. These contests began at 4:00 pm and admission remained at 25 cents. Even the train schedule from Broad Street was publicized. Despite this confidence, the ballfield was again threatened by city officials. These ambitious politicians were deterred when they were reminded that no one except the Athletics was willing to pay the $2,000 lease for the grounds. Once this issue was settled the Athletics re-dedicated their resources to repairing the grounds. They raised the infield, put in new cinder paths, and purchased ‘an immense canvas to cover the entire infield.’ Two years later, Mason and Simmons, looking for revenue, changed the ticket prices. General admission became 50 cents, and for an extra quarter women and their escorts could sit on cushioned seats in parts of the grandstand. This new revenue was intended to cover the expenses of erecting a new fence, replacing old floorboards, and re-painting the pavilions. In spite of these changes, the growing threat of a players’ strike put the Athletics and their ball park in jeopardy.” Read the whole thing.
.281, 2 HR, 95 RBI
Putouts as OF-297 (3rd Time)
Range Factor/Game as OF-2.29 (2nd Time)
Fielding % as OF-.952 (2nd Time)
1st Time All-Star-Curtis Benton “Curt” Welch was born on February 10, 1862 in Williamsport, OH. He started with the 1884 American Association Toledo Blue Stockings before coming over to St. Louis to be a part of their two pennant winning teams. In 1885, he hit only .148 in the World Series, with a double and a triple. This season, he slashed .281/.332/.393 for an OPS+ of 124. In the 1886 World Series, he turned it on, hitting .350 with two doubles and two stolen bases. He’d have a decent if not great career.
Here’s more on Welch’s part in the World Series. According to SABR, St. Louis needed one more win to take the series when, “Welch led off the bottom of the tenth and was hit by a pitch. But Anson protested that he had made no effort to avoid the pitch, and the umpire made him bat again. On the next pitch Welch lined a single to center. A fumble by shortstop Williamson put two men on. Yank Robinson calmly bunted the men to second and third, bringing up Bushong. On the second ball pitched, catcher King Kelly signaled for a low ball outside. But Clarkson’s pitch sailed in high and inside, bouncing to the backstop. Welch ran home with the championship-winning run as Sportsman’s Park turned into a madhouse.
“Although the winning run has come down in history with the label ‘Curt Welch’s $15,000 Slide,’ there is no contemporary evidence that he actually slid. In fact, the Missouri Republican said he ‘trotted home,’ and the Globe-Democrat said that ‘Kelly made no effort to get (the ball), and … in a dazed manner stood and watched Welch come in.’As for the money, the Chicago News put the winnings at ‘exactly $13,781.95.’ These discrepancies notwithstanding, the 1886 St. Louis Browns were world champions, the only American Association team with an undisputed claim to that title.”
.280, 3 HR, 58 RBI
Bases on Balls-70
Assists as OF-32
4th Time All-Star-For his first two seasons, there weren’t too many better hitters than Swartwood. Even now, far below that level, he’s still good enough to make the All-Star team after not making it the previous season. He slashed .280/.377/.369 with his ability to walk his best attribute.
Of Swartwood, SABR says, “By some standards, Ed Swartwood toiled in relative obscurity, playing nearly his entire career in the American Association, an under-appreciated major league in the 19th century. Even the teams he played on weren’t impressive. During the league’s inaugural season, 1882, he came up with the Pittsburg Alleghenys, a poor club during his three summers there. Of the teams he played for, only the 1886 Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers finished as high as third place, yet still a distant 16 games behind.” Baseball Reference has them listed as the Grays. Was this team already the Trolley Dodgers?
More from SABR: “Over the winter, Swart worked out at home in Pittsburgh with teammates Germany Smith and Steve Toole at a ‘large rink.’ In March 1886, the Brooklyn Eagle looked forward to a new season from Swartwood: ‘He gave such satisfaction as captain of the team last year that the management has determined to place the team in his hands again this year. His fairness and considerate treatment have won him the respect and goodwill of all the players and it is believed good teamwork will naturally result. He is a good coach for his men, a powerful batter and last year he made a great reputation as a base runner.’ He appeared in 122 games in 1886, mostly in right field, and led the league in bases on balls with 70. After the season, he was chosen as one of the players to sit on the combined National League and American Association rules committee.”