P-John Clarkson, CHC
P-Charlie Ferguson, PHI
P-Dan Casey, PHI
P-Jim Whitney, WHS
P-Tim Keefe, NYG
P-Pud Galvin, PIT
P-Henry Boyle, IND
P-Mark Baldwin, CHC
P-Mickey Welch, NYG
P-Pretzels Getzien, DTN
C-Jim O’Rourke, NYG
C-Charlie Bennett, DTN
1B-Roger Connor, NYG
1B-Dan Brouthers, DTN
1B-Cap Anson, CHC
2B-Hardy Richardson, DTN
3B-Jerry Denny, IND
3B-Billy Nash, BSN
SS-Monte Ward, NYG
SS-Jack Glasscock, IND
SS-Sam Wise, BSN
SS-Jack Rowe, DTN
RF-Sam Thompson, DTN
RF-Jim Fogarty, PHI
RF-King Kelly, BSN
38-21, 3.08 ERA, 237 K, .242, 6 HR, 25 RBI
Wins Above Replacement-15.1 (2nd Time)
WAR for Pitchers-14.9 (2nd Time)
Wins-38 (2nd Time)
Games Pitched-60 (2nd Time)
Innings Pitched-523.0 (2nd Time)
Strikeouts-237 (2nd Time)
Games Started-59 (2nd Time)
Complete Games-56 (2nd Time)
Batters Faced-2,183 (2nd Time)
Fielding Independent Pitching-3.42
Adj. Pitching Runs-71 (2nd Time)
Adj. Pitching Wins-6.3 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as P-60 (2nd Time)
Putouts as P-34
Assists as P-125 (3rd Time)
4th Time All-Star-Clarkson’s great run continued, though Chicago’s pennant-winning streak came to an end. Still it was another monster season for the White Stockings pitcher, who finished first in WAR (15.1) and first in WAR for Pitchers (14.9). He was old-school, out on the mound game-after-game. In a time when pitchers’ innings pitched were starting to come down, Clarkson still tossed 523 innings with a 3.08 ERA and a 145 ERA+, his fourth straight season with an Adjusted ERA+ of 145 or higher.
Not all was well, however. According to Wikipedia, Clarkson missed his catcher:”In 1887, Clarkson was 38-21 for Chicago with 56 complete games and a 3.08 ERA. However, King Kelly was sold to Boston before the season began, and the team began a decline, dropping to third place in 1887. Clarkson, always a touchy temperament, reportedly became more difficult to handle after Kelly’s departure.”
And so the great Clarkson himself would go join his teammate in 1888. On the website, Baseball in the Garden of Eden, John Thorn writes, “In 1888 John Clarkson of Chicago was sold to Boston for the same sum as King Kelly had been one year earlier, thus providing Boston with its famous ‘$20,000 Battery.’ The winner of fifty-three games with Chicago in 1885, he would win forty-nine with Boston, so there was no doubt of his ability, yet he was always unsure of himself and hypersensitive to slights. He ended his years at age forty-seven in a variety of sanitariums and asylums, depressed, alcoholic, and disoriented. As Sporting Life noted at the time of his death, ‘He seemed to have no memory at all for things of today, but talked clearly and lucidly of matters connected with the past.’” He’ll have a sad ending for sure, but his All-Star days are not done.
22-10, 3.00 ERA, 125 K, .337, 3 HR, 85 RBI
Saves-1 (2nd Time)
3rd Time All-Star-It was old news, Ferguson had another great season. He finished second in WAR (10.4) and third in WAR for Pitchers (7.7). He also had a great year at the plate, slashing .337/.417/.470 for an OPS+ of 140. From the mound, he pitched 297 1/3 innings with a 3.00 ERA and a 141 ERA+. Ferguson had now pitched four straight seasons of 20 or more wins and looked to have many more. Same old, same old.
It was same old, same old for the team itself also, as they just fell short, finishing in second place with a 75-48 record, three-and-a-half games out of first behind Detroit. Managed by Harry Wright, the Quakers finished the season with a 16-game winning streak. With Ferguson only 24 and coached by one of the greatest managers in baseball history, they’d have to eventually win it all, wouldn’t they?
I’ll let SABR finish the story: “Sometime during the Quakers’ spring preparation for the 1888 season, Ferguson probably consumed contaminated food or water. Within days, the tiny red spots that signaled typhoid fever appeared on his chest. With his health quickly deteriorating, the Quakers’ star hurler was sequestered in the second-floor bedroom he and his wife rented from Quakers shortstop Arthur Irwin. Ferguson battled the ailment for nearly a month, periodically rallying, before succumbing on April 29, 1888, at 10:30 p.m., less than two weeks after his 25th birthday. Ferguson’s remains were returned to Charlottesville the next day and he was interred at Maplewood Cemetery after a funeral attended by the entire Quakers organization and players on the Princeton College team, which Ferguson had coached in the offseasons.. (Princeton College is now Princeton University.)
“Ferguson’s death sent shockwaves through the entire baseball community. To that point in baseball history, he may have been the most prominent active major leaguer to die during his playing career. To honor Ferguson, the Quakers along with the Washington Nationals, New York Giants, and Boston Beaneaters wore black crepe on their left sleeves during the season.”
28-13, 2.86 ERA, 119 K, .165, 1 HR, 17 RBI
1887 NL Pitching Title
Earned Run Average-2.86
2nd Time All-Star-Unbeknownst to Casey, he would have more responsibility in 1888 after the death of Charlie Ferguson. How well will he do? My guess is he has made his last All-Star team. Let’s not be negative. I think I’m still bummed over the Ferguson’s demise. Shake it off, Ron! Okay, I’m back. Casey this season finished third in WAR (9.3) and second in WAR for Pitchers (10.4). He pitched 390 1/3 innings with a 2.86 ERA and a 147 ERA+. Casey at the bat added nothing.
Scoring really went up in the National League this year. In 1886, teams averaged 5.2 runs per game, while in 1887, it increased by almost a run at 6.1. I don’t know if this has anything to do with it, but Vintage Base Ball Association says, “The changes made in the rules governing the delivery of the ball to the bat form the most radical of the amendments made to the code, and by far the most important. In the first place the size of the pitcher’s ‘box’ has been reduced from seven feet in length to five feet six, thus rendering it almost impossible for him to take more than one forward step in delivering, even if he were not expressly forbidden to do so. The new rule also requires the pitcher to keep one foot on the rear line of his position, and this foot he cannot lift until he has completed the forward throwing or pitching movement of his arm in delivery. The rule also says that he shall not ‘make more than one step in such delivery.’ Moreover, in taking his stand in the box, preparatory to the delivery of the ball, he must hold the ball fairly in front of his body, and in sight of the Umpire. This prohibits any holding of the ball behind his back, as was the general rule last year. When, too, he makes any pretence or feint to throw the ball to a base to put out a base runner, he must, after such feint, resume his original standing position, and make a distinct pause before actually delivering the ball to the bat.”
24-21, 3.22 ERA, 146 K, .264, 2 HR, 22 RBI
Bases on Balls per 9 IP-0.934 (5th Time)
Strikeouts/Base on Balls-3.476 (4th Time)
6th Time All-Star-Whitney was now pitching for his third team in three seasons, but he still made the All-Star team two of those three seasons. He might have made his last on. But if it is his last All-Star team, Whitney made the best of it, pitching 404 2/3 innings pitched with a 3.22 ERA and a 126 ERA+. It was the first time he had an Adjusted ERA+ over 100 since 1884 for Boston.
Despite having Whitney on the team, the Nationals had a tough season, finishing seventh with a 46-76 record. John Gaffney coached the team for his second and last season. Ironically on this team was the man who would coach the most games ever, catcher Connie Mack. Washington was 24-21 in games decided by Whitney and 22-55 in games decided by other pitchers. It needed more Grasshopper Jim.
Sports Illustrated talks about Whitney’s death at the age of 33. “That article also raises questions about Whitney’s death. ‘It generally has been supposed that he died of consumption,’ the article reads, but former opponent Al Maul offers another explanation.
“’That hit was the death of Grasshopper Jim Whitney,’ Maul said. ‘Jim was pitching for the Washington team, and the game in which he received the blow that cost him his life was played at Pittsburg. [Bill] Kuehne was a Sandow in strength, and the whole force of his body backed up that hit. Before Whitney could step aside or duck, the ball crashed into his chest, and he fell forward prone on his stomach. He was carried off the field, and a few days later hemorrhage of the lungs set in. Jim, though deep-chested and a man of steel, never recovered from that blow and died a few years later.’” The problem is this could have only occurred in 1888 and Whitney lived three more years.
35-19, 3.12 ERA, 189 K, .220, 2 HR, 23 RBI
Walks & Hits per 9 IP-1.124 (3rd Time)
Hits per 9 IP-8.081 (4th Time)
Errors Committed as P-15
8th Time All-Star-A year after making the ONEHOF, Keefe continued to pitch well and he isn’t done yet. In 1887, he finished fifth in WAR (7.5) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (7.1). Smiling Tim would never again pitch 600 innings like he did in 1883 or 500 innings like he did in 1886, but he still managed 476 2/3 innings, innings in which he garnered a 3.12 ERA and 121 ERA+. And as mentioned, he still has great seasons ahead.
As for the Giants, they still couldn’t bust through to the pennant. Jim Mutrie coached the team to a 68-55 record, fourth in the National League, 10-and-a-half games out of first.
Keefe and the other NL pitchers had to deal with rule changes designed to help the hitters. SABR says, “In 1887 a rule change required Keefe to abandon the ‘hop, skip, and jump’ delivery by pitching from a fixed position, with the ‘pitcher compelled to keep both feet on the ground and face the batter before delivering the ball,’ and keep his right foot on the back line of the pitcher’s box and allowed to take only one step forward. Other rule changes were instituted that year to reduce the advantage of the pitcher, such as needing four strikes for a strikeout (up from three) and five balls for a walk (down from six), and allowing a hit batsman to take first base.
“On August 20 Keefe held a 5-3 New York lead in the top of the ninth inning when Philadelphia loaded the bases with no outs. Pitcher Dan Casey, the next hitter, ‘then raised the crowd to its feet by hitting safely to right, bringing in McGuire and Irwin’ to tie the game. When the Giants failed to score in the bottom of the ninth, the game ended 5-5. Thus began the inspiration for baseball’s most famous poem, contend Jim Moore and Natalie Vermilyea, authors of the book Ernest Thayer’s “Casey at the Bat”: Background and Characters of Baseball’s Most Famous Poem. Moore and Vermilyea postulate that Thayer, then living in San Francisco, read about Casey’s exploits in The Sporting News, which included the phrase ‘Casey was at the bat,’ and modeled the pitching character in his poem after Keefe.”
28-21, 3.29 ERA, 76 K, .212, 2 HR, 22 RBI
Range Factor/9 Inn as P-2.96
Range Factor/Game as P-2.96
8th Time All-Star-After two years in the American Association, Galvin followed Pittsburgh back to the National League and made yet another All-Star team. Oh, and he is the 1887 ONEHOF (One-a-year in the Hall of Fame) Inductee. This is very prestigious, almost as important as making the real Hall of Fame. For 1888, the nominees will be Charley Jones, Fred Dunlap, George Gore, Monte Ward, King Kelly, Mickey Welch, Charlie Bennett, Jack Glasscock, Dan Brouthers, Davy Force, Ned Williamson, Ezra Sutton, Old Hoss Radbourn, Jim Whitney, Hardy Richardson, Roger Connor, and Harry Stovey. It’s going to be an exciting competition!
Gentle Jeems finished seventh in WAR (6.4) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (6.8). He pitched an incredible 440 2/3 innings with a 3.29 ERA and a 115 ERA+. At 30 years old, he has already pitched an incredible 4573 1/3 innings and has almost 1500 innings left. He would end up with the second most innings pitched of all-time.
Pittsburgh moved to the NL from the AA this season. According to Wikipedia, “After five mediocre seasons in the A.A., Pittsburgh became the first A.A. team to switch to the older National League in 1887.” Well, it was just as mediocre in the NL, as the Horace Phillips-managed team finished in sixth place with a 55-69 record. Of course, this would end up being the Pittsburgh Pirates, which still exist to this day, so it’s not like this bad start kept the franchise from thriving for a long time.
13-24, 3.65 ERA, 85 K, .191, 2 HR, 13 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-Boyle is having a fluky All-Star career. He didn’t make the 1884 Union Association All-Star team despite a 15-3 record, 1.74 ERA, and 174 ERA+ , mainly because of “only” 150 innings pitched. He then made the 1885 National League All-Star team despite a 16-24 record, a 2.75 ERA and a 101 ERA+, mainly because he pitched 366 2/3 innings. He didn’t make the NL All-Star team in 1886 despite a league-leading 1.76 ERA and 178 ERA+. Why? That’s right. “Only” 210 innings pitched. And then he made it again this season with 328 innings pitched, a 3.65 ERA and a 113 ERA+. It seems to me teams should have pitched him less; it seemed to help his effectiveness.
His team this season was the Indianapolis Hoosiers, since his former squad, the St. Louis Maroons relocated there. It was a different city with the same result, a bad team. The Hoosiers went 37-89, in last place, 43 games out of first. It took three men to manage this team to these depths – Watch Burnham (6-22 in his first and last time managing), Fred Thomas (11-18 in his first and last time managing), and Horace Fogel (20-49 in his first, but not last time managing).
Did you know Indianapolis has a rich baseball history? According to the Indy Star, “Albert Von Tilzer, composer of ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game,’ was an Indianapolis native and lived at 434 S. Illinois St.” If it wasn’t for Indianapolis, Harry Caray would have just been singing random nonsense during the seventh-inning stretch. It’s hard to believe Caray has been dead for 18 years.
18-17, 3.40 ERA, 164 K, .187, 4 HR, 17 RBI
Strikeouts per 9 IP-4.419
1st Time All-Star-Marcus Elmore “Mark” or “Fido” Baldwin was born on October 29, 1863 in Pittsburgh, PA. He must have thought he won the lottery as he was picked up by the perennial champion White Stockings for his rookie year. But he wasn’t part of a league title and wouldn’t be on this team for long. He has another All-Star left in his wild career. By wild, I speak of his bouncing around leagues and teams and also his pitches. He had a lot of wild pitches this season with 41, but two years later, he’d bury that amount with 83 wild pitches in 1889, still the all-time record.
For the season, Baldwin finished seventh in WAR for Pitchers (6.0), pitching 334 innings with a 3.40 ERA and a 131 ERA+.
If it was up to his coach, Baldwin would have started sooner. According to Baseball Reference, “Nicknamed ‘Fido’, Mark Baldwin played football at Penn. won 39 games in the minor leagues in 1886 and then signed with the Chicago White Stockings. Chicago manager Cap Anson tried to use Baldwin in the 1886 World Series against the St. Louis Browns, but Browns skipper Charlie Comiskey objected and Baldwin did not join the White Stockings until the next season.”
From the same article comes this quote, “’Although never known for a good curve, or changeup, [Baldwin] had plenty of speed and the gumption to challenge the best hitters.’ Robert L. Tiemann, Baseball’s First Stars.” It was that speed that led to all of those wild pitches.
22-15, 3.36 ERA, 115 K, .243, 2 HR, 15 RBI
Home Runs per 9 IP-0.182
7th Time All-Star-Welch made his fifth consecutive All-Star team and I have no doubt he’s a future member of ONEHOF, possibly as early as next season. The one thing Welch couldn’t do was be part of pennant-winning team, but that would soon change. For this season, Welch finished 10th in WAR for Pitchers (4.7), garnering a 3.36 ERA and a 112 ERA+ in 346 innings pitched.
SABR tells us how Welch acquired his nickname: “For the 1885 campaign, the New York team performed up to expectations. But an exceptional 85-27 record was good for only second place that season, as the Chicago White Stockings, with Cap Anson, King Kelly, and John Clarkson at their playing peak, came in two games better in final NL standings. During the season, the New York team acquired the nickname that would accompany the club to later baseball glory: Giants. Star pitcher Welch also received an enduring sobriquet: Smiling Mickey, a tribute to his even-temperedness in the pitching box – he never argued a call and was said to be the favorite pitcher of NL umpires – and the bemused grin that seemed plastered on his face.
“With an ever-growing family to support, Welch held out briefly during the off-season of 1885-1886, but club owner Day refused to yield to his ‘exorbitant’ demands. Welch later signed quietly, probably for about $3,000. He pitched well during the 1886 and 1887 seasons, but a nagging back and occasional arm miseries reduced his numbers: 33-22 in 500 innings pitched (1886), and 22-15 in 346 innings (1887). Meanwhile, Tim Keefe had gone a combined 75-39 in over 1,000 innings pitched, and had assumed the mantle of staff ace.”
29-13, 3.73 ERA, 135 K, .186, 1 HR, 14 RBI
Home Runs Allowed-24
2nd Time All-Star-Surprisingly for a team that won the league title, Getzien is the only pitcher to make the All-Star team for the Wolverines. Are you thinking they must have a lot of bats bashing in their lineup? You’re so smart, they do have five position players on the All-Star team. Back to Pretzels. He last made the All-Star team in 1884, but was a consistent pitcher for the Wolverines even in his non All-Star seasons. In 1886, he was 30-11 with a 3.03 ERA and a 107 ERA+, but there were a lot of good pitchers in the National League that year. This season, Getzien finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (4.7), with a 3.73 ERA and a 109 ERA+ in 366 2/3 innings pitched.
As for Detroit, its hitting was the best in the league and its pitching and defense was among the league’s best. This led the Wolverines to their first (and last) title. Surprisingly, despite its success, Detroit only has one more season left.
Enough focusing on the negative! The Wolverines, coached by Bill Watkins, finished 79-45, three-and-a-half games ahead of Philadelphia. They then played a 15-game World Series! You heard me. Acccording to Wikipedia, “The Detroit Wolverines defeated the St. Louis Browns in the 1887 World Series, 10 games to 5.
“After the Wolverines won the National League pennant, owner Fred Stearns challenged the American Association champion St. Louis Browns. The Wolverines and the Browns would play ‘a series of contests for supremacy’ of the baseball world. This early ‘world series’ consisted of fifteen games – played in Pittsburgh, Brooklyn, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, Baltimore and Chicago, as well as Detroit and St. Louis. The Wolverines claimed their eighth victory – and thus the championship – in the eleventh game.” Pretzels pitched six of the games, going 4-2 with a 2.48 ERA.
.285, 3 HR, 88 RBI
11th Time All-Star-Imagine nowadays a player who mainly roamed the outfield who at the age of 36 became a regular catcher. It’s usually the opposite, catchers moving to other positions as they age. People like Craig Biggio and Mike Napoli, among many others. But that’s what O’Rourke did as he continues to frustrate my prophecies that say “This is his last year.” I really think this one is, but what do I know? I’ve been wrong numerous times about the Hall of Famer.
Of course, O’Rourke made the team because of a lack of good catchers this season. And though he played more catcher than any other position, he only caught 40 games. And it’s not like he hadn’t caught before. Orator Jim had caught in 147 games in his career before this season and in 1886, actually caught more games than this season when he donned the tools of ignorance 47 times.
Now in his third season with the Giants, O’Rourke continued to be a productive player, slashing .285/.352/.411 for an OPS+ of 114. Incredibly, that Adjusted OPS+ would be higher the next five years. Maybe he will make more All-Star teams!
In his personal life, Wikipedia says, “He graduated from Yale Law School in 1887 with an LL.B., practicing law in Bridgeport between early playing stints, and earning the nickname ‘Orator Jim’ because of his verbosity on the field, his intellect, and his law degree—uncommon in a game regarded as a rough immigrant sport at the time.”
.244, 3 HR, 20 RBI
7th Time All-Star-Bennett’s career is so fascinating. He never played 100 or more games, because Bennett was a catcher. Many others were CINOs (Catchers in Name Only), but when Bennett played, it was mainly behind the plate. Even this season, he made the All-Star team despite playing in only 46 games, but 45 of them were at catcher. Despite the lack of games played, Bennett finished sixth in Defensive WAR (1.0) and now has made seven straight All-Star teams. His hitting was declining, but still more than adequate, as he slashed .244/.363/.400 for an OPS+ of 109, his lowest since 1880.
Shouldn’t all of this hard work and beat up hands have a reward? This year, it finally did, as Bennett won his first ever pennant. He then played in his first World Series, slashing .262/.311/.357 with two doubles and a triple. It’s my guess he caught in 10 of the 15 games.
There is a website called The Baseball Page which has a whole page devoted to the Detroit Wolverines’ 1887 season and it has this to say about Bennett: “Catching duties were divided between Charlie Ganzel (51 games at catcher) and Charlie Bennett (45 games at catcher). Both were good defensive catchers, though neither hit particularly well. Bennett had a better fielding percentage than Ganzel (.951 to .913), but Ganzel was stronger in range factor (6.78 to 5.64) and fielding runs (9 to 2).” However, Ganzel did not make the top 10 in dWAR and Bennett did. Also, Bennett was a much better hitter as Ganzel slashed .260/.288/.330 for an OPS+ of 69.
.285, 17 HR, 104 RBI
Def. Games as 1B-127 (2nd Time)
Putouts as 1B-1,325
Fielding % as 1B-.993
6th Time All-Star-Surprisingly for the man who would be the all-time home run leader until George Herman Ruth came along, Connor only led the league in home runs once and it wasn’t this season, his best long ball year ever. At this point, Dan Brouthers was the all-time home run leader with 65. Connor only has 39 at this point. We’ll keep watching this race.
Still, there was no doubt Connor was the best first baseman in league, finishing eighth in WAR (6.2), second in WAR Position Players (6.2), second in Offensive WAR (5.3), and seventh in Defensive WAR (1.0). It was a great all-around season for the big man. At the plate, he slashed .285/.392/.541 (his highest slugging thus far) for an OPS+ of 161. This season was the first time he hit double digit home runs, but he would do so six out of seven seasons. I have no doubt he’ll eventually be in the ONEHOF. He’s already in Cooperstown.
Though Connor had a good season, he had a terrible year. SABR explains: “For Connor, the Giants’ tepid performance was dwarfed by family tragedy. Late in the 1887 season, daughter Lulu contracted dysentery when brought on a road trip. She died in September, just before her first birthday. To add to Connor’s anguish, the child had not been baptized, a grave parental failing for one as devout as Roger Connor. According to granddaughter Margaret Colwell, Connor always deemed Lulu’s death divine retribution for having been married outside church to a non-Catholic.”
.338, 12 HR, 101 RBI
Offensive WAR-6.0 (4th Time)
On-Base %-.426 (3rd Time)
On-Base Plus Slugging-.988 (6th Time)
Doubles-36 (2nd Time)
Adjusted OPS+-169 (6th Time)
Adj. Batting Runs-50 (4th Time)
Adj. Batting Wins-4.8 (4th Time)
Extra Base Hits-68 (5th Time)
Times on Base-246 (3rd Time)
7th Time All-Star-Brouthers, the greatest hitter of his time, finally won a league title as Detroit took the National League title. It certainly had its share of great hitters. As for Big Dan, same ole, same ole. He finished fourth in WAR Position Players (5.3) and first in Offensive WAR (6.0). His defense, as rated by dWAR, was again terrible. Oh, well, I’m sure the Mona Lisa has a miniscule paint blotch on it somewhere.
Unfortunately for the great Brouthers, this would be the only World Series he would make and he only batted three times because of an injury. Because he’s Dan Brouthers, he did get two hits in those three at-bats, but those would be the only World Series plate appearances in his career.
Baseball Reference says, “Brouthers has one of the top ten highest batting averages of all time. There is no player truly similar to Brouthers, but all ten of the most-similar players to Brouthers are in the Hall of Fame, with the most similar being Roger Connor, another 19th century player. Brouthers has been compared to Mickey Mantle as well, due to the proclivity that both of them had for high on-base percentage along with high slugging average.”
The other nine similar players played in the early days of baseball, so did similar things to Brouthers. However, if Brouthers would have played in a live-ball era, there’s no doubt he would be one of the top home run hitters of all time. As it is, after 1887, he was the all-time home run leader with 65.
.347, 7 HR, 102 RBI
1887 NL Batting Title (3rd Time)
Assists as 1B-70 (6th Time)
13th Time All-Star-History gives us the ability to look over big swatches of time and know the final results. For Cap Anson, he had no way of knowing in his time he would never lead Chicago to another crown, that his last was in 1886. It would be a 20-year stretch of not winning the league crown.
For the season, the 35-year-old Anson finished sixth in WAR Position Players (5.2), seventh in Offensive WAR (4.3), and ninth in Defensive WAR (0.9). While Roger Connor and Dan Brouthers were certainly better hitters, they couldn’t field like Cap. Oh, and by the way, it’s not like he couldn’t hit. He slashed .347/.422/.517 for an OPS+ of 146.
Cap Anson has a website devoted to him called Cap Chronicled which is amazing. The writing is excellent and it’s very fair and thorough. I want to put a snippet of it here about Anson’s racism as there was no major or minor league black baseball players from 1887 to 1947. Excuse the language.
“The influx of blacks into the professional ranks had not gone unnoticed. On July 11, 1887, the ‘Sporting News’ prints its opinion of the situation, a decidedly racist one. In it, it says ‘A new trouble has just arisen in the affairs of certain baseball associations [which] has done more damage to the International League than to any other we know of. We refer to the importation of colored players into the ranks of that body.’
“Three days after the Sporting News article appeared, an exhibition game was played between the Chicago White Stockings and the Newark Little Giants. It is this infamous game that many point to as the ‘line in the sand’ that designates the beginning of baseball segregation. Before the game began, Anson is purported to have exclaimed ‘get that nigger off the field!’ in reference to Stovey. Unlike the 1883 incident, this time Anson did not back down from his insistence. Ultimately, Stovey feigned injury and withdrew himself from the game. He and Walker watched the game from the bench.” Click the link above and read the whole thing.
.328, 8 HR, 94 RBI
Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-7.22 (2nd Time)
Range Factor/Game as 2B-6.78 (2nd Time)
6th Time All-Star-Old True Blue continued to play well into his 30s and now was part of his first league-winning team. Richardson moved from the outfield in 1886 back to his regular position of second base this season and was the best second sacker in the league. He slashed .328/.366/.484 for an OPS+ of 131. It was his lowest OPS+ since his 1882 season. Richardson didn’t do too well in the 15-game World Series against St. Louis of the American Association, slashing .197/.209/.379 for the series.
Wikipedia says of the Detroit 1887 team: “The 1887 season was the pinnacle in the eight-year history of the Detroit Wolverines. The team won the National League pennant with a 79-45 record and then defeated the St. Louis Browns in the 1887 World Series. In an article published in 1911, Richardson called the 1887 Detroit team ‘one of the grandest collection of hitters ever seen together.’”
I’ve put Richardson at second base, where he toiled for 64 games, but he played almost as many games in the leftfield (58). His overall fielding was decent as it always was and I believe Richardson has another All-Star team left in him.
Like his teammate, Dan Brouthers, this season would be the only World Series appearance for Richardson, but that doesn’t mean neither of them ever won other titles. Both were part of the 1890’s Players League-winning Boston Reds and the 1891 American Association-winning team of the same name. There were older then but could still lead a team to the title.
.324, 11 HR, 97 RBI
Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-4.15 (3rd Time)
Range Factor/Game as 3B-3.99 (3rd Time)
2nd Time All-Star-Denny, the bare-handed fielding third baseman, had his best season ever after moving from St. Louis to Indianapolis. Because he refused to wear a glove long after they became commonplace in the league, he has the fifth highest amount of errors as a third baseman all-time. However, he was still had great range.
For the season, Denny had his best season ever, finishing eighth in WAR Position Players (4.4) and eighth in Offensive WAR (4.0). He slashed .324/.344/.502 for his highest Adjusted OPS+ ever of 136. Though he was the National League’s best at the hot corner this season, he’ll probably never make another All-Star team.
I mentioned in last year’s blurb that Denny’s real name was Jeremiah Dennis Eldridge. Wikipedia says the reason for the name change was, “Eldridge attended St Mary’s College, Phoenix in the late 1870s, and wanted to play semi-professional baseball during the summer months, when he wasn’t playing for the college as an amateur. He used the pseudonym ‘Jerry Denny’ to hide his professional play from the college.”
Indianapolis would last as a National League team for three seasons, from 1887-89 and never get above seventh place out of the eight teams. They had the great Jack Glasscock and the almost great Jerry Denny, but it wasn’t enough to push them over the top and just barely over the bottom.
.295, 6 HR, 94 RBI
Putouts as 3B-207
1st Time All-Star-William Mitchell “Billy” Nash was born on June 24, 1865 in Richmond, VA. He started as a 19-year-old with the 1884 American Association Richmond Virginians before moving to Boston the next season. Nash finished 10th in the league in Offensive WAR (3.8), slashing .295/.376/.434 for an OPS+ of 126. He has a couple more good seasons ahead.
Tomahawk Take says the Nash made the All-19th Century team for the Braves, as the Beaneaters would eventually become. “Playing 10 seasons in Boston, the third baseman Nash was a good hitter who played solid defense, worth about 27 WAR with the franchise. He was usually among the league leaders in walks, though walks were then considered to be the pitcher’s fault, not the batter’s skill.”
Baseball Reference notes, “When people say there weren’t any good third basemen in the early days of baseball, they forget about people like Billy Nash. Nash played 15 years and was both a decent hitter and a good fielder. Some have called him the best glove man of his era. The similarity scores method shows the most similar player to Nash as Willie Kamm, and Hall of Famer Jimmy Collins is also on his list of the most similar players. Bill James ranked Nash as the # 49 third baseman of all time.
“’It is Capt. Billy Nash, of the Boston League team. Here’s to you, Billy. Good things come high, but we must have them. Billy is good, very good, and is correspondingly high. For playing third base the triumvirs will pay him $4000. For captaining the team he will get $1000 more. For signing the little paper that gives Capt. William to our League nine he gets a cool $2500 as a bonus. In other words for the coming season Billy will get $7500. A nice little plum. . . But the triumvirs are not kicking. They are very happy. . . Bill Nash will take with him quite a following . . .’- Sporting Life, March 14, 1891.”
.338, 1 HR, 53 RBI
WAR Position Players-6.6
Games Played-129 (2nd Time)
Def. Games as SS-129 (3rd Time)
Putouts as SS-226 (3rd Time)
Fielding % as SS-.919
7th Time All-Star-I almost forgot about Monte Ward, who last made the All-Star team as a centerfielder in 1883. Since then, he moved to shortstop in 1885, where he would play the majority of the rest of his career. This season, he finished sixth in WAR (6.6), first in WAR Position Players (6.6), fifth in Offensive WAR (4.6), and first in Defensive WAR (2.7). That 2.7 dWAR was tied for the highest up to this point in baseball history with Jack Glasscock’s 1883 season. At the plate, he slashed .338/.375/.391 for an OPS+ of 116, his highest ever and his first time over 100 OPS+ since 1879. His 111 stolen bases certainly helped that.
I believe Ward has a couple more All-Star seasons left in him and could possibly sneak into the ONEHOF. I have no problem with him being in Cooperstown, since they obviously have much lower standards than this page. While looking up some articles on Ward, the most commonly mentioned subject was his not deserving the Hall of Fame nod. But his overall WAR is 64.0. He had six straight outstanding seasons from the mound and then made a new career for himself as a slick-fielding shortstop. There are much worse inductees in Cooperstown.
Ward would eventually become a lawyer, using this to help the players, according to Wikipedia, which says, “Ward graduated from Columbia Law School in 1885 and led the players in forming the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players, the first sports labor union. Ward and the players had become frustrated with the owners’ reserve clause, which allowed them to sign players to one-year contracts and then not allow them to negotiate with other teams when those contracts expired. The players felt that the owners had absolute power. At first, the players had some success, gaining the freedom to negotiate with other teams when they were asked to take a pay cut by their current team. In October 1887, Ward married actress Helen Dauvray.”
.294, 0 HR, 40 RBI, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 K
AB per SO-60.4 (2nd Time)
Assists-493 (3rd Time)
Assists as SS-493 (5th Time)
Errors Committed as SS-73
Double Plays Turned as SS-58 (3rd Time)
Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-6.09 (3rd Time)
Range Factor/Game as SS-5.77 (2nd Time)
7th Time All-Star-Glasscock made the All-Star team for the seventh consecutive season, six of them in the prestigious National League. He finished 10th in WAR (5.3), WAR Position Players (5.3), and second in Defensive WAR (2.4). His dWAR would have led the league in almost any other year, but Monte Ward was phenomenal. (See above). At the plate, Glasscock slashed .294/.361/.360 for an OPS+ of 104. He’s not done being a good hitter – in a couple years, he’ll have a resurgence – but he will start to fade. However, his fielding will be great for many years to know.
The Ohio County Public Library has many clips from various 1880s publications on Jack Glasscock. There seemed to be a rumor that Pebbly Jack was trying to purposely play bad to get out of Indianapolis. The Sporting Life of June 8, 1887 says, “I notice in one or two papers where the writers claim that Jack Glasscock is playing a listless game and writer claims that Jack is playing for his release. This talk is all nonsense. No matter how anxious Jack is to get away from Indianapolis he will never put up a poor game of ball in order to get away from the Hoosiers…When Jack is playing on a losing club he becomes low-spirited and remains that way until his club strikes a streak of luck, and I suppose his spirits must be pretty low just at the present time.” Glasscock is one of those hard-luck great players who never played on a league-winning team.
.334, 9 HR, 92 RBI
Errors Committed-81 (2nd Time)
1st Time All-Star-Samuel Washington “Sam” or “Modoc” or “Mordor” (j/k) Wise was born on August 18, 1857 in Akron, OH. He was only 50 or 60 years too early to have the nickname “Hobbit” like Glenn Hubbard. He also arrived late on the scene to the All-Star party. Wise started in 1881 playing one game for the Detroit Wolverines before moving to Boston the next season. He started catching fire in 1885, finishing 10th in Offensive WAR (3.7) and really busted forth this season. Modoc led the Beaneaters in WAR, while finishing seventh in WAR Position Players (4.7) and fourth in Offensive WAR (4.8) league-wide. From the plate, he slashed .334/.390/522 for an OPS+ of 153. All of those would be career highs.
SABR, in an article written by Mark Sternman, says of Wise, “Sam Wise teamed with Jack Burdock to form the double-play combination for the Boston Red Stockings for seven years during the 1880s. An unusual shortstop,i Wise was a Jekyll-and-Hyde player,a free swinger (‘When Sam Wise offers at a ball and misses it he takes a turn like a prize fighter landing the pivot blow’) with power who led the National League in strikeouts in 1884. While far-ranging, he possessed a highly erratic, scattershot throwing arm. With his unique combination of skills and deficiencies, managers moved him around the batting order and diamond. Called by future Hall of Famer Buck Ewing ‘the best short stop in the country,’ Wise for a short period compared favorably with some of the enduring legends of the game.”
.318, 6 HR, 96 RBI
5th Time All-Star-In his ninth season, Rowe finally was part of league-winning team, but has probably made his last All-Star team. This season he finished ninth in WAR Position Players (4.1) and fifth in Defensive WAR (1.1). At the plate, Rowe slashed .318/.368/.445 for an OPS+ of 122. In the 15-game World Series victory against the American Association champion St. Louis Browns, Rowe slashed .333/.354/.381 with five stolen bases. He is one of five Wolverines’ position player All-Stars.
Rowe would play three seasons after this one, with Detroit in 1888, with Pittsburgh in 1889, and with the Players League Buffalo Bisons in 1890. Age and probably his years of catching caught up with his hitting. Then, according to Wikipedia, “After retiring from baseball, Rowe operated a cigar store in Buffalo. His store was reportedly ‘a popular gathering place for sporting figures of the city.’ In January 1899, The Sporting Life described him as ‘one of the most contented men in Buffalo these days’, attending to his cigar business, and ‘ever ready to talk base ball.’
“Rowe became ill in 1910 and moved to St. Louis, Missouri, to live with his daughter, Helen. Rowe died in April 1911 at his daughter’s residence in St. Louis at age 55. His cause of death has been reported as aortic regurgitation and nephritis. He was buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis.”
.372, 10 HR, 166 RBI
Runs Batted In-166
Offensive Win %-.803
Def. Games as OF-127
2nd Time All-Star-For all of the fame of Detroit’s vaunted “Big Four,” it was Big Sam Thompson, who wasn’t part of that clique, who dominated on this team. He finished third in the league in WAR Position Players (5.3) and third in the league in Offensive WAR (5.1). Thompson slashed .372/.416/.565 for an OPS+ of 166. It was his best season ever. His 166 RBI would be the record until a man named Babe Ruth edged it in 1921. Also, on May 7, he became the first ever player to hit two triples with bases loaded in the same game.
With Big Sam leading the way, Detroit won the National League and played a 15-game World Series against the American Association St. Louis Browns. The Wolverines won 10-5, with Thompson slashing .362/.393/.500 with two doubles and two home runs.
Thompson’s Hall of Fame page says, “’He was a wonderful friend,’ Charlie Bennett said at his funeral. ‘No one ever quarrelled with Sam. No one ever knew him with all his strength to be rough or brutal. He was always even-tempered, simple and plain.’
“During a time when the play was rough and so were many of the players, being recognized as ‘plain’ was complimentary, and only reserved for true gentlemen. Samuel ‘Big Sam’ Thompson spent time over 15 seasons in the Major Leagues protecting that reputation, while also building a name for himself at the plate.” I’ve mentioned many times that in this era, players seemed to be hedonistic drunkards or clean-cut choirboys. Thompson was the latter.
.261, 8 HR, 50 RBI, 0-0, 9.00 ERA, 0 K
Bases on Balls-82
Assists as OF-39
Double Plays Turned as OF-9
1st Time All-Star-James G. “Jim” Fogarty was born on Lincoln’s Birthday in the year before the great president was assassinated. He was born in San Francisco and attended St. Mary’s College of California. He entered the Major Leagues in 1884 with the Quakers and in 1887, had his best season ever. He finished 10th in WAR Position Players (4.1) and 10th in Defensive WAR (0.9). Fogarty slashed .261/.376/.410 for an OPS+ of 113. He’ll most likely never make another All-Star team, but in a league with very few good outfielders, he slipped in this year.
Fogarty would play with the Quakers two more seasons, before playing his last season at the age of 26 with the Players League Philadelphia Athletics. Philadelphia must be cursed because they lost pitcher Charlie Ferguson at a young age. (See his blurb above.) Fogarty also died young, according to Baseball Reference, which says, “He died at age 27. He is rather grimly remembered in a 1907 newspaper article as follows: ‘Jimmy Fogarty, the idol of Philadelphia and one of the first really good men in sliding to bases, was too frail of physique to stand the strain of a severe athletic career and is in his grave, one of the few ballplayers to die of consumption.’ Consumption in this case refers to tuberculosis.”
.322, 8 HR, 63 RBI, 1-0, 3.46 ERA, 0 K
7th Time All-Star-Because of the reserve clause in baseball, teams didn’t generally have to worry about losing their star players. However, according to SABR, after the White Stockings lost the 1886 World Series, “Anson and Spalding decided to clean house and get some players who would be better able to keep in training. The Boston Beaneaters believed Kelly would attract the numerous Irish population of the city, and were willing to pay the amazing sum of $10,000 to purchase his contract. They paid Kelly $5,000 in salary, which was listed as the $2,000 National League maximum plus $3,000 for the use of his picture for advertising purposes.”
Kelly’s play didn’t falter being in a new city. He finished sixth in Offensive WAR (4.5), slashing .322/.393/.488 for an OPS+ of 145. On top of all of this, King managed the Beanaters to a 49-43 record, before John Morrill took over, leading Boston to a 12-17 record the rest of the year. It finished 61-60, fifth in the National League.
Being Irish certainly added to Kelly’s fame in Boston. More from SABR: “The record purchase price only increased Kelly’s celebrity. Young Boston fans began following him around town, asking him to sign his name on a piece of paper. Kelly may not have been the first baseball player fans followed for an autograph, but as the most famous he can certainly be given credit for popularizing the practice.
“Kelly also received extra income from endorsements. A ‘Slide, Kelly, Slide’ model sled was tried, as was a Kelly-branded shoe polish.”