P-Ice Box Chamberlain, STL
P-Jesse Duryea, CIN
P-Bob Caruthers, BRO
P-Silver King, STL
P-Matt Kilroy, BAL
P-Jack Stivetts, STL
P-Jim Conway, KCC
P-Lee Viau, CIN
P-Frank Foreman, BAL
P-Red Ehret, LOU
C-Jim Keenan, CIN
C-Jocko Milligan, STL
1B-Tommy Tucker, BAL
1B-Henry Larkin, PHA
1B-Dave Orr, COL
2B-Bid McPhee, CIN
3B-Denny Lyons, PHA
3B-Lefty Marr, COL
3B-Billy Shindle, BAL
SS-Ollie Beard, CIN
LF-Harry Stovey, PHA
LF-Tip O’Neill, STL
LF-Darby O’Brien, BRO
CF-Curt Welch, PHA
RF-Oyster Burns, BRO
32-15, 2.97 ERA, 202 K, .199, 2 HR, 31 RBI
Wins Above Replacement-9.4
WAR for Pitchers-9.4
Adj. Pitching Runs-54
Adj. Pitching Wins-4.7
2nd Time All-Star-Ice Box, who has one of the best nicknames ever, also had his best season ever, leading the league in WAR (9.4) and WAR for Pitchers (9.4). He pitched 421 2/3 innings with a 2.97 ERA and a 140 ERA+, matching his 1888 season Adjusted OPS+ total. Chamberlain would never reach that total again, though he would still be an effective pitcher for the next few years.
As for Ice Box’s team, the perennial champion St. Louis Browns, they finally ended their streak of four consecutive league titles, finishing two games behind Brooklyn with a 90-45 record. Manager Charlie Comiskey had the team in first place as late as August 30, with a 71-35 record at the time. The rest of the season the Browns went 19-10, including a 12-game winning streak, but they could never catch the hot Bridegrooms. This would be Comiskey’s last year managing St. Louis.
As for the reason why, it peripherally involves Chamberlain so that’s good enough to but it here. From Wikipedia, “The Cincinnati Reds talked to St. Louis about acquiring Chamberlain in 1889, but Cincinnati balked when St. Louis asked $8,000 for him. That year, Chamberlain pitched in a career-high 53 games and finished with 32 wins; his win total was the third highest in the league. Following the 1889 season, a new major league was forming known as the Players’ League. A players association known as the Brotherhood of Professional Ball Players had served as a union and bargaining agent since the mid-1880s; now the group’s new league was attempting to compete with established baseball. Browns owner Chris von der Ahe was afraid that Chamberlain would jump to the Chicago team in the new league; the manager of the Browns from the previous season, Charles Comiskey, had been hired there. Von der Ahe agreed to match the $800 pay increase that Chamberlain would have gotten in Chicago.”
32-19, 2.56 ERA, 183 K, .272, 0 HR, 17 RBI
1st Time All-Star-James Newton “Jesse or Cyclone Jim” Duryea was born on September 7, 1859 in Osage, IA, same home state of Cap Anson. He finally made it to the Major Leagues as a 29-year-old rookie and had his best season ever, finishing second in WAR (9.0) and third in WAR for Pitchers (8.3). Cyclone Jim pitched 401 innings with a 2.56 ERA and a 153 ERA+. He also was a decent hitter, slashing .272/.330/.346. Though he was already older, it looked like he was off to a good career. Spoiler alert! He wasn’t.
The Red Stockings were never in the race, though they had a decent season. Managed by Gus Schmelz, Cincinnati went 76-63, finishing in fourth place. Schmelz jumped to National League Cleveland Spiders in 1890.
According to book Iowa Baseball Greats: Sixteen Major Leaguers Who Were in the Game for Life by Don Doxsie, Duryea still holds the single season Iowa pitcher record for innings pitched (401), wins (32), and complete games (38). Most of the career records are held by Red Faber and Bob Feller.
Here’s a summary of Duryea’s career from Wikipedia, which says, “James Newton ‘Jesse’ Duryea (September 7, 1859 – August 19, 1942) was a pitcher in Major League Baseball for six seasons. He made his big league debut for Cincinnati Red Stockings as a 29-year-old on April 20, 1889. He came to stay in Cincinnati for another three years, later with the Reds, until he was released in July 1892 and joined Washington Senators. He however played three games with St. Louis Browns the year earlier. During his 13 days long spell at St. Louis, he received his nickname ‘Cyclone Jim’ by Ted Sullivan for his pitching abilities. He played his last MLB game for Washington Senators on July 15, 1893.” He died on August 19, 1942 in Algona, Iowa, the same year my father, Robert Kitchell, was born in the same state.
40-11, 3.13 ERA, 118 K, .250, 2 HR, 31 RBI
Wins-40 (2nd Time)
Win-Loss %-.784 (3rd Time)
Bases on Balls per 9 IP-2.103
5th Time All-Star-Parisian Bob continued to pitch dominantly and lead his teams to titles. He finished fourth in WAR (8.7) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (6.6). As usual, he was a good two-way player. Well, I should rephrase that, throughout his career, Caruthers has been a great two-way player, but he is now just down to good. On the mound, he pitched 445 innings with a 3.13 ERA and a 110 ERA+. At the plate, Caruthers slashed .250/.408/.366 for an OPS+ of 127. He still was the best hitting pitcher in the league and would never have an Adjusted OPS+ under 100, not counting his 1885 season.
Bill McGunnigle managed his second season with Brooklyn and led the future Dodgers to their first ever crown. You might able to stump your Dodger loving friends with that bit of trivia, depending on how you phrase it. The Bridegrooms were no longer bridesmaids, winning the American Association crown with a 93-44 record, two games ahead of the Browns, ending St. Louis streak at four straight pennants.
Caruthers was part of his fourth World Series and struggled against the National League Giants, pitching four games, two of them being starts, and going 0-2 with a 3.75 ERA. He allowed 19 runs, with 10 of them being earned. As a hitter, Parisian Bob hit .250 with no extra base hits, though he did walk three times and have a .455 OBP. Brooklyn lost to New York, six games to three. It would be the first of many battles between the Giants and Dodgers.
35-16, 3.14 ERA, 188 K, .228, 0 HR, 30 RBI
3rd Time All-Star-King made his third consecutive All-Star team and will be making his fourth (and most likely last) one next season, for a whole new league. From 1887-through-1890, he had one of the great stretches of pitching in baseball history. As for this season, King finished third in WAR (8.7) and second in WAR for Pitchers (8.4). He pitched 458 innings, down from 584 2/3 in 1888, and had a 3.14 ERA and a 132 ERA+. With all that he has done, it’s hard to believe King is only 21 at this point in his career.
When you look up Silver King on Google, you might get information about the pitcher or you might get information about the Silver King mine. Wikipedia says, “The Silver King Mine traces its beginning to 1870, during the Apache Wars. General George Stoneman, desiring an easier access route to Apache strongholds, had ordered the construction of a road from Camp Picketpost into the Pinal Mountains. The road became known as the Stoneman Grade. A soldier named Sullivan, who was assigned to the construction, discovered some heavy black rocks that flattened when struck. Interested in the rock, he collected several samples but did not mention this to his fellow soldiers. After completing his term of service, Sullivan went to work on a ranch owned by Charles Mason. Sullivan routinely showed off the rocks, known as ‘nugget silver’ to prospectors of the region, but never divulged the location of the discovery. After a time, Sullivan disappeared and was assumed to have been killed by Apache.”
29-25, 2.85 ERA, 217 K, .274, 1 HR, 26 RBI
Complete Games-55 (3rd Time)
Assists as P-129 (3rd Time)
Errors Committed as P-17 (2nd Time)
3rd Time All-Star-Let’s put the obvious on the table, baseball was a different game in 1800s. The pitching distance changed frequently, as did the rules. It’s what allowed Kilroy to still have the record for strikeouts in a season (513 in 1886) and wins for a left-handed pitcher (46 in 1887). Needless to say, neither of those is ever going to be broken. Matches didn’t make the All-Star team in 1888 as he was down to “only” 321 innings with a 4.04 ERA and a disappointing ERA+ of 71. He rebounded this season, finishing fifth in WAR (8.5) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (7.1). He pitched 480 2/3 innings with a 2.85 ERA and a 141 ERA+. It will most likely be his last All-Star team. I have to fudge a little on these predictions because sometimes a player can make it on a fluke that I don’t expect, like being the best player on a bad team.
Baltimore, being coached by Billy Barnie for the seventh straight season, didn’t do bad, finishing fifth with a 70-65 record, 22 games out of first. Barnie would end up coaching 14 seasons and never win a title. He still has two seasons left for the Orioles. In case you’re wondering, this is not the same Oriole team which now exists. This team would fold in 1899.
Wikipedia wraps up Kilroy’s career, saying, “The 1889 season was Kilroy’s comeback season and his last productive season as a pitcher. He completed 55 of his 56 starts, while also pitching in 3 relief appearances, the first of his career. He had a 29–25 record and 5 shutouts in 480 2⁄3 innings. On July 29 of that season, he pitched his second no-hitter, this time a 7-inning affair against the St. Louis Browns that ended in 0–0 tie. It was Kilroy’s own baserunning error that negated the only run scored, when he missed third base in the 3rd inning and was called out.
“After his baseball career ended, Kilroy lived in Philadelphia and owned a saloon. He and his wife had seven children. Kilroy died at the age of 73; he was buried at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Wyncote, Pennsylvania.”
12-7, 2.25 ERA, 143 K, .228, 0 HR, 7 RBI
1889 AA Pitching Title
Earned Run Average-2.25
Walks & Hits per IP-1.153
Hits per 9 IP-7.184
Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.715
Strikeouts/Base on Balls-2.103
Fielding Independent Pitching-2.93
1st Time All-Star-John Elmer “Happy Jack” Stivetts was born on March 31, 1868 in Ashland, PA. Wikipedia says, “’Happy Jack’ (nicknamed due to his pleasant demeanor) was born to German immigrants…He initially followed his father into the coal mining industry before playing professional baseball. After playing two and half seasons in minor league baseball, he was signed by the Browns. Over the next few seasons, he was regarded as one of the best pitchers in baseball.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks, Wikipedia! If Happy Jack would have pitched more than the 191 2/3 innings he tossed this season, St. Louis might have won yet another title. Because when he was on the mound, no one dominated like Stivetts this season. He led the league in ERA (2.25) and Adjusted ERA+ (185). He’d never do that over a full season, you know the ones where he pitched 400 or more innings, but he’d be an effective pitcher for a few years.
More Wikipedia: “He began the 1889 season with the York representative of the Middle States League. It was there when an umpire named Tim Hurst noticed Stivetts’ talent; who then recommended him to Charles Comiskey, the manager of the St. Louis Browns of the AA. Comiskey was impressed by the velocity of Stivetts’ pitches, and offered him a contract. The Philadelphia Athletics soon made an offer of their own, but he accepted the Browns’ salary offer of $275 a month, with a $200 signing bonus.
19-19, 3.25 ERA, 115 K, .208, 0 HR, 12 RBI
1st Time All-Star-James P. “Jim” Conway was born on October 8, 1858 in Upper Darby, PA. His was an interesting career as he had started with Brooklyn in 1884 as a part-time 25-year-old pitcher, going only 3-9 with a 4.44 ERA and a 74 ERA+. The Atlantics said, “Bye.” He was picked up in 1885 by Philadelphia, where he pitched two games and allowed 16 runs (10 earned) in 12 1/3 innings. The Athletics said, “Bye,” and he wouldn’t pitch in the Major Leagues until this season where he finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (4.4), with 335 innings pitched, a 3.25 ERA, and a 127 ERA+, all at the age of 30. Yet he’d never pitch in the Majors again.
That may have been because his team, the Cowboys, would be done after this season also. Led by Bill Watkins, who two years prior led the Detroit Wolverines to a World Championship, they finished in seventh place with a 55-82 mark. Watkins still has a few years managing left.
Jim’s brother, Pete, actually made the 1888 National League All-Star team. He won 30 games that year and actually pitched for the NL Pittsburgh Alleghenys this season, going 2-1 with a 4.91 ERA. However, he, like his brother, would never pitch in the Major Leagues again, but at least he had put together a nice five-year career. He’d always be able to hold that over his brother. Poor Jim! Of course Jim could tell Pete that at least he lasted until he was 30 years old. Pete was only 22 his last season.
22-20, 3.79 ERA, 152 K, .143, 0 HR, 9 RBI
2nd Time All-Star-Viau, pronounced Vee-oh, made his second consecutive All-Star team with the Red Stockings, but most likely, it’s his last. He finished seventh in WAR for Pitcher (4.9), pitching 373 innings with a 3.79 ERA and a 104 ERA+. In comparison to the league, this season might have been better than his 1888 season, but his numbers are better in the previous year. After this season, Cincinnati is going to go the National League and Viau will follow, temporarily, and then go to Cleveland for 1890 and 1891. In 1892, he’ll split his time with Cleveland, Louisville, and Boston and then end his career with an 83-77 record and 3.33 ERA.
Here’s an interesting note on Viau from SABR: “In a spring training exhibition game in Gainesville, Florida, on March 26, 1891, Lee Viau played an unwitting role in launching the career of John McGraw. Charles C. Alexander describes the day’s events in his biography of the Hall-of-Famer:
“John McGraw, hitherto an obscure minor leaguer, gained a measure of recognition that day. Years later he admitted that Lee Viau, Cleveland’s pitcher, was still working his arm into condition and didn’t really bear down on the Gainesville batters. Nevertheless, McGraw’s performance against the major leaguers — three doubles in five times at bat, three runs (of six Gainesville scored to Cleveland’s nine), errorless play at shortstop — made his name widely known when the telegraphed reports of the game appeared in the Cleveland newspapers, were picked up by other dailies, and were also noted in the baseball weeklies Sporting Life and Sporting News. Within a week or so, McGraw had heard from a score of professional clubs seeking his services for the coming season.”
23-21, 3.52 ERA, 180 K, .144, 1 HR, 11 RBI
Hit by Pitch-40
1st Time All-Star-Francis Isaiah “Frank” or “Monkey” Foreman was born on May 1, 1863 in Baltimore, MD. He started out pitching in 1884 with the Union Association Chicago/Pittsburgh squad and then moved that same year to Kansas City. In 1885, with the UA defunct, Foreman then pitched for the American Association Baltimore Orioles. In those two years, Monkey was just monkeying around, pitching just a total of 53 innings. Afterward, he didn’t pitch in the Majors again until this season. He was too busy working on roller skating. No, I’m not joking, SABR has the info: “After the  season Foreman managed and served as an instructor at a roller rink. (1885 was a banner year for roller skating. In 1884 ball bearings had been added to roller skates, creating the modern roller skate. For the first time virtually everyone could skate with minimal effort or athleticism. This kicked off a worldwide craze for four-wheeled relaxation. Rinks popped up everywhere from the smallest country hamlets to the largest cities. Foreman got in on the ground floor and profited handsomely.)”
This season, he finished eighth in WAR for Pitchers (4.9), pitching 414 innings with a 3.52 ERA and a 114 ERA+. He most likely has another All-Star Team left in him, as he would be pitching for numerous teams over his 11-year career. Monkey also has a brother, Brownie, who would pitch two seasons in the National League in the 1890s. Oh, the nickname. SABR has that story, too: “His nickname came from one of his favorite on-field impersonations. So well did he impersonate a simian that Sporting Life was led to comment, ‘Frank Foreman should dispose of his inimitable impersonations. His portraiture of the monkey has a tendency to strengthen the Darwinian Theory.’”
10-29, 4.80 ERA, 135 K, .252, 1 HR, 31 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Philip Sydney “Red” Ehret was born on August 31, 1868 in Louisville, KY, exactly 121 years before my first niece entered the world. About 19 years later, Ehret entered the Major Leagues, pitching for the 1888 Kansas City team and then was purchased by the Colonels in 1889. Red made the team as the lone representative of Louisville, not necessarily because of his pitching prowess. He pitched 364 innings with a 4.80 ERA and a 79 ERA+, which wasn’t good, but for the Colonels, it would have to do.
Speaking of this terrible club, Dude Esterbrook (2-8), Chicken Wolf (14-51), Dan Shannon (10-46), and Jack Chapman (1-6) all took their shots at managing Louisville and, as you can see, none succeeded. It finished in last place with a 27-111 record, only 66-and-a-half games out of first place. Just a little break here or there and the Colonels are right back in the race! Hey, you think I’m kidding (and I am), but Louisville is going to have the greatest bounce back season of all-time. (I think). And it would be led by the aforementioned Chapman. Makes you want to actually wait for my 1890 write-ups, doesn’t it?
SABR has a wonderful article on the Colonels losing 26 games in a row. Here’s a little from the article featuring Ehret, but I urge you to read the whole thing. It all starts because the Louisville owner Mordecai Davidson was imposing insane fines on his players. “The result was that six players—Guy Hecker, Pete Browning, Dan Shannon, Harry Raymond, Red Ehret, and Paul Cook—refused to take the field for the game on June 15. Filling out their lineup with local amateurs, Louisville lost a 20th straight game, 4–2. Baltimore manager Bill Barnie intervened and persuaded the six strikers to return to the field, telling them that the league would determine the outcome of the fines.”
.287, 6 HR, 60 RBI
Double Plays Turned as C-11
3rd Time All-Star-Keenan, the Red Stockings’ ancient predecessor to other great catchers like Ernie Lombardi and Johnny Bench, had another good season. He finished seventh in Defensive WAR (1.1), as it was always his glove that kept Keenan in the league. He keeps making All-Star teams because of the lack of good catchers in the American Association at this time. Actually, it’s not so much a lack of good catchers, but the brutality of playing the position limited playing time and made it difficult for catchers to compile stats.
Keenan had a pretty good hitting year, slashing .287/.395/.453 for an OPS+ of 138. Those were his highest OBP and SLG for his career. This, combined with his good fielding, made him the best catcher in the AA this season.
However, his hitting would falter after this season, as would his hitting, so I can confidently say he has made his last All-Star team. He would play two more season for the Red Stockings and then call it a career.
Interestingly, it was Keenan who first scouted the Reds’ pitcher, Lee Viau, according to SABR, which says, “For whatever reason, Lee Viau did attract the attention of a major leaguer named Jim Keenan, who caught for the American Association’s Cincinnati Reds. Keenan recommended him to Gus Schmelz, the Reds’ newly-appointed manager, and in the fall of 1886 Viau signed with a minor league club in St. Paul, Minnesota, for a salary of $275 per month.”
.366, 12 HR, 76 RBI
Range Factor/9 Inn as C-7.22 (2nd Time)
Range Factor/Game as C-7.15 (2nd Time)
3rd Time All-Star-Despite playing only half of the Browns’ games this season, Milligan put up some gaudy stats. He finished 10th in Offensive WAR (3.1), despite, I mention again, playing in only 74 of the Browns’ 141 games. Wait until you see his slash line! Are you waiting? OK, enough suspense, it was .366/.408/.623 for an OPS+ of 179. He didn’t bat enough to lead the league in slugging, but he would have by a long shot. This was his best hitting season ever, but he has a better overall year still to come.
Let’s enjoy more about Milligan from the fine pen of Ralph Berger on SABR: “Milligan probably didn’t relish being miscast in a supporting role but still created his own niche as a solid defensive catcher and a good hitter. He hammered away at his trade in baseball as he hammered shoes on to horses. One thinks of the poem about the smithy and his anvil under the spreading chestnut tree pounding shapeless metal into something recognizable. Milligan shaped his baseball career on accepting what was handed to him and pounding it into a respectable one.
“Milligan was a full-time catcher for only one year, but his statistics as measured by the Total Baseball’sTotal Player Rating, outrank those of fellow-catchers Lave Cross, Wilbert Robinson and Deacon McGuire. With his solid hitting and fielding combined Milligan ranks twentieth among position players of his era and among the top 250 players of all time. Bill James in his New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract ranks Jocko Milligan as the 103rd best all-round catcher. One wonders why managers overlooked these abilities during his baseball days and why he did not get more playing time.”
.372, 5 HR, 99 RBI
1889 AA Batting Title
WAR Position Players-5.5
On-Base Plus Slugging-.934
Adj. Batting Runs-47
Adj. Batting Wins-4.7
Times on Base-271
Offensive Win %-.787
Hit By Pitch-33 (2nd Time)
3rd Time All-Star-It was a great season for the bellicose Tucker, a fantastic year, easily his best ever. Yet, I’ll be surprised if he makes another All-Star team after making three straight. It’s a puzzling season, to be sure, but there have been plenty of those. I think of Brady Anderson’s 1996 season when he hit 50 homers despite never hitting over 24 in any other year. It’s true Tucker has been an All-Star for the last few years, so this season didn’t come completely out of the blue, but it’s still quite an aberration.
For the season, Tucker finished seventh in WAR (5.5), first in WAR Position Players (5.5), and first in Offensive WAR (5.7). At the plate, he slashed .372/.450/.484 for an OPS+ of 162. He wasn’t much of a power hitter, he never would be, but the .484 slugging average was his highest ever.
After this season, he would move to Boston in the National League for eight seasons and then play for five different teams from 1897-99. He’d have a respectable career, though a divisive one due to his constant chatter and vulgarity.
SABR sums up his career, saying “Tucker’s .372 mark in 1889 still stands as the season record for a switch-hitter. In addition he is #3 on the all-time hit-by-pitch list and held the record from 1893 to 1901 when Hughie Jennings passed him. An interesting task awaits future researchers: determining whether Tucker hit better from the left or right side of the plate. Most batsmen in the nineteenth century experimented at one time or another during their careers with switch-hitting, but few remained switch-hitters throughout. Tucker stands alone among 19th-century hitters with lengthy careers, not only in that his batting fell off markedly after the pitching distance was lengthened in 1893, but also because he apparently never tried to determine if he might have been better served by batting only from one side of the plate.”
.318, 3 HR, 74 RBI
Double Plays Turned as 1B-88
3rd Time All-Star-Larkin appears again on the All-Star team after not making it in 1887 or 1888. He moved to first base in ’88 and would be here the rest of his career. His last two All-Star teams were made as an outfielder, but he never had much of a glove. Every season, he had a negative dWAR. But he could hit! This season, he finished sixth in WAR Position Players (3.8) and fourth in Offensive WAR (4.5), slashing .318/.428/.426 for an OPS+ of 147. It was a typical great hitting year.
Philadelphia put together a good season finishing 75-58 and in third place. Managed by Bill Sharshig for the third time, they finished 16 games out of first. No one was going to beat Brooklyn and St. Louis in 1889.
Larkin would be one of many players trying his fortunes in the newly formed Players League in 1890 as he jumped from the Athletics to the Cleveland Infants. While there, he would…I’m sorry, the Cleveland Infants?! How did this seem like a good idea? I’m sure I’ll write more on this when I get to the 1890 Players League All-Star Team. Hey, it’s coming, don’t be so impatient.
At the time of this writing, the 2016 World Series just ended and the Chicago Cubs won their first championship in 108 seasons by beating the Cleveland Indians. That nickname is seen as offensive and I can certainly understand that, but is it worse than the Infants? I think even Native Americans would prefer Indians.
.327, 4 HR, 87 RBI
Assists as 1B-61
4th Time All-Star-From 1884-to-1886, the big Orr was one of the all-time greatest hitters, with Adjusted OPS+s of 190, 202, and 185. Then he slumped enough in 1887 and 1888 not to make the All-Star team. He moved from New York to Brooklyn in 1888, but missed out on a league championship this season, when he was purchased by the Columbus Solons, a team that started this season and would exist for three years.
Understand that Orr’s slump isn’t like mortal people’s way of declining. He still had OPS+s of 161 and 130 the previous two seasons and even though he had a 130 OPS+ this season also, it was good enough to make the All-Star team. He slashed .327/.340/.446 while his team, the Solons, finished sixth in the league. Al Buckenberger led them to a 60-78 season.
Though I’m fairly certain Orr will make the All-Star team next season, I’m hedging my bets and putting a little bit about the sudden end to his career from Wikipedia: “In September 1890, Orr sustained a stroke while playing in an exhibition game in Renovo, Pennsylvania. He was paralyzed on his left side, but by January 1891, he was reportedly “able to walk out on pleasant days.
“In September 1891, 4,000 tickets were sold for ‘a grand benefit picnic’ held in Orr’s honor at Euler’s Washington Park, the home of the Brooklyn baseball club. Former teammates, including John Montgomery Ward attended, and the park was lit with Chinese lanterns, a marching band led a parade, and a dance platform was ‘festooned with flags.’ A newspaper account stated that ‘Dave’s big right hand finally grew tired of wagging. His left was there, too, but it has not done duty for almost a year and this is why he was given a picnic.’”
.269, 5 HR, 67 RBI
Assists as 2B-446 (4th Time)
Double Plays Turned as 2B-85 (8th Time)
Fielding % as 2B-.946 (6th Time)
3rd Time All-Star-After not making the All-Star team in 1888, McPhee was back as the American Association’s lone representative at second base. His hitting would never be spectacular, but he did finish fourth in Defensive WAR (1.3), the fifth time he’s been in the top 10 in that category. At the plate, McPhee slashed .269/.346/.369 for an OPS+ of 101. He also played a game at a position other than second base for the first time in his career, playing a game at third base, a contest that lasted 13 innings, in which he made two errors.
From John Reilly’s SABR page, there is this on his camaraderie with McPhee: “The core of the team was its infield, especially Reilly together with future Hall of Famer Bid McPhee at second base and Reilly’s 1880 teammate Hick Carpenter at third. These three men played together as regulars from Reilly’s debut with the team in 1883 until Carpenter was released on the eve of the 1890 season. ‘The seasons come and go,’ the Pittsburgh Dispatch remarked, ‘but Biddy McPhee, Long John Reilly and Hick Carpenter always come winner in the shuffle, and look as natural around the bases as sign-boards at the forks of country cross-roads’ (quoted in Cincinnati Commercial Gazette, May 13, 1886).”
The fascination with McPhee always has to do with his fielding prowess while not wearing a glove. Here’s more on it from Bid’s Hall of Fame page: “’He was the outstanding player of his time at his position, certainly comparable to Bill Mazeroski,” baseball historian Ralph Moses said. “He was breaking records barehanded and when he put on a glove, he set a standard so high that it wasn’t broken until 30 years later.’”
.329, 9 HR, 82 RBI
Double Plays Turned as 3B-29
3rd Time All-Star-Lyons thrived again at third base for the Athletics, making his third straight All-Star team as the best third baseman in the league. It was his best season ever, as Lyons finished eighth in WAR (5.5), second in WAR Position Players (5.5), and second in Offensive WAR (5.1). In Jefferson Street Grounds, a pitchers’ park, Lyons slashed .329/.426/.469 for an OPS+ of 159. Offensively, he’s going to have a great year in 1890, but this year was better overall.
Apparently, like so many players of this era, Lyons liked his libations. Here’s an excerpt from a story from Baseball History Daily, which reprints a story from The Philadelphia Times: “’Watch your men, Manager (Bill) Sharsig.
“’It is a matter of notorious publicity that a portion of the best players on the Athletic Base Ball Club are not living up to their contracts. They drink, carouse and make exhibitions of drunkenness that are disgusting the people who so liberally contribute to the support of the national game, and unless the management put an immediate stop to such proceedings the club will be certain to finish the season with a balance on the wrong side of the ledger
“’It is an open secret that (Denny) Lyons, (Curt) Welch, (Mike) Mattimore, (Henry) Larkin, (Harry) Stovey and sometimes (Frank) Fennelly and (Lou) Bierbauer are frequently in a beastly state of intoxication, and it is easy to prove when and where they have recently been seen so in public places.’” How much better would Lyons have been without the alcohol?
.306, 1 HR, 75 RBI
1st Time All-Star-Charles W. “Lefty” Marr was born on September 19, 1862 in Cincinnati, OH. His career was short, four years, but this was his best season ever. He started by playing eight games as an outfielder for Cincinnati in 1886. He didn’t play Major League ball until this season when, as a left-hander, he played third base. This would be the only season when he played third as his main position, the rest of his career would be spent as an outfielder, for the most part.
In this season, Marr finished fourth in WAR Position Players (4.3) and fifth in Offensive WAR (4.4). He slashed .306/.407/.414 for an OPS+ of 141. He showed decent speed, leading the league in triples and stealing 29 bases. He’d steal more in 1890 (44), but go down after that. After this season, he’d play for the National League Cincinnati Reds in 1890, and then finish his career playing for two teams in 1891: the Reds and the American Association Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers. Yes, boys and girls, baseball teams used to be named like youth soccer teams.
In 1885, in the minor league Southern Leagues, Marr played part in a tragedy, according to Baseball History Daily, which says of this season: “On August 14 Atlanta was hosting the Nashville Americans, when according to The Macon Telegraph:
‘In the fourth inning Henke, in making the first base, ran violently against the knee of (Charles “Lefty”) Marr, of the Nashvilles, the knee joint striking him apparently full in the stomach. Henke showed immediately that he was badly hurt, and in a moment was lying stretched out almost on the base. He was carried from the field to the dressing room…Although he had clearly made his base after heavy hit, no one of the players, no one of the great crowd looking on, knew that the infallible umpire above had decided differently, and called him out.’
.314, 3 HR, 64 RBI
Def. Games as 3B-138
Putouts as 3B-225 (2nd Time)
Assists as 3B-323 (2nd Time)
Errors Committed as 3B-88
Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-4.17
Range Factor/Game as 3B-3.97
1st Time All-Star-William D. “Billy” Shindle was born on December 5, 1860 in Gloucester, NJ. He started his Major League career in 1886, playing seven games for the National League Detroit Wolverines in 1886 and was still a part-time player for them in 1887. Baltimore purchased him from Detroit before the 1888 season, where Shindle was made a fulltime third baseman and, from the beginning, showed great defensive skills, leading the American Association in Defensive WAR (2.1) in 1888. This season, his best ever, Shindle finished eighth in WAR Position Players (3.4) and slashed .314/.369/.397 for an OPS+ of 115 at the plate. This season and 1890 were his best hitting seasons, but for the most part he didn’t produce a lot with the bat. However, Shindle, according to dWAR, provided a lot with his fielding. Well, I should clarify this statement. He was great at range factor, but also made a record amount of errors, which we’ll look at in later years.
From the beginning, people touted his fielding. Baseball Reference writes, “’The surprising feature of the game was the wonderful work of Billy Shindle at third base. I was prepared to find in Shindle a clever young fellow who would probably need a great deal of coaching before making a reliable Leaguer. What, then, was my surprise when he settled down to work and played the third sack with a brilliancy, dash and steadiness that would have done credit to Denny.’ – from a correspondent writing in Sporting Life, March 30, 1887, about a spring training game involving the young Billy Shindle.”
.285, 1 HR, 77 RBI
Def. Games as SS-141
Assists as SS-537
Double Plays Turned as SS-63
1st Time All-Star-Oliver Perry “Ollie” Beard was born on May 2, 1862 in Lexington, KY, just 104 years before my brother, Rob. This season, the rookie had an impressive debut, finishing first in Defensive WAR (2.4). He wasn’t a great hitter, slashing .285/.328/.364 for an OPS+ of 94, but his glove kept him on the field and made him the only shortstop on this All-Star team.
I like finding odd details about these players. Wikipedia says of Beard, “Born in Lexington, Kentucky, it is claimed that his family invented the Kentucky version of the food, ‘Burgoo’.” Well, of course his family invented Burgoo, who else would have invented Burgoo? Wait a minute, what’s Burgoo? Back to Wikipedia.
“Burgoo is a spicy stew, similar to Irish or Mulligan stew, often served with cornbread or corn muffins. It is often prepared communally as a social gathering. It is popular as the basis for civic fund-raisers in the American Midwest and South.
“Burgoo making in Kentucky often serves as a social event, in which each attendee brings one or more ingredients. In Kentucky and surrounding states such as Indiana, burgoo is often used for fund-raising for schools. This kind of event has been claimed to have been invented by the family of Ollie Beard, a former Major League Baseball player.”
However, there is controversy: “In Brighton, Illinois, a local traditional burgoo is prepared and served annually at the village’s summer festival, the Betsy Ann Picnic. Franklin, Illinois identifies as the Burgoo Capital of the World; they have an annual burgoo cookout over July 3 and July 4. Burgoo events are also held in Cass County, Illinois in the towns of Chandlerville and Arenzville. Arenzville claims to be the home of the world’s best burgoo.”
.308, 19 HR, 119 RBI
Slugging %-.525 (2nd Time)
Runs Scored-152 (4th Time)
Total Bases-292 (2nd Time)
Home Runs-19 (4th Time)
Runs Batted In-119
Runs Created-114 (2nd Time)
Extra Base Hits-70 (4th Time)
AB per HR-29.3 (4th Time)
8th Time All-Star-The great Stovey keeps plugging along, making his eighth consecutive All-Star team. This will actually be the last season he hits over .300 – he did it four times – but he’d have good power numbers for a couple more years. This season, Stovey finished ninth in WAR (5.4), the last of three times he was in the top 10 in that category; third in WAR Position Players (5.4); and third in Offensive WAR (4.6). He continued bashing, slashing .308/.393/.525 for an OPS+ of 165. Stovey retook the all-time home run lead with 89 and would hold this title until 1895. According to SABR, “Called “Gentleman Harry” for his clean play, the 5-11, 175-pound star would play with the Athletics through the 1889 season. He ended up being the AA’s career leader with 76 homers and 883 runs scored, while placing in the top ten for games, hits, batting average, slugging and total bases.”
The book, “Home Run: The Definitive History of Baseball’s Ultimate Weapon,” says of Stovey, “Harry Stovey had become the career leader on August 11, 1885 by hitting home run number 46 and passing Charley Jones. He hit the inside-the-park four-bagger off Hardie Henderson of the Baltimore Orioles at the Jefferson Street Grounds in Philadelphia…Stovey regained the top spot two years later on August 13, 1889, when he hit two round-trippers off Lee Viau of the Reds at Cincinnati’s League Park and Stovey held the mark the second time for almost five years. Stovey is the only player to hold the career record, be passed by another batter at the end of the season, and then regain the record.”
.335, 9 HR, 110 RBI
4th Time All-Star-When I’m 120-years-old and finally reach the 1960s on this list, I’m anticipating a lot of complaints about Sandy Koufax. He had five dazzling seasons and deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, especially when compared to others. However, I can just about assure you he’s not going to make the ONEHOF, my Hall of Fame which elects the best player not in the ONEHOF. His stretch of dominance was awesome, but it wasn’t long enough for him to get by some of the others up for nomination at that time.
How can I predict the future like this? Am I a prophet? No, but I have Tip O’Neill to go by. His 1886-89 stretch is some of the most outstanding hitting in baseball history. His slash line for the four years was .357/.420/.511 for an OPS+ of 168. He led the league in batting twice and averaged 123 runs scored and 110 runs batted in.
Yet, if I had to guess, this is his last All-Star team. He’s going to fade out, it actually started this season. Yes, O’Neill was fifth in WAR Position Players (3.9) and ninth in Offensive WAR (3.1), but that’s not the standard he had built at this time. He slashed .335/.419/.478 for an OPS+ of 144, his lowest Adjusted OPS+ since 1884, but it will never be this high again. Next season, O’Neill is going to play in the Players League, but his stats in the weak league aren’t going to be mind-blowing.
.300, 5 HR, 80 RBI
1st Time All-Star-William Darby O’Brien was born on September 1, 1863 in Peoria, IL. The lanky outfielder started with the New York Metropolitans in 1887 before the Bridegrooms acquired much of that team after in folded before the 1888 season. O’Brien had his best season ever this year, finishing seventh in WAR Position Players (3.6) and seventh in Offensive WAR (3.3). Darby slashed .300/.384/.418 for an OPS+ of 134. His hitting would be better in 1890, but he only played 85 games as opposed to the 136 he played this season.
In the World Series against the National League Giants, O’Brien struggled like so many Bridegrooms’ players, hitting only .161 with one triple in 31 at-bats. He, along with this team, would be back in the postseason in 1890, but for a different league.
O’Brien would finish off his career in Brooklyn, playing three more seasons, but never at the caliber of this one. Then he, like so many players of this time, died tragically at the aged of 29 in 1893. According to Wikipedia, “O’Brien developed lung problems during his playing career and continued to play, despite his ill health. When he reported to spring training for the 1893 season, the team found that he was too ill to play and sent him to Colorado to try to recover. They played a benefit game to raise money for him.” He died of typhoid fever later that year. As of this writing, the Major Leagues just suffered the tragic loss of Jose Fernandez. Baseball, in its infancy, seemed to encounter these kinds of deaths every year.
.271, 0 HR, 39 RBI
3rd Time All-Star-Welch played his second consecutive season with the Athletics and made the All-Star team both years. This season, he finished 10th in WAR Position Players (3.2) while slashing .271/.375/.370 for an OPS+ of 116. The old-timers’ Ron Hunt was plunked only 19 times this season, down from his league-leading 29 of 1888 and not as many as his league-leading 34 of 1890.
Here’s a bit on Welch’s toughness from a book “Baseball in 1889: Players Vs. Owners,”: “Curt Welch, great, oft-inebriated center fielder for the Philadelphia Athletics, gave further evidence of expected player behavior during a June, 1889 game in Philadelphia. Sliding into second base, he contacted a hidden piece of glass, running his arm from the wrist to the elbow across the sharp edge. Welch calmly ‘doctored’ the freely bleeding wound with sand and saliva and stayed in the game. Periodically, he would add some more sand for ‘antiseptic purposes (Orem 393). Charlie Comiskey, Welch’s manager in St. Louis during the mid-80s, would have expected no less of him. In commenting about how players disregarded physical punishment in the 1880s, Commy once reminisced:
“Welch slid into a bag either way as, in fact, did most of the crack runners in my day. We only varied the performance as the bruises on our bodies dictated. It was much like broiling a steak. If rare on one side, turn it over. (Axelson 48).”
.304, 5 HR, 100 RBI
3rd Time All-Star-Burns, who had enough abrasiveness to form a pearl in an oyster (I have a million of ‘em!) was back on third consecutive All-Star team and part of his first league-winning squad. He finished ninth in WAR Position Players (3.3) and eighth in Offensive WAR (3.2) as the All-Star team’s only rightfielder. He slashed .304/.391/.423 at the plate for a 137 OPS+. Did this hitting continue in the World Series against the National League Giants? As with many of the Bridegrooms, the answer is “No,” though he did better than most. Burns slashed .229/.325/.486 with three doubles and two home runs, helping him garner 11 RBI.
There aren’t many tornados in Brooklyn, but one did take place before the season began in 1889. According to City Room, “On Jan. 9, 1889, a twister blew through what are now the neighborhoods of Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, Downtown, Fort Greene and Williamsburg, blowing roofs off houses and uprooting trees, but killing no one.
“The main difference, apart from the tornado striking in the middle of the winter rather than in the dead of summer, was the explosion of two Citizen’s Company gas storage tanks at Smith and Fifth Streets in what is now called Carroll Gardens, which inspired this impressive triple-stack headline in The Brooklyn Eagle of Jan. 10:
“FIRE & WIND
“South Brooklyn Treated to a Brilliant Display.
“Why Some of the Residents of That Section of the City Thought that the End of the World Had Come — The Ravages of the Tornado — Blazing gas and Shattered Tanks — The Navy Yard Barracks Decapitated — A Memorable Night.”