1890 American Association All-Star Team

P-Scott Stratton, LOU

P-Sadie McMahon, PHA/BAL

P-Egyptian Healy, TOL

P-Jack Stivetts, STL

P-Red Ehret, LOU

P-Bob Barr, ROC

P-Fred Smith, TOL

P-Toad Ramsey, STL

P-Billy Hart, STL

C-Jack O’Connor, COL

C-Deacon McGuire, ROC

1B-Perry Werden, TOL

1B-Harry Taylor, LOU

1B-Mox McQuery, SYR

2B-Cupid Childs, SYR

3B-Denny Lyons, PHA

3B-Jimmy Knowles, ROC

3B-Charlie Reilly, COL

SS-Phil Tomney, LOU

LF-Spud Johnson, COL

CF-Jim McTamany, COL

RF-Chicken Wolf, LOU

RF-Ed Swartwood, TOL

RF-Tommy McCarthy, STL

RF-Ed Daily, BRG/LOU


P-Scott Stratton, Louisville Colonels, 20 Years Old

34-14, 2.36 ERA, 207 K, .323, 0 HR, 24 RBI


Led in:


1890 AA Pitching Title

Wins Above Replacement-11.4

Earned Run Average-2.36

Win-Loss %-.708

Walks & Hits per IP-1.065

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-1.274

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-3.393

Adjusted ERA+-164

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.56

Adj. Pitching Runs-67

Adj. Pitching Wins-6.3

Fielding % as P-.977


1st Time All-Star-Chilton Scott Stratton was born on October 2, 1869 in Campbellsburg, KY. As much as the creation of the Players League gutted the National League, it did much worse to the American Association. That’s why 18 of the 25 players on the AA All-Star team are first-timers, including the hard throwing Kentuckian, who had his best season ever, but also most likely his only All-Star appearance. Hey, if you’re going to only make one All-Star team, do it with gusto as Stratton did.

Stratton led the league in WAR (11.4) and was second in WAR for Pitchers (9.7), behind only Sadie McMahon (10.0). On the mound, he pitched a career-high 431 innings with a league-leading 2.36 ERA and a league-leading ERA+ of 164. At the plate, Stratton slashed .323/.385/.392 for an OPS+ of 129, not bad for a pitcher.

On top of all this, he led the Colonels to the pennant and a World Series appearance against the National League Brooklyn Bridegrooms. The series ended up in a 3-3-1 tie and Stratton started three games, going 1-1 with a 2.37 ERA. Louisville was coached by Jack Chapman to an 88-44 record, his only pennant in 11 years of coaching.

Wikipedia says of this season, “Stratton’s greatest season was his third, in 1890. As a 20-year-old, he pitched 431 innings for Louisville, going 34–14 and setting a major league record for starting 25 consecutive games that his team won.” He would die in Louisville, Kentucky of a heart attack in 1939.


P-Sadie McMahon, Philadelphia Athletics/Baltimore Orioles, 22 Years Old

36-21, 3.27 ERA, 291 K, .206, 2 HR, 20 RBI

Led in:

WAR for Pitchers-10.0


Games Pitched-60

Innings Pitched-509.0


Games Started-57

Complete Games-55

Hits Allowed-498

Earned Runs Allowed-185

Hit By Pitch-26

Batters Faced-2,197

Def. Games as P-60

Putouts as P-31

Assists as P-139

Range Factor/Game as P-2.83

1st Time All-Star-John Joseph “Sadie” McMahon was born on September 19, 1867 in Wilmington, DE. He started in 1889 with Philadelphia and stayed with them this season, until being traded to Baltimore later in the year. He had his best season ever and was the best player on both teams. Sadie finished second in WAR (10.0) behind Scott Stratton (11.4) and first in WAR for Pitchers (10.0). He was an ironman with a league-leading 509 innings pitched in which he had a 3.27 ERA and a 120 ERA+. He will be around these All-Star teams for a while.

Baltimore took over for the Brooklyn Gladiators, which didn’t finish out the season. The Orioles finished 15-19 under the leadership of manager Billy Barnie. You might be saying, hey, you’ve been talking about Baltimore in the American Association for years and you’d be right. Very good, you! According to Wikipedia, “After several years of mediocrity, the team dropped out of the league in 1889, but re-joined in 1890 to replace the last-place Brooklyn Gladiators club which had dropped out during the season. After the Association folded, the Orioles joined the National League in 1892.”

McMahon hasn’t made his last All-Star team as he had quite a few years of good pitching. As to why the Athletics would get rid of such a good pitcher, SABR says, “In 1890 he was by far the A’s best pitcher and had won 20 games by the Fourth of July, but the Philadelphia club was running into financial problems and sold McMahon along with catcher Wilbert Robinson and outfielder Curt Welch to the Baltimore Orioles in September. His combined record with the two teams was 36 wins and 21 losses. He led the American Association in wins, games pitched, innings, and strikeouts. Both McMahon and Robinson were rather plump, leading to their being dubbed the Dumpling Battery.”


P-Egyptian Healy, Toledo Maumees, 23 Years Old

22-21, 2.89 ERA, 225 K, .218, 1 HR, 10 RBI


1st Time All-Star-“Long John or Egyptian” J. Healy was born on October 27, 1866 in, of course, Cairo, IL. He started as an 18-year-old for the 1885 National League St. Louis Maroons, then moved to Indianapolis for 1887 and 1888. In 1889, he pitched for Washington and Chicago, before finally having best season ever this year. The six-foot-two, 158 pound Long John finished third in WAR (8.2) behind Scott Stratton and Sadie McMahon and third in WAR for Pitchers (7.3), behind the same two gentlemen, though reversed. He pitched 389 innings with a 2.89 ERA and a 138 ERA+. He’s probably made his first and last All-Star teams.

Toledo existed for just this one season and did relatively well, finishing fourth with a 68-64 record, while being coached by Charlie Morton, who would never coach in the Major Leagues again.

Like so many players of this era, Healy wasn’t long for this earth, dying at the age of 32. The Washington Post’s obituary from the Deadball Era says, “St. Louis, March 17.—John Healy who ten years ago was known as a great baseball player, died to-day in this city of consumption. In 1887 he was one of the American players who made the trip around the world and played in Europe, Asia, and Australia. He quit the diamond two years ago and became a policeman, but was obliged to give up his position last year on account of ill-health.” Healy finished his career with a 78-136 record and a 3.84 ERA.


P-Jack Stivetts, St. Louis Browns, 22 Years Old


27-21, 3.52 ERA, 289 K, .288, 7 HR, 43 RBI


Led in:


Home Runs Allowed-14

Games Finished-8

2nd Time All-Star-Happy Jack Stivetts continued to throw bullets for the Browns, though with an increase in innings from 191 2/3 in his rookie season to 419 1/3 this year, his ERA did rise. Still, no one is going to complain about a 3.52 ERA and a 124 ERA+, all while finishing fourth in WAR (7.8) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (6.0). Along with that, Stivetts could hit, slashing .288/.337/.500 while finishing third in the league in home runs with seven despite playing only 67 games. He finished behind only Count Campau (nine) and Ed Cartwright (eight).

Wikipedia has a lot to say about Stivetts’ 1890 season, so I’ll pilfer a bit of it, which says, “On June 10, against Fred Smith and the Toledo Maumees, he hit two home runs in one game, the first of three times in his career he accomplished the feat. The first was a two-run home run in the fifth inning, and the second came with his team down by three runs in the bottom half of ninth inning and the bases loaded. It was the first, and only, grand slam of his career, and the second ‘ultimate grand slam’ in history. In a game versus the Brooklyn Gladiators on July 6, manager Chris von der Ahe removed the Browns’ starting pitcher Ramsey in the third inning and replaced him with Stivetts. Though the crowd momentarily interrupted the game in protest, the move proved successful. Stivetts hit a home run in the fifth inning to give the Browns a 3 runs to 1 advantage, leading the team to an eventual 7–2 victory. The home run was his sixth of the season, and he added another on August 9 for number seven: his final season total. His seven home runs in a season by a pitcher was neither broken nor tied until 1931, when Wes Ferrell hit nine for the Cleveland Indians.”


P-Red Ehret, Louisville Colonels, 21 Years Old


25-14, 2.53 ERA, 174 K, .212, 0 HR, 10 RBI


2nd Time All-Star-Louisville had an amazing turnaround, from finishing 66 games out in 1889 to winning the American Association title this season and Ehret had much to do with it. Yes, he made the All-Star team last season on a fluke, but this season was all talent, as he had his best season ever. Ehret finished eighth in WAR (5.1) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (5.4) while pitching 359 innings with a 2.53 ERA and 153 ERA+. He also dazzled in the World Series against the National League Brooklyn Bridegrooms, pitching three games and going 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA, helping the team tie the series, 3-3-1.

Louisville as helped by the formation of the Players League, according to SABR, which says, “In 1889, the Louisville Colonels of the American Association finished in last place, compiling an unenviable record of 27 wins and 111 losses. The following season, Louisville pulled off one of the most amazing turnarounds in the history of our national pastime, clinching the American Association pennant on October 6, 1890 with a 2–0 victory over Columbus.

“That turnaround was assisted by a seismic shift in the baseball landscape during the winter of 1889–90 that included the formation of a third major league…

“The Association’s instability ran even deeper. Two entire teams—including the champions from Brooklyn—switched over to the National League…

“To make matters worse, on March 27, 1890 a cyclone tore through Louisville, killing over 100 people…

“In the aftermath of the disaster, pitcher Red Ehret remarked to a reporter, ‘We want to strike the other fellows [in the league] as hard as the cyclone struck the town.’”


P-Bob Barr, Rochester Broncos, 33 Years Old

28-24, 3.25 ERA, 209 K, .179, 2 HR, 15 RBI


Led in:


Bases on Balls-219


1st Time All-Star-Robert McClelland “Bob” Barr was born in December, 1856 in Washington, DC, the year James Buchanan was elected as President of the United States. Just some bonus material to keep you focused. Barr started his career in 1883 with the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, before pitching for both Washington and Indianapolis in 1884. He didn’t pitch in the Majors in 1885, but came back in 1886 for the National League Washington Nationals. At this point in his career, Barr had pitched three seasons and compiled a 21-70 record. He was 29 years old and most likely done as a Major League player.

Then came 1890 and the formation of the Players League and teams in three leagues desperately scrambling for players and, despite his past failures, Barr had a job and did very well, having his best season ever, while finishing 10th in WAR (4.8) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (4.8), despite walking more people, 219, than he struck out, 209. Barr pitched 493 1/3 innings with a 3.25 ERA and a 111 ERA+.

It also helped he was playing for a newly-formed team, the Rochester Broncos, who finished at .500, 63-63. They were coached by Pat Powers, who would get one more chance to manage later, for the 1892 New York Giants. Rochester finished fifth in the league.

It’s worth noting Barr did well when pitching in the minor leagues, where Rochester spent all but one of its seasons. Scott Pitoniak of the Rochester Business Journal writes, “With a 97-58 record, Barr ranks as the winningest pitcher in the nearly 130 years Rochester has been fielding professional baseball teams. According to BaseballReference.com, he won a franchise record 35 games in 1888 and 30 the following season. But his most intriguing season—and one of the most historically significant seasons in Rochester’s extraordinarily rich baseball history—occurred in 1890, when Barr went 28-24 for our town’s major-league club. That’s right, for one spring and summer, Rochester fielded a big-league team. As famed manager Casey Stengel was fond of saying, ‘You can look it up.’” It’s a good article, read the whole thing.


P-Fred Smith, Toledo Maumees, 25 Years Old

19-13, 3.27 ERA, 116 K, .167, 0 HR, 10 RBI


1st Time All-Star-Fred Christopher Smith was born in May, 1865 in Baltimore, MD, just a month after Abraham Lincoln was just down the road in Washington, D.C. Sometimes I have to debate whether ballplayers had their best season ever, but not with Smith. This was his only Major League season, thanks to the Players League. He did well, finishing seventh in WAR for Pitchers (4.7), pitching 286 innings with a 3.27 ERA and a 122 ERA+.

From Wikipedia, here’s a short history of the Maumees: “The Toledo Maumees were a baseball team originally formed in 1888. The team was based in Toledo, Ohio, and formed part of the Tri-State League for one season. Their home games were played at Speranza Park in Toledo.

“In 1889, the Maumees moved to the International Association, where they were also known as the Toledo Black Pirates. Managed by former player Charlie Morton, the team finished in fourth place with a 54-51 record. Toledo first baseman Perry Werden won the batting title with a .394 average while leading the league in hits (167).

“In 1890 the team joined the American Association. Again with Morton at the helm, the Maumees won 68 games, lost 64, and finished fourth in the nine-team league. Their top hitters were right fielder Ed Swartwood, who batted .327 with a slugging percentage of .444, and first sacker Werden, who had a .295 batting average and slugged .456. Egyptian Healy (22-21, 2.89) and Fred Smith (19-13, 3.27) led the pitching staff.

“At the end of the season, the team folded.”


P-Toad Ramsey, St. Louis Browns, 25 Years Old

1886 1887

23-17, 3.69 ERA, 257 K, .228, 0 HR, 11 RBI


Led in:


Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.634 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as P-16 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Ramsey is back on the All-Star team after being gone for two seasons. Again, the formation of the Players League gets the credit. He pitched for Louisville in 1888 and 1889. It was in that latter season, he was 1-16 for the Colonels with a 5.59 ERA. He was then traded to St. Louis for Nat Hudson, who refused to report to Louisville. He did better for the Browns in 1889, finishing 3-1 with a 3.95 ERA. Apparently, Ramsey did good enough to get this last final shot for St. Louis and ended up finishing eighth in WAR (4.2), pitching 348 2/3 innings with a 3.69 ERA and a 118 ERA+.

It’s hard to believe a pitcher who had this decent season and was only 25 years old would never pitch in the Major Leagues again, but it’s true. He did pitch in the minors until 1895, but never a lot of innings and never effectively. He was done with baseball by the age of 30.

Still, it wasn’t a career to complain about. His 1886 and 1887 seasons are some of the best of all-time from the mound and he still has the second-most single-season strikeouts of all-time with 499 in 1886. Ramsey would have been a great movie character, with an awesome nickname and a dazzling pitch. Doesn’t Toad Ramsey sound like a name that would be in one of those cheesy baseball movies, where a kid takes over the team by either managing it or pitching because of a fluke injury or waving his arms to summon angels?


P-Billy Hart, St. Louis Browns, 24 Years Old

12-8, 3.67 ERA, 95 K, .192, 1 HR, 8 RBI


1st Time All-Star-Robert Lee “Billy” Hart was born on May 16, 1866 in Palmyra, MO. He is the third St. Louis pitcher to make the All-Star team, though the team’s pitching still didn’t match that of Louisville and Columbus. Hart was again one of those players happy about the creation of the Players League, because it gave him the opportunity to be a Major League pitcher, which he was, and to prove himself, which he did, therefore thriving and having a long baseball career, um, which he didn’t. This was his only Major League season but he made the best of it, finishing 10th in WAR for Pitchers (4.0), pitching 201 1/3 innings with a 3.67 ERA and a 119 ERA+. Once the leagues are condensed from three to two in 1891, he would be squeezed out, but I’m not sure why another team didn’t give him opportunity.

                In reading an article on one-season players at Baseball: Past and Present, I came across this: “3. Harry Moore, 1884: Bill James notes in his Historical Abstract that Moore led the Union Association in games played with 111 while finishing third in batting average at .336 and third in hits at 155. James also notes that Moore, like a quarter of other UA regulars, never played a game in another major league. It’s part of the reason UA greats like Jack Glasscock still aren’t recognized by Cooperstown. The quality of competition just isn’t considered to have been as strong as the other two major leagues in existence at its time, the National League and American Association.” No offense, but is this article saying Jack Glasscock has to prove himself because of his half season in the Union Association? Because I think he has.


C-Jack O’Connor, Columbus Solons, 24 Years Old

.324, 2 HR, 66 RBI


Led in:


Def. Games as C-106

Putouts as C-539

Double Plays Turned as C-13

Passed Balls-58

Fielding % as C-.962

1st Time All-Star-John Joseph “Jack” or “Rowdy Jack” or “Peach Pie” O’Connor was born on June 2, 1866 in St. Louis, MO. He started in limited time as an outfielder for Cincinnati in 1887 and 1888, before moving to Columbus in 1889, where he became a fulltime catcher. It took him one more year (and the creation of another league which sucked the talent out of his league) before he was the best catcher in the league. Peach Pie finished 10th in WAR Position Players (4.0), eighth in Offensive WAR (3.5), and seventh in Defensive WAR (1.1). He slashed .324/.377/.411 for an OPS+ of 137. He is going to have a long career, mainly as a catcher, but it’s debatable whether he makes another All-Star team as, according to WAR, his defense and his bat would falter. Since it was hard to find catchers in those days, Rowdy Jack continued to play year-after-year, all the way through 1910.

Columbus had a great sophomore year, finishing second in the American Association. Al Buckenberger (39-41), Gus Schmelz (38-13), and Pat Sullivan (2-1) guided the team to a 79-55 record, 10 games out of first place. The Salons were never in the running, but, as can be seen, caught on fire under the hand of Schmelz. Next year, Schmelz would coach for the whole season for Columbus, but not be as successful.

What is O’Connor most famous for? Hating Ty Cobb, according to Wikipedia, which says, “O’Connor was the player-manager of the Browns in 1910, finishing a dismal 47–107. He is best known for trying to help Nap Lajoie win the batting title and the associated 1910 Chalmers Award over Ty Cobb in the last two games of the season, a doubleheader at Sportsman’s Park. Cobb was leading Lajoie .385 to .376 in the batting race going into that last day. O’Connor ordered rookie third baseman Red Corriden to station himself in shallow left field. Lajoie bunted five straight times down the third base line and made it to first easily.”


C-Deacon McGuire, Rochester Broncos, 26 Years Old

.299, 4 HR, 53 RBI, 0-0, 6.75 ERA, 1 K


1st Time All-Star-James Thomas “Deacon” McGuire was born on November 18, 1863 in Youngstown, OH. He would have the longest career in baseball history (26 years), according to years played, until it was beaten by Nolan Ryan, who played 27. Tommy John tied McGuire. Between the two catchers on the All-Star team, they played 48 years in the majors, which might be some kind of record if I had a way to define it. Anyway, I’m being distracted by petty things when I should be saying McGuire finished 10th in Defensive WAR (0.9) and slashed .299/.356/408 for an OPS+ of 130. He might have another All-Star team left, depending on the competition from other catchers.

McGuire started in 1884 for Toledo, before moving to the National League Detroit Wolverines in 1885. Next year, 1886, he was on the move again, playing three seasons for the NL Philadelphia Quakers. In the middle of 1888, he moved back to Detroit and then, in the same season, he was off to Cleveland of the American Association. He then played for Rochester this season in its only year of existence. Starting in 1891, he would play with the AA Washington Statesmen, follow them to the NL, and remain with them for another nine years. His was his longest stretch with any team.

As for his nickname, Wikipedia says, “However, the origin of the ‘Deacon’ nickname appears to date back to 1896. In February of that year, The Sporting Life, a national baseball newspaper, reported a dispatch from Michigan that McGuire ‘has experienced religion at a revival meeting and is thinking of giving up base ball and devote his time to preaching, perhaps.’ The Sporting Life closed with this observation: ‘ If Mac felt bent on doing missionary work his duty is to remain right where he is. But he will be back next April doing just as brilliant work behind the bat as last year.’”


1B-Perry Werden, Toledo Maumees, 28 Years Old

.295, 6 HR, 72 RBI


Led in:



Errors Committed as 1B-35

1st Time All-Star-Percival Wheritt “Perry” or “Moose” Werden was born on July 21, 1861 in St. Louis, MO. He never played fulltime before this season, playing a total of 21 games for the Union Association St. Louis Maroons in 1884 and the National League Washington Nationals in 1888. Now a fulltime first baseman, Moose was the best at that position in the league, finishing seventh in WAR (5.1); third in WAR Position Players (5.1), behind only Cupid Childs (6.3) and Chicken Wolf (5.2); and fifth in Offensive WAR (4.4). Werden garnered his best hitting season ever, slashing .295/.404/.456 for an OPS+ of 149. It’s possible he still has another All-Star team left, but this was his best season ever.

According to SABR, Werden’s most famous season took place in the minor leagues. Joel Rippel writes, “The home run was his 44th of the season, breaking his record of 43 set the previous season. On September 19, Werden went 5-for-6 and hit his 45th home run of the season in a 20–10 victory over Grand Rapids. His 45 home runs would stand as the record in Organized Baseball until Babe Ruth hit 54 for the New York Yankees in 1920.

“In 24 seasons in professional baseball, he had 2,897 hits, 195 home runs and 500 recorded stolen bases (as then defined) (four times he stole more than 50). But the exclamation point on Perry Werden’s long and productive baseball career was his record-setting 1895 season in which he set a long-standing home run mark and hit in 40 consecutive games.”


1B-Harry Taylor, Louisville Colonels, 24 Years Old

.306, 0 HR, 53 RBI


Led in:



Range Factor/9 Inn as 1B-11.37

Range Factor/Game as 1B-11.46

1st Time All-Star-Harry Leonard Taylor was born on April 4, 1866 in Halsey Valley, NY. He had this sensational rookie season and then will probably never make another All-Star team. This season, he finished sixth in Defensive WAR (1.2), impressive for a first baseman. At the plate, Taylor slashed .306/.383/.344 for an OPS+ of 114. In the World Series against the National League Brooklyn Bridegrooms, he had similar stats, batting .300 with a double.

SABR says of Taylor, in an article written by Charlie Bevis, “In the early 1890s Harry Taylor played four seasons of major-league baseball to earn money to pay for the law-school education that he pursued during the offseason. While his exploits as a first baseman on the baseball diamond are now unmemorable, Taylor made a more lasting but unsung contribution to baseball history through his legal services that helped to elevate the American League to major-league status in 1901. As the lawyer for the Players Protective Association, an early ballplayers union, Taylor issued the crucial legal opinion to his ballplayer constituents that it was his belief that the reserve clause in the National League’s standard player contract had ‘no legal value.’ Taylor’s legal analysis set the stage for Napoleon Lajoie, Jimmy Collins, and dozens of other ballplayers to jump from the National League and establish the American League as a serious competitor to the then-monopoly National League. Taylor went to serve as a judge in New York state for nearly four decades.” He started playing in a year another league, the Players League, tried to do the same thing, but would help establish a league that is still going to this day.


1B-Mox McQuery, Syracuse Stars, 29 Years Old

.308, 2 HR, 55 RBI


1st Time All-Star-William Thomas “Mox” McQuery was born on June 28, 1861 in Garrard County, KY. He started his career with the Union Association Cincinnati Outlaw Reds in 1884, went to the National League Detroit Wolverines in 1885 and the Kansas City Cowboys in 1886 before taking three seasons off from the Major Leagues. He came back this year and, thanks to the dilution of talent due to the Players League, made his first and last All-Star team. Mox finished 10th in Offensive WAR (3.1), slashing .308/.383/.384 for an OPS+ of 135.

This was Syracuse’s only year of existence and they weren’t too successful. George Frazier (51-65) and Wally Fessenden (4-7) coached the team to a seventh-place 55-72 record. Neither ever coached before and would never coach again. The Stars’ hitting wasn’t too bad, but their pitching was some of the worst in the league. It’s probably why they don’t a pitcher on the All-Star team. This despite pitching in pitchers’ parks.

McQuery died young as a hero, according to Wikipedia, which says, “McQuery was a patrol officer for the Covington Police Department when he was killed in the line of duty. He had stopped a horse-drawn streetcar that contained two men wanted for murder. The criminals opened fire, striking him in the chest, and he later died as result of his injuries. ‘Big Mox’ was buried at Linden Grove Cemetery in Covington, Kentucky.” I’ve actually been to Covington, staying in a hotel there while taking a trip to watch my beloved Reds. The city resides right across the river from Cincinnati.


2B-Cupid Childs, Syracuse Stars, 22 Years Old

.345, 2 HR, 89 RBI


Led in:


WAR Position Players-6.3

Offensive WAR-6.4


Adj. Batting Runs-51

Adj. Batting Wins-5.3

Extra Base Hits-49

1st Time All-Star-Clarence Lemuel “Cupid” Childs was born on August 8, 1867 in Calvert County, MD and said this baseball stuff is easy, having his best season ever in his rookie year. Childs also had the highest WAR on Syracuse. He will be making more of these All-Star teams and is yet another great player of which I’ve never heard. This season, Cupid finished fifth in WAR (6.3), first in WAR Position Players (6.3), and first in Offensive WAR (6.4). See, easy game. At the plate, Childs slashed .345/.434/.481 for an OPS+ of 180. His slugging average and OPS+ ended up being career highs.

Of Childs, SABR says, “While growing up in Baltimore, Cupid learned to play baseball on the local sandlots. Clarence eventually grew to 5’8″ and weighed a solid 185 pounds. In later years, his playing weight was listed at 192 pounds. It’s safe to assume that his resemblance to the fictional matchmaker was the reason for his cherubic nickname. He is also referred to in various newspaper accounts as ‘Fats,’ ‘Fatty,’ ‘Paca,’ and even ‘The Dumpling.’”

From the same article, this is about Childs trying out for Kalamazoo in 1888, “When he reported to the Kalamazoo club he came in on a ‘side-door Pullman’ and presented himself to the management of the ‘Celery Eaters’ and asked for a trial. The manager thought he was joking after looking at his short length and broad girth, telling him he would make a better fat man in a side show than a ball player. Showing them he was anxious for a trial he was told to go to the grounds and practice with the rest of the team. A search was made for a uniform that would fit him, but none could be found, the only thing of that nature large enough for him being a pair of divided skirts, which he put on, cutting them off at the knees. His appearance with this costume on can be imagined and was so ludicrous that it threatened to break up the practice. However, as soon as he got out on the diamond and began to practice they began to open eyes and wonder. Such stops and throws were made as they never saw before and with such ease and grace that all were at once convinced he was a wonder.”


3B-Denny Lyons, Philadelphia Athletics, 24 Years Old

1887 1888 1889

.354, 7 HR, 73 RBI


Led in:


On-Base %-.461

Slugging %-.531

On-Base Plus Slugging-.992

Adjusted OPS+-193

Offensive Win %-.842

Fielding % as 3B-.909

4th Time All-Star-Lyons made his fourth straight All-Star team with the Athletics and would have had his best season ever except he missed a stretch of the 1890 season. Still, despite playing only 88 of the team’s 132 games, he finished fifth in WAR Position Players (4.7) and second in Offensive WAR (4.7). Lyons slashed .354/.461/.531 for an OPS+ of 193. It would have been interesting to see what this man, still in his prime, could have done in a full season. He was released, according to Wikipedia, which says, “During the season, the team struggled financially and wound up selling or releasing most of their players. They were able to finish the season with a pickup team and were subsequently expelled from the league following the season. They were replaced by a new Philadelphia Athletics team that had played in the Players’ League the previous season.” The St. Louis Browns purchased him towards the end of the season, but he never played for them until 1891.

Philadelphia fell from its third place finish in 1889 to an eighth place finish this season. Bill Sharsig coached the team to a 54-78 record.

As good of player as Lyons was, it’s puzzling why there’s not more information about him on the web. Sure, I could do research using, you know, books, but then I’d have to get up from this chair, put on shoes and drive to a library and that sounds like a bit of a hassle. If anyone reading this knows why Lyons missed so much of the 1890 season, let me know. (I like to pretend I have readers.)


3B-Jimmy Knowles, Rochester Broncos, 33 Years Old

.281, 5 HR, 84 RBI


1st Time All-Star-James “Jimmy” or “Darby” Knowles was born on September 5, 1856 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and had been around baseball for quite a while before making this, his first All-Star team. He played first base for Pittsburgh and Brooklyn in 1884, moved to the National League Washington Nationals in 1886, went back to the American Association and played for New York in 1887, before ending up with Rochester this season. He had his best season ever, finishing seventh in WAR Position Players (4.2), ninth in Offensive WAR (3.2) and fifth in Defensive WAR (1.4). Darby slashed .281/.359/.369 for an OPS+ of 120. After this season, he had just one more year, for the National League New York Giants in 1892.

Knowles had an unusual season, probably due to the dilution of talent because of the Players League. This was the only season he ever hit about .250, had an on-base percentage over .262, had a slugging average over .319, or had an OPS+ over 86. All of this at the age of 33.

While this is the only season Rochester, New York, ever had a Major League team, the Red Wings, formerly the Hustlers, Colts, and Tribe, have been part of the Minor League International League since 1912. According to Wikipedia, “Founded in 1899, it is the oldest continuously operating sports franchise in North America below the major league level.” They’ve been affiliated with the Twins since 2002 after being linked with the Baltimore Orioles for 42 years.


3B-Charlie Reilly, Columbus Solons, 23 Years Old

.266, 4 HR, 77 RBI


Led in:


Defensive WAR-2.7

Def. Games as 3B-137

Putouts as 3B-206

Assists as 3B-354

Errors Committed as 3B-67

Double Plays Turned as 3B-26

Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-4.25

Range Factor/Game as #B-4.09

1st Time All-Star-Charles Nelson Reilly (j/k)…Charles Thomas “Princeton Charlie” Reilly was born on February 15, 1867 in (surprise!) Princeton, NJ. He started with the Solons, playing six games for them in 1889, before becoming a full-time third baseman this season. If we go by things like stats, Princeton Charlie played a dazzling hot corner. He had his best season ever, finishing eighth in WAR Position Players (4.1) and first in Defensive WAR (2.7). After this season, he moved to the National League Pittsburgh Pirates in 1891 and then to the NL Philadelphia Phillies in 1892, staying with them through 1895. He finished his career with the NL Washington Senators in 1897.

Reilly played only six games for Columbus in 1889, but he certainly stood out, going 11-for-23 (.478) with one double and three home runs. Incredibly, he’d never hit more than four home runs in any full season after that one. Wikipedia says of 1889, “Reilly was the first of two players to have four hits that included at least one home run (he hit two) in their first major league game. J.P. Arencibia is the only player in the baseball’s modern era to equal this feat. Trevor Story of the Colorado Rockies also hit two home runs in his first ever Major League game (and a third home run in his second game).” In those six games, he had a 0.6 Offensive WAR, something he’d only beat once, in 1890, in any full season. If judged just by that season, you would have thought he’d be the best player of all time, but it’s the danger of making judgments with too little data.


SS-Phil Tomney, Louisville Colonels, 27 Years Old

.277, 1 HR, 58 RBI


Led in:


Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-5.48

Range Factor/Game as SS-5.43

1st Time All-Star-Philip H. “Phil” or “Buster” Tomney was born on June 17, 1863 in Reading, PA. He started with the Colonels in 1888 and finished with them, along with his whole Major League career, this season. He played stellar defense, finishing second in Defensive WAR (2.1), behind only Charlie Reilly. At the plate, he slashed .277/.357/.376 for an OPS+ of 116 and is the only shortstop on the All-Star team. In the World Series against the National League Brooklyn Bridegrooms, Tomney played in limited action, going one-for-five with three walks. Like so many players of this era, Tomney died young. According to Wikipedia, “Tomney died in his hometown of Reading, Pennsylvania in 1892 at the age of 28 due to a lung infection brought on by Pulmonary Phithisis (tuberculosis), and is interred at Aulenbach’s Cemetery in Mount Penn, Pennsylvania.”

WAR is a great shortcut statistic to give a general overview of the game’s best players, but it’s impossible to know how accurate it was this far back in baseball history. For instance, Tomney’s range factor per 9 innings was 6.19 in 1889 and 5.48 this season, yet his Defensive War was 0.1 in 1889 and 2.1 this year. Of course, it could have to do with the 114 errors he made in 1889, second in the league to Kansas City shortstop Herman Long, who had 122. That was tied by third baseman Billy Shindle of the Players League Philadelphia Athletics this season and is still the all-time record. Tomney’s 114 errors in 1889 are the fourth most of all time.


LF-Spud Johnson, Columbus Solons, 33 Years Old

.346, 1 HR, 113 RBI


Led in:


Runs Batted In-113

Def. Games as OF-135

1st Time All-Star-James Ralph “Spud” Johnson was born in December, 1856 in Canada. When in December? We don’t know. Where in Canada? We don’t know. When did he die? We don’t know that either. What do we know? We know he started with Columbus in 1889 and finished with the National League Cleveland Spiders in 1891 and had his best season ever this year. He finished ninth in WAR Position Players (4.1) and sixth in Offensive WAR (4.3), while slashing .346/.409/.461. I don’t know how it would be phrased but 113 RBI with only one home run has to be close to some kind of record. He is also the first Johnson to make an All-Star team.

Here’s Wikipedia’s report on Spud: “Johnson was signed by the Solons on January 15, 1889, when after the 1888 season the Kansas City team of the Western Association folded and was sold to the Kansas City team of the American Association. A dispute quickly surfaced between the two teams about Johnson and his rights. On March 19, Columbus settled the dispute by paying Kansas City $500.[2] His best season came in 1890 when he led the Association in runs batted in with 113, while finishing in the top five in most offensive categories including his .346 batting average, 18 triples, and 186 hits.

“Nothing much is known of his whereabouts after he left organized baseball.” If he lived nowadays, every detail of his life would be reported on social media. Of course, since we don’t know when he died, he could be alive at 160 years old!


CF-Jim McTamany, Columbus Solons, 26 Years Old

.258, 1 HR, 48 RBI


Led in:


Runs Scored-140

Bases on Balls-112

Double Plays Turned as OF-8

1st Time All-Star-James Edward “Jim” McTamany was born 87 years after the birth of the United States in Philadelphia, PA. He played his rookie year with Brooklyn in 1885, then moved to Kansas City in 1888 and Columbus in 1889. He had his best season ever this year, slashing .258/.405/.352 for an OPS+ of 128. He’d never had much power but was always good at drawing bases on balls. Wikipedia says, “As a hitter, McTamany drew a lot of walks, finishing in the top three of the American Association each year from 1888 to 1891. He led the league with 140 runs scored in 1890.

“McTamany was also a good defensive outfielder. He played mostly center field and was among the league leaders in putouts and assists for several seasons.” He’d then play for Columbus and Philadelphia in 1891 and his career would be finished.

Louisville won the title by beating the Solons, 2-0 A book called “Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games That Shaped the 19th Century” says of the game, “The pennant was finally clinched when Louisville left fielder Charlie Hamburg tracked down a long fly ball off the bat of Jack Doyle for the final out. [Hank] Gastright pitched a good game in the tough 2-0 loss, allowing five hits and tossing shut-out ball for the last eight innings.” McTamany went one-for-four in the game, getting his hit in the third inning, but the rally fizzled out and Columbus never got close again. His single was one of six Solon hits in the game.


RF-Chicken Wolf, Louisville Colonels, 28 Years Old


.363, 4 HR, 98 RBI


Led in:


1890 AA Batting Title

Batting Average-.363


Total Bases-260

2nd Time All-Star-Wolf made his second All-Star team and his first in eight years. He played on Louisville from 1882-91, before playing three games with the National League St. Louis Browns in 1892. Chicken had his best season ever, finishing sixth in WAR (5.2); second in WAR Position Players (5.2), behind only Cupid Childs; and third in Offensive WAR (4.7), behind only Childs and Denny Lyons. He slashed .363/.421/.479 for an OPS+ of 166. He’s yet another player who’s grateful for the creation of the Players League. In the World Series in which Louisville tied the National League Brooklyn Bridegrooms, Wolf did great, going nine-for-25 (.360), with three doubles and a triple, also driving in eight runs.

SABR says of Wolf, “The 1890 season was a tumultuous one for professional baseball. It was the year of the Players War, with three major leagues operating and rosters completely changed from 1889. This turned out to be a blessing for Louisville. Although Browning and Hecker were gone, the play of a few rookies and career years by some veterans lofted the club to its only major league pennant. No player had a bigger season than Jimmy Wolf.”

Wikipedia says, “Wolf died in 1903 at the age of 41, from the effects of brain trauma he suffered a few years before in a fire-fighting accident, and is interred at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville. This cemetery is where other Louisville ballplayers have been buried as well, including childhood friend and teammate Pete Browning.”


RF-Ed Swartwood, Toledo Maumees, 31 Years Old

1882 1883 1884 1886

.327, 3 HR, 64 RBI, 0-0, 3.00 ERA, 1 K


5th Time All-Star-Swartwood didn’t make the All-Star team in 1887 and then didn’t play in the Major Leagues in 1888 and 1889. However, with the formation of the Players League in 1890, Swartwood was back in the Majors. For Toronto, he finished eighth in WAR (5.1), fourth in WAR Position Players (5.0), and seventh in Offensive WAR (4.3). At the plate, Swartwood slashed .327/.444/.444 for an OPS+ of 157. He had his best ever defensive year, with a Defensive WAR of 0.0. Oh, I know that doesn’t look good, but for Swartwood, one of the worst fielders of all time, it’s incredible.

                According to SABR, Swartwood still had his power: “The right-field wall at Toledo’s ballpark, Speranza Park, was 20 feet high and a considerable distance from home plate. On May 3 off Jack Easton, according to Sporting Life, ‘Swartwood was the first player to knock a fair ball over Toledo’s right field fence.’ For the feat he won a new suit, a hat, and haircuts through the summer.”

And on his life after baseball: “As early as 1904, Swartwood was assisting during legal executions. He became known as a local executioner or hangman. Over the years, he assisted during many locally and even traveled to neighboring counties to assist in others.

“On May 15, 1924, Edward Swartwood died ‘after a long illness’ at the age of 65. He was buried at the Union Dale Cemetery in Pittsburgh.” He’s not going to make the ONEHOF, but for a little while there wasn’t a better hitter in baseball than Swartwood.


RF-Tommy McCarthy, St. Louis Browns, 26 Years Old

.350, 6 HR, 69 RBI


Led in:


Plate Appearances-625 (2nd Time)

Stolen Bases-83

Runs Created-108

Times on Base-269

1st Time All-Star-Thomas Francis Michael “Tommy” McCarthy was born on July 24, 1863 in Boston, MA and my guess is he’s of Irish descent. He started in 1884 with the Union Association Boston Reds, moved on to the National League Boston Beaneaters in 1885, found himself with the NL Philadelphia Quakers in 1886 and 1887, before coming to the Browns in 1888. I am shocked to see he’s a member of the Hall of Fame and it is baffling as to why. This year will most likely be his only All-Star team and, oh, never mind, the Hall of Fame is so frustrating, instead of pure and perfect like the ONEHOF.

Along with playing, McCarthy managed the team for 27 games, guiding them to a 15-12 record. The Browns were also coached by John Kerins (9-8), Chief Roseman (7-8), Count Campau (27-14), and Joe Gerhardt (20-16) and they ended up with a 78-58 record and third place finish.

This was McCarthy’s best season ever as he finished sixth in WAR Position Players (4.6) and fourth in Offensive WAR (4.5). He slashed .350/.430/.467 for an OPS+ of 148. Certainly it was a good season, but if this is your best season, what are you doing in the Hall of Fame? Frustrating.

So, um, why?!! According to The Hall of Miller and Eric, “The more insidious among us might guess something else. There were only six members on the powerful Old-Timers Committee. They included Connie Mack, Yankee President Ed Barrow, Hall founder Stephen C. Clark, and three others. Let me introduce those three. First, there’s Boston baseball writer, Mel Webb. Second, we have and a man who previously owned the Boston Red Sox and at the time had ownership interest in the Boston Braves, Bob Quinn. And finally, there’s one-time writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and road secretary for the St. Louis Browns, Sid Mercer. Almost all of McCarthy’s career was for the Boston Beaneaters and St. Louis Browns. Interesting.” Read the whole thing.


RF-Ed Daily, Brooklyn Gladiators/New York Giants (NL)/Louisville Colonels


(AA Stats Only) .241, 1 HR, 48 RBI, 16-17, 3.45 ERA, 113 K


2nd Time All-Star-Daily last made the All-Star team in 1885. Since then he moved to the National League Washington Nationals in 1887 and then Columbus in 1889. This season, he played for three teams including four games in the National League. In the American Association, Daily finished 9th in WAR for Pitchers, pitching 328 2/3 innings with a 3.45 ERA and a 114 ERA+. He also pitched in the World Series, going 0-2 with a 2.65 ERA against the NL Brooklyn Bridegrooms, who Louisville tied in the Series. His hitting against Brooklyn, as always, was terrible, as Daily went three-for-22, with a double and a triple.

The Gladiators, which is an awesome nickname, by the way, never finished the season, going 26-73 under Manager Jim Kennedy. Or as Wikipedia says, “The 1890 Brooklyn Gladiators baseball team finished with a 26–73 record, last place in the American Association during their only season in existence. The team failed to finish the season, folding after their game against the Syracuse Stars on August 25. They were replaced by the resurrected Baltimore Orioles franchise, which had left the league at the end of the 1889 season.”

Another Wikipedia article adds, “Of the 23 men who played for the Gladiators, only three—Daily, second baseman Joe Gerhardt, and third baseman Jumbo Davis—played professionally beyond the 1890 season. None played past July 1891.” Hey, not to too my own horn, but all three of the players who played past 1890 have made the All-Star team at some point.

1890 National League All-Star Team

P-Kid Nichols, BSN

P-Kid Gleason, PHI

P-Billy Rhines, CIN

P-Amos Rusie, NYG

P-John Clarkson, BSN

P-Bill Hutchinson, CHC

P-Adonis Terry, BRO

P-Pretzels Getzein, BSN

P-Mickey Welch, NYG

P-Tom Lovett, BRO

C-Jack Clements, PHI

C-Charlie Bennett, BSN

1B-Cap Anson, CHC

1B-Dave Foutz, BRO

2B-Hub Collins, BRO

2B-Bid McPhee, CIN

3B-George Pinkney, BRO

3B-Doggie Miller, PIT

SS-Jack Glasscock, NYG

SS-Ed McKean, CLV

SS-Jimmy Cooney, CHC

SS-Ollie Beard, CIN

LF-Billy Hamilton, PHI

CF-Mike Tiernan, NYG

CF-Walt Wilmot, CHC



P-Kid Nichols, Boston Beaneaters, 20 Years Old

27-19, 2.23 ERA, 222 K, .247, 0 HR, 23 RBI


Led in:


Wins Above Replacement-13.2

WAR for Pitchers-13.1


Strikeouts/Base on Balls-1.982

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.98

Adj. Pitching Runs-67

Adj. Pitching Wins-6.3

1st Time All-Star-Charles Augustus “Kid” Nichols was born on September 14, 1869 in Madison, WI and his first year in baseball was a year of chaos around the Major Leagues. Many of the greats from the National League helped form the Players League, giving 1890 three Major Leagues and meaning I’m going to have to write 75 of these. What it also meant is there are more new people than ever on the NL All-Star team, including this young rookie who is off to a Hall of Fame career. Even a cursory glance at his stats tells me the right choice was made. Also, even though he’s going to have a long and prosperous career, 1890 was his best season ever and he was also the best player on the Beaneaters.

Nichols finished first in WAR (13.2) and first in WAR for Pitchers (13.1), pitching 424 innings with a 2.23 ERA and a 170 ERA+. He’s just getting started on a streak of 10 consecutive 20-win seasons.

How much did this help Boston? Not much. The Beaneaters could definitely pitch, they’ll have three pitchers on this team, but their hitting wasn’t up to par to keep them in the pennant race. Managed by Frank Selee, they finished in fifth place with a 76-57 record. As late as August 27, Boston was one game out of first, but then went 6-19 the rest of the year to fall out of contention. Just as it was Nichols’ first year of a Hall of Fame career, the same held true for Selee. Boston has many great years ahead.


P-Kid Gleason, Philadelphia Phillies, 23 Years Old

38-17, 2.63 ERA, 222 K, .210, 0 HR, 17 RBI


Led in:



1st Time All-Star-William J. “Kid” Gleason was born on October 26, 1866 in Camden, NJ as the National League completely runs out of nicknames and starts calling everyone “Kid.” Well, he was only 21 when he started for Philadelphia in 1888 and he was tiny – five-foot-seven and 158 pounds. He is going to have a long career, though certainly not an All-Star career. He’d never be better than this season when he finished second in WAR (11.6) and second in WAR for Pitchers (11.9), pitching 506 innings with a 2.63 ERA and 139 ERA+. He’d never reach any of those figures again on the mound and ended up spending much of his career as a weak hitting second baseman. However, Gleason was the best player on the Phillies this year. Of course, Gleason is more famous for being the manager of the Black Sox.

Wikipedia says of Gleason: “Gleason was born in Camden, New Jersey. He acquired the nickname ‘Kid’ early in life, not only because of his short stature (growing to only 5-foot-7, 155 pounds) but also because of his energetic, youthful nature.

Dan Lindner of SABR writes, “He is remembered as the manager of the most infamous baseball team ever, but less well known as a versatile and gutsy ballplayer of the 19th century. His counseling and humor became crucial to the success of many big leaguers in the years between the World Wars. He was the Kid from the coal country who rose above his humble beginnings to become a much-loved figure in the national pastime.”


P-Billy Rhines, Cincinnati Reds, 21 Years Old

28-17, 1.95 ERA, 182 K, .188, 0 HR, 11 RBI


Led in:


1890 NL Pitching Title

Earned Run Average-1.95

Walks & Hits per IP-1.121

Adjusted ERA+-186

1st Time All-Star-William Pearl “Billy” or “Bunker” Rhines was born on March 14, 1869 in Ridgway, PA, long before All in the Family ever debuted. Bunker had his best season ever and was the best player on the Reds. Rhines finished third in WAR (11.0) and third in WAR for Pitchers (11.4), pitching 401 1/3 innings with a 1.95 ERA and a 186 ERA+.  Not bad for a rookie.

Rhines’ team, the Reds, played well, finishing 77-55 under the coaching of Tom Loftus. It was Loftus’ fourth of nine years managing and would be his best season. His Reds were in first place as late as July 10, but finished the season 35-32 to fall out of contention. Their pitching was excellent, they had the league’s best ERA, but their hitting lacked what it needed to bring them the crown.

Cincinnati Reds Blog, which put the same creativity into its name as I did for mine, says the following about Rhines: “Rhines was a Pennsylvania native and alumnus of Bucknell, most famous for producing Christy Mathewson.  So, Rhines is only the second-best pitcher to come out of Bucknell.  Rhines pitched in a submarine style that was becoming less common in those days as overhand pitching emerged, and threw a variety of curveballs.  There are reports that ‘Iron Man’ Joe McGinnity copied his pitching motion.

“Rhines was signed by the Reds and 1890 was his rookie season.  He made 45 starts, pitched 401 innings, and posted a 28-17 record with a 1.95 ERA that led the league.  Rhines also led the league in ERA+ and WHIP, not that anyone was tracking that at the time.  Still, all that pitching seemed to cost him.  He was less effective the next year, pitched little the next two seasons and not at all in 1894.”


P-Amos Rusie, New York Giants, 19 Years Old

29-34, 2.56 ERA, 341 K, .278, 0 HR, 28 RBI


Led in:


Hits per 9 IP-7.152

Strikeouts per 9 IP-5.594


Bases on Balls-289

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.049


Wild Pitches-36

Assists as P-129

Errors Committed as P-20

1st Time All-Star-Amos Wilson “The Hoosier Thunderbolt” Rusie was born on May 30, 1871 in Mooresville, IN. He is the first person I’ve written up that wasn’t born until Major League baseball began in 1871. This guy looks like he would have been fun to watch pitch, as the results were usually a walk or a strikeout. He was the best player on the Giants, finishing fourth in WAR (9.1) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (7.8). The Hoosier Thunderbolt (now, that’s a nickname!) pitched 548 2/3 innings with a 2.56 ERA and a 134 ERA+. He set the record for walks in a season (289) that still holds to this day, beating the record of 274 established by Mark “Fido” Baldwin the previous year.

As for the Giants, oh, how the mighty hath fallen! After winning the World Series the previous season, New York lost many of its stars and fell to a 63-68 record under Manager Jim Mutrie.  Mutrie has one season left in his Major League career.

Rusie started in 1889 as a pitcher for Indianapolis. From the beginning, he was wild, walking 116 batters in only 225 innings, while only striking out 109. This saddled him with a 5.32 ERA and a 77 ERA+. It released him and he ended up as the Giants’ ace. I can live with him making the Hall of Fame, though I’ll doubt he’ll make the ONEHOF. He’s off to a stretch of time where he’ll lead the National League in walks five straight seasons, with 200 or over bases on balls in each of them.


P-John Clarkson, Boston Beaneaters, 28 Years Old

1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889

26-18, 3.27 ERA, 138 K, .249, 2 HR, 26 RBI


7th Time All-Star-Clarkson the Great made the All-Star team for his seventh consecutive season, though his year wasn’t nearly as dominant as his previous one. He finished fifth in WAR (9.1) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (8.8). This is actually the first even-numbered year in which Clarkson finished in the top 10 in overall WAR.  He’s not done yet.

I mentioned in Clarkson’s 1888 blurb which you can click on above (it’s okay, I can wait. Are you back? OK) that it was his salary that had much to do with the creation of the Players League this season. Of course, the shocking thing is he’s not in the Players League, but stuck around in the National League.

We’ve talked a lot about Clarkson’s stats, but not much about his actual pitching. Fortunately Wikipedia does the hard work again and tells us, “Clarkson had a wide variety of curve balls and was considered to be a calculating, scientific pitcher who carefully analyzed every hitter’s weaknesses. Hall of Fame hitter Sam Thompson said of Clarkson: ‘I faced him in scores of games and I can truthfully say that never in all that time did I get a pitch that came where I expected it or in the way in which I guessed it was coming.’”

Now here’s Brian McKenna in SABR about Clarkson remaining in the NL. I should note there is quite a bit on the page and I urge you to read the whole thing. McKenna says, “On December 18, the Brotherhood met again to firm up the new league. The members expelled Clarkson and 14 others, officially blacklisting them. On January 11, 1890, the men returned to Chicago from San Francisco. The Chicago Tribune wrote, ‘The Brotherhood sentiment was strong in all excepting Clarkson, who did not move about with the others.’ Hardy Richardson took the opportunity to publicly blast the pitcher, calling him out for his double-agent activities and disloyalty to his colleagues. The two didn’t speak for many months.”


P-Bill Hutchinson, Chicago Colts, 30 Years Old

41-25, 2.70 ERA, 289 K, .203, 2 HR, 27 RBI


Led in:



Games Pitched-71


Innings Pitched-603

Games Started-66

Complete Games-65

Home Runs-20

Batters Faced-2,506

Def. Games as P-71

Putouts as P-44

1st Time All-Star-William Forrest “Wild Bill” Hutchinson was born on December 17, 1859 in New Haven, CT. He started by pitching two games for the Union Association Kansas City Cowboys in 1884 and then didn’t play Major League ball until 1889, where the White Stockings picked him up. Starting in 1890, two things happened – the White Stockings became the Colts and Wild Bill became the ace of Chicago’s staff. This season, he finished sixth in WAR (7.8) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (8.3), pitching 603 innings with a 2.70 ERA and a 137 ERA+. He’s got a couple of great seasons left, but Hutchinson would never have a higher Adjusted ERA+. He was the Colts’ best player.

According to the Norwich Historical Society, “After graduating in 1875 he went on to Yale where he played shortstop and pitched. In 1880, his graduation year, William was chosen team captain. Following graduation, William moved to Kansas City, Missouri to work for the railroad, but he never lost his love for the game and played for Springfield (Northwestern League) and in 1884 the Kansas City Cowboys (Union Association). He apparently had offers to play pro and semi pro ball for various teams but declined due to health issues. During the 1887-88 season he reportedly played for Des Moines earning a $3800 salary, considered the highest in the league at the time. After turning in a 23-10 (win-loss) performance in 1888, William was moved up to the majors. In 1889, he began his rookie year at 29 with the National League’s Chicago White Stockings/Colts (now Chicago Cubs), as a right handed pitcher. He was the club’s first player to hold a college degree. Hutchison possessed a blazing fastball which enabled him to strike out 136 batters and led him to 16 wins 17 losses and an ERA of 3.54 his first year. The following season he went 42-25, striking out 289 with an ERA of 2.70.”


P-Adonis Terry, Brooklyn Bridegrooms, 25 Years Old

1884 1886 1887 1888

26-16, 2,94 ERA, 185 K, .278, 4 HR, 59 RBI


5th Time All-Star-I mentioned in Terry’s 1888 blurb that he might be the worst pitcher to make this many All-Star teams, but this season was his best ever and he was the best player on the pennant-winning Bridegrooms. He finished eighth in WAR (6.1), splitting his time between the mound and the outfield. From the bump, Terry pitched 370 innings with a 2.94 ERA and 119 ERA+. At the dish, he slashed .278/.356/.408 for an OPS+ of 121.

His great all-around season led Brooklyn to the National League crown. It won the 1889 American Association title and then moved to the NL, where it also won the pennant. Coached for the third and last year by Bill McGunnigle, the Bridegrooms finished 86-43, six-and-a-half games in front of the Colts. They scored the most runs in the league and were third in runs allowed, a good combination. In the World Series, Brooklyn tied the American Association Louisville Colonels, 3-3-1. Terry pitched three games, going 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA, but his hitting tanked, as he was one-for-20 from the plate.

A webpage called William “Adonis” Terry – The Forgotten Legend of 19th Century Baseball says he should be in the Hall of Fame. He’s on the borderline, but I don’t think he makes it. He never had a dominating season, though he will end up making about six All-Star teams. That website also says, “One of the most notable characteristics of Terry’s career was the fact that he was a clean living player and kept himself in great condition in a time when many players were known for their off-field (and sometimes on-field) drunken escapades including many Hall of Famers.”


P-Pretzels Getzien, Boston Beaneaters, 26 Years Old

1884 1887

23-17, 3.19 ERA, 140 K, .231, 2 HR, 25 RBI


3rd Time All-Star-These Pretzels are making me thirsty! Getzien’s very lucky to never have lived in the age of Seinfeld. I wonder what he did watch on TV? It’s been three years since he made an All-Star team. In 1889, he moved to Indianapolis after Detroit folded and this season, after the Hoosiers went defunct, Getzien was purchased by Boston, where he had his best season ever and most likely, his last All-Star team. Getzein finished 10th in WAR (5.6) and eighth in WAR for Pitchers (5.0), pitching 350 innings with a 3.19 ERA and a 119 ERA+, his highest Adjusted ERA+ since his rookie year in 1884.

 Wikipedia wraps up his career: “During nine major league seasons, he compiled a 145–139 record and a 3.46 earned run average (ERA) in 296 games. He totaled 292 games started and threw 277 complete games, a total that ranks 58th in major league history. Only three pitchers in major league history (Ed Morris, Mark Baldwin, and Hall of Famer Albert Spalding) threw more complete games in careers shorter than Getzein’s nine-year career.

“Getzein’s record for complete games is based in part on the customs of the 1880s. In 1915, Baseball Magazine reported that managers were not allowed to freely pull the starting pitcher from a game in the bygone era. It cited an incident involving Getzein to illustrate the old practice:

“’The Nationals got onto Getzein in the fourth inning and batted him all over the field. In the fifth inning they kept up the slugging until Getzein said he was ill, and Manager Hanlon wanted the Nationals to allow Getzein to retire, claiming that he was too sick to play. Baker, captaining the home club, said he would call a doctor and have him examine Getzein, and if the latter was really sick he would probably allow the change to be made. Dr. Bond, who happened to be present, was called on, and he examined the pitcher, while the crowd guyed Getzein terribly. The doctor announced that he did not consider Getzein sick, only discouraged at the pounding he had received, and that he would be able to finish the game.’”


P-Mickey Welch, New York Giants, 30 Years Old

1880 1881 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889

17-14, 2.99 ERA, 97 K, .179, 0 HR, 10 RBI


10th Time All-Star-The great Smiling Mickey is starting to decline and will be out of the league in two years. He did make his last All-Star team this season and certainly deserves his Hall of Fame nomination. As for this year, he finished seventh in WAR for Pitchers (5.6), pitching 292 1/3 innings with a 2.99 ERA and a 115 ERA+. It was the first season since 1882 in which Welch didn’t win 20 or more games. He will remain with the Giants for the next two seasons, but finish only 5-9 with a 4.58 ERA over the remainder of his career.

Welch always proponed for player rights, but shockingly didn’t go into the Players League. According to Wikipedia, “Before the Players’ League began its season in 1890, Welch realized that he was coming to the end of his playing career. Saying that he was in baseball to earn money, Welch agreed to re-sign with the Giants on a three-year contract. Welch said that he had been willing to accept $2,000 less to play in the Players’ League, but that deal fell through when the league could only guarantee one year of salary. He met with sharp criticism from Jim O’Rourke and other Brotherhood members, but the Players’ League lasted only one season.”

Wikipedia also speaks of his Hall of Fame election, saying, “Welch was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1973. He was represented at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony by his elderly daughter, Julia Weiss.”


P-Tom Lovett, Brooklyn Bridegrooms, 26 Years Old

30-11, 2.78 ERA, 124 K, .201, 1 HR, 20 RBI


Led in:


Win Loss %-.732

1st Time All-Star-Thomas Joseph “Tom” Lovett was born on December 7, 1863 in Providence, RI. He started in 1885 for the American Association Philadelphia Athletics pitching 138 2/3 innings and going 7-8. Then he was out of the Major Leagues until 1889 when he moved to Brooklyn. This first season for the Bridegrooms in the National League was Lovett’s best season ever and, most likely, his first and only All-Star team. Lovett finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (4.7), pitching 372 innings with a 2.78 ERA and a 126 ERA+. In the World Series, he was 2-2 with a 2.83 ERA. The year before, Lovett pitched only one game in the Series, allowing nine runs in three innings.

As for the rest of his life, Wikipedia says, “As quickly as Lovett rose to prominence, he fell. He sat out the 1892 season, and when he returned, he was largely ineffective. He played in the minor leagues until 1896, after which he retired.

“Lovett died at the age of 64 in his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island and is interred at St. Ann Cemetery in Cranston, Rhode Island.”

According to Baseball History Daily, Lovett was baseball’s first holdout, saying “After the 1891 season Brooklyn attempted to cut his salary to $2800 (various sources say he either earned $3000 or $3500 in 1891).  Lovett demanded $3500 and turned down a compromise offer of $3200.

“He said he could earn more money operating his tavern in Providence and chose to sit out the 1892 season.

“The Sporting Life called it, ‘A vain and foolish kick against salary reduction.’”


C-Jack Clements, Philadelphia Phillies, 25 Years Old

.315, 7 HR, 74 RBI


Led in:


Putouts as C-503 (2nd Time)

1st Time All-Star-John J. Clements was born on July 24, 1864 in Philadelphia, PA and was likely the most successful left-handed catcher ever. He had started as an outfielder with the 1884 Union Association Philadelphia Keystones, before moving to the National League, where he would remain with Philadelphia, whether it be the Quakers or the Phillies, through 1897. Once he got to the National League, catcher was always his main position.

In his previous five seasons, Clements never was much of a hitter, never being above 100 OPS+, yet here, as a 25-year-old, he started hitting well over the next few seasons. The lefty finished 10th in Offensive WAR (3.9), slashing .315/.392/.472 for an OPS+ of 148 and has better seasons ahead.

Clements also managed for the Phillies, but then again, who didn’t. Four managers led the team to a third-place finish this year. They were Harry Wright (36-31), Clements (13-6), Al Reach (4-7), and Bob Allen (25-10), who combined guided the team to a 78-53 record. Wright started the year and also came back in the end. He would coach the Phillies for four more seasons, ending his great managerial career. Clements would never manage again, nor would Reach. Allen would get one more chance in 1900 with the Reds.

According to Wikipedia, “He also served as a player-manager during part of the 1890 season when manager Harry Wright suffered temporary blindness.” The free encyclopedia also tells us that he is credited with being the first catcher to wear a chest protector.


C-Charlie Bennett, Boston Beaneaters, 35 Years Old

1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888

.214, 3 HR, 40 RBI


Led in:


Fielding % as C-.959 (6th Time)

9th Time All-Star-In 1889, Bennett’s first season with Boston, he missed the All-Star team for the first time since 1880. He’s back this year, despite the fact his hitting seriously deteriorated. He could still field, finishing eighth in Defensive WAR (1.6), but at the plate, Bennett slashed .214/.377/.320 for an OPS+ of 96. Almost all of his value comes from his 72 walks.

Back here in the 1800s, pitchers were dominant. Up to this point, a pitcher has been the top WAR leader every season, except for the 1884 Union Association, which was won by second baseman Fred Dunlap. It’s difficult for catchers to ever do well in overall WAR because of the lack of games they typically played. Bennett finished in the top 10 in 1881 and 1883.

In doing these lists, I want all of these players to be in the Hall of Fame. I admit it. Spending so much time writing about them has blinded me to any of their faults. However, Bennett deserves the Hall. He’s got an outside shot at entering the ONEHOF, my fake Hall of Fame in which the best player who’s not in the ONEHOF is inducted, but I think this tough catcher should be in the real thing. While Buck Ewing, King Kelly, and Deacon White are all in the Hall of Fame and deserve it, none of them played as much catcher nearly as well as long as Bennett. At this point in his career, his hitting is declining, but he’s 35-years-old and his hands look like raw ground beef at this time.


1B-Cap Anson, Chicago Colts, 38 Years Old

1872 1873 1874 1876 1877 1878 1880 1881 1882 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889

.312, 7 HR, 107 RBI


Led in:


On-Base %-.443 (4th Time)

Games Played-139

Bases on Balls-113

Times on Base-276 (3rd Time)

Def. Games as 1B-135 (5th Time)

Assists as 1B-49 (8th Time)

Oldest-38 Years Old

16th Time All-Star-With Roger Connor and Dan Brouthers off to the Players League, Anson easily reigned as the best first sacker in the league once again. He finished fourth in WAR Position Players (5.4) and fifth in Offensive WAR (5.2). Anson slashed .312/.443/.401 at the plate as his power is starting to fade, not counting a resurgence in 1894. You can argue about many things, but you can’t argue that Cap was the greatest player of his era and one of the greatest players of all-time.

Oh, and in his second job, managing, the Colts finished second with a 83-53 record. They never were in the running for the title, starting 11-12 and failing to recover. Only a stretch where they won 19 out of 20 games played towards the end of the season brought them as close as they were.

Did Anson like the Players League? What do you think? SABR says, “By 1890, Anson was a stockholder in the Chicago ballclub, owning 13 percent of the team. A company man through and through, he bitterly criticized the Brotherhood of Professional Ball Players, whose members quit the National League en masse in early 1890 and formed the Players League. Anson, one of a handful of stars who refused to jump to the new league, hastily assembled a new group of youngsters (which the newspapers dubbed Anson’s Colts) and finished second that year. Spalding worked behind the scenes to undermine the rival circuit, while Anson led the charge in the newspapers, denouncing the jumpers as ‘traitors’ and gleefully predicting the eventual failure of the upstart league. The new circuit collapsed after one season, but Anson’s role in the defeat angered many of his former players.”


1B-Dave Foutz, Brooklyn Bridegrooms, 33 Years Old

1885 1886

.303, 5 HR, 98 RBI, 2-1, 1.86 ERA, 4 K


Led in:


Saves-2 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as 1B-11.09

Range Factor/Game as 1B-10.89

3rd Time All-Star-For the first time, Scissors is making an All-Star team as a position player rather than a pitcher. Even as a pitcher, he always could hit and that hasn’t changed over the years. Also interesting, he has made three All-Star teams and in all of those seasons, his team made the World Series. This season, Foutz finished ninth in Offensive WAR (3.9) while slashing .303/.368/.432 at the plate. In the World Series against the American Association Louisville Colonels, Foutz hit .300 with two doubles and a triple, helping Brooklyn tie the series 3-3-1.

Like so many of these players, Foutz died young, at 40-years-old. Wikipedia says, “Never in good health, in January 1896, Foutz became dangerously ill with pneumonia and barely recovered. After he was released from the Bride Grooms, in October 1896, Foutz was considered for a manager in the minor leagues or as a possible umpire, but by January 1897, he was too ill to work and was under a doctor’s care. On March 5, 1897, David Luther Foutz died at his mother’s home in Waverly, a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland, of an asthma attack. He was buried in the Loudon Park Cemetery, in Baltimore City, Maryland. News papers reported his funeral was a sad and somber affair, attended by many former teammates and baseball players. Also in attendance were executives from the National League as well as his old Brooklyn and St. Louis ball clubs.” Here in America, we love to complain about health care, but our longevity has certainly improved since the 1800s.


2B-Hub Collins, Brooklyn Bridegrooms, 26 Years Old


.278, 3 HR, 69 RBI


Led in:


Runs Scored-148

2nd Time All-Star-Welcome to the tragedy portion of the 1890 National League All-Star team page. Let’s start with the positive, Collins helped Brooklyn reach its second straight World Series. He finished second in WAR Position Players (5.6), behind only Jack Glasscock; seventh in Offensive WAR (4.4); and ninth in Defensive WAR (1.5), his best season ever and he was only 26-years-old. From the plate, he slashed .278/.385/.386 for an OPS+ of 124 while in the World Series against the American Association Louisville Colonels, he hit .310 with a triple. It sure looked like he going to have a long and prosperous career.

The Dodgers Encyclopedia by William McNeil says of Collins, “On the brink of a brilliant baseball career, Hub Collins was struck down with typhoid fever four weeks into the 1892 season. He succumbed to the disease on May 21, 1892. He was 28 years old. During his brief seven-year career, the speedy Collins left may indications of what might have been. Playing in only 680 games, Collins scored 653 runs, an average of 0.96 runs per game. This figure is the fourth highest in baseball history, although Collins didn’t play enough games to qualify for official recognition. A lifetime .284 hitter, he stole 335 bases during his career, 195 of them with Brooklyn. His stolen base per game average is one of the highest ever recorded. He is fifth on the all-time Dodger list, in spite of the fact that he played in only 407 games in the City of Churches. In the field, his lifetime 6.1 range factor is the best of any Dodger second baseman.”


2B-Bid McPhee, Cincinnati Reds, 30 Years Old

1886 1887 1889

.256, 3 HR, 39 RBI


Led in:


Putouts as 2B-404 (5th Time)

Assists as 2B-431 (5th Time)

Double Plays Turned as 2B-62 (9th Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-6.37 (5th Time)

Range Factor/Game as 2B-6.33 (5th Time)

4th Time All-Star-McPhee, the gloveless wonder, made his fourth All-Star team and probably has a few more left. It still seems strange to me that Bid is in the Hall of Fame if Jack Glasscock isn’t. I’ll complain about this more in the Glasscock write-up. This is taking nothing away from the great McPhee, who finished seventh in WAR Position Players (5.1) and seventh in Defensive WAR (1.6). His hitting was never anything spectacular, but it was decent as he slashed .256/.362/.386 for an OPS+ of 116.

It was for his defense that garnered the fame for John Alexander McPhee as you can see from the categories above in which he led the league. He played barehanded for most of his career, making his numbers even more dazzling. He wouldn’t put on a glove until the 1896 season.

McPhee wasn’t well liked by the fans when he first started. In an interview in 1890, according to SABR, he said, “’What broke me up worse than anything else was a little episode that occurred after the game. I boarded a Clark streetcar as soon as I changed my clothes, and leaned against the rail of the rear platform, which was crowded with baseball enthusiasts going home. In my citizen’s attire none of the cranks knew me. They had evidently lost some money on the game and, as I had contributed more than anyone else to the Waterloo, I was the special target for their abuse. “That stiff they played on second base today made me sick,” said one of the crowd. “What’s his name? McPhee? Yes, that’s it. Maybe he didn’t work the Cincinnati Club about wanting to keep books! He ought to have staved in Akron. He might be a good bookkeeper, but he is a rotten ballplayer!”’”


3B-George Pinkney, Brooklyn Bridegrooms, 31 Years Old


.309, 7 HR, 83 RBI


2nd Time All-Star-Pinkney is one of three Brooklyn infielders to make the All-Star team, Dave Foutz and Hub Collins being the others. Only shortstop lacked representation for the Bridegrooms. Pinkney had his best season ever, finishing third in WAR Position Players (5.5), behind only Jack Glasscock and Hub Collins; and fourth in Offensive WAR (5.3). He slashed .309/.411/.431 with an OPS+ of 144 at the plate. All four of those categories were his career highs. In the World Series against the American Association Louisville Colonels, he bashed .357 with two triples, but didn’t play fulltime, only garnering 14 at-bats. Because these Series were more exhibitions than true competitions, Baseball Reference doesn’t list the number of games played, but my guess is that he played in only three of the seven contests.

After this season, Pinkney would play three more seasons, one more with Brooklyn in 1891, one with St. Louis in 1892, and one with Louisville in 1893. Now 31, he’d never reach the peak he did this season, but finished with a decent career.

Wikipedia wraps up his life: “In 10 seasons Pinkney played in 1,163 games and had 4,610 at-bats, 874 runs, 1,212 hits, 170 doubles, 56 triples, 21 home runs, 539 RBI, 526 walks, .263 batting average, .345 on-base percentage, .338 slugging percentage and 1,557 total bases…He remained the only player to play in more than 500 consecutive games until Fred Luderus played in 533 games.

“He died in Peoria, Illinois at the age of 67 and was interred at Springdale Cemetery.”


3B-Doggie Miller, Pittsburgh Alleghenys, 25 Years Old

.273, 4 HR, 66 RBI


Led in:


Errors Committed -48

1st Time All-Star-George Frederick “Doggie” or “Foghorn” or “Calliope” Miller was born on August 15, 1864 in Brooklyn, NY. He started as a 19-year-old for Pittsburgh in the American Association in 1884 and only now made his first All-Star team. He was the Alleghenys’ top player, which is the only reason he made the squad, though he did finish eighth in Offensive WAR (4.0). Foghorn slashed .273/.357/.350 at the plate for an OPS+ of 116, his highest Adjusted OPS+ ever.

Pittsburgh is a team with a long history. You might think of it being the team of Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, We Are Family, and Barry Bonds. What you won’t think about is the 1890 Alleghenys, who really stunk it up, finishing 23-113 under the hand of Guy Hecker, who, to no one’s shock, would never manage again. As bad as their hitting was, and it was awful, their pitching and defense was worse. Pittsburgh gave up 8.9 runs a game, 2.8 runs a game higher than their next closest team.

                A site called Pirates Prospects says of Calliope, “When most of the Alleghenys left to go to the Player’s League in 1890, Miller stayed and endured a 23-113 season, the worst in franchise history. He was the best hitter on a horrible team, leading the team with a .273 average, 66 RBI’s, 68 walks and 85 runs scored. He mostly played third base that year to keep his bat in the lineup daily, but when the PL folded after one season, Doggie went back to catching more often.”


SS-Jack Glasscock, New York Giants, 32 Years Old, 1890 ONEHOF Inductee

1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889

.336, 1 HR, 66 RBI


Led in:


1890 NL Batting Title

WAR Position Players-7.1 (2nd Time)

Offensive WAR-5.9

Batting Average-.336

Hits-172 (2nd Time)

AB per SO-64.0 (3rd Time)

10th Time All-Star-Well, Pebbly Jack, you take what you can get and so I proudly welcome Jack Glasscock to the One-a-year Hall of Fame. Next year’s nominees are Charlie Bennett, Roger Connor, Harry Stovey, King Kelly, Monte Ward, Old Hoss Radbourn, Hardy Richardson, and Buck Ewing.

For this season, Glasscock again shined, finishing seventh in WAR (7.1), first in WAR Position Players (7.1), first in Offensive WAR (5.9), and fifth in Defensive WAR (1.9). This is the fifth time in his career he’s finished in the top 10 in all four of those categories. It’s difficult to be a great offensive and defensive player, but Pebbly Jack did it all the time.

At the plate this season, Glasscock slashed .336/.395/.439 for an OPS+ of 147. It was his second highest Adjusted OPS+ ever, though his hitting would fall off after this season. He would continue to shine in the field for a while, however.

The problem with weaker candidates making the Hall of Fame is it lessens the chance for the real candidates to make it. When you put in weak candidates like Candy Cummings, you then have a committee which thinks the 1800s if overrepresented already and has no need of Glasscock. I don’t know how much you value WAR, but his overall war is 61.5, which is over numerous people already in the Hall of Fame.

Some of it’s just bad luck. For instance, he finally went to a good team this season, last season’s National League champs, but they dropped due to losing so many players to the Players League, and fell to sixth.


SS-Ed McKean, Cleveland Spiders, 26 Years Old

1888 1889

.296, 7 HR, 61 RBI


Led in:


Errors Committed as SS-75 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-McKean is Cleveland’s only representative on the All-Star team and its best player. He finished sixth in WAR Position Players (5.3) and second, to another shortstop, Jack Glasscock, in Offensive WAR (5.8). Shortstops sure could hit in 1890. McKean slashed .296/.401/.417 for an OPS+ of 144. Despite all of the above, there’s a good chance this is his last All-Star team.

As for the Cleveland Spiders, they were just happy Pittsburgh was in the National League, otherwise it would have been them in last. Gus Schmelz (21-55) and Bob Leadley (23-33) guided them to a 44-88 seventh place finish.

Since I’m assuming McKean’s days on the All-Star are done, here’s Wikipedia’s wrap up of his career: “Prior to the 1899 season, the Spiders transferred most of their best players to the St. Louis Perfectos, including McKean. This was legal at the time, as both teams were owned by the same ownership group led by the Robison brothers. However, he did not perform up to expectations and was let go in July. The following season, the Spiders folded, and such shenanigans were outlawed.

“After not playing professionally for two years, McKean returned to play in the minor leagues in 1902 as player-manager of the Rochester Bronchos. After several more years in the minors, he retired following the 1908 season. All told, McKean racked up a grand total of 2,083 hits and 1124 RBI during his major league career. He also recorded 4 seasons with over 110 RBI and owned a superb lifetime batting average of .302. For his time, he also hit a lot of home runs; 66 in 13 seasons was considered great at that time. He died at age 55 in Cleveland, Ohio.”


SS-Jimmy Cooney, Chicago Colts, 24 Years Old

.272, 4 HR, 52 RBI


Led in:


Defensive WAR-2.6

Plate Appearances-653

Def. Games as SS-135

Fielding % as SS-.936

1st Time All-Star-James Joseph “Jimmy” Cooney was born on July 9, 1865 in Cranston, RI. If he was born in our time, he could host his own late night talk show. As it was, he came at a good time, because so many people went to the Players League, many new people started to shine in the National League. Ned Williamson was one of those who departed to the PL, so Cooney got his chance and made the most of it. He finished fifth in WAR Position Players (5.3) and first in Defensive WAR (2.6), all in his rookie year. In his short three-year career, he dazzled with the glove.

Cooney had a namesake son also play in the pros and in his son’s SABR article, it says this about the father:  “His obituary in the Pawtucket Times said he was ‘one of the most graceful infielders in the history of the game, and was especially skilful in the timing and handling of grounders. He was an accurate and reliable thrower. He enjoyed the distinction of being one of the first players to demonstrate the possibilities of the sacrifice hit.’

“He had played shortstop in the National League for Chicago and for Washington in 1890 through 1892, his best season being his first one, hitting .272 with four homers and 52 RBIs for the Chicago Colts (later Cubs). His career major-league average was .242. From 1892 through 1899 he played for Providence, and in 1900 for Bristol in the Connecticut State League.”


SS-Ollie Beard, Cincinnati Reds, 28 Years Old


.268, 3 HR, 72 RBI


2nd Time All-Star-Beard made the All-Star team for the second consecutive season, both with the Reds, but in different leagues. His fielding continued to be his strength as he finished second in Defensive WAR (2.2), while also finishing 10th in WAR Position Players (4.4). He had his best year ever at the plate, slashing .268/.331/.382 for an OPS+ of 106. In 1891, he would become a third baseman for the American Association Louisville Colonels, his last season.

In my many seconds of research, I don’t know why Beard’s career came to a quick end. Maybe it’s because his hitting continued to falter and, in 1891, with Louisville, his fielding also fell off. He really had two of the most dazzling fielding seasons in a row, according to Baseball Reference’s Defensive WAR, or bdWAR. I can’t find anything about whether an injury beset him in his last season.

It seems strange Louisville would move the great fielding Beard to third base. True, the Colonels had future Hall of Famer Hughie Jennings at shortstop, but Jennings’ fielding wasn’t his strong suit at this time. It reminds me of the Angels actually moving Mike Trout to leftfield for a season so they could fit, gulp, Peter Bourjos into the lineup!? It’s a hint to why the Angels continue to struggle.

The best managers gauge the skills of their players accurately and put the right people in the right place. Of course, all of this is just guesswork since I can’t find details on the latter end of Beard’s career, but it’s still strange.


LF-Billy Hamilton, Philadelphia Phillies, 24 Years Old

.325, 2 HR, 49 RBI


Led in:


Stolen Bases-102 (2nd Time)


Errors Committed as OF-34

1st Time All-Star-William Robert “Sliding Billy” Hamilton was born on February 15, 1866 in Newark, NJ, and like all Billy Hamiltons, he was fast! His speed raced him into the Hall of Fame and in a quick glance at his career, he deserves it. He started in 1888 with the American Association Kansas City Cowboys stealing 19 bases in 35 games. The next season, he stole over 100 bases, 111 to be exact, for the first of four times he’d do so in his career, including this season.

But Sliding Bill didn’t just have speed, he could rake! He finished ninth in WAR Position Players (4.4) and sixth in Offensive WAR (4.6). At the dish, Hamilton slashed .325/.430/.399 for an OPS+ of 139. He would end up, spoiler alert!, with a slash line of .344/.455/.432 for an OPS+ of 141. What I’m saying is we’re going to be seeing the speedster on this list a lot.

Wikipedia speaks of Hamilton’s early life: “Hamilton was born on February 16, 1866 in Newark, New Jersey. His parents, Samuel and Mary Hamilton, had immigrated to New Jersey from Ireland. Biographer Roy Kerr writes that evidence suggests that Hamilton was descended from the Ulster Scots people. (As an adult, Hamilton was known to proudly proclaim his Scottish ancestry.) When Hamilton was a small child, his family moved to Clinton, Massachusetts. He worked in a Clinton cotton mill as a young teenager.” This Billy Hamilton is a lesson to the modern Billy Hamilton that speed isn’t enough, you need to get on base.


CF-Mike Tiernan, New York Giants, 23 Years Old

1888 1889

.304, 13 HR, 59 RBI


Led in:


Slugging %-.495

On-Base Plus Slugging-.880

Total Bases-274

Home Runs-13

Adjusted OPS+-160

Runs Created-104

Adj. Batting Runs-40

Adj. Batting Wins-4.2

Extra Base Hits-59

Offensive Win %-.747

3rd Time All-Star-Silent Mike continued to be one of the best outfielders in the National League, making the All-Star team for the third consecutive year. Tiernan finished eighth in WAR Position Players (4.6) and third in Offensive WAR (5.3). It was his best offensive season thus far, but his defense, never great, was horrendous this season (-1.3 Defensive WAR). At the plate, he slashed .304/.385/.495 for an OPS+ of 160. In the era he played, his stats were outstanding.

SABR has the following on Tiernan’s 1890 season: “The 1890 season would be a fractious one, with three separate major league circuits – National League, American Association, and Players League – in direct competition. And no fewer than five clubs called greater New York home, two in Manhattan and three across the East River in Brooklyn. But nothing locally compared to the cutthroat rivalry between the NL Real Giants and the PL Big Giants, whom schedule-makers had deliberately placed at home on the same dates. Unfortunately for all concerned, the arrangement backfired, with neither team drawing well. Typical was the attendance at competing home games played on May 12, 1890. Only 1,707 fans attended a PL Boston-New York game at Brotherhood Park, while across the alley only 687 lonesome souls paid their way into the New Polo Grounds to see the NL Boston-New York match – the occasion of the most celebrated home run of Mike Tiernan’s career. As word of a scoreless pitching duel between Kid Nichols and Amos Rusie made its way across the stadium divide, PL fans began migrating to the right field grandstand of Brotherhood Park to spy on the proceedings next door. In the tenth inning, partisans of both New York nines were thrilled when the game was decided 1-0 by a mammoth Tiernan homer – a line shot that cleared the confines of the New Polo Grounds, crossed the alley, and struck the outer wall of Brotherhood Park.”


CF-Walt Wilmot, Chicago Colts, 26 Years Old


.278, 13 HR, 99 RBI


Led in:


Games Played-139

Home Runs-13

Power-Speed #-22.2

Def. Games as OF-139

Putouts as OF-320

Range Factor/9 Inn as OF-2.55

Range Factor/Game as OF-2.49

2nd Time All-Star-Once again, I was a false prophet, as I predicted in 1889 that Wilmot’s All-Star appearances were done, but the original power-speed maven proved me wrong. This season, he slashed .278/.353/.419 for an OPS+  of 120. He also had his best defensive season ever as 1890 was the only year in which he finished with a positive Baseball Reference dWAR (0.4).

Washington, Wilmot’s former team, folded, so the Colts were able to purchase him, as Chicago always seemed able to do. He must have liked going from a last place team to a second place squad. Chicago was also closer to his birthplace of Plover, Wisconsin.

Since he’s back on the All-Star team, here’s more on his career from Wikipedia: “He also set a career best with 76 stolen bases while driving in 99 runs in 1890. On the August 22, 1891, he became the first player in major league history to be walked 6 times in 1 game.

“Wilmot’s most productive season came in 1894, when he posted career-highs in batting average (.330), runs scored (134), hits (197), RBI (130), doubles (45) and extra-base hits (62) in 133 games.

“Overall in his ten-season career, Wilmot was a .276 hitter with 58 home runs and 594 RBI in 962 games, including 727 runs, 152 doubles, 92 triples, 381 stolen bases and a .337 on-base percentage.”

At the time of this writing, Joe Posnanski has been running a series on the Hall of Fame nominees for 2017. It’s been phenomenal as all of his stuff is, but it’s been interesting as he’s been exploring into WAR and how they rate defense, specifically Baseball Reference. His question is how much does defense really affect a player? Wilmot was helped this year by just mediocre defense, would it really add 0.4 of a game above a replacement player?

1889 American Association All-Star Team

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


P-Ice Box Chamberlain, St. Louis Browns, 21 Years Old


32-15, 2.97 ERA, 202 K, .199, 2 HR, 31 RBI


Led in:


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.”


P-Jesse Duryea, Cincinnati Red Stockings, 29 Years Old

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.


P-Bob Caruthers, Brooklyn Bridegrooms, 25 Years Old

1885 1886 1887 1888

40-11, 3.13 ERA, 118 K, .250, 2 HR, 31 RBI


Led in:


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.


P-Silver King, St. Louis Browns, 21 Years Old

1887 1888

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.”


P-Matt Kilroy, Baltimore Orioles, 23 Years Old

1886 1887

29-25, 2.85 ERA, 217 K, .274, 1 HR, 26 RBI


Led in:


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 23 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.”


P-Jack Stivetts, St. Louis Browns, 21 Years Old

12-7, 2.25 ERA, 143 K, .228, 0 HR, 7 RBI


Led in:


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

Adjusted ERA+-185

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.

“When Stivetts joined the Browns, he became their third starting pitcher in the rotation behind Silver King and Ice Box Chamberlain.”


P-Jim Conway, Kansas City Cowboys, 30 Years Old

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.


P-Lee Viau, Cincinnati Red Stockings, 22 Years Old


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.”


P-Frank Foreman, Baltimore Orioles, 26 Years Old

23-21, 3.52 ERA, 180 K, .144, 1 HR, 11 RBI


Led in:


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 [1885] 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.’”


P-Red Ehret, Louisville Colonels, 20 Years Old

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.”


C-Jim Keenan, Cincinnati Red Stockings, 33 Years Old

1884 1888

.287, 6 HR, 60 RBI


Led in:


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.”

Keenan died at the age of 70 in Cincinnati on September 21, 1926.


C-Jocko Milligan, St. Louis Browns, 27 Years Old

1885 1888

.366, 12 HR, 76 RBI


Led in:


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.”


1B-Tommy Tucker, Baltimore Orioles, 25 Years Old

1887 1888

.372, 5 HR, 99 RBI


 Led in:


1889 AA Batting Title

WAR Position Players-5.5

Offensive WAR-5.7

Batting Average-.372


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.”


1B-Henry Larkin, Philadelphia Athletics, 29 Years Old

1885 1886

.318, 3 HR, 74 RBI


Led in:


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.


1B-Dave Orr, Columbus Solons, 29 Years Old

1884 1885 1886

.327, 4 HR, 87 RBI


Led in:


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.’”

Posed action of Cincinnatie's Bid McPhee, 1888

2B-Bid McPhee, Cincinnati Red Stockings, 29 Years Old

1886 1887

.269, 5 HR, 67 RBI


Led in:


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.’”


3B-Denny Lyons, Philadelphia Athletics, 23 Years Old

1887 1888

.329, 9 HR, 82 RBI


Led in:


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?


3B-Lefty Marr, Columbus Solons, 26 Years Old

.306, 1 HR, 75 RBI


Led in:




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.’

“Henke’s liver was ruptured in the collision and the Cincinnati native died of the injury the following day.”


3B-Billy Shindle, Baltimore Orioles, 28 Years Old

.314, 3 HR, 64 RBI


Led in:


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.”


SS-Ollie Beard, Cincinnati Red Stockings, 27 Years Old

.285, 1 HR, 77 RBI


Led in:


Defensive WAR-2.4

Games Played-141


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.”


LF-Harry Stovey, Philadelphia Athletics, 32 Years Old

1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888

.308, 19 HR, 119 RBI


Led in:


Slugging %-.525 (2nd Time)

Runs Scored-152 (4th Time)

Total Bases-292 (2nd Time)

Home Runs-19 (4th Time)

Runs Batted In-119

Adjusted OPS+-165

Runs Created-114 (2nd Time)

Extra Base Hits-70 (4th Time)

Power-Speed #-29.2

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.”


LF-Tip O’Neill, St. Louis Browns, 31 Years Old

1886 1887 1888

.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.


LF-Darby O’Brien, Brooklyn Bridegrooms, 25 Years Old

.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.


CF-Curt Welch, Philadelphia Athletics, 27 Years Old

1886 1888

.271, 0 HR, 39 RBI


Led in:




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).”

It’s amazing to me how many books are written about baseball in the 1800s. It gives me a lot to steal from, um, borrow!


RF-Oyster Burns, Brooklyn Bridegrooms, 24 Years Old

1887 1888

.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:


“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.”

1889 National League All-Star Team

P-John Clarkson, BSN

P-Charlie Buffinton, PHI

P-Ben Sanders, PHI

P-Henry Boyle, IND

P-Mickey Welch, NYG

P-Jersey Bakley, CLV

P-Ed Beatin, CLV

P-Old Hoss Radbourn, BSN

P-Cinders O’Brien, CLV

P-Tim Keefe, NYG

C-Fred Carroll, PIT

C-Buck Ewing, NYG

1B-Cap Anson, CHC

1B-Dan Brouthers, BSN

1B-Roger Connor, NYG

1B-Jake Beckley, PIT

2B-Hardy Richardson, BSN

2B-Danny Richardson, NYG

3B-Billy Nash, BSN

SS-Jack Glasscock, IND

SS-Ed McKean, CLV

LF-Walt Wilmot, WHS

LF-George Van Haltren, CHC

CF-Jimmy Ryan, CHC

RF-Mike Tiernan, NYG



P-John Clarkson, Boston Beaneaters, 27 Years Old

1884 1885 1886 1887 1888

49-19, 2.73 ERA, 284 K, .206, 2 HR, 23 RBI


Led in:


1889 NL Pitching Title

1889 NL Pitching Triple Crown

Wins Above Replacement-16.2 (3rd Time)

WAR for Pitchers-16.7 (3rd Time)

Earned Run Average-2.73

Wins-49 (3rd Time)

Win-Loss %-721

Walks & Hits per IP-1.277

Games Pitched-73 (3rd Time)

Innings Pitched-620.0 (4th Time)

Strikeouts-284 (3rd Time)

Games Started-72 (3rd Time)

Complete Games-68 (3rd Time)

Shutouts-8 (2nd Time)

Bases on Balls-203 (2nd Time)

Hits Allowed-589 (2nd Time)

Earned Runs Allowed-188

Batters Faced-2,641 (4th Time)

Adjusted ERA+-150

Adj. Pitching Runs-93 (3rd Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-8.5 (3rd Time)

Def. Games as P-73 (3rd Time)

Putouts as P-36 (2nd Time)

Assists as P-172 (4th Time)

Errors Committed as P-27 (4th Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as P-3.02 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as P-2.85 (2nd Time)


6th Time All-Star-While most pitchers were cutting down on games and innings pitched, Clarkson kept plugging along, leading the National League in innings tossed for the fourth time in the last five years. He would never lead the league in that category again after this season. The other strange thing is how dominant Clarkson was in odd-numbered years. This is the third consecutive odd-numbered year in which he led the league in WAR (16.2). He also led the league in WAR for Pitchers (16.7). In his 620 innings pitched (led the league), he had a 2.73 ERA (led the league) and a 150 Adjusted ERA+ (led the league). You can also see the long list above that details all of the categories he led in.

Coached by Jim Hart, who had been an under-.500 manager with Louisville Colonels for two years in the American Association, Boston finished second with an 83-45 record, just one game behind the New York Giants. It was tied for first place entering its last game of the season, but lost to the lowly Alleghenys that day to lose the title. Hart would surprisingly never manage again.

Wikipedia says of Clarkson’s outstanding season, “While Clarkson’s 1889 numbers are comparable to those he posted in 1885, the game and distance to the plate had changed, and no other pitcher pitched nearly as many games or innings as Clarkson in 1889. As a measure of his dominance, Clarkson’s 49 wins were 11 more than any other pitcher; his 620 innings were 200 more than any other pitcher; and his 68 complete games were 22 more than any other pitcher. He also had twice as many shutouts as the next best pitcher. He was only the fourth pitcher to win the pitching Triple Crown, by leading the National League in wins, ERA and strikeouts.


P-Charlie Buffinton, Philadelphia Quakers, 28 Years Old

1883 1884 1885 1888

28-16, 3.24 ERA, 153 K, .208, 0 HR, 21 RBI


5th Time All-Star-I mentioned this in Buffinton’s 1888 blurb, but how good of career would Buffinton achieved if it wasn’t for a couple off seasons in 1886 and 1887. Still, he continues to pitch well, finishing second in WAR (11.1) and second in WAR for Pitchers (11.3). Buffinton would never pitch this well again, though he’s not done making All-Star teams yet. He pitched 380 innings with a 3.24 ERA and a 132 ERA+. The league ERA was 4.02 this season, so ERAs are higher in general this season.

Despite the good pitching by Buffinton, Philadelphia had a tough season. Longtime manager Harry Wright led the team to a 63-64 fourth place finish. Both its hitting and pitching was just middle of the road, certainly not enough to beat the tough teams in the league. In 19 seasons of coaching, up to this point, Wright had only his fourth under-.500 season. He has four seasons left, but only three full ones and two of those would be winnings seasons. He would finish with a 1225-885 record, a .581 winning percentage. He never won a pennant after 1878, but he consistently led less-talented teams to decent seasons.

What a savior for Philadelphia Buffinton was after the tragic death of Charlie Ferguson before the 1888 season. During Ferguson’s short career, the Quakers finished sixth, third, fourth, and second. In the two seasons after his death, they finished third and fourth. Most teams would have been devastated losing their best player, but Philadelphia hung in there.


P-Ben Sanders, Philadelphia Quakers, 24 Years Old


19-18, 3.55 ERA, 123 K, .278, 0 HR, 21 RBI


2nd Time All-Star-When you realize Philadelphia had two of the top three pitchers in the league, you would think they would finish higher than fourth place, but while the Quakers went 47-34 in games decided by Charlie Buffinton and Sanders, they only went 16-30 in games decided by their other hurlers. As for Sanders, he finished third in WAR (7.5) and third in WAR for Pitchers (6.9). He tossed 349 2/3 innings with a 3.55 ERA and a 120 ERA+. He still has another All-Star team left in him, but his career is almost over.

Sanders is going to be one of many players which goes over to the Players League in 1890. It’s going to be an interesting season as for one year there will once again be three years, but it will actually end up destroying two of them and strengthening the grip of the National League. We look at baseball now and how benchwarmers still get millions of dollars and grumble when the players complain about money, but in the 1800s, and actually for many years after that, the owners had all the power.  We’ll look at that next year (in real time, in webpage time, approximately two weeks).

Due to their good pitching, the Quakers actually were tied for first place as of May 22, following a five game win-streak. They had a 14-6 record at that time, but ended up going 49-58 the rest of the season. This was all part of an 11-year streak in which the Quakers/Phillies finished fourth place or higher.


P-Henry Boyle, Indianapolis Hoosiers, 28 Years Old

1885 1887

21-23, 3.92 ERA, 97 K, .245, 1 HR, 17 RBI


3rd Time All-Star-Boyle pitched his last season this year and, in his six seasons, made the All-Star team three times, all in odd-numbered years. It’s also the last season for the Indianapolis Hoosiers, who lasted three years. They didn’t have great teams, but between Boyle and Jack Glasscock, they had some pretty good players. Boyle had his best season ever, finishing sixth in WAR (6.3) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (5.9). He pitched 378 2/3 innings pitched (his highest ever) with a 3.92 ERA (his highest ever) and a 105 ERA+. In a league that had an ERA of 4.02, it was a good season.

Baseball Fever has this to say about the pitching staff of the Hoosiers: “The pitching staff was led by Henry Boyle, who led the team in victories in each season (13, 15, and 21, respectively), to compile a record of 49-69 as a Hoosier. John ‘Egyptian’ Healy, born in Cairo, Illinois, was a member of the staff for two seasons; his record was 24-53 during 1887-88. After the 1888 season he was a member of Al Spalding’s World Tour and played baseball with the other Tourists in Egypt.

“The 1889 staff included rookie pitcher Amos Rusie, who led NL pitchers in games finished as a reliever (11). His won-lost record with Indianapolis was 12-10. With the New York Giants in the 1890’s, he led the NL in strikeouts and walks five times each, in shutouts four times, and fielding his position he led NL pitchers in assists three times and in errors four times. Near the end of the 1898 season he seriously injured his arm on a pickoff throw, missed two full seasons and then retired after an aborted comeback with Cincinnati in 1901. He finished with 246 wins in just over nine seasons, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1977.”

New York Gothams team photo, 1883. J. Wood, 206 Bowery, N.Y., photographer. Detail showing Mickey Welch.

P-Mickey Welch, New York Giants, 29 Years Old

1880 1881 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888

27-12, 3.02 ERA, 125 K, .192, 0 HR, 12 RBI


9th Time All-Star-Though Welch is the 1888 ONEHOF Inductee, the Hall of Fame I created which allows only one player to enter per year, he never was the best pitcher of his league. Don’t get me wrong, he was always great, but he never had one of those dominant seasons like his longtime teammate, Tim Keefe. Still, as of this season, Welch’s career record was 285-187 and his ERA was 2.62 and most likely, he’s going to make one more All-Star team. This season, he pitched 375 innings with a 3.02 ERA and a 132 ERA+. Smiling Mickey also helped New York to another National League pennant.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, for the second consecutive year, the Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant! Managed by Jim Mutrie, they finished 83-43, one game ahead of Boston. As of June 24, New York was eight-and-a-half games out of first with a 24-19 record. It then went on a five-game winning streak and finished the season with a 59-24 stretch to edge out the Beaneaters. In the World Series, the Giants played their neighbors, the American Association Brooklyn Bridegrooms, and beat them six games to three. Welch only started one game, losing it, while allowing eight runs, with five of them earned, in five innings pitched.

Did you know, according to Welch’s Hall of Fame page, he had a surprising baseball first? “Welch was also the first ever major league pinch hitter. On Aug. 10, 1889, he batted for teammate Hank O’Day in the bottom of the fifth inning.”


P-Jersey Bakley, Cleveland Spiders, 25 Years Old


12-22, 2.96 ERA, 105 K, .135, 1 HR, 8 RBI

2nd Time All-Star-On a team that moved from the American Association to the National League and changed its name from the Blues to the Spiders, Bakley moved with it. He made the All-Star team for his second consecutive season and most likely for the last time. He had his best season ever, finishing 10th in WAR (5.2) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (5.7). Jersey pitched 304 1/3 innings with a 2.96 ERA and a 140 ERA+.

The American Association Cleveland Blues finished sixth in 1888 and the Spiders of the National League did the same. Tom Loftus led them to a 61-72 record, 25-and-a-half games out of first place. Their pitching was sensational, as they allowed the least runs in the league, but their hitting was horrendous, scoring the least runs in the league. All of this a National League Park, truly a hitters’ park. As you can see in the list above, they will have three All-Star pitchers and only one as a position player.

Bakley would be part of baseball history, according to Wikipedia, which says, “On September 3, 1890, Bakley gave up Harry Stovey‘s 100th homer, which was the first time that milestone had ever been reached.” After this season, Bakley would stay with Cleveland, this time in the Players League in 1890, and then play his last season for Washington and Baltimore of the American Association in 1891. Later, according to SABR, “Bakely died at his Philadelphia home on Brandywine Street of a heart attack on February 17, 1915, and was buried in Philadelphia’s Greenmount Cemetery on the 20th.”


P-Ed Beatin, Cleveland Spiders, 22 Years Old

20-15, 3.57 ERA, 126 K, .116, 1 HR, 8 RBI


1st Time All-Star-Ebenezer Ambrose “Ed” Beatin was born on August 10, 1866 in Baltimore, MD. He started by pitching two games for Detroit in 1887 and then had his first official season pitching in 1888. When Detroit folded and Cleveland moved to the league, Beatin had his best season ever and, most likely, his only All-Star season this year. He finished sixth in WAR for Pitchers (5.7), pitching 317 2/3 innings with a 3.57 ERA and a 116 ERA+. After this season, he would pitch two more seasons for Cleveland and be done after 1891. However, this good season, along with Jersey Bakley’s and Cinders O’Brien’s helped the Spiders allow the least runs in the National League.

Remember the Bugs Bunny cartoon where he throws a ball with such little velocity the batter swings three times at one pitch and strikes out? Well, guess what Beatin’s best pitch was according to Wikipedia, “Beatin’s best pitch was his ‘slow ball.’ A report published in The Sporting Life stated: ‘His slow ball has never been equaled by any pitcher living, it would set such batters as Delehanty, Beckley and Anson perfectly wild, and the little cuss would use it with the bases chock full and a heavy hitter at bat. I should expect my release if I lobbed a slow one at such times, but Beatin’s teaser was the best thing in his repertoire.’ Another account, published in 1910, stated that Beatin threw his slow pitch with ‘the nerve of a wrestling promoter’ and added: ‘Beatin had the most deliberate slow ball that ever wearied its way toward a plate. Cy Young, Mathewson, Ed Walsh, Mordecai Brown, Addie Joss or any of the artists would gladly separate from $5000 for a loaf ball like Beatin’s.’”


P-Old Hoss Radbourn, Boston Beaneaters, 34 Years Old

1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886

20-11, 3.67 ERA, 99 K, .189, 1 HR, 13 RBI


7th Time All-Star-From 1881 to 1886, there weren’t many pitchers more dominant than Old Hoss. He won over 25 games all six of those seasons, 30 games or more three seasons, 40 games or more two seasons, and a record 59 games in 1884. I would have thought writing this article about 1889 that I’d be saying, Radbourn, a ONEHOF Inductee….but that’s not the case and it’s going to be close as to whether he makes it or not. He’s most likely going to make the All-Star team in 1890, giving him eight All-Star teams, so he’ll be in the running, but is that enough to make the ONEHOF, along with all of his dominant seasons? It’s tough to say.

In 1887, Radbourn tanked, there’s no other way to put it. His ERA+ dropped below 100 for the first time ever in his career and he had a 4.55 ERA. In 1888, he didn’t do bad, but pitched “only” 207 innings. He finally came back this season, finishing eighth in WAR for Pitchers (4.9), throwing 277 innings with a 3.67 ERA and a 112 ERA+. He’s going to be one of many players going to the Players League in 1890.

From SABR, “Radbourn rebounded in 1889 to post a solid 20-11 record in 33 games. The year was contentious though. He had always had an issue with management and their dominance in player relations during the era. In truth, he had a problem with authority figures, managers, owners and umpires. He saw himself as a victim of the reserve clause, knowing full well that he would have made substantially more money if allowed to play in New York during his Providence days.”


P-Cinders O’Brien, Cleveland Spiders, 22 Years Old

22-17, 4.15 ERA, 122 K, .250, 0 HR, 18 RBI


Led in:


Hit By Pitch-24


1st Time All-Star-John F. “Cinders” O’Brien was born on April 15, 1867 in Troy, NY. If the three good Cleveland pitchers, Jersey Bakley, Ed Beatin, and O’Brien could have duplicated their 1889 seasons, the Spiders would have been much more successful. Unfortunately, it seems Beatin and O’Brien’s seasons were flukes, as neither will likely make another All-Star team. As for this season, Cinders finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (4.3), with 346 2/3 innings pitched,  a 4.15 ERA, and a 100 ERA+. All of this in a hitters’ park.

Here’s some information for The Sports Daily on O’Brien: “In 1889 the Blues changed to the Spiders and jumped from the American Association to the National League, but kept the majority of the players around, including O’Brien. That year, Bakley took a reduced role of ‘just’ 34 starts and 304.1 innings with O’Brien taking over the ace spot after his tremendous rookie campaign. He increased his workload to the greatest it would ever be, 346.2 in 41 starts, 39 of which he completed. In addition to both those numbers, he also lead the team with 22 wins.

“Instead, in March of 1892, just before the next season was to begin, Cinders O’Brien caught pneumonia and died at the age of 24. His was a promising career and life cut short by a disease that is now fairly easily treated with simple antibiotics. It is almost fitting as his whole career was inconceivable by modern standards.” There sure a lot of players who died young in this era.


P-Tim Keefe, New York Giants, 32 Years Old

1880 1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888

28-13, 3.36 ERA, 225 K, .154, 0 HR, 8 RBI


Led in:


Hits per 9 IP-7.887 (6th Time)

Strikeouts per 9 IP-5.563 (3rd Time)

Strikeouts/Base on Balls-1.490


10th Time All-Star-Sir Timothy made the All-Star team every year in the 1880s and he’s also going to be good in the early ‘90s. This season, he finished 10th in WAR for Pitchers (4.2), pitching 364 innings with a 3.36 ERA and a 119 ERA+. In the World Series against the American Assocation Brooklyn Bridegrooms, Keefe pitched in two games, starting one, finishing 0-1 with an 8.18 ERA. Surprisingly, despite the great careers of Keefe and Mickey Welch, it was Ed Crane who started five games for the Giants and went 4-1 with a 3.79 ERA. Jim Mutrie, the Giants manager, was a genius!

Keefe was one of the highest paid players in baseball at the time, but it didn’t come without a fight, according to SABR, which says, “Two weeks into the 1889 season, Keefe and Day were still at loggerheads in their salary negotiation. On May 9 newspapers reported that Keefe said he’d accept $4,500, but not Day’s offer of $4,000. That day, with all four Giants pitchers either injured or sick, Buck Ewing pitched in the game against Boston. New York won, but clearly Keefe’s services were needed. Day caved in and offered Keefe the proposed $4,500 compromise. Keefe accepted and pitched his first game on May 10.”

I forgot to mention this in 1888’s write up, but according to SABR, “He was known for his change-of-pace pitch, which he used to establish a still-standing major-league record of 19 consecutive victories in 1888. ‘No more graceful, skillful and strategic pitcher ever tossed a ball over the plate to the bewilderment and dismay of opposing batsmen,’ one writer wrote of Keefe in 1890.”


C-Fred Carroll, Pittsburgh Alleghenys, 24 Years Old

1884 1886

.330, 2 HR, 51 RBI


Led in:


On-Base %-.486

On-Base Plus Slugging-.970

Adjusted OPS+-183


3rd Time All-Star-Carroll continued to be one of the best hitting catchers of his time. His career wasn’t long, he would be gone after the 1891 season, but it was impressive, at least at the plate. When Pittsburgh moved from the American Association to the National League in 1887, Carroll moved with it. This season, he finished seventh in WAR Position Players (4.7) and fifth in Offensive WAR (5.3). Carroll slashed .330/.486/.484 for an OPS+ of 183. All of those numbers, except for slugging, are career highs. He played in 91 of Pittsburgh’s 134 games.

As for the Alleghenys, they improved from sixth to fifth place this season, though their record was worse. Horace Phillips (28-43), Fred Dunlap (7-10), and Ned Hanlon (26-18) led them to a 61-71 record, 25 games out of first place. It looks like they should have brought Hanlon on sooner. It would be the beginning of a Hall of Fame managerial career for him.

How impressive was Carroll’s 1889 season? Wikipedia says, “Carroll holds a major league catchers record for age 24 in OPS with a .970 mark, set in 1889. The same season, he posted a career-high .330 BA and a .930 fielding percentage as catching. An above-average runner with good instincts, he compiled 137 stolen bases in his career.”

Oh, and case you’re wondering what happened to Carroll’s monkey, Wikipedia has that also: “At the beginning of the 1887 season Carroll buried his pet monkey, which earlier served as an unofficial team mascot for the team, beneath the home plate at Pittsburgh’s Recreation Park in a pre-game ceremony. The stadium stood at the corner of North, Grant, and Pennsylvania Avenues on Pittsburgh’s Northside.”


C-Buck Ewing, New York Giants, 29 Years Old

1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1888

.327, 4 HR, 87 RBI, 2-0, 4.05 ERA, 12 K


Led in:


Def. Games as C-97

Putouts as C-524

Assists as C-149 (3rd Time)

Double Plays Turned as C-10 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as C-7.26

Range Factor/Game as C- 6.94


7th Time All-Star-Ewing made his seventh All-Star team in eight years and has at least one left. He’d be one of many players off to the Players League in 1890. As for this season, Buck finished ninth in WAR Position Players (4.2), 10th in Offensive WAR (3.8), and sixth in Defensive WAR (1.1). He continued to be a great all-around player at a brutal physical position in his day. Ewing slashed .327/.383/.477 for an OPS+ of 135. In the World Series, he was merely human, hitting .250 with four doubles.

SABR says of his 1889 season, “The Giants repeated in 1889 when he had his best overall season to date, hitting .327 and catching in a career high 97 games. But after that, although he was still just 29 years old, Ewing would go behind the plate in only 118 more contests in his eight remaining big league seasons and finish with just 636 catching appearances, tied for 11th among nineteenth century receivers. More importantly, he would never again be a member of a pennant winner.

“Ewing’s lustrous image first began to tarnish in 1890, if only among fellow players. After joining most of the game’s VIPs in jumping to the Players League and being named the New York entry’s captain, he stirred up a hornet’s nest in early July when he publicly admitted that owner Aaron Stern of the now National League Cincinnati Reds had offered him $8,000 to desert the Brotherhood. The following month, on August 11, the New York papers reported that his Players League cohorts feared he was about to abandon them after he had been seen conversing intensely with Giants owner John Day and pitcher Mickey Welch, one of the few Giants who had refused to join the Brotherhood”


1B-Cap Anson, Chicago White Stockings, 37 Years Old

1872 1873 1874 1876 1877 1878 1880 1881 1882 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888

.342, 7 HR, 117 RBI


Led in:


Times on Base-268 (2nd Time)

Putouts-1,409 (4th Time)

Def. Games as 1B-134 (4th Time)

Putouts as 1B-1,409 (4th Time)

Assists as 1B-79 (7th Time)

Range Factor/Game as 1B-11.10 (5th Time)

Fielding % as 1B-.982 (4th Time)


15th Time All-Star-Incredibly, at the age of 37, Anson had his best season ever. He finished fifth in WAR (6.4), second in WAR Position Players (6.4), third in Offensive WAR (5.5), and seventh in Defensive WAR (1.0). He slashed .342/.440/.471 for an OPS+ of 150. He didn’t lead in any offensive categories, save times on base, but it was an outstanding overall year.

He continued to manage the White Stockings, though he’d never lead them to another title. This year, Chicago finished third with a 67-65 record. It started out 31-37 and never got back into the race. Led by Anson, it had good offensive, but some of the worst pitching in the league.

Early in his career, in 1874, Anson went with Al Spalding on a trip to England to play American baseball and spread it throughout the world. According to SABR, he did the same thing in 1888: “After the 1888 season Spalding, owner of the sporting goods company that still bears his name, took the Chicago club and a team of National League all-stars on a ballplaying excursion around the world. Virginia Anson accompanied the party as Anson directed the White Stockings in New Zealand, Australia, Ceylon, Egypt, and the European continent. The trip lost money for its backers, including Anson, but it introduced baseball (and advertised Spalding’s business) to countries that had never seen the sport before. The six-month adventure was the high point of Cap Anson’s life, and takes up nearly half of Anson’s autobiography, published in 1900. At the conclusion of the trip, in April of 1889, Spalding signed Anson to an unprecedented 10-year contract as player and manager of the White Stockings.”


1B-Dan Brouthers, Boston Beaneaters, 31 Years Old, 1889 ONEHOF Inductee

1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888

.373, 7 HR, 118 RBI


Led in:


1889 NL Batting Title

Offensive WAR-6.1 (6th Time)

Batting Average-.373 (3rd Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-48 (6th Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-4.7 (6th Time)

Offensive Win %-.808 (4th Time)

Hit By Pitch-14

AB Per SO-80.8 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 1B-78


9th Time All-Star-Finally, the great Brouthers makes the ONEHOF at the age of 31. It’s going to be tough to be the one player chosen by me every year to enter the Hall of Fame and it’s going to get tougher. However, this is one player who absolutely deserves any accolade thrown his way. Nowadays, we don’t care about history, so we don’t talk about Brouthers, but if you look at his stats and check out his career, you can’t help being impressed.

For 1890, the nominees for ONEHOF induction are Jack Glassock, King Kelly, Charlie Bennett, Roger Connor, and Harry Stovey.

Brouthers entered the ONEHOF with style, finishing seventh in WAR (6.2), third in WAR Position Players (6.2), and first in Offensive WAR (6.1). He slashed .373/.462/.507 for his new team, the Beaneaters. His old team, Detroit, was now defunct. Brouthers was no longer the all-time home run leader, being overtaken by Harry Stovey, 89-81.

Unbelievably, Brouthers whiffed only six times during the season. He also was robbed of a home run, according to the book Big Dan Brouthers: Baseball’s First Great Slugger by Roy Kerr. It says, “On May 1 at Philadelphia, Brouthers had already collected a single, a double and a walk when he came to bat in the ninth inning with Boston down two runs and a man on base with two outs. The he met the ball ‘with a whunk that rang out like the crack of a whip, and the crowd saw the ball go straight toward the centrefield fence, and fully 15 feet higher than the top [of the fence]…But a high wire screen some 20 feet high…prevented the sphere from going over.’”


1B-Roger Connor, New York Giants, 31 Years Old

1880 1882 1883 1885 1886 1887 1888

.291, 13 HR, 130 RBI


Led in:


Slugging %-.528

Runs Batted In-130

Extra Base Hits-62 (2nd Time)


8th Time All-Star-If Dan Brouthers and Connor played nowadays, there would be constant articles on espn.com about these two sluggers, with Cap Anson thrown in, of course. There were many great first basemen in the National League and Jake Beckley, next on the list, is no slouch himself. As a matter of fact, all four first basemen on this All-Star team will eventually make the Hall of Fame.

Connor helped lead the Giants to another league title by finishing ninth in WAR (5.6), fourth in WAR Position Players (5.6), and fourth in Offensive WAR (5.5). His slash line read .317/.426/.528 for an OPS+ of 161. He also had a great World Series against the American Association Brooklyn squad, going 12-for-35 for a .343 average with two doubles, two triples, and eight stolen bases in nine games. By the way, he’s my guess for ONEHOF inductee in 1890.

With Connor’s 13 home runs, he was now at 66, 23 behind Harry Stovey, who passed Brouthers for the all-time home run lead this season. For all of Connor’s power, he would only lead the Major Leagues in home runs in a season once and that will be next season.

Of 1889, SABR says, “At the season’s outset, the Giants had to contend with the loss of their ballpark, the original Polo Grounds having been razed to complete the uptown Manhattan traffic grid, the Tammany Hall connections of John B. Day notwithstanding. After unhappy stays in Jersey City and Staten Island, the team found a site for new grounds in far north Manhattan. Once their New Polo Grounds was erected, the Giants caught fire, nipping the Boston Beaneaters at the wire for a second consecutive pennant. New York then successfully defended its ‘World Series’ crown, defeating the American Association Brooklyn Bridegrooms in a championship match in which Connor batted .343 with 12 RBIs, a fitting coda to a season in which he had led the National League in that statistic with 130.”


1B-Jake Beckley, Pittsburgh Alleghenys, 21 Years Old

.301, 9 HR, 97 RBI


1st Time All-Star-Jacob Peter “Jake or Eagle Eye” Beckley was born on August 4, 1867 in Hannibal, MO, hometown of fictitious Army veteran Colonel Sherman T. Potter, commander of the 4077th MASH unit. He’s going to have an interesting career. It will be long and it will be productive, but is it really Hall of Fame worthy? He would only lead a league in one major stat over his 20 years, triples in the Players League next season. Eagle Eye would lead in a lot of defensive categories, yet only once finish in the top 10 in Defensive WAR.  He’s really good, but is he great? Is he possibly overrated because of his career .308 average? Batting average is yet another category in which Buckley never led the league.

Beckley started with Pittsburgh in 1888 as a part-time first baseman playing 71 games with an Adjusted OPS+ of 157, which, by the way, would be his highest in his career. I’m just saying. This season, he slashed .301/.345/.437 for an OPS+ of 127.

As for his nickname, SABR says, “The next year he again led the club’s regulars in batting and soon earned the nickname ‘Eagle Eye’–not for his ability to draw bases on balls (his walk totals were consistently below the league average) but for his batting skill. The hard-hitting Beckley brought a dash of excitement to the Alleghenies, and before long he became the most popular player on the Pittsburgh team.” He would be the most famous player in Pittsburgh until a man named Honus Wagner came along.


2B-Hardy Richardson, Boston Beaneaters, 34 Years Old

1879 1881 1883 1885 1886 1887

.304, 6 HR, 79 RBI


7th Time All-Star-There’s an unusual pattern to Richardson’s All-Star career. He’s made seven All-Star teams and only one has been in an even-numbered year. Spoiler alert! He’ll be ruining this pattern next season. For this year, Old True Blue slashed .304/.367/.437 for an OPS+ of 119. He wasn’t the hitter he was in his youth, but he was still the best second baseman in the league.

Richardson was purchased from Detroit, along with Charlie Bennett, Dan Brouthers, Charlie Ganzel, and Deacon White and helped turn Boston into an instant contender. Because he’s going to play in the Players League in 1890, he’ll make another All-Star team, but he is starting to fade and will be out of baseball by 1892.

Here’s a recap of his 1889 season from Wikipedia: “During the 1889 season, Richardson played for the Boston Beaneaters, appearing in 86 games as a second baseman and 46 as an outfielder. He compiled a .304 batting average and 3.9 WAR rating and ranked among the National League leaders with 122 runs scored (8th), 163 hits (9th), 47 stolen bases (8th), and 10 triples (10th). He also had the second highest range factor (6.47) among the league’s second basemen. In his only season with the Beaneaters, he helped the team to a second place finish with an 83-45 record.”

As I compile this team, it’s been interesting to see the amount of these men who are going to leap to the Players League in 1890. It’s amazing that league wasn’t able to continue with all of that talent, but it only lasted one season.


2B-Danny Richardson, New York Giants, 26 Years Old

.280, 7 HR, 100 RBI


1st Time All-Star-Daniel “Danny” Richardson was born on January 25, 1863 in Elmira, NY. He was in his sixth straight year with the Giants. In the first three, he was a part-time outfielder and for the last three, he moved to second base, where according to dWAR, he was one of the best fielders in the league. In 1888, he led the league in Defensive WAR (2.3) and was second this season to Jack Glasscock (1.7-1.4). At the plate, Richardson slashed .280/.342/.398 for an OPS+ of 103. The three slash numbers were career highs. In the World Series in 1888, he hit only .167 with two doubles, while in 1889, Richardson hit .314 with a double, a triple, and three home runs.

In the World Series, the Giants faced the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, starting off an age-old rivalry which is nowadays the Giants vs. the Dodgers. SABR has a great article on this. Here’s part of it: “The Giants came back with two runs in the top of the second as right fielder ‘Oyster’ Tommy Burns let a hit go by him for three bases. They could have had more, but Johnny Ward was thrown out stealing third for the first out. Brooklyn got one back in the bottom of the inning on Hub Collins’s home run, for a 6–2 lead. It was Collins’s second of four runs scored in the game, part of his still-standing record of 13 for the series. But the Giants fought back. After both Ewing and Ward were thrown out trying to steal third in the fourth, Danny Richardson hit a long line drive to center that Pop Corkhill got his hands on but then dropped as he tumbled head over heels. Richardson circled the bases for a two-run homer before Brooklyn could retrieve the ball. Corkhill had to come out of the game with an injured neck; Joe Visner, usually a catcher, replaced him.”


3B-Billy Nash, Boston Beaneaters, 24 Years Old

1887 1888

.274, 3 HR, 76 RBI, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 K


3rd Time All-Star-Nash made the All-Star team for the third consecutive year as the only representative for the hot corner. He finished ninth in Defensive WAR (1.0) and slashed .274/.379/.343 for an OPS+ of 98 at the dish. It wasn’t a great season, but good enough for a league lacking good third basemen. It was Nash’s only season with an Adjusted OPS+ under 100 in a stretch from 1886-to-1893. He never was a great hitter, but he was always a little above average and combined with his good fielding, Nash was a valuable third baseman to have.

It has always seemed there have been a lack of good third basemen in baseball. If I gave you any position and said, “Name the greats at this position,” you would do well at all of them, but if I gave you third basemen, you’d struggle. Well, maybe you wouldn’t, but I would. There’s Mike Schmidt and then a bunch of really good ones, but not great. None have made the ONEHOF so far and I’m not sure how many will, except for the aforementioned Schmidt. Of course, if I’m still writing this blog by the time I get to Mike Schmidt’s era, I will be dictating it into a floating smart phone in my WALL-E style floating chair.

Jean-Pierre Caillault, who must need more of a life than I do, wrote a book called A Tale of Four Cities: Nineteenth Century Baseball’s Most Exciting Season, 1889, in Contemporary Accounts. Just the title just about wipes out my 250-word limit. Maybe someday I’ll check it out.


SS-Jack Glasscock, Indianapolis Hoosiers, 31 Years Old

1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888

.352, 7 HR, 85 RBI, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 K


Led in:


WAR Position Players-6.7

Defensive WAR-1.7 (3rd Time)



Assists-485 (4th Time)

Def. Games as SS-132 (2nd Time)

Putouts as SS-246 (2nd Time)

Assists as SS-478 (6th Time)

Double Plays Turned as SS-60 (4th Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-5.76 (5th Time)

Range Factor/Game as SS-5.48 (3rd Time)

Fielding % as SS-.915 (6th Time)


9th Time All-Star-Glasscock, the hard-lucked shortstop, found himself stuck on Indianapolis for the third consecutive year and for the third straight year, it was a terrible team. Of course, some of it had to do with Glasscock himself, who coached the last half of the season, but actually led this pathetic team to a winning record under his reign. The Hoosiers finished seventh with a 59-75 record, with Frank Bancroft guiding them to a 25-43 record and Glasscock managing them to 34-32 mark.

Pebbly Jack’s best player was his shortstop, one Jack Glasscock. He had his best season ever at the age of 31, finishing fourth in WAR (6.6), first in WAR Position Players (6.7), second in Offensive WAR (5.9), and first in Defensive WAR (1.7). At the plate, he slashed .352/.390/.467 for an OPS+ of 138. He truly was one of the great 1880s players, but hasn’t made the Hall of Fame and isn’t highly regarded historically. It is baffling to me.

I personally believe it’s because he didn’t have huge overall numbers and he didn’t win any league titles. He didn’t hit above .300, he ended up with 2,041 hits, and he wasn’t a power hitter, ending up with a career slugging average under .400. But he was a good hitter and a great fielder and was the best shortstop in the National League year-after-year. He will probably make the ONEHOF, but he should definitely be in the easier-to-make Cooperstown Hall of Fame. There are many lesser players in the Hall of Fame from that era.


SS-Ed McKean, Cleveland Spiders, 25 Years Old


.318, 5 HR, 75 RBI


2nd Time All-Star-McKean moved with his team from the American Association to the National League this season, but still continued to be productive. That didn’t always happen. Sometimes going from the weaker league to the NL brought people down to a lower level, but not at this point for McKean. He finished eighth in WAR Position Players (4.5), ninth in Offensive WAR (3.9), and fourth in Defensive WAR (1.4). McKean slashed .318/.375/.424 for an OPS+ of 120 as he continued to be one of the eras great hitting shortstops.

The book, Ed McKean: Slugging Shortstop of the Cleveland Spiders says this about the Spiders nickname: ”It was in May that the team had acquired its distinctive nickname. Sportswriters had initially relied on the default sobriquets for a first-year team, calling them the Babes or, sometimes mockingly, Babies. F.H. Brunell bestowed the moniker that would stick, as he watched some Cleveland players practicing. ‘They look skinny and spindly, just like spiders,’ he was overheard to remark. ‘Might as well call them Spiders and be done with it.’

“Out of spring training, McKean was Tom Loftus’ third batter in the order, his pick for a dependable run producer to hit behind his fleet men on the bases, Cub Stricker and McAleer. McKean, however, was the one Spider whom Loftus would occasionally bench for what he thought to be selfish play. The clash between manager and shortstop was a fundamental disagreement, one that would necessarily limit McKean’s offensive production in his early years in Cleveland.”


LF-Walt Wilmot, Washington Nationals, 25 Years Old

.289, 9 HR, 57 RBI


Led in:




1st Year All-Star-Walter Robert “Walt” Wilmot was born on October 18, 1863 in Plover, WI. He started with the Nationals in 1888, would be purchased by the White Stockings in 1890, and would finish his career as a part-time player for the Giants in 1897 and 1898. This would be his best season ever, as Wilmot was the only representative of the Nationals on this team. He finished 10th in WAR Position Players (4.0), slashing .289/.367/.484 for an OPS+ of 144. It would be highest Adjusted OPS+ ever.

                As for Washington, this was its last year in the league and, so appropriately, finished last in the league. John Morrill (13-38) and Arthur Irwin (28-45) led the team to 41-83 record. It would be the last season Morrill, who led the 1883 Beaneaters to the NL Pennant, would ever manage. He would finish with a 348-334 record, a .510 winning percentage. For Irwin, this was his first year ever managing and he has some good years ahead.

Since he most likely won’t make another All-Star team, here’s some career highlights of Wilmot’s career from Wikipedia: “While playing for the Nationals in 1889, Wilmot led the league with 19 triples and 139 games played. The following season, he tied with Oyster Burns and Mike Tiernan for the National League lead in home runs with 13, also a career-high. He also set a career best with 76 stolen bases while driving in 99 runs in 1890. On the August 22, 1891, he became the first player in major league history to be walked 6 times in 1 game.

“Wilmot died in Chicago, at the age of 65.”


LF-George Van Haltren, Chicago White Stockings, 23 Years Old

.322, 9 HR, 81 RBI


1st Time All-Star-George Edward Martin “Rip” Van Haltren was born on March 30, 1866 in St. Louis, MO. He played part-time for the White Stockings in 1887 and 1888, before becoming the team’s fulltime leftfielder this season. He finished eighth in Offensive WAR (3.9), slashing .322/.416/.446 for an OPS+ of 137. He would always have a high batting average and on-base percentage over his 17-year career.

Here’s some snippets of Van Haltren’s life from Wikipedia: “Van Haltren was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1866. In 1868, his family moved to Oakland, California. Van Haltren played baseball as a kid and became a pitcher. His play attracted the attention of the major leagues, and in 1887, he signed with the Chicago White Stockings.

“Van Haltren made his major league debut in June 1887. He was a pitcher and outfielder that season and had a win–loss record of 11–7 and a batting average of .203. The following year, he went 13–13 and batted .283. As a full-time left fielder in 1889, Van Haltren batted .322 with 126 runs scored and 81 runs batted in.

“In 1889, Van Haltren married Blanche O’Brien. They had two daughters, Mary Elizabeth (born in 1890) and Dorothy (born in 1895).”

SABR adds, “Until a devastating ankle injury effectively ended his major-league career, George Van Haltren was late 19th-century baseball’s premier leadoff man. A lefty hitter with keen strike-zone awareness and a quick bat, Van Haltren topped the .300 mark in 13 of his 14 seasons as a lineup regular.”


CF-Jimmy Ryan, Chicago White Stockings, 26 Years Old


.325, 17 HR, 72 RBI


Led in:


Plate Appearances-652

Total Bases-297 (2nd Time)

Runs Created-118 (2nd Time)

Extra Base Hits-62

Power-Speed #-24.7 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as OF-9

Range Factor/Game as OF-2.72


2nd Time All-Star-Pony Ryan continued his stellar play of 1888 with a great 1889 season. He finished sixth in WAR Position Players (5.0) and sixth in Offensive WAR (5.1). Ryan slashed .325/.403/.516 for an OPS+ of 151. It was his highest slugging ever. He would have a good long career, but these two years of 1888 and 1889 were his best.

SABR has a good article, as always, on Jimmy Ryan, from writer Arthur Ahrens. It says, “The SABR 19th Century Committee recently polled its members to determine the top ten players of the pre-1900 era not in the Hall of Fame. Heading the list in a three-way tie were Jimmy Ryan, Harry Stovey, and George Van Haltren. My favorite is Ryan, the great Chicago outfielder. A brief review of his life and career should tell you why.

“In mid-1885 Ryan went professional, joining Bridgeport of the Eastern League, and had but 29 games of minor league experience when Cap Anson signed him with the Chicago White Stockings (Cubs) at the close of the season. Stationed at shortstop in place of Tommy Burns, Jimmy made his debut October 8, 1885, at Chicago. Although he went only one-for-four in a 5-3 loss to the Phillies, the Chicago Tribune noted that ‘Ryan, the young Bridgeport player, . . . . proved himself a strong batter, a quick fielder and very clever between the bases.’ The following day he went four-for-six but the Phillies again won, 12-11.

“In 1889 Jimmy reached a career high with 17 homers but did not lead the league because Sam Thompson of the Phillies belted 20. On September 30 Ryan hit George Haddock’s first pitch for his sixth leadoff homer of the year as Chicago took care of Washington, 9-5. This remained a major league record until broken by Bobby Bonds in 1973.”


RF-Mike Tiernan, New York Giants, 22 Years Old


.335, 10 HR, 73 RBI


Led in:


Runs Scored-147

Bases on Balls-96

Times on Base-268


2nd Time All-Star-Tiernan turned 22 before this season and still showed all the signs of being a great player. He finished fifth in WAR Position Players (5.2) and seventh in Offensive WAR (5.1), slashing .335/.447/.497 for an OPS+ of 159 in helping the Giants once again win the National League pennant. In the World Series, Silent Mike didn’t fare as well as 1888, but still hit .289 with a double, a triple, a home run, and three stolen bases as New York beat Brooklyn, six games to three.

His 1888 and 1889 seasons are detailed by SABR: “In 1888, the Giants (84-47) captured their first National League pennant, with now everyday right fielder Mike Tiernan filling a solid supporting role. Usually hitting in the second spot, Mike posted a .293 batting average and stole 52 bases. He continued his fine work in the post-season, batting .342, with eight runs scored, six RBIs, and five steals in ten games, as the Giants defeated the American Association St. Louis Browns to claim the title of world champions. Tiernan backed up this performance with an even better one in 1889. He led the NL in walks (96) and runs scored (147), and was among the league top five in batting (.335), slugging (.497), on-base percentage (.447), OPS (.944), total bases (248), and triples (14). Every bit of this output was needed, as the Giants had to rally down the stretch to nip the Boston Beaneaters for the 1889 NL pennant. The club then successfully defended its world champions crown, besting the AA Brooklyn Bridegrooms in a post-season match that featured second tier Giants hurlers Cannonball Crane and Hank O’Day in improbable starring roles. For his part, Tiernan hit .289 and tallied a team-high 12 runs.”

1888 American Association All-Star Team

P-Silver King, STL

P-Ed Seward, PHA

P-Bob Caruthers, BRO

P-Mike Smith, CIN

P-Nat Hudson, STL

P-Mickey Hughes, BRO

P-Ice Box Chamberlain, LOU/STL

P-Adonis Terry, BRO

P-Jersey Bakley, CLE

P-Lee Viau, CIN

C-Jim Keenan, CIN

C-Jocko Milligan, STL

1B-John Reilly, CIN

1B-Tommy Tucker, BAL

2B-Yank Robinson, STL

3B-George Pinkney, BRO

3B-Denny Lyons, PHA

3B-Arlie Latham, STL

3B-Jumbo Davis, KCC

SS-Ed McKean, CLE

SS-Oyster Burns, BAL/BRO

LF-Harry Stovey, PHA

LF-Hub Collins, LOU/BRO

LF-Tip O’Neill, STL

CF-Curt Welch, PHA



P-Silver King, St. Louis Browns, 20 Years Old


45-20, 1.63 ERA, 258 K, .208, 1 HR, 14 RBI


Led in:


1888 AA Pitching Title

Wins Above Replacement-15.8

WAR for Pitchers-14.5

Earned Run Average-1.63


Walks & Hits per IP-0.874

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-1.170

Games Pitched-66

Innings Pitched-584 2/3

Games Started-64

Complete Games-64


Strikeouts/Base on Balls-3.395

Batters Faced-2,286

Adjusted ERA+-195

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.38

Adj. Pitching Runs-91

Adj. Pitching Wins-9.1

Def. Games as P-66


2nd Time All-Star-Even though innings pitched were dropping for the most part during this era of baseball history, there was still the occasional rubber-armed pitcher. That was King. Charlie Comiskey found his ace and worked him to the bone. It would have its effect as King would be done pitching before he was 30. Let’s not dwell on that, let’s look at this great season in which he finished first in WAR (15.8) and first in WAR for Pitchers (14.5). He pitched 584 2/3 innings with a 1.63 ERA and a 195 ERA+. All of those numbers led the league.

So King led St. Louis to its fourth consecutive American Association pennant as it compiled a 92-43 record. The Browns then lost their second straight World Series, 6-4, to the National League New York Giants. In the Series, King pitched five games, going 1-3 with a 2.31 ERA. His fielding really let him down, as he allowed 23 runs, of which 14 were unearned.

Here’s a blurb from Baseball Reference on King’s pitching style: “’Speaking of the changes in the pitching distance’, said Captain Tebeau, ‘I can remember a 16 to 15 game under the old rules. Silver King was one of the pitchers. You could hide the ball then, and he used to come, whirling around like a serpent up to the 45 foot mark, and let go.’ ” – Patsy Tebeau, recalling Silver King’s pitching style, in Sporting Life, March 2, 1895.”

And on his nickname: “The nickname ‘Silver’ King owed its origin to the famous ‘Silver King Mine,’ located in Arizona and one of the richest silver mines in American history. Its peak production coincided with the height of ‘Silver’ King’s own peak pitching performance.”


P-Ed Seward, Philadelphia Athletics, 21 Years Old


35-19, 2.01 ERA, 272 K, .142, 2 HR, 14 RBI


Led in:





2nd Time All-Star-Seward made the All-Star team in 1887, but it was this season which was his best, as he finished second in WAR (9.9) and second in WAR for Pitchers (9.9). He pitched 518 2/3  innings with a 2.01 ERA and a 146 ERA+. It was a great season, but it’s also most likely his last All-Star team. Seward would pitch two more seasons with the Athletics and finish his career with the 1891 National League Cleveland Spiders.

As for the Athletics, Manager Bill Sharsig, coaching for his second season – he had coached the Athletics for the last part of the 1886 season – led them to a third place finish with a 81-52 record, 10 games behind the Browns. Even as late as Sept. 10, Philadelphia was just three games out of first. However, it played only .500 ball after that and fell away.

Seward had a great game against the Cincinnati Red Stockings, pitching a no-hitter on July 26, as the Athletics won 12-2. Or as the St. Paul Daily Globe reported: “There was a gala time at the Athletic Park this afternoon at the slaughter of the Cincinnatis by the Athletics. Seward pitched ‘the game of his life,’ Cincinnati not making the semblance of a base hit in the entire nine innings.”

After retiring, Seward was part of a team that, in 1891, toured Cuba, playing the outfield. The Kid lived long past kid-dom, as he died at the age of 80 in Cleveland, the same place he was born.


P-Bob Caruthers, Brooklyn Bridegrooms, 24 Years Old

1885 1886 1887

29-15, 2.39 ERA, 140 K, .230, 5 HR, 53 RBI


4th Time All-Star-Caruthers was purchased by the Bridegrooms from the Browns for $8,250 and continued having success with his new team. Parisian Bob finished third in WAR (6.8) and third in WAR for Pitchers (5.6). From the mound, Caruthers tossed 391 2/3 innings with a 2.39 ERA and a 126 ERA+. His Adjusted ERA+ fell from 160 in 1885 to 147 in 1886 to 137 in 1887 to 126 this season, his pitching becoming less effective. It would continue to drop in 1889 and Caruthers would never have an ERA under three again.

Did adding the great Caruthers help the newly-named Bridegrooms? Absolutely! They improved from a sixth-place finish in 1887 to a second-place finish this season. Bill “Gunner” McGunnigle managed a Major League team for the first time ever and led Brooklyn to an 88-52 record, six-and-a-half games behind St. Louis.

Wikipedia tells us why Brooklyn had the name change: “With the 1888 season, the Brooklyn Grays underwent a name change to the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, a nickname that resulted from several team members getting married around the same time. Also, owner Charles Byrne decided to withdraw from managing the team’s on field activities and turned the reins over to more experienced baseball manager Bill McGunnigle. That, along with the Bridegrooms’ purchase of several top players from the defunct New York Metropolitans, led to a dramatic on field improvement as the team finished in second place in the American Association.”

So the players must have said, “Hey, we’re no longer gray, we have wives now, change the name of this team!”


P-Mike Smith, Cincinnati Red Stockings, 20 Years Old


22-17, 2.74 ERA, 154 K, .225, 0 HR, 9 RBI


Led in:


Home Runs Allowed per 9 IP-0.026


2nd Time All-Star-Here’s the interesting thing about Smith, he’s probably made his last All-Star team as a pitcher this season. It’s well deserved, as he finished sixth in WAR (5.1) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (4.4). He threw 348 1/3 innings with a 2.74 ERA and a 113 ERA+. Meanwhile, at the plate, Smith slashed .225/.329/.271 for an OPS+ of 90. Oh, back to the interesting thing. When his arm gave out and his pitching fell off, he left the Major Leagues in 1889. However, he would be back with the National League Pirates in 1892 and all of a sudden, this man, who had a total slash line of .251/.330/.350 in the American Association, was put in leftfield and could hit. He’s going to make a couple of All-Star teams as a position player. How does a player who couldn’t hit in a weak league learn to hit in a better league?

With Gus Schmelz managing the team for his second straight season, the Red Stockings dropped from second place to fourth place, despite having a nearly identical record to 1887. That season, their record was 81-54, this season it was 80-54. Schmelz would continue managing next season and that record would continue dropping.

In my time as a Reds’ fan, this team never seems to have a dominant pitcher. In franchise history, Noodles Hahn, who pitched from 1899-1905 for Cincinnati has the highest WAR at 44. But he is 10th on this team in WAR all-time, behind nine position players. Even during the Big Red Machine era, it’s tough to name a great pitcher.


P-Nat Hudson, St. Louis Browns, 19 Years Old

25-10, 2.54 ERA, 130 K, .255, 2 HR, 28 RBI


Led in:


Win-Loss %-.714

Putouts as P-42


1st Time All-Star-Nathaniel P. “Nat” Hudson was born on January 12, 1869 in Chicago, IL. He started as a 17-year-old pitcher for the Browns in 1886 and would have a short four-year career. This season, he finished seventh in WAR (5.1) and eighth in WAR for Pitchers (4.0). Hudson pitched 333 innings with a 2.54 ERA and a 125 ERA+. It was easily his best season ever, but he didn’t pitch in the World Series.

Due to a fluke in 1886, Hudson didn’t make that All-Star team despite having the numbers to do so. Sorry about that, Nat.

Here are some interesting tidbits from Wikipedia about the short career of Hudson:

“Hudson started his professional baseball career at the age of 15, with Quincy of the Northwestern League. In 1886, he signed with the Browns and went 16–10 for them. He also started and won one game in that year’s ‘World Series’ against the National League‘s Chicago White Stockings.

“On July 17, 1889, Hudson was traded to the Louisville Colonels in exchange for Toad Ramsey; however, he refused to report to Louisville and never played another major league game. On August 18, he was sold for $1,000 to the Minneapolis Millers of the Western Association. He played two seasons for them before retiring.

“Hudson died at the age of 69 in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois. He is interred at Rosehill Cemetery.”

His career was short and sweet and yet in three of his four seasons, Hudson was part of a league-winning team. How many players have done that?


P-Mickey Hughes, Brooklyn Bridegrooms, 21 Years Old

25-13, 2.13 ERA, 159 K, .137, 0 HR, 10 RBI


1st Time All-Star-Michael F. “Mickey” Hughes was born on October 25, 1866 in New York, NY. He had a great rookie year this season, finishing eighth in WAR (4.7) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (5.3). It’s rare a pitcher’s anemic hitting drops his so far from his rating in WAR for Pitchers to WAR, but Hughes was just terrible at the plate.

It looked good for the Bridegrooms to have a 21-year-old pitcher who just pitched a dazzling season, but this was as good as it gets for Hughes. He pitched two more years for Brooklyn, before being traded in 1890 to the Athletics, where he finished his three-year career. However, he was part of the Bridegrooms’ league-winning season of 1889.

This franchise started as the Brooklyn Atlantics in 1884, changed to the Grays in 1885, then to the Bridegrooms in 1888, moved to the National League in 1890, shortened their name to the Grooms in 1891, went back to being the Bridegrooms in 1896, became the Superbas in 1899, the Dodgers in 1911, went back to the Superbas in 1913, changed to the Robins in 1914, and finally permanently became the Dodgers in 1932. Then 18 years after that, the great Vin Scully started announcing for the team and would be with the team through the 2016 season, even after the team moved to Los Angeles in 1958. I don’t like much about the Dodgers, but I do like Vin.

Scully is so good that when you hear other announcers, they pale in comparison. I start to wonder why they can’t put in the effort Vin does. Some people are just gifted by the Lord and use those gifts in the right place.


P-Ice Box Chamberlain, Louisville Colonels/St. Louis Browns, 20 Years Old

25-11, 2.19 ERA, 176 K, .160, 1 HR, 5 RBI


Led in:


Fielding % as P-.963


1st Time All-Star-Elton P. “Ice Box” or “Icebox” Chamberlain was born in November 5, 1867 in Buffalo, NY. The reason for his nickname isn’t clear, according to Wikipedia, which says, “In 1887, Chamberlain won 18 games for Louisville. The right-hander, who stood 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m) and weighed 168 lbs., earned the nickname ‘Ice Box’. Some sources attribute the nickname to his ability to remain cool when facing tough opposition, but at least one source links the nickname to chronic laziness.”

The lazy Chamberlain split his time between two teams in 1888 and did great. He finished 10th in WAR (4.4) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (4.4). Ice Box tossed 308 innings with a 2.19 ERA and a 140 ERA+. He then got to show his stuff in the World Series against the National League New York Giants, but unfortunately his stuff left him. He was 2-3 with a 5.32 ERA, allowing 36 runs in 44 innings, 26 of which were earned.

As for Chamberlain’s first team, the Louisville Colonels, they finished seventh in the league with a 48-87 record. Three people coached the team during the season, none with any success. Kick Kelly started the year, after leading the team to a fourth place finish in 1887, and went 10-29 before being let go. He’d never coach again. Kelly was followed by Mordecai Davidson who coached two different times during the season with a total record of 35-54. He’d never coach again. John Kerins also managed, garnering a 3-4 record. He actually would coach 17 games for the St. Louis Browns in 1890.


P-Adonis Terry, Brooklyn Bridegrooms, 23 Years Old

1884 1886 1887

13-8, 2.03 ERA, 138 K, .252, 0 HR, 8 RBI


Led in:


Hits per 9 IP-6.692

Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.369


4th Time All-Star-How do I put this delicately? Terry might be the worst player to make four All-Star teams. In 1888, he finished 10th in WAR for Pitchers (3.8) and never finished higher than that. As a pitcher, Terry pitched 195 innings with a 2.03 ERA and a 148 ERA+. At the plate, he slashed .252/.283/.304 for and OPS+ of 88. He actually will be a better hitter for a couple of seasons. Looking ahead to 1890, Terry is going to finish in the top 10 in WAR, but I’m not completely sure he’s going to make the All-Star team because his time was split between pitching and the outfield. We’ll see how accurate a prophet I am. Of course, if he’s the best player on the team, then all bets are off.

I mocked Terry earlier, but Wikipedia praises him this season, saying, “But it was not until 1888 that he turned into a star pitcher. In that season, he had a 13-8 record, a 2.03 ERA, and tossed his second no-hitter, this time against the Louisville Colonels on May 27, 1888.”

Believe it or not, there is actually an entire website devoted to Adonis Terry. The writer believes he should be in the Hall of Fame. Here is his argument: “Terry began his professional career in 1883 for the then minor league Brooklyn Grays and led them to the Interstate Championship. In 1884, Brooklyn was admitted to the major leagues and Adonis Terry became the first pitcher in Dodger history. From there Terry would go on to win about the same amount of games (197) as Hall of Famers of his era Rube Waddell and Jack Chesbro, pitch two no-hitters (Waddell and Chesbro never pitched a single no-hitter between them), surpassed each by a wide margin in complete games and innings pitched and was a far better hitter than either of them, but is not included in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.


P-Jersey Bakley, Cleveland Blues, 24 Years Old

25-33, 2.97 ERA, 212 K, .134, 1 HR, 9 RBI


1st Time All-Star-Edward Enoch “Jersey” Bakley was born on April 17, 1865 in Blackwood, NJ. He started his career with the 1883 Philadelphia Athletics, and then moved to the Philadelphia Keystones, Wilmington Quicksteps, and Kansas City Cowboys of the Union Association. It was there he led that lower Major League in many negative categories – losses, earned runs allowed, walks allowed, and wild pitches. Probably for that reason, he didn’t get back to the Major Leagues until 1888. For the Blues, Bakley finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (3.9), pitching 532 2/3 innings with a 2.97 ERA and a 102 ERA+.

Jersey’s Cleveland team struggled, finishing in sixth place with a 50-82 record while being coached by Jimmy Williams (20-44) and Tom Loftus (30-38). Williams never coached again, but Loftus still has seven years of managing left.

SABR writes of Bakley (which it spells Bakely): “By late July of 1888 Bakely was among the top pitchers in the Association. After blanking the pennant-bound St. Louis Browns 1-0 on July 30, he fashioned three more shutouts the following month, including two on consecutive days in Cincinnati. In early September, Bakely owned a 25-24 record. Even though he ended the season with nine straight losses to finish 25-33, he collected exactly half of Cleveland’s wins and logged nearly half the team’s innings.”

Like many in his time, Bakley had trouble with the bottle. SABR says, “The next two seasons Bakely pitched for the Rochester Maroons of the International Association. Despite being arrested along with teammate Fred Lewis after an infamous drunken spree in September 1887 and fined $50 (a hefty sum in those days) in police court.”


P-Lee Viau, Cincinnati Red Stockings, 21 Years Old

27-14, 2.65 ERA, 164 K, .087, 0 HR, 8 RBI


1st Time All-Star-Leon A. “Lee” Viau, pronounced Vee-oh, was born on July 5, 1866 in Corinth, VT. This season was his rookie year and he was off to a fast start, finishing seventh in WAR for Pitchers (4.2) and having his best season ever. He pitched 387 2/3 innings with a 2.65 ERA and a 117 ERA+. He would never have an Adjusted ERA+ that high again in his remaining four seasons. He would have rated higher if his hitting wasn’t so dreadful, as he slashed .087/.150/.121 for an OPS+ of -14. If Cincinnati never thought they’d have a pitcher hit as bad as Will White, it was wrong.

SABR loves to write about these little-known American Association players. It writes of Viau, “After pitching well at St. Paul in 1887 (one newspaper regarded him as ‘the best pitcher in the league’), Viau signed a $2,500 contract with Cincinnati. The Reds gave him an early chance to prove himself, handing him the ball in their first exhibition game at New Orleans in the spring of 1888. The 21-year-old responded with a 6-0 shutout, then proved it was no fluke by opening the regular season with eight straight wins before suffering his first setback on June 1. For the season, Viau went 27-14 (fifth in the Association in wins and fourth in winning percentage), and compiled an ERA of 2.65 (tenth), 387.2 innings pitched (eighth), 42 complete games (seventh) and 164 strikeouts (tenth). On a pitching staff that included Tony Mullane and Elmer Smith, both 30-game winners in 1887, Viau emerged as the ace as the veterans slumped to 26 and 22 wins respectively.”


C-Jim Keenan, Cincinnati Red Stockings, 30 Years Old


.233, 1 HR, 40 RBI


Led in:


Fielding % as C-.946


2nd Time All-Star-It’s been four years since Keenan last made an All-Star team, but playing over 68 games (85 games) for the first time in his career helped boost his stats. He was good defensively, finishing fifth in Defensive WAR (1.4), but his bat lacked as he slashed .233/.294/.323 for an OPS+ of 94. He has a good season coming up in 1889, though I’m not sure it’s of All-Star caliber. My prediction is it will be because of the dearth of good catchers in the American Association.

Here’s a wrap-up of Keenan’s career from Wikipedia: “Keenan made his debut at age 17 with the New Haven Elm Citys of the National Association, but did not establish himself in the majors until 1884, when he became the regular catcher for the Indianapolis Hoosiers. He stayed in Indianapolis to start the 1885 season, with the city’s entry in the Western League, but the league quickly folded, and he was acquired by the Detroit Wolverines.

“Before he played a game for Detroit, however, Keenan jumped to the Red Stockings, where he split time at catcher with Pop Snyder. Over the next four seasons, he would split the catching duties for the Red Stockings with Kid Baldwin. In 1890 and 1891, he backed up Jerry Harrington.”

Catching is difficult nowadays, but it was truly a bruising position in the 1800s. In 1888, Jack Boyle of the Browns led the league in games caught with only 70, followed by Keenan and Doc Bushong with 69.


C-Jocko Milligan, St. Louis Browns, 26 Years Old


.251, 5 HR, 37 RBI


Led in:


Double Plays Turned as C-11 (3rd Time)


2nd Time All-Star-Milligan is one of those catchers who didn’t even play half of his team’s games, but still was productive. That is the norm in the American Association during this time, because catchers were beat up. This is the amazing thing about Charlie Bennett. While most catchers either played about half of their teams games, or if they played more, toiled at other positions, Bennett played almost regularly, most of the time at catcher.

Milligan made the most of his 63 games. He finished eighth in Defensive WAR (1.0), while at the bat, he slashed .251/.311/.365 for an OPS+ of 108. He has some great hitting years ahead. His Adjusted OPS+ in 1888 was actually his second lowest up to this point in his then 5-year career. Where he really cut loose was in the World Series against the National League New York Giants, where he went 10-for-25 (.400) with two doubles and a triple, all in a losing cause.

Honest Jack Boyle caught more games for the Browns than Milligan, 70-63, but I’m not sure with SABR’s assessment that, “After leaving Philadelphia at the close of the 1887 season, Milligan again played second fiddle to Jack Boyle for the St. Louis Browns of the American Association. When the Browns played in the 1888 World Series against the New York Giants of the National League, Boyle could not catch more than a couple of games because of sore hands. This was Milligan’s only appearance in post-season play. He played in eight games, batting .400.” He caught 90 percent of the games that Boyle did, that hardly makes him second string, that makes him a second regular catcher.


1B-John Reilly, Cincinnati Red Stockings, 29 Years Old

1883 1884 1887

.321, 13 HR, 103 RBI


Led in:


Offensive WAR (5.0)

Slugging %-.501 (2nd Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-.864 (2nd Time)

Total Bases-264 (2nd Time)

Home Runs-13 (2nd Time)

Runs Batted In-103

Adjusted OPS+-171

Adj. Batting Runs-40

Adj. Batting Wins-4.6

Extra Base Hits-55

Power-Speed #-22.4

AB per HR-40.5 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 1B-73 (6th Time)


4th Time All-Star-Reilly had his best season ever, finishing fifth in WAR (5.2), second in WAR Position Players (5.2), and first in Offensive WAR (5.0). He reminds me of Vladimir Guerrero, a free swinger who still hits for a high average. This season, he slashed .321/.363/.501 for an OPS+ of 171. His hitting would surprisingly fall off after this season and he would be gone from the Major Leagues in three years.  This leads me to believe he’s made his last All-Star team.

There is a tremendous, but long, article on Reilly in SABR and it’s so hard to figure out what to put here, in what is likely Reilly’s last write-up. All I can say is read the whole thing. I guess I’ll put this on about 1888: “In 1888 with his best season since 1884. After beginning the year by homering in five consecutive games, he went on to lead the league again in homers and slugging, as well as runs batted in, and he finished near the top in doubles, triples, hits and batting average. In a day when statistics calculated to a players’ last at bat were not available to everyone with a computer, hopes persisted into November that Reilly had won the Association batting crown. After a long delay, the official statistics finally showed Reilly finishing fourth in the race. Today, statistical readjustments have moved him up two places, but Tip O’Neill of St. Louis is still given credit for his second consecutive batting title.”


1B-Tommy Tucker, Baltimore Orioles, 24 Years Old


.287, 6 HR, 61 RBI, 0-0, 3.86 ERA, 2 K


Led in:


Assists as 1B-59


2nd Time All-Star-In his second year, Tucker made his second All-Star team. In his third year, he’ll make his third. Then, he’s going to play 10 more years and my guess is he’ll never make another. Hey, let’s dwell on the positive. Tucker had a heck of year, finishing seventh in WAR Position Players 93.7) and ninth in Offensive WAR (3.3). Foghorn slashed .287/.330/.400 for an OPS+ of 139 and for the only time in the stretch from 1887-1892, he didn’t lead his league in being hit by pitches.

Why Foghorn? According to SABR, “If his hitting decline were not burden enough, he also grew increasingly unpopular among fellow players with each passing year. His nicknames – ‘Foghorn’, ‘Noisy Tom’ and ‘Tommy Talker’ – provide an initial clue. By the time he took his last throw at first base in a major league game in 1899, few indeed were sorry to see him go.

“Whether it was a change to the National League brand of ball or playing for a better caliber of team, he evolved almost immediately into a very different sort of player than he had been with Baltimore. Always an aggressive, in-your-face type – he led his league five times in being hit by pitches – he became downright fractious, perfecting a trick on wild pickoff throws to first base of falling heavily on top of the runner to prevent him from advancing. His language, particularly when he was acting as a base coach, grew increasingly vulgar and his off-field antics began putting him into frequent skirmishes with Boston manager Frank Selee.”


2B-Yank Robinson, St. Louis Browns, 28 Years Old

1886 1887

.231, 3 HR, 53 RBI


Led in:


On-Base %-.400

Bases on Balls-116


3rd Time All-Star-Robinson continued to be the best second baseman in the American Association, making his third consecutive All-Star team. He also continued to add value by taking pitches, setting the all-time record for walks taken with 116. Yank finished 10th in WAR Position Players (3.5) and eighth in Offensive WAR (3.6). Yet this is probably Robinson’s last All-Star team. Because while he was great at taking pitches, his problem came when the bat actually came off of his shoulder. This season, he slashed .231/.400/.314 for an OPS+ of 121. It would be the last time his Adjusted OPS+ was in triple digits. Robinson walked six times in the World Series against the National League New York Giants, but he also struck out a third of his 36 at-bats, ending up slashing .250/.357/.361. His hitting would continue to get worse.

According to Wikipedia, rule changes helped Robinson’s cause: “Prior to 1880, nine balls (pitches outside the strike zone) were required for a batsman to draw a walk, and the major league record was 29 walks in a season. The number of balls required to draw a walk was progressively reduced to eight balls in 1880, six in 1884, five in 1887, and, finally, four in 1889.

“Robinson was one of the first players to exploit fully the new rules governing bases on balls. In 1887, his 92 walks and 17 times hit by pitch elevated his on-base percentage to .445. Then, in 1888 and 1889, Robinson became the master of the free pass. He set a new major league record in 1888 with 116 walks.”


3B-George Pinkney, Brooklyn Bridegrooms, 29 Years Old

.271, 4 HR, 52 RBI


Led in:


Games Played-143 (2nd Time)

Plate Appearances-653 (2nd Time)

Runs Scored-134

Times on Base-234

Outs Made-419

Def. Games as 3B-143 (2nd Time)


1st Time All-Star-George Burton Pinkney was born on January 11, 1859 in Orange Prairie, IL. He was short at five-foot-seven and 160 pounds and started his career in 1884 with the National League Cleveland Blues as a part-time second baseman. When the Blues folded, he then was purchased by Brooklyn, along six other players and has been here since. He finished eighth in WAR Position Players (3.6) and seventh in Offensive WAR (3.7). Pinkney slashed .271/.358/.351 for an OPS+ of 127. He would be an inconsistent hitter over his 10-year career, with some years better than others. This was one of his good ones. In 1889, he would slump again, but he’ll be back.

Pinkney was the original Iron Man. According to Wikipedia, “When he retired, he held Major League Baseball’s all-time record for most consecutive games played (577) and innings played (5,152).” Like Cal Ripken, Pinkney played at a tough position to be able to play day-after-day, the only tougher position in his day being catcher. However, one wonders if his career was shortened by not taking a rest once in a while. “One” is always wondering about things like that. One’s a pain in the neck.

Orange Prairie, Illinois, sounds like a lowly populated, lazy town like Stars Hollow, but it turns out it’s a bustling suburb of Peoria with a population in 2015 of over 186 thousand. In my minutes of research, I couldn’t find anything for which Orange Prairie is famous, but that makes sense. It’s easy to be outshined by Peoria.


3B-Denny Lyons, Philadelphia Athletics, 22 Years Old


.296, 6 HR, 83 RBI


2nd Time All-Star-Lyons made the All-Star team for his second consecutive year at the young age of 22. He finished ninth in WAR Position Players (3.6) and sixth in Offensive WAR (3.7), slashing .296/.363/.406 for an OPS+ of 148. His stats were down from the year before but, in a tough hitting season, they were still decent. Lyons’ fielding is starting to improve also, according to bWARdWAR.

According to John Reilly’s SABR page, Lyons was the target of a joke by Reilly in 1886. I put this so we can examine 1800s humor. “Late in the 1886 season, some Reds players were discussing how to pitch to the Athletics team that was coming to Cincinnati for a series. Rookie pitcher Elmer Smith was concerned about Denny Lyons, the notoriously bibulous but hard-hitting Athletics third baseman. ‘Pitch him a drop, Elmer,’ advised Reilly, meaning a drop ball. ‘Pitch him a drop and he’ll not hit it, for he told me he hadn’t touched a drop all summer.’” Sign this man up for America’s Got Talent!

At this point, Lyons is 22-years-old and is going to have a very good career. On the day of this writing, news came out a couple days ago about the death of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, at the age of 24. I’m not a Marlins fan and I don’t know a lot about the young man, but I know he was a great pitcher who enthused the Cuban fans in the Miami area. It reminds me of Charlie Ferguson, a pitcher here in Philadelphia, who died at 25 and missed out on an outstanding, possible Hall of Fame career.


3B-Arlie Latham, St. Louis Browns, 28 Years Old

1884 1886 1887

.265, 2 HR, 31 RBI


Led in:


Stolen Bases-109

Outs Made-419 (2nd Time)


4th Time All-Star-Latham’s fielding still dazzled for the Browns, but his hitting is starting to drop off. He slashed .265/.325/.326 for an OPS+ of 101. Only one time in his final 10 years would his OPS+ be over 100 again. As a fielder, however, the Freshest Man on Earth finished fourth in Defensive WAR (1.5). In the World Series against the National League Giants, Latham didn’t hit too well, batting .250 with no extra base hits. He did steal 11 bases, though.

It would have been fun to be around the mischievous Latham and St. Louis Browns owner Chris Von der Ahe. According to SABR, “Chris Von der Ahe was a colorful character himself. A large man who wore loud, checkered clothing, Chris sat in a special box behind third base with a whistle and binoculars. He used the whistle to get the attention of players, for someone to get him a beer, or for special cops he employed for personal use and to keep tabs on his players. He bought the Browns in order to put himself in the limelight and to advertise his saloon business.

“Arlie sometimes used his boss as a straight man. In one instance Der Boss (as Chris was known) called all the players into his office on the sixth floor of the building. Von der Ahe did not want anyone else to hear what he was about to tell his players. As Von der Ahe proceeded to talk, Arlie interrupted him and said, ‘Excuse me, sir, but the windows are open and somebody might hear you,’ whereupon der Boss thanked Arlie and promptly shut the windows.”


3B-Jumbo Davis, Kansas City Cowboys, 26 Years Old


.267, 3 HR, 61 RBI


Led in:


Errors Committed as 3B-91

Double Plays Turned as 3B-27

Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-4.39

Range Factor/Game as 3B-4.33


2nd Time All-Star-Davis made his 2nd All-Star team on a fluke, as every team needs a representative and Jumbo is Kansas City’s. It’s not like he was terrible. He slashed .267/.304/.363 for an OPS+ of 109, but if it weren’t for my every team must have a player rule, the American Association wouldn’t have had four third basemen on the All-Star team.

The Cowboys would be around for only two seasons. In this, their premier year, they finished last with a 43-89 record. Dave Rowe (14-36), Sam Barkley (21-36), and Bill Watkins (8-17) did the coaching. The team’s only problems were hitting, pitching, and fielding.

Wikipedia does mention a couple of good things about this bad franchise. “Although they had a win–loss record of 43–89 in their initial season, finishing last out of the league’s eight teams, and went through two managerial changes, there were a couple of bright moments; on June 6, Henry Porter threw a no-hitter, and on June 13, Sam Barkley hit for the cycle. The franchise’s only future Hall of Fame player, ‘Slidin’’ Billy Hamilton, began his career as a part-time outfielder in 1888, and was their starting right fielder in 1889.” They would actually improve a little in 1889, but I’m getting ahead of myself. You’ll have to wait like everyone else.

Nowadays, of course, we are too sophisticated to draw attention to anyone’s weight problems, because we don’t have Jumbo Sabathia or Jumbo Colon names in our box scores. There would be many Jumbo nicknames for umpires, for that matter.


SS-Ed McKean, Cleveland Blues, 24 Years Old

.299, 6 HR, 68 RBI


1st Time All-Star-Edwin John “Ed” or “Mack” McKean was born on June 6, 1864 in Grafton, OH. He started with Cleveland in 1887 and would have this city as his home team for 12 straight years. Only in his last season, would he move to St. Louis. For Cleveland, Mack finished fifth in WAR Position Players (4.0) and fourth in Offensive WAR (4.2). He slashed .299/.340/.425 for an OPS+ of 149. It would be his best Adjusted OPS+ ever, but he still has a couple of All-Star teams left.

In a book called “Ed McKean: Slugging Shortstop of the Cleveland Spiders,” author Rich Blevins wrote, “Arguably, Ed McKean invented the slugging shortstop. Before McKean’s emergence in the big leagues, a club generally filled the shortstop position with a good defensive player who hit a little. Beginning in the late 1880s, a handful of other shortstops, most notably Jack Glasscock and Herman Long, also brought a new dimension to their team’s offense. But no early shortstop was able to fashion the dozen power-hitting seasons that McKean did. You might say, in terms of offensive production and physical build, Ed McKean was the original Honus Wagner. Upon his death, the Pittsburgh Press remembered that McKean, along with Jack Glasscock, Hugh Jennings, and Wagner, had been ‘classified in their day as the greatest shortstops in the game. Wonderful infielders and great-batsmen they were.’ Honus Wagner’s hometown newspaper went even further in its final judgment of Ed McKean’s slugging: ‘Perhaps McKean was the harder hitter of the four when it came to driving it out.’”


SS-Oyster Burns, Baltimore Orioles/Brooklyn Bridegrooms, 23 Years Old


.293, 6 HR, 67 RBI, 0-1, 4.26 ERA, 2 K


2nd Time All-Star-If you’ve read Burns’ 1887 write-up (and if you haven’t, c’mon!), you’ll remember it was mentioned Oyster was no pearl to be around (stop groaning). He had a surly disposition and a bad temper. So you would think there would be many seasons like this one in which he jumps teams, but he’ll actually be with Brooklyn for quite a while. For this season, Burns had played 79 games with Baltimore before being sold to Brooklyn on August 10, where he played another 52 games. Altogether, he finished 10th in WAR Position Players (3.5) and fifth in Offensive WAR (4.0). Oyster slashed .293/.345/.435 for an OPS+ of 153. He did about the same on both teams.

Did adding an All-Star shortstop help Brooklyn? Well, as of August 10, the Bridegrooms were 54-33, a .621 winning percentage, while for the rest of the year, they were 34-19, a .642 winning percentage. Maybe it helped a little. He would definitely help the next couple years.

More on Burns’ charming disposition from Wikipedia: “After playing in 79 games for Baltimore, Burns was transferred to the Brooklyn Bridegrooms by Harry Von der Horst, the owner of both clubs. While he was playing for the Bridegrooms, the New York Clipper described Burns as ‘the noisiest man that ever played on the Brooklyn team. His voice reminds one of a buzz-saw.’”

And just a little more from The Good Phight: “A real chatty Cathy, Oyster [was a]…rabble-rouser, a troublemaker, and a disrupter, bringing Oyster onto a team was usually a hit on clubhouse chemistry, as the Brooklyn Bridegrooms found out in 1888.” Well, if it affected their chemistry, it doesn’t show in their record.


LF-Harry Stovey, Philadelphia Athletics, 31 Years Old

1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887

.287, 9 HR, 65 RBI


Led in:


WAR Position Players-5.4

Triples-20 (3rd Time)


7th Time All-Star-Stovey continued to bash the ball, having his best season ever. He finished fourth in WAR (5.4), first in WAR Position Players (5.4), and second in Offensive WAR (4.5). One of the reasons it was his best season is because he actually added some defensive value. At the plate, Stovey slashed .287/.365/.460 for an OPS+ of 166, his highest Adjusted OPS+ since 1884. As for homers, Stovey, with 70 long balls, was four behind the all-time leader, Dan Brouthers, who had 74 at this point.

The National Pastime Museum says, “One other thing:  Could he throw? In 1888, he participated in a distance-throwing contest and finished second to Ned Williamson with a throw of 123 yards, 2 inches, or 369-plus feet. Yes, he could throw. He could do it all.” Definitely a five-tool player.

I think Stovey has a good shot at making the ONEHOF, the One-player-a-year Hall of Fame of my own creation, but there are so many good players around right now that haven’t made it. If you read Mickey Welch’s blurb, you can see he is in the running next season.

Continuing the above article on Stovey’s arguments for being in the REAL Hall of Fame: “When Stovey died in 1937 at 80, his obituary described him as “what Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth were in their day.” How long can the Hall of Fame deny him his place in that pantheon? In 2011, SABR’s Nineteenth Century Research Committee voted Stovey its “Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legend” for 2011. The winner of the 2010 vote, Deacon White, was elected this year by the Veterans Committee. Stovey’s day will come.”


LF-Hub Collins, Louisville Colonels/Brooklyn Bridegrooms, 24 Years Old

.307, 2 HR, 53 RBI


Led in:




1st Time All-Star-Hubert B. “Hub” Collins was born on April 15, 1864 in Louisville, KY. Not wanting to leave his hometown, he started for Louisville in 1886 as a part-time outfielder, and became fulltime in 1887. This season, it all came together as he finished fourth in WAR Position Players (4.1) and third in Offensive WAR (4.4). Hub had an Adjusted OPS+ of 93 in 1887, but would never have one below 100 again in his short career and, spoiler alert!, he’s going to have a tragic end.

At the plate, Collins slashed .307/.373/.423 for an OPS+ of 159, including a league-leading 31 doubles. On September 30, the Bridegrooms acquired him from the Colonels for $4,500. You can see why the Bridegrooms are going to be successful the next few years, with all of the good players they’re acquiring. (See Oyster Burns).

The book, The Dodgers Encyclopedia, writes of Collins, “Traded to the Brooklyn Bridegrooms midway through the ’88 season, the .308 hitter was quickly converted to a second baseman by manager Bill McGunnigle, desperately in need of infield help. He immediately tightened up the Groom inner defense, helping the team jump from seventh place all the way to second.”

I’ll talk about this more in a later season, but Collins would die at the age of 28 in 1892 of typhoid fever. It just brings back to mind Jose Fernandez, who died at 24 just a few days before this was written. I don’t think Collins would have made the Hall of Fame, but he might have been one of the all-time great Dodgers, instead of just a footnote.


LF-Tip O’Neill, St. Louis Browns, 30 Years Old

1886 1887

.335, 5 HR, 98 RBI


Led in:


1888 AA Batting Title (2nd Time)

Batting Average-.335 (2nd Time)

Hits-177 (2nd Time)

Singles-138 (2nd Time)

Runs Created-91 (2nd time)

Offensive Win %-.798


3rd Time All-Star-After such a dazzling 1887 season, this season seems like kind of a letdown, but any batter would have been happy to hit like Tip did this year. He finished third in WAR Position Players (4.1) and 10th in Offensive WAR (3.1). O’Neill slashed .335/.390/.446 for an OPS+ of 158. Only compared to his monster previous season did these stats look humdrum. In the World Series against the Giants, Tip had his second bad Series in a row, hitting .243 with a double and two homers. Good for mortals, but nothing compared to his regular season stats.

Here’s something I didn’t know from Baseball Reference: “He got his nickname ‘Tip’ because he would hit foul tips on pitches in order to wait out a pitcher till he got the pitch he wanted, or till he drew a walk.

“He is the only player in baseball history to lead his league in hits, doubles, triples, and home runs in the same season (Stan Musial came close in 1948). He was the first major leaguer to hit 50 doubles in a season.” That’s info I didn’t have room for last season.

After these two outstanding seasons and now four consecutive seasons with an Adjusted OPS+ of over 150, O’Neill is going to start to lose a little of his hitting skill. He’s probably got another All-Star team left, but he’s going to start to fade and be gone by the time he’s 34. Tip’s not the first to start losing his stuff once he turns 30.


CF-Curt Welch, Philadelphia Athletics, 26 Years Old


.282, 1 HR, 61 RBI


Led in:


Hit By Pitch-29


2nd Time All-Star-Welch didn’t make the All-Star team in 1887 and after the season, he was traded along with Bill Gleason to Philadelphia for Fred Mann, Chippy McGarr, Jocko Milligan, and $3,000. In his first season with the Athletics, he had his best season ever, finishing sixth in WAR Position Players (3.9). At the plate, Welch slashed .282/.355/.357 for an OPS+ of 130. That Adjusted OPS+ would be his highest ever. He was also good at getting plunked, leading the league by getting hit 29 times, the third of seven consecutive seasons he would get nailed 10 or more times.

Since he didn’t make the All-Star team in 1887, let’s backtrack to this story from Baseball Reference: “On June 16, 1887, he was at the center of a huge brawl in a game against the Baltimore Orioles, when he bowled over second baseman Bill Greenwood in the 9th inning with the score tied at 8. Thousands of fans ran on to the field calling for Welch’s arrest – or worse, and police had to intervene to break up the riot. The game was called, and Welch was whisked away from the ballpark while Baltimore, MD native Dave Foutz, his teammate, talked to the crowd to calm them down. However, when Welch got to the train station to escape town, another mob had gathered, and he had to stay with his teammates at the team hotel, with more fans gathered around with hostile intentions. A court hearing was held the next day, where some Orioles fans asked for charges to be laid, but Greenwood pleaded in his favor, saying the play was nothing out of the ordinary for a baseball game. Welch was released but kept out of that day’s game in order to appease tensions.” Thug!

1888 National League All-Star Team

P-Charlie Buffinton, PHI
P-Tim Keefe, NYG
P-Ben Sanders, PHI
P-Mickey Welch, NYG
P-Pete Conway, DTN
P-Gus Krock, CHC
P-Pud Galvin, PIT
P-Ed Morris, PIT
P-John Clarkson, BSN
P-Hank O’Day, WHS
C-King Kelly, BSN
C-Buck Ewing, NYG
C-Charlie Bennett, DTN
1B-Roger Connor, NYG
1B-Cap Anson, CHC
1B-Dan Brouthers, DTN
2B-Fred Pfeffer, CHC
3B-Billy Nash, BSN
3B-Deacon White, DTN
SS-Ned Williamson, CHC
SS-Jack Glasscock, IND
CF-Jimmy Ryan, CHC
CF-Dick Johnston, BSN
CF-Dummy Hoy, WHS
RF-Mike Tiernan, NYG


P-Charlie Buffinton, Philadelphia Quakers, 27 Years Old
1883 1884 1885
28-17, 1.91 ERA, 199 K, .181, 0 HR, 12 RBI

Led in:

Wins Above Replacement-12.0
WAR for Pitchers-12.1
Putouts as P-31
Assists as P-122
Range Factor/9 Inn as P-3.44
Range Factor/Game as P-3.33

4th Time All-Star-After missing the All-Star team the last two seasons, Buffinton is back, baby! (I just like the alliteration.) He had an underwhelming year in 1886 and then was purchased by Philadelphia in April of 1887. Buffinton had a winning season that year, finishing 21-17, but had a 3.66 ERA. This season, he finished first in WAR (12.0) and first in WAR for Pitchers (12.1), throwing 400 1/3 innings with a 1.91 ERA and a 154 ERA+. It was his best season ever, but he’s still going to make this team a couple more times.
Not too many managers stuck around for even two or three years, but Quakers manager Harry Wright was now in his 18th season of coaching. This season, he led Philadelphia to a 69-61 record and a third place finish, 14-and-a-half games out of first.
The website, Not in the Hall of Fame, wonders if Buffinton should be there. It says of him, “Throughout his career, Buffinton relied on a particularly effective sinkerball and would fan 1,700 batters and win 233 games. He also finished with a career WAR of 56.1 which is another impressive career tally. Buffinton retired mid-season in 1892 at the age of 31, when he was asked to take a pay cut. Although he was having the worst season of his career (and the following season would have the mound pushed back ten feet), it is conceivable that Buffinton would have continued to add to his statistics that would have made him a Hall of Famer. As it stands now, he is one of many who are enjoying a renewed look at his career, and way back in a long line for a Veteran’s Committee to look at.”


P-Tim Keefe, New York Giants, 31 Years Old

1880 1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887

35-12, 1.74 ERA, 335 K, .127, 2 HR, 8 RBI


Led in:


1888 NL Pitching Title (3rd Time)

1888 NL Triple Crown

Earned Run Average-1.74 (3rd Time)

Wins-35 (2nd Time)

Win-Loss %-.745

Walks & Hits per IP-0.937 (4th Time)

Hits per 9 IP-6.569 (5th Time)

Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.942 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts-335 (2nd Time)


Adjusted ERA+-156 (3rd Time)

Fielding Independent Pitching-1.89 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Runs-48 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-5.0 (2nd Time)


9th Time All-Star-Smiling Tim made his ninth consecutive All-Star team with another dominant season. If I had a Cy Young vote back in 1888, I would have said, “Who’s Cy Young?” and then cast my ballot for Keefe. If pitching is judged by WAR, the crown would have gone to Charlie Buffinton. I’ll compare them in a bit, but first, here are the stats for Keefe: He finished second in WAR (9.1) and second in WAR for Pitchers (10.3). He pitched 434 1/3 innings pitched with a 1.74 ERA and a 156 ERA+. Another incredible season for this Hall of Fame (and ONEHOF) pitcher.

As for Keefe’s team, the Giants, they finally broke through and won the pennant. Jim Mutrie managed the team to an 84-47 record, nine games ahead of the always dangerous White Stockings. New York’s hitting wasn’t as good as the White Stockings or Wolverines, but it easily had the best pitching. In the World Series, the Giants  won six games to four over the American Association St. Louis Browns. Keefe won four of those games, completing all of them, with a 0.51 ERA.

Let’s compare the 1888 seasons of Buffinton and Keefe. Keefe led the league in ERA with a 1.74 mark, Buffinton was third at 1.91. Keefe pitched more innings 434 1/3 to 400 1/3. Keefe had a 156 Adjusted ERA+, which led the league and Buffinton’s was 154, good for third. Keefe’s home park, the Polo Grounds, tended towards favoring the pitcher, but in 1888, skewed heavily in that direction. Buffinton’s home park, Philadelphia Baseball Grounds, usually was a big hitters’ park, but this season, abnormally favored the hitter. It’s probably ballparks that give Buffinton the edge in WAR (12.1-10.3).


P-Ben Sanders, Philadelphia Quakers, 23 Years Old

19-10, 1.90 ERA, 121 K, .246, 1 HR, 25 RBI


Led in:


Bases on Balls per 9 IP-1.079



1st Time All-Star-Alexander Bennett “Ben” Sanders was born on February 16, 1865 in Catharpin, VA. The Quakers needed pitching to make up for the tragic loss of Charlie Ferguson, who died of typhoid fever in the offseason. They got it from veteran Charlie Buffinton, who had a bounce back year and from the rookie Sanders. Sanders, who was six-foot, 210 pounds, and surprisingly wasn’t nicknamed “Big Ben,” pitched 275 1/3 innings with a 1.90 ERA and 156 ERA+. He finished third in WAR (8.8) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (7.8). Sanders was off to a fantastic start, but this was his best season ever.

Wikipedia says of him, “As a pitcher, he displayed good control, but he used an unorthodox delivery which ended with him off-balance, and with his back turned toward home plate. This made it difficult for him to react quickly on batted balls in his area of responsibility, particularly bunts. On September 18 of that rookie season, Sanders lost a perfect game when his pitching opponent, Gus Krock, singled with one out in the 9th inning for the Chicago Colts. Sanders still achieved a 6–0 shutout victory.” That would have been fun to watch.

Sanders, like Ferguson before him, also could hit the ball. Though not nearly at Ferguson’s level, he still slashed .246/.276/.322 for an OPS+ of 86. He was a good enough hitter that he played 25 games in the outfield and would continue many games in the outfield throughout his short career.


P-Mickey Welch, New York Giants, 28 Years Old, 1888 ONEHOF Inductee

1880 1881 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887

26-19, 1.93 ERA, 167 K, .189, 2 HR, 10 RBI


8th Time All-Star-We look back fondly on the pitching duo of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale or even Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain, but the combo of Tim Keefe and Welch might be the best of them all. That pair finally won their first pennant this season, but, more importantly, Welch is now a member of ONEHOF, the Hall of Fame which allows only one entry per year. The nominees for 1889 are King Kelly, Charlie Bennett, Jack Glasscock, Dan Brouthers, Charley Jones, Fred Dunlap, George Gore, Monte Ward, Ned Williamson, Roger Connor, and Harry Stovey.

Welch finished fourth in WAR (7.9) and third in WAR for Pitchers (8.0). He pitched 425 1/3 innings with a 1.93 ERA and a 141 ERA+. In the World Series, Welch pitched two of the 10 games, completing both and going 1-1 with a 2.65 ERA.

Wikipedia writes of him, “Author David Fleitz writes that Welch did not swear, smoke or drink hard liquor. Welch liked beer enough that he would write poems about it, reciting them for sportswriters or for fans on the carriage ride to the ballpark on game days. Sometimes his poetry also advertised local bars and restaurants.” In my old days, I drank a lot of beer, but never wrote verses about it.

Speaking of the combo plate of Welch and Keefe, there’s this from Wikipedia: “Welch and Keefe remained friends long after they retired from baseball.”  The only reason they didn’t pitch more seasons together is that Welch was a homebody, sticking with the Giants his whole career (once he got there from Troy) and Keefe occasionally had wanderlust, going to the American Association for a couple of seasons and to the Players League in 1890.


P-Pete Conway, Detroit Wolverines, 21 Years Old

30-14, 2.26 ERA, 176 K, .275, 3 HR, 23 RBI


1st Time All-Star-Peter J. “Pete” Conway was born on October 30, 1866 in Burmont, PA. He started with Buffalo in 1885 and had a 4.67 ERA. In 1886, he pitched for Kansas City and Detroit with a 4.95 ERA. He finally clicked in 1887 for the Wolverines, as his ERA dropped to 2.90 and he went 2-2 in the World Series with a 3.00 ERA. This season, most likely his only All-Star season, Conway finished sixth in WAR (6.9) and eighth in WAR for Pitchers (5.6). He pitched 391 innings with a 2.26 ERA and a 122 ERA+. He was Detroit’s only regularly effective pitcher.

That’s why, despite Detroit’s powerful hitting, the Wolverines finished in fifth place with a 68-63 record. Bill Watkins (49-44) started as manager, before being relieved by Bob Leadley (19-19). Detroit finished 16 games out of first despite finishing second in the league in runs scored.

This would be the last season for the Wolverines, as they folded at the conclusion of the season, due to heavy financial losses. Still, they hold an important record, according to Wikipedia, which says, “Though they folded after only eight seasons, the Wolverines occupy an important place in baseball history. On September 6, 1883, they conceded 18 runs in a single inning against the Chicago White Stockings, the most ever in MLB.” In its history, Detroit certainly had some great players including Charlie Bennett and Dan Brouthers, among others. It’s hard to believe the team folded just one season after being the World Series champion. Of course, in 1901, Detroit would have a long-lasting team start in the American League.


P-Gus Krock, Chicago White Stockings, 22 Years Old

25-14, 2.44 ERA, 161 K, .164, 1 HR, 11 RBI


1st Time All-Star-August H. Krock was born on May 9, 1866 in Milwaukee, WI and made his first All-Star team (and likely last) in his rookie season. The six-foot, 196 pound pitcher finished ninth in WAR (6.3) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (6.8) for his best season ever. On the mound, he tossed 339 2/3 innings with a 2.44 ERA and a 123 ERA+ and, now that John Clarkson was on Boston, was Chicago’s best pitcher.

Krock played only two more seasons, pitching for Chicago, Indianapolis, and Washington in 1889 and then for the Players League Buffalo Bisons in 1890. Whatever he had this season was gone for the rest of his career. His ERA in 1889 was 5.57 and in 1890, in a weak league, was 6.12. Then he was out of the league and would be dead by the age of 38.

You don’t meet too many people named Gus nowadays. I’m 51 years old, as of this writing, and I only know one, who I haven’t seen in years. I could count it as two if you count Burton Guster on the TV show, Psych. I miss that show. And even in that show, Shawn, the lead character, never wanted to call his crime-solving partner Gus, but by increasingly silly nicknames.

                Who’s the most famous Gus? Well, it’s six in the morning right now and I can’t think of one. Gus always seemed the kind of name seen more on TV and the movies than it did in real life. Maybe because it’s a shortening of August and there are even fewer of those around.


P-Pud Galvin, Pittsburgh Alleghenys, 31 Years Old

1879 1880 1881 1882  1883 1884 1886 1887

23-25, 2.63 ERA, 107 K, .143, 1 HR, 3 RBI


9th Time All-Star-Though Galvin has 60 wins left in his stellar career, this is probably the last All-Star team for the 1887 ONEHOF inductee. In his fourth year with Pittsburgh, Pud finished 10th in WAR (5.7) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (6.6). He threw over 400 innings for the ninth and last time in his career, tossing 437 1/3 innings with a 2.63 ERA and a 100 ERA+. We can’t even imagine a pitcher throwing 400 innings. The last time a pitcher pitched even 300 was Steve Carlton throwing 304 in 1980.

As for the Alleghenys, Horace Phillips led the team to a 66-68 sixth place finish. Their pitching was great, as they allowed the third lowest amount of runs in the league, but their hitting was anemic, second worst in the National League.

According to SABR, “Galvin lasted four more seasons, retiring after the 1892 campaign with 365 victories to his credit, 361 of them in recognized major leagues. By that time Tim Keefe, Mickey Welch, Hoss Radbourn, and John Clarkson had also reached 300. But not until 1903 was Pud’s victory total surpassed, by Denton True Young, and only a handful have passed it since.

“Pud was not done with record-setting. Four seasons later, in his final major-league tour, he founded an even more exclusive club – only Cy Young has joined since then – when he became the first pitcher to lose 300 games.”

Wikipedia says of his end, “Galvin died poor at age 45 on March 7, 1902 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and, as a Roman Catholic, is buried in Calvary Catholic Cemetery. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1965 by the Veterans Committee. In honor of his achievements in Buffalo, Galvin was inducted into the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.”


P-Ed Morris, Pittsburgh Alleghenys, 25 Years Old

1884 1885 1886

29-23, 2.31 ERA, 135 K, .101, 0 HR, 6 RBI


Led in:


Games Pitched-55 (2nd Time)

Games Started-55 (2nd Time)

Complete Games-54 (2nd Time)

Hits Allowed-470

Def. Games as P-55 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as P-.940


4th Time All-Star-Pittsburgh must have looked at its pitching, with the great Pud Galvin and the impressive Cannonball Morris, and thought to themselves they’d be competitive for a long time. But as for Galvin and Morris, this is most likely their last All-Star season. But let’s not be negative, Morris still had a good year, after not making the All-Star team in 1887. This season, he finished seventh in WAR for Pitchers (6.4). In 480 innings pitched, he had a great 2.31 ERA and a 114 ERA+. His arm, which had pitched over 429 innings for four of the last five seasons, would finally give out after this. For Morris’ last two seasons, one with the Alleghenys and one with the Players League Pittsburgh Burghers, his ERA was 4.13 and 4.86 respectively.

Wikipedia wraps up Morris’ career: “Career totals for 317 games played (311 as a pitcher) include a 171–122 record, 307 games started, 297 complete games, 29 shutouts, 4 games finished, and 1 save. His lifetime ERA was 2.82. At the plate he was 179-for-1,113 (.161) with 1 home run, 63 runs batted in, and 100 runs scored. Author David Nemec described Morris as ‘the first truly outstanding southpaw pitcher in major league history.’

“Morris died from an infection that began in an injured toe.”

Pittsburgh gives us both sides of pitcher careers in the 1800s. Some were like Pud Galvin, able to have long careers despite the incredible amount of innings pitched they had and some were like Morris, stars which burst onto the scene, but couldn’t handle the burden of being put on the mound every other day or, sometimes, every day, and quickly faded out.

Full length posed portrait of Hall of Famer, John Gibson Clarkson, Boston outfielder, 1888.

Full length posed portrait of Hall of Famer, John Gibson Clarkson, Boston outfielder, 1888.

P-John Clarkson, Boston Beaneaters, 26 Years Old

1884 1885 1886 1887

33-20, 2.76 ERA, 223 K, .195, 1 HR, 17 RBI


Led in:


Innings Pitched-483 1/3 (3rd Time)

Bases on Balls Allowed-119

Wild Pitches-33

Batters Faced-2,029 (3rd Time)

Errors Committed as P-19 (3rd Time)


5th Time All-Star-In 1887, Boston finished 16-and-a-half games out of first place, so when it was able to purchase Clarkson, arguably the best pitcher in the league, it must have thought it would contend in 1888. Well, they did improve, finishing only 15-and-a-half games out. Longtime manager John Morrill coached the team to 70-64 record and left the team after this season.

The story of Clarkson’s purchase by the Beaneaters is in his 1887 blurb. How much do personal catchers actually help? Clarkson led the league in WAR in 1885 and 1889 with King Kelly as a catcher, but also led the league in WAR in 1887 without him. As for 1888, the season I’m supposed to be writing about, he finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (4.3), his worst season in that category since 1884. He pitched a league-leading 483 1/3 innings with a 2.76 ERA and 105 ERA+. While Clarkson’s ERA looked good, the truth is the league-wide ERA was 2.83. He did get some help from pitching in a hitters’ park.

This website is slowly creeping towards the time of the Players League in 1890. Clarkson’s purchase by Boston had much to do with the creation of that league. As SABR says, “A lot of money was being thrown around between the owners, but the reserve clause was helping to hold down salaries and personal freedoms as well. The prevailing players union, the Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players, was busy solidifying its ranks in response to the disgruntlement. Clarkson joined his colleagues, pledged his support to the Brotherhood in early 1889, and paid his dues. Oddly, he did so at the urging of Boston Beaneaters director William Conant, who believed that the other men would play better behind him during the season if he did. According to Boston Globe sportswriter Tim Murnane, ‘The pitcher promised at the time that he would never hurt the Boston club.’”


P-Hank O’Day, Washington Nationals, 28 Years Old

16-29, 3.10 ERA, 186 K, .139, 0 HR, 6 RBI


Led in:



Hit Batters-16


1st Time All-Star-Henry M. “Hank” O’Day was born on July 8, 1859 in Chicago, IL. He started his career with the 1884 American Association Toledo Blue Stockings, then went to the AA Pittsburgh Alleghenys, before joining the National League in 1886 with the Nationals. This will most likely be his only All-Star season, as he finished 10th in WAR for Pitchers (4.3). O’Day pitched 403 innings with a 3.10 ERA and a 90 ERA+.

As for the Nationals, Walter Hewett (10-29) and Ted Sullivan (38-57) led the team to a 48-86 eighth place finish. At least Washington was consistent, scoring the least runs and allowing the most in the NL.

You might have heard O’Day made the Hall of Fame in 2013, but not for his pitching, but his umpiring. Wikipedia says, “O’Day was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on December 3, 2012 by the Hall’s new Pre-Integration Era Committee, which considers candidates from the era prior to 1947 once every three years, and was inducted the following July. His induction speech was given by his grandnephew Dennis McNamara, a former Chicago police officer with his own connection to baseball history, having introduced Hall of Famer Ron Santo to his wife Vicki.”

O’Day was the umpire on the field for the famous Merkle’s Boner play of 1908. He called Fred Merkle out at second base for not touching the bag. It led to Chicago beating the New York Giants, which led them to the World Series, where they would win for the last time until….to be determined.


C-King Kelly, Boston Beaneaters, 30 Years Old

1879 1881 1882 1884 1885 1886 1887

.318, 9 HR, 71 RBI


Led in:


Errors Committed as C-54


8th Time All-Star-At this point in Kelly’s career, he’s already made the All-Star team as a third baseman, shortstop, and outfielder, but this is the first season he made it as a backstop. Catcher would be Kelly’s main position for the rest of his career, but he always done some catching with his former team, the White Stockings. This season, Kelly finished eighth in WAR Position Players (4.5) and fifth in Offensive WAR (5.5). He slashed .318/.368/.480 for an OPS+ of 165 in what was a hitters’ league.

Kelly was certainly one of the most interesting players of his time. For instance, Wikipedia says, “One day in 1888, Boston player-manager John Morrill fined him $100 for not reporting to the grounds one day. After dinner the night before, Kelly had told Morrill he was ill, and Morrill said he should still report. The Boston Herald said, ‘Every man on the team thinks [the $100 fine] was deserved.’ The Herald also said of Kelly, ‘At times he goes in and plays with his whole spirit, and he puts life into the team. A sample of that was seen in yesterday’s game, a game that he won for the Bostons. At other times he plays carelessly and indifferently, puts on a spirit of independence, disobeys Morrill on instructions at will, and does as he pleases.’” Kelly seems to me to be more unpredictable Bryce Harper, who’s the best player when he wants to be, than Mike Trout, steady and solid every day.


C-Buck Ewing, New York Giants, 28 Years Old

1882 1883 1884 1885 1886

.306, 6 HR, 58 RBI, 0-0, 2.57 ERA, 6 K


Led in:


Double Plays Turned as C-12

Passed Balls-65


6th Time All-Star-Ewing’s streak of five consecutive All-Star teams ended in 1887, but he was back this year as one of the best catchers in the league. (I would still give the edge to the hard-nosed, ironman Charlie Bennett.) The Hall of Famer finished seventh in WAR Position Players (4.8) and sixth in Offensive WAR (5.3). Ewing’s defense, always a strong point, was diminishing. At the plate, he had arguably his best season, slashing .306/.348/.465 for an OPS+ of 158. That Adjusted OPS+ was his highest ever. His great hitting continued in the World Series, where he slashed .346/.370/.615 with two triples and a homer in the 10 games played against the American Association St. Louis Browns.

Here’s SABR on his 1888 season: “In 1888 he began the season at second base, replacing the popular Joe Gerhardt, and later took over the third base slot again. At both positions he heard a constant stream of digs for his shoddy work in the field and his increasingly gingerly approach to the game in general from his shortstop neighbor and main disparager, John M. Ward.

                “But it may simply have been that Ewing was aware by then that catching less frequently would prolong his career and had begun saving his efforts there for when it counted most. By midseason in 1888 he was back behind the plate on a regular basis when it appeared that the Giants would be a serious pennant contender. With Ewing playing in 100 games (103) for the first time in his career, New York marched to its initial NL flag.”


C-Charlie Bennett, Detroit Wolverines, 33 Years Old

1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887

.264, 5 HR, 29 RBI


Led in:


Fielding % as C-.966 (4th Time)


8th Time All-Star-The tough guy Bennett made his eighth consecutive All-Star at catcher and it’s tough to say how long this will last since his value is coming mainly from defense at this time. This year, he finished second in Defensive WAR (2.2). At the plate, he slashed .264/.347/.399 for an OPS+ of 137. It would be his last year of having an Adjusted OPS+ over 100 again.

Speaking of his last year, this was his last year with Detroit, mainly because it was the Wolverines’ last season of existence. In those eight years, which included one World Series victory, Bennett was the team’s all-time leader in WAR with 31. Dan Brouthers finished second with 20, though, in his defense, he played only two seasons in Detroit.

Of this season, Wikipedia says, “During the 1888 season, Bennett rebounded with one of the best seasons of his career. His overall 4.2 WAR rating was the third highest of Bennett’s career, and his 2.2 Defensive WAR rating was the highest of his career and the second highest in the National League. Despite being the eighth oldest player in the league, he broke his own major league record with a .966 fielding percentage. The Wolverines as a whole finished in fifth place with a 68-63 record. With high salaries owed to the team’s star players, and gate receipts declining markedly, the team folded in October 1888 with the players being sold to other teams. On October 16, 1888, the Wolverines sold Bennett, Dan Brouthers, Charlie Ganzel, Hardy Richardson and Deacon White to the Boston Beaneaters for a price estimated at $30,000.”


1B-Roger Connor, New York Giants, 30 Years Old

1880 1882 1883 1885 1886 1887

.291, 14 HR, 71 RBI


Led in:


WAR Position Players-7.5 (2nd Time)

Bases on Balls-73

Adjusted OPS+-176


7th Time All-Star-In 1887, Connor’s beloved daughter died, but he just kept plugging along. This season, the giant of all Giants finished fifth in WAR (7.5), first in WAR Position Players (7.5), third in Offensive WAR (6.3), and fourth in Defensive WAR (1.4). It was certainly a great all-around season. At the dish, Connor slashed .291/.389/.480 for an OPS+ of 176. In the World Series win over the American Association St. Louis Browns, Connor went seven-for-23 with a double and two triples. At this point in his career, Connor has 53 long balls, trailing Dan Brouthers, who is at 74.

SABR on Connor’s season: “In 1888 the star-laden Giants roster finally played to its potential, coasting to the pennant. Apart from a substandard .291 batting average, Connor placed in the league top five in almost every offensive category. And as in years past, Connor’s performance was largely taken for granted, with press coverage of the team focused on more colorful personalities like manager Jim Mutrie and stars Buck Ewing and John Montgomery Ward. The lack of attention had no visible effect on Connor. He was his same reliable self in the postseason, batting .303 as the Giants topped the American Association champion St. Louis Browns in the 1888 postseason series.”

It’s no surprise he didn’t complain, considering the Baseball Hall of Fame webpage, quoting an article from the New York Clipper, says, “’Connor’s honorable and straightforward conduct and affable and courteous demeanor towards all with whom he is brought into contact have won him deserved popularity both on and off the ball field.’”


1B-Cap Anson, Chicago White Stockings, 36 Years Old

1872 1873 1874 1876 1877 1878 1880 1881 1882 1884 1885 1886 1887

.344, 12 HR, 84 RBI


Led in:


1888 NL Batting Title

Batting Average-.344 (2nd Time)

On-Base %-.400 (3rd Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-.899 (2nd Time)

Runs Batted In-84 (7th Time)

Singles-133 (3rd Time)

Offensive Win %-.837 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as 1B-134 (3rd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 1B-85 (3rd Time)

Fielding % as 1B-.986


14th Time All-Star-There would no longer be a dominant White Stockings team under manager Cap Anson, but his best player continued to be his first baseman, one Cap Anson. He finished seventh in WAR (6.9), second in WAR Position Players (6.9), and second in Offensive WAR (6.4). At the age of 36, he slashed .344/.400/.499 for an OPS+ of 176.

Manager Anson, however, suffered through a disappointing year, as the White Stockings finished in second place with a 77-58 record, nine games behind the New York Giants. Ironically, the Giants used the same strategy as the White Stockings did, going around the leagues and snatching up the best players, sometimes stealing from their own American Association team. This time it worked against Chicago. As late as July 20, it was one-and-a-half games up in first place in the National League, but then lost six straight, including three to the weak Indianapolis squad and never sniffed the top of the league again.

Anson, who I mentioned before would have been a great reality show star, started his acting career this year. Wikipedia says, “Anson began acting during his baseball career. In 1888, he made his stage debut with a single appearance in Hoyt’s play A Parlor Match at the Theatre Comique in Harlem. He also played himself in an 1895 Broadway play called The Runaway Colt, written to take advantage of his fame. Later, Anson began touring on the vaudeville circuit, a common practice for athletes of the time, which lasted up until about a year before his death. He first appeared in vaudeville in 1913 doing a monologue and a short dance. In 1914, George M. Cohan wrote a monologue for him, and in 1917, Cohan, with Chicago Tribune sportswriter Ring Lardner wrote another piece for him, titled First Aid for Father. Anson appeared with two of his grown daughters, Adele and Dorothy, and would bat papier-mâché baseballs made by Albert Spalding into the audience. He appeared in 1921 accompanied by his two daughters in an act written by Ring Lardner with songs by Herman Timberg.”


1B-Dan Brouthers, Detroit Wolverines, 30 Years Old

1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887

.307, 9 HR, 66 RBI


Led in:


Offensive WAR-6.8 (5th Time)

Plate Appearances-602

Runs Scored-118 (2nd Time)

Doubles-33 (3rd Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-48 (5th Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-5.5 (5th Time)

Times on Base-240 (4th Time)

AB Per SO-40.2

Errors Committed as 1B-42


8th Time All-Star-Brouthers made the All-Star team for the eighth consecutive season and it will be his last one for Detroit. It doesn’t matter, he’s not done yet. Is it surprising to you that the dominant Brouthers has not made the ONEHOF, my Hall of Fame in which only one player a year gets inducted. Well, my thought is that making the ONEHOF should be tough. It should take a long stretch of excellent play. I do think he’s got a good shot next year.

This season was considered an off-year for Brouthers and every player wish they could have an off-year like this one. He finished eighth in WAR (6.6), third in WAR Position Players (6.6.), and first in Offensive War (6.8). He slashed .307/.399/.464 for an OPS+ of 174. The batting average was his lowest ever as a fulltime player, the on-base percentage was his lowest from 1885-through-1894, and his slugging was his lowest since 1880.

According to a book called Big Dan Brouthers: Baseball’s First Great Slugger, “Detroit’s simmering pot of debt, discord and discontent boiled over in 1888, and the result was a fall from first to fifth place in the standings, the resignation of manager Bill Watkins, the sale of the club’s star players, and the demise of the franchise. Through it all, Big Dan played on.”

So the great Brouthers, the best hitter of his day, is off to his fourth team next season and his fifth team the year after that. It’s not going to affect his hitting one whit.


2B-Fred Pfeffer, Chicago White Stockings, 28 Years Old


.250, 8 HR, 57 RBI


Led in:


Assists-457 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as 2B-135 (3rd Time)

Putouts as 2B-421 (5th Time)

Assists as 2B-457 (3rd Time)

Errors Committed as 2B-65 (5th Time)

Double Plays Turned as 2B-78 (5th Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-6.67 (3rd Time)

Range Factor/Game as 2B-6.50 (3rd Time)


2nd Time All-Star-It’s been four years since Pfeffer made the All-Star team, but this season he not only made it but is the only second baseman on the National League team. Since Dandelion last made the team, he’d participated in the 1885 and 1886 World Series’, going 17-for-48 with two doubles and two homers. This season, it was his glove that put him on the team as he finished eighth in Defensive WAR (1.1). At the plate, Pfeffer slashed .250/.297/.377 for an OPS+ of 107, his highest Adjusted OPS+ since his All-Star season of 1884.

Bleed Cubbie Blue names Pfeffer the 55th greatest Cub of all time and has this to say about him: “Pfeffer has been credited with several fielding innovations. He was the master of intentionally dropping the soft line drive for an easy double play, and that’s a big reason why such a maneuver is no longer legal today. He’s credited with being the first to cut off the catcher’s throw to second for a play at the plate on a double steal of second and home. Additionally, along with Anson and Ned Williamson, Pfeffer played a role in developing what we now know as the proper way to operate a rundown, with running the runner back to the base and having a third fielder covering the base the fielder with the ball left vacant.”

I’ve always preferred hitters over glove men and I’m not sure how great Pfeffer actually was. He might have one All-Star team left in him, but I’m not so sure. His best hitting year was 1884, but that was the year Chicago designed its home stadium like a Little League park and balls were flying out of there like a home run derby.


3B-Billy Nash, Boston Beaneaters, 23 Years Old


.283, 4 HR, 75 RBI


Led in:


Double Plays Turned as 3B-20

Fielding % as 3B-.913


2nd Time All-Star-Nash made his second consecutive All-Star team and had his best season ever, finishing fifth in WAR Position Players (5.3), eighth in Offensive WAR (4.4), and third in Defensive WAR (1.5). He slashed .283/.350/.397 for an OPS+ of 134 in a pitchers’ year. He would continue his solid play in Boston for many years. My prediction is he has an All-Star team or two left.

The runs scored in the National League really plummeted this season, from an average of 6.1 runs scored per game in 1887 to 4.5 this season. By 1889, it’s going to be up to 5.8 per game again. So what happened in 1888? That’s going to require what I like to call, research.

This is from The Pecan Park Eagle, which says, “Back in the 19th century, the rules of baseball scoring changed radically from year to year. The leaders of the professional movement responded to the complaints and criticisms of others in an ongoing struggle to fine tune the game to just the right balance between offense and defense as that sort of thing was perceived to be for that day at a time.

“In 1887, for example, the rules makers gave the batter a fourth strike before he could be retired. In 1888, they took it back, The batter was back to the key spot of ‘three strikes and you’re out’ in plenty of time to not mess up Jack Norworth’s and Albert Tilzer’s 1908 baseball anthem, ‘Take Me Out To the Ball Game’ – or that wonderful Mudville lament about the absence of joy after Casey took strike three.” Is that enough to explain it? Then why did they go up again in 1889? Research is hard!


3B-Deacon White, Detroit Wolverines, 40 Years Old

1873 1874 1875 1876 1877 1878 1879 1884

.298, 4 HR, 71 RBI


Led in:


Errors Committed as 3B-65 (2nd Time)

Oldest-40 Years Old (2nd Time)


9th Time All-Star-It was just three years ago, as of this writing, that the great Deacon White made the Hall of Fame. There are those who object. (In an earlier blurb, I mentioned Joe Posnanski being against it.) I think it’s a great thing, but I can see the point of view of those who dislike it. His greatest years were in the National Association and the early years of the National League. Since 1879, this is just the second All-Star team Old Man White has made and I’m surprised he’s on this team.  As a matter of fact, in his 1884 blurb, I said he’d probably made his last All-Star team. I’m such a false prophet.

Deacon would have liked that language, being a hard-nosed dedicated Christian. When his National Association Boston teams were doing well, it had much to do with the consistency the choirboy players gave to the team. Most of the other teams, if not all of them, didn’t look so much for character in their squad and found they couldn’t count on players from one day to the next. Look up the career of Cherokee Fisher as an example. He was a great pitcher but a drunkard who bounced around from team to team.

Now I’m not using this as a blanket rule. Even here in 1888, Chicago and its owner, Al Spalding, tired of the rabble-rousers on its team and traded people like King Kelly to bring more stability to the White Stockings. They might have had more stability, but they didn’t have more wins. How to develop a winning squad in baseball is a whole study in itself, for which I don’t have the time or the smarts.


SS-Ned Williamson, Chicago White Stockings, 30 Years Old

1879 1880 1881 1882 1884 1885

.250, 8 HR, 73 RBI


Led in:


Def. Games as SS-132

Assists as SS-375

Double Plays Turned as SS-48


7th Time All-Star-And the bad prophecies keep on coming! After stating in Williamson’s 1885 blurb that he probably wouldn’t make another All-Star team and even going so far as to give details of his death at the age of 36, heeee’s back! It helped it was a bad year for shortstops, but he was going to make the team either way. It’s the first of his seven All-Star teams at shortstop, or at any position other than third base. Bill James pointed out that players tend to go right-to-left on the defensive spectrum (or is it left-to-right?), but that didn’t always happen in these early days of the sport.

For the season, Williamson slashed .250/.352/.385 for an OPS+ of 128. I know the numbers don’t look that great, but his Adjusted OPS+ this season was his highest since his aberrant year of 1884. As I mentioned in Billy Nash’s write-up, hitting was significantly down this year in the National League.

Since Williamson didn’t make the All-Star team in 1886, I didn’t get a chance to go over his World Series. It was bad….again. In 1885, he hit only .087 with no extra base hits in the Series, while in 1886, he hit even worse at .056 with a triple. It would be his last World Series. He wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last great player who stumbles in postseason play.

Here’s a sad story from 1888 by Wikipedia, which says, “It was during a game played on at the Parc Aristotique in Paris, France on March 8, 1889, when Williamson suffered a torn knee cap which forced him to be bedridden in England on doctor’s orders, missing the tour through Britain. Though players in the 19th century were responsible for their own medical care, Williamson asked Spalding to help him financially with the mounting medical costs. Spalding refused, citing that he was not obligated to assist, and Williamson never forgave him for this.”


SS-Jack Glasscock, Indianapolis Hoosiers, 30 Years Old

1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887

.269, 1 HR, 45 RBI, 0-0, 54.00 ERA, 1 K


Led in:


Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-5.19 (4th Time)

Fielding % as SS-.901 (5th Time)


8th Time All-Star-Pebbly Jack made his eighth consecutive All-Star team, despite having an off year. His hitting declined as he slashed .269/.302/.328 for an OPS+ of 100. But don’t count him out! He still has some hits in his bat. How hard is it for a great player like Glasscock to keep playing on these terrible teams year after year? Does this make him any less valuable? I’ve mentioned it in previous Glasscock blurbs, but it’s incredible he’s not in the Hall of Fame.

Did I say terrible team? Glasscock was its only All-Star member as Manager Harry Spence led the Hoosiers to a 50-85 seventh place finish.  They had decent hitting, but their pitching allowed the most runs in the league. Glasscock didn’t help that cause, allowing three runs (two earned) in a third of an inning.

According to SABR, Glasscock was not having a good time for the Hoosiers. It says, “Personally, the Indiana experience created considerable stress for Glasscock. Sporting Life reported him ‘anxious…to get away from Indianapolis’ (SL, 9/28/1887) in June 1887, and still ‘not satisfied here’( SL, 9/28/1887) in September. Back home in Wheeling, he was jailed for being drunk and disorderly. As manager he drove his players and baited and bullied umpires. A Sporting Life reporter wrote ‘I have heard [him] swear and act like a blackguard before and [sic] audience partly composed of ladies.’ (SL, 3/2/90).” What a cad! When you’re giving it your all and the team around you doesn’t perform, the expletives will apparently fly!


CF-Jimmy Ryan, Chicago White Stockings, 25 Years Old

.332, 16 HR, 64 RBI, 4-0, 3.05 ERA, 11 K


Led in:


Slugging %-.515


Total Bases-283


Home Runs-16

Runs Created-105

Power-Speed #-25.3

AB per HR-34.3

Games Finished-5 (2nd Time)

Assists as OF-34


1st Time All-Star-James P. “Jimmy” or “Pony” Ryan was born on February 11, 1863 in Clinton, MA. The small Ryan (five-foot-nine, 162 pounds) started by playing three games for Chicago in 1885 and until 1902, would never leave the Windy City. He played every year with the National League team, except for 1890, when he played for the Players League Chicago Pirates. Pony was with the White Stockings when they made the 1886 World Series, where he went-five-for-20 with a double.

In 1888, Ryan had his best season ever, finishing fourth in WAR Position Players (5.7) and fourth in Offensive WAR (6.1). He slashed .332/.377/.515 for an OPS+ of 174. Also, according to Wikipedia, “In that season, he also hit for the cycle on July 28. Ryan also appeared in that game as a pitcher, becoming the only player in major league history to hit for the cycle and pitch in the same game. The White Stockings beat the Detroit Wolverines 21–17.” All of this in a terrible year for hitters. He’ll be around these teams for a while.

Wikipedia also mentions Pony wasn’t afraid of scrapping: “On the tough side, Ryan was one of the few players to punch a reporter at least twice. After his first episode, in 1887, Charlie Seymour of the Chicago Herald wrote, ‘Ryan slugged the magnificent Chicago reporter in Pittsburg [sic] (Pittsburg was spelled without the H in the 19th century) the other day.’ In the other, in 1892, he took exception to George Beachel of the Chicago Daily News. In the clubhouse after a game, Ryan ‘picked a quarrel with [Beachel], and then attacked him, using him up pretty badly. No arrests have been made.’ In 1896, he punched a train conductor after losing his place and his teammates had gone to bed. A conductor who intervened was ‘called down by Mr. Ryan, who got in one upper cut before [his longtime-captain manager Cap] Anson stopped the fun’, wrote Tim Murnane of the Boston Globe.”


CF-Dick Johnston, Boston Beaneaters, 25 Years Old


.296, 12 HR, 68 RBI


Led in:




Extra Base Hits-61


2nd Time All-Star-Johnston joined Boston after his 1884 All-Star season and added very little to the team from 1885-to-1887. Then he woke up for this one season, easily having his best season ever, finishing ninth in WAR Position Players (4.5) and ninth in Offensive WAR (4.2). He slashed .296/.314/.472 for an OPS+ of 144. How strange was this season? Well, let’s compare his 1888 numbers with the second highest in a few categories. In 1888, he had 102 runs, in 1887, he had 87. In 1888, he had 173 hits, in 1887, he had 131. In 1888, he had 31 doubles, in 1886, he had 18. In 1888, he had 12 homers, in 1891, he had 6. In 1888, he hit .296, in 1884, he hit .281. In 1888, he had an OBP of .314, in 1891, it was .301. In 1888, he slugged .472, in 1884, he slugged .425. In 1888, he had an OPS of .786, in 1884, it was .715. In 1888, his OPS+ was 144, in 1884, it was 131. And in 1888, he had 276 total bases, he had 199 in 1887.

The Beaneaters must have thought they struck gold. Johnston was only 25 and starting to figure out Major League pitching. Yet, he ended up playing one more year for Boston, in the National League anyway, as he moved to the Players League in 1890, playing for the Boston Reds and the New York Giants, then finished his career at the age of 28 for the American Association Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers. (Whoa, is that really that team’s name?!)


CF-Dummy Hoy, Washington Nationals, 26 Years Old

.274, 2 HR, 29 RBI


Led in:


Stolen Bases-82

Def. Games as OF-136


1st Time All-Star-William Ellsworth “Dummy” Hoy was born on May 23, 1862 in Houcktown, OH and is the poster child for why political correctness isn’t always a bad thing. The tiny (five-foot-six, 160 pounds) and fast Hoy got his nickname because he was deaf. Wikipedia says, “In Hoy’s time, the word ‘dumb’ was used to describe someone who could not speak, rather than someone who was stupid; but since the ability to speak was often unfairly connected to one’s intelligence, the epithets ‘dumb’ and ‘dummy’ became interchangeable with stupidity. Hoy himself often corrected individuals who addressed him as William, and referred to himself as Dummy. Said to have been able to speak with a voice that resembled a squeak, he was actually one of the most intelligent players of his time, and is sometimes credited with developing the hand signals used by umpires to this day, though this view is widely disputed.”

Hoy started quickly, though at 26-years-old, he was an old rookie. He finished 10th in WAR Position Players (4.3) and seventh in Offensive WAR (4.5), slashing .274/.374/.338 for an OPS+ of 134, all while leading the league with 82 stolen bases. It would start a stretch of 13 seasons of 27 or more steals.

SABR has more on Hoy: “Hoy would have been an exceptional man with or without his handicap. After his baseball career was over, he used his celebrity status to foster the needs and concerns of the deaf. He had a zest for life and once walked 72 blocks at the age of 80 to see his son, Judge Carson Hoy, preside in court. At that advanced age he also danced the Charleston and pruned trees on his farm.”


RF-Mike Tiernan, New York Giants, 21 Years Old

.293, 9 HR, 52 RBI


Led in:


Fielding % as OF-.960


1st Time All-Star-Michael Joseph “Silent Mike” or “Mike” Tiernan was born on January 21, 1867 in Trenton, NJ.  As a rookie with the Giants in 1887, he showed right away he could rake, slashing .287/.344/.452 for an OPS+ of 123. In his second season, Tiernan finished sixth in WAR Position Players (4.8) and 10th in Offensive WAR (4.1), slashing .293/.364/.427 and helping lead the Giants to the World Series, where he went 13-for-38 (.342) with a home run and five steals.

Here’s SABR on Tiernan: “During the final decade of the 19th century, the right field post on the New York Giants was manned by Mike Tiernan. A quiet, amiable man, Tiernan was well liked by teammates, fans, and the baseball press. But he was not without aspects of a contrary streak. On a team where sporting a prominent moustache was virtually de rigueur, Tiernan remained resolutely clean-shaven. In an era when verbal abuse of opponents and noisy disagreement with umpires were ballpark norms, Tiernan was a gentleman, a player who spoke so infrequently on the field that he was dubbed Silent Mike. And at a time when discontent with management ran so deep that the players formed their own league, Tiernan was one of the few to spurn the movement and remain with his old team. Indeed, Mike Tiernan was one of only a handful of 19th century players to spend his entire major league career in a single city.” Ironically in the picture on the SABR article, Tiernan has a mustache.


1887 American Association All-Star Team

P-Matt Kilroy, BAL

P-Mike Smith, CIN

P-Toad Ramsey, LOU

P-Tony Mullane, CIN

P-Ed Seward, PHA

P-Silver King, STL

P-Bob Gilks, CLE

P-Al Mays, NYP

P-Adonis Terry, BRO

C-Chris Fulmer, BAL

C-Sam Trott, BAL

1B-John Reilly, CIN

1B-Tommy Tucker, BAL

2B-Yank Robinson, STL

2B-Bid McPhee, CIN

2B-Reddy Mack, LOU

3B-Denny Lyons, PHA

3B-Jumbo Davis, BAL

3B-Arlie Latham, STL

SS-Oyster Burns, BAL

SS-Frank Fennelly, CIN

LF-Tip O’Neill, STL

LF-Harry Stovey, PHA

CF-Pete Browning, LOU

RF-Bob Caruthers, STL


P-Matt Kilroy, Baltimore Orioles, 21 Years Old


46-19, 3.07 ERA, 217 K, .247, 0 HR, 25 RBI


Led in:


Wins Above Replacement-11.9

WAR for Pitchers-10.8


Games Pitched-69 (2nd Time)

Innings Pitched-589 1/3

Games Started-69 (2nd Time)

Complete Games-66 (2nd Time)


Hits Allowed-585

Batters Faced-2,492

Def. Games as P-69 (2nd Time)

Assists as P-157 (2nd Time)


2nd Time All-Star-There were still certain teams which pitched their players to death and the Orioles were one of them. For the second consecutive season, Kilroy pitched over 580 innings. The little man, standing at five-foot-seven and weighing in at 175 pounds, also had his best season ever. He finished first in WAR (11.9) and first in WAR for Pitchers (10.8). He pitched a league-leading 589 1/3 innings while garnering a 3.07 ERA and a 133 ERA+.

As for the Orioles, Manager Bald Billy Barnie, coaching his fifth season with Baltimore, led it to a third place finish with a 77-58 record. If you do the math, you see it went 46-19 in games pitched by Kilroy and 31-38 in the others.

Here’s SABR’s report of Kilroy’s 1887 season: “In 1887 the American Association instituted a rule requiring four strikes for a strikeout, and the number of strikeouts declined dramatically, but Kilroy’s effectiveness increased. He led the league with 46 wins and 66 complete games. He also topped the circuit in shutouts and finished second in strikeouts, third in won-lost percentage, and fourth in WHIP (walks and hits allowed per nine innings pitched). Most remarkable was his 46-19 record with a club that was 31-37 in games in which Kilroy was not the pitcher of record. This performance earned him the highest weighted rating (16,900) and the most Faber System points (138) ever attained by a pitcher of his tender years. His 46 wins is still the single-season record for a left-handed pitcher. The 75 wins he accumulated in his first two major-league seasons remain a record to this day.”


P-Mike Smith, Cincinnati Red Stockings, 19 Years Old

34-17, 2.94 ERA, 176 K, .253, 0 HR, 23 RBI


Led in:


1887 AA Pitching Title

Earned Run Average-2.94

Hits Per 9 IP-8.048

Adjusted ERA+-148

Adjusted Pitching Runs-72

Adj. Pitching Wins-6.1


1st Time All-Star-Elmer Ellsworth “Mike” Smith was born on March 23, 1868 in Pittsburgh, PA. The five-foot-11, 178 pound pitcher started his career with Cincinnati in 1886, before becoming its ace pitcher this season. He had his best season ever, finishing third in WAR (10.6) and second in WAR for Pitchers (10.1). He pitched a very reasonable 447 1/3 innings with a league-leading 2.94 ERA and 148 ERA+.

As for my Red Stockings, Gus Schmelz took over the reins and managed the team to a second place finish, with an 81-54 record. Their pitching, led by Smith, was outstanding, but their hitting couldn’t keep up with the Browns. Surprisingly, Cincinnati didn’t struggle against St. Louis, going 12-6 against them. (Is that how far back I have to go in history for the Reds to beat the Cardinals?) They did have a losing record against third-place Baltimore and fourth-place Louisville.

For the era in which he managed, Schmelz had a fairly long career, coaching 11 seasons with six different teams. He coached the Columbus Buckeyes to a second place 69-39 record in 1884 and then would have three good seasons with Cincinnati, but the rest of his seasons weren’t as successful. He never did lead a team to a title.

After this season, Smith would slowly start pitching less and would eventually be a position player. Maybe it’s because he threw over 447 innings as a 19-year-old. He’d move to leftfield for the most part and will probably make a couple of All-Star teams there.



P-Toad Ramsey, Louisville Colonels, 22 Years Old


37-27, 3.43 ERA, 355 K, .191, 0 HR, 24 RBI


Led in:


Strikeouts per 9 IP-5.695


Strikeouts/Base on Balls-2.126

Fielding Independent Pitching-3.20 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as P-31


2nd Time All-Star-After his incredible 1886 season, Ramsey settled down, going only 37-27 after going 38-27 the year before and only pitching 561 innings instead of the 588 2/3 he pitched the previous season. See, he’s a whole different pitcher. Still, the Toad finished fourth in WAR (7.7) and third in WAR for Pitchers (8.2.). In those 561 innings, Ramsey had a 3.43 ERA and a 128 ERA+.

Led by the arm of Ramsey and the coaching of Kick Kelly in his first year, the Colonels finished in fourth place with a 76-60 record.

Here’s Wikipedia’s report on Ramsey’s 1887 season: “Ramsey had a similar 1887 season, pitching 561 innings and winning 37 games. His 355 strikeouts led the American Association, while his 561 innings pitched, 64 games started, and 61 complete games, were all second in the league to [Matt] Kilroy. Unfortunately, his dominant years stopped after that season, and his fortunes changed for the worse beginning during the 1888 season. His win–loss record was 8–30 in 40 starts. On July 25, 1888, Ramsey was arrested for not paying an overdue bar bill.”

The Sports Daily said Ramsey was the first person to bring up the concept of BABIP (batting average on balls in play): “The final proof that Toad Ramsey may indeed have been baseball’s equivalent of Nikola Tesla and/or was some kind of baseball terminator was his belief in BABIP.

“’If I yield up a groover and the fellow at bat gives it a slap and it goes to short, who fields it to first in time, why is that an out for the baseman and an assist for the shortstop, and all right for me, in a manner of speaking. But look at you – if that shortstop had been playing a slightly different position, and the ball had got by him, it would have counted as a hit off me. That’s funny as after the ball left my hands I had no further control over it.’”



P-Tony Mullane, Cincinnati Red Stockings, 28 Years Old

1882 1883 1884 1886

31-17, 3.24 ERA, 97 K, .221, 3 HR, 23 RBI


Led in:


Shutouts-6 (2nd Time)


5th Time All-Star-If I would have been a Reds fan in 1887 when I was (minus)-77 years old, I would have got to see one of the Reds’ all-time greats in Mullane. Even nowadays, he’s 17th on Cincinnati in all-time WAR with 39. And no one beats the nickname of Apollo of the Box. This season, he continued his dominant pitching, finishing fifth in WAR (7.6) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (7.1). He pitched 416 1/3 innings, his lowest since his rookie year, with a 3.24 ERA and a 134 ERA+. Looking at his overall stats and the remainder of his career, he could definitely be ONEHOF-bound.

What he isn’t, however, is in the real Hall of Fame, because of many years spent in the American Association. The Hall of Fame sure is picky, isn’t it? No gamblers, no American Associationers, no steroids users! C’mon, it’s just baseball!

Hardball Times has this to say about his 1887 season, “He had no interest in accepting less than what he believed he was worth, and no compunction about telling others where they could stick it. In 1887, he informed his manager that he didn’t want to pitch a game against Brooklyn because ‘I don’t intend to do any more work than the other pitchers.’ His manager fined him $100 and suspended him indefinitely, although the dispute was smoothed over before the end of the month, and he still managed to win 31 games that year.” Should someone pitching 416 innings complain about being overused?



P-Ed Seward, Philadelphia Athletics, 20 Years Old

25-25, 4.13 ERA, 155 K, .188, 5 HR, 28 RBI


1st Time All-Star-Edward William “Ed” Seward, born Edward William Sourhardt, was born on June 29, 1867 in Cleveland, OH. He pitched one game with the 1885 National League Providence Grays, pitching six innings and allowing no runs, but didn’t play Major League ball again until this season. His 4.13 ERA doesn’t look too good, but the league average was 4.29. Seward finished sixth in WAR (7.1) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (7.4), tossing 470 2/3 innings pitched with a 102 ERA+. If you were going to have a so-so year in pitching, this was the season and the league to do it.

As for the Athletics, Frank Bancroft (26-29) and Charlie Mason (38-40) led them to a fifth place 64-69 season. Bancroft managed multiple teams over his career, but this would be the only managing stint for Mason.

Seward wasn’t a big man, being five-foot-seven and 175 pounds, but he would still lead the league in strikeouts in 1888 (Spoiler Alert!) He wasn’t going to have much of a career, but his 25 wins as a rookie this season still ranks as one of the high marks of all-time.

There have been a lot of Philadelphia teams, but this one isn’t the one that would eventually become the Phillies, nor the one which would eventually become the A’s. It only has three seasons left of existence, despite an over-.500 lifetime mark. Seward is actually second on this team all-time in WAR, behind only the great Harry Stovey. Most of Seward’s success came in two seasons.



P-Silver King, St. Louis Browns, 19 Years Old

32-12, 3.78 ERA, 128 K, .207, 0 HR, 19 RBI


1st Time All-Star-Charles Frederick “Silver” King, born Charles Frederick Koenig, was born on January 11, 1868 in St. Louis, MO. He started in 1886, pitching five games for the National League Kansas City Cowboys, before coming over to the great Browns this season, where, as a rookie, he was their dominant pitcher. And there’s better years to come. As for this season, King finished ninth in WAR (5.6) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (6.2). He pitched 390 innings with a 3.78 ERA and a 119 ERA+.

The Browns won their third of four consecutive league titles, finishing 95-40. Charlie Comiskey led them to the title again as he proved to be one of the best managers of all-time. We forget that because we only know him as the skinflint which caused the Black Sox to throw the 1919 World Series.

Speaking of the World Series, St. Louis lost 10-5 to the National League’s Detroit Wolverines. King pitched in four of the games, going 1-3 with a 2.03 ERA.

Wikipedia says of King, “The first part of King’s nickname was a reference to the color of his hair, while the latter part was a translation of his German surname.

“King was an unusual pitcher for his time. Gripping the ball with unusually large hands, he delivered the ball without a windup. He also was one of the first pitchers in major league history to employ a sidearm delivery…His strong fastball enabled him to become a notable strikeout artist; he finished among the league’s top 10 in that category six times.”

Bob Gilks

P-Bob Gilks, Cleveland Blues, 22 Years Old

7-5, 3.08 ERA, 28 K, .313, 0 HR, 13 RBI

1st Time All-Star-Robert James “Bob” Gilks was born on July 2, 1864 in Cincinnati, OH. The five-foot-eight, 178 pound hurler picked a good year to debut as making the All-Star team as a pitcher this season wasn’t too difficult. Still, Gilks had his best season ever, finishing ninth in WAR for Pitchers (2.7), pitching 108 innings with a 3.08 ERA and a 141 ERA+.

His team, the Blues, definitely sang the blues this season, as Jimmy Williams coached them to a last place 39-92 finish. Gilks would be the team’s only All-Star.

This team started its existence this season and would last until 1899, when, if you thought this season was bad, wait till that one! Still, they would introduce one of the greatest players of all-time. He’s a pitcher. He has an award named after him. Well, that’s going to be a few years down the road.

Wikipedia says, “The Spiders first fielded a team in the American Association (then a major league) in 1887. At the time, they were known as the Cleveland Forest Citys or Cleveland Blues. The team was organized by Frank Robison, who eventually brought his brother Stanley aboard to help run the club.”

Here’s Baseball Reference on Gilks: “Bob Gilks tried just about everything on a ballfield. He had a playing career that lasted from 1885 to 1909. He also managed in the minors between 1903 and 1914 and umpired in the South Atlantic League in 1910. Gilks also scouted for the Cleveland Indians (1911-1913), New York Yankees (1914-1926, 1929), and Boston Braves (1928).”



P-Al Mays, New York Metropolitans, 22 Years Old

17-34, 4.73 ERA, 124 K, .204, 2 HR, 23 RBI


Led in:



Earned Runs-232


1st Time All-Star-Albert C. “Al” Mays was born on May 17, 1865 in Canal Dover, OH. He started as a pitcher for the Louisville Colonels in 1885 before moving over to the Metropolitans. He had his best season ever, finishing 10th in WAR for Pitchers (2.6), pitching 441 1/3 innings with a 4.73 ERA and a 89 ERA+. It’s probably his last All-Star team.

If New York is giving 441 innings to a pitcher with a 4.73 ERA, you’re probably guessing they didn’t do too well and I say to you, huzzah for your wisdom! Bob Ferguson (6-24), Dave Orr (3-5), and Ollie Caylor (35-60) led the team to a 44-89 seventh place finish. Mays was New York’s only All-Star. The city of New York would have a much better Mays in the future.

And thus ends the run of the Metropolitans. They won a pennant in 1884, but finished seventh their last three seasons. Wikipedia writes of the team’s demise, “Prior to the 1886 season, Day and Mutrie sold the Mets to Erastus Wiman who moved the team to cricket grounds on Staten Island in hopes of promoting ferry trade across New York harbor. This business plan did not succeed, though, and the Mets ceased operation following the 1887 season. The team was bought by the Brooklyn Dodgers to gain territorial protection and the contracts of several of the Mets’ stars, including Dave Orr and Darby O’Brien. The current minor league Staten Island Yankees play in a stadium very near the cricket ground used by the Mets.”



P-Adonis Terry, Brooklyn Grays, 22 Years Old

1884 1886

16-16, 4.02 ERA, 138 K, .293, 3 HR, 65 RBI


Led in:



Games Finished-5


3rd Time All-Star-As my regular reader (sic) know, players can make the All-Star teams in the following manners: be the best player on their team; be either one of two catchers, an infielder, or one of three outfielders; or just be a great player who didn’t make it in the other manners. Terry would have never made the All-Star team this season if he wasn’t the best the Grays had to offer. Still, he did manage to pitch 318 innings with a 4.02 ERA and a 107 ERA+. Not to mention, on a bad team, he had a .500 record. It’s not exactly Steve Carlton’s 1972, but it’s not terrible.

Charlie Byrne led Brooklyn to a 60-74 sixth place finish in the American Association. Terry was the only All-Star for the team. It was Byrne’s last year managing.

I put Terry in as a pitcher, but he could’ve also been an All-Star in the outfield. He played 49 games and 425 innings in the outfield, playing 33 in right, 12 in left, and four in center. Terry wasn’t the greatest hitter, slashing .293/.323/.392 for an OPS+ of 96, but he would eventually get a little better. Yet for the most part, his career was spent on the mound. He has more All-Star games coming in the future.

From Greek Mythology, here’s some facts about Adonis:

“In Greek mythology, Adonis was the god of beauty and desire.

Adonis died when he was attacked by a wild boar that was sent by Artemis, who was jealous of his hunting skills. A different version of the myth has it that the boar was sent by Ares, as he was the lover of Aphrodite. When he died, Aphrodite poured nectar over his blood, and the flower anemone emerged.”



C-Chris Fulmer, Baltimore Orioles, 28 Years Old


.269, 0 HR, 32 RBI


2nd Time All-Star-I never would have though Fulmer had another All-Star team in him, but look at me, always wrong! Fulmer was just one of two Baltimore catchers to make this team. Have patience, you can read about the other in a minute. Fulmer slashed .269/.382/.363 for an OPS+ of 113. Speaking of having patience, that was Fulmer’s specialty, as he was one of the great walkers of his time.

There used to be a rivalry between Baltimore and the Eastern Association Washington team. Here’s a highlight from DC Baseball History of a game they played in 1885: “Baltimore came for wool, but was shorn. Such, in brief, is the story of the contest at Capitol Park. Reinforced by Barr, the home team played a splendid game, and won by the errors which marked the visitors’ play an eight out of the nine innings. Since the season began Manager Barnie and his supporters in Baltimore have eloquently described how they would defeat the Nationals; but, like their predecessors of the League and American Associations, their scalps are now drying in the Nationals’ wigwam. The Baltimoreans were so confident that nearly 300 of them came over here with their pockets filled with money to invest upon their Orioles. They found ready takers, and they retired at 630PM with lighter pockets. The Washington Sunday Herald states that the crowd was announced at 3,000 spectators. The Washington National Republican estimated the crowd at 4,000. Outside the fumble by Jimmy Knowles the Nationals played a faultless game, their fielding being an improvement over that of several weeks ago. The fact that the fielding was better may be attributed to Barr being in the box. Chris Fulmer backed Barr up in splendid manner, considering the bad condition of his hands. Umpire Walsh. Time 1:45.”



C-Sam Trott, Baltimore Orioles, 28 Years Old

.257, 0 HR, 37 RBI


Led in:


Fielding % as C-.915


1st Time All-Star-Samuel W. “Sam” Trott was born in March, 1859 in Maryland. He actually started his career as a 21-year-old catcher for the Boston Red Stockings in 1880, moved to the Detroit Wolverines in 1881, and finally came to the Orioles in 1884. In a year and a league with very few good catchers, Trott finally made the All-Star team. He finished seventh in Defensive WAR (0.9), while at the bat, he slashed .257/.322/.330 for an OPS+ of 86. He’d actually hit very well in 1888, but didn’t play too many games, so I doubt he’ll make the All-Star team in that, his last year.

Wikipedia says of the beginning of Trott’s life, “Trott was born in Maryland in 1859. His father, Samuel E. Trott, was a Maryland native and a carpenter. His mother, Laura J. Trott, was also a Maryland native.”

And then of the end of his life: “By 1900, Trott was living with his wife Emma in Baltimore. They had two children then living with them, Bessie (born August 1890) and Samuel (born March 1900). Trott’s occupation was listed as a cigar salesman. Ten years later, Trott was still living in Baltimore with wife, Emma, and they by then had three children, Bessie, Samuel and Dorothy. His occupation in 1910 was traveling salesman. Trott died in Catonsville, Maryland, in June 1925 at the age of 66.”

Besides pitchers, it’s rare to have a team with two players making the All-Star team at the same position. Chris Fulmer was rated the higher catcher despite Trott catching more games.


1B-John Reilly, Cincinnati Red Stockings, 28 Years Old

1883 1884

.309, 10 HR, 96 RBI


Led in:


Double Plays Turned as 1B-84 (5th Time)


3rd Time All-Star-Reilly is back on the All-Star team after missing it for the last two seasons. For some reason, Long John’s power took a hiatus, but this year it returned as he hit double digit homers for the second time. Altogether this year, Reilly finished seventh in WAR Position Players (3.5) and slashed .309/.352/.477 for an OPS+ of 127. It wasn’t his greatest season, but he was still the American Association’s best first baseman.

SABR has an excellent article on Reilly. Here’s a snippet: “A free-swinging hitter who rarely walked and had difficulty adjusting his big swing to the bunting and place hitting that came into fashion during the late 1880’s, Reilly nevertheless recorded consistently high batting averages. He had a strong throwing arm and, while a man of his size would hardly be a speed demon, with his long legs he covered ground rapidly enough and appeared repeatedly on contemporary lists of the Reds’ most effective base runners. In a day when most home runs were hit inside the park, his high totals for homers as well as triples testify to his speed as well as his power. He maintained the superior defensive skills that had kept him in the major leagues before his hitting had matured. In later years he would claim to have originated the practice of first basemen playing away from the bag, a distinction that was more frequently attributed to his contemporary, Charlie Comiskey of the St. Louis Browns. In fact, though, this practice had been followed sporadically for many years before Comiskey’s and Reilly’s time.”


1B-Tommy Tucker, Baltimore Orioles, 23 Years Old

.275, 6 HR, 84 RBI


Led in:


Hit By Pitch-29


Def. Games as 1B-136

Putouts as 1B-1,346

Errors Committed as 1B-35


1st Time All-Star-Thomas Joseph “Tommy” or “Foghorn” Tucker was born on October 28, 1863 in Holyoke, MA and had a tremendous rookie year. He finished ninth in Defensive WAR (0.8) and has some good seasons ahead. From the beginning, Tucker was good at taking one for the team. This would be one of five seasons he would lead the league in being hit by pitches. Altogether, he would finish in the top 10 in that category 11 times and be plunked 272 times in his career, behind only Hughie Jennings and Craig Biggio. However, Tucker (13 seasons) played considerably less than Jennings (18 seasons) and Biggio (20 seasons).

As someone who grew up under the tutelage of Bill James’ Baseball Abstract, I learned about the defensive spectrum, which shows that there are tougher defensive positions than others on the field, with shortstop being the most difficult and first base being the easiest. I don’t know if WAR cares about the defensive spectrum, but it’s always a surprise to me when a first sacker makes the top 10 of dWAR, like Tucker did. He must have had quite a glove.

Speaking of his fielding, Wikipedia says, “He was a flashy first baseman in an era when using two hands was normal, making one-handed scoops of wild throws and pick-ups with his small glove, in contrast to the big-sized gloves employed by today’s first basemen.

“Tucker had the reputation of being one of the toughest players of his era. He was notorious for hip-checking a base runner off first base, and then tagging them out.”


2B-Yank Robinson, St. Louis Browns, 27 Years Old


.305, 1 HR, 74 RBI, 0-0, 3.00 ERA, 0 K


2nd Time All-Star-Robinson continued to be one of the reasons the Browns won the American Association pennant year after year. As the best second baseman in the young league, he finished sixth in WAR Position Players (3.5) and sixth in Offensive WAR (3.7). In the regular season, Yank slashed .305/.445/.405 for an OPS+ of 128. He was one of baseball’s first great walkers. In the World Series against Detroit, Robinson slashed .326/.446/.478 in a losing effort.

Here’s Wikipedia on Robinson’s penchant for walking: “During his peak years from 1887 to 1890, Robinson drew 472 free passes (427 walks and 45 times hit by pitch) and 400 hits in 2,115 plate appearances, giving him a ‘free pass’ percentage of .223 and an on-base percentage of .412. His Offensive WAR ratings of 3.8, 3.7 and 3.6 ranked sixth in the American Association in 1886 and 1887 and eighth in 1888.”

                Nowadays, of course, walks are well-regarded, even worshiped by pagans. But there have always been those who understood the value of the base on ball. Getting on base is better than making outs; that should be obvious. Yet there’s still something psychologically wrong about watching a batter take pitches instead of going up there hacking. I’d much rather watch Mike Trout take a shot at the long ball rather than watching him jog down to first, though I know the walk is more valuable than a whiff.

So without written records, we don’t know how the fans in the beginning days of baseball liked watching batters walk. Before the sabermetric days, walks were the pitcher’s fault and not due to the caginess of the hitter.


2B-Bid McPhee, Cincinnati Red Stockings, 27 Years Old


.289, 2 HR, 87 RBI


Led in:




Assists as 2B-434 (3rd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 2B-76 (6th Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-6.95 (3rd Time)

Range Factor/Game as 2B-6.79 (3rd Time)


2nd Time All-Star-McPhee, the gloveless wonder, continued to be a defensive wiz for the Red Stockings, finishing second in Defensive WAR (1.2). He also finished eighth in WAR Position Players (3.4), slashing .289/360/.407 for an OPS+ of 111. The Reds would have better second basemen, like Joe Morgan, but you have to appreciate someone like McPhee who did so well for so long.

I was never alive for the days where people could hit 19 triples on a regular basis. Oh, it still happens once in a while—Jose Reyes just hit 19 in 2008—but it’s not a common thing anymore and, as of this writing, that was eight years ago. From 1884-through-1906, the leading triple hitter had 19 or more. The record at this time was Dave Orr, who hit 31 in 1886.

Back to McPhee’s fielding, SABR says, “Earlier in McPhee’s career, ‘batsmen’ were permitted to choose whether they wanted the pitcher to deliver a high or low ball. As a result, McPhee and other infielders found it relatively easy to tell where the ball would be hit. When this practice was ended in 1887, McPhee used his skills and knowledge to determine proper positioning for each batter. Also, because of the efforts of McPhee and two of his outstanding contemporaries, Fred Pfeffer and Fred Dunlap, the position of second baseman evolved in the 1880s from one of playing directly on or near the bag to placing themselves to the left, ranging towards first.” And remember, this was all without a glove.


2B-Reddy Mack, Louisville Colonels, 21 Years Old

.308, 1 HR, 69 RBI


1st Time All-Star-Joseph “Reddy” Mack, born Joseph McNamara, was born on May 2, 1866, exactly 100 years before my brother, Rob, in Ireland. (Rob wasn’t born in Ireland, just in case you were wondering). The Irishman started as a 19-year-old for Louisville in 1885, learned how to draw walks in 1886, and made the All-Star team, probably his last, in 1887. He slashed .308/.415/.395 for an OPS+ of 124. As you can see, he didn’t have much power. After this season, he’s also going to lose his ability to hit for average. But Mack, you have nothing to be ashamed of, many players before you have made only one All-Star team and they are very proud of that accomplishment. Oh, wait, all of them are dead, never mind.

Despite the fact that the American Association was in its sixth season, it still had a lack of consistency in keeping players around. The National League had great stability. Only four of the 25 players on its All-Star team made the team for the first time and two players, Cap Anson and Jim O’Rourke, have been All-Stars for double-digits seasons. The AA has 11 players making the team for the first time and the most All-Star teams for it is from Harry Stovey, who has made six so far.

So you will have many people like Reddy Mack (who is so glad Chris Berman wasn’t born yet so he didn’t have to go around with the moniker “Helen” Reddy Mack or Reddy “Set, Go” Mack) who have an occasional good season, but fade out after that.


3B-Denny Lyons, Philadelphia Athletics, 21 Years Old

.367, 6 HR, 102 RBI


Led in:


Def. Games as 3B-137

Putouts as 3B-255

Double Plays Turned as 3B-29


1st Time All-Star-Dennis Patrick Aloysius “Denny” Lyons was born on March 12, 1866 in Cincinnati, OH, the baseball capital of the world! (Editor: Check this). He started by playing four games for the National League Providence Grays in 1885, before moving to Philadelphia the next season, where he will be for a while. Another place he’ll be for a stretch of time is right here on the All-Star teams. He’s going to have a good career that will end at the age of 31.

This season, Lyons, the best third baseman in the league, finished 10th in WAR (5.1), third in WAR Position Players (5.1), and fourth in Offensive WAR (5.8). At the dish, he slashed .367/.421/.523 for an OPS+ of 162. According to Baseball Reference, “Lyons reached base by hit or walk in 52 consecutive games in 1887.” He’s got one better hitting season coming up, but you’ll have to wait just like everybody else.

Since Hick Carpenter was the top third baseman in the American Association at its start in 1882 and 1883, the AA hasn’t had anyone be the top at that position for more than one year. In 1884, it was Dude Esterbrook; in 1885, it was Frank Hankinson; in 1886, it was Arlie Latham; and in 1887, it was Lyons. D.P.A. Lyons is going to be around for a while.

One thing Lyons won’t contribute is fielding. He’s seventh of all-time in errors committed as a third baseman with 509. He was second in errors committed at the hot corner this season with 73.


3B-Jumbo Davis, Baltimore Orioles, 25 Years Old

.309, 8 HR, 109 RBI


Led in:




1st Time All-Star-James J. “Jumbo” Davis was born on September 5, 1861 in New York, NY. When you have someone nicknamed “Jumbo,” the first thing to check is his vital stats. He’s five-foot-11, 195 pounds. That’s big, but not jumbo. Well, maybe for his time. He had his best season ever, finishing ninth in WAR Position Players (3.3) and seventh in Offensive WAR (3.5). Davis slashed .309/.353/.485 for an OPS+ of 137. He also tied for the league lead in triples. How many times does someone named Jumbo lead the league in triples? It should be mentioned Dave Orr, who was the same height as Davis but weighed 250 pounds, holds the record at this time for triples with 31. Why wasn’t Orr nicknamed Jumbo?

Jumbo started his career playing seven games for the Union Association Kansas City Cowboys, then took a year off from the majors. He came to Baltimore in 1886.

Davis is yet another one of those players who had one season which was an aberration from the rest of his career. He’d never have a full season again in which he slugged over .400 or hit over .300. His 19 triples this season was over half of his seven-year career total (37).

He’d finish his career bouncing around the American Association, from Kansas City to St. Louis to Brooklyn to Washington. Davis died at the age of 59 in St. Louis on Valentine’s Day of 1921. He is the first of many Davises who will be making this All-Star team over the years.


3B-Arlie Latham, St. Louis Browns, 27 Years Old

1884 1886

.316, 2 HR, 83 RBI


Led in:


At Bats-627

Plate Appearances-677


3rd Time All-Star-Latham, the crazy, fun-loving third baseman continued to bring joy to others, play on a winning team, and make All-Star teams. This season, he finished 10th in WAR Position Players (3.3) and second in Defensive WAR (1.2). At the plate, Latham slashed .316/.366/.413 for an OPS+ of 108. In the World Series, he slashed .293/.388/.310 with 15 stolen bases. In the regular season, Latham stole 129 bases, second in the league to Cincinnati rightfielder Hugh Nicol, who swiped 138.

Of those steals, Wikipedia says, “Latham stole 129 bases during the 1887 season. His career total of 742 ranks seventh all-time in the majors. As a player-coach for the 1909 Giants, Latham at age 49 became the oldest MLB player to steal a base…This record is not recognized by Major League Baseball, as stolen bases were defined differently prior to 1898.”

SABR always has amusing stories about Latham, like this one: “Arlie’s great gymnastic ability paid off from time to time. During one game Arlie laid down a bunt and the opposing team’s first baseman, a big man, was in the baseline with the ball waiting to tag Arlie. Suddenly Arlie did a complete somersault over the startled first baseman and came down safely on the bag. Arlie and the St. Louis team were a pugnacious lot and were greatly encouraged by [St. Louis Browns Owner] Von der Ahe to intimidate the other teams. When the league fined them, which was often, Von der Ahe would pay off the fines.”


SS-Oyster Burns, Baltimore Orioles, 22 Years Old

.341, 9 HR, 99 RBI, 1-0, 9.53 ERA, 2 K


Led in:


Games Played-140



1st Time All-Star-Thomas P. “Oyster” Burns was born on September 6, 1864 in Philadelphia, PA. He started his Major League career with the Union Association Wilmington Quicksteps in 1884, playing two games for them before moving on to the Orioles that same year. This was his best season ever as he finished fourth in WAR Position Players (5.0) and second in Offensive WAR (6.1). Despite 1887 being his crowning achievement, he’ll be around these lists for a while.

At the plate, Burns slashed .341/.414/.519 for an OPS+ of 164. It would be his highest on-base percentage, slugging average, and Adjusted OPS+ of his whole career, all at the age of 22.

Wikipedia tells us why Burns didn’t play in the 1886 season: “His offensive struggles led him to be demoted to the Newark Domestics for the 1886 season, where he helped the Domestics win the Eastern League pennant.”

However, still from Wikipedia, Burns didn’t seem much fun to be around. Here’s a quote from an anonymous teammate of Burns on the Orioles: “He was a disturber and one of the worst that ever played ball. His disposition was very bad, and he made it unpleasant for any of the boys that crested him. He is what you would call a bulldozer. [Bridegrooms manager Bill] McGunnigle may be able to handle Burns, but I doubt it.” Well, we’ve all worked with people like that, haven’t we?

And one last tidbit from Wikipedia: “By 1887, Burns had reentered the majors for the Orioles and became the team captain until he threw a baseball at an opposing pitcher following a groundout; he was later fined $25 ($658 in 2011).”


SS-Frank Fennelly, Cincinnati Red Stockings, 27 Years Old

1884 1885 1886

.266, 8 HR, 97 RBI


Led in:



Errors Committed as SS-99 (2nd Time)


4th Time All-Star-Fennelly made his fourth consecutive All-Star team, finishing ninth in Offensive WAR (3.0) and 10th in Defensive WAR (0.8) and he’s probably got one or two teams left in him. He certainly was the crown jewel at shortstop for the American Association for a stretch of time here and one of the first great players of my Cincinnati Reds, but heck if I knew him before I started doing this webpage.

The great shortstop would never win a league title and this year is as close as he got as the Red Stockings finished in second place. It’s the old argument, can you be a great player but not win titles? Ask Mike Trout.

This is Fennelly’s last full season with the Red Stockings. He would start with them in 1888, but be traded to Philadelphia late in the season. His hitting is really going to take a fall next season. As it is, his OPS+ in 1885 was 141, in 1886 was 127, and then this season, he slashed .266/.369/.401 for and OPS+ of 112. It’d continue to fall, his Adjusted OPS+ being only 83 in 1888.

                During Fennelly’s whole career with the Red Stockings, he played in a neutral hitters’ park, League Park, so it’s not like a change of park affected him. Maybe, looking above, you see that he led the league in strikeouts and your conclusion is he started striking out too much. You might be right, because you’re very smart. But we have no tracking of strikeouts before 1887, so it’s possible Fennelly was whiffing frequently even in previous seasons.


LF-Tip O’Neill, St. Louis Browns, 29 Years Old


.435, 14 HR, 123 RBI


Led in:


1887 AA Batting Title

1887 AA Triple Crown

WAR Position Players-6.9

Offensive WAR-6.6

Batting Average-.435

On-Base %-.490

Slugging %-.691

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.180

Runs Scored-167


Total Bases-357



Home Runs-14

Runs Batted In-123 (2nd Time)

Adjusted OPS+-213

Runs Created-173

Adj. Batting Runs-82

Adj. Batting Wins-7.8

Extra Base Hits-85

Offensive Win %-.907

Power-Speed #-19.1

AB per HR-36.9


2nd Time All-Star-Once in a while, you run into one of these seasons, where one hitter or one pitcher so dominates the league. Look at all those categories O’Neill led in. I don’t have to give his slash numbers because he was tops in all of them. I don’t have to give his Adjusted OPS+, because he finished first in that, too. I will tell you after a good 1886 World Series, Tip couldn’t keep up his great hitting in the 1887 version, slashing .200/.200/.308 as the Browns lost to the Wolverines.

According to Wikipedia, “His batting average was originally recorded at .492, bases on balls having been counted as hits during that season. At the time of his death in 1915, his unadjusted .492 average was recorded as the highest in major league history. Subsequently, batting averages for the 1887 season were adjusted by removing bases on balls from the calculations. Even after that adjustment, O’Neill’s 1887 batting average of .435 was a major league record until 1894 when Hugh Duffy established the current major league record by hitting .440. O’Neill’s adjusted average for 1887 remains the second highest single season batting average in major league history.”

As I write this, there is talk about baseball possibly limiting the number of pitcher changes allowed along with limiting the number of defensive shifts permitted. People look at those tweaks as abominations to the game of baseball, which has never changed. But the game changed all the time. In 1887, walks were counted in the batting average. I don’t know whether or not I agree with the changes, but I don’t think “the game is sacred and has never changed” is a good argument.


LF-Harry Stovey, Philadelphia Athletics, 30 Years Old

1882 1883 1884 1885 1886

.286, 4 HR, 77 RBI


6th Time All-Star-Though I had Stovey at first base on the 1886 All-Star team, he actually played more outfield. This season, he’s on the team at leftfield for the first time. He has now made the team for the sixth consecutive year and has a good shot at making the ONEHOF (The One-a-Year Hall of Fame) someday. This season, Stovey slashed .286 (his lowest average in six years)/.366 (his lowest on-base percentage in four years)/.421 (his lowest slugging average in six years) for an OPS+ of 119 (his lowest Adjusted OPS+ in six years). This just shows how spectacular his career has been. Even with lower numbers, he still made the All-Star team.

In an article in philly.com in 1999 by writer Frank Fitzpatrick, he talks of Stovey being considered for the Baseball Hall of Fame. I suggest you read it all, but here’s a little bit: “In the years after he left baseball, Harry Stow walked a beat in New Bedford, Mass. The policeman’s territory was the fishing city’s dingy waterfront. He broke up fights, arrested prostitutes, and, one hot summer day in 1901, rescued a drowning 7-year-old boy who had fallen between two wharves. By the time he retired in 1923, the gentlemanly Stow had been a police captain for eight years.

“He died at his daughter’s home in 1937 at 80. Until they read his obituary in the next morning’s newspaper, not many of New Bedford’s younger residents knew anything about this quiet cop’s remarkable past.” Is it possible there are superstars walking among us nowadays and we don’t know about it? I doubt that in this Twitter era.


CF-Pete Browning, Louisville Colonels, 26 Years Old

1882 1883 1884 1885

.402, 4 HR, 118 RBI


Led in:


Singles-165 (2nd Time)

Times on Base-283 (3rd Time)

Errors Committed as OF-46 (2nd Time)


5th Time All-Star-It seems to me, reading over the past blurbs I’ve written of Browning, that more was written about his terrible defense than his amazing offense. But let’s not forget that great batting. This season, he finished eighth in WAR (6.0), second in WAR Position Players (6.0), and third in Offensive WAR (6.1). He slashed .402/.464/.547 for an OPS+ of 177. All of those categories rank second in the league behind the outstanding Tip O’Neill, except slugging, which ranks third.

Is the Louisville Slugger named after Browning? SABR says, “Of course the most widely know legend has to do with the Louisville Slugger line of bats. Browning was often referred to as the Louisville Slugger in his day. According to bat-maker Hillerich & Bradsby legend, the first custom made bat made by the now-famous firm was for Browning in 1884. This is most likely not true but it is part of baseball lore forever.” Their answer, probably not.

From a different SABR article, there’s this: “For nearly his entire life, Browning was plagued by mastoidal problems. The impact of this malady is significant. It robbed Browning of his hearing. Because he could not hear, he refused to go to school out of frustration and embarrassment; the lack of schooling made him a virtual illiterate. The resulting sense of isolation, coupled with the savage physical discomfort attendant to the condition, fueled his uncontrollable drinking. It also prompted his commitment to an insane asylum, and was a major factor in his early death –both the product of a brain infection. In short, the mastoiditis was responsible for all his personal and professional problems.” Sad.


RF-Bob Caruthers, St. Louis Browns, 23 Years Old

1885 1886

.357, 8 HR, 73 RBI, 29-9, 3.30 ERA, 74 K


Led in:


Win-Loss %-.763 (2nd Time)

Walks & Hits per IP-1.167

Range Factor/9 Inn as P-3.48

Range Factor/Game as P-3.38

Fielding % as P-.971


3rd Time All-Star-In 1887, Caruthers played 50 games in rightfield and pitched 39 games, so he’s on the All-Star team as a position player for the first time. However, it’s mainly his pitching that led to this incredible season. He finished second in WAR (11.0), sixth in WAR for Pitchers (6.8), fifth in WAR Position Players (4.2), and fifth in Offensive WAR (4.0). Along with all of that, his team made the World Series again, where Parisian Bob started eight games on the mound, going 4-4 with a 2.15 ERA. At the plate, he wasn’t as valuable, slashing .239/.255/.239, much less than his regular season marks.

It was also his last season with the Browns. According to SABR, “In 1887, as they had each year since 1882, the champions of the American Association faced the National League titleholders in a postseason series. Billed as the World’s Championship Series, the contests were viewed as mere exhibition games by some of the players and with good reason. For example, the 1887 series consisted of 15 games between the Browns and the National League champion Detroit Wolverines, played in several different cities. One day the teams played a morning game in Washington and an afternoon encounter in Baltimore.  In order to relieve the monotony of the travel and the meaningless (to them) games, some of the St. Louis players engaged in recreational activities that may have taken precedence over their preparations for baseball. At least that was the opinion of Chris von der Ahe, owner of the Browns. As Caruthers was an expert billiards and poker player as well as something of a carouser, the owner placed the onus on Parisian Bob for the loss of the series 10 games to 5. He put Caruthers on the market.”