1891 National League All-Star Team

P-Bill Hutchinson, CHC

P-John Clarkson, BSN

P-Kid Nichols, BSN

P-Amos Rusie, NYG

P-Harry Staley, PIT/BSN

P-Cy Young, CLV

P-Kid Gleason, PHI

P-John Ewing, NYG

P-Bob Caruthers, BRO

P-Tony Mullane, CIN

C-Jack Clements, PHI

C-Doggie Miller, PIT

1B-Roger Connor, NYG

1B-Jake Beckley, PIT

1B-Cap Anson, CHC

2B-Bid McPhee, CIN

2B-Danny Richardson, NYG

2B-Cupid Childs, CLV

3B-Arlie Latham, CIN

SS-Herman Long, BSN

LF-Billy Hamilton, PHI

CF-Mike Griffin, BRO

RF-Mike Tiernan, NYG

RF-Harry Stovey, BSN

RF-Sam Thompson, PHI

 

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P-Bill Hutchinson, Chicago Colts, 31 Years Old

1890

44-19, 2.81 ERA, 261 K, .185, 2 HR, 25 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Wins Above Replacement-9.9

WAR for Pitchers-10.5

Wins-44 (2nd Time)

Games Pitched-66 (2nd Time)

Innings Pitched-561.0 (2nd Time)

Games Started-58 (2nd Time)

Complete Games-56 (2nd Time)

Home Runs Allowed-26 (2nd Time)

Hits Allowed-508

Earned Runs Allowed-175

Wild Pitches-25

Batters Faced-2,371 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as P-66 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-With the demise of the Players League after one season, it was back to two leagues, the National League and the American Association. By next year, it will be down to one, as the American Association will fold after 10 years of existence as a Major League. Then from 1892-through-1900, the National League will be the only Major League game in town and it will look like they finally slew all comers. But starting in 1901, a new league, the American League will begin its long and still-running history.

Hutchinson played in the oldest league for an old school manager, Cap Anson, who used his pitcher in an old school manner, that is to say until his arm fell off. Wild Bill pitched 561 innings, which was 60 more than second place Amos Rusie and 100 more than third place John Clarkson. You would think a person couldn’t last too long pitching this way and you’d be right. You probably cheated and looked at Baseball Reference like I did and saw that after 1892, his innings would drop and his ERA would rise. However, from 1890-92, he was almost unstoppable, averaging 40 wins and 595 innings. This season, he finished first in WAR (9.9) and first in WAR for Pitchers (10.5). In this 561 innings, he finished with a 2.81 ERA and a 123 ERA+. I would have patented the name “Wild Bill the Workhorse” if I lived back then and made a mint! The pride of Yale University had his best season ever.

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P-John Clarkson, Boston Beaneaters, 29 Years Old

1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890

33-19, 2.79 ERA, 141 K, .225, 0 HR, 26 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Saves-3

Assists as P-114 (5th Time)

Range Factor/Game as P-2.56 (3rd Time)

8th Time All-Star-If you read some of the earlier write-ups on Clarkson, you’ll realize he bears a lot of responsibility for the creation of the Players League in 1890, but ended up staying in the National League. So he must have felt like giving a raspberry to the returning players when it proved to be the best thing to do to stay put. As for his actual pitching, Clarkson pitched 460 2/3 innings with a 2.79 ERA and a 129 ERA+. This is for a pitcher who averaged 509 innings pitched over the last seven seasons and still was one of the best in the league. He finished second in WAR (9.8) and second in WAR for Pitchers (9.6), behind only Bill Hutchinson in both categories.

Clarkson’s golden arm helped lead the Beaneaters to their fourth league title. It was also the pitcher’s fourth ever pennant. Frank Selee, the Hall of Fame manager, was in his second year for Boston and coached them to a 87-51 record, three-and-a-half games ahead of Chicago. As late as Sept. 4, Boston was seven games out after losing to the Colts, 5-3. Then they caught on fire, finishing the season with a 25-4 run, which included a 17-game winning streak.

SABR has more on the dispute between Clarkson and some of the other players: “Many of the men had issues with Clarkson and he was treated rudely and shunned by some for the rest of his career. Some observers claimed that a few of his teammates slacked off while Clarkson was on the mound, the very thing Conant, the Beaneaters director, feared previously. King Kelly for one refused to return to Boston, instead jumping to the American Association, in part because he didn’t want to play with Clarkson and Charlie Bennett.”

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P-Kid Nichols, Boston Beaneaters, 21 Years Old

1890

30-17, 2.39 ERA, 240 K, .197, 0 HR, 27 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-2.180

Saves-3

Strikeouts/Base on Balls-2.330 (2nd Time)

Adjusted ERA+-151

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.71 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Runs-46 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-4.3 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-If you look at John Clarkson and Nichols’ stats, you would say to yourself, “Of course these two are Hall of Fame pitchers,” and you would be correct. However, the surprising thing to me is how long it took the two of them to go into the Hall. Clarkson was selected in 1963 by the Veteran’s Committee and Nichols didn’t get in until 1949 when he was voted in by the Old Timers Committee. How are these two not first ballot Hall of Famers and, even if the writers had to sort through 65 years of baseball history in 1936, how did they not go in sooner? Almost every single thing about the Hall of Fame perplexes me, though I will say the reason you have Veterans Committees and Old Timers Committees is to fix errors like this. The problem, of course, is those same committees vote in people like Tommy McCarthy.

As for Nichols’ 1891 season, he finished third in WAR (9.2) and third in WAR for Pitchers (9.6), behind Bill Hutchinson and Clarkson in both categories. He pitched 425 1/3 innings with a 2.39 ERA and a league-leading 151 ERA+. All of this at 21 years old.

After the 1890 season, there was a new edition to the Nichols’ household, according to SABR, which says, “Kid and Jennie Nichols wintered in Boston, and on December 8 they celebrated the birth of their only child, Alice. Nichols won 30 games for the first time in 1891, and would reach that total in six of the next seven seasons. His seven 30-win seasons remains a major-league record.”

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P-Amos Rusie, New York Giants, 20 Years Old

1890

33-20, 2.55 ERA, 337 K, .245, 0 HR, 15 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Hits per 9 IP-7.033 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.062 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts-337 (2nd Time)

Shutouts-6

Bases on Balls-262 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as P-14 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-You might not realize this because you haven’t had hours to study these players like I have, but the first four players listed here all pitched in the National League in 1890. The reason many of these players even got a chance to pitch is because of the creation of the Players League, but three of the four of these players are now in the Hall of Fame. That includes Rusie, the Hoosier Thunderbolt, who, in 1891, finished fourth in WAR (8.9) and fourth in WAR for Pitchers (8.6). Rusie pitched 500 1/3 innings with a 2.55 ERA and a 123 ERA+.

As for Rusie’s Giants, they recovered from their sixth place finish in 1890 and moved up to third with a 71-61 record. Coached by Jim Mutrie, now in his ninth and last year of managing, New York finished 13 games out of first. Despite a career 658-419 record, including three pennants and two World Series titles, Truthful Jim would never manage in the Major Leagues again. He was only 40 years old.

Rusie threw a no-hitter in 1891, as detailed in Wikipedia, which says, “After having been on the losing end of no-hitter by Tom Lovett of the Brooklyn Bridegrooms on June 22, Rusie returned the favor by throwing one of his own against them just over a month later on July 31. After winning both games of a doubleheader against the Bridegrooms in September, Rusie and several other star players were rested for the remainder of the season, a five-game series against the Boston Beaneaters. Rusie’s 337 strikeouts and 262 bases on balls led the league for the second consecutive year, and his six shutouts marked the first time he led the league in that category.”

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P-Harry Staley, Pittsburgh Pirates/Boston Beaneaters, 24 Years Old

1890

24-13, 2.58 ERA, 139 K, .180, 1 HR, 19 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Walks & Hits per IP-1.213 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Staley made the lateral move from the Pittsburgh Burghers of the Players League to the Pirates of the National League, but didn’t remain in the Steel City long. He was released by the Pirates on May 27 and picked up by the Beaneaters the same day. Altogether, Staley had his best season ever and, most likely, his last All-Star appearance. He finished fifth in WAR (7.7) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (7.9), pitching 324 innings with a 2.58 ERA and a 137 ERA+. Through his first four seasons, Staley had a 3.08 ERA and a 115 ERA+. However, over the rest of his career, he would end up with a 4.85 ERA and a 96 ERA+.

Ned Hanlon (31-47) and Bill McGunnigle (24-33) coached the Pirates to a last place finish with a 55-80 record, 30-and-a-half games out of first. After this season, Hanlon would head to the Baltimore Orioles, where his Hall of Fame managerial career would kick into high gear. McGunnigle, on the other hand, would have just one season as a manager left, with the 1896 Louisville Colonels.

Staley was a career .182 hitter, but in 1893, he did something unusual, according to Wikipedia, which says, “On June 1, 1893, Staley had nine runs batted in off his bat, a record for most RBIs in a game by a pitcher that stood for over 70 years until equalled by Atlanta Braves pitcher Tony Cloninger in 1966.” Staley would remain with Boston for three more seasons after this one, and finish his career with the 1895 St. Louis Browns. He would die young, at the age of 43, in Battle Creek, Michigan.

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P-Cy Young, Cleveland Spiders, 24 Years Old

27-22, 2.85 ERA, 147 K, .167, 1 HR, 18 RBI

 

1st Time All-Star-Denton True “Cy” or “Cyclone” Young was born on March 29, 1867 in Gilmore, OH. You might have heard of this pitcher. He was big for his time, at six-foot-two, 210 pounds, which certainly helped his durability, as 19 of his 22 seasons were pitched from the now normal 60-foot, six-inch distance. Young started with the Spiders in 1890 and was made a regular pitcher this season. He would never pitch under 300 innings until he was 39-years-old in 1906 and never pitch under 200 innings until he was 43-years-old in 1910. Just my guess, Young is going to make the ONEHOF.

I’m going to write a line I could just copy and paste for the next 20 or so years. Young finished sixth in WAR (6.6) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (7.1). Cyclone tossed 423 2/3 innings with a 2.85 ERA and a 120 ERA+. This will be his lowest Adjusted ERA+ until 1906. I know we have a pitching award named after him, but it’s just incredible to look at his stats and not be dazzled by them.

As for the Spiders, Bob Leadley (34-34) and Patsy Tebeau (31-40) managed the team to a fifth-place 65-74 record. In games not decided by Young, Cleveland was 38-52.

Here’s Cy Young’s motion, as described in a SABR article, quoting sportswriters of Young’s day: “He ‘winds up his arm, then his body, then his legs, bows profoundly to his great outfield, straightens up again, and then lets her go.’”

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P-Kid Gleason, Philadelphia Phillies, 24 Years Old

1890

24-22, 3.51 ERA, 100 K, .248, 0 HR, 17 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Games Finished-9

2nd Time All-Star-Gleason made his second, and most likely, last All-Star team this season, finishing seventh in WAR (6.6) and eighth in WAR for Pitchers (5.8). Kid tossed  418 innings with a 3.51 ERA and a 95 ERA+. He was actually helped by his bat this season, slashing .248/.318/.290 for an OPS+ of 77. Not great, but certainly not bad for a pitcher. Gleason’s problem is he wouldn’t be a pitcher after 1894 and still have that that same weak bat as a second baseman for the rest of his career.

Hall of Fame manager Harry Wright continued to coach the Phillies, leading them to a fourth-place 68-69 record. He’s been managing since 1871, the year of which I started writing this webpage and he’s got a couple of seasons left.

After this season, Gleason would move to St. Louis from 1892-94, to Baltimore in 1894 and 1895, to New York from 1896-1900, to the American League Detroit Tigers in 1901 and 1902, back to the National League Phillies from 1903-07, and finish with one game for AL White Sox in 1912. It was with his second season with Baltimore he became a regular second baseman. As mentioned in last year’s blurb, Gleason managed the 1919 Black Sox and continued coaching them for the following four seasons.

Wikipedia says, “Gleason died of a heart ailment in 1933, at the age of 66, in Philadelphia; his funeral was well attended, a testament to his popularity. He is buried in Philadelphia’s Northwood Cemetery.”

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P-John Ewing, New York Giants, 28 Years Old

21-8, 2.27 ERA, 138 K, .204, 0 HR, 8 RBI

 

Led in:

 

1891 NL Pitching Title

Earned Run Average-2.27

Win-Loss %-.724

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.067

1st Time All-Star-“Long John” Ewing was born on June 1, 1863 in Cincinnati, OH and certainly was long at six-foot-one and skinny at 168 pounds. The brother of Hall of Fame catcher Buck Ewing, he had an unusual career, starting by playing one game for the American Association St. Louis Browns in 1883 and then one game each for the 1884 Union Association Cincinnati Outlaw Reds and Washington Nationals. Ewing didn’t make the Major Leagues again until 1888, when he started pitching with the AA Louisville Colonels, then moved to the 1890 Players League New York Giants, before finally moving to the National League this season with New York. You read that right, he played six seasons in four different leagues.

This season, he finally made his mark, finishing 10th in WAR (5.7) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (5.9). Ewing pitched 269 1/3 innings with a league-leading 2.27 ERA and a 139 ERA+. Long John was off and running.

Except he wasn’t. He was done after this season and would be dead within another four years. According to Baseball Reference, “The Sporting Life of October 31, 1891 reported that Ewing was refusing to sign for another season unless he was paid more money. However, that winter he was apparently struck with a serious illness: the Lewiston Evening Journal of February 27, 1892 intimated that John nearly died but that he was recovering, and the hope was he would be able to pitch by June. The Toronto Daily Mail of January 9, 1893 reported that John had hoped to come back to the Giants the previous spring, but that his brother Buck feared John’s health would not allow him to do so.”

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P-Bob Caruthers, Brooklyn Grooms, 27 Years Old

1885 1886 1887 1888 1889

18-14, 3.12 ERA, 69 K, .281, 2 HR, 23 RBI

 

6th Time All-Star-Parisian Bob didn’t make the All-Star team in 1890, which is a little shocking considering he was in the National League in a diluted year because of the three Major Leagues. In 1890, for the Grooms, Caruthers went 23-11 with a 3.09 ERA. Maybe he should have been there. Oh well, too late to change it now. Back to 1891, where Caruthers pitched 297 innings with a 3.12 ERA and a 104 ERA+. He also did his usual damage with the bat, slashing .281/.372/.380 for an OPS+ of 122. This is most certainly his last All-Star team, but he’s the predecessor of one George Herman Ruth.

Caruthers’ team, the Grooms, had a shaky year, finishing in sixth place with a 61-76 record, 25-and-a-half games out. They were coached by the great John “Monte” Ward, who was the manager of the Players League Brooklyn Ward’s Wonders in 1890. Hey, if you don’t have a professional team named after you, don’t mock! Only Monte Ward and Paul Brown are part of this club. Well, there may be others, but that would take research and who has time for that.

As with many of these players, Caruthers’ life did not end well. SABR says, “Less than a year after the Waterloo incident another newspaper reported: ‘Pale and emaciated, Robert Caruthers, once an idol of the baseball world—a star pitcher—was sentenced to twenty days in the workhouse, the result of drink.’ Caruthers never served his 20-day sentence, for he did not have that many days left in his life. On August 5, 1911, only two weeks after his arrest, he died at St. Francis Hospital in Peoria, the city where he and Mamie were living with her parents.”

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P-Tony Mullane, Cincinnati Reds, 32 Years Old

1882 1883 1884 1886 1887

23-26, 3.23 ERA, 124 K, .148, 0 HR, 10 RBI

 

6th Time All-Star-Where has Count Mullane been the last few seasons? Doing what he always does, pitching great for the Reds. However, due to many great pitchers and lack of innings, Mullane didn’t make the All-Star team from 1888-90. He’s back this season and also most likely next season, which will give him a total of seven All-Star teams. I think he’s a Hall of Fame candidate, but if I’m a small Hall person, he doesn’t make it. For years, I thought he’d make the ONEHOF, my Hall of Fame which allows just one player to enter per year, but that’s not going to happen now either. It’s hard to believe his chances at both Halls were hurt by a non-All Star stretch in which he went 49-35 with a 2.72 ERA and a 127 ERA+. But for his day, much more was expected of pitchers.

In 1891, the Apollo of the Box finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (4.9), tossing 426 1/3 innings, his most since 1886, with a 3.23 ERA and a 103 ERA+, his lowest Adjusted ERA+ since 1886. Despite his pitching, the Reds finished in seventh place with a 56-81 record. Tom Loftus coached the team for the second straight year, but couldn’t keep the success from 1890 when the Reds went 77-55. Loftus wouldn’t coach again until 1900.

Here’s Mullane’s Hall of Fame candidacy from Baseball Reference: “Mullane is 2nd all-time in wins among pitchers not enshrined in the Hall of Fame who are eligible. Only Bobby Mathews is ahead of him. He might have won 300 if not for a suspension he served that kept him out all of 1885. Mullane is the all-time leader in wins by an Irish pitcher; only Blyleven won more among non-Americans. Canadian Ferguson Jenkins won as many.”

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C-Jack Clements, Philadelphia Phillies, 26 Years Old

1890

.310, 4 HR, 75 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Double Plays Turned as C-10

2nd Time All-Star-Don Malcolm of Big Bad Baseball sponsored Clements’ Baseball Reference page and commented: “The most successful left-handed catcher in baseball history who begs the question: where are the other ones??” That is a good question, but I doubt there will ever be another one, because once a coach sees a left-handed player, he’s not going to train him up to be a backstop. Wouldn’t baseball be more exciting with a lefty catcher? It certainly was with Clements who finished eighth in WAR Position Players (4.3) and seventh in Offensive WAR (4.0). He slashed .310/.380/.426 for an OPS+ of 134. His hitting was starting to decline, but would improve again in 1895 and 1896. He’s still one of the best hitters at his position.

The Encyclopedia of Baseball Catchers writes of Clements that, “Only long term, career LEFT-HANDED throwing catcher ever in the majors. Clements was a squat, powerful man who hit home runs when they were a rarity. He caught 105 games in 1892, and was the last lefthanded catcher to play regularly. Righthanded batters learned to duck when a runner broke for second; Clements simply fired away. “

You might be wondering who played catcher regularly in the most seasons for the Phillies in their long history. The answer is this man. They’ve had others play more games, because catcher was such a brutal position to play in the 1800s, but no one was the team’s regular backstop more seasons than Clements, who did it 10 years.

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C-Doggie Miller, Pittsburgh Pirates, 26 Years Old

1890

.285, 4 HR, 57 RBI

 

2nd Time All-Star-After making the All-Star team as a third baseman in 1890, Doggie made it as a catcher this season. He finished ninth in Offensive WAR (3.7), slashing .285/.357/.363 for an OPS+ of 114. He’d never hit this well again, but he helped wherever he played and he played everywhere on the field. In his career, he played mostly catcher, but would end up playing at least 22 games at every position, including all three outfield spots. He was the ultimate utility player.

Following this season, Miller would continue with the Pirates through 1893 and then play in St. Louis for two seasons, before finishing his career in Louisville in 1896. He’s going to have another good season in 1894, but I don’t know if he’ll make the All-Star team. Apparently you can go to this page and debate the Hall of Fame merits of players and it throws Doggie into the debate. Um, no way.  Anyway, they say the following about 1894, which I may be repeating that season: “1894 was Doggie at his best.  Usually good for about a .260 batting average, he upped his mark to .339 that season.  Never much of a slugger or on-base guru, Doggie was in ’94 when he posted a stellar .414 on-base percentage and had a .453 slugging average–it was the only time his on-base percentage and slugging average reached the .400 mark” This page only has one comment in which the commenter says, “Doggie was a fine catcher during the 1800s but since his numbers are plenty weaker than HOF catchers from that period, King Kelly and Buck Ewing, and other passed over receivers like Deacon White and Deacon McGuire, I don’t see Miller ever making the HOF.” Good argument. Mine is more succinct. No way.

connor101B-Roger Connor, New York Giants, 33 Years Old, 1891 ONEHOF Inductee

1880 1882 1883 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890

.290, 7 HR, 94 RBI

 

10th Year All-Star-Well, it’s about time! Yes, Roger Connor, the original Giant, finally made the One-a-Year Hall of Fame, the Hall of Fame I created in which only one player a year enters the hall. It’s much harder to make than the Cooperstown Hall of Fame and thus much more prestigious. Next season, the nominees are 1B Harry Stovey and C Charlie Bennett.

This season, Connor finished ninth in WAR (5.7), the last of eight times he would finish in the top 10 in that category. He also finished second in WAR Position Players (5.7), behind only Philadelphia’s Billy Hamilton and third in Offensive WAR (5.0), behind only Hamilton and Connor’s teammate MikeTiernan. He slashed .290/.399/.449 for an OPS+ of 153. It seems like an off season, but his Adjusted OPS+ wasn’t really off that much from his regular numbers. At this point in his career, Connor is behind Harry Stovey in home runs, 117-87.

SABR on Connor’s 1891 season:  “Like most of his Players League Giant teammates, Connor returned to the National League Giants for the 1891 season. But the situation was much changed from the recent championship years. Tension abounded on the field between the Players League returnees and the National League loyalists; in the dugout, where a disabled Buck Ewing effectively supplanted Jim Mutrie as Giants manager, and in the front office, where a near-bankrupt John B. Day was forced to cede operational control of the franchise to E.B. Talcott and his Players League partners. Before the 1891 season was out, longtime Connor teammate Tim Keefe had been released while Mickey Welch and Jim O’Rourke, a fellow Connecticut Irishman and close friend, were near the end of the line. At age 34, moreover, Roger himself was now past his prime. He batted only .290 for the 1891 season with power numbers that, while still decent, were not up to the Connor norm.”>

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1B-Jake Beckley, Pittsburgh Pirates, 23 Years Old

1889 1890

.292, 4 HR, 73 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Assists as 1B-87

3rd Time All-Star-Eagle Eye Beckley made his third All-Star team in a row as he returned to the National League after his year excursion in the Players League. He finished ninth in WAR Position Players (4.1), slashing .292/.353/.419 for an OPS+ of 129. This would be Beckley’s highest Adjusted OPS+ until 1899 with the Reds. Since he’s already made three All-Star teams at the age of 23, I’m interested to see how many he’ll make.

Wikipedia says Beckley had a hard year in his personal life, as “Beckley married Molly Murphy of Hannibal in 1891. She died of tuberculosis a few months after their wedding. He later remarried.” Thus SABR continues, “He slumped badly after her death, with his batting average plummeting to a career-low .236 in 1892. Jake didn’t marry again until his baseball career was over.” More on Beckley from SABR: “Beckley was a handsome man, though one of his eyes was slightly crossed, and kept his impressive mustache long after all but a handful of players had relinquished theirs; at the time of his retirement he was one of only three men in the majors who still sported facial hair. He also displayed several other idiosyncrasies. Beckley yelled ‘Chickazoola!’ to rattle opposing pitchers when he was on a batting tear, and he perfected the unusual (and now-illegal) practice of bunting with the handle of his bat. As the pitch approached the plate, Jake flipped the bat around in his hands and tapped the ball with the handle.”

anson171B-Cap Anson, Chicago Colts, 39 Years Old

1872 1873 1874 1876 1877 1878 1880 1881 1882 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890

.291, 8 HR, 120 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Runs Batted In-120 (8th Time)

Double Plays Turned as 1B-86 (4th Time)

17th Time All-Star-It is possible Anson has finally made his last All-Star team. This is his 17th and eighth in a row. No player dominated this era like the boisterous Anson and no person is more controversial than him as we judge from our modern times. I try to make this page about on-the-field exploits and, based on those, Anson is one of the greatest players of all time. And no, I’m not talking for his time.  I’m saying in the whole of baseball history, there haven’t been too many better players than Anson. We can only judge people in the era in which they played and Anson has been a great player for over 20 years and he’s still got seven years left to play.

In 1891, Anson finished 10th in WAR Position Players (3.9) and 10th in Offensive WAR (3.7). He slashed .291/.378/.409 for an OPS+ of 125. He’d continue hitting for average and getting on base over the next few years, but I’m doubting he makes another All-Star team. He did manage the team to an 82-53 second place finish, three-and-a-half games out of first. Anson had the team in first as late as Sept. 28, but Chicago lost four of its last five games to lose the title.

As for his later life, SABR says, “Anson’s later life was filled with disappointment. The National League offered to provide a pension for the ex-ballplayer, but Anson stoutly refused all offers of assistance. He declared bankruptcy in 1910, and by 1913 he had lost his home and moved in with a daughter and son-in-law. Virginia Anson died in 1915 after a long illness, and the widowed ex-ballplayer resumed his stage career in a skit written by his friend Ring Lardner titled ‘First Aid for Father.’ The skit starred Anson and his daughters Adele and Dorothy, and the Anson clan crisscrossed the nation, sharing bills with jugglers and animal acts in small town and big city alike. Vaudeville allowed Anson to support himself, but barely, and he retired, penniless, from the stage in 1921. He died on April 14, 1922, three days shy of his 70th birthday, and was buried in Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago. The National League paid his funeral expenses. Seventeen years later, on May 2, 1939, Anson and his former friend and mentor Al Spalding were named to the Baseball Hall of Fame by a special committee.”

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2B-Bid McPhee, Cincinnati Reds, 31 Years Old

1886 1887 1889 1890

.256, 6 HR, 38 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Assists as 2B-492 (6th Time)

Fielding % as 2B-.954 (7th Time)

5th Time All-Star-Every year McPhee looks at a baseball glove, laughs at those who wear them, and then bare-handedly has spectacular All-Star seasons. The Reds second baseman finished sixth in WAR Position Players (4.5) and fourth in Defensive WAR (1.8), his highest dWAR of his career. Bid slashed .256/.345/.370 for an OPS+ of 109, which is not great, but certainly serviceable for someone who could field like he did.

Did you know for all of the great players the Reds have had for their history, McPhee ranks sixth of all-time in WAR (52)? He is behind only Pete Rose (77), Johnny Bench (74), Barry Larkin (70), Frank Robinson (63), and Joe Morgan (57). Of course, if Robinson and Morgan had played more years with the Reds, they’d be even higher on the list. It helped McPhee to play so good for so long. If Joey Votto has a good 2017 season, he could pass McPhee.

I like what SABR has to say about McPhee’s personality. It says, “On the field and off McPhee was a gentleman. He was never fined or ejected from a game, and he was always sober and in playing condition. An 1897 ankle injury, the only serious one of his career, kept McPhee out of action for three months. Cincinnati fans and sportswriters staged a special benefit that raised $3,500 for him.” In an era filled with ruffians – Cap Anson was famous for his arguments with umpires- it’s good to read about a man who just went out and played ball.

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2B-Danny Richardson, New York Giants, 28 Years Old

1889

.269, 4 HR, 51 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-6.67

Range Factor/Game as 2B-6.60

2nd Time All-Star-There weren’t great hitting second basemen in the league this season, but there were some slick fielders, Richardson being one of them. He finished third in Defensive WAR (2.0), behind Chicago shortstop Jimmy Cooney (2.5) and Cincinnati shortstop Germany Smith (2.3). Neither of them made the All-Star team because neither Cooney (.245/.318/.290) or Smith (.201/.258/.260) added anything with the bat. Richardson did, slashing .269/.313/.347 for an OPS+ of 97. It was just enough to get him onto the All-Star team for the second time.

The year 1891 was interesting in the United States. Do you know who the president was during this time? It was Benjamin Harrison, a Republican from New York. Also during this year, the Wrigley Company was founded in Chicago. That would certainly have repercussions in baseball down the line. In Richardson’s home city of New York, the Music Hall had its grand opening. It would later be Carnegie Hall. What’s fascinating to me is that Tchaikovsky was the guest conductor at the first performance. It reminds me how long this sport of baseball has been around.

Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick, died on Sept. 28 of that year. I read Moby Dick for the first time a couple of years ago (as of this writing) and well, I just thought I’d like it more. I thought it would be more like Jaws, but it ended up being more a treatise on the whale industry. Hey, Melville, why don’t you get to the action already!

childs2

2B-Cupid Childs, Cleveland Spiders, 23 Years Old

1890

.281, 2 HR, 83 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Games Played-141

Def. Games as 2B-141

Errors Committed as 2B-82

2nd Time All-Star-With the American Association Syracuse Stars folding, Childs came over to the National League and continued his fine play. He finished sixth in Offensive WAR (4.3) and slashed .281/.395/.374 for an OPS+ of 122. He had his worst ever defensive season, according to dWAR, but he’s going to be around these teams for a little while. And Cupid is going to be around Cleveland for a while, playing with them through the 1898 season. Childs would be one of the first players who garnered much value from bases on balls, as he had 97 walks this year and would have over 100 the next three seasons.

Childs was part of a huge controversy in 1891. According to SABR, he had been signed by the AA Baltimore Orioles, but the league withdrew from Baseball’s National Agreement and would operate as an independent major league. It then began a fight over whether Childs’ contract was voided or not. Jimmy Keenan of SABR writes, “The trial gained national attention and on April 22, 1891, the judge finally reached his decision. Phelps ruled in favor of Childs and the injunction filed by the Orioles was dissolved. Childs’ Oriole contract had stated that he was due all of the rights accorded to professional baseball players designated by the National Agreement. Because the National Agreement no longer bound the Orioles, the team could not offer Childs the conditions that they had originally agreed upon, thus voiding the contract. This was the main point of Judge Phelps’ summation in explaining his verdict.”

latham5

3B-Arlie Latham, Cincinnati Reds, 31 Years Old

1884 1886 1887 1888

.265, 2 HR, 31 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Assists as 3B-370 (3rd Time)

Errors Committed as 3B-75 (3rd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 3B-24 (3rd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-4.19 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as 3B-4.05 (2nd Time)

5th Time All-Star-Latham, the Clown Prince of Baseball, made the All-Star team again this season after missing out the last two seasons. In 1890, he moved to the Players League Chicago Pirates and then moved midseason to the National League Reds. He did well his first full season with Cincinnati, but has probably made his last All-Star team. The Freshest Man on Earth had his best season ever, finishing third in WAR Position Players (5.6), behind Philadelphia outfielder Billy Hamilton (6.6) and New York first baseman Roger Connor (5.7); fifth in Offensive WAR (4.7); and fifth in Defensive WAR (1.4). At the plate, Latham slashed .272/.372/.386 (it was his highest OBP thus far) for an OPS+ of 122. After this season, he’d never be above a 92 Adjusted OPS+ as his hitting fell off.

Here’s a wrap up of Latham’s baseball career from SABR: “Arlie got into many brawls. At the end of one season he had 20 fights scheduled, five with teammates. The brawling seemed somewhat out of character, for Arlie had a tremendous sense of humor and seemed more of jokester than a fighter.

“Pranks and brawls aside, Latham was a legitimate ballplayer. He played 1629 games in the majors, banged out 1836 hits with 27 homers, and scored 1481 runs. His lifetime batting average was only .269, but he was a great base stealer with at lease 742 (stolen base data is still missing for four seasons). Arlie also holds an unenviable record for the most errors lifetime for a third baseman, 822-more than 200 more than any other player.”

long

SS-Herman Long, Boston Beaneaters, 25 Years Old

.282, 9 HR, 75 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Putouts as SS-345 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as SS-60

1st Time All-Star-Herman C. “Germany” or “Flying Dutchman” Long was born on April 13, 1866 in Chicago, IL. He’s going to have a long, decent career, whose play would be known for his defense more than his bat. From the beginning, Long played fulltime, starting with the American Association Kansas City Cowboys in 1889. He was then purchased by the Beaneaters before the 1890 season and Long would be with them through 1902. In 1891, Germany had his best season ever, finishing fifth in WAR Position Players (4.7), and fourth in Offensive WAR (4.7). Long slashed .282/.377/.407 for an OPS+ of 120 (it would be his highest Adjusted OPS+ ever). He also had his first ever league title.

According to Baseball Reference, “’His fielding at all times is remarkable. He covers an immense amount of ground, is wonderfully quick in handling all kinds of balls, and is a fast and accurate thrower. He also hits freely, and is quite a base runner.’ – Sporting Life, October 7, 1893.” Long would make more errors at shortstop than anyone in baseball history, but all of those career error records are held in this era, where the gloves were smaller, if the fielders ever bothered wearing them at all.

The Atlanta Braves have had a team, whether it be in Boston, Milwaukee, or the ATL for all of Major League baseball history. It’s the only team who had a representative in the short-lived National Association from 1871-75. On this team with its lengthy history, Long ranks 18th in career WAR at 35.

hamilton2

LF-Billy Hamilton, Philadelphia Phillies, 25 Years Old

1890

.340, 2 HR, 60 RBI

 

Led in:

 

1891 NL Batting Title

WAR Position Players-6.6

Offensive WAR-6.2

Batting Average-.340

On-Base %-.453

Runs Scored-141

Hits-179

Bases on Balls-102

Stolen Bases-111 (3rd Time)

Singles-147 (2nd Time)

Adj. Batting Run-46

Adj. Batting Wins-4.7

Times on Base-288

Offensive Win %-.766

2nd Time All-Star-Hamilton made his second straight All-Star team by doing Sliding Billy things, getting on base and stealing bases. He finished eighth in WAR (6.6), first in WAR Position Players (6.6), and first in Offensive WAR (6.2). He slashed .340/.453/.421 for an OPS+ of 155, leading in batting average and on-base percentage and finishing second in Adjusted OPS+. He has an amazing amount of good baseball left in him, especially in regards to getting on base. He is fourth all time in OBP.

Bill James is quoted in SABR as saying of Hamilton, “’Hamilton was completely invisible in the literature of the sport up to 1960,’ wrote James, ‘and was not elected to the Hall of Fame until 1961. He left no legend behind him, no stories, no anecdotes … Hamilton was eventually elected to the Hall of Fame purely on the overwhelming quality of his numbers. Even now, in books about nineteenth-century baseball, he is often not mentioned at all, and is never presented as a fully-formed character.’” It is incredible to look at Hamilton’s numbers and wonder why we don’t hear much about him. Of course, how much do we really hear about any of these 1800s players. I watched a video on YouTube that picked the greatest players of all-time on every modern team and Ernie Banks was picked on the Cubs. It’s not a bad choice, but there’s no way he was better than the great Cap Anson. The worst choice was Nolan Ryan for the Texas Rangers. He’s not even in the top 20 in WAR for the Rangers.

griffin

CF-Mike Griffin, Brooklyn Grooms, 26 Years Old

.267, 3 HR, 65 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Doubles-36

Putouts as OF-353

Range Factor/9 Inn as OF-2.88

Range Factor/Game as OF-2.87

Fielding % as OF-.960

1st Time All-Star-Michael Joseph “Mike” Griffin was born on March 20, 1865 in Utica, NY. He started as a fulltime player from the very beginning, first playing for Baltimore in the American Association from 1887-89 and then moving to the Players League in 1890 and playing for Philadelphia. This season was his first for Brooklyn and he made the best of it, slashing .267/.340/.388 for an OPS+ of 114. Though he led in a lot of fielding categories, dWAR didn’t rate Griffin to high, giving him a 0.1 mark.

Griffin wasn’t big, at five-foot-seven inches and 160 pounds. He always had speed, stealing 94 bases in his rookie season of 1887 and over 30 for eight consecutive seasons. He could score runs, too, scoring 142 in his first season and over 100 for 10 of his first 11 years. He’s going to make a couple more All-Star teams.

He could always get on base, but Griffin was never a great slugger. Even with his league-leading 36 doubles this season, he still only had a slugging average of .388. It would never be over the .485 he had in 1894. There wasn’t a lot of hitting this season in the National League. The slash line for the NL was .252/.325/.342. If you read throughout this list, you’re not going to be dazzled by the stats you read.  It’s still better than the 1888 NL which had a slash line of .239/.285/.325. All of this hitting is going to get better in a couple years when the pitching mound is finally moved back to 60 feet, six inches.

tiernan4

RF-Mike Tiernan, New York Giants, 24 Years Old

1888 1889 1890

.306, 16 HR, 73 RBI

 

Led in:

 

On-Base Plus Slugging-.882 (2nd Time)

Home Runs-16 (2nd Time)

Adjusted OPS+-163 (2nd Time)

Runs Created-103 (2nd Time)

AB per HR-33.9

4th Time All-Star-Silent Mike, the power-hitting rightfielder for the Giants made his fourth consecutive All-Star team and continued to be on of ancient baseball’s great stars. He had his best season ever, finishing fourth in WAR Position Players (5.1) and second in Offensive WAR (5.6), behind only Philadelphia outfielder Billy Hamilton (6.2). At the plate, Tiernan slashed .306/.388/.494 for a league leading Adjusted OPS+ of 163, his second consecutive time leading the NL in this category. His .494 slugging was second in the league Boston outfielder Harry Stovey (.498).

SABR on his great season: “The merger of the New York teams did not bode well for Mike Tiernan. Ewing, Keefe, Connor, O’Rourke, and other Brotherhood prodigals would be returning to the fold, mindful of Tiernan’s desertion of their cause. The situation at the Polo Grounds III (nee Brotherhood Park) would be an uneasy one, at best, with tension between teammates on the re-combined squad always just below the surface. Fortunately for Mike, most of the returnees were now on the downside of their careers and would not remain in New York long. And in 1891, he would have his third consecutive outstanding season, again leading the league in home runs (16) and OPS (.882), while placing in the NL top five in hits (166), batting average (.306), slugging (.494), total bases (268), and on-base percentage (.388). Mike also scored 111 runs and stole 53 bases. Good things in 1891 were not confined to the playing field, either. That year, Tiernan married Mary (maiden name unknown), the 18-year-old daughter of Irish immigrants. They settled into an apartment in lower Harlem where, in time, the arrivals of William (born 1892), Joseph (1893), and Mabel (1898) completed the Tiernan family.”

stovey10RF-Harry Stovey, Boston Beaneaters, 34 Years Old

1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890

.299, 12 HR, 84 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Slugging %-.498 (3rd Time)

Total Bases-271 (3rd Time)

Triples-20 (4th Time)

Home Runs-16 (5th Time)

Strikeouts-69

Extra Base Hits-67 (5th Time)

Power-Speed #-25.0 (3rd Time)

10th Time All-Star-Stovey came back to the National League after a nine-year absence. It’s not like he wasn’t doing anything during those years as he’s now made his 10th consecutive (and last?) All-Star team. Stovey finished seventh in WAR Position Players (4.5) and eighth in Offensive WAR (4.0) while slashing .279/.373/.498 for an Adjusted OPS+ of 144. His slugging led the league. Stovey, at this point in his career, has 117 home runs and is the all-time leader at end of 1891. He was also part of his third pennant-winning team.

After this season, Stovey would split time with Boston and Baltimore in 1892 and then play part time for Baltimore and Brooklyn in 1893, before retiring. He’s got as good of shot as anybody to make the ONEHOF in 1892.

SABR wraps up the life of the great Stovey, saying, “After his time in the majors, Stovey played briefly in the Pennsylvania State League for Allentown under manager Mike ‘King’ Kelly before becoming player-manager for New Bedford of the New England League. In 1895, he joined the New Bedford police force, becoming captain in 1915. He retired in 1923.

“Stovey died at his daughter’s house on September 20, 1937, in New Bedford, Massachusetts, at the age of 80 and is buried in the town’s Oak Grove Cemetery. The man who could do it all has been overlooked by the National Baseball Hall of Fame despite calls for his election from many who are familiar with the history of our national pastime. Perhaps one day, he will get his due and be honored by the game’s ultimate shrine.”

Thompson Sam 141-46_FL_PDRF-Sam Thompson, Philadelphia Phillies, 31 Years Old

1886 1887

.313, 4 HR, 102 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Assists as OF-32

3rd Time All-Star-Baseball players tend to generally peak between the ages of 27 and 31. Thompson surprisingly didn’t make any All-Star teams during those middle years. Since playing in 1887 for Detroit, he played an injury-plagued season for the Wolverines in 1888, and then came to Philadelphia in 1889. It must have been tough to make the National All-Star teams in 1889 and 1890, because he led league in homers with 20 in 1889 and in doubles with 41 in 1890. As a matter of fact, Thompson was the first 20/20 player in home runs and steals in 1889. He didn’t lead in any offensive categories this season, but still slashed .294/.363/.410 for an Adjusted OPS+ of 125. Thompson started too late in his career to make the ONEHOF, but I guess he’ll take Cooperstown as a worthy consolation prize.

SABR tells of Big Sam’s time in the City of Brotherly Love: “Beginning in 1889, Thompson began his tenure with the Philadelphia Quakers, who now were also known as the Phillies. Philadelphia’s stadium suited Sam and in his first year hit 20 home runs. Thompson was the first left-handed player to hit that many home runs in a season. By this time Sam’s contract had reached $1,850 and with the Brotherhood of Professional Ball Players forming their own league, Thompson was planning on playing in the new Players League. However, after checking the contracts, he decided to remain with the Phillies. Sam continued playing for the Phillies until the 1898 season and his contract never exceeded $2,400, the league’s maximum in those days.”

1890 Players League All-Star Team

P-Silver King, CHI

P-Mark Baldwin, CHI

P-Old Hoss Radbourn, BOS

P-Gus Weyhing, BWW

P-Ben Sanders, PHQ

P-Harry Staley, PBB

P-Tim Keefe, NYI

P-Ad Gumbert, BOS

P-Phil Knell, PHQ

P-John Sowders, BWW

C-Buck Ewing, NYI

C-Fred Carroll, PBB

1B-Roger Connor, NYI

1B-Jake Beckley, PBB

1B-Henry Larkin, CLE

1B-Dan Brouthers, BOS

2B-Lou Bierbauer, BWW

3B-Billy Nash, BOS

SS-Monte Ward, BWW

LF-Pete Browning, CLE

LF-Hardy Richardson, BOS

CF-Dummy Hoy, BUF

RF-Hugh Duffy, CHI

RF-Harry Stovey, BOS

RF-Jim O’Rourke, NYI

 

king4

P-Silver King, Chicago Pirates, 22 Years Old

1887 1888 1889

30-22, 2.69 ERA, 185 K, .168, 1 HR, 16 RBI

 

Led in:

 

1890 PL Pitching Title (2nd Time)

Wins Above Replacement-13.0 (2nd Time)

WAR for Pitchers-13.8 (2nd Time)

Earned Run Average-2.69 (2nd Time)

Hits per 9 IP-8.200

Games Started-56 (2nd Time)

Shutouts-4 (2nd Time)

Adjusted ERA+-162 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Runs-82 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-6.9 (2nd Time)

Assists as P-139

 

4th Time All-Star-Because we live in a time where utility players and relief pitchers earn millions of dollars, we forget how long the fight for money for the players went on in baseball. From almost the very beginning of baseball history, players had to play under the reserve clause, which limited player mobility and also player earnings. So to battle that, they formed the Players League in 1890, of which Wikipedia says, “The Players’ National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs, popularly known as the Players’ League (sometimes rendered as Players League), was a short-lived but star-studded professional American baseball league of the 19th century. It emerged from the Brotherhood of Professional Base-Ball Players, the sport’s first players’ union.

“The PL was well-attended, at least in some cities, but was underfunded, and its owners lacked the confidence to continue beyond the one season.

“Although the league was started by the players themselves, essentially as an elaborate job-action to improve their lot, the venture proved to be a setback for them in the longer term. The infamous reserve clause remained intact, and would remain thus for the next 85 years or so. The already-shaky AA had been further weakened by the presence of the PL. The Lou Bierbauer incident caused a schism between the NL and the AA, and the AA failed a year later, reducing the total number of major league teams (and players) significantly, giving the remaining owners much greater leverage against the players.”

King finished 1st in WAR (13.0) and 1st in WAR for Pitchers (13.8), pitching 461 innings with a 2.69 ERA and a 162 ERA+. Chicago, coached by Charlie Comiskey, finished in fourth place with a 75-62 record, 10 games out of first.

baldwinm2

P-Mark Baldwin, Chicago Pirates, 26 Years Old

1887

33-24, 3.35 ERA, 206 K, .212, 1 HR, 25 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Wins-33

Games Played-58 (2nd Time)

Innings Pitched-492.0 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts-206 (2nd Time)

Games Started-56 (2nd Time)

Complete Games-53

Bases on Balls-249

Hits Allowed-494

Batters Faced-2,242 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as P-58 (2nd Time)

Putouts as P-26 (2nd Time)

Assists as P-139

2nd Time All-Star-Fido was always one of the most out-of-control pitchers in the league, having set the all-time mark for wild pitches with 83 in 1889. He also would have allowed the most walks in a season ever with 274 in 1889, but Amos Rusie of the National League New York Giants walked 289 and set the all-time record which still holds to this day. Don’t let that lack of control make you think Baldwin couldn’t pitch. He could. This season, he finished second in WAR (8.0) and second in WAR for Pitchers (8.5), finishing behind only Silver King in both categories. He pitched a league-leading 492 innings and finished with a 3.35 ERA and a 130 ERA+.

Did having the two best pitchers allow Chicago to have the best pitching in the Players League? As a matter of fact, yes. The team allowed the least runs and had the best ERA in the PL. However, the Pirates scored the second least runs and that’s what kept them from doing better.

Baldwin did not seem to like Cap Anson, who released him before the 1889 season. Here’s a quote from Wikipedia, “’A year ago when Spalding released him, [Baldwin] declared that the ambition of his life was to play in opposition to Anson’s team. He then thought only of a rival national league team and did not dream of a local rival for public patronage. Now that he is with the Chicago Players’ team he says his ambition is gratified beyond his most fanciful hope, and he proposes to do all in his power to make his services to the new team valuable.’

A writer for The Chicago Tribune on Baldwin’s career after the White Stockings.”

radbourn8

P-Old Hoss Radbourn, Boston Reds, 35 Years Old

1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1889

27-12, 3.31 ERA, 80 K, .253, 0 HR, 16 RBI

 

8th Time All-Star-It’s amazing how many great players the Players League snatched up. The great Old Hoss came to the league and did Old Hossy stuff. He finished third in WAR (8.0), behind Silver King and Mark Baldwin, and third in WAR for Pitchers (8.2), behind the same two men. Radbourn pitched 343 innings with a 3.31 ERA and 127 ERA+. It certainly didn’t look like he’d lost his stuff, but next season would be less productive and also be his last.

As for the Reds, they were the PL’s only champions. Coached by King Kelly, Boston finished 81-48, six-and-a-half games ahead of Brooklyn. It scored the second most runs in the league and allowed the second least. It helps to have six All-Stars on the team.

Radbourn is yet another 1800s player to die young, at the age of 42. Here’s the end of his life, according to Wikipedia, and as with everything in his life, it’s colorful: “After retiring, Radbourn opened up a successful billiard parlor and saloon in Bloomington, Illinois. Dating back to his playing days, he had always had a reputation for being a bit vain.

“Radbourn was seriously injured in a hunting accident soon after retirement, in which he lost an eye, spending most of his remaining years shut up in a back room of the saloon he owned, apparently too ashamed to be seen after the injury.

“Radbourn died in Bloomington in 1897 and was interred in Evergreen Cemetery. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. In 1941 a plaque was placed on the back of his elaborate headstone, detailing his distinguished career in baseball.”

weyhing

P-Gus Weyhing, Brooklyn Ward’s Wonders, 23 Years Old

30-16, 3.60 ERA, 177 K, .164, 1 HR, 15 RBI

 

1st Time All-Star-August “Gus” or “Cannonball” or “Rubber Arm Gun” or “Rubber-Winged Gus” Weyhing was born on September 29, 1866 in Louisville, KY or just a little bit before I started this sentence. How many nicknames does a person need? Weyhing is actually a victim of my fluky rules for the All-Star team, mainly the one which says “Every team must have a representative.” He could have already made the American Association All-Star team in 1887 and 1889, but was blocked by lesser representatives from teams which needed a player on the squad. Sorry, Gus or sorry, Cannonball or sorry, Rubber Arm Gun or sorry Rubber-Winged Gus.

Weyhing finished fourth in WAR (7.0) and fourth in WAR for pitchers (8.0) pitching 390 innings with a 3.60 ERA and a 123 ERA+. It was his third consecutive year of having an Adjusted ERA+ of 120 or more and his fourth consecutive season of 20 wins. I don’t know how to categorize it, but he might have the best previous career of a first-time All-Star representative ever.

Rubber Arm Gun’s previous years were spent with the American Association Philadelphia Athletics, from 1887-89. Ed Seward was the dominant pitcher in those years and he made the All-Star team in 1887 and 1888.

Here’s Wikipedia’s sum up of his pre-All-Star career: “Weyhing was a solid pitcher, though he never led the league in any specific categories. He did have a few career highlights, however. In one memorable week in the 1888 season, Weyhing pitched three consecutive complete game victories against Brooklyn to eliminate that team from the pennant race. In addition, Weyhing came close to throwing a perfect game when he hurled a no-hitter on July 31, 1888, against the Kansas City Cowboys. He walked one batter and another reached base via an error. He set the record for most hit baseman [with] 278.”

sanders3

P-Ben Sanders, Philadelphia Athletics, 25 Years Old

1888 1889

19-18, 3.76 ERA, 107 K, .312, 0 HR, 30 RBI

 

3rd Time All-Star-“Big Ben [TM]” made his third consecutive All-Star team, and most likely his last, finishing sixth in WAR (5.7) and seventh in WAR for Pitchers (4.7). His hitting, as always, added a lot of value to his season. On the mound, he pitched 346 2/3 innings with a 3.76 ERA and a 115 ERA+ while at the dish, he slashed .312/.347/.407 for an OPS+ of 98. Not great, but certainly fantastic for a pitcher.

As for the Athletics…Before I go there, how many Philadelphia baseball teams were called the Athletics? There was the 1871-75 National Association team, 1876 National League team, the 1882-90 American Association team, the 1890-91 Players League/AA team, and later, the 1901-50 American League team. These Athletics named themselves the Athletics despite the AA already having a team called the Athletics. I’m glad the city had more creativity when coming up with the Declaration of Independence.

Ok, as for these Athletics, Jim Fogarty (7-9) and Charlie Buffinton (61-54) led the team to fifth place 68-63 record, 14 games out of first. They never were in the running, but they had a solid year.

Sanders would finish his career with the Athletics when they moved to the AA in 1891 and then pitched his final year at the age of 27 with the NL Louisville Colonels. Wikipedia says, “He finished his career with the Louisville Colonels of the National League, playing his final game on October 14, 1892. He had a record of 12-19, but on August 22, 1892, he pitched a no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles, a 6–2 victory, the first no-hitter in the National League which the losing team in a no-hitter scored at least one run.”

staley

P-Harry Staley, Pittsburgh Burghers, 23 Years Old

21-25, 3.23 ERA, 145 K, .207, 1 HR, 25 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Walks & Hits per IP-1.202

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-1.718

Strikeouts/Base on Balls-1.960

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.99 (2nd Time)

1st Time All-Star-Henry Eli “Harry” Staley was born on November 3, 1866 in Jacksonville, IL. He started his career with the National League Pittsburgh Alleghenys in 1888 and 1889, before moving over to the Players League this season. He finished eighth in WAR (5.3) and fifth in WAR for Pitchers (5.2), pitching 387 2/3 innings with a 3.23 ERA (second in the league to Silver King) and a 122 ERA+. He most likely has one more All-Star team left in his arm.

Hall of Fame Manager Ned Hanlon guided the Burghers (awesome!) to a 60-68 sixth place finish, 20-and-a-half games out of first, in their only season of existence.

There were 32 shutouts in the Players League in 1890, with three coming from Staley. In the book “The Shutout in Major League Baseball: A History” by Warren N. Wilbert, he writes, “Two of the three blankings occurred on October 3, one at Pittsburgh, where the Burghers, behind Harry Staley, beat the Old Hoss, Charley Radbourn, 4-0. Staley that day had to be at his best to beat Radbourn, who, in his last great season, led his Boston team to the Players’ League pennant with a 27-12 mark. The win was Staley’s 21st for the seventh-place Pittsburghs.”

It’s interesting people are writing whole books on shutouts in Major League history. Next thing you know, people will have websites with their own All-Star teams and Hall of Fames for all of baseball history. Can you imagine how time-consuming something like that would be?

Keefe Tim 302_64_FL_PDP-Tim Keefe, New York Giants, 33 Years Old

1880 1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889

17-11, 3.38 ERA, 89 K, .109, 2 HR, 11 RBI

 

11th Time All-Star-Keefe was now pitching for his third New York team in three different leagues, but still kept being effective. He’s made his 11th straight All-Star team with his fourth different squad, finishing ninth in WAR (4.4) and sixth in WAR for Pitchers (5.0). Smiling Tim pitched “only” 229 innings with a 3.38 ERA and 134 ERA+ (second to Silver King). Keefe’s done all a pitcher can do, made double-digit All-Star teams, been inducted into the ONEHOF and the Cooperstown Hall of Fame, but he’s not done yet, even at the age of 33.

Yet his most noble, if not fruitless, deed was co-organizing the Players League. Wikipedia says, “Keefe was very well-paid for his career, yet he was a leading member of the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players, an early players’ union that fought for the welfare of players. He assisted his brother-in-law Monte Ward to form the Players’ League for the 1890 season. As a co-organizer of the Players’ League, he recognized that he might be financially vulnerable if the league failed to make money. Keefe transferred ownership of his real estate assets to his mother so that they would remain safe from any legal rulings.

“Shortly before the Players’ League was founded, Keefe had started a sporting goods business in New York with former W. H. Becannon, a former employee of baseball owner and sporting goods entrepreneur Albert Spalding. Keefe and Becannon manufactured the Keefe ball, the official baseball of the league. Spalding and the other NL owners fought against the new league, employing legal and financial maneuvers (such as slashing NL ticket prices) that made competition difficult. The Players’ League folded after one season.”

gumbert

P-Ad Gumbert, Boston Reds, 22 Years Old

23-12, 3.96 ERA, 81 K, .241, 3 HR, 20 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Home Runs Allowed-18

1st Time All-Star-Addison Courtney “Ad” Gumbert was born on October 10, 1867 in Pittsburgh, PA. He started his Major League career with the National League Chicago White Stockings in 1888 and 1889. He was always an effective pitcher, but a lack of talent in the Players League helped him make the All-Star team this season. Gumbert finished 10th in WAR for Pitchers (3.2), pitching 277 1/3 innings with a 3.96 ERA and a 106 ERA+. He also slashed .241/.333/.366 for an OPS+ of 84, which wasn’t good, but was great for a pitcher and once of his worst seasons hitting during this stretch of his career. All of this helped lead the Reds to the only Players League title.

Wikipedia gives the beginning of his life: “Addison Gumbert was born on October 10, 1867, or 1868, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Robert and Henrietta Gumbert. At the 1880 United States Census, Robert worked as a dispatcher, while Henrietta was unemployed, with her occupation listed as a “keephouse”. The family lived on Frankstown Avenue in the 21st Ward of Pittsburgh.”

After this season, Gumbert would go back to the NL Chicago Colts in 1891 and 1892, move on to the NL Pittsburgh Pirates in 1893 and 1894, then go to the NL Brooklyn Grooms in 1895 and 1896, and then finish with the NL Philadelphia Phillies, going there in the middle of 1896. He finished his career with a winning record, going 123-102, though Gumbert’s career ERA+ finished under 100 (95). He died in Pittsburgh on April 23, 1925 at the age of 57.

knell

P-Phil Knell, Philadelphia Athletics, 25 Years Old

22-11, 3.83 ERA, 113 ERA+, .220, 1 HR, 18 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Hit By Pitch-28

1st Time All-Star-Philip Louis “Phil” Knell was born on March 12, 1865 in Mill Valley, CA. He pitched three games for the National League Pittsburgh Alleghenys in 1888, before pitching for Philadelphia this year. He finished eighth in WAR for Pitchers (3.7), tossing 286 2/3 innings with a 3.83 ERA and 113 ERA+. Next year would be even better for him.

It’s always interesting to me that people born in California played in the Major Leagues in the 1800s. I live in California and I know the state didn’t have any Major League teams until 1958, so it just seems strange that in this time of low tech and brutal travel, people would make it from one coast to the other. Or be scouted by teams way out west. But it happened and Knell was one of the best. He still has another All-Star team coming most likely.

If you’re wondering about Mill Valley, Knell’s birthplace, and who wouldn’t be, here’s Wikipedia on the modern-day city: “In July 2005, CNN/Money and Money magazine ranked Mill Valley tenth on its list of the 100 Best Places to Live in the United States. In 2007, MSN and Forbes magazine ranked Mill Valley seventy-third on its ‘Most expensive zip codes in America’ list.”

                John Lennon and Yoko Ono summered in a Mill Valley home on Lovell Ave. near the library in the early 1970s, having left some of his own graffiti on the wall of the residence ‘The Maya the Merrier’.” Imagine that.

sowders

P-John Sowders, Brooklyn Ward’s Wonders, 23 Years Old

19-16, 3.82 ERA, 91 K, .189, 1 HR, 20 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.087

1st Time All-Star-John Sowders was born on December 10, 1866 in Louisville, KY. He pitched three innings for the National League Indianapolis Hoosiers in 1887, was a hurler for the American Association 1889 Kansas City Cowboys, then pitched his last ever Major League season here in the Players League in 1890. Sowders finished ninth in WAR for Pitchers (3.5), pitching 309 innings with a 3.82 ERA and a117 ERA+. Sowders was tall and lean at six-foot, 150 pounds. His brothers, Bill and Len, also pitched in the Major Leagues.

Little Bill Sowders pitched three seasons in the Major Leagues from 1888-90 for the NL Boston and Pittburgh squads. Like his brother, John, he, too, was tall and skinny at six-foot, 155 pounds. And like John, he, too, led a league, the NL, in Home Runs per 9 IP, allowing only 0.085 per nine innings in 1888. Len only played one season, for the AA Baltimore team, but didn’t pitch like his brothers. He was a centerfielder who slashed .263/.364/.329 for an OPS+ of 121 and if you’re wondering why he only played one season, he was dead by the age of 27 in 1888, dying of typhoid malaria. According to the Baseball Bloggess, “Typhoid was rampant in the 19th century and there was a spike in cases in 1888 due, it was thought, to an especially rainy summer and fall in the northern states.  According to one New York report at the time, one in four cases was fatal. Typhoid’s progression can be slow and painful, with a fever often dragging out for weeks, slowly getting higher and higher, before intestinal bleeding or sepsis causes death.”

ewing8C-Buck Ewing, New York Giants, 30 Years Old

1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1888 1889

.338, 8 HR, 72 RBI, 0-1, 4.00, 2 K

 

Led in:

 

Fielding % as C-.949

8th Time All-Star-Ewing is yet another one of the greats who abandoned the National League ship to jump abound the Players League train. He had another great season, but it’s possibly his last All-Star team. Ewing finished seventh in WAR Position Players (3.5), 10th in Offensive WAR (3.1), and fifth in Defensive WAR (0.8), all very good for someone who played in the brutal catcher position for so many years and who only played 83 of the team’s 132 games. He slashed .338/.406/.545 for an OPS+ of 144, the on-base percentage and slugging average were his highest ever. This would be the last season Ewing would be primarily behind the plate as he’d play mainly rightfield and first base for the rest of his career.

Buck managed a team for the first time ever and did well, leading the Giants to a third place finish with a 74-57 mark, eight games behind first place Boston. He would manage the Reds from 1895-99 and do very well, though he never won a league title.

After this season, Ewing would head back to the NL, playing two more seasons with New York, then play two with Cleveland, and finish off his career playing three with Cincinnati.

As for Ewing’s return to the National League in 1891, SABR says, “Buck was reappointed to his old captain’s role but no longer commanded his former respect when he refused to play, limiting himself to just 14 games after admitting that even though his shoulder no longer hurt, it lacked the strength to make throws, a fault he attributed to a spring training mishap.” Read the whole SABR article, it has a lot to say about this injury.

carroll4

C-Fred Carroll, Pittsburgh Burghers, 25 Years Old

1884 1886 1889

.298, 2 HR, 71 RBI

 

4th Time All-Star-Carroll now made the All-Star team for the fourth time in his third league, finishing ninth in WAR Position Players (3.2) and ninth in Offensive WAR (3.2). He slashed .298/.418/.394 for an OPS+ of 125 before moving to the outfield as a 26-year-old in 1891 for the National League Pittsburgh squad. It was his last major league season. With his hitting, Carroll definitely had a shot at the Hall of Fame if he could’ve prolonged his career. It was tough to have lengthy careers as catchers in the 1800s.

A few days before I’m writing this, another young man with great potential died. Yordano Ventura died in an accident in the Dominican Republic at the age of 25. This follows the death of Miami’s Jose Fernandez at the age of 24 a few months ago, as of this writing. The point is there have many good players in baseball whose careers were cut short for one reason or the other. Sometimes it’s a sudden death like the two mentioned above or Charlie Ferguson, the Philadelphia phenom who died at the age of 25 after winning 99 games over his four-year career.

I wonder how well Carroll could have done for his lifetime if he had been moved to first base or the outfield, instead of playing catcher. His lifetime slash numbers are .284/.370/.408 for an OPS+ of 136, which are great numbers. This is what makes baseball so interesting, it’s got a lot of numbers and has been going for so long, there’s never any lack of discussions to have about the sport.

connor9

1B-Roger Connor, New York Giants, 33 Years Old

1880 1882 1883 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889

.349, 14 HR, 103 RBI

Led in:

 

WAR Position Players-6.0 (3rd Time)

Defensive WAR-1.6

Slugging %-.548 (2nd Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-.998

Home Runs-14

Runs Created-119 (2nd Time)

Offensive Win %-.788

AB per HR-34.6

Putouts-1,335 (2nd Time)

Putouts as 1B-1,335 (2nd Time)

Assists as 1B-80 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 1B-79 (3rd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as 1B-11.67

Range Factor/Game as 1B-11.50

Fielding % as 1B-.985 (2nd Time)

9th Time All-Star-Connor led the Players League in home runs and it was the first and last time he ever led any league in long balls. Why do I sound surprised? Because until Babe Ruth came along, Connor was the all-time home run king. At this point in his career, he was behind Harry Stovey 101-80 in career homers. As for the season, the 33-year-old continued in his greatness, finishing fifth in WAR (6.0), first in WAR Position Players (6.0), fourth in Offensive WAR (4.4), and first in Defensive WAR (1.6). Can a first baseman really be the best fielder in the league? I don’t believe so, but that doesn’t take away from Connor being a dazzling glove man for his day. At the plate, he slashed .349/.450/.548 (his highest OBP ever) for an OPS+ of 156. Because of his big numbers, no one would have thought Connor was starting to falter, but it was his lowest Adjusted OPS+ since 1884 and it would continue to generally fall over the next few seasons.

By the way, a confession. I picked Connor to be 1890’s ONEHOF Inductee in my 1889 write-up, but it ended up being Jack Glasscock. I have to stop predicting things, I’m a bad prophet.

Here’s a tidbit on Connor’s 1890 season from Wikipedia: “Connor experimented with some changes to his batting style that year. He hit more balls to the opposite field and he sometimes batted right-handed, though he did not have much success from the right side.”

beckley2

1B-Jake Beckley, Pittsburgh Burghers, 22 Years Old

1889

.324, 9 HR, 120 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Triples-22

Extra Base Hits-69

2nd Time All-Star-I brought up this theme last season for Buckley and I don’t want to beat it to death, but here’s the thing. Those triples and extra base hits you see above are two of three times Beckley ever led in any offensive categories and he played for 20 seasons. My question is does Buckley really belong in the Hall of Fame? Don’t get me wrong, he’s not as bad of choice as Tommy McCarthy and he had some good seasons, but it’s close. His lifetime WAR is 61.1 and I will not argue with anyone with a Wins Above Replacement over 60 being a definite Hall of Fame-worthy player, but it’s a close call. I don’t know why the Hall of Fame gets me so riled up!

For the Burghers, Beckley had his best season ever, finishing fourth in WAR Position Players (3.9) and fifth in Offensive WAR (3.9). He slashed .324/.381/.535 (his highest SLG ever) for an OPS+ of 152 (his highest full season Adjusted OPS+ ever). All of this in a new diluted league. Oh, I’m just getting myself upset again, let’s continue.

I can’t be too upset at Beckley, because I like this quote from his Hall of Fame page, “’He was a big, happy, healthy, good-natured, small-town boy who had his full share of good luck in the game and left behind him a big army of pals among players, fans, and writers and who was never guilty of doing a dirty act, never tried to cut down a player or used obscene language against an umpire.’-Daguerreotypes, 1941”

larkinh4

1B-Henry Larkin, Cleveland Infants, 30 Years Old

1885 1886 1889

.330, 5 HR, 112 RBI

 

4th Time All-Star-This is the write-up I’ve been waiting for because Cleveland’s nickname in the Players League was Infants. There has to be a great story behind this, but I’ll get to it in a minute. First, let’s look at Larkin, who finished fifth in WAR Position Player (3.8) and second in Offensive WAR (4.6), behind only teammate Pete Browning. He slashed .330/.419/.482 (his highest batting average ever) for an OPS+ of 148. He’s going to fall off after this season and has probably made his last All-Star team. I’ve been wrong before, many times.

As for the Infants (tee-hee), Larkin (34-45) and Patsy Tebeau (21-30) coached them to a seventh place 55-75 season, 26-and-a-half games out of first place. Larkin would never manage again, but Tebeau would actually be very successful for the National League Cleveland Spiders. Oh, and about the  name, I couldn’t find anything about it. (So much for a great story). So if either of my two readers knows how Cleveland came to be called the Infants, send me a note.

After this season, Larkin went back to the American Association Philadelphia Athletics in 1891 and had his only double-digit home run season (10). Then he finished off his career with the National League Washington Senators in 1892 and 1893. His hitting never faltered as in his 10 seasons, Larkin never had an OPS+ under 123. While he’s not Hall of Fame worthy and definitely not ONEHOF worthy, he proved to be one of the best hitters in early baseball history in all three leagues in which he played.

brouthers10

1B-Dan Brouthers, Boston Reds, 32 Years Old

1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889

.330, 1 HR, 97 RBI

 

Led in:

 

On-Base %-.466 (4th Time)

Times on Base-269 (5th Time)

Errors Committed as 1B-49 (2nd Time)

10th Time All-Star-In a new league with watered-down competition, the great Brouthers had his worst hitting year since he became a full-time player. As it is, according to WAR, he’s only the fourth best first baseman in the league, but don’t worry, he’ll be back and I don’t believe he’s even had his best season yet. I sometimes wonder how long Mike Trout can keep up his dominance and looking at Big Dan’s career gives me a lot of hope.

This season, Brouthers finished sixth in WAR Position Players (3.7) and third in Offensive WAR (4.4), behind Infants Pete Browning and Henry Larkin. He slashed .330/.466/.454 for an OPS+ of 143. He did lose some power this season, hitting only one home run, which is probably why his Adjusted OPS+ dipped. He also was part of his second league-winning team.

Here’s a clip from “Big Dan Brouthers: Baseball’s First Great Slugger” written by Roy Kerr: “One of the most intriguing discoveries about ‘Big Dan’ is the more than four dozen nicknames invented by the press to express wonder at his size, strength and hitting prowess – a quantity and variety exceeded by no other player in baseball history…Viewed collectively, these condensed verbal portraits provide a unique glimpse of ‘the Champion Batsman of the World,’ ‘the Mighty Irish King,’ ‘the Fence-Smasher of the 80s’ and the ‘the Grand Old Man of the Game,’ who was one of the most talented and respected players of his era.” I really have to pick up this book. Good job, Roy Kerr!

bierbauer

2B-Lou Bierbauer, Brooklyn Ward’s Wonders, 24 Years Old

.306, 7 HR, 99 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Assists-468

Def. Games as 2B-133

Assists as 2B-468 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 2B-77

1st Time All-Star-Louis W. “Lou” Bierbauer as born on September 28, 1865 in Erie, PA. His value was primarily defensive as he flashed a good glove throughout his career. For the four seasons previous to this one, he played for the American Association Philadelphia Athletics, but couldn’t make the All-Star team despite finishing eighth in Defensive WAR (1.0) in 1888. He finally made it this year, having a great fielding year with a fourth place 1.1 dWAR, while doing decently at the plate. It helped there was a dearth of good second basemen in the Players League. Bierbauer slashed .306/.350/.431 for an OPS+ of 103. He’d never have an Adjusted OPS+ above 100 in his final eight seasons.

Bierbauer is responsible for the Pirates nickname in Pittsburgh, according to Wikipedia, which says, “Alfred Spink, the founder of the Sporting News, wrote about the incident in his 1910 book ‘The National Game’. According to Spink, the Alleghenys’ manager, Ned Hanlon, traveled to Presque Isle in the dead of winter to sign him, crossing the ice on the harbor during a snow storm. He finally reached Bierbauer’s home and got him to sign a contract with Allegheny.

“The Athletics, upon learning of this deal, objected to Bierbauer’s signing and stated that he should return to the A’s, since that was the team that employed him before his defection to the failed Players’ League. An official for the American Association also objected to Bierbauer signing with the Alleghenys and called the act ‘piratical.’ However the Alleghenys contended that since ‘the [American Association] did not reserve Bierbauer, he was a free agent’. An arbitrator agreed, and soon players and fans alike were calling the team the ‘Pittsburg Pirates.’”

nash4

3B-Billy Nash, Boston Reds, 25 Years Old

1887 1888 1889

.266, 5 HR, 90 RBI, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 K

 

Led in:

 

Assists as 3B-307

Double Plays Turned as 3B-37

4th Time All-Star-Nash made his fourth consecutive All-Star team and was easily the best third baseman of his time. Only Ned Williamson and Ezra Sutton have made more All-Star teams at his position. Nash slashed .266/.383/.379 (his highest OBP thus far) for an OPS+ of 101. If there was an outstanding third sacker at this time, Nash wouldn’t have made the team, but there wasn’t and he did.

Speaking of Williamson and Sutton, I’ve been working on keeping an updated all-time All-Star team and through 1990, these are the players on it:

P-Tim Keefe

C-Charlie Bennett

1B-Cap Anson

2B-Fred Dunlap

3B-Ned Williamson, Ezra Sutton

SS-Jack Glasscock

LF-Charley Jones

CF-Paul Hines

RF-King Kelly

As of now, only Keefe, Anson, Glasscock, and Hines have made the ONEHOF, which shows how tough it is to make the Hall of Fame if you can only pick one player a year. I’ll keep updating it as new players are added.

Nash was known for his defense and did make the Defensive WAR top 10 three times, but those three seasons were the only ones of his 15 seasons in which he did so. He wound up having a Baseball Reference dWAR of 7.4 over those years, which is good, but a little lower than I would have anticipated for someone who is one of the best third basemen of his era. In 1891, he’s going have a 0.0 Defensive WAR and will have to make his fifth All-Star team with his bat. Fortunately for him, he had a good 1891 at the plate, but we’ll have to see whether he makes the cut or not.

ward8

SS-Monte Ward, Brooklyn Ward’s Wonders, 30 Years Old

1878 1879 1880 1881 1882 1883 1887

.335, 4 HR, 60 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Singles-157

Putouts as SS-303 (4th Time)

Assists as SS-450

Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-5.93

8th Time All-Star-When Ward first started out in baseball and was a dominating pitcher, he made the All-Star teams six consecutive years and looked to be one of the greatest pitchers of all-time. However, after becoming a shortstop, Ward only made the All-Star team once, in 1887, before this season. Since then, he continued being at short for the Giants, before moving to the Players League this year. He finished eighth in Offensive WAR (3.3), one of two seasons he did so. That’s quite a feat considering he never was much of hitter. In 1890, Ward slashed .335/.393/.426 (his highest OBP and SLG ever) for an OPS+ of 113.

Along with that, Ward managed Brooklyn to a second-place 76-56 record. He’d coach in the New York area for five more seasons. The Ward’s Wonders, named after their manager, had the fifth highest run differential in the league, yet still managed to finish second, so some of that credit has to go to Monte.

There would be no Players League without Ward, according to Wikipedia, which says, “Ward realized that negotiations with the owners were going nowhere and threatened to create a Players’ League. The owners thought of it as nothing more than an idle threat but had failed to realize Ward’s connections in the business community, and he began to launch the new league. This new Players’ League included a profit sharing system for the players and had no reserve clause or classification plan.

“The season began in 1890 with over half of the National League’s players from the previous year in its ranks.”

browning6LF-Pete Browning, Cleveland Infants, 29 Years Old

1882 1883 1884 1885 1887

.373, 5 HR, 93 RBI

 

Led in:

 

1890 PL Batting Title (3rd Time)

Offensive WAR-4.9 (2nd Time)

Batting Average-.373 (3rd Time)

Doubles-40

Adjusted OPS+-169 (2nd Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-53 (3rd Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-4.9 (3rd Time)

6th Time All-Star-I don’t know why the Hall of Fame is so fascinating to me, but I can fret for hours over the people who did and didn’t make it. Now it’s borderline over whether or not I would put Browning in the Hall of Fame, but if he’s kept out because he played a majority of his games in the American Association, that’s bunk. This season, surrounded by stars from the National League, he still dominated the Players League with his bat. Like I said, it’s a tough choice, his career WAR is only 40.4, but he was dominating for his day.

Browning left Louisville, where he spent his whole career for the Players League and the Infants. He finished seventh in WAR (5.3); second in WAR Position Players (5.3), to the Giants’ Roger Connor; and first in Offensive WAR (4.9). He’d never be this great again, playing for the National League the rest of his career. He played for Pittsburgh and Cincinnati in 1891, Louisville and Cincinnati in 1892, Louisville in 1893, and St. Louis and Brooklyn in 1894. He finished his career with a .341 average and a 163 OPS+.

As for his death, Wikipedia says, “He died in Louisville on September 10 of that year at age 44. The specific cause of death was listed as asthenia (a weakening of the body), a cover-all medical term used by doctors of that time. However, he no doubt suffered from a wide variety of serious physical complaints. In addition to the mastoiditis, he was afflicted with cancer, advanced cirrhosis of the liver, alcohol-related brain damage, and according to some sources, paresis. Some sources erroneously report that he died in an insane asylum; he was in Lakeland Asylum a short time before he died. He is buried in historic Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville.” It was a sad life for the great hitter.

richardson8

LF-Hardy Richardson, Boston Reds, 35 Years Old

1879 1881 1883 1885 1886 1887 1889

.326, 13 HR, 146 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Runs Batted In-146

8th Time All-Star-Boston sure was able to pile up the All-Stars, which is why it won the league title. Richardson finished 10th in WAR Position Player (3.1), slashing .326/.384/.494 for an OPS+ of 130. Old  True Blue was back in the outfield after playing most of the last few seasons at second base. In 1891, Richardson would stay with the American Association Boston Reds, but his hitting would decline and 1892 would be his last year in the Majors, playing part time for the National League Washington Senators and the 1892 New York Giants.

Wikipedia says of Richardson’s loyalty to the PL: “Richardson was a strong supporter of the Brotherhood of Professional Base-Ball Players, the union that represented the players and organized the Players’ League in response to unfair treatment by team owners. In January 1890, he spoke out against players like teammate John Clarkson who had joined the Brotherhood but remained with their old clubs. Richardson said he would remain loyal to the Players’ League even if it could only pay him $10 a week and added: ‘I held up my hand and swore that I would stick to the brotherhood… I respect my word and regard my oath as sacred. You have no idea how hot it makes me to think of the way some of these players have acted.’”

And on his later years: “By 1930, Richardson was retired and living with his wife in Utica as boarders at the home of cement salesman, Robert C. Weaver. Richardson died in January 1931 at age 75 in Utica, New York. He was buried at the Forest Hill Cemetery in that city.”

hoy2

CF-Dummy Hoy, Buffalo Bisons, 28 Years Old

1888

.298, 1 HR, 53 RBI

 

2nd Time All-Star-Hoy is the only Bisons’ player to make the All-Star team which is why he made the team. He played one game at second base this season, the only time in his 1,797 games he ever played anywhere but the outfield. He didn’t do bad, taking three chances in four innings without an error, rare for that era. (I’m picturing Vin Scully saying that last sentence with “error” and “era” sounding almost exactly alike.) Hoy slashed .298/.418/.371  for an OPS+ of 119. Hoy was always great at taking pitches.

Your guess would be with one All-Star, Buffalo would be terrible and your guess would be right on the nose! The Bisons were the league’s worst team as Jack Rowe (27-72) and Jay Faatz (9-24) led them to a 36-96 record, 46-and-a-half games out of first. On a team with two managers who were one-and-done in their coaching career, there was a catcher who would end up managing more years than anyone in baseball history, one Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy, better known as Connie Mack. I’m going to be writing about him quite a bit.

Here’s a little about the last two seasons from Wikipedia: “Hoy’s speed was a great advantage in the outfield, and he was able to play shallow as a result. On June 19, 1889, he set a Major League record (which has since been tied twice) by throwing out three runners at home plate in one game, with catcher Connie Mack recording the outs.” Hoy still has a long career left, with sporadic appearances on this list.
duffy

RF-Hugh Duffy, Chicago Pirates, 23 Years Old

.320, 7 HR, 82 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Games Played-137 (2nd Time)

At Bats-596 (2nd Time)

Plate Appearances-657

Runs Scored-161

Hits-191

Def. Games as OF-137

1st Time All-Star-“Sir Hugh” Duffy was born on November 26, 1866 in Cranston, RI. His Hall of Fame career started with the 1888 and 1889 National League Chicago White Stockings, where his .312 batting average in 1889 showed he had better years to come. This was one of them, as he finished 10th in WAR (4.2); third in WAR Position Players (4.2), behind only Roger Connor and Pete Browning; and sixth in Defensive WAR (0.8), the only year he’d make the top 10 in that category.

Duffy’s Hall of Fame page says of him, “Hugh Duffy was one of the top batsmen of the 1890s recording more hits, home runs and runs batted in during the decade than any other player in the game. He teamed with fellow Hall of Famer Tommy McCarthy to form the ‘Heavenly Twins’ outfield tandem for the Boston Beaneaters that captured two league pennants and a pre-modern World Series Championship in 1892 and 1893.” This brings up the question, did Hugh Duffy deserve to make it to the Hall of Fame? Well, I would say if we had modern stats in his day, probably not, as his batting average provided almost all of his value and he was a terrible fielder according to dWAR. But since we didn’t have those stats and he had a lifetime .326 average, with a .440 average in 1894, over 17 years of ball, I can live with him being in there. Much more so than the other half of the Heavenly Twins.

stovey9

RF-Harry Stovey, Boston Reds, 33 Years Old

1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889

.299, 12 HR, 84 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Stolen Bases-97 (2nd Time)

Power-Speed #-21.4 (2nd Time)

9th Time All-Star-Stovey made his ninth consecutive All-Star team in helping lead the Reds to the Players League pennant. He finished eighth in WAR Position Players (3.3), slashing .299/.406/.472 for an OPS+ of 131. It’s strange a player moves from first base to the outfield, but Stovey would be roaming the field for the majority of the rest of his career. He still wasn’t a very good outfielder, according to dWAR.

Stovey will possibly make the ONEHOF, but will he ever make the real Hall of Fame? It will depend on whether they accept the American Association as a legitimate Major League.  According to SABR, “The man who could do it all has been overlooked by the National Baseball Hall of Fame despite calls for his election from many who are familiar with the history of our national pastime. Perhaps one day, he will get his due and be honored by the game’s ultimate shrine.” One day.

Wikipedia tells of a feat of Stovey this season: “In 1890, the Players’ League, a rival league to the National League and the American Association, began, and it attracted many of the game’s star players, including Stovey who ‘jumped’ to the Boston Reds. He had a good season, batting .299, hit 11 triples, and 12 home runs. On September 3, 1890, Stovey became the first player to hit 100 homers for a career, off of Jersey Bakely in a game against Cleveland, a significant milestone in a day when home runs were relatively rare.”

orourke12

RF-Jim O’Rourke, New York Giants, 39 Years Old

1873 1874 1875 1876 1877 1879 1880 1881ONEHOF 1884 1885 1886 1887

.360, 9 HR, 115 RBI

 

12th Time All-Star-Arguably the second greatest player in the early days of baseball, behind only the stellar Cap Anson, O’Rourke continues to make All-Star teams, now at the age of two score minus one. He slashed .360/.410/.515 (his highest OBP and SLG ever) for an OPS+ of 137. Will he make teams even into his 40s? I would have said no, but Orator Jim continues to surprise me.

                Since the last time O’Rourke made the All-Star team in 1887, he continued to play in New York and would do so until his last full season of 1893 in Washington. There are arguments for who should and shouldn’t make the Hall of Fame, but Orator Jim’s case is crystal clear which is why he’s made the Hall of Fame and the ONEHOF. He was selected to Cooperstown by the Old Timers Committee in 1945. I’m shocked he didn’t make it sooner.

SABR says of O’Rourke: “Playing for the Ewing-led Big Giants, Jim O’Rourke registered exceptional numbers during the 1890 season. In addition to a .360 batting average, the 40-year-old posted career-best figures in hits (172), doubles (37), home runs (9), RBIs (115), slugging (.515), and on-base percentage (.410), all achieved while playing in only 111 games. O’Rourke’s performance, however, was not duplicated by his team (third place). Nor did the Players League prosper as a whole. In fact, the season had been a catastrophe for the new circuit’s financial backers. That fall they were outmaneuvered in peace settlement negotiations by A.G.Spalding, the hard-nosed de-facto leader of the National League, and bluffed into dissolving the Players League.”

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

 stratton

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.

mcmahon

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

Wins-36

Games Pitched-60

Innings Pitched-509.0

Strikeouts-291

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.”

healy

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.

stivetts2

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

1889

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.”

ehret2

P-Red Ehret, Louisville Colonels, 21 Years Old

1889

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.’”

barr

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

Losses-24

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.

smithf

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.”

63.350.215.172.1388

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?

hart

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.

oconnor

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.”

mcguire

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.’”

werden

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

.295, 6 HR, 72 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Triples-20

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.”

taylorh

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

.306, 0 HR, 53 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Singles-155

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.

mcquery

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.

childs

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

.345, 2 HR, 89 RBI

 

Led in:

 

WAR Position Players-6.3

Offensive WAR-6.4

Doubles-33

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.”

lyons4

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.)

knowles

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.

reillyc

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.

tomney

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.

johnson

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!

mctamany

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.

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RF-Chicken Wolf, Louisville Colonels, 28 Years Old

1882

.363, 4 HR, 98 RBI

 

Led in:

 

1890 AA Batting Title

Batting Average-.363

Hits-197

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.”

swartwood5

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.

mccarthy

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.

dailye2

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

1885

(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

 

nicholsk

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

Shutouts-7

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.

gleasonk

P-Kid Gleason, Philadelphia Phillies, 23 Years Old

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

 

Led in:

 

Saves-2

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.”

rhines

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.”

rusie

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

Strikeouts-341

Bases on Balls-289

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.049

Losses-34

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.

clarkson7

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.”

hutchinson

P-Bill Hutchinson, Chicago Colts, 30 Years Old

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

 

Led in:

 

Wins-41

Games Pitched-71

Saves-2

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.”

terry5

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.”

getzien3

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.’”

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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.”

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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.’”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

63.350.215.172.1509

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.

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

1888

.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.”

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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!”’”

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

1888

.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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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SS-Ollie Beard, Cincinnati Reds, 28 Years Old

1889

.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.

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LF-Billy Hamilton, Philadelphia Phillies, 24 Years Old

.325, 2 HR, 49 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Stolen Bases-102 (2nd Time)

Singles-137

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.

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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.”

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CF-Walt Wilmot, Chicago Colts, 26 Years Old

1889

.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

chamberlain2

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

1888

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.”

duryea

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.

caruthers5

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

Shutouts-7

 

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.

king3

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.”

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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.”

stivetts

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.”

conwayj

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.

viau2

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

1888

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.”

foreman

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.’”

ehret

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.”

keenan3

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.

milligan3

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.”

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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%-.450

On-Base Plus Slugging-.934

Hits-196

Singles-158

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.”

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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.

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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.’”

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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?

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

.306, 1 HR, 75 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Triples-15

 

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.”

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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.”

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

.285, 1 HR, 77 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Defensive WAR-2.4

Games Played-141

Assists-537

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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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CF-Curt Welch, Philadelphia Athletics, 27 Years Old

1886 1888

.271, 0 HR, 39 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Doubles-39

 

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!

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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:

“FIRE & WIND

“South Brooklyn Treated to a Brilliant Display.

“Why Some of the Residents of That Section of the City Thought that the End of the World Had Come — The Ravages of the Tornado — Blazing gas and Shattered Tanks — The Navy Yard Barracks Decapitated — A Memorable Night.”

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

 

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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.

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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.

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P-Ben Sanders, Philadelphia Quakers, 24 Years Old

1888

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.

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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.”

bakley2

P-Jersey Bakley, Cleveland Spiders, 25 Years Old

1888

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.”

beatin

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.’”

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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”

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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.”

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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.’”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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)

Hits-205

Singles-155

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.

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SS-Ed McKean, Cleveland Spiders, 25 Years Old

1888

.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.”

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LF-Walt Wilmot, Washington Nationals, 25 Years Old

.289, 9 HR, 57 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Triples-19

 

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.”

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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.”

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

1888

.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.”

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

1888

.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

 

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

1887

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

Wins-45

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

Shutouts-6

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.”

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P-Ed Seward, Philadelphia Athletics, 21 Years Old

1887

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

 

Led in:

 

Strikeouts-272

Shutouts-6

 

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.

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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!”

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

1887

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.

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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?

hughes

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.

chamberlain

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.

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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.

bakley

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.”

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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.”

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

1884

.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.

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

1885

.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.

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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.”

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

1887

.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.”

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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.”

pinkney

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.

lyons2

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

1887

.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.

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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.”

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

1887

.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.

mckean

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.’”

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

1887

.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.

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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.”

collins

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

.307, 2 HR, 53 RBI

 

Led in:

 

Doubles-31

 

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.

oneill3

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.

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CF-Curt Welch, Philadelphia Athletics, 26 Years Old

1886

.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!