About Me

I am a long time baseball fan who became interesting in documenting the "missing" batter strikeouts a few years back as an outgrowth of my interest in the 1899 Cleveland Spiders. Grew up w/ the Big Red Machine. I now follow them and my new hometown, Detroit Tigers. Member of SABR off and on since 1979.

Friday, March 16, 2012

1888 AA Baltimore

Continuing my march through the 1888 AA.

Now working on Baltimore home games.

Main source:  Baltimore Sun (GeneologyBank.com)
Secondary source:  Baltimore American (Google News Archives)

I have hit my 1st hard spot, primarily due to no Sunday edition of the Baltimore Sun.  The Sun for the most part has the batter k's, but it does not look as if the Sun had a Sunday edition.  The Monday edition gives a brief summary of Saturday games, but no box score.  As a result, I am having to rely on the Sunday edition of the American, which for all days, does not have batter k's in the box, but in many cases mentions the batter k's, in part at least, in the game write-up.  

For Retrosheet purposes, the American also serves to get me LOB's and some DP's.

Sample lineup from June 12:

Mike Griffin cf
Oyster Burns lf
Blondie Purcell rf
Jack Farrell  ss
Tommy Tucker 1b
Billy Shindle 3b
Bill Greenwood ss
Sam Trott c
Sam Shaw p

This team's rotation included
Matt Kilroy, coming off of his historic 46-19, 589 inning pitched season.  In fact in 1886-7, Kilroy completed 132 GAMES and pitched 1172.1 innings.   Already early in the season, there are many mentions of his arm being sore.  Even in this era of 2 1/2- 3 man rotations and shorter pitching distance (among others) , Kilroy  (led in CG's in both '86 & '87).    Though he would pitch over 480 innings in 1889, he was never really the same pitcher. 
Funny thing for me about Kilroy was that when I was doing the 1898 season, I was introduced to him (well I already knew of him) as an outfielder.  He did pitch 13 games in 1898, but also played 12 games in the OF).

Bert Cunningham - again, I was familiar with him from later in his career, 1st as part of  the 1899 Louisville Colonel rotation (1899 was my first research season) and then as a 28 game winner for the previous Colonel team.  The papers referenced back in that season to his return to glory.  Actually, his 28-15,113 ERA+ was easily his best season in fairly poor career.  He would probably be referred to in our times as a innings eating 5th starter type - poor ERA, 200-300 innings (equiv 125-150 modern).  His measurements according to BR: 5'7", 147 lbs.  (soaking wet, I suppose).

John "Phenomenal" Smith - I love the nicknames of this era - you got some Farmers, a Blondie, an Oyster, and a bunch more I can't think of at this time.  And of course, we have "Phenomenal" or "Phenom" as we also sardonically referred to.  Smith played very small parts of the season from 1884-1886 (I don't see any minor league info during those season yet).  In 1887, he "broke out" with a 25-30 record with the Orioles (491.1 innings).  He was just 21.

He hung around the majors until 1891 and then had an extended minor league career, primarily in the New England League, until 1904.


In fact, the ages of Kilroy, Cunningham, & Smith were 22, 22, & 23 - starting 123 of their 137 games.

As for the everyday guys, a couple of players were of immediate interest to me.

I'll start with Tommy Tucker.
Again, I was introduced to Tucker in my 1899 research.   He was the starting first baseman for the ill fated Spiders/Exiles/Wanderers franchise that won only 20 of 154.   He hit .241 for them.   In retrospect, he was a bit like one of the veteran players (Ashburn, Hodges) on the 1962 Mets - he had previous "glory", but ended up on a very terrible team.  In his case, I think I should state that he would be a "poor man's" version of that.

Anyway, that was all I really knew about Tucker until I worked on the 1897 and read up on the 1890's Beaneaters teams.   He was a steady, not spectacular 1st baseman for them for 7 years and also won the batting title in 1889 with the Orioles.   The 1899 Spiders experience apparently convinced him that his major league days were done.  He did play a couple more season in primarily the Connecticut State League.


Mike Griffin
When I think of Mike Griffin, I think of M101-1.   What is M101-1 you may ask?   It was a supplement premium produced by The Sporting News from 1899-1900.  One of the 1st (I have about 40 of the 60) ones I obtained was of Griffin as a Brooklyn Superba.  What was interesting about this is that he never played for the Superbas in 1899.  

The BioProject bio of Griffin gives a nice summary of the situation:

The Brooklyn franchise was floundering, posting a 54-91 record in 1898 and drawing the third worst attendance in the National League. So Charles Ebbets merged the team with Baltimore's club. Baltimore's manager was future Hall of Famer Ned Hanlon, who was retained to manage the new combined team.
Mike Griffin was offered a salary of $2,800 to be only a player instead of a player-manager. He refused the offer, saying he had a valid contract for $3,500 and expected it to be honored. It is likely he realized the "new" Brooklyn team was considerably better than the 1898 version, and he had looked forward to managing what promised to be a successful team. In none of his previous twelve major league seasons had he played for a pennant-winning ballclub.
The dispute dragged on with neither side willing to give in. Players had very few rights in this era, so owners were used to holding the upper hand. On March 11, 1899, Ebbets sent Griffin the following telegram: "You have been released to the Cleveland club. They wish you to report to Cleveland on Monday, to go with team to Hot Springs. Personally I wish you the best of luck in your new position." Griffin also received a telegram from Cleveland manager Patsy Tebeau that said, in part, "Mr Robinson has purchased your release from Brooklyn."
Griffin refused to report to Cleveland until his contract dispute with Brooklyn was resolved, because it appeared unlikely that Cleveland was going to pay the $3,500 salary that Griffin felt he was entitled to. For two weeks, letters and telegrams were exchanged between Griffin (at home in Utica), Cleveland, and Brooklyn. Cleveland finally had enough and released Griffin to St. Louis. This mattered little to Griffin as his beef was still with Brooklyn. He didn't report to St. Louis-he never played professional baseball again. In mid-April he announced his retirement from baseball.
Griffin filed suit against Brooklyn for breach of contract. Judge William Scripture of the New York State Supreme Court ruled in Griffin's favor and awarded him $2,266. Brooklyn appealed, with John M. Ward arguing their case. Ward was a former ballplayer who was one of the founders of the Players League that had challenged, unsuccessfully, the supremacy of the "Lords of Baseball," the owners.
The justices on the appeals court sided with Griffin. In fact, they said that Brooklyn not only didn't have grounds to win an appeal, they were fortunate with the initial ruling because the judge should have awarded Griffin several hundred dollars more in damages.
Back to M101-1 for a second - during my collecting of the set, came upon a second variation of the Griffin issue, this one with his team as St. Louis.  There are a number of variations in the M101-1 set, but that is for another blog time.  2 "cards" of a player in which he played for neither in the season of issue.


Another player on this team that has his place in baseball history is George Bradley.  He only played in one game, as a shortstop, for the Orioles, but 12 years earlier he had pitched the National League's 1st no hitter.


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