September 24, 2022

19th Century Overlooked Base Ball Legends Project — And the 2010 Candidates are…

July 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

It was an early April morning and I was sitting on the back porch of the Otesaga in Cooperstown, New York. The twenty minutes or so sitting alone rocking back and forth in a white rocking chair was a surreal moment for me. I have often heard stories of Johnny Bench and others sharing moments with the newly elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on their weekend of induction at this peaceful refuge. I tried to picture myself kicking back with a cigar as Bench, Morgan, Fisk and others sat next to me. I then thought about the greats of the game that didn’t get a chance to sit in one of the rocking chairs and reflect on their legendary career. SABR’s Nineteenth Century Committee can’t grant these greats that moment but the committee can bring some attention to long forgotten legends. The Nineteenth Century Committee recently completed voting for the second year on the most overlooked 19th Century baseball legends.

The 19th Century Overlooked Base Ball Legends Project Committee presented ten outstanding candidates last year with Pete Browning ultimately winning in a close vote. The same can be said for the ten candidates the committee presented for the 2010 vote. There were seven holdovers from the 2009 ballot and three newcomers, Doc Adams, Bob Caruthers and George Van Haltren.

The Nineteenth Century Committee conducted their election from June 15 to June 30 with 171 committee members voting. The results are in and will be announced at 1 P.M. on Thursday, August 5th during the Nineteenth Century Committee’s annual business meeting at SABR 40 in Atlanta, GA.

The ten candidates for the 2010 Overlooked 19th Century Base Ball Legend are…

Doc Adams
Born: November 1, 1814, Died: January 3, 1899
Played: 1839-1862
Position: Pioneer

The title “Father of Baseball” has been bestowed on a handful of gentlemen since the early days of our national pastime. Daniel Lucius Adams is among them. A graduate of both Yale and Harvard, Adams helped shape the game as we know it today. As a young physician in New York City, “Doc” played a form of baseball as early as 1839 and became a member of the famed Knickerbocker Base Ball Club in 1845, about a month after the club was formed. In 1846, Doc was elected vice president of the Knickerbockers and played in the famous “first” game between clubs on June 19 at Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey. The following year he was elected president of the club, a position he held for the next three years and would serve again from 1856 to 1858. In 1848, he headed the committee to revise the rules and by-laws of the Knickerbockers. As a player, Adams is credited as being the first shortstop in 1849 or 1850, first as an intermediary to receive the relay throws of the outfielders, but later moving up to the infield. The lefty batter played regularly and productively into his forties. At his suggestion, the first baseball convention of ball clubs met in May 1857 to formalize set rules between clubs and ultimately leading to the formation of the National Association of Base Ball Players. Adams was elected president of the convention and was the first chairman of the Rules Committee. In his leadership positions, Doc played a crucial role in the establishment of several key aspects that make up the game of baseball, which include nine players per team, the nine inning game, ninety feet between bases and catching the ball on the fly to record an out rather than being able to catch the ball on one bounce for an out. In 1862, Adams stepped down from the Rules Committee post and resigned from the Knickerbockers. He left the legendary club as the most significant member in team history, membership that included Hall of Famer Alexander Cartwright.

Ross Barnes
Born: May 8, 1850, Died: February 5, 1915
Played: 1866-77,79,81
Position: Second Base

Barnes may have been the most exciting all around player of the 1860s and 1870s. Prior to the establishment of the National Association, Barnes was a star player for the Forest City Club of Rockford, Illinois. In 1871, he joined the Boston Red Stockings of the new professional league and quickly established himself as one of the league’s shining stars. Over the next five seasons, Barnes would lead the league in at least eighteen offensive categories while becoming the National Association’s career leader in runs, hits, doubles, base on balls, stolen bases, batting average and on-base percentage. Barnes, the premier fair-foul hitter, won batting titles in 1872 (.432) and 1873 (.425). Also a defensive standout, Barnes was one of Boston’s “Big Four” that led the Red Stockings to the league championship each year from 1872 to 1875. When the National League was formed in 1876, he became a member of the Chicago White Stockings and led them to the league’s best record. He also led the league in almost every offensive category including batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs, hits, doubles, triples and total bases. After the 1876 season, he was never the same player. Both an illness, limiting Barnes to just 22 games in 1877, and the banning of the fair-foul hit were contributing factors in his demise. He finished his career by playing in the International Association in 1878, followed by two seasons as a shortstop for Cincinnati in 1879 and Boston in 1881.

Bob Caruthers
Born: January 5, 1864, Died: August 5, 1911
Played: 1884-93
Position: Pitcher and Outfield

Born in Memphis, Tennessee and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Robert Lee Caruthers was among the greatest all-around players of his day. He was an outstanding pitcher with a deceptive right-handed delivery and a hard-hitting outfielder who had a solid reputation as a defensive player and a base runner. Before signing with the St. Louis Browns of the American Association in 1884, Caruthers played for Grand Rapids (1883) and Minneapolis (1884) of the Northwestern League. The 5’4’’, 140 pound twenty-year-old made his major league debut for the Browns on September 7, 1884 and went 7-2 in 13 games to close out the season. In 1885, he teamed with Dave Foutz to lead the Browns to the pennant, going 40-13 and leading the league in wins, winning percentage (.755) and ERA (2.07). After the 1885 season he went to Paris, France and became engaged in a trans-Atlantic salary dispute with Browns’ owner Chris Von der Ahe, earning his nickname “Parisian Bob” and settling for a $3,200 salary. The Browns won the pennant again in 1886 with Caruthers going 30-14 with a 2.32 ERA (second in the league) while hitting .334, slugging .527 and leading the league with .448 on-base percentage. The 1887 season was much of the same with a pennant, a 29-9 record and a league-leading .763 winning percentage, at the same time hitting .357, slugging .547, scoring 102 runs, stealing 49 bases and getting on base with a .463 percentage. After the season in a Von der Ahe shakeup, Caruthers was traded to Brooklyn were he would play for four seasons, winning 29, 40, 23 and 18 games, respectively, while contributing to pennant winners in 1889 and 1890, Brooklyn’s first season in the NL. In 1892, he went back to the Browns, now a NL team, and played primarily in the outfield, having career highs in games (143), at bats (513), hits (142) and walks (86). The 1893 season was his last in the majors, playing briefly for the Chicago Colts and the Cincinnati Reds. He finished with a 218-99 record, an ERA of 2.83 and a .391 OBP for his career. He continued playing in the minors until 1898 before becoming an umpire. He was an American League umpire in 1902 and 1903.

Bill Dahlen
Born: January 5, 1870, Died: December 5, 1950
Played: 1891-1911
Position: Shortstop

Known as “Bad Bill” for his extreme temper, Dahlen played for 21 seasons and is considered one of the great defensive shortstops in baseball history. With excellent range and a tremendous arm, he set numerous fielding records. It has been almost 100 years since Dahlen last put on the uniform as a player and yet he is still among the all-time leaders at shortstop in games played, assists and putouts as well as errors. As a hitter, Dahlen was among the best hitting shortstops of his era and had excellent power. In his career, five times he finished in the top seven in home runs and when he retired, only Herman Long had more homers as a shortstop. He also led the league in RBI in 1904 with 80 and finished in the top nine three other times. His career offensive numbers include 1,589 runs, 2,457 hits, 413 doubles, 163 triples, 84 home runs, 1,233 RBI, 547 stolen bases and 140 hit by pitches. In 1894, Dahlen hit in 42 consecutive games to set a major league record which has since been surpassed but is still fourth best in history. Dahlen played his entire career in the National League, playing for Chicago, Brooklyn, New York and Boston. Dahlen’s fiery style of play was a key factor in the success of the teams he played on, including NL championships in 1899 and 1900 with Brooklyn and 1904 and 1905 with New York. New York went on to win the World Series in 1905. Dahlen appeared on the Hall of Fame’s 2009 Veterans Committee ballot for pre-1943 players but failed to gain election.

Jack Glasscock
Born: July 22, 1857, Died: February 24, 1947
Played: 1879-95
Position: Shortstop

Considered by many historians as the greatest defensive shortstop of the Nineteenth Century, “Pebbly Jack” played the majority of his career without a glove. He received his nickname for his dutiful inspection of the field for pebbles and tossing them away to avert bad hops during the game. He led the league in fielding percentage and assists six times, double plays four times, putouts two times and had the most range of any shortstop of his era. He retired as the career leader for shortstops in games, assists, double plays, putouts, total chances and fielding percentage. At the bat, he got better with age. A career .290 hitter, he led the National League in hits in 1889 and 1890, winning the 1890 batting title with a .336 average after finishing second the previous year with a .352 average. He finished his career with 1,163 runs, 2,040 hits and more than 825 RBI. Striking out just 196 times in his career, Glasscock was also one of the toughest hitters to strikeout, leading the league three times in at bats per strikeout. The “King of Shortstops” played for nine teams in seventeen years, including a brief stint in the Union Association. He continued playing in the minors until 1901.

Bobby Mathews
Born: November 21, 1851, Died: April 17, 1898
Played: 1869-77,79,81-87
Position: Pitcher

Mathews, a pioneer pitcher in the development of both the spitball and the curveball, won 297 games, including the National Association’s first game in 1871. Listed as five feet, four inches and 140 pounds, Mathews played amateur ball in Maryland before joining the Fort Wayne Kekiongas in the NA. In 1872, he joined Baltimore as their ace, winning 25 games and leading the league in strikeouts. Mathews moved again in 1873 and joined the New York Mutuals, where he would stay through the 1876 season. Mathews was their workhorse and led the league in strikeouts in 1873, shutouts in 1874, and ERA, games started, complete games and innings pitched in 1875. Despite the Mutuals being a subpar offensive team, Mathews managed to become the third winningest pitcher in the NA’s existence, behind only Albert Spalding and Dick McBride, winning 131 games. At the end of the 1876 season, the Mutuals failed to play out their schedule and were removed from the National League, which was the beginning of an uncertain future for Mathews. From 1877 to 1882, Mathews bounced around from team to team, which ultimately cost him the three wins he needed for 300. He won just 39 games in those six seasons, although he was a key contributor as the change pitcher for the champion Providence Grays in 1879. Among his stops were the Columbus (1877) and Lynn (1878) teams of the rival International Association (considered a minor league) and a trip to the West Coast (in protest of the new reserve clause) to play for an independent team out of San Francisco in 1880. His career was rejuvenated in 1883 when he joined the Philadelphia Athletics of the American Association and led them to the championship. It was the first of three consecutive seasons of 30 wins for the hurler. Mathews finished his career with nearly 5,000 innings pitched and a 2.89 ERA.

Tony Mullane
Born: January 20, 1859, Died: April 25, 1944
Played: 1881-84,86-94
Position: Pitcher

Born in Ireland, Mullane won 284 games in thirteen major league seasons. Nicknamed the “Count” and the “Apollo of the Box” for his good looks and polished appearance, Mullane was a popular player who was often called to pitch on “Ladies’ Day” to get more fans to the field. He was a right-handed thrower who occasionally pitched from the left side as one of the few ambidextrous pitchers in baseball history. After a brief five-game stint in 1881 with the Detroit Wolverines of the National League, Mullane joined Louisville of the American Association the following season. Mullane won 30 games with a 1.88 ERA in over 460 innings pitched for the second place Eclipse. In 1883, he joined the St. Louis Browns and led them to a second place finish in the AA, winning 35 games with a 2.19 ERA. After flirting with playing for the St. Louis Maroons of the Union Association, despite being under contract with the Browns, he ended up in Toledo of the AA in 1884. He led the mediocre Blue Stockings with 36 wins, 325 strikeouts and 567 innings pitched. Mullane’s revolving finally caught up with him in 1885. Toledo folded and he became property of St. Louis once again. Mullane decided to sign and play with Cincinnati instead. For his actions, Mullane was suspended for the entire 1885 season which ultimately cost enough wins to leave him short of 300 victories. In 1886, he joined Cincinnati and stayed with the team until June 1893, when he was traded to Baltimore. With the Red Stockings (team changed their name to the Reds when they joined the NL in 1890), Mullane won 20 or more games five times, including 33 in 1886 and 31 in 1887 even though the Reds were usually in the bottom half of the standings. In 1892, he left the team to protest his salary being cut which cost him a few more wins. Mullane was a fine all around player who played the field in over 200 games when he didn’t pitch and hit a respectable .243 for his career, scoring over 400 runs and stealing over 100 bases. He played minor league ball as late as 1902.

Harry Stovey
Born: December 20, 1856, Died: September 20, 1937
Played: 1880-93
Position: Outfield and First Base

Stovey was a great all-around player and one of the game’s first power hitters. He finished in the top four in home runs ten times, leading the league in five of those seasons. In 1883, he set the single season record with 14 homers. When he retired in 1893, he was the all time leader in home runs with 122 and was third on the list as late as 1920. Stovey’s other offensive numbers include 347 doubles, 174 triples, 908 RBI, over 500 stolen bases (records are not available for six of his seasons so he may have stolen more than 800 bases) and 1,492 runs in 1,486 games, including nine seasons of 100 or more runs. Besides home runs, he led the league in over twenty other offensive categories, including extra-base hits five times, runs scored and triples four times, slugging percentage and total bases three times, stolen bases twice and RBI once. Stovey’s first three seasons were with Worcester of the National League. In 1883, he became a member of the Philadelphia Athletics of the AA, spending seven seasons with the team which included the pennant that first season and four seasons hitting .300 or better. In 1890, he joined the Boston Reds of the Players League and led them to the pennant. He then spent the next three seasons playing for the Boston Beaneaters (1891 and 1892 NL champion), Baltimore Orioles and the Brooklyn Grooms.

George Van Haltren
Born: March 30, 1866, Died: September 29, 1945
Played: 1887-1903
Position: Outfield

St. Louis born “Rip” Van Haltren became a baseball star in Oakland, California as a young man. The news of his pitching exploits traveled to the East and Pittsburgh signed him in 1887. After his reluctance to join the team, he was traded to the Chicago White Stockings for the then 252-game winner Jim McCormick. Van Haltren played three seasons in Chicago, the first two starting 42 games as a pitcher, going 24-20, and playing the outfield in 84 games. In 1889, the lefty did not pitch and played 134 games in the field. He had an outstanding year as a hitter, scoring 126 times and batting .322 with a .416 on-base percentage. In 1890, Van Haltren joined the Players’ League, going 15-10 as a pitcher and batting .335 in 92 games. From 1891-1893, he played in Baltimore and Pittsburgh before being bought by the New York Giants. The mustached Van Haltren became a popular player in New York for the next decade. By 1893, he was primarily a centerfielder and a leadoff hitter and would continue to play almost every day until he broke an ankle in 1902. When his major league career was over, he had accumulated 2,544 hits, 1,642 runs, 161 triples, 1,015 RBI, 583 stolen bases with a .316 batting average and an on-base percentage of .386. He scored over 100 runs eleven times and batted .300 twelve times. Van Haltren, an outstanding defensive stalwart with a tremendous throwing arm, finished in the top ten in hits, triples, runs, batting average, stolen bases, total bases and on-base percentage a grand total of 42 times. He managed and continued his ball playing career in the Pacific Coast League until 1909.

Deacon White
Born: December 7, 1847, Died: July 7, 1939
Played: 1868-90
Position: Catcher and Third Base

White, nicknamed “Deacon” for his virtuous life and his leadership on the field, was one of baseball’s first superstars. He began his playing career with the Forest City Baseball Club of Cleveland in 1868 and was still with the team when the first National Association game was played. In the first inning of that first game, he doubled off Bobby Mathews for the first “major league” hit. Considered to be the first catcher to move up under the batter, White was the premier catcher of the 1870s. Playing without a glove, he caught more games (409) than anyone else during the decade while being one of the game’s most feared hitters. White won two batting titles (.367 in 1875 and .387 in 1877) and three RBI crowns (1873, 1876 and 1877). In 1873, White became a member of the Boston Red Stockings that went on to win the championship in 1873, 1874 and 1875. The famed “Big Four” of Ross Barnes, Cal McVey, Al Spalding and White moved onto the Chicago White Stockings in 1876 to win the first NL pennant. In 1877, he returned to Boston as a first basemen and won another pennant. From 1878 to 1880, he played for Cincinnati, forming a battery with his brother Will, before joining Buffalo for five seasons. By 1882 he was a regular third baseman and a member of the second famous “Big Four” with Dan Brouthers, Hardy Richardson and Jack Rowe. In 1886, the Buffalo franchise was purchased by the owner of the Wolverines, bringing the “Big Four” to Detroit. In 1887, the Wolverines, with White hitting .303 at the age of 39, won the NL pennant and defeated St. Louis of the American Association to become world champs. White finished his career with Detroit in 1888, Pittsburgh in 1889 and Buffalo of the Players’ League in 1890. White’s career totals include 1,140 runs, 2,066 hits, 977 RBI, a .312 batting average and just 221 strikeouts. Like Dahlen, White appeared on the Hall of Fame’s 2009 Veterans Committee ballot for pre-1943 players but failed to gain election.

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