Frank Hoffman

Pitcher
  • Card series: 1880s: Loving Paupers
  • City: Denver
  • Team: Grizzlies
  • League: Western Association

Frank J. Hoffman began in professional baseball with the New Orleans Pelicans in 1887. Frank appeared in two games, is shown as having been age 25 at the time, and was the pitcher of record for both starts. He surrendered seven runs, none of them earned, and was 1 for 9 at the plate. He saw a bit more action the next year with the San Antonio Missionaries of the Texas-Southern League. He started eight games and was spectacular, going 7-1 with a .91 ERA. This was an abbreviated turn with the Missionaries. Although unrecorded by Baseball Reference, the Goodwin editors state that the San Antonio squad had begun the ‘88 season as the Austin Senators. The previous franchise in the Alamo city had gone out of business. On July 4 the Senators came to town, but they didn’t do any better drawing customers. After only the eight games, Hoffman was sold to the American Association’s Kansas City Cowboys. This opportunity provided Frank his sole chance to pitch in the big leagues. He couldn’t match his performance down south, going 3-9 with a still-respectable 2.77 ERA. He was released for the 1889 season and played for the Denver Grizzlies, where he was captured on camera by an Old Judge photographer for five known poses before returning to Texas with the Houston Mudcats for the 1890 campaign. He had a good enough ERA at 2.30, but lost 12 of his 17 decisions. His final known year in pro ball came in 1892 with the San Francisco Metropolitans of the California League. Team data show an eye-popping 39-37 record with an ERA of 1.72. It appears that Frank may have adopted San Francisco as his permanent home, having died there in 1916, 24 years after leaving baseball.

  • Despite Hoffman’s obscurity, he enjoyed one of baseball’s most celebratory but confounding nicknames: The Texas Wonder. Because Frank was most likely born in Mississippi, one might surmise he earned the sobriquet during his 1888 career year with the San Antonio Missionaries, when he went 7-1 with a .91 ERA

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