Tom McLaughlin

Shortstop
  • Card series: 1880s: Spotted Ties
  • City: New York
  • Team: Metropolitans
  • League: American Association

Thomas McLaughlin (1860-1921) was primarily a shortstop for three American Association franchises beginning with the Louisville Eclipse in 1883 and finishing up with the Washington Statesmen in 1891 following a four-year hiatus from the big leagues. Never much of a hitter, Tom’s career lasted as long as it did on the merits of his defensive skills. His swan song with D.C. was his best at the plate where he hit .268 – but in only 50 plate appearances.

McLaughlin’s career average was a lowly .192, but his nadir came with the Metropolitans in 1886 when he hit .136 with an OPS+ of 22 (league average is 100). The underwhelming performance pushed McLaughlin back to the minors for four years. He had played much more previously for Louisville and, in his final year with what was by then the Colonels, was in every one of that 112-game campaign of 1885.

McLaughlin’s ’86 sojourn with the Mets earned him a place in Old Judge‘s “spotted tie” series that we feature here. All of which proves that lasting fame is not always the result of on-field prowess, but can also be a function of being at the right place at the right time. The same could be said of the entire Metropolitan squad of 1886, which featured ace Jack Lynch going 20-30 while the team’s record was 53-82 en route to a 7th place finish where the Mets trailed 38 games behind the dominant St. Louis Browns.

  • Tom’s exile to the minors saw him travel from New Jersey (Newark of the International League) to Toronto, St. Paul and, finally, Syracuse to open the ’91 season before his call-up to Washington.
  • His personal-best hitting came with the Stars: .280, which led to his final attempt to hit big league pitching

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