Old Hoss Radbourn

Pitcher
  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Boston
  • Team: Beaneaters
  • League: National League
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Charles Gardner Radbourn (1854-1897). An elite pitcher for 5 teams over 12 seasons, Radbourn owns the single-season Wins record with either 59 or 60 (sources vary) in 1884 – the year in which he became baseball’s 2nd triple Crown winner with 441 Ks & a 1.38 ERA. In 1884, Radbourn started 40 of his team’s last 43 games and won 36 of them. In the 1884 World Series, Radbourn started and won all three games, giving up only 3 runs. Including the postseason, Old Hoss won 62-63 games in 1884 and threw over 700 innings.

  • NL Triple Crown: 1884
  • NL Wins champ: 1883, 1884
  • 309 career Wins
  • Pitched no-hitter: 1883
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1939

Auction History

Toad Ramsey

Pitcher
  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Louisville
  • Team: Colonels
  • League: American Association

Thomas H. Ramsey (1864-1906). Toad pitched for the Louisville Colonels and St. Louis Browns from 1885-1890. In his rookie season, Ramsey only managed 66 complete games out of 67 starts! His 499 strikeouts that year still stand as the second-most all-time. His career flamed out after two stellar seasons, but Toad Ramsey left records that seem unthinkable today.

  • Credited with inventing the knuckleball thanks to a severed tendon in his left index finger
  • Died at age 41 of pneumonia in his hometown of Indianapolis
  • Ramsey’s uniform color on this card was changed in February, 2017 from black to maroon to reflect recent reliable research by Craig Brown & friends at Threads of Our Game. Nine cards had been previously released featuring a black uniform.

Auction History

Long John Reilly

First Base
  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Cincinnati
  • Team: Red Stockings (AA)
  • League: American Association

John Good Reilly (1858-1937) was a one-man Big Red Machine long before the days of Bench, Morgan and Rose. When he was replaced at first base by Charles Comiskey in 1892, Long John held the Cincinnati Reds franchise records for singles, doubles, triples, home runs, runs scored, RBI, and games played. His decade with the Reds had seen Reilly consistently rank in the league's top ten in most offensive categories. In addition, his lean 6’3” frame made him a welcome first base target for his teammates. To this day, after more than a century of powerhouses in the Queen City, Reilly remains one of only four in team history to twice lead the league in HRs. In 2012 he was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, which according to the team’s website is the oldest continually operating team Hall of Fame.

  • Reilly had been orphaned at age three when his father died in the Battle of Fort Donelson while serving as captain of a Union ironclad gunboat
  • Long John grew up in Cincinnati as a professional artist until lured by his love of baseball. He was loyal to his hometown, retiring rather than moving to another club
  • 69 career home runs were impressive for the era

Auction History

Charlie Reynolds

Catcher
  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Kansas City
  • Team: Blues (WA)
  • League: Western Association

Charles Lawrence Reynolds (1865-1944) got a quick look in the majors in 1889. He was a catcher and debuted with the Kansas City Cowboys of the American Association on May 8. That day represented his career in KC. Charlie went one for four with an RBI. He played five innings and didn’t make an error. On May 22 the Brooklyn Bridegrooms purchased his contract and he moved east for a dozen games. He had nine hits in 43 ABs for a .214 average. Reynolds was charged with eight errors in 95 innings for a fielding percentage of .917. Perhaps it was this tendency toward miscues, coupled with an anemic batting record that curtailed his hopes of a career in the big leagues. Reynolds’ stint at the pinnacle of baseball came amid his college career at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. His college production mirrored his MLB stats. His average was .217.

  • Another DePauw alum became a true luminary of the game: Ford Frick went on to head the NL and serve as Commissioner of Baseball. The Hall of Fame in 1978 established the award in his honor that commemorates contributions in broadcasting

Auction History

Danny Richardson

Second Base
  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: New York
  • Team: Giants
  • League: National League

Daniel Richardson (1863-1926) played 2B and SS for the Giants, Grooms, Senators, and Colonels over an 11 year span. His stints with the NY Giants included one year when the team played in the Player’s League (’90). He contributed to two Giant league championships in ’88 & ’89.

  • During his one year with the Washington Senators, Richardson was player/manager
  • Achieved a career BA of .254 and stole 225 bases

Auction History

Hardy Richardson

Outfield
  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Detroit
  • Team: Wolverines
  • League: National League

Abram Harding Richardson (1855-1931). Primarily a 2nd baseman, Hardy played every position at one time or another, even going 3-0 as a pitcher. Playing for 6 different teams over 14 professional seasons, Hardy was an excellent hitter who retired with a .299 lifetime average. Hardy’s best season was 1890 when he hit .326, scored 126 Runs, knocked in 146 runs & stole 42 bases.

  • Once hit a home run because the outfielder could not find the ball in the tall grass
  • Bill James ranks him as the 39th best 2nd baseman all-time

Auction History

Lee Richmond

Pitcher
  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Worcester
  • Team: Worcesters
  • League: National League

J. Lee Richmond (1857-1929). One of the most noteworthy scholar-athletes of the 19th century, Richmond set many firsts in MLB: 1st regular left-handed pitcher, 1st to record five consecutive strikeouts, 1st minor-leaguer to single-handedly gain his team major-league status, 1st lefty to win 30 games, 1st M.D. to play in the majors, and, oh yes, 1st pitcher to hurl a perfect game. The latter accomplishment was noted at the time more for the unlikeliness of nine bare-handed fielders achieving “perfection” and Richmond always credited his team’s support as the key to his career highlight. Richmond also accomplished one last: his dominance for Brown University’s squad – while he was being lured in and out of the majors by Harry Wright and Frank Bancroft – so upset the Ivy League that they legislated against any “professionalism” in the college ranks, laying the foundation of NCAA policy to this day.

  • Threw two no-hitters in 1879 (one was a 7 inning exhibition game). His perfecto came on June 12, 1880, giving Lee 3 no-hitters in 54 weeks!
  • As with many early pitchers, Lee’s arm suffered from overwork, leading to his early departure for private medical practice back in Ohio
  • Found his true calling as a teacher of Greek, physics, chemistry and math while coaching baseball, conducting the orchestra and serving as principal. A polymath indeed
  • Lee Richmond did not appear in the Old Judge series as he had retired in 1886. This image is taken from a studio cabinet of unknown origin.

Here's an original scorecard from Lee Richmond's perfect game, the first in MLB history, June 12, 1880:

 

A few notes from the game:

  • Only 6 months into the new decade, notice how the scorekeeper amended the date on a scorecard that was left over from the 1870s
  • Richmond's opponent, the 1880 Cleveland Blues, were a good team. They finished 3rd in the National League with a 47-37 record & featured young standout talent such as Fred Dunlap, Jim McCormick, Jack Glasscock, Orator Shafer & Ned Hanlon. Richmond threw his gem against excellent competition.
  • The Worcester Worcestors won the game 1-0, with Arthur "Foxy" Irwin scoring the game's only run in the 5th inning. The losing pitcher for the Blues, Jim McCormick, tossed a 3-hitter.
  • The Worcestors weren't quite as stacked as the Blues (finished 5th with a 40-43 record), but featured some excellent players: Charlie Bennett, Dandy Wood, Art Whitney, Arthur Irwin, Harry Stovey & Bill McGunnigle.
  • 12 of the 18 players who participated in the game have Ars Longa Art Cards: Dandy Wood, Lee Richmond, Arthur Irwin, Charlie Bennett, Art Whitney, Fred Dunlap, Frank Hankinson, Orator Shafer, Jim McCormick, Barney Gilligan, Jack Glasscock & Ned Hanlon.

Auction History

Wilbert Robinson

Catcher
  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Philadelphia
  • Team: Athletics (AA)
  • League: American Association
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Uncle Robbie (1863-1934). A durable catcher for 17 seasons with 3 teams, Robinson is credited as the 1st to play directly behind the plate at all times. Uncle Robbie once caught 5 games in two days. He also had 7 hits & 11 RBI in a single game. After his playing days were over, Robinson went on to manage for 18 seasons.

  • Won 3 NL pennants as player
  • Won 2 NL pennants as manager
  • Won 5 NL pennants as pitching coach
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1945
  • Although the Old Judge series features five known poses of Wilbert Robinson, I could not find one of suitable quality for this project. This image is taken from the Kalamazoo Bats (N690-1) series from 1887.

Auction History

Yank Robinson

Second Base
  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: St. Louis
  • Team: Browns (AA)
  • League: American Association

William H. Robinson (1859-1894) became one of the most proficient “on-base” artists of his day. He knew how to capitalize on the evolving base-on-balls rules during the mid-to-late 1880s and crafted outstanding years from fairly meager hitting. Yank played infield for a decade in the majors, 1882-92. He was a starter for Charles Comiskey’s St. Louis Browns during their pennant stretch from ‘85-88. No doubt Charlie had noticed the item in the Post-Dispatch proclaiming Yank “the best all-around player in the Union Association,” during its ‘84 season. Robinson had such a knack for waiting on the pitcher that his walks exceeded his hits the last six years in the majors. Opinions of Robinson’s defense vary but considering he eschewed the glove, some historians have credited him with superior skills.

  • Yank had a notorious tussle with owner Chris von der Ahe in 1889 over a uniform the boss wanted changed. Robinson won the “strike” and the argument led him to jump to Pittsburgh’s Players’ League entry the next year

Auction History

George Rooks

Outfield
  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Chicago
  • Team: Maroons
  • League: Western Association

George Brinton McClellan Rooks (nee Ruckser) (1863-1935) had a vanishingly brief stint in the National League, seeing action in five games in left field for the Boston Beaneaters in May of 1891. He had a grand total of 20 plate appearances with 16 official at bats. He had twice as many walks as hits and ended his tour in the majors with a .125 average. He did score a run, allowing him to approach home plate from an alternate direction. This sketch doesn't do justice to a much longer professional experience for the young Chicagoan who had debuted with the Lincoln Tree Planters of the Western League in 1886 before moving on to the Northwestern League's Oshkosh franchise to finish the season. George remained in the league the following year with the LaCrosse Freezers where he was a regular. He hit .333, higher than any teammate with as many at bats. He showed both power and speed with four home runs and 70 stolen bases. Rooks got a cup of coffee in '88 with his hometown Maroons but got into only eight games before being shipped out to the Lima Lushers of the Tri-State League. 1889 would be the second and last time George played an entire season for one team, this time with the Detroit Wolverines of the International League. He was one of four to play 112 games and he produced a fine .303 average, second on the club among regulars.

  • Following his sojourn in Boston, Rooks finished out his minor league career primarily close to home with clubs in Wisconsin and Michigan, including the intriguing bi-city squad from Ishpeming-Negaunee in 1892
  • George strayed south for his swan song in '93 with Vicksburg of the Mississippi State League
  • Although Baseball Reference data list George as right-handed, the Old Judge poses when he was with the Maroons depict a lefty both at bat and throwing

Auction History

Jack Rowe

Shortstop
  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Detroit
  • Team: Wolverines
  • League: National League

John Charles Rowe (1856-1911) played a decade in the major leagues for two teams, the Buffalo Bisons and Detroit Wolverines before finishing out his career with the Alleghenys and Players’ League Bisons back in Buffalo in 1890. It was his skill at bare-handed catching in the minors that attracted the Bisons’ attention in 1878, but his September call-up impressed with the bat as well when Rowe hit .353. That debut led to a seven-year tenure in upstate NY where he gained fame as part of the “Big Four” with Dan Brouthers, Hardy Richardson and Deacon White. The quartet were formidable batsmen, but a lack of pitching doomed the franchise to mediocre results. In September ‘85 the four were sold to Detroit and remained a unit until the team folded after the ‘88 season. By 1887 Rowe was primarily a shortstop and helped the club win it all, pennant and post-season, for the high-water mark of the Wolverines. Victims of the early reserve system, Rowe and White tried unsuccessfully to return to Buffalo in ‘88 as co-owners, but were held to a sale to Pittsburgh. They did make good on their plan as a Players’ League entry in 1890 for a final year in the majors for both.

  • Ran a cigar store in retirement and, per the January 1899 The Sporting Life was “one of the most contented men in Buffalo these days”

Auction History

Amos Rusie

Pitcher
  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Indianapolis
  • Team: Hoosiers (NL)
  • League: National League
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

“The Hoosier Thunderbolt” (1871-1942). In a 10 year career: (8) 20-win & (4) 30-win seasons; 5x strikeout & 2x ERA leader; won pitching’s Triple Crown in 1894. Rusie threw hard for the era, once hitting HOFer Hughie Jennings in the head, inducing a 4-day coma. This event was influential in increasing the pitching distance to 60’6″ from its original 50 feet.

  • Once was traded for Christy Mathewson
  • Suffered hearing loss due to line drive to the head
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1977

Auction History

Jimmy Ryan

Outfield
  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Chicago
  • Team: White Stockings
  • League: National League

James Edward Ryan (1863-1923) was one of the stand-out players of the 19th century. When he retired in 1903 after 18 ML seasons Ryan ranked in the top 10 in most offensive stats. The first veteran’s committee of the Hall of Fame convened in 1936 and did not elect a single player from that era. Ryan got no votes despite ranking among the best of his day. Ryan was no shrinking violet. He was known as a battler who would punch a reporter or a conductor who wouldn’t find him a berth. In 1888 he led the NL in HRs, hits, doubles, total bases and slugging percentage.

  • Career .306 hitter with 118 lifetime home runs when few were hit
  • Despite his success, Ryan soured on the game. After his retirement he counseled against making a career in pro-ball, pointing to the few players who made it past age 35

Auction History