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John Clapp

  • Series: Athletic of Philadelphia: 1874
  • City: Philadelphia
  • Team: Athletics (NAPBBP)
  • League: National Association (NAPBBP)

John Edgar Clapp (1851-1904) played for 8 teams and managed 6 over a 12 year span, beginning in the National Association with the Middletown Mansfields in 1872 and ending with the NY Gothams in ’83. Primarily a catcher, Clapp had a career BA of .283. With a lifetime 2,523 ABs, he struck out only 51 times.

  • Was the first player-manager in major league history (1872)
  • Jay Jaffe's JAWS system ranks John as the 88th best catcher in MLB history, just after Bubbles Hargrave and before Ed McFarland
  • Earned the nickname “Honest John” after reporting a bookie’s attempted bribe to local police
  • The 1881 bribe, in current dollars, amounted to @$119,000
  • Fittingly, this Honest John entered police work after retirement from the game and died on the job in his hometown of Ithaca, NY

Auction History

Joe Battin

Second Base
  • Series: Athletic of Philadelphia: 1874
  • City: Philadelphia
  • Team: Athletics (NAPBBP)
  • League: National Association (NAPBBP)

Joseph V. Battin (1853-1937) was a scrappy infielder for three National Association teams from 1871-75, remaining with the St. Louis Brown Stockings as they joined the new NL in ‘76. He began with the Cleveland Forest Citys in 1871 at the age of 17, playing just one game in the outfield. After a year off, Joe returned to pro ball with the Athletics in ‘73, again getting into only one game. He caught on the following season, managing to hit .230 for the A’s across 51 games before shipping out to St. Louis for the ‘75 campaign.

Joe's second season in St. Louis, the National League's inaugural season of 1876, was his best as he hit .300 (with a 135 OPS+) in 64 games. He slumped the next year and the Browns sent him to the Alleghenys of Pittsburgh. Joe rarely hit above .200 thereafter and would spend more time in the minors than the majors over the balance of his career.

The 1880s were a time of movement for players and even teams and leagues. But few may have had as head-spinning a season as Joe in 1885. He found himself playing for five teams, three in Waterbury, CT, and each of those in a different league! He began the season with Waterbury’s Southern New England League entry, went back out to Cleveland’s Forest Citys, now in the Western League, back to Waterbury’s Brassmen of the Connecticut State League, up to Binghamton of the New York State League, and finally back in CT with Waterbury’s Eastern League squad.

  • Joe got one last shot of big league glory with the Syracuse Stars in 1890, hitting .210 in 29 games
  • Battin appeared on the first Hall of Fame ballot in 1936. He received one vote from the Veteran's Committee, tying him with 22 other players including Jake Beckley, Tommy McCarthy, Bobby Wallace, Jesse Burkett, Deacon White & Tim Keefe, and surpassing Candy Cummings who received zero votes 

Auction History

Al Reach

Second Base
  • Series: Mort's Reserve
  • City: Philadelphia
  • Team: Athletics (NAPBBP)
  • League: National Association (NAPBBP)

Alfred James Reach (1840-1928) “served baseball with distinction as player, organizer, club owner and provider of the equipment to attain the highest possible skill in the game” per his own Reach’s Official Base Ball Guide upon his death. “A good man, of the kindest impulses, his name will last as long as we have baseball” expressed the legacy of one of the great men of the early era of America’s game. The London-born, Brooklyn-raised Reach joked that he made the gloves he eschewed in the beginnings of the game in which he starred for the Brooklyn Eckfords and Philadelphia Athletics. He also made the AL’s balls while owning the NL Phillies franchise. A genius for marketing equipment and a lifelong love of the game made him one of the most influential figures of baseball’s first half-century.

  • Began play in the amateur era, then founded the NL’s Philadelphia club in 1883
  • Built the first modern ballpark in ’87, then rebuilt it with steel after a fire in ‘94
  • Al's brother Bob Reach was an MLB shortstop for 3 games, 1872-1873
  • Was the 88th player to debut in MLB

Auction History