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Joe Gunson

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

Joseph Brook Gunson (1863-1942) was a pioneer catcher in baseball’s early days. Three years before his death, Gunson donated his original mitt to the new Hall of Fame. During his life and since, historians have been as split over who deserves the honor of inventing the catcher’s glove as were the fingers of Gunson and his fellow backstop on the Western League KC Blues. Those torn hands prompted Gunson to contrive some protection. Doc Bushong or Harry Decker may have beaten Joe to the draw, but there can be no argument that this stalwart receiver was a key contributor to the game he loved. Gunson debuted with the lowly Washington club of the upstart Union Association in 1884, then knocked around the minors until catching on with the Browns, Spiders, Orioles and Cowboys during a four-year ML stint.

  • Gunson’s stats are unimpressive: a .211 BA, with little power. Yet, like so many early players, he made his mark on the fledgling sport with grit and creativity which laid a foundation for all who were to follow
  • The Sporting Life compared Gunson’s hands with their “knots and gnarls” to famed Chicagoan Sylvester “Silver” Flint’s “battered paws.” Such was the catcher’s lot in the 19th century….

Auction History

Tom Gunning

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Boston
  • Team: Beaneaters
  • League: National League

Thomas Francis Gunning (1862-1931) looks like a mediocre ball player on the record. His six years in MLB show a weak hitting catcher whose defense was shaky. The stats belie a “sober, honest, reliable and energetic” player who was a credit to his sport. Popular at every level in which he played, Tom was as serious about his studies as about baseball, which is saying something. Even when he was completing his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania, and with a bad arm, Gunning played for his school team and for Hartford. His major league tenure began with the Beaneaters in 1884 where he played three seasons before moving on to the two Philadelphia clubs, the Quakers and Athletics. His lifetime .205 average and .887 fielding % don’t begin to express his value to his teams or the esteem of his managers and colleagues. Frequently chosen to fill in as an umpire, Gunning was known for his objectivity, sometimes to the dismay of his teammates during a rowdy and partisan era. He turned down overtures from St. Louis in ’87 to remain in Philadelphia and med school.

  • Gunning eschewed protective gear & frequently paid the price
  • Was assigned as a rookie to the Massachusetts State Association – a “reserve” league concocted by the Beaneaters to safeguard their youngsters from the Union Association’s depredations
  • As a young MD in Fall River, MA, had a role in the inquests into the 1892 Lizzie Borden axe murders case

Auction History

Ad Gumbert

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

Addison Courtney Gumbert (1868-1925) was a pitcher for six teams over nine years, 1888-96. He debuted with the Chicago White Stockings and played for both the Brooklyn Bridegrooms and Philadelphia Phillies in ’96. Gumbert gained a spot in Cub history as the starting pitcher in 1892 for the Chicago Colts. (The Cub franchise, with the Atlanta Braves, are the only surviving “charter members” of the NL.)

  • Established a career 123-102 record, with a 4.27 ERA
  • Best year was with Boston’s Players’ League entry in 1890, winning 23 for “King” Kelly’s team

Auction History

Mike Griffin

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Baltimore
  • Team: Orioles
  • League: American Association

Michael Joseph Griffin (1865-1908) was an accomplished center fielder for the AA’s Orioles, the Players’ League’s Athletics and the NL’s Bridegrooms over 12 seasons. He batted over .300 six times, scored 100+ runs ten times and stole 473 bases. On 4/16/87 he became the 1st ML player to hit a HR in his first plate appearance. Ended his career as player-mgr for Brooklyn.

  • Caught up in the Baltimore/Brooklyn merger in ’98, won a salary judgment of $2,300 and retired
  • Managed local Utica breweries until his death from pneumonia at 43
  • Griffin’s uniform color on this card was changed in May, 2017 from black to blue/red 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

George Gore

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

“Piano Legs” (1857-1933). An outfielder for 4 teams over 14 major league seasons, Gore was an excellent hitter who played on 7 pennant winning teams and in 4 World Series. His alcoholism oftentimes put him at odds with teammates, fans, and managers.

  • All-time leader in OF errors: 368
  • Stole 7 bases in 1 game; a record
  • Had 5 extra-base hits in 1 game: a record he achieved by hitting 3 doubles & 2 triples against Old Hoss Radbourn
  • Won NL batting title: 1880

Auction History