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Mike McGeary

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

Michael Henry McGeary (1851-1933) was, per Sporting Life in 1905, “the best runner in his profession,” due largely because he was “the one player who regularly practiced sliding.” McGeary was also nearly impossible to strikeout. From 1871-76, McGeary fanned only six times in 1,518 plate appearances.

Mike began in  pro ball with the Troy Haymakers in ‘70 and stayed with the team as it became a founding member of the National Association the next season. Usually an infielder, Mike was the shortstop for the Philadelphia Athletics when Al Spalding led his Boston club and the A’s on a tour of Britain and Ireland in the summer of 1874. Designed by Harry Wright to promote the game in Europe, the expensive effort failed to generate interest.

McGeary joined the new NL with the St. Louis Browns in 1876 during the era when gambling was rife and William Hulbert was bent on reform. Long-suspected of throwing games, McGeary was the first NL player accused. Suspended and reinstated due to a lack of evidence, Mike continued to generate rumors and suspicion but escaped sanctions and completed over a decade in the game.

  • Sporting Life in 1888 described the yellow “parasol” captain McGeary used to signal to the bettors in the grandstands. In one 1875 game, Mike made five of his Philadelphia White Stockings’ 21 errors in a loss to Chicago, reportedly earning each Philadelphia player between $300-$500 from the gamblers.
  • From 1871-1875, McGeary averaged 1.22 runs per game, scoring 305 runs in 250 games
  • Over his career, McGeary struck out just 60 times in 2,507 plate appearances
  • One of the most prominent players of the era, Mike appears on an 1871 Burr Pennfield Troy Haymaker Scorecard. Inspired by and rarer than the Mort Rogers' Scorecards, such "photographic picture cards" were important precursors to the modern baseball card

Auction History

Lynn Mills

  • Series: 1880s: Loving Paupers
  • City: Milwaukee
  • Team: Creams
  • League: Western Association

Lynn Mills (1862-1937) was a native of Whitewater, WI. He moved to nearby Milwaukee to begin his professional baseball career with the Brewers in 1886. The team was also known as the Cream Citys or Creams after the distinctive local bricks made from a light-colored clay. We lack data on Mills' rookie season, but his performance in '87 was very positive. He batted .290, splitting time as a reserve at short and third. In 1888 the club transitioned from the Northwestern League to the Western Association and Lynn stayed with them through the '89 campaign. He got more playing time, but his average subsided a bit to .260 in '88 and .266  in '89. The following year Mills moved way out west to play for Spokane in the Pacific Northwest League where he had his most prolific year in all offensive categories. He hit .284 and had 103 base hits including 14 doubles as the regular catcher, a position he had played in Milwaukee. Sketchy minor league records indicate Mills returned to the midwest for the 1891 season with the Terre Haute Hottentots of the Northwestern League, but individual stats aren't available. Baseball Reference even shows him returning to Spokane, this time with the Indians of the Pacific National League in 1903, where the then 41-year-old is on the roster but with no record of positions played or batting statistics. It seems unlikely that Mills would have remained out of pro ball for a decade after showing good promise at the plate, especially for a catcher. It also seems unlikely that a youngster of his talent would have had no professional experience prior to age 24, when he is first shown to be with the Cream Citys. Sadly, extant minor league statistics leave too many gaps in our knowledge of the real contributions of stalwarts such as Lynn Mills.

  • The Goodwin editors assert that Mills struggled with his defense in Milwaukee to the extent that, for the 1889 season, he ranked next-to-last in the Northwestern League in defense among catchers. Nevertheless, his ability to hit consistently would have assured him a job behind the plate for many teams in an era that devoured receivers who braved the job with little protective equipment
  • Mills enjoys six known poses in the Old Judge canon

Auction History


Old Judge Pose: 326-1

Cal McVey

  • Series: Mort's Reserve
  • City: Boston
  • Team: Red Stockings (NAPBBP)
  • League: National Association (NAPBBP)

Calvin Alexander McVey (1849-1926) was a key player in the earliest days of pro ball, first with Harry Wright’s seminal Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1869, then moving with Wright to Boston as one of Harry’s select threesome. The young McVey joined the fledgling pro team for a stagecoach trip to Omaha and then became the 1st ball club to use the new transcontinental railroad to SF as part of the Red Stocking’s national tour.

  • During his career, McVey played all nine positions and was an outstanding hitter: .346 BA lifetime
  • McVey’s move from Boston to Chicago in 1876 with Al Spalding, Ross Barnes & Deacon White (to form the White Stockings with Cap Anson, Paul Hines & Bob Addy) led to the creation of the NL

Auction History

John McCarty

  • Series: 1880s: Loving Paupers
  • City: Kansas City
  • Team: Blues (WA)
  • League: Western Association

John A. McCarty (1867-1942) pitched in professional baseball for five years with one season in the majors. McCarty began at age 20 with the Emporia Reds of the Western League, starting eight games (tied for the most on the team that brief stint) and losing six despite a team-leading 2.92 ERA. He moved to the WL’s Kansas City Cowboys later in the year and went 3-2 on a large roster led by Kid Nichols who starred in his first professional season with an 18-12 record. The following year KC joined the Western Association as the Blues. They clearly liked what they had seen in ‘87 and retained McCarty for the ‘88 campaign. The young hurler rewarded the franchise with an excellent year, winning 21 games against 11 losses with a 2.42 ERA. Despite the 21 wins, Kid Nichols outshone McCarty again, winning 16 of his 18 games pitched with a remarkable 1.14 ERA. True to its decade, with leagues evolving and franchises morphing, 1889 found McCarty with a major league team without changing his address. He now pitched for the Kansas City Cowboys of the American Association. Unfortunately for John and his team, genuine big league competition exposed good minor league players. Nichols was in Omaha pitching to a 39-8 record, the Cowboys sank to seventh in the league and McCarty saw limited duty in just 15 games, winning eight and losing six with a 3.91 ERA in his lone major league campaign. He was demoted to the WA’s St. Joseph Clay Eaters for the remainder of ‘89 where he did start 15 games, but won only five. He had one more try with the Detroit Wolverines in their International Association incarnation in 1890, achieving a 9-9 record in a truncated season.

  • BaseballReference.com records McCarty was on the roster for the 1891 KC Blues of the WA, but he appeared in only one game, giving up twelve hits and eight runs (two earned) in six innings and earning a no decision

Auction History


Old Judge Pose: 302-3

George McVey

  • Series: 1880s: Loving Paupers
  • City: Milwaukee
  • Team: Creams
  • League: Western Association

George William McVey (1865-1896) had a much-traveled professional career in baseball, almost all of it in the minors. He played for 20 different franchises beginning in 1884 with the Chillicothe Logans of the Ohio State League and ending with the Quincy Browns of the Western Association in 1895. Along the way he made stops in the Southern League/Association, Tri-State, Texas-Southern, Central Interstate, Pacific Northwest/Interstate and Ohio-Michigan Leagues. George’s sole chance to see action in the major leagues came with the Brooklyn Grays of the American Association in 1885. He played catcher and first base for Brooklyn, but only got into six games where his .143 average led to his return to the minors. That same season saw “Big George” back in Atlanta where he caught the attention of The Sporting News who reported on September 23 that he had “made quite a reputation as a catcher and outfielder in the Southern League.” The sturdy McVey stood 6’1” and, by the end of his career, was known for his size as noted in another Sporting News item from August, 1895: “Big George McVey is playing a good game at first . . . and is hitting at a four hundred gait.” Tragically, this would be his last and best ball. He was reported in April ‘96 to be suffering bowel troubles. He died the following month in Quincy, Illinois.

  • A clue to McVey’s peripatetic sojourn in baseball comes from a report in the Milwaukee Sentinel on May 9, 1889 where it was stated that George and Creams teammate Billy Klusman “were released for getting on a spree in St. Joseph.” If this was indicative of a dissolute lifestyle, McVey would hardly be the first of his era’s players to succumb to the temptations and deprivations of the times that shortened far too many careers


Auction History


Old Judge Pose: 321-3