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Alex McKinnon

First Base
  • Series: 1880s: Loving Paupers
  • City: Pittsburgh
  • Team: Alleghenys
  • League: National League

Alexander J. McKinnon (1856-1887) was a remarkably talented player who was cut down in his prime by a scourge of the 19th century, typhoid fever. The tragedy was even more poignant inasmuch as McKinnon had endured numerous illnesses in his youth that had prevented him from really beginning what was on its way to a very fine career. As if sickness wasn't enough of a hardship for young Alex, he was also hindered in the beginning of his pro tenure by league politics and evolving contractual arrangements. He had begun playing for the Syracuse Stars in 1877, staying in NY with Albany/Rochester for the '79 season before heading west to the San Francisco Athletics of the California League in 1880. This move was precipitated by a squabble that involved William Hulbert of the new National League. Alex was assigned to the Troy Trojans for the 1879 season, but wanted to play for Rochester of the International League. Despite some back-room dealings that should have cleared up the controversy, Hulbert expelled McKinnon. A combination of illness that plagued him lifelong and this contract dispute seems to have led him to make the move west and then drop out of baseball altogether for a few years. Clearly McKinnon's talent was recognized and Hulbert relented, allowing Alex to be signed for the '83 season by the Philadelphia Quakers - but the young man was too sick to play. Finally, in 1884, the New York Gothams (not yet the Giants) signed Alex and he began a belated major league tenure that showed tremendous promise. Indeed, in the four short years he played for three NL teams - NY, St. Louis and Pittsburgh - Alex steadily improved his batting average. He hit .272 for the Gothams, jumped to .294 and .301 with the Maroons and was hitting a stunning .365 in 1887 when he was stricken with an ailment he couldn't lick, typhoid. After his mid-season death, the Alleghenys honored Alex by donning black crepe for the duration of that campaign.

  • McKinnon was not just a good and ever-improving batter, he became a star in the field. He led the NL in fielding percentage in 1885 with a .978 record. This was all the more striking given his difficulty at first base for the Gothams the prior year when he made 53 errors. Clearly this star-in-training was a quick study

Auction History


Old Judge Pose: 315-1

Grasshopper Mains

  • Series: 1880s: Loving Paupers
  • City: St. Paul
  • Team: Apostles
  • League: Western Association

Willard Eben Mains (1868-1923) had only a few brief appearances in the majors as a pitcher. He was 1-1 with the Chicago White Stockings of the National League in 1888 after starting in pro ball with Portland of the New England League the previous season. He returned to the minors in the Western Association and would go on to a successful career in the lower echelons, winning 318 while losing 179. In 1891 Grasshopper got a little longer opportunity with the American Association's Cincinnati Kelly's Killers and Milwaukee Brewers where he went 12-14. It would be another five years before his last shot in the big time, with Boston's Beaneaters in '96, where he was 3-2.

Mains, also known as Willie, was a product of one of the oldest families in his native Maine. He came out of Windham and would make a name for himself manufacturing bats. He had at least three factories in Sandy Creek, Harrison and Fryeburg, but marketed his product nationally. A Mains Dolley 31” bat circa 1890s recently sold for $400.

  • Over his entire 20-year career in professional baseball, Mains played for 17 teams. He stayed in upstate New York for his final decade, closing out his tenure with the Binghamton Bingoes in 1906 after two lengthy tours with the Rome Romans and Syracuse Stars
  • Willard inspired his son Jim to pursue careers in both baseball and bats. James R. Mains played first for Harvard in 1942 and got one appearance in the majors, with the Athletics, in August '43 where he lost his only start. Jim established his bat-making operation in Bridgton, Maine
  • Perhaps it was his pedigree as a scion of the Down Easters that prompted the Old Judge photographer to record Grasshopper's surname as "Maines" on his St. Paul Apostles card series

Auction History


Old Judge Pose: 290-2

Thomas McCullum

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Minneapolis
  • Team: Millers
  • League: Western Association

Thomas McCullum (aka McCallum) was an outfielder for several minor league teams, primarily in the Western Association, from 1884 through 1890. He appeared in an Old Judge card pose for 1888 as a Minneapolis Miller as a right-handed batter. Data is sketchy for this young man, confused by alternate renderings of his name. As McCullum, the Baseball Encyclopedia has him playing for New Castle in 1884, Youngstown in ‘85 and the Milwaukee Brewers in ‘86 and again in ‘89, then back east in the Tri-State League with Dayton and McKeesport in ‘89-90. As McCallum, the Encyclopedia has him with Eau Claire in ‘87, Minneapolis, Davenport and the Chicago Maroons - all in ‘88. It does appear these references identify the same player. Tom’s best year was with Eau Claire where he hit a superb .354 that moved him up to the Western Association.

  • As with many Old Judge subjects, the cards reflect promise sometimes unfulfilled as McCullum did get 389 at-bats in 1888 but hit only .213

Auction History

Lefty Marr

Third Base
  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Columbus
  • Team: Solons
  • League: American Association

Charles W. Marr (1862-1912) was a Cincinnati lad who started his pro ball career in Evansville, IN in 1884, moving to Nashville the following season and Syracuse, NY with the Stars in '86 before getting a call-up to his hometown at the end of that campaign with the Red Stockings of the American Association. Lefty played in only eight games for the Red Stockings, but hit .276. He then detoured back to the minors for the next two years with the Stars, now of the International Association. In 1889 Lefty got his chance to play regularly in the big leagues when he was signed by the AA's Columbus Solons. He played third and showed off a sparkling .306 average, second only to Dave Orr among the starters. He returned home to the National League's Reds in 1890 where he played primarily in the outfield and continued his fine hitting with a .298 average, helping the squad to a fourth place finish. Marr began the next year with the Reds but soon moved to the Players' League cross-town rivals - Kelly's Killers. That rather tumultuous season for baseball saw Marr end the campaign back with the NL club for a single game. In all, Lefty saw action in three leagues with four years of experience in the majors. His two years with the Solons and Reds bumped his lifetime batting average to .289. He had speed, evidenced by his league-leading 15 triples in '89 with Columbus which he followed with a dozen more for the Reds in '90.

  • Marr's ML statistics include a .289 average with 417 hits, 35 triples, 92 stolen bases and 186 RBI
  • Marr was far from through with baseball when he left Cincinnati. The next season saw him out west with Spokane and Butte. He traveled south to Macon for the '93 campaign and spent the next several years seeing the country: IA, TN, MN, VA, CT and PA
  • Lefty retired from the game after the 1898 season with the Norfolk Jewels of the Atlantic League

Auction History

Jim Manning

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

James H. Manning (1862-1929) became the first manager of the Washington Senators in their franchise-first season, 1901. Manning came out of retirement to take the helm of the fledgling D.C. enterprise after a twelve-year absence from the major leagues. As a player, Manning was an early utility man for the Boston Beaneaters, the Detroit Wolverines and the Kansas City Cowboys from 1885-1889. Manning compiled a career BA of .215 with his high year for Detroit in ’85 with .269.

  • Manning was a switch hitter who played OF, 2B and Short
  • He started in the OF for Boston’s second year in the NL, helping the team to a 2nd place finish in ’84 behind the Providence Grays

Auction History