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Rebel Oakes

  • Series: Diamond Heads '15
  • City: Pittsburgh
  • Team: Rebels
  • League: Federal League

Ennis Telfair Oakes (1883-1948) came north from tiny Lisbon, LA and Louisiana Industrial Institute (now LA Tech University) to play his rookie season in the majors with Cincinnati in 1909. Rebel wasn’t the most productive hitter for the team. In fact, while only three other starters had higher averages, every other starter drove in more runs. Oakes was sold to the Cardinals the next season where he started in center until being lured to the Federal League in 1914. He had his best season with St. Louis in 1913, hitting .293 and exceeded that with the Pittsburgh Federals who even took his name: The Rebels. In their minor league incarnation, the franchise had been called the Filipinos after manager Deacon Phillippe, so the team was inclined toward the identity of whomever was at the helm. The “major league” status of the Federal League is certainly open to debate, however a number of Oakes’ teammates had MLB experience before and after their stint with the “outlaw” Federals. He served well as player-manager, hitting a career best .312 in 1914.

  • Rebel left MLB when the Federal League folded after the 1915 season, but he went out to Denver to manage the Western League’s Bears where he led the circuit with 205 hits

Auction History

Jack O’Brien

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

John K. O'Brien (nee Bryne) (1860-1910) was a rare find for Billy Sharsig and his Athletics in 1881--a catcher who could hit. Jack joined the new franchise in its season in the Eastern Championship League and stayed on when the club joined the American Association the following year. By the '83 season, Jack would lead his team to the pennant, driving in a team-high 70 runs with a .290 average. O'Brien had entered baseball out west with the San Francisco-Reno team in the Pacific League as a raw 19 year old. He eventually played six of his eight major league seasons with the Athletics, for whom he always hit remarkably well for his position and era. His two years away from Philly with Brooklyn and Baltimore were struggles for him at the plate, but still exceeded the usual output for a catcher. Overall, Jack had a lifetime .266 BA in 555 games, driving in 308.

  • Proving he wasn't quite done after his final year in Philadelphia, O'Brien signed on for the 1891 season with the St. Paul Apostles/Duluth Whalebacks of the Western Association where he hit .317 in 97 games
  • In SF, Jack played with Sandy Nava, who would become the first Mexican-American in the major leagues with Providence and Baltimore
  • Although the Old Judge series features nine known poses of Jack O'Brien, I could not find one of suitable quality for this project. This image is taken from an Old Judge proof taken at the same time as O'Brien's other OJ images and may represent an as-of-yet undiscovered pose.
  • O'Brien’s uniform color on this card was changed in May, 2017 from black/red to blue/red to reflect recent reliable research by Craig Brown & friends at Threads of Our Game. Two cards had been previously released featuring a black uniform.

Auction History

Dave Orr

First Base
  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: New York
  • Team: Metropolitans
  • League: American Association

David L. Orr (1859-1915). A 1st baseman for 5 teams over 7 major league seasons, Orr was one of the best hitters of the 1880s. Largely forgotten today, Orr may have made a case for the Hall of Fame were it not for a career-ending, paralyzing stroke suffered on the field in 1890. Dave’s .342 lifetime average is 11th all-time & in 4 of 7 seasons, his closest comp is Dan Brouthers.

Brouthers himself believed Orr was the greatest hitter of his time:

"The greatest hitter that ever played ball was old Dave Orr. He didn't care whether they were over the plate or not. If they were within reach of that long bat of his he would hit them out, and when he hit them there was no telling whether they would be found again or not. I have always held that Dave Orr was the strongest and best hitter that ever played ball." - Dan Brouthers, Sporting Life, 1894

  • Won AA batting title: 1884
  • Won AA RBI crown: 1884
  • Lead AA in hits: 1884 & 1886
  • Lead AA in triples: 1885 & 1886
  • The team identification on this card was corrected in September, 2017, from Brooklyn to the NY Metropolitans. While Orr did play for Brooklyn in 1888, this photo was taken in 1887 when Orr was a member of the Mets and, indeed, he is wearing a Mets uniform. Nine cards were previously sold identifying Orr as a member of the Brooklyn club.

Auction History

Jim O’Rourke

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: New York
  • Team: Giants
  • League: National League
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

James Henry O’Rourke (1850-1919) made the National League’s first base hit, and went on to a 21-year, Hall of Fame career. From 1876-92, only Cap Anson played in more games or got more hits. After leaving MLB for the minors, O’Rourke returned for his swan song with his pal John McGraw’s Giants, becoming the oldest player (at 54) to play in the NL and to get a hit.

  • Played for 5 pennant winners and was NA HR champ in 1874-75
  • One of only 29 to play in MLB in four decades
  • Entered the HOF as one of the first 19th Century players to do so
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1945

Auction History

Tip O’Neill

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: St. Louis
  • Team: Browns (AA)
  • League: American League
  • Hall: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

James Edward O’Neill (1858-1915) came out of Woodstock, Ontario to take the American Association by storm, becoming Canada’s Babe Ruth. Tip debuted with the NL’s Gothams in 1883 as a pitcher, receiving tepid reviews. He made a better impression on Charles Comiskey who signed him the next season in St. Louis to replace switch-pitching Tony Mullane. The following year theWoodstock Wonder came into his own at the plate. He became the Browns’ best hitter and led the team to four straight pennants, then falling second to Brooklyn in ‘89. Ever loyal to Comiskey, Tip followed his leader to the Players’ League Chicago Pirates, back to St. Louis in ‘91 and on to Cincinnati for his final campaign the next year. In his decade at the pinnacle of the game, O’Neill established one of the best hitting records of the 19th century: .326 BA, .458 slugging and a Triple Crown. He and Paul Hines remain the only such champions eligible for the Hall to be excluded (a fate shared with all the greats who played primarily in the AA, save for Bid McPhee).

  • Tip’s excellence is commemorated north of the border with the Tip O’Neill Award given annually by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame
  • U.S. Speaker of the House “Tip” O’Neill was nicknamed after James
  • Elected to Canadian BB Hall of Fame: 1983

Auction History