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Blondie Purcell

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

William Aloysius Purcell (1854-1912) ascended to the new “major leagues” in the early days of the NL as it was still in its formative stage. Playing OF for the Syracuse Stars, Purcell migrated with his team & the Buffalo Bisons out of the soon-to-perish International Association to join the new professional circuit. 1879 would be the first & last season for the Stars in MLB; and an incomplete year as the team folded on Sep 10. Nevertheless, Purcell would go on to a successful 12-year career. He finished ’79 with the Cincinnati Reds and would eventually play in Cleveland, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore. Purcell earned the distinction of being the first player in Philadelphia history to get a hit and score a run, in his first at-bat of the club’s inaugural 1883 season.

  • Was once fined for destroying a baseball, which he had done to get a new ball into the game so that Pud Galvin could better throw his curve
  • Late in his career, Purcell was recruited to manage the incorrigible Atlanta Atlantans of the Southern Assoc, a team that came to be dubbed “Purcell’s Plug-Uglies”
  • .267 BA with 1,217 hits in 1,097 ML games

Auction History

Dick Phelan

Second Base
  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Des Moines
  • Team: Prohibitionists
  • League: Western Association

James Dickson Phelan (1854-1931) began playing professional baseball at age 28 with the Peoria Reds of the Northwestern League and went on to a lengthy career, taking him all the way to age 44 with the Southern League’s Dallas Steers. Early on Dick got his shot at the big leagues. He was brought up from Peoria to the Baltimore Monumentals for their year in the Union Association, 1884. The next year he played for the Buffalo Bisons and St. Louis Maroons of the NL. His ML batting average was .242 in 107 games as a second-baseman. The most games he played for one team was with the Memphis Browns in ’87 where he tore up the Southern League with a .370 average and stole 60 bases. He also played for Memphis when they were the Grays, Giants and the Fever Germs. The latter was Memphis’ identity in 1893 with the Southern League.

  • It is presumed the team took its name in memory of the tragic outbreak of yellow fever in 1878, said to have begun “in the filthiest part of the filthiest city in America”
  • That historic plague killed more in Memphis than the Chicago fire, San Francisco quake and Johnstown flood combined
  • There may not be an I in team, but there are 4 of them in Prohibitionists

Auction History

Fred Pfeffer

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

Nathaniel Frederick Pfeffer (1860-1932). Nicknamed Dandelion, Pfeffer played for 7 teams over a good 16 year career. A good baserunner (at least 400 SBs) and league-average hitter (94 OPS+), Pfeffer was one of the best defensive second basemen of his era, dominating the defensive leaderboards for his position in the 1880s.

  • 1st in PO at 2B from 1884-1891
  • 1st in As at 2B: 1884-85, 1888-89
  • 1st in DPs at 2B: 1884-1889, 1891
  • 1st in RF at 2B: 1884-85, 1888-90

Auction History

Del Pratt

Second Base
  • Series: Diamond Heads '15
  • City: St. Louis
  • Team: Browns (AL)
  • League: American League

Derrill Burnham Pratt (1888-1977) played for the Browns, Yankees, Red Sox and Tigers over a 13-year career in the majors. The scion of a cotton-mill dynasty, Pratt studied the family business at the University of Alabama while pursuing his first love, baseball. He excelled with ‘Bama in both football and baseball to the extent he was inducted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame. Del entered minor-league ball in 1910 and showed himself to be an outstanding hitter. St. Louis signed him and held on against John McGraw’s efforts to lure him to the Giants. He rewarded the Browns with five great years where Pratt was the everyday second-baseman consistently batting near .300. Perhaps befitting one who was to the manor born, Pratt was a fighter. He became a union leader in the tumult of the Federal League era, had some fistfights with rowdy opponents, and generally stood his ground. Branch Rickey admired his feisty infielder but lost his managerial job when the Browns were sold in 1916. Del ran afoul of the new owner and was traded to NY where Miller Huggins would say Pratt “put the ball club on its feet.”

  • Long before the vaunted ‘27 club, sportswriters dubbed the infield Pratt joined as “Murderers’ Row,” the “greatest collection of pitcher thumpers in baseball today.”
  • During Pratt’s career, from 1912-1924, Pratt was 12th in all of baseball in WAR (between Max Carey and Home Run Baker)

Auction History

Eddie Plank

  • Series: Diamond Heads '15
  • City: Philadelphia
  • Team: Athletics (AL)
  • League: American League
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Edward Stewart Plank (1875-1926) hurled more shutouts and complete games than any other lefthander in his 17-season career. He ranks behind only Warren Spahn and Steve Carlton among southpaws in wins. Signed by Connie Mack straight out of college, Plank never played a day in the minors. Playing in 4 Series for Philadelphia, Plank had an ERA of 1.32 but got no run support, going 2-5 but finishing all six of his starts.

  • His 326 wins ranks 13th on the all time list. He had eight 20-win seasons
  • At the end of his career, played for St. Louis in the Federal League’s final year in 1915 and then with the Browns for two more
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1946

Auction History