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Branch Rickey

  • Series: Diamond Heads '15
  • City: St. Louis
  • Team: Browns (AL)
  • League: American League
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Wesley Branch Rickey (1881-1965) didn’t live to see his 1967 entrance into the Hall of Fame as one of the legends in baseball’s executive ranks, but he did see the legacy of his pioneering efforts to end decades of shameful discrimination in the sport he loved. In the year of his death, one in five MLB players was African American. In his half-century in the front office, Rickey invented the farm system and had one of the keenest eyes for talent.

  • In WWI Rickey commanded a chemical warfare unit that included Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson
  • Hired Allan Roth as the first team statistician in 1947, thus becoming an early progenitor of sabermetrics
  • Jackie Robinson eulogized Rickey as having done more for African Americans than anyone but Abraham Lincoln
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1967

Auction History

Charlie Reynolds

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

Charles Lawrence Reynolds (1865-1944) got a quick look in the majors in 1889. He was a catcher and debuted with the Kansas City Cowboys of the American Association on May 8. That day represented his career in KC. Charlie went one for four with an RBI. He played five innings and didn’t make an error. On May 22 the Brooklyn Bridegrooms purchased his contract and he moved east for a dozen games. He had nine hits in 43 ABs for a .214 average. Reynolds was charged with eight errors in 95 innings for a fielding percentage of .917. Perhaps it was this tendency toward miscues, coupled with an anemic batting record that curtailed his hopes of a career in the big leagues. Reynolds’ stint at the pinnacle of baseball came amid his college career at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. His college production mirrored his MLB stats. His average was .217.

  • Another DePauw alum became a true luminary of the game: Ford Frick went on to head the NL and serve as Commissioner of Baseball. The Hall of Fame in 1978 established the award in his honor that commemorates contributions in broadcasting

Auction History

Eppa Rixey

  • Series: Diamond Heads '15
  • City: Philadelphia
  • Team: Phillies
  • League: National League
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Eppa Rixey, Jr. (1891-1963) was one of the most durable left-handers of all-time. Until 1959 he was the NL’s winningest southpaw. That year, Warren Spahn surpassed Rixey and for the first 60 years of the century, only Walter Johnson and Pete Alexander started more games. The pitcher never played a day in the minors thanks to his University of Virginia coach’s rave reviews. Cy Rigler was a well-regarded umpire when not mentoring college players so his scouting report counted and the Phillies responded, signing him for the 1912 season. The club won a pennant in 1915 but Rixey labored for a mostly sub-par team until traded to the Reds in 1921. Rixey’s debut season with Cincy was stunning, allowing only one HR in 301 innings en route to a league-leading 25 wins. Staying with the Reds through 1933, Rixey’s labors for two lower division franchises meant the losses added up, too. So much so that he owns the dubious record of most losses in a career for a lefty: 251.

  • The hard-working, likable southerner lived just long enough to learn of his selection to Cooperstown, exclaiming to his family “I finally made it!”
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1963

Auction History

Reilly & Nicol

  • Series: 1880s: Diamond Duos
  • City: Cincinnati
  • Team: Red Stockings (AA)
  • League: American Association

John Reilly:

John Good Reilly (1858-1937) was a one-man Big Red Machine long before the days of Bench, Morgan and Rose. When he was replaced at first base by Charles Comiskey in 1892, Long John held the Cincinnati record in singles, doubles, triples, home runs, runs scored, RBI, and games played. His decade with the Reds had seen Reilly consistently rank in the league top ten in most offensive categories. In addition, his lean 6’3” frame made him a welcome target for his teammates. To this day, after more than a century of powerhouses in the Queen City, Reilly remains one of only four in team history to twice lead the league in HRs. In 2012 he was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, which according to the team’s website is the oldest continually operating team Hall of Fame.

  • Reilly had been orphaned at age three when his father died in the Battle of Fort Donelson while serving as captain of a Union ironclad gunboat
  • Long John grew up in Cincinnati as a professional artist until lured by his love of baseball. He was loyal to his hometown, retiring rather than moving to another club
  • Career home runs were impressive for the era at 69

Hugh Nicol:

Hugh N. Nicol (1858-1921) was one of the great “little men” in all of baseball. This Scottish immigrant arrived in Rockford, IL in 1865 and grew up playing a mid-west style of ball that would suit him for great accomplishments in the major leagues. After only two years with his hometown White Stockings, the Chicago version called him up to Cap Anson's powerhouse in 1881. He was only a part-timer for the champion club in his first two seasons before his speed caught the attention of Chris Von der Ahe and Hugh moved to the Browns. “Little Nic” became a favorite with his outfield speed and accurate arm. Measuring speed on the bases is particularly challenging in evaluating 19th century players as “stolen bases” didn't factor into record-keeping for a long time and rules changed into the '90s. Nevertheless, Nicol's 138 steals credited in 1887 surely rank him among the greats. SABR's Charles Faber notes that this accomplishment came at age 29, leaving it to the imagination how many this speedster swiped in his early years. Hugh set this all-time record for his new club, the Reds, after being part of MLB's first trade. Von der Ahe sent Nicol to Cincinnati for Jack Doyle and $400 after the '86 campaign. His fame preceded Hugh to the Queen City, as reported by The Sporting News: “Hugh Nicol's addition to the Cincinnati team means chain-lightening on the bases. He is worth all the young blood in Christendom.” The diminutive (5'4” 145lbs) utility man never hit very well, although he did shine in his first season in St Louis with a .285 average. His ten-year ML tenure saw him hit .235 for three clubs before returning to the minors and a managerial career that lasted through the 1905 season with various Illinois teams.

  • The light-hitting Nicol had a highlight game for the Browns in late 1883 as the club was seeking to overtake the Phils. Hugh went five-for-five with a walk and scored five times. The Browns fell one game short of Philadelphia for the pennant

Auction History


Old Judge Pose: 346-7

Radbourn & Nash

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Boston
  • Team: Beaneaters
  • League: National League
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Old Hoss Radbourn & Billy Nash


Auction History