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Jimmy Ryan

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

James Edward Ryan (1863-1923) was one of the stand-out players of the 19th century. When he retired in 1903 after 18 ML seasons Ryan ranked in the top 10 in most offensive stats. The first veteran’s committee of the Hall of Fame convened in 1936 and did not elect a single player from that era. Ryan got no votes despite ranking among the best of his day. Ryan was no shrinking violet. He was known as a battler who would punch a reporter or a conductor who wouldn’t find him a berth. In 1888 he led the NL in HRs, hits, doubles, total bases and slugging percentage.

  • Career .306 hitter with 118 lifetime home runs when few were hit
  • Despite his success, Ryan soured on the game. After his retirement he counseled against making a career in pro-ball, pointing to the few players who made it past age 35

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Amos Rusie

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Indianapolis
  • Team: Hoosiers (NL)
  • League: National League
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

“The Hoosier Thunderbolt” (1871-1942). In a 10 year career: (8) 20-win & (4) 30-win seasons; 5x strikeout & 2x ERA leader; won pitching’s Triple Crown in 1894. Rusie threw hard for the era, once hitting HOFer Hughie Jennings in the head, inducing a 4-day coma. This event was influential in increasing the pitching distance to 60’6″ from its original 50 feet.

  • Once was traded for Christy Mathewson
  • Suffered hearing loss due to line drive to the head
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1977

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Yank Robinson

Second Base
  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: St. Louis
  • Team: Browns (AA)
  • League: American Association

William H. Robinson (1859-1894) became one of the most proficient “on-base” artists of his day. He knew how to capitalize on the evolving base-on-balls rules during the mid-to-late 1880s and crafted outstanding years from fairly meager hitting. Yank played infield for a decade in the majors, 1882-92. He was a starter for Charles Comiskey’s St. Louis Browns during their pennant stretch from ‘85-88. No doubt Charlie had noticed the item in the Post-Dispatch proclaiming Yank “the best all-around player in the Union Association,” during its ‘84 season. Robinson had such a knack for waiting on the pitcher that his walks exceeded his hits the last six years in the majors. Opinions of Robinson’s defense vary but considering he eschewed the glove, some historians have credited him with superior skills.

  • Yank had a notorious tussle with owner Chris von der Ahe in 1889 over a uniform the boss wanted changed. Robinson won the “strike” and the argument led him to jump to Pittsburgh’s Players’ League entry the next year

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Wilbert Robinson

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Philadelphia
  • Team: Athletics (AA)
  • League: American Association
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Uncle Robbie (1863-1934). A durable catcher for 17 seasons with 3 teams, Robinson is credited as the 1st to play directly behind the plate at all times. Uncle Robbie once caught 5 games in two days. He also had 7 hits & 11 RBI in a single game. After his playing days were over, Robinson went on to manage for 18 seasons.

  • Won 3 NL pennants as player
  • Won 2 NL pennants as manager
  • Won 5 NL pennants as pitching coach
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1945
  • Although the Old Judge series features five known poses of Wilbert Robinson, I could not find one of suitable quality for this project. This image is taken from the Kalamazoo Bats (N690-1) series from 1887.

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Lee Richmond

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Worcester
  • Team: Worcesters
  • League: National League

J. Lee Richmond (1857-1929). One of the most noteworthy scholar-athletes of the 19th century, Richmond set many firsts in MLB: 1st regular left-handed pitcher, 1st to record five consecutive strikeouts, 1st minor-leaguer to single-handedly gain his team major-league status, 1st lefty to win 30 games, 1st M.D. to play in the majors, and, oh yes, 1st pitcher to hurl a perfect game. The latter accomplishment was noted at the time more for the unlikeliness of nine bare-handed fielders achieving “perfection” and Richmond always credited his team’s support as the key to his career highlight. Richmond also accomplished one last: his dominance for Brown University’s squad – while he was being lured in and out of the majors by Harry Wright and Frank Bancroft – so upset the Ivy League that they legislated against any “professionalism” in the college ranks, laying the foundation of NCAA policy to this day.

  • Threw two no-hitters in 1879 (one was a 7 inning exhibition game). His perfecto came on June 12, 1880, giving Lee 3 no-hitters in 54 weeks!
  • As with many early pitchers, Lee’s arm suffered from overwork, leading to his early departure for private medical practice back in Ohio
  • Found his true calling as a teacher of Greek, physics, chemistry and math while coaching baseball, conducting the orchestra and serving as principal. A polymath indeed
  • Lee Richmond did not appear in the Old Judge series as he had retired in 1886. This image is taken from a studio cabinet of unknown origin.

Here's an original scorecard from Lee Richmond's perfect game, the first in MLB history, June 12, 1880:


A few notes from the game:

  • Only 6 months into the new decade, notice how the scorekeeper amended the date on a scorecard that was left over from the 1870s
  • Richmond's opponent, the 1880 Cleveland Blues, were a good team. They finished 3rd in the National League with a 47-37 record & featured young standout talent such as Fred Dunlap, Jim McCormick, Jack Glasscock, Orator Shafer & Ned Hanlon. Richmond threw his gem against excellent competition.
  • The Worcester Worcestors won the game 1-0, with Arthur "Foxy" Irwin scoring the game's only run in the 5th inning. The losing pitcher for the Blues, Jim McCormick, tossed a 3-hitter.
  • The Worcestors weren't quite as stacked as the Blues (finished 5th with a 40-43 record), but featured some excellent players: Charlie Bennett, Dandy Wood, Art Whitney, Arthur Irwin, Harry Stovey & Bill McGunnigle.
  • 12 of the 18 players who participated in the game have Ars Longa Art Cards: Dandy Wood, Lee Richmond, Arthur Irwin, Charlie Bennett, Art Whitney, Fred Dunlap, Frank Hankinson, Orator Shafer, Jim McCormick, Barney Gilligan, Jack Glasscock & Ned Hanlon.

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