Dick McBride

  • Card series: Athletic of Philadelphia: 1874
  • City: Philadelphia
  • Team: Athletics (NAPBBP)
  • League: National Association (NAPBBP)

John Dickson McBride (1847-1916) was the captain and workhorse moundsman of the Philadelphia Athletics during the team’s five years in the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NAPBBP), from 1871-75. Despite piloting the Athletics to a 161-84 (.657) record over 5 years in which he won 149 of those games as a pitcher, McBride suffered the indignity of being ousted as captain (manager) with a mere eight days remaining in the ’75 season. Some of the humiliation should have been assuaged by the fact that ownership decided to replace him with a young Adrian Anson – a man who would become perhaps the most formidable and accomplished player of the 19th century.

It would be difficult to overstate McBride’s impact with the Athletics. In 1871, Dick led the NA in winning percentage, going 18-5, and leading the team to the circuit’s first pennant, thus winning professional baseball’s first league championship. In ‘74 Dick led the NA in ERA at 1.64. Second in career National Association wins only to Albert Spalding, McBride was 149-74 for Philadelphia overall and was putting the finishing touches on an astounding 44-14 season when he was replaced by Anson. (The team’s record was 49-18-2 (.731) under McBride. Anson would pilot the team to a 4-2-2 record over the last eight games of the season and the NA would fold shortly thereafter, giving way to the nascent National League in 1876.) 

McBride was a Civil War vet and former cricket star who developed into one of the era’s best pitchers. No less than Henry Chadwick said of him: “what Dick doesn’t know about the tricks and dodges of strategic pitching isn’t worth knowing.” Years later, former teammate and famous scribe Tim Murnane asserted that Dick was “the first to master the ‘raise ball.’”

  • Was apparently renowned as a baseball player as early as 1864, when he was allowed to take a 3-day furlough from his Civil War service to participate in a baseball exhibition
  • Completed 224 of the 233 games he started for the Athletics and never once made a relief appearance
  • Signed in ‘76 with Boston in the new NL, but didn’t win a game in four outings and retired
  • McBride’s “most similar” player according to baseballreference is Candy Cummings

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