Mike McGeary

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

Michael Henry McGeary (1851-1933) was, per Sporting Life in 1905, “the best runner in his profession,” due largely because he was “the one player who regularly practiced sliding.” McGeary was also nearly impossible to strikeout. From 1871-76, McGeary fanned only six times in 1,518 plate appearances.

Mike began in  pro ball with the Troy Haymakers in ‘70 and stayed with the team as it became a founding member of the National Association the next season. Usually an infielder, Mike was the shortstop for the Philadelphia Athletics when Al Spalding led his Boston club and the A’s on a tour of Britain and Ireland in the summer of 1874. Designed by Harry Wright to promote the game in Europe, the expensive effort failed to generate interest.

McGeary joined the new NL with the St. Louis Browns in 1876 during the era when gambling was rife and William Hulbert was bent on reform. Long-suspected of throwing games, McGeary was the first NL player accused. Suspended and reinstated due to a lack of evidence, Mike continued to generate rumors and suspicion but escaped sanctions and completed over a decade in the game.

  • Sporting Life in 1888 described the yellow “parasol” captain McGeary used to signal to the bettors in the grandstands. In one 1875 game, Mike made five of his Philadelphia White Stockings’ 21 errors in a loss to Chicago, reportedly earning each Philadelphia player between $300-$500 from the gamblers.
  • From 1871-1875, McGeary averaged 1.22 runs per game, scoring 305 runs in 250 games
  • Over his career, McGeary struck out just 60 times in 2,507 plate appearances
  • One of the most prominent players of the era, Mike appears on an 1871 Burr Pennfield Troy Haymaker Scorecard. Inspired by and rarer than the Mort Rogers’ Scorecards, such “photographic picture cards” were important precursors to the modern baseball card

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