- Card series: 1880s: Loving Paupers
- City: St. Paul
- Team: Apostles
- League: Western Association
Willard Eben Mains (1868-1923) had only a few brief appearances in the majors as a pitcher. He was 1-1 with the Chicago White Stockings of the National League in 1888 after starting in pro ball with Portland of the New England League the previous season. He returned to the minors in the Western Association and would go on to a successful career in the lower echelons, winning 318 while losing 179. In 1891 Grasshopper got a little longer opportunity with the American Association’s Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers and Milwaukee Brewers where he went 12-14. It would be another five years before his last shot in the big time, with Boston’s Beaneaters in ’96, where he was 3-2.
Mains, also known as Willie, was a product of one of the oldest families in his native Maine. He came out of Windham and would make a name for himself manufacturing bats. He had at least three factories in Sandy Creek, Harrison and Fryeburg, but marketed his product nationally. A Mains Dolley 31” bat circa 1890s recently sold for $400.
- Over his entire 20-year career in professional baseball, Mains played for 17 teams. He stayed in upstate New York for his final decade, closing out his tenure with the Binghamton Bingoes in 1906 after two lengthy tours with the Rome Romans and Syracuse Stars
- Willard inspired his son Jim to pursue careers in both baseball and bats. James R. Mains played first for Harvard in 1942 and got one appearance in the majors, with the Athletics, in August ’43 where he lost his only start. Jim established his bat-making operation in Bridgton, Maine
- Perhaps it was his pedigree as a scion of the Down Easters that prompted the Old Judge photographer to record Grasshopper’s surname as “Maines” on his St. Paul Apostles card series