Dick Phelan

Second Base
  • Card series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Des Moines
  • Team: Prohibitionists
  • League: Western Association

James Dickson Phelan (1854-1931) began playing professional baseball at age 28 with the Peoria Reds of the Northwestern League and went on to a lengthy career, taking him all the way to age 44 with the Southern League’s Dallas Steers. Early on Dick got his shot at the big leagues. He was brought up from Peoria to the Baltimore Monumentals for their year in the Union Association, 1884. The next year he played for the Buffalo Bisons and St. Louis Maroons of the NL. His ML batting average was .242 in 107 games as a second-baseman. The most games he played for one team was with the Memphis Browns in ’87 where he tore up the Southern League with a .370 average and stole 60 bases. He also played for Memphis when they were the Grays, Giants and the Fever Germs. The latter was Memphis’ identity in 1893 with the Southern League.

  • It is presumed the team took its name in memory of the tragic outbreak of yellow fever in 1878, said to have begun “in the filthiest part of the filthiest city in America”
  • That historic plague killed more in Memphis than the Chicago fire, San Francisco quake and Johnstown flood combined
  • There may not be an I in team, but there are 4 of them in Prohibitionists

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