Frank Gilmore

  • Card series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Washington, D.C.
  • Team: Nationals
  • League: National League

Franklin T. Gilmore (1864-1929) was nicknamed “Shadow” and cast a giant one with Washington when he formed the “Grasshopper Battery” (per John Thorn) or the “bones battery” as dubbed by early journalists, with catcher Connie Mack. The two made a striking pair: angular stringbeans of sinew and bone. Gilmore debuted in D.C. in 1886. There is dispute as to whether the Nationals wanted Gilmore or Mack more, but they came as a tandem and would be such during Frank’s all-too-brief sojourn in the majors. The battery-mates from Hartford’s Dark Blues’ ‘86 team were not only similar in build and stature, they were very close as roommates. Years later, Mr. McGillicuddy would reminisce about spending all night rubbing Gilmore’s arm with liniment in what proved a vain effort to prolong the young phenom’s career. Shadow reached a pinnacle on September 28 that rookie year when he fanned 16 St Louis Maroons, equaling the year’s best strikeout performance. Perhaps foreshadowing the young hurler’s future, the Nationals lost the contest 5-2, giving Gilmore poor support.

  • The slender pitcher’s ML record proved slim as well: three seasons with Washington, 12 wins against 33 losses, a 4.26 ERA with 212 Ks in 405 innings
  • On a side note, Bill James ranked Gilmore the worst professional baseball player of the 19th century

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