John Harkins

  • Card series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Baltimore
  • Team: Orioles
  • League: American Association

John Joseph Harkins (1859-1940) came by his nickname “Pa” early in his career but really earned it after his ninth son was born in 1911. Harkins was a pitcher for the Cleveland Blues, Brooklyn Grays and Baltimore Orioles from 1884-88, establishing a so-so record (51-83 with a 4.09 ERA). The stats tell only a small part of Pa’s story. A half century later, his obituaries in hometown New Brunswick, NJ would extol an esteemed citizen, father, coach and, yes, “one of the last surviving big-time baseball players of the Eighties.” He was hailed as half of the “famed battery” with Cleveland: Harkins and Bushong “which thrilled fans in 1884.” Harkins was the first major-leaguer to come out of Rutgers and went on to coach at Yale, Lehigh and Princeton. He mentored the future football legend Amos Alonzo Stagg who remained a lifelong friend. The Blues folded after Pa’s ’84 season and seven players migrated to Brooklyn including catcher Doc Bushong. Harkins was a regular starter for his three years there, got into only one game for the Orioles in ’88 and went into college coaching.

  • Back home, Harkins went into business with a tavern, served in public office and as a court official
  • John was the Grays’ opening day starter in 1885 and 1886
  • Harkins’ uniform color on this card was changed in June, 2017 from black/red to blue/red to reflect recent reliable research by Craig Brown & friends at Threads of Our Game. Six cards were previously released featuring a black uniform.

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