Tom Gunning

  • Card series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Boston
  • Team: Beaneaters
  • League: National League

Thomas Francis Gunning (1862-1931) looks like a mediocre ball player on the record. His six years in MLB show a weak hitting catcher whose defense was shaky. The stats belie a “sober, honest, reliable and energetic” player who was a credit to his sport. Popular at every level in which he played, Tom was as serious about his studies as about baseball, which is saying something. Even when he was completing his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania, and with a bad arm, Gunning played for his school team and for Hartford. His major league tenure began with the Beaneaters in 1884 where he played three seasons before moving on to the two Philadelphia clubs, the Quakers and Athletics. His lifetime .205 average and .887 fielding % don’t begin to express his value to his teams or the esteem of his managers and colleagues. Frequently chosen to fill in as an umpire, Gunning was known for his objectivity, sometimes to the dismay of his teammates during a rowdy and partisan era. He turned down overtures from St. Louis in ’87 to remain in Philadelphia and med school.

  • Gunning eschewed protective gear & frequently paid the price
  • Was assigned as a rookie to the Massachusetts State Association – a “reserve” league concocted by the Beaneaters to safeguard their youngsters from the Union Association’s depredations
  • As a young MD in Fall River, MA, had a role in the inquests into the 1892 Lizzie Borden axe murders case

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