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Frank Hoffman

  • Series: 1880s: Loving Paupers
  • City: Denver
  • Team: Grizzlies
  • League: Western Association

Frank J. Hoffman began in professional baseball with the New Orleans Pelicans in 1887. Frank appeared in two games, is shown as having been age 25 at the time, and was the pitcher of record for both starts. He surrendered seven runs, none of them earned, and was 1 for 9 at the plate. He saw a bit more action the next year with the San Antonio Missionaries of the Texas-Southern League. He started eight games and was spectacular, going 7-1 with a .91 ERA. This was an abbreviated turn with the Missionaries. Although unrecorded by Baseball Reference, the Goodwin editors state that the San Antonio squad had begun the ‘88 season as the Austin Senators. The previous franchise in the Alamo city had gone out of business. On July 4 the Senators came to town, but they didn’t do any better drawing customers. After only the eight games, Hoffman was sold to the American Association’s Kansas City Cowboys. This opportunity provided Frank his sole chance to pitch in the big leagues. He couldn’t match his performance down south, going 3-9 with a still-respectable 2.77 ERA. He was released for the 1889 season and played for the Denver Grizzlies, where he was captured on camera by an Old Judge photographer for five known poses before returning to Texas with the Houston Mudcats for the 1890 campaign. He had a good enough ERA at 2.30, but lost 12 of his 17 decisions. His final known year in pro ball came in 1892 with the San Francisco Metropolitans of the California League. Team data show an eye-popping 39-37 record with an ERA of 1.72. It appears that Frank may have adopted San Francisco as his permanent home, having died there in 1916, 24 years after leaving baseball.

  • Despite Hoffman's obscurity, he enjoyed one of baseball's most celebratory but confounding nicknames: The Texas Wonder. Because Frank was most likely born in Mississippi, one might surmise he earned the sobriquet during his 1888 career year with the San Antonio Missionaries, when he went 7-1 with a .91 ERA

Auction History


Old Judge Pose: 228-1

James McQuaide

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Denver
  • Team: Grizzlies
  • League: Western Association

James McQuaid (1861-1928) played baseball under the name Mortimer Martin “Mart” McQuaid. He was a right-handed, grizzled veteran of the minor league circuits from age 27 in 1888 until 1906 with Alameda in the California League. According to the Baseball Encyclopedia, Mart played for 31 teams including brief stints in the majors with St Louis and Washington. He also managed the Dubuque squad in 1896-7. Over 14 seasons, McQuaid had a .310 BA but was miserable afield, botching over one in ten chances. According to SABR’s Vern Luse, McQuaid was the brother of famed ML umpire Jack McQuaid. His cups of coffee in the AA with the Browns (4 games) and the NL’s Senators (one game in which he took the collar) were accidental interruptions for a lifelong laborer in America’s summer meadows, the diamonds-in-the-rough of Main Street USA.

  • McQuaid’s Old Judge pose was for the Denver Grizzlies during his second year, but typical of his career: he hit .303 but “was the worst right fielder in the league, by a large margin” per the Goodwin editors

Auction History

William Darnbrough

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Denver
  • Team: Grizzlies
  • League: Western Association

William Darnbrough is another of the minor leaguers featured by Old Judge. They published 2 poses of this right-handed hurler in 1889 while he was with the Denver Grizzlies of the WA. Baseball-reference.com researchers have compiled a bare-bones profile of this player’s work for the Bloomington Reds of the Central Interstate League, Aurora of the Illinois-Iowa League, the Western League’s Kansas City Blues and Lincoln Rustlers and Darnbrough’s final assignment with the Rochester Flour Cities of the Eastern League. Most of the data is very sketchy, given the state of minor league ball in the 19th century. The year he met the Old Judge folks, Darnbrough had a busy year with a 12-14 record and a 4.37 ERA in 32 games. He got into 41 games as a batter with a .232 average. His play was more limited thereafter, but he closed his tenure in pro ball with a hefty .333 average for the Flour City lads (playing in only 6 games in their ’92 season).

  • Darnbrough and his teammates were party to a blue law suit in Lancaster County, NE in 1891 – charged with unlawful play on Sunday, April 26 (before 3,000 similarly renegade fans)
  • The case seems to have been brought to expose and overturn such prohibitions. The Nebraska Supreme Court eventually upheld the ban on Sunday play, a decision that would stand in the state until 1913

Auction History