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Dick Phelan

Second Base
  • 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

Auction History

Bug Holliday

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Des Moines
  • Team: Prohibitionists
  • League: Western Association

James Wear Holliday (1867-1910) had a knack for beginnings. He began in big league baseball at its pinnacle: game five of the 1885 post-season series. He wouldn’t play in a regular-season game until 1889, but again reached an apex by leading the league in home runs as a rookie. Bug’s sophomore season began with another bang: an opening game HR. Holliday played exclusively for Cincinnati and during his six prime years was second only to Roger Connor in home runs. His peak productivity came in 1894 when he hit .372, scoring and driving in 119 runs. Thereafter, health took a sad toll. Following an appendectomy in ‘95 Bug was never the same and his life ended too early due to a fatal infection.

  • At 5’11” “Bug” was not tiny, but he struck some as such way out in center field and got the nickname
  • His unlikely debut came about when Cap Anson was desperate for a right-fielder in the St. Louis Series. Young Bug fared poorly and headed to the minors for seasoning.
  • Holliday’s uniform color on this card was changed in June, 2017 from black to blue to reflect recent reliable research by Craig Brown & friends at Threads of Our Game. Six cards were previously released featuring a black uniform.

Auction History