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Harry Whitacre

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Philadelphia
  • Team: Athletics (AA)
  • League: American Association

Harry Whitacre (aka Whiteacre, Whitaker) is known primarily from photographs: he is depicted on (at least) three 1888 Old Judge cards in an Athletics’ uniform. Harry was photographed batting and throwing right-handed. He is also found in a team photo of the Kennett Square Mohicans of 1886 along with the brothers of future major leaguer Mike Grady and the father of future Hall-of-Famer Herb Pennock. Kennett Square was becoming the “mushroom capital of the world” about the same time the Mohicans were transforming from an amateur club to one of the foremost teams in Pennsylvania in the late 1880s. The Sporting News, in January ‘88, touted “Whiteacre, the Athletics new pitcher” as being “highly thought of by Manager Sharsig.” As with many up-and-coming minor leaguers of the day, Harry’s promise went unfulfilled. He didn’t make the Philadelphia squad.

  • The pose used on this card is one of two recently discovered Old Judge proofs of Whitacre, neither of which are known to have been issued in the original Old Judge series
  • Baseball Encyclopedia records an H. Whitaker pitching one game for Williamsport of the Pennsylvania State Association in 1886, a complete-game win
  • Although the Old Judge series features three known poses of Harry Whitacre, I could not find one of suitable quality for this project. This image is taken from an Old Judge proof taken at the same time as Whitacre's other OJ images and may represent an as-of-yet undiscovered pose.

Auction History

Gleason tags Welch

  • Series: 1880s: Diamond Duos
  • City: Philadelphia
  • Team: Athletics (AA)
  • League: American Association

Bill Gleason:

William G. Gleason (1858-1932) was an American Association shortstop for three teams from 1882-89. During those eight seasons Gleason hit .267. He debuted with his hometown St. Louis Brown Stockings and participated in their three pennants in '85, '86 and '87. He was an everyday player and increased the number of games played every year with the club, culminating in '87 when he appeared in 135 games with a fine .288 average. St. Louis management must have anticipated a decline was in store. He was traded to Philadelphia's Athletics in '88, where his hitting fell off to .224. Philly dealt him to the Louisville Colonels for his final campaign. Gleason saw action in only 16 games in 1889. He stayed in pro ball for two more minor league seasons with Washington of the Atlantic Association in 1890 and finished up with the Rockford Hustlers of the Illinois-Iowa League the following year where he recorded by far the highest average on a squad that included eight other past or future big leaguers.

  • In a storied and rowdy “championship” contest following the 1885 season, Gleason's Browns vied with the formidable White Stockings. Bill was at the center of the storm as his throw to first was ruled late, infuriating the home folks and precipitating a long row in which Cap Anson refused to allow the Chicago umpire to be replaced. Comiskey called his team off the field which led to a forfeit of the first game. The “Series” ended in a tie.


Curt Welch:

Curtis Benton Welch (1862-1896). Primarily a center fielder for 10 professional seasons, Welch was a fast runner with great instincts. His “$15,000 slide” into home clinched the 1886 World Series for the St. Louis Browns. It has been called the most famous play of the 19th century.

  • Top 10 in steals 6 years in a row
  • Currently ranks 51st all-time in steals (453)
  • Alleged to have hidden beer behind billboards so he could drink during games

Auction History


Old Judge Pose: 485-7

Ferguson tags McCarthy

  • Series: 1880s: Diamond Duos
  • City: Philadelphia
  • Team: Quakers
  • League: National League

Charlie Ferguson:

Charles J. Ferguson (1863-1888) was considered by future Hall of Famer Wilbert Robinson to be the 5th best player of all-time when Ferguson succumbed to typhoid fever at age 25. Primarily a pitcher for the Quakers over four seasons, the right-hander also handled the outfield and second-base. He won at least 21 games each year and was lights-out in 1886, winning 30 with a 1.98 ERA (2nd in the league). Playing more outfield the next year, Ferguson not only won 22 but drove in 85 with a .327 average. The youngster was stricken before the ’88 season and never recovered.

  • Hurled a no-hitter against the Providence Grays on Aug 29, 1885
  • In tribute to this young warrior, the Quakers and three other NL teams wore black crepe for the entire 1888 season
  • Decades later, W.B. Hanna dubbed him “the game’s best all around player”
  • Robinson ranked Ferguson 5th all time after Cobb, Keeler, Ruth and Wagner

Tommy McCarthy:

Thomas Francis Michael McCarthy (1863-1922) failed as a pitcher, but established himself as a fast and intelligent outfielder and base runner over 13 professional seasons. While with the Boston Beaneaters from 1892-1895, he and Hugh Duffy were called the “Heavenly Twins” as they comprised one of the best outfield tandems of the era.

  • Had a .292 lifetime average
  • Although records are incomplete, he probably stole 500+ bases
  • Introduced the Hit & Run play
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1946

Auction History


Old Judge Pose: 157-4

Eppa Rixey

  • Series: Diamond Heads '15
  • City: Philadelphia
  • Team: Phillies
  • League: National League
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Eppa Rixey, Jr. (1891-1963) was one of the most durable left-handers of all-time. Until 1959 he was the NL’s winningest southpaw. That year, Warren Spahn surpassed Rixey and for the first 60 years of the century, only Walter Johnson and Pete Alexander started more games. The pitcher never played a day in the minors thanks to his University of Virginia coach’s rave reviews. Cy Rigler was a well-regarded umpire when not mentoring college players so his scouting report counted and the Phillies responded, signing him for the 1912 season. The club won a pennant in 1915 but Rixey labored for a mostly sub-par team until traded to the Reds in 1921. Rixey’s debut season with Cincy was stunning, allowing only one HR in 301 innings en route to a league-leading 25 wins. Staying with the Reds through 1933, Rixey’s labors for two lower division franchises meant the losses added up, too. So much so that he owns the dubious record of most losses in a career for a lefty: 251.

  • The hard-working, likable southerner lived just long enough to learn of his selection to Cooperstown, exclaiming to his family “I finally made it!”
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1963

Auction History

Schriver tags Bastian

  • Series: 1880s: Diamond Duos
  • City: Philadelphia
  • Team: Quakers
  • League: National League

Pop Schriver:

William Frederick Schriver (1865-1932) was a durable catcher for several mostly National League teams from 1886 through 1901. His debut for the AA’s Brooklyn Grays was his only stint outside the NL. Pop had a solid .264 lifetime batting average over a 14 year major league career. During his time with Cap Anson’s Colts, to promote a game with the Senators, battery-mate Clark Griffith made a 555’ “toss” to Schriver (off the Washington Monument). Accounts differ on Pop’s performance and Griffith later said Schriver dropped the ball. In any case, history has credited Gabby Street with the first successful accomplishment of the stunt, largely on the testimony of Griffith who by then was owner of Street’s Senators. In 800 games, Schriver made 720 hits in 2,727 at-bats.

  • During 1894, the year of the D.C. feat, Pop was among the league leaders in most defensive categories
  • In 1901 Schriver led the league in throwing out runners attempting to steal

Charlie Bastian:

Charles J. Bastian (1860-1932) was the model “good field, no hit” infielder, squeezing 4 different leagues and 6 teams into his 8 year career. He started in MLB with the Wilmington Quicksteps of the evanescent Union Assoc’s only year, 1884, and finished with a game in the Players’ League in 1891.

  • Lifetime BA of .189 defeated his finesse in the field
  • Led all NL second-basemen in fielding % in 1886
  • His main club was the Quakers, who were the Phillies when Bastian returned for one game in ‘91

Auction History


Old Judge Pose: 23-6