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Thomas Flood

  • Series: 1880s: Loving Paupers
  • City: St. Joseph
  • Team: Clay Eaters
  • League: Western Association

Thomas J. Flood (1867-?) never made it to the major leagues, but his Old Judge card series in 1889 placed this young Missouri ballplayer among an elite of his day. He was captured by the photographer in his St. Joseph Clay Eaters uniform cutting a dashing figure as a right-handed pitcher. Indeed, The Sporting News noted that Thomas had been the Houston Babies’ star hurler the prior year, going 11-15 for a struggling franchise. He was again the stalwart of that team in ‘88 when he compiled a miserable record of 2-10, but started the majority of games, completing the entire dozen. Only one of that squad’s pitchers ever had big league experience. That was veteran Doc Landis who was in the final year of his career that had begun with American Association teams in 1882. The Texas Southern League in those days consisted of a mere six clubs, including the San Antonio Missionaries and Dallas Hams. Flood had started out with amateur outfits in his native St. Louis, such as the Prickly Ash and Grand Avenue clubs. The Sporting News mentioned his first professional job was with Springfield, MO in 1887 where he was said to have won every start for the Indians of the Southwestern League. Unfortunately, Flood’s auspicious beginning ended abruptly with the demise of the Springfield franchise. He was picked up by Ft. Smith to finish the season. With the Clay Eaters, Thomas found himself among a staff with better talent. Five of his fellow pitchers would see big league service. He went 9-16 in ‘89, the third-best record on the team.

  • Despite missing out on MLB glory, Flood was celebrated by The Sporting News as “the finest pitcher in the Southwestern League.” Not a bad clipping to show the family


Auction History


Old Judge Pose: 164-4

Charles Whitney

Third Base
  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: St. Joseph
  • Team: Clay Eaters
  • League: Western Association

Charles F. Whitney had a least one close relative make it to the major leagues: his brother Arthur, a right-handed 3rd baseman. The Old Judge card on which Charles appears is identified as “G” Whitney, 3B, for the St. Joseph Clay Eaters in 1889. Baseball Reference pegs this Clay Eater as our Charles, also a right-handed third baseman. Charles played exclusively in the minors and founded the Victor Sporting Goods Co. of Springfield, MA. Arthur worked for his brother’s company after retiring from baseball. Victor was later bought out by Al Spalding’s empire. There are intriguing connections between these Whitneys and another from the same era: Jim “Grasshopper” Whitney. Jim played minor league ball in Binghamton, NY in 1878 and was with the San Francisco Knickerbockers in ’80 when he was hired by Boston’s Red Caps. Charles played for the SF club, then the Athletics in 1879, and for Binghamton in 1887-88. Arthur was born in 1858 and Jim was a year older. If Charles was older than Art (he was already in business and hired his brother) that could make Jim his “cousin?” Jim following him by a year to the West Coast. Such speculation is all that remains as we try to piece together data regarding these early pro ball players.

  • Extant info for Charles shows he began pro ball in 1879 with the Omaha Green Stockings and finished with the tantalizingly-named Clay Eaters ten years later

Auction History

Will Fry

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: St. Joseph
  • Team: Clay Eaters
  • League: Western Association

William Fry was the subject of an Old Judge series while with the 1889 St Joseph Clay Eaters. He never played in the major leagues and his minor league record is sketchy. Fry’s best-documented season was 1887 with the Zanesville Kickapoos of the Ohio State League. Will scored the most runs that year (104) and had the team’s second-highest total of hits with 141. He began in pro-ball in 1883 in the Pittsburgh area with the Liberty Stars of the Western Interstate League (eight Pennsylvania clubs plus Youngstown.) The following year found him still in the Steel City with East Liberty of the Iron and Oil Association. We have no data for 1885. Will moved west to the St Joseph Reds of the Western League in ’86 before joining the Kickapoos for two seasons. He returned to Missouri for his final year, when Old Judge caught up to him, this time with the Clay Eaters. He only managed a .187 average in 150 at-bats.

  • Baseball Reference records Fry’s surname as Frey while the Goodwin catalog editors indicate an alternate spelling of Frye. We use the name that appeared on the OJ cards

Auction History