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Bobby Lowe

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Milwaukee
  • Team: Creams
  • League: Western Association

Robert Lincoln Lowe (1865-1951) played a dozen years for the Boston Beaneaters, then a half dozen more for Chicago, Pittsburgh and Detroit. He could play every position and set several batting records in a long and illustrious major league career. Upon his retirement he held the best fielding average of all-time at second base, proving his value in all aspects of the game. Orphaned at 15, Lowe was a hard-working young man supporting his family in the Pittsburgh area. Friends convinced his employers to give Bobby time to play the game he clearly excelled at, leading to a chance with Eau Claire of the Northwestern League in 1887. After a couple seasons in the Western Associaton, Boston bought his contract, a deal once called “one of baseball's biggest bargains.” Lowe established himself as perhaps the best second-baseman of the 19th century and helped lead the team to five pennants. As the starter at second for eight straight seasons, Lowe formed a great double-play combo with Herman Long. With Fred Tenney at first and Jimmy Collins at third, the infield was touted by some as the best ever. When he moved to the Orphans (Cubs) in 1902, manager Frank Selee knew he had a leader and made Bobby the captain. Relegated to backing up Johnny Evers in '03, Lowe moved on to Detroit via a one-game stint with the Pirates and was named manager of the Tigers in '04. Upon his retirement from the majors, the Detroit News lauded Bobby's character: “There is no better type of the gentleman in baseball and no one ever heard ought but words of praise for him.”

  • Among Lowe's batting accomplishments: first to hit four home runs in a game, first to hit for 17 total bases in a game, went six-for-six in another game, scored six times in yet another, batted over .300 five straight seasons
  • Hit a solid .273 lifetime, with 74 home runs

Auction History

Joe Hornung

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

Michael Joseph Hornung (1857-1931) made a lasting impression in the baseball world of his day on at least two grounds. Most noteworthy, he was perhaps the premier defensive outfielder of the 1880s. His sure-handedness allowed him to lead the National League in fielding percentage in 1881, ‘82, ‘83 and ‘86. The second basis of notoriety for Hornung was what must have been a very annoying habit. He would shout “ubbo, ubbo!” whenever he got a hit or made a play he fancied. Since he hit a respectable .257 over his twelve-year career, and made just about all the plays that came his way in the no-glove era, the ballparks of the day must have resounded with many an “ubbo.” His antics led to his nickname Ubbo Ubbo, which meant others beside himself were uttering the gibberish all too frequently.

Joe had begun his pro career in Canada with the London (Ontario) Tecumsehs in 1876. His major league debut was with the Buffalo Bisons in 1879 and in '81 made the move to Boston which would be his home through the 1888 season. The colorful star's performance declined and the Beaneaters tried to sell him to the White Stockings. The veteran balked, insisting on a piece of the $5000 price, and was rewarded by being ousted from the league. The American Association's Orioles welcomed Joe and he played one year on a bad leg before ending his big league career in 1890 with the Giants. His speed had been an asset afield and on the bases. Hornung was a renowned base-stealer, usually among the leaders in triples, and led the NL in scoring in 1883.

  • Ubbo Ubbo's popularity was such that the vaunted '27 Yankees honored him on his June 12 birthday at the stadium. Ruth, Gehrig, Lazzeri and all serenaded Joe and he received a “nice check” from players who remembered him fondly as one of the greats.
  • His hometown Utica paper hailed him as “King of the Left Fielders” and “just as much a baseball hero as Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth or Tris Speaker is today.”

Auction History

Mike Sullivan

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

Michael Joseph Sullivan (1860-1929) didn't play the hot corner as poorly as that ancient mariner (“he stoppeth one in three”), but let's just say that Mike made other third-basemen of his era look pretty good. Despite a respectable ability at the plate, it was defense that proved offensive to his management, leading to an abbreviated time in the major leagues. Mike lasted all of 28 games before Philadelphia sent him up to Syracuse where, four games later, his pro ball career was over. Sullivan had started out in New England playing for three teams in 1884: Meriden, Worcester and Lawrence. He stayed in the neighborhood in '85 and '87 (no record of his play in 1886). He was with Springfield and back to Meriden in '85 and Hartford in '87 before his call-up to the American Association's Athletics.

  • Sullivan actually split his time between outfield and third. But it was in the infield he did his real damage. The Brooklyn Eagle eagerly recorded the game on May 13 when the hapless Sullivan played the goat, making three errors including the one that led to the Bridegrooms' victory over the Athletics
  • Mike's debut that season had been at third where he made two errors subbing for Denny Lyons. He went on to make ten more miscues in his next nine games before being exiled to left field where his ability to track down the ball wasn't much improved. Despite having a slugging average that ranked behind only John Reilly and Harry Stovey among AA hitters with a minimum 100 at-bats, his bosses couldn't abide his .726 fielding percentage
  • A native of Webster, Massachusetts, Mike was born on the eve of the first great national calamity, the Civil War, and died there just before the onset of the worst economic calamity, the Great Depression.

Auction History

Thomas McCullum

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Minneapolis
  • Team: Millers
  • League: Western Association

Thomas McCullum (aka McCallum) was an outfielder for several minor league teams, primarily in the Western Association, from 1884 through 1890. He appeared in an Old Judge card pose for 1888 as a Minneapolis Miller as a right-handed batter. Data is sketchy for this young man, confused by alternate renderings of his name. As McCullum, the Baseball Encyclopedia has him playing for New Castle in 1884, Youngstown in ‘85 and the Milwaukee Brewers in ‘86 and again in ‘89, then back east in the Tri-State League with Dayton and McKeesport in ‘89-90. As McCallum, the Encyclopedia has him with Eau Claire in ‘87, Minneapolis, Davenport and the Chicago Maroons - all in ‘88. It does appear these references identify the same player. Tom’s best year was with Eau Claire where he hit a superb .354 that moved him up to the Western Association.

  • As with many Old Judge subjects, the cards reflect promise sometimes unfulfilled as McCullum did get 389 at-bats in 1888 but hit only .213

Auction History

Jim Manning

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Kansas City
  • Team: Blues (WA)
  • League: Western Association

James H. Manning (1862-1929) became the first manager of the Washington Senators in their franchise-first season, 1901. Manning came out of retirement to take the helm of the fledgling D.C. enterprise after a twelve-year absence from the major leagues. As a player, Manning was an early utility man for the Boston Beaneaters, the Detroit Wolverines and the Kansas City Cowboys from 1885-1889. Manning compiled a career BA of .215 with his high year for Detroit in ’85 with .269.

  • Manning was a switch hitter who played OF, 2B and Short
  • He started in the OF for Boston’s second year in the NL, helping the team to a 2nd place finish in ’84 behind the Providence Grays

Auction History