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Dick McBride

  • Series: Athletic of Philadelphia: 1874
  • City: Philadelphia
  • Team: Athletics (NAPBBP)
  • League: National Association (NAPBBP)

John Dickson McBride (1847-1916) was the captain and workhorse moundsman of the Philadelphia Athletics during the team’s five years in the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NAPBBP), from 1871-75. Despite piloting the Athletics to a 161-84 (.657) record over 5 years in which he won 149 of those games as a pitcher, McBride suffered the indignity of being ousted as captain (manager) with a mere eight days remaining in the '75 season. Some of the humiliation should have been assuaged by the fact that ownership decided to replace him with a young Adrian Anson - a man who would become perhaps the most formidable and accomplished player of the 19th century.

It would be difficult to overstate McBride's impact with the Athletics. In 1871, Dick led the NA in winning percentage, going 18-5, and leading the team to the circuit’s first pennant, thus winning professional baseball's first league championship. In ‘74 Dick led the NA in ERA at 1.64. Second in career National Association wins only to Albert Spalding, McBride was 149-74 for Philadelphia overall and was putting the finishing touches on an astounding 44-14 season when he was replaced by Anson. (The team's record was 49-18-2 (.731) under McBride. Anson would pilot the team to a 4-2-2 record over the last eight games of the season and the NA would fold shortly thereafter, giving way to the nascent National League in 1876.) 

McBride was a Civil War vet and former cricket star who developed into one of the era's best pitchers. No less than Henry Chadwick said of him: “what Dick doesn’t know about the tricks and dodges of strategic pitching isn’t worth knowing.” Years later, former teammate and famous scribe Tim Murnane asserted that Dick was “the first to master the ‘raise ball.’”

  • Was apparently renowned as a baseball player as early as 1864, when he was allowed to take a 3-day furlough from his Civil War service to participate in a baseball exhibition
  • Completed 224 of the 233 games he started for the Athletics and never once made a relief appearance
  • Signed in ‘76 with Boston in the new NL, but didn’t win a game in four outings and retired
  • McBride's "most similar" player according to baseballreference is Candy Cummings

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Eddie Plank

  • Series: Jim Dandie Feds
  • City: St. Louis
  • Team: Terriers
  • League: Federal League
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Edward Stewart Plank (1875-1926) hurled more shutouts and complete games than any other lefthander in his 17-season career. He ranks behind only Warren Spahn and Steve Carlton among southpaws in wins. Signed by Connie Mack straight out of college, Plank never played a day in the minors. Playing in 4 Series for Philadelphia, Plank had an ERA of 1.32 but got no run support, going 2-5 but finishing all six of his starts.

  • His 326 wins ranks 13th on the all time list. He had eight 20-win seasons
  • At the end of his career, played for St. Louis in the Federal League’s final year in 1915 and then with the Browns for two more
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1946

Auction History

Kid Nichols

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Omaha
  • Team: Omahogs
  • League: Western Association
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Charles Augustus Nichols (1869-1953). A right-handed, switch-hitting pitcher, Nichols played 15 major league seasons for 3 different clubs. Nichols had 11 seasons with 20 Wins or more, 10 consecutively, 7 of which exceeded 30. He quit MLB for 2 years to own & pitch for a minor league team, with whom he won another 48 games.

  • Youngest to 300 Wins (30 years)
  • 5x NL pennant winner
  • His 361 Wins ranks 7th all-time
  • Nichols has five known poses in the Old Judge canon.
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1949

Auction History

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

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Old Judge Pose: 228-1

Charlie Parsons

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

Charles James Parsons (1863-1936) was a pitcher who got three try-outs with major league teams during a minor league career that spanned the latter half of the 1880s. He broke in with the Newark Domestics of the Eastern League in 1884 where, at twenty years old, he started two games, yielded just 3 earned runs in 15 innings and pitched to an 0-1 record. Charlie made an impression the following season for the Birmingham club of the Southern League, leading the team with a 10-13 record and an outstanding 1.48 ERA. On May 29, Parsons hurled the first no-hitter for those Barons, earning him a spot on the NL's Boston Beaneaters’ roster to begin the 1886 season. Assigned to pitch back-to-back games, Parsons lost both and was summarily sold to Rochester of the international Association, where he had an excellent year at 15-10 with a team-leading 1.12 ERA. Charlie’s sustained success in the minors earned him another spot in a major league rotation in 1887, this time with the New York Metropolitans of the American Association. In four starts, Parsons went 1-1 but gave up 17 earned runs (36 total runs for the error-prone Mets). By 1888, Charlie was suiting up for the Minneapolis Millers. Other than being immortalized in five known poses by a Goodwin photographer in his Millers uniform, Charlie started just one game in Minneapolis, surrendering two runs and finishing the game in a losing effort. In 1890 Parsons got one more shot in the majors with the Cleveland Spiders. Again, they only used him for two games and he lost his only decision.

  • The Sporting News reported in its June 16, 1890 edition that Parsons had been signed by Jackson of the Tri-State League, but there is no evidence that he ever played professional baseball again
  • Parsons was 25-24 with a 1.31 ERA in 51 minor league games, but just 1-4 with a 4.58 ERA in 8 major league games
  • Charlie may have been a better hitter than pitcher. Although it’s a small sample, Charlie hit .333 (9 for 27) in his 8 ML games, knocking in two and stealing a bag for good measure

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