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John Shaw

  • Series: 1880s: Loving Paupers
  • City: Minneapolis
  • Team: Millers
  • League: Western Association

John Shaw made his mark in 19th century baseball via his six-photo spread in the Old Judge catalog when he was pictured in his Minneapolis Millers uniform in 1887/88. John had been the regular shortstop for the Millers in ‘87, but as the next campaign began he was shuttled down to New Orleans in what was described by The Sporting News as a cost-saving move by Minneapolis management. Shaw was said to be “a rattling good hitter and a fine base runner.” Yet, the News speculated he was let go because he was a “high priced man whom the club did not want.” The team had signed future major leaguer Joe Walsh to play short and Shaw was expendable. John had begun in 1884 with the Boston Reserves of the Massachusetts State Association and knocked around New England with Portland, Brockton, Newburyport and back to Boston’s Blues in 1886. Shaw’s move to the Twin Cities allowed him to post his career year in ‘87. He hit .292, playing every day at shortstop. The forced move south didn’t sit well with poor Shaw. He joined the Pelicans for the 1888 season and found himself mired in a slump that left him with a pitiful .143 average in a mere four games. The spotty minor league data of the era show only that Shaw finished the ‘88 season with Easton of the Central League with no stats available.

  • The Sporting News coverage of Shaw’s move to the Crescent City gives a glimpse into the day-to-day updates available for fans of the era. The reporter noted that “Advance money and a ticket was sent Shaw this morning and he will come south at once.”
  • One is left to surmise that John had to pay his own way to Pennsylvania for the ignominious conclusion to his tenure in pro ball

Auction History


Old Judge Pose: 414-1

John Pickett

  • Series: 1880s: Loving Paupers
  • City: St. Paul
  • Team: Apostles
  • League: Western Association

John Thomas Pickett (1866-1922) was a utility infielder/outfielder who earned three brief chances in the major leagues. First, after tearing up the Western Association for St. Paul in 1888-89, John was given a try by the American Association’s Kansas City Cowboys late in the ‘89 season. He got to play quite a bit for a late-comer that year, getting into 53 games at three positions. He managed only a .224 average. Fortunately for Pickett, 1890 was a volatile year in the majors as the Players’ League siphoned off as much talent as they could lure to their rogue enterprise and John got a chance with the Philadelphia Athletics where he did much better, hitting .280 in 100 games. The diluted talent allowed many of the Players’ players to excel that single year of the league’s existence, similar to what had happened in 1884 as the Union Association played spoiler to baseball’s establishment. Two years later Pickett got his last chance in the big leagues with the cellar-dwelling Orioles. Tommy Lasorda has famously postulated that the best teams lose a third of their games and the worst win a third of theirs. Baltimore defied Tommy’s sage observation by winning 19 and losing 54 en route to a last place finish in the AA in ‘92. He hit .213 for the struggling Birds - totally unlike his usual solid hitting in the minors. John had begun in pro ball with Stillwater of the Northwestern League in 1884 and played later for Milwaukee and Minneapolis in the same circuit. He was still hitting near .300 in his final Western Association appearances with Kansas City and Minneapolis in 1897 as he wrapped up his time in the minors.

  • One sweet note that Pickett could take with him was that when the Orioles let him go, he was replaced at second base by a young firebrand named John McGraw


Auction History


Old Judge Pose: 369-2

Jimmy Macullar

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

James F. Macullar (1855-1924) was a scrappy fellow with several noteworthy accomplishments. At a mere 5'6” Little Mac did not cut an imposing figure when he arrived in major league baseball by virtue of his Syracuse Stars being promoted into the National League in 1879. Macullar was the rare natural left-hander to bat right-handed, but any advantage accruing wasn't obvious as he generally hovered around the .200 mark at bat. It was in the field that he distinguished himself. By the end of his career, Macullar had set a record that still stands by playing more games (325) at shortstop than any other southpaw. That rookie season also saw Jimmy demonstrate leadership beyond his years when the twenty-four year old was given the management of the Stars for about a month. His weak hitting left him unemployed for a couple of years, but that didn't deter him from baseball. He and teammate Hick Carpenter headed to Cuba in the winter of '79-80 and became the first North Americans to play for the new league when they were signed by Colón. Despite Jimmy's limitations, he and Hick far outclassed the fledgling Cuban players and were so dominant that other teams refused to play against them. Macullar was hired by the new American Association's Cincinnati franchise in '82 and played stellar centerfield for the pennant-winners with his buddy Carpenter at third.  The next season he was relegated to a utility role and his poor offensive production led to his demotion. Picked up by the Orioles, Jimmy saw regular action back at short through the 1886 season.

  • Baltimore became Macullar's home and he served the city as a jailer over the next two decades.
  • Jimmy contributed an outstanding play in centerfield to nail the White Sox' Abner Dalrymple at home to end the Reds' first post-season contest on October 6, 1882
  • Macullar's uniform color on this card was changed in July, 2017 from black to blue to reflect recent reliable research by Craig Brown & friends at Threads of Our Game. One card was previously released featuring a black uniform.

Auction History

John Montgomery Ward

  • Series: 1888 Champion New York Giants
  • City: New York
  • Team: Giants
  • League: National League
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

“Monte” Ward (1860-1925). An elite pitcher and an excellent batsman, Ward also earned a law degree, formed sports’ first labor union, and helped create the Player’s League to challenge the reserve clause – all before the age of 30.

  • 3x National League Pennant winner
  • Only player: 100 wins/2,000 hits
  • Pitched 2nd perfect game in history, June 17, 1880
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1964

Jimmy Esmond

  • Series: Jim Dandie Feds
  • City: Indianapolis
  • Team: Hoosiers (FL)
  • League: Federal League

James Joseph Esmond (1889-1948) played shortstop for three major league clubs from 1911-1915, half of his tenure being with two Federal League teams: the Indianapolis Hoosiers and Newark Pepper. Jimmy had started in pro ball with the Gloversville-Johnstown/Elmira nine of the New York State League in 1908, a team with constituents all over the upstate area that would be reconstituted from 1939-51 in the Canadian-American League. Esmond never managed much offensive output in the minors and may have been that rare player to perform better when he got to the Cincinnati Reds in 1911 and hit .273. He reverted to form in '12, taking a demotion to the International League's Montreal team in 1913 before getting a final chance at major league glory in the renegade Federal League. He would be out of baseball for all of his late twenties before reappearing with Syracuse of the IL in 1921 at age 31. He then moved to the Eastern League and played a season each for Waterbury, Albany and Pittsfield. Jimmy's performance in Indiana and New Jersey far exceeded his norm, undoubtedly due to the paucity of truly major league caliber talent as the Feds tried valiantly to compete as a third league. He hit .295 for the Hoosiers with a league-leading 15 triples. Though his batting average subsided with the Peps he hit 11 more three-baggers showing extra-base prowess heretofore not in evidence. Esmond's debut in Newark allowed him to bask in the glow described in the local paper: “Newark and its surrounding hamlets were seized with a violent attack of baseball yesterday, accompanied by a high fever and laryngitis. The ailment can be directly traced to the opening of the Newark Federals at their new, roomy park in Harrison. The epidemic spread among nearly 25,000 Jersey folk who jammed the new park to see 'Whoa Bill' Phillip's 'Peps' make their home debut against Otto Knabe's Baltimore Terrapins.” The celebration was dampened a bit by the Terps' 6-2 victory. Sadly, Jimmy's three errors made it tough for starter Cy Falkenberg.

  • Esmond's major league debut in Cincinnati was in the ballpark known as the Palace of the Fans, occupied by the franchise since 1902. In 1912 Jimmy and the Reds got to inaugurate Crosley Field, the team's home until 1970

Auction History