- Series: 1880s: Spotted Ties
- City: New York
- Team: Metropolitans
- League: American Association
Thomas McLaughlin (1860-1921) was primarily a shortstop for three American Association franchises beginning with the Louisville Eclipse in 1883 and finishing up with the Washington Statesmen in 1891 following a four-year hiatus from the big leagues. Never much of a hitter, Tom's career lasted as long as it did on the merits of his defensive skills. His swan song with D.C. was his best at the plate where he hit .268 - but in only 50 plate appearances.
McLaughlin's career average was a lowly .192, but his nadir came with the Metropolitans in 1886 when he hit .136 with an OPS+ of 22 (league average is 100). The underwhelming performance pushed McLaughlin back to the minors for four years. He had played much more previously for Louisville and, in his final year with what was by then the Colonels, was in every one of that 112-game campaign of 1885.
McLaughlin's '86 sojourn with the Mets earned him a place in Old Judge's “spotted tie” series that we feature here. All of which proves that lasting fame is not always the result of on-field prowess, but can also be a function of being at the right place at the right time. The same could be said of the entire Metropolitan squad of 1886, which featured ace Jack Lynch going 20-30 while the team's record was 53-82 en route to a 7th place finish where the Mets trailed 38 games behind the dominant St. Louis Browns.
- Tom's exile to the minors saw him travel from New Jersey (Newark of the International League) to Toronto, St. Paul and, finally, Syracuse to open the '91 season before his call-up to Washington.
- His personal-best hitting came with the Stars: .280, which led to his final attempt to hit big league pitching
Old Judge Pose: 316-1
- Series: Beginnings: 1880's
- City: Detroit
- Team: Wolverines
- League: National League
John Charles Rowe (1856-1911) played a decade in the major leagues for two teams, the Buffalo Bisons and Detroit Wolverines before finishing out his career with the Alleghenys and Players’ League Bisons back in Buffalo in 1890. It was his skill at bare-handed catching in the minors that attracted the Bisons’ attention in 1878, but his September call-up impressed with the bat as well when Rowe hit .353. That debut led to a seven-year tenure in upstate NY where he gained fame as part of the “Big Four” with Dan Brouthers, Hardy Richardson and Deacon White. The quartet were formidable batsmen, but a lack of pitching doomed the franchise to mediocre results. In September ‘85 the four were sold to Detroit and remained a unit until the team folded after the ‘88 season. By 1887 Rowe was primarily a shortstop and helped the club win it all, pennant and post-season, for the high-water mark of the Wolverines. Victims of the early reserve system, Rowe and White tried unsuccessfully to return to Buffalo in ‘88 as co-owners, but were held to a sale to Pittsburgh. They did make good on their plan as a Players’ League entry in 1890 for a final year in the majors for both.
- Ran a cigar store in retirement and, per the January 1899 The Sporting Life was “one of the most contented men in Buffalo these days”
- Series: Pioneer Portraits II: 1875-1899
- City: Boston
- Team: Reds (PL)
- League: Players' League
- Hall: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame
Doc, Sandy, Cutrate, Foxy (1863-1927). Born in Canada, Irwin was: 1st pos. player to wear a glove; member of the 1st World Series Champion; college coach; ML scout & business manager; minor league owner; major & minor league manager; president of 1st pro U.S. soccer league; owner of cycling tracks; inventor of a football scorecard; and umpire of 50 NL games. After contracting stomach cancer, Irwin committed suicide by jumping over board a ship. It was soon discovered that he had two wives, 1 in Boston, 1 in New York.
- Canadian BB Hall of Fame: 1989
- Series: Pioneer Portraits I: 1850-1874
- City: Lansingburgh
- Team: Union of Lansingburgh
- League: National Association (NABBP)
Abrams is an enigmatic figure of baseball’s earliest days. Pictured with Lansingburgh, what little documentation exists places Abrams as a veteran of the Union of Morrisania team. In fact, he was reported to be the only pre-Civil War member of the Unions to play on their sole championship team in 1867. A report in the NY Times of Aug. 4, 1862 describes a game with Newark in which Abrams switched mid-game from catcher to SS and made a spectacular grab in which he “jumped so high for it he might have passed for Mercury.” A footnote to that game reveals a bonhomie that soon was lost in the rowdy early days: both teams retired to a local hotel for dinner where the players’ “cheers were given for the Umpire, who returned thanks for the honor.”
- Abrams’ teammates included Dave (The Old Man) Birdsall and perhaps the most oddly nick-named character in the game: Charley Pabor, “The Old Woman in the Red Cap.”
- Series: Spearheads
- City: Boston
- Team: Red Stockings (NAPBBP)
- League: National Association (NAPBBP)
- Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame
George Wright (1847-1937) was considered baseball’s best player while starring for the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the game’s first professional team. He continued to excel at shortstop and at bat for the team his brother Harry moved to Boston in 1871. He co-founded Wright & Ditson Sporting Goods, contributing to tennis, hockey and golf, building America’s first public course. He also fathered two US tennis champions.
- Wright was a seven-time league champion with Cincinnati, Boston and Providence
- Was a consultant on the foundation of the National Baseball Hall of Fame
- Elected to Hall of Fame: 1937
- W.S. Kimball (N184) Canvas:
Tip O'Neill, Champion Base Ball Batter