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

Auction History

Fred Pfeffer

Second Base
  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Chicago
  • Team: White Stockings
  • League: National League

Nathaniel Frederick Pfeffer (1860-1932). Nicknamed Dandelion, Pfeffer played for 7 teams over a good 16 year career. A good baserunner (at least 400 SBs) and league-average hitter (94 OPS+), Pfeffer was one of the best defensive second basemen of his era, dominating the defensive leaderboards for his position in the 1880s.

  • 1st in PO at 2B from 1884-1891
  • 1st in As at 2B: 1884-85, 1888-89
  • 1st in DPs at 2B: 1884-1889, 1891
  • 1st in RF at 2B: 1884-85, 1888-90

Auction History

Dick Phelan

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

James Dickson Phelan (1854-1931) began playing professional baseball at age 28 with the Peoria Reds of the Northwestern League and went on to a lengthy career, taking him all the way to age 44 with the Southern League’s Dallas Steers. Early on Dick got his shot at the big leagues. He was brought up from Peoria to the Baltimore Monumentals for their year in the Union Association, 1884. The next year he played for the Buffalo Bisons and St. Louis Maroons of the NL. His ML batting average was .242 in 107 games as a second-baseman. The most games he played for one team was with the Memphis Browns in ’87 where he tore up the Southern League with a .370 average and stole 60 bases. He also played for Memphis when they were the Grays, Giants and the Fever Germs. The latter was Memphis’ identity in 1893 with the Southern League.

  • It is presumed the team took its name in memory of the tragic outbreak of yellow fever in 1878, said to have begun “in the filthiest part of the filthiest city in America”
  • That historic plague killed more in Memphis than the Chicago fire, San Francisco quake and Johnstown flood combined
  • There may not be an I in team, but there are 4 of them in Prohibitionists

Auction History

Blondie Purcell

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Baltimore
  • Team: Orioles
  • League: American Association

William Aloysius Purcell (1854-1912) ascended to the new “major leagues” in the early days of the NL as it was still in its formative stage. Playing OF for the Syracuse Stars, Purcell migrated with his team & the Buffalo Bisons out of the soon-to-perish International Association to join the new professional circuit. 1879 would be the first & last season for the Stars in MLB; and an incomplete year as the team folded on Sep 10. Nevertheless, Purcell would go on to a successful 12-year career. He finished ’79 with the Cincinnati Reds and would eventually play in Cleveland, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore. Purcell earned the distinction of being the first player in Philadelphia history to get a hit and score a run, in his first at-bat of the club’s inaugural 1883 season.

  • Was once fined for destroying a baseball, which he had done to get a new ball into the game so that Pud Galvin could better throw his curve
  • Late in his career, Purcell was recruited to manage the incorrigible Atlanta Atlantans of the Southern Assoc, a team that came to be dubbed “Purcell’s Plug-Uglies”
  • .267 BA with 1,217 hits in 1,097 ML games

Auction History