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Tommy Tucker

First Base
  • Series: 1880s: Loving Paupers
  • City: Baltimore
  • Team: Orioles
  • League: American Association

Thomas Joseph Tucker (1863-1935) played first base for six MLB teams from 1887 through the 1899 season. He learned the game in and around his native Holyoke, Massachusetts, coming up in the era when gloves were small to nonexistent. At age 20 he signed on with his local minor league club and stayed in New England until the American Association’s Baltimore Orioles gave him his shot in the big leagues. He was a regular immediately and stayed three years, during which Tommy batted .275 and .287 before finishing with a spectacular .372 in 1889. That led to a job with the Beaneaters in Boston where he proved a worthy successor to famed Dan Brouthers. In his seven full seasons in Boston, Tucker never again attained such a lofty average, but he was a consistently good solid hitter, exceeding .300 three times. In ‘97, the Senators purchased Tucker from the Beaneaters for $2,000 and he rewarded the club with a .338 average in his lone season in the Capital City. He split the ‘98 campaign between Brooklyn and St. Louis before closing out his career in the majors with the Cleveland Spiders. Despite tailing off at the plate after leaving Washington, the switch-hitting righty compiled a very fine .290 average overall.

Tucker was known as a tough & rowdy competitor, earning him colorful nicknames such as Noisy and Foghorn Tom.

  • Tucker’s career-year in 1889 was remarkable for at least two reasons: He led the league that season and his .372 average still stands as the highest ever achieved by a switch-hitter
  • Tommy tied a major league record on July 22, 1893 with four doubles and also had a perfect 6-for-6 game in 1897
  • Tommy was hit-by-pitch more often than all but two players. Only Hughie Jennings and Craig Biggio exceeded his 272 career plunks
  • After retiring from the majors, Tucker returned to New England and played for three minor league clubs through the 1902 season
  • Bill James ranked Tucker as the 93rd greatest 1st baseman of all-time in 2001; Jay Jaffe's JAWS system ranks him today as the 108th best all-time (betwixt Ripper Collins and Charlie Hickman)

Auction History


Old Judge Pose: 465-1

Billy Barnie

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

William Harrison Barnie (1853-1900) played catcher/OF for three National Association teams in the 1870s prior to beginning an extensive career as manager. Nicknamed “Bald Billy,” Barnie struck a distinguished pose for the Old Judge photographer during his days with the Orioles, the club he led for nine years. Billy left Baltimore following the 1891 season for a very brief turn with the Senators before managing Louisville and Brooklyn for two years each. Barnie’s frail health felled him a mere two years after his final campaign with the Bridegrooms, dying of pneumonia at age 47.

  • While Mike Scanlon was desperately trying to gain major-league status for his Washington Statesmen in 1885, he publicly engaged Barnie in war of words seeking a contest with the Orioles to prove his team’s mettle. When the match finally occurred, following a wearisome Baltimore road trip, the D.C. lads prevailed 3-2 on May 28. The following year, Scanlon brought his squad into the NL
  • Barnie was a lifelong partisan of the American Association, working hard to reconstitute it. He was mourned as a beloved man who would have had a big impact as the AL was forming

Auction History


Old Judge Pose: 21-1

Jack O’Brien

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

John K. O'Brien (nee Bryne) (1860-1910) was a rare find for Billy Sharsig and his Athletics in 1881--a catcher who could hit. Jack joined the new franchise in its season in the Eastern Championship League and stayed on when the club joined the American Association the following year. By the '83 season, Jack would lead his team to the pennant, driving in a team-high 70 runs with a .290 average. O'Brien had entered baseball out west with the San Francisco-Reno team in the Pacific League as a raw 19 year old. He eventually played six of his eight major league seasons with the Athletics, for whom he always hit remarkably well for his position and era. His two years away from Philly with Brooklyn and Baltimore were struggles for him at the plate, but still exceeded the usual output for a catcher. Overall, Jack had a lifetime .266 BA in 555 games, driving in 308.

  • Proving he wasn't quite done after his final year in Philadelphia, O'Brien signed on for the 1891 season with the St. Paul Apostles/Duluth Whalebacks of the Western Association where he hit .317 in 97 games
  • In SF, Jack played with Sandy Nava, who would become the first Mexican-American in the major leagues with Providence and Baltimore
  • Although the Old Judge series features nine known poses of Jack O'Brien, I could not find one of suitable quality for this project. This image is taken from an Old Judge proof taken at the same time as O'Brien's other OJ images and may represent an as-of-yet undiscovered pose.
  • O'Brien’s uniform color on this card was changed in May, 2017 from black/red to blue/red to reflect recent reliable research by Craig Brown & friends at Threads of Our Game. Two cards had been previously released featuring a black uniform.

Auction History

Phenomenal Smith

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

John Francis Smith (1864-1952). Despite his name, Smith never had a winning season in the major leagues, going 54-74 for 6 different teams over 8 seasons. Smith earned his nickname after striking out 16 batters in a minor league game. Before one game, Smith bragged he was so good that he did not need his teammates; they proceeded to commit 14 errors & Smith lost the game 18-5. The players were fined $500 and Smith was released.

  • Discovered Christy Mathewson
  • Won a minor league batting title
  • Smith's uniform color on this card was changed in March, 2017 from black to blue & red to reflect recent reliable research by Craig Brown & friends at Threads of Our Game. Nine cards had been previously released featuring a black uniform.

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