July 4, 1895–On this day, Reds pitcher Frank Foreman sets one Reds record for pitchers by hitting two home runs in a game while tying another Reds record by allowing six home runs in a game in a 9-5 loss to the Chicago Colts. This happened in the second game of a doubleheader which was swept by the Colts who won the first game, 8-7. The losses left the Reds tied for seventh place in a league of 12 teams, four games behind the league leading Pittsburgh Pirates. Four games separated the top eight teams in the league through July 4th.
According to “Redleg Journal” (by Greg Rhodes and John Snyder):
“Reds pitcher Frank Foreman enters the club record book twice in front of an overflow holiday crowd in Chicago in the second game of a double header….The outfield playing area was shortened by some 100 feet to accomodate the crowd, and the umpire ruled that any ball hit into the crowd was a home run. Foreman hit two home runs (a club record pitchers that was tied by Bucky Walters in 1945), but allowed six (tying the club record set by Tom Parrott in 1894) in the 9-5 loss….There were ten homers hit in all.”
There’s a lot happening here, with several odd connections between players, not to mention some wonderful nicknames.
First, as odd as it may sound today, it wasn’t odd at all for “fans” (or cranks as they were called at the time) to be stationed in the outfield. In fact, horse carriages were often parked out there, too, to keep them safe from all the passersby outside the ballpark. Second, often there wasn’t a grandstand; just a rope separating the playing field from the spectators. If the ball was to roll into the crowd, or under the carriages, the ball was often in play and the fielder would have to fight his way to retrieve the ball, or a friendly fan may even hand him the ball if lost in the crowd. There weren’t ever many home runs hit in a season. There were ten “hit” in this one game between the two teams. For the season (130 games), the Reds hit 36 while giving up 39, for a total of 75 home runs, or about one home run total every other game collectively between the two opponents.
There must have been some kind of crowd on this day to shorten the playing field by 100 feet. The two home runs were the only ones for Foreman in 1895. Foreman, nicknamed “Monkey” was not a bad hitting pitcher; in fact, in 1895, he batted .309 with an OPS of .797, but these were his only homers of the year. For his career, Foreman hit .224 with nine home runs. He was an average pitcher for his career (ERA+ of exactly 100) and finished his career with a 96-93 record and a 3.97 ERA. For the Reds in 1895, he was 11-14 with a 4.11 ERA, which equates to an ERA+ of 121. He played with the Reds in 1895-96 and 1896 may have been his best season when he went 14-7 with a 3.97 ERA. He also pitched for the Reds in their first National League season, going 13-10 with a 3.95 ERA in 1890. Not being afraid to throw inside, he led the American Association in hit batsmen with 40 while pitching for the 1889 Baltimore Orioles where he finished the season 23-21 with a 3.52 ERA.
In fact, the 1895 Reds pitchers were an outstanding hitting group. David Nemec’s “The Great Encyclopedia of 19th-Century Major League Baseball” points out that the pitchers’ offensive production would have ranked second on the team in almost every department. In 573 at bats, they batted .297 with six homers, 98 rbi, 94 runs scored, 29 doubles, 15 triples, and a .426 slugging percentage. The team, as a whole, batted .298 with a .416 slugging percentage, and each lineup spot averaged four homers, 85 rbi, 100 runs scored, 26 doubles, and 12 triples. His best hitting pitcher was Parrott, who batted .343 with three homers, 41 rbi, .377 OBP, a .522 SLP and an OPS of .900. The Reds pitchers did normally bat ninth in the order as the established practice of the day.
Surprisingly, Reds manager, Hall of Famer Buck Ewing, never used Parrott as a pinch hitter. In fact, he only used one pinch hitter all year (per Nemec’s book). Parrott did play first base in 14 games. Tom Parrott (nicknamed “Tacky Tom”) may have been a better hitter than pitcher. Nemec’s book says that Parrott has the seventh worst ERA of all time for pitchers with more than 600 innings pitched. In 795 innings, Parrott was 39-48 with a 5.33 ERA. In fairness, the ERA+ is a 96, which is only slightly worse than average. He was pitching in one of the greatest hitting eras of all time. Most of this time was spent with the Reds, as his Reds career record is was 38-44. After the Reds traded him to the St. Louis Browns, the Browns used him as an outfielder in 1896 where he batted .291 (OPS of 721) while pitching only 7 games.
Comparing Tacky Tom and Monkey to Bucky Walters (nicknamed “Bucky,” given name William Henry) as pitchers is something like night and day as Walters is one of the greatest Reds pitchers ever, having been the National League’s MVP in 1939 when he went 27-11 with a 2.29 ERA. Walters was a great hitting pitcher (lifetime .243 with 23 career home runs) but he first made the majors as third baseman and switched to pitching at age 26.
Managing the 1895 Reds was the greatest catcher the 19th Century, Buck Ewing (given name “William”) who played first base as player-manager of the Reds. Ewing had once set a league record with 10 home runs and had a lifetime batting average of .303 with 71 homers during a time when catchers typically batted under .200 with no homers. Catchers did not wear protective gear and Ewing is credited with being the pioneer of moving closer to the plate and crouching in a defensive position. His arm was strong enough to control the running game and throw from the crouch. Some historians credit him with him as being the greatest catcher of all time. However, when he joined the Reds as player-manager, he played as a first baseman from ages 35-37. From baseball-reference.com:
“I have never seen anyone throw like him since I have been in baseball.” – Tom Loftus, 1889, Cleveland manager
“In his prime the greatest player of the game from the standpoint of supreme excellence in all departments: batting, catching, fielding, base running, throwing and baseball brains. A player without a weakness of any kind.” – Reach Guide, 1919
Dummy Hoy (given name “William Ellsworth”) played centerfield for the Reds from 1894-97 and 1902. Dummy was a deaf mute who had lost his hearing and ability to speak due to meningitis as a child, but was an excellent baseball player. Hoy played 14 major league seasons covering 1797 games and batted a career .288 with 40 homers, 725 rbi, 1429 runs scored, and 596 stolen bases. Hoy was 5’6″ in height and drew a career total of 1006 walks, leading to a lifetime OBP of .386 (career OPS+ of 110). Hoy played in four different major leagues (National League, American Association, American League, and Players League) and was the first player to hit a grand slam in the American League. It’s sometimes mentioned that he’s the reason that umpires give hand signals on ball/strike calls, but “Redleg Journal” reports that he usually got those from his teammates. It is thought that he may be the reason that outfielders wave their hands on flyballs since he was the centerfielder for his teams.
Also on the 1895 Reds was the guy known as “The Freshest Man on Earth”, Arlie Latham (given name Walter Arlington). Latham was a major leaguer for 17 years, playing 1573 games at third base and was a Red for six seasons (1890-95). He batted a career .269 with at least 742 career stolen bases (four seasons do not have totals). Arlie is known for his ability to talk, talk, and talk some more. He began coaching third base before there were third base coaches. According to “Redleg Journal”:
“…Latham had one additional weapon: his mouth. In the 1880’s, while playing for St. Louis, Latham frequently took up a coaching position along third base, and with great enthusiasm, rallied his own teammates, harangued the opposition, baited the umpires and jawed with the fans. The use of a base coach was not yet part of the game, and Latham quickly became an attraction. Spectators came to enjoy the Arlie “show” as much as the game. His antics inspired a song, “The Freshest Man on Earth,” and he performed on Broadway.”
The league eventually stopped Latham or at least slowed him down. The coach’s box was created to keep coaches from wandering around the field and disrupting the game.
Latham was known for something else, not quite so entertaining, especially to his teammates. Latham holds the major league record of 822 errors by a third baseman. According to “The Ballclubs” by Donald Dewey and Nicholas Acocella, Latham was
“a third baseman who grew so progressively lazy at going after grounders that, well into the twentieth century, ‘doing a Latham’ was big league parlance for waving futilely at a passing groundball.”
For all these guys, the best players on the team haven’t even been mentioned. Second baseman Bid McPhee (given name John Alexander) is a Hall of Famer and probably the best second baseman of the 19th Century. He’s definitely the best second baseman to not wear fielder’s gloves. He started wearing a glove in 1896, but played in the majors from 1882 through 1899. McPhee’s feelings about modern technology and the fielder’s glove?
“The glove business has gone a little too far. True, hot-hit balls do sting a little at the opening of the season, but after you get used to it, there is no trouble on that score.” Bid McPhee, on playing barehanded.
Rightfielder Dusty Miller (given name Charles Bradley) was the Reds’ best hitter in 1895. Miller batted .335 with 10 homers, 112 rbi, 31 doubles, and 16 triples with a .510 slugging percentage. He played five seasons for the Reds. Pitcher Frank Dwyer (given name John Francis) was 18-15 with a 4.24 ERA. Dwyer played 12 major league seasons, eight with the Reds. Twice a Reds 20-game winner, his best season was 1896 (24-11, 3.15 ERA, 147 ERA+). Dwyer also pitched for a relatively unknown Cincinnati major league team, Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers, an 1891 American Association team that was introduced after the original Reds jumped from the AA to the National League. The team was named for Hall of Famer and former Red, King Kelly (given name Michael Joseph). That team went 43-57 in it’s only year of existence.
Shortstop Germany Smith (given name George J.) was an outstanding fielder who played 15 major league seasons, six with the Reds. One of the team’s best hitters, Bug Holliday (given name James Wear) missed most of the season due to appendectomy. He played 10 major league seasons with a lifetime batting average of .312.
Catcher Farmer Vaughn (given name Henry Francis) was nearing the end of his career, but still had a very good 1895, batting .305 with 48 rbi. Vaughn also played with Kelly’s Killers.
The Reds for 1895 finished with a 66-64 record, which was 8th of 12 teams in the league. Ewing’s teams improved to third and fourth over the next four seasons before the team started to falter. The 1895 and 1896 position players’ ages were 30.4, which qualifies them as two of the oldest five in Reds big league history and the team players faded quickly at this point. The team’s aging may have been masked by the change in baseball rules at the time. 1893 was the season that the pitching rubber was changed to 60’6″ rather than a pitcher’s box set at 50 feet and offense exploded. Typical aging patterns, though not quantified as well as today, could still be detected, but the Reds didn’t keep up. While Reds offensive runs increased from 766-759-936-903, runs allowed increased at a much faster rate: 731-814-1108-854. Manager Ewing improved the pitching staff following 1894, but the offense was still aging and the Reds began falling behind by the turn of the century and it would take raiding the new American League of some players to re-establish the team from Cincinnati.