Tim Keefe

Last updated

Tim Keefe
Timothy Keefe.jpg
Keefe in 1887
Pitcher
Born:(1857-01-01)January 1, 1857
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Died: April 23, 1933(1933-04-23) (aged 76)
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Batted: RightThrew: Right
MLB debut
August 6, 1880, for the Troy Trojans
Last MLB appearance
August 15, 1893, for the Philadelphia Phillies
MLB statistics
Win–loss record 342–225
Earned run average 2.62
Strikeouts 2,562
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svgEmpty Star.svgEmpty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svgEmpty Star.svgEmpty Star.svg
Induction 1964
Election MethodVeterans Committee

Timothy John Keefe (January 1, 1857 – April 23, 1933), nicknamed "Smiling Tim" and "Sir Timothy", was an American Major League Baseball pitcher. He stood 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) tall and weighed 185 pounds (84 kg). He was one of the most dominating pitchers of the 19th century and posted impressive statistics in one category or another for almost every season he pitched. He was the second MLB pitcher to record 300 wins. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1964.

Contents

Keefe's career spanned much of baseball's formative stages. His first season was the last in which pitchers threw from 45 feet, so for most of his career he pitched from 50 feet. His final season was the first season in which pitchers hurled from the modern distance of 60 feet, 6 inches.

Early life

Keefe was born on January 1, 1857, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His father, Patrick, was an Irish immigrant. When Tim Keefe was a child, Patrick served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Patrick was a prisoner of war for several years. [1] All four of Patrick's brothers were killed in the war; Tim had been named after two of them. Tim's brother became a major and fought in the Spanish–American War. [2]

After the war, Patrick had high expectations for his son, and the two frequently fought over Tim's pursuit of baseball. With the help of local former pitcher Tommy Bond, Keefe persisted and became known as a standout local pitcher by 1876. [1] Keefe's early professional career included minor league stints in Lewiston, Clinton, New Bedford, Utica, and Albany. [3]

Major league career

Keefe entered the major leagues in 1880 with the Troy Trojans. He immediately established himself as a talented pitcher, posting an astounding 0.86 ERA in 105 innings pitched, a record that still stands. (He also posted the best Adjusted ERA+ in baseball history in 1880.) Despite the sterling ERA, he managed but a 6–6 record, pitching in 12 games, all complete games.

In 1883, after the Trojans folded, Keefe rose to stardom with the New York Metropolitans of the American Association under manager "Gentleman" Jim Mutrie and had one of the most dominating seasons in baseball's early history. On July 4 of that year, Keefe pitched both ends of a doubleheader against Columbus, winning the first game with a one-hitter; the second a two-hit gem. He went 41–27 over 619 innings pitched with a 2.41 ERA and 361 strikeouts. His 1884 campaign was almost as dominant, winning 37 games, losing 17, and striking out 334.

Tim Keefe Tim keefe.jpg
Tim Keefe

In 1885, John B. Day, who owned the Metropolitans and the New York Giants of the National League, moved Keefe and Mutrie to the Giants. Here, Keefe joined future Hall of Famers Buck Ewing, Monte Ward, Roger Connor, Mickey Welch, and "Orator" Jim O'Rourke to form an outstanding team that finished with a fine 85–27 record. Keefe went 32–13 with a 1.58 ERA and 227 strikeouts. In 1887, Keefe sat out several weeks of the season after he struck a batter in the head with a pitch; he was said to have suffered a nervous breakdown. [4]

He had arguably his greatest season in 1888, when he led the league with a 35–12 record, 1.74 ERA and 335 strikeouts (see Triple Crown). He won 19 consecutive games that season, a record that stood for 24 years. The Giants played the St. Louis Browns of the American Association in a postseason series for the Dauvray Cup, and Keefe added four more wins to his tally. Keefe even designed the famous all-black "funeral" uniforms the Giants wore that season.

Keefe was very well paid for his career, yet he was a leading member of the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players, an early players' union that fought for the welfare of players. He assisted his brother-in-law Monte Ward to form the Players' League for the 1890 season. As a co-organizer of the Players' League, he recognized that he might be financially vulnerable if the league failed to make money. Keefe transferred ownership of his real estate assets to his mother so that they would remain safe from any legal rulings. [5]

Shortly before the Players' League was founded, Keefe had started a sporting goods business in New York with W. H. Becannon, a former employee of baseball owner and sporting goods entrepreneur Albert Spalding. Keefe and Becannon manufactured the Keefe ball, the official baseball of the league. Spalding and the other NL owners fought against the new league, employing legal and financial maneuvers (such as slashing NL ticket prices) that made competition difficult. [6] The Players' League folded after one season. [5]

In the 1891 preseason, Keefe refused a salary offer of $3,000 from New York; he had earned $4,500 in the previous season. Keefe said, "I want to play in New York, but I never will for a $3,000 salary... To tell you the truth, however, I do not think I am wanted in the New York team, and this cutting method is being pursued to keep me out." [7] Keefe ultimately signed with the team for a $3,500 salary. [5]

During the 1891 season, Keefe was released by New York. He was drawing a high salary and was not meeting the expectations of the team's leadership. After his release, Keefe said, "I hate to leave New York, am very fond of it, and would do all in my power for New York, but what am I to do? I have been systematically done by the New York Baseball Club... They would not let me play, and when I did get a chance, I worked under a disadvantage. I feel that I am just as good a player as I ever was." [8]

Keefe moved to the Philadelphia Phillies after his release from the Giants. He retired after the 1893 season with 342 wins (10th all time), a 2.62 ERA, and 2,562 strikeouts. His 2,562 strikeouts were a major league record at the time of his retirement. He was also the first pitcher to achieve three 300-plus strikeout seasons, done during his dominating prime in the 1880s in which he won the most games of the decade with 291. He still holds the record for having wins in the most ballparks, with 47.

Keefe was nicknamed "Sir Timothy" because of his gentlemanly behavior on and off the field. He never drank or smoked. [9]

Later life and legacy

Plaque of Tim Keefe at the Baseball Hall of Fame Tim Keefe plaque.jpg
Plaque of Tim Keefe at the Baseball Hall of Fame

Late in his playing career, Keefe began to coach college baseball and he continued in this capacity after his retirement as a player. Beginning in the spring of 1893, Keefe began to work as a pitching coach for Harvard. [10] Keefe also worked as an umpire for a total of 243 major league games; his most active year was 1895, when he umpired 129 games. He was also involved in real estate. He died in his hometown of Cambridge, Massachusetts, at the age of 76.

Keefe was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1964 after being elected by the Veterans Committee. Six players were inducted that year, and Keefe was one of five who had been voted in by the Veterans Committee. [11]

Career statistics

W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WP HBP
3422252.626005945543925047.24439246814728112202562233*96

See also

Related Research Articles

Walter Johnson American baseball player and manager

Walter Perry Johnson, nicknamed "Barney" and "The Big Train", was an American professional baseball player and manager. He played his entire 21-year baseball career in Major League Baseball as a right-handed pitcher for the Washington Senators from 1907 to 1927. He later served as manager of the Senators from 1929 through 1932 and of the Cleveland Indians from 1933 through 1935.

Steve Carlton American baseball player

Steven Norman Carlton is an American former professional baseball player. He played in Major League Baseball as a left-handed pitcher for six different teams from 1965 to 1988, most notably as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies with whom he won four Cy Young Awards as well as the 1980 World Series. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994.

Warren Spahn American baseball player

Warren Edward Spahn was an American professional baseball player. He played in Major League Baseball as a left-handed pitcher in 1942 and then from 1946 until 1965, most notably for the Boston Braves, who became the Milwaukee Braves after the team moved west before the 1953 season. His baseball career was interrupted by his military service in the United States Army during the Second World War.

Randy Johnson American baseball player

Randall David Johnson, nicknamed "the Big Unit", is an American former professional baseball pitcher who played 22 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB), from 1988 to 2009, for six teams, primarily the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks. His 303 career victories are the fifth-most by a left-hander in MLB history, while his 4,875 strikeouts place him second all time behind Nolan Ryan and first among left-handers. He holds five of the seven highest single-season strikeout totals by a left-hander in modern history. Johnson was a ten-time All-Star, won the Cy Young Award five times, and is one of only two pitchers to win the award in four consecutive seasons (1999–2002). In 1999, he joined Pedro Martínez and Gaylord Perry in the rare feat of winning the award in both the American and National Leagues. He is also one of five pitchers to pitch no-hitters in both leagues. On May 18, 2004, at the age of 40, Johnson became the oldest pitcher in major league history to throw a perfect game; he is one of seven pitchers to have thrown a perfect game and at least one other no-hitter in their careers. He is also one of 18 pitchers in history to record a win against all 30 MLB franchises. On May 8, 2001, Johnson achieved the feat of striking out 20 batters in a game, against the Cincinnati Reds.

Charles Radbourn American baseball player

Charles Gardner Radbourn, nicknamed "Old Hoss", was an American professional baseball pitcher who played 12 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB). He played for Buffalo (1880), Providence (1881–1885), Boston (1886–1889), Boston (1890), and Cincinnati (1891).

Dave Righetti American baseball player and coach

David Allan Righetti is an American professional baseball coach and former player. A left-handed pitcher, Righetti played in Major League Baseball from 1979 through 1995 for the New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays, and Chicago White Sox. He served as the pitching coach for the Giants from 2000 through 2017. His nickname is "Rags".

Amos Rusie American baseball player

Amos Wilson Rusie, nicknamed "The Hoosier Thunderbolt", was an American right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball during the late 19th century. He had a 10-season career in the National League (NL), which consisted of one season with the Indianapolis Hoosiers in 1889, eight with the New York Giants from 1890 to 1898, and one with the Cincinnati Reds in 1901.

Dazzy Vance American baseball player

Charles Arthur "Dazzy" Vance was an American professional baseball player. He played as a pitcher for five different franchises in Major League Baseball (MLB) in a career that spanned twenty years. Known for his impressive fastball, Vance was the only pitcher to lead the National League in strikeouts seven consecutive seasons. Vance was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.

Mickey Welch American baseball player

Michael Francis Welch, nicknamed "Smiling Mickey", was a Major League Baseball pitcher. He stood 5 feet 8 inches (1.73 m) tall and weighed 160 pounds (73 kg). He was the third pitcher to accumulate 300 career victories. Welch was born in Brooklyn, New York, and played 13 seasons in the major leagues, three with the Troy Trojans, and 10 with the New York Gothams/Giants. He was very successful with an effective curveball, a change of pace, and a version of the screwball. During his 13 major league seasons, he posted 20 or more wins nine times, seven in succession.

Jake Peavy American baseball player

Jacob Edward Peavy is an American former professional baseball pitcher. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox, and San Francisco Giants. He batted and threw right-handed.

Tim Hudson American baseball player

Timothy Adam Hudson is an American former professional baseball pitcher of Major League Baseball (MLB). After spending his college years at Chattahoochee Valley Community College and Auburn University, Hudson played in the major leagues for the Oakland Athletics (1999–2004), the Atlanta Braves (2005–13) and the San Francisco Giants (2014–15). With the Giants, he won the 2014 World Series over the Kansas City Royals.

Al Worthington American baseball player

Allan Fulton Worthington, nicknamed "Red", is a former professional baseball pitcher. He played all or part of 14 seasons in Major League Baseball for the Giants, Boston Red Sox (1960), Chicago White Sox (1960), Cincinnati Reds (1963–64) and Minnesota Twins (1965–69). Worthington batted and threw right-handed.

Jack Sanford American baseball player

John Stanley Sanford was an American professional baseball player. He played in Major League Baseball as a right-handed pitcher from 1956 through 1967. Sanford was notable for the meteoric start to his career when, he led the National League with 188 strikeouts as a 28-year-old rookie for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1957. He later became a 20-game-winner and made his only World Series appearance as a member of the San Francisco Giants. He also played for the California Angels and the Kansas City Athletics.

Matt Cain American baseball player

Matthew Thomas Cain, nicknamed The Horse, Big Daddy, and Big Sugar, is an American former professional baseball pitcher who played his entire Major League Baseball (MLB) career for the San Francisco Giants from 2005 to 2017. A three-time World Series champion and a three-time All-Star, he is widely regarded as a central figure of the Giants' success in the 2010s for his pitching and leadership.

Bobby Mathews American baseball player

Robert T. Mathews was an American right-handed professional baseball pitcher who played in the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, the National League of Major League Baseball and the American Association for twenty years beginning in the late 1860s. He is credited as being one of the inventors of the spitball pitch, which was rediscovered or reintroduced to the major leagues after he died. He is also credited with the first legal pitch which broke away from the batter. He is listed at 5 feet 5 inches tall and 140 pounds, which is small for a pro athlete even in his time, when the average height of an American male in the mid-19th century was 5 foot 7.

Tim Lincecum American baseball player

Timothy Leroy Lincecum is an American former professional baseball pitcher. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Angels (2016). A two-time Cy Young Award winner, Lincecum helped the Giants win three World Series championships from 2010 through 2014.

The Providence Grays went 84–28 during the 1884 season to win the National League championship. The team started out with two main pitchers, Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn and Charlie Sweeney. After Sweeney jumped to the Union Association in mid-season, Radbourn pitched most of the Grays' remaining games and led the team to the pennant. Radbourn won 60 games by himself, setting a Major League Baseball record that has never been broken.

Madison Bumgarner American baseball player

Madison Kyle Bumgarner, commonly known by his nickname, "MadBum", is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks of Major League Baseball (MLB). Previously, he pitched for the San Francisco Giants (2009–19). Bumgarner has won three World Series championships and two Silver Slugger Awards. He has also been selected to four National League (NL) All-Star teams and has the most strikeouts in franchise history by a Giants left-handed pitcher.

Robert Roy Garibaldi is a former Major League Baseball relief pitcher who played from 1962 to 1963, and in 1966 and 1969. He batted left-handed, threw right-handed, weighed 210 pounds and was 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m).

Eric Hacker American baseball player

Eric Lynn Hacker is an American professional baseball pitcher who is a free agent. Hacker stands 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m) and weighs 230 pounds (100 kg). He throws right-handed but is a switch hitter. He has also played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Minnesota Twins, and San Francisco Giants. He throws a fastball, a slider, a curveball, and a changeup.

References

  1. 1 2 Fleitz, David (2009). The Irish in Baseball: An Early History. McFarland. p. 34. ISBN   978-0786453047.
  2. Stevens, David (1998). Baseball's Radical for All Seasons: A Biography of John Montgomery Ward. Scarecrow Press. p. 64. ISBN   0810834545.
  3. "Old-Time Star of Big League Taken by Death". The Evening Independent. April 24, 1933. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  4. Purdy, Dennis (2006). The Team by Team Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball. Workman Publishing Company. p. 1014. ISBN   0761139435.
  5. 1 2 3 Bevis, Charlie. "Tim Keefe". Society for American Baseball Research . Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  6. Roer, Mike (2005). Orator O'Rourke: The Life of a Baseball Radical. McFarland. pp. 159–161. ISBN   0786423552.
  7. "He Won't Be Missed". The Morning Herald. March 1, 1891. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  8. ""Tim" Keefe Released" (PDF). The New York Times . July 22, 1891. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  9. Russo, Frank (2014). The Cooperstown Chronicles: Baseball's Colorful Characters, Unusual Lives, and Strange Demises. New York: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 57. ISBN   978-1-4422-3639-4.
  10. "Harvard's Baseball Nine" (PDF). The New York Times . May 15, 1893. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  11. "Grimes and 6 Others Join Baseball's "Hall"". Pittsburgh Press . July 25, 1964. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
Preceded by
Charlie Radbourn
National League Pitching Triple Crown
1888
Succeeded by
John Clarkson