Although best known as the betrayed manager of the infamous 1919 Black Sox, Kid Gleason began and ended his baseball career in Philadelphia, first as a pitcher for the Phillies and later as a coach for Connie Mack’s A’s.
William J. Gleason, Jr. was born on October 26, 1866 in Camden, N.J., although at least one biographer claims that he was born in south Philadelphia and that his family would move across the Delaware River to Camden while a toddler. Gleason’s father, William, Sr. worked as a foreman for the Pennsylvania Railroad, working out of the Market Street Ferry Terminal. Growing up, Gleason would play baseball, being nicknamed the ‘Kid’ because of both his short stature and his energetic, youthful play, while also working as a brakeman for the railroad, continuing to perform that duty during the off-season for a short time after becoming a professional ballplayer. After playing for local Camden ballclubs, including the Camden Merrit club in 1885, he would play for a team in Williamsport, PA., in 1887 and then play for a team in Scranton, PA., later that same year. The following year, he would play his first professional ballgame as a member of Harry Wright’s Philadelphia Phillies, making his major league debut on April 20, debuting as the team’s opening day pitcher. Pitching against the Boston Beaneaters (now the Atlanta Braves), the team would lose 4-3.
Playing in twenty-five games during that first season with the Phillies, all but one of which would be as a pitcher, Gleason would start in twenty-three games and finished the other one. His record for the year would be 7-16 with a 2.84 ERA, as he would pitch in 199.7 innings, giving up 199 hits, 11 of which would be home runs, leading the team in that category that year, allow 112 runs to score, 63 of which would be earned, as he would also walk 53 batters, strike out 89, hit 12 batters, leading the team in that category, and throw 11 wild pitches. The following year, 1889, Gleason would play in thirty games, pitching in twenty-nine of them. He would start in twenty-one games, completing fifteen, and finishing seven other games, being the team’s leader in that category. His record for the season would be 9-15 with an ERA of 5.58, as he would pitch in 205 innings, giving up 242 hits, including 8 home runs, while allowing 177 runners to score, with 127 of them being earned. He would also walk 97 batters while striking out 64, hit 9 batters, once again leading the team’s pitching staff and throw 14 wild pitches. Gleason would also save one game, putting him in a tie for the team’s lead with Ben Sanders.
1890 would be the Kid’s breakout year as a pitcher as he would become the team’s ace thanks to that year’s Players’ League revolt. He would start the year off as the team’s opening day pitcher, facing future Hall of Famer Amos Rusie of the New York (now San Francisco) Giants on April 19, leading the Phils to a 4-0 victory over the previous season’s National League champ. Appearing in sixty-three games that season, he would play sixty games as a pitcher and two as a second baseman. Gleason would start in fifty-five games, completing all but one, while finishing the other five, placing him third in the NL in all three categories. His record for the season would be 38-17 for a .691 winning percentage, leading the team in wins (while setting the team’s record for wins in a season, which still stands) and winning percentage and placing him second behind Bill Hutchinson of the Chicago Colts in wins and second behind Tom Lovett of the Brooklyn Bridegrooms in winning percenatge, with an ERA of 2.63, leading the team and placing him fifth in the league. He would perform six shut outs, placing him second behind Kid Nichols of the Beaneaters. Gleason would also have two saves, tying him for first place in the NL with Dave Foutz of the Bridegrooms and Hutchinson of the Colts. He would pitch in 506 innings (3), giving up 479 hits (3), of which 8 would be for home runs. Gleason would also give up 253 runs, of which 148 were earned (4), walk 167 batters (5), strike out 222 (3T), perform one balk and throw 11 wild pitches. The following season, 1891, he would once again be the Phils’ opening day pitcher, pitching against the Bridegrooms on April 22, as the Phils would lose the game, 1-0. The Kid would have another winning season, but just barely, as his record drops to 24-22 with an ERA of 3.51, although leading the team in wins and ERA, and, sadly, also losses. In sixty-five games, fifty-three of which would be as a pitcher, Gleason would start in forty-four, completing forty games and finishing nine others, leading the team in all four categories, as well as leading the NL in games finished. He would have one shutout, tying him for the team’s lead with Duke Esper and John Thornton and one save. Gleason would pitch in 418 innings, giving up 431 hits, 10 of which would be for home runs, while also giving up 237 runs, 148 of which would be earned, leading the team in innings pitched, hits allowed, home runs allowed and earned runs allowed. He would also walk 165 batters while striking out only 100, and throw 17 wild pitches, leading the team in both walks and wild pitches. This would be his last season as a Phillie as at some point between the 1891 and the 1892 seasons the Phils would either let him go or trade him to the St. Louis Browns (now the Cardinals) one of the four teams picked up by the National League following the folding of the then second Major League, the American Association.
Among Phillies’ leader, Gleason is presently still 16th in wins (78), 21st in losses (70), 22nd in ERA (3.29), 58th in games pitched (166), tied for 27th in games started (143), 11th in complete games (132), tied for 37th in shut outs (7), tied for 89th in saves (4), 17th in innings pitched (1328.2), 18th in hits allowed (1351), 12th in runs allowed (779), 23rd in earned runs allowed (501), tied for 89th in home runs allowed (37), 9th in walks (482), 34th in strike outs (475), tied for 12th in hit batters (49), 9th in wild pitches (53) and 176th in winning percentage (.527). But, this would not be the last time that Phillies fans would see Gleason as a Phil, but we are presently getting ahead of ourselves.
Gleason would spend two plus seasons with the St. Louis Browns. He would begin the 1892 season as their opening day pitcher, going against the Chicago Colts on April 12, that would end up as a 14-10 lost for the Browns. Gleason would play in sixty-six games, forty-seven of them as a pitcher, of which forty-five would be starts, completing all but two. The rest he would play as either a shortstop or in the outfield. Gleason’s record that season would be 20-24, including two shut outs, with an ERA of 3.33. He would pitch 300 innings that year, giving up 389 hits, 11 of which would be for home runs (7), allow 244 runs to score, of which 148 would be earned (9). Gleason would also walk 151 batters, while striking out 133 and throw 9 wild pitches. He would lead the Browns in all pitching categories mentioned, except for ERA and runs allowed. The following year, 1893, would see him play in fifty-nine games, of which he would pitch in forty-eight games (6T), starting forty-five games (4), completing thirty-seven of them (8), while finishing three, pitching one shut out and saving one game (6T). In 380 and a third innings (7), he would give up 436 hits (5), of which 18 would be for home runs (2), while allowing 276 runs to score, of which 195 were earned, the lead leader in that category. He would also walk 187 batters (3), while striking out 86 and throwing 16 wild pitches (5). He would lead the Browns in wins, games started, home runs allowed, walks, hits allowed, earned runs allowed and wild pitches, while being tied for the lead in games pitched, saves and shut outs.
The 1894 season would see him play for two teams. He would begin the year playing for the Browns, with a record of 2-6 and an ERA of 6.05 in eight games pitched, all starts, with six complete games. Overall, he would play just 9 games with the Browns, playing his other game as a first baseman. He would pitch in only 58 innings, giving up just 75 hits, only two of which would be for home runs, as he would give up 50 runs, only 39 of which would be earned, while walking just 21 batters, striking out 9 and throwing just one wild pitch. On June 23, 1894, the Browns would sell him to the Baltimore Orioles for $2400. Kid would become sort of rejuvenated upon joining the Orioles, as he would end the season with a 15-5 record with a 4.45 ERA, as he would pitch in twenty-one games, playing twenty-six games overall, as he would start twenty games, completing all but one, and finishing one other game. Pitching in 172 innings, he would give up 224 hits, only three of which would be for home runs, allow 111 runs to cross the plate, of which only 85 would be earned. He would also walk 44 batters, while striking out 35 and throwing only three wild pitches, as he would help lead the Orioles to the first of two straight pennants (1894-1895) as a member of their ball club. This would turn out to be his last major year as a pitcher, as the National League, now the only major league in existance, would move the pitcher’s mound to its modern distance of 60′ 6″ from home plate, ending his effectiveness as a pitcher. He would appear in just nine more games as a pitcher in 1895, starting in five, completing three games, and finishing the other four, recording one save, as he would record a 2-4 record with an ERA of 6.97. Gleason would pitch in 50 and a third innings, giving up 77 hits, four of which would be home runs, as he would allow 51 runs to score, of which 39 would be earned. He would also walk 21 batters while striking out 6 and throw one wild pitch.
In nine season as a pitcher, Gleason would compile a record of 138-131 for the Phillies, the Browns and the Orioles for a winning percentage of .513, with a 3.79 ERA. He would pitch in 299 games, starting 266 games and finishing 30 others. Gleason would complete 240 games, while throwing 10 shut outs and saving six. The Kid would pitch in 2389.3 innings, giving up 2552 hits, of which 75 would be home runs, while allowing 1511 runs to score, of which 1007 would be earned. He would also walk 906 batters, strike out 744, hit 21 batters, throw 83 wild pitches and commit one balk.
During the 1895 season, Orioles’ manager, future Hall of Famer Ned Hanlon, would turn Gleason into an everyday player, mainly playing at second base. During that first season as a regular, Gleason would blossom as a player, hitting .309, with a slugging percentage of .399 and an on-base percentage of .366, as he would go 130 for 421 in 112 games. He would knock in 74 runs while scoring 90, as he would collect 14 doubles and 12 triples, while walking 33 times as he would strike out only 18 times. He would also steal 19 bases, as he would help lead the Orioles to their second straight NL pennant. On November 15, the Orioles would send Gleason and $3500 to the Giants, in exchange for catcher Jack Doyle.
I will continue the story on Kid Gleason next week, starting with his years playing for the New York Giants.
Sources: Wikipedia, Baseball-reference.com, Retrosheet.org, Delaware Valley Rhythm and Blues Society, Inc.com-Camden Sports Hall of Fame, The Baseball Page.com, Phillies.com
As 1888 dawns, Harry Wright was starting his fifth year as the Phillies’ manager, leading a team that hoped to use their momentum from the previous season where they went 17-0-1 in their last 18 games, lead by their pitcher-second baseman Charlie Ferguson, to finally win the organization’s first pennant.
The 1888 National League would contain no changes among its membership. The Phillies’ opponents for the season would still be the Beaneaters, the Giants and the Nationals in the east and the Alleghenys, the Wolverines, the Hoosiers and the White Stockings in the west. The Phillies would continue to play their home games in the Philadelphia Base Ball Grounds.
But, before the season would officially start, the Phillies’ pennant chances would be struck a major blow, as their star player, Charlie Ferguson, would be struck down by tyhoid fever in spring training, and would die in late April, after the start of the 1888 season. The Phillies would spend the rest of the season wearing a black crepe upon their left shoulders in honor of their fallen comrade, as would their east coast opponents, the Giants, the Nationals and the Beaneaters. Ferguson’s place on the team would eventually be taken by future Hall of Famer, Ed Delahanty, who would be the oldest of five brothers who would all play the game professionally by the end of the 19th Century.
(For more information on Charlie Ferguson, go here: Philadelphia Phillies – The Players: Charlie Ferguson, the Phillies’ unknown first star.)
The Phillies, without Ferguson, would begin the 1888 season on April 20 at home with a four-games series against the Beaneaters, which would see the Phils being swept by Boston by scores of 4-3, 9-3, 3-1 and 7-1, with the Phils’ opening day pitcher being rookie pitcher Kid Gleason, who would later be the manager of the infamous 1919 Chicago White Sox. The Phils would then go to New York for four games with the Giants. After winning the first game 5-3, they would lose the next three, ending their short road trip, 1-3. They would then come back home for another short four-games series, this time with the Nationals, for the last day of April and the beginning of May. The Phillies would begin the series by winning the first game by the score of 3-1, ending April with a record of 2-7.
The Phils would begin May by continuing their short home stand with the Nationals. They would win the next two games, giving them a three games winning streak, before losing the final game in the home stand, giving them a 3-1 series win. The Phillies would then go west for a ten-games western road trip, playing against the Alleghenys for two games, the Wolverines for three, the Hoosiers for one and then their main western rival, the White Stockings, for four games, before going on to Boston for three more games for a thirteen-game road trip. Their two games series with their cross-state rival would end up being a two-games series win. The Phils would then move on to Detroit, where they would win the first game with the Wolverines, before losing the next two games, losing the series 1-2. They would then go into Indianapolis, losing the only game in that short series, before going on to Chicago, where they would lose the first game in their four-games series. The Phillies would then win the next two games, including the May 22 game which would feature the major league debut of Ferguson’s replacement, Ed Delahanty, thus breaking their four games losing streak, before losing the away game in their series, splitting their series with the White Stockings, 2-2. The Phils would then go to Boston, where they would sweep the three-games series from the Beaneaters, ending their road trip with a record of 8-5. The Phillies would then go home for a fifteen-games home stand for the last day of May and most of June, against the Wolverines (3), the White Stockings (4), the Alleghenys (4) and the Hoosiers (4). The Phillies would begin the home stand by playing a doubleheader with the Wolverines, which they would split, losing the opener by the score of 6-2 and then winning the ‘nightcap’ by the score of 5-4, thus ending May with a winning record of 11-7 and an overall win-lost record of 13-14.
The Phillies would then lose the final game of their series with the Wolverines, winning the series, 2-1. They would win the first game of their four-games series with the White Stockings, before being swept by them for three straight games, losing the series, 1-3. They would then win the next six games, sweeping their series with the Alleghenys, then winning the first two games with the Hoosiers, before splitting the final two games in the series, winning the series, 3-1, and the home stand, 10-5. The Phillies would then go to Washington for a four-games road trip, which they would lose to the Nationals, 1-3. They would then come back home for a two teams, seven-games, home stand with the Giants (4) and the Beaneaters (3) for the last days of June and the first day of July. The Phils would split their four-games series with the Giants, before winning the first two games of their series with Boston, ending the month with a winning record of 13-10, and an overall record of 26-24.
The Phillies would start July off by winning the final game of their series with Boston, sweeping the Beaneaters, and winning the home stand, 5-2. The Phils would then go on another western road trip, this time for twelve-games, for four three-games series with the White Stockings, the Hoosiers, the Wolverines and the Alleghenys, until the middle of the month. They would start the road trip off with a July 4 doubleheader with the White Stockings, losing the first game by the score of 10-8, ending their four-games winning streak, then winning the second game by the score of 6-5. They would then lose the away game, thus losing the series, 1-2. They would then go to Indianapolis to face the Hoosiers, losing that series, 1-2. They next went to Detroit, where they would end up being swept by the Wolverines, before going on to Pittsburgh, where they would sweep the Alleghenys, thus end the road trip with a record of 5-7. They would then return to Philadelphia for a six-games home stand of two three-games series with the Giants and the Nationals. After defeating the Giants in the opening game of their series, the Phillies would be defeated in the next five games, losing two in a row to the Giants and then being swept by the Nationals, ending the home stand with a 1-5 record. The Phillies would then go on an east coast road trip to face the Giants (3), the Beaneaters (3) and the Nationals (3), for the end of July and the beginning of August. The Phillies would start off the road trip by being swept by the Giants, with their losing streak going up to eight games, before finally ending the month by defeating the Beaneaters for the first two games of their series, thus snapping their losing streak, while ending the month with a losing record of 9-15 and an overall win-lost record of 35-39.
The Phillies would begin August by winning the final games of their series with the Beaneaters, thus sweeping the series. They would then go on to Washington, where they would lose the first game of the series, then win the next two games, winning the series, 2-1 and ending the road trip with a 5-4 record. They would then go back to Philadelphia for a sixteen-games home stand, which would include a two-games series with the White Stockings, three straight three-games series with the Wolverines, the Hoosiers and the Alleghenys, a two-games series with Boston and a three-games series with the Giants. The Phils would begin the home stand by splitting their series with the White Stockings, before sweeping their series with the Wolverines and the Hoosiers. The Phillies would then lose their series with the Alleghenys, 1-2, before being swept by the Beaneaters in their short two-games series. They then ended the home stand by losing their series with the Giants, after winning the first games in the series, 1-2, thus ending the home stand with a 9-7 record. The Phillies would then end the month by playing four of their next five games with the Nationals, two games in Washington and three more in Philadelphia. The Phillies would start things off by winning the two-games series in Washington, then winning the first game played in Philadelphia before having their three-games winning streak snapped by losing the final game to be played that month, thus ending the month of August with a 15-9 record and having a win-lost record of 50-48.
The Phillies would start off September by ending their road-home series with Washington, beating the Nationals, winning the series, 4-1. They would then go onto the road for twenty-one games for most of the month, facing the Giants (3), the Alleghenys (4), the Wolverines (4), the White Stockings (3), the Hoosiers (3) and the Beaneaters (4), They would start off their road trip by playing the Giants to an 0-0 tie, then losing the next two games for an 0-2-1 losing record. The Phillies would then split their series with the Alleghenys, before losing their series with the Wolverines, 1-3. They would then sweep their two three-games series, first with the White Stockings, including the September 18 game where their starter Ben Sanders would miss throwing a perfect game as he would give up a single in the ninth inning to Chicago pitcher Gus Krock in a 6-0 shut out, and then the Hoosiers, before losing their series with Boston, 1-3, ending the long road trip with a record of 10-10-1. The Phillies would then spend the rest of their season at home, facing the Alleghenys for two games in September and two more in October, followed by a three-games series with the Hoosiers, then two two-games series with the Wolverines and the White Stockings. The Phillies would end the month, and start the home stand, by losing the first two-games of their four games series to Pittsburgh, ending the month with an 11-12-1 record and with an overall record of 61-60-1.
The Phillies would then rebound and win their next two games with the Alleghenys, splitting the series. The Phillies would then sweep the Hoosiers, before splitting their series with the Wolverines and then ending the season with a sweep of their main western rivals, the White Stockings, with the last game being won via forfeit. The final home stand would end up a winning record of 8-3 and an overall season record of 69-61-1 for a .531 winning percentage, landing the Phillies back into third place, five and a half games behind second place Chicago and fourteen and a half game behind the league champ, the New York Giants.
The Phillies would play a total of 131 games, with a home-road record of 37-29 at home and 32-32-1 on the road. The Phillies had winning records against all but two of their opponents, with their best record being a 14-6 record against the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, followed by a 13-4 one with the Hoosiers. Their two losing records would be against the league champion Giants (5-14-1) and the Wolverines (7-11). The Phillies were 16-8 in shut outs, 28-16 in 1-run games and 19-17 in blowouts. The Phillies’ home attendence for 1888 would be 151,804 patrons.
The Phillies’ offense would in 1888 be ranked among the bottom of the league, being fourth in doubles (151), fifth in walks (268), sixth in runs scored (535), strikeouts (485), on-base percentage (.269) and slugging percentage (.290), seventh in hits (1021), triples (46), home runs (16), batting average (.225) and stolen bases (246) and eighth in at-bats (4528), as well as having 418 RBIs and having 51 hit batsmen. The Phillies’ pitchers would end the season being number one in saves (3), second in ERA (2.38), shut outs (16), hits allowed (1072), runs allowed (509), home runs allowed (26) and walks (196), fourth in strike outs (519), seventh in complete games (125) and eighth in innings pitched (1167), as well as finishing seven games, giving up 309 earned runs, throwing 50 wild pitches, hitting 25 batters and throwing 2 balks.
Among the team’s batting leaders, Jack Clements would lead the team in batting average, hitting .245. Jim Fogarty would lead the team in on-base percentage (.325), walks (53), strike outs (66) and stolen bases (58). George Wood would lead in slugging percentage (.342) and home runs (6). Sid Farrar would lead in games played (131), total bases (165), doubles (24), triples (7), RBIs (53) extra-base hits (32) and hit by the pitch (13), while being tied with Ed Andrews for the team’s lead in total plate appearances with 552. Andrews would also lead the team in at-bats (528), runs scored (75), hits (126), and singles (105). Among the team’s leader in pitching, Ben Sanders would lead the team in ERA (1.90), win-loss percentage (.655), and shut outs (8), also being tied for first in the league lead in that category with Tim Keefe of the Giants, as well as being tied with George Wood for the team’s lead in games finished with two. Wood would lead the team in saves with 2, also being the league leader in that category. Charlie Buffinton would lead the team in wins with 28, being the team’s only 20-game winner, games pitched and started (46), innings pitched (400.3), strikeouts (199), complete games (43), walks (59), hits allowed (324), wild pitches (15) and batters faced (1586). Rookie Kid Gleason would lead in home runs allowed (11) and hit batters (12). Dan Casey would lead the team in losses with 18 and earned runs allowed with 100.
The Phillies would end the season still among the league’s elite teams while still looking for their first team pennant. Meanwhile, the Giants would face the American Association winner, the St. Louis Browns, in a post-season series, which the Giants would win 6 games to four.
Sources: Wikipedia, Baseball Almanac.com, Baseball-reference.com