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
With Harry Wright now entering his third year as the Phillies’ manager, and with two 20 games winners in Charlie Ferguson and Ed Daily (although both pitchers were also 20 games losers), the Phillies would be positioned to improve on their third place finish of 1885.
The National League of 1886 would be a very much different league compared to the league at the end of 1885, as two franchises, the Providence Grays and the Buffalo Bisons, would both collapse during the off-season, leaving the league with only six teams for the ’86 season, including the Phillies: the Beaneaters, the Giants, the Wolverines, the White Stockings and the Maroons being the other five. That situation would be corrected by the league early in 1886 by first admitting into the fold the Washington Nationals (aka Senators, the first NL team to play in the Nation’s Capital) in January, and then in February by allowing the Kansas City Cowboys (the first NL team to play beyond the Mississippi River) into the league for a one-year trial. The Phillies would still play their home games at Recreation Park, although a new ballpark, the Philadelphia Base Ball Grounds, later known as Baker Bowl, would be built for them in 1887.
The Phillies’ season would start on April 29, with a three-games series against the new Nationals in Washington. The Phillies would spilt the two games that they would play with the Nationals in April, losing the first game 6-3, then winning the second game on April 30, 12-3, before losing the first game played in May, 9-2, starting May off on a losing note, while going home with a 1-2 record. The Phillies would then play a short four-games home stand, with three games being against the Giants and one game against the Beaneaters. The Phillies would win two of their three games with their rivals from New York, before defeating the Beaneaters, ending their short home stand with a 3-1 record and leaving Philadelphia with an overall record of 4-3, as they would begin a nine-games western road trip against St. Louis, Detroit and Chicago. In St. Louis, after dropping the first game, they would win the next two games with the Maroons, but they would then end the road trip mired in a six games losing streak, being swept first by the Wolverines, than by their nemesis the White Stockings, ending the road trip with a record of 2-7. They would then come home for a fifteen-games home stand for the rest of May and the first days of June, facing the Cowboys for the first time for four games, including a doubleheader on the 29, two games with Chicago, three games with the Maroons, three with the Wolverines and three with the Nationals. The Phillies would begin the home stand by winning three of four games from Kansas City, including a sweep of the twinbill, winning the two games by the scores of 1-0 and 9-3. They would then lose the last game of May to the White Stockings by the score of 4-3, thus ending the month of May with a record of 8-11, with an overall record for the season of 9-12.
The Phillies would then win their first game in June, defeating Chicago 3-0, thus splitting the two games of the series. The Phillies would then proceed to sweep their series with the Maroons, lose their series with the Wolverines, going 1-2, and then sweep their series with the Nationals, ending their fifteen-games home stand with a record of 11-4. The Phillies would then conduct a sixteen-games road trip for the rest of June and the beginning of July, which would see them visit New York City for two, the Beaneaters for three, Detroit for a game, Chicago for three, visit Kansas City for the first time for three games, St. Louis for three, then visit Detroit again for another game, before going back home. The Phils would start the trip off by splitting their two-games series with New York, then sweeping the Beaneaters in Boston. The Phillies would then lose their game in Detroit, then the first two games in Chicago before defeating the White Stockings in the third game of the series, thus ending June with a winning record of 13-6 and an overall season record of 22-18. The Phillies would then begin July with a sweep of their next two series with the Cowboys and the Maroons, including their second doubleheader win of the year, this time over the Maroons on July 5 by the scores of 6-1 and 3-2, before leaving St. Louis with a seven-games winning streak. The streak would be broken in Detroit as they would lose to the Wolverines by the score of 2-0, ending their road trip with an 11-5 record. The Phillies would then return to Philadelphia to face their east coast rivals the Giants and the Beaneaters for a five-games home stand, three games with New York and two with Boston. The Phils would lose the first game of the home stand to New York, before winning the next four games against New York and Boston, ending the home stand with a 4-1 record. They would then conduct a three cities, eight-games, east coast road trip to Washington (3), New York (3) and Boston (2). In Washington, they would increase their winning streak to six games by winning their first two meetings with the Nationals, before losing the final game in the series. They would then go on to New York, where they would lose their first two meetings with the Giants, before winning the going away game. The Phillies would then split their two-games series with the Beaneaters, thus ending their east coast trip with a 4-4 record.
The Phils would then come back home for a twenty-games home stand for the rest of July and the balance of August, facing the Cowboys for three games, the Wolverines for three, St. Louis for three, Chicago for two, the Nationals for three, Boston for three and the Giants for three. The Phillies would start the home stand off by sweeping the Cowboys and then losing the first of three games to Detroit, ending July with a record of 17-7 and with an overall record of 39-25. The Phillies would then begin August on a winning note by sweeping their next two games with the Wolverines. They would then lose their three-games series with the Maroons, 1-2. They would then split their series with the White Stockings before sweeping their series with the Nationals, and then winnings both of their series with the Beaneaters and the Giants, both 2-1, thus ending their twenty-games home stand with a record of 14-6. The Phillies would then go back onto the road for the rest of August and most of September, going to Detroit (3), Chicago (3), Kansas City (4), St. Louis (3), Washington (3), Boston (2) and New York (3) for eighteen games. They would win their series with the Wolverines, winning it by going 2-1, before being swept by the White Stockings, ending August with a record of 13-9 and an overall record of 52-34.
The Phillies would start off September by winning their series in Kansas City, 3-1. They would then lose their series in St. Louis 1-2, thus ending the western half of their road trip with a 6-7 record. They would then start the eastern half of their long road trip by winning the first game of their series with the Nationals, then losing the second game, which would be the debut game of future hall of fame manager Connie Mack, before ending up in a 3-3 tie in the series’ final game. The Phillies would then go on to Boston, where they would split the series, before heading on to New York, where they would end their road trip by losing the series 0-2-1, with the middle game of the series ending up as a 3-3 tie. The Phillies would end the eastern part of their road trip with a 2-4-2 record, ending the entire road trip with a somewhat respectible 10-11-2 record. The Phillies would then come home, where they would end their season with an eighteen-games home stand for the rest of September and October against the Nationals (3), the White Stockings (5), the Maroons (3), the Cowboys (3) and the Wolverines (4). The Phillies would start the home stand off by sweeping the Nationals, before defeating their western nemesis, the White Stockings in four of the five games they would play, with the other game, the third game in the five-games series, ending up as a 3-3 tie. The Phillies would then have their seven-games winning streak snapped by the Maroons in the first games of their three-games series, ending the month of September with a 13-8-3 record and with an overall season record of 65-42-3. The Phillies would then start off the month of October by winning the next two games with St. Louis, winning the series 2-1. They would then win their series with the Cowboys, going 2-0-1, with the final game of the series ending in a 6-6 tie. They would then start off their final series of the season with an 1-1 tie against the Wolverines, before losing the next game, and then ending the season with a two-games winning streak, ending the series with a 2-1-1 record, ending the home stand with a record of 13-1-2, ending October with a 6-1-2 record and ending the season with a combine record of 71-43-5, for a winning percentage of .623, finishing the 1886 season in fourth place, two and a half games behind the third place Giants and fourteen games behind the first place White Stockings.
In 1886, the Phillies would play 119 games, having winning records against all but three of their opponents, with their best record being a record of 14-2-1 against the Cowboys, followed by a record of 13-4-1 with the Nationals and a record of 10-3 against Boston. Their worst records would be against the second place Detroit Wolverines and the league winner Chicago White Stockings, both being records of 7-10-1. During the season, the Phillies would play 18 games apiece against four fellow NL teams (Nationals, Wolverines, White Stockings and Maroons), meet the Cowboys and the Giants for 17 games each and battle the Beaneaters only 13 times. The Phillies record in shut outs would be 10-5, 17-8 in 1-run games and 27-12 in blowouts. The Phillies home record would be 45-14-3, while their road record would be 26-29-2. Home Attendence for 1886 would be 175,623.
The Phillies’ batters would go to bat 4072 times (8th) getting 976 hits (6th) for a team batting average of .240 (5th), a team slugging percentage of .327 (5th) and a team on-base percentage of .289 (5th). The batters would knock in 621 runs (5th) on 424 RBIs, while hitting 145 2Bs (7th), 66 3Bs (4th) and 26 HRs (4th), while receiving 282 walks (3rd) while striking out 516 times (5th). The team would lead the league in stolen bases with 226. The Phillies’ pitchers would lead the league in team ERA with a 2.45 mark, as they would pitch a total of 1045 innings (6th), pitching 110 complete games (1st), while finishing 9 other games, having 10 shut outs (1st) and 2 saves (2nd). The pitchers would give up 498 runs (1st) of which 284 would be earned on 923 hits (1st). They would give up 29 home runs (4th), 264 walks (3rd) and 60 wild pitches, while striking out 540 batters (4th).
Among the team’s batting leaders, Jim Fogarty would lead the team in batting average with a .293 mark, on-base percentage with .385, and 42 walks, while being tied with George Wood for the team lead in slugging percentage with a .407 mark. Wood would also lead the team in at-bats (450), total plate appearances (473), hits (123), total bases (183), triples (15) and strikeouts (75). Sid Farrar would lead the team in games played with 118, as well as in doubles (19) and home runs (5). Ed Andrews would lead in runs scored with 93, singles (88) and stolen bases (56), also being the league leader in that category in 1886. Joe Mulvey would be the team’s RBI leader with 53. Among the pitchers, Charlie Ferguson would lead the team in most pitching categories. He would be the leader in ERA with a 1.98 mark, in wins with 30, becoming the team’s first 30-games winner, win-lost percentage with .769, games pitched with 48, games started with 45, games completed with 43, games saved with 2, while also being the league leader in that category, innings pitched with 395.7, strikeouts with 212, batters faced with 1582 and home runs allowed with 11, while being tied with Dan Casey for the team lead in shut outs with 4. Casey, who would win 24 games that season for the team, would also be the team leader in walks with 104, hits allowed with 326, losses with 18, earned runs allowed with 99 and wild pitches with 25. Ed Daily would lead the team in games finished with 4.
The Phillies, while still in the first division, and having improved on their previous season record, are still looking for their first division title, while watching the American Association’s St. Louis Browns defeat the National League winner, the White Stockings, in a seven-games post season contest, 4 games to 2.
Sources: Wikipedia, Baseball Almanac.com, Baseball-reference.com