John Kirby, who was born in St. Louis in 1865, was one of the worst pitchers of the 19th century. Over the course of his five year major league career, Kirby appeared in 76 games and posted a career record of 18-50 with an ERA+ of 80. Among 19th century pitchers with at least 45 decisions, Kirby's .265 winning percentage is the seventh worst. He also happened to be a terrible hitter with a career batting average of .105 and a career OPS+ of -20.
In 1886, Kirby and John Healy were the top two pitchers for the Maroons, which says a lot about the fortunes of the Black Diamonds. With an 11-26 record and an ERA+ of 97, Kirby enjoyed his finest season.
On June 14, 1886, the Maroons, with Kirby on the mound, took on the Detroit Wolverines. The Sporting News wrote that "(the) Black Diamonds tried hard to beat (Detroit)...but Kirby's errors were many and costly, and their good playing could not square with his poor work." In the Maroons' 11-6 loss, Kirby walked ten men, had six wild pitches, committed four throwing errors, and gave up nine unearned runs.