Thursday, March 13, 2008

Rowdy Jack O'Connor

There are few professional players in the ranks to-day who have led as active a life and as long a one in the professional field as Jack O'Connor.

He is the man selected by President Robert Lee Hedges to manage the 1910 St. Louis Browns.

O'Connor is a St. Louis boy. He was born up on North Broadway forty-two years ago and learned to play ball on the prairies which were then numerous out there.

It was from these lots that graduated perhaps the greatest baseball catcher that ever lived, Frank Flint of the Chicago White Stockings, and next to Flint in the olden days there were few better receivers than this same O'Connor.

O'Connor first came into prominence as the catcher of the crack Shamrock team-a nine that hailed from North St. Louis and that could beat anything in that neck of the woods.

It included in its ranks such later famous players as Pat and George Tebeau, Sam Smith, Joe Herr, George Sharinghaus, Jack (Dutch) Reinagle and Ed Struve.

O'Connor's first professional engagement away from home was with the St. Joe Club of 1886. That team, managed by Nin Alexander, now of Pana, Ill., in the Western League, went through that entire season with ten men and came within one game of winning the pennant from Denver after they had spent thousands on their team to strengthen it...

O'Connor caught such grand ball for St. Joseph that he had no trouble in 1887 securing a position with Cincinnati. The following year he went to Columbus, of the American Association. In 1890 he played with Denver.

In 1891 he joined Cleveland, where he played until 1899, when with the rest of the Cleveland team, he was removed to St. Louis.

In 1900 he was sold to Pittsburg, where he played until 1902, when he jumped to the New York Americans. There he remained until 1906, when he joined the Browns. He remained in St. Louis until 1909, when he was signed by Little Rock. He played in that city for four months and did good work until he came to St. Louis in August, 1909. He acted as scout for the Browns during August, September and October, 1909.

As far as baseball knowledge goes, O'Connor bears the highest reputation among the best judges of play in the world. Baseball men say that he is without doubt one of the cleverest judges of play that has ever graced the game.

O'Connor has made a deep study of baseball, and few men in the game have a superior knowledge of the sport. He has a knack of doing the unexpected or outguessing his adversary. It was Jack, for instance, who, while catching the Browns, made big John Anderson, then with Washington, throw the ball against the pavilion. Jack pretended to be the Washington first baseman and "Big" John heaved the ball to him. Then Jack sidestepped and let the horsehide roll, while a pair of Brownies scored. This was only one of the tricks that earned for Jack the title of "Brains."

When playing ball in Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Pittsburg, New York and other towns, O'Connor always spent his winters in North St. Louis. Jack is well fixed financially. He owns considerable real estate in the "Goose Hill" district, the scene of his early triumphs as a ball player...

O'Connor learned his baseball under (Patsy) Tebeau. The pair played together with the old Shamrocks, and were afterwards together with Cleveland and St. Louis...

To sum it all up Jack O'Connor is one of the best baseball men in the country...
-From The National Game

The pictures of Jack O'Connor posted above come from The Chicago Daily News collection of photographs at American Memory and were taken in 1906 when O'Connor was playing with the AL Browns.

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