Sunday, August 3, 2008

An Early Pud Galvin Sighting

On June 11, 1874, the Empires played a banged up Turner Club at the Grand Avenue Grounds. The Turners were missing three of their regulars due to injury and another player "was so indisposed that he could not play up to his standard..." While the Empires went on to win the game easily by a score of 12-2, the interesting thing was who the Turners had on the mound. The Turners pitcher that day was a young man named James Frances Galvin, who would become better known as Pud Galvin, go on to win 364 games in the big leagues, and enter the Hall of Fame in 1965.

Prior to this, the earliest record I could find of Galvin playing in a game was a May 30, 1875 contest between the Reds and the Empires where he played left field for the Empires. That same year, Galvin was signed by the Brown Stockings as their token St. Louisian and played in eight big league games. Late in the 1875 season, he would join a reorganized Reds club for whom he would play in 1876.

E.H. Tobias, in a letter to The Sporting News on January 18, 1896, names the seventeen year old Galvin as a member of the Turner Club in 1874. There also appears to be an even earlier game in 1874, between the Turners and the White Stockings of Chicago, where it appears that Galvin may have been playing second base for the club. However, the box score is a bit difficult to make out and Tobias makes no mention of Galvin playing in the game.

Edit: Tobias also presents records of games in 1874 and 1875 where Galvin was playing with the Niagara Club. So between 1874 and 1876, Galvin would play with the Turners, the Niagaras, the Empires, the Browns and the Reds. Tobias also casts some doubt on Galvin's status with the Browns. While I've read on more than one occasion that Galvin was signed by the Browns because they thought it best to have at least one player from St. Louis on the team, Tobias notes that Galvin didn't join the Browns until well after the season had started and only because George Bradley was ill and unable to pitch.

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