Tim Keefe

Timothy John Keefe (January 1, 1857 – April 23, 1933), nicknamed "Smiling Tim" and "Sir Timothy", was an American Major League Baseball pitcher. He stood 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) tall and weighed 185 pounds (84 kg). He was one of the most dominating pitchers of the 19th century and posted impressive statistics in one category or another for almost every season he pitched. He was the second MLB pitcher to record 300 wins. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1964.

Keefe's career spanned much of baseball's formative stages. His first season was the last in which pitchers threw from 45 feet, so for most of his career he pitched from 50 feet. His final season was the first season in which pitchers hurled from the modern distance of 60 feet, 6 inches.

Tim Keefe
Timothy Keefe
Keefe in 1887
Born: January 1, 1857
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Died: April 23, 1933 (aged 76)
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
August 6, 1880, for the Troy Trojans
Last MLB appearance
August 15, 1893, for the Philadelphia Phillies
MLB statistics
Win–loss record342–225
Earned run average2.62
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Election MethodVeteran's Committee

Early life

Keefe was born on January 1, 1857 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His father Patrick was an Irish immigrant. When Tim Keefe was a child, Patrick served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Patrick was a prisoner of war for several years.[1] All four of Patrick's brothers were killed in the war; Tim had been named after two of them. Tim's brother became a major and fought in the Spanish–American War.[2]

After the war, Patrick had high expectations for his son, and the two frequently fought over Tim's pursuit of baseball. With the help of local former pitcher Tommy Bond, Keefe persisted and became known as a standout local pitcher by 1876.[1] Keefe's early professional career included minor league stints in Lewiston, Clinton, New Bedford, Utica, and Albany.[3]

Major league career

Keefe entered the major leagues in 1880 with the Troy Trojans. He immediately established himself as a talented pitcher, posting an astounding 0.86 ERA in 105 innings pitched, a record that still stands. (He also posted the best Adjusted ERA+ in baseball history in 1880.) Despite the sterling ERA, he managed but a 6–6 record, pitching in 12 games, all complete games.

In 1883, after the Trojans folded, Keefe rose to stardom with the New York Metropolitans of the American Association under manager "Gentleman" Jim Mutrie and had one of the most dominating seasons in baseball's early history. On July 4 of that year, Keefe pitched both ends of a doubleheader against Columbus, winning the first game with a one-hitter; the second a two-hit gem. He went 41–27 over 619 innings pitched with a 2.41 ERA and 361 strikeouts. His 1884 campaign was almost as dominant, winning 37 games, losing 17, and striking out 334.

Tim keefe
Tim Keefe

In 1885, John B. Day, who owned the Metropolitans and the New York Giants of the National League, moved Keefe and Mutrie to the Giants. Here, Keefe joined future Hall of Famers Buck Ewing, Monte Ward, Roger Connor, Mickey Welch, and "Orator" Jim O'Rourke to form an outstanding team that finished with a fine 85–27 record. Keefe went 32–13 with a 1.58 ERA and 227 strikeouts. In 1887, Keefe sat out several weeks of the season after he struck a batter in the head with a pitch; he was said to have suffered a nervous breakdown.[4]

He had arguably his greatest season in 1888, when he led the league with a 35–12 record, 1.74 ERA and 335 strikeouts (see Triple Crown). He won 19 consecutive games that season, a record that stood for 24 years. The Giants played the St. Louis Browns of the American Association in a postseason series for the Dauvray Cup, and Keefe added four more wins to his tally. Keefe even designed the famous all-black "funeral" uniforms the Giants wore that season.

Keefe was very well-paid for his career, yet he was a leading member of the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players, an early players' union that fought for the welfare of players. He assisted his brother-in-law Monte Ward to form the Players' League for the 1890 season. As a co-organizer of the Players' League, he recognized that he might be financially vulnerable if the league failed to make money. Keefe transferred ownership of his real estate assets to his mother so that they would remain safe from any legal rulings.[5]

Shortly before the Players' League was founded, Keefe had started a sporting goods business in New York with W. H. Becannon, a former employee of baseball owner and sporting goods entrepreneur Albert Spalding. Keefe and Becannon manufactured the Keefe ball, the official baseball of the league. Spalding and the other NL owners fought against the new league, employing legal and financial maneuvers (such as slashing NL ticket prices) that made competition difficult.[6] The Players' League folded after one season.[5]

In the 1891 preseason, Keefe refused a salary offer of $3,000 from New York; he had earned $4,500 in the previous season. Keefe said, "I want to play in New York, but I never will for a $3,000 salary... To tell you the truth, however, I do not think I am wanted in the New York team, and this cutting method is being pursued to keep me out."[7] Keefe ultimately signed with the team for a $3,500 salary.[5]

During the 1891 season, Keefe was released by New York. He was drawing a high salary and was not meeting the expectations of the team's leadership. After his release, Keefe said, "I hate to leave New York, am very fond of it, and would do all in my power for New York, but what am I to do? I have been systematically done by the New York Baseball Club... They would not let me play, and when I did get a chance, I worked under a disadvantage. I feel that I am just as good a player as I ever was."[8]

Keefe moved to the Philadelphia Phillies after his release from the Giants. He retired after the 1893 season with 342 wins (10th all time), a 2.62 ERA, and 2562 strikeouts. His 2562 strikeouts were a major league record at the time of his retirement. He was also the first pitcher to achieve three 300-plus strikeout seasons, done during his dominating prime in the 1880s in which he won the most games of the decade with 291. He still holds the record for having wins in the most ballparks, with 47.

Keefe was nicknamed "Sir Timothy" because of his gentlemanly behavior on and off the field.

Later life and legacy

Tim Keefe plaque
Plaque of Tim Keefe at the Baseball Hall of Fame

Late in his playing career, Keefe began to coach college baseball and he continued in this capacity after his retirement as a player. Beginning in the spring of 1893, Keefe began to work as a pitching coach for Harvard.[9] Keefe also worked as an umpire for a total of 243 major league games; his most active year was 1895, when he umpired 129 games. He was also involved in real estate. He died in his hometown of Cambridge, Massachusetts, at the age of 76.

Keefe was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1964 after being elected by the Veterans Committee. Six players were inducted that year, and Keefe was one of five who had been voted in by the Veterans Committee.[10]

Career statistics

342 225 2.62 600 594 554 39 2 5047.2 4439 2468 1472 81 1220 2562 233 *96
  • ' * ' denotes stats that were not officially recognized during parts or all of his career, and are incomplete.

See also


  1. ^ a b Fleitz, David (2009). The Irish in Baseball: An Early History. McFarland. p. 34. ISBN 0786453044.
  2. ^ Stevens, David (1998). Baseball's Radical for All Seasons: A Biography of John Montgomery Ward. Scarecrow Press. p. 64. ISBN 0810834545.
  3. ^ "Old-Time Star of Big League Taken by Death". The Evening Independent. April 24, 1933. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  4. ^ Purdy, Dennis (2006). The Team by Team Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball. Workman Publishing Company. p. 1014. ISBN 0761139435.
  5. ^ a b c Bevis, Charlie. "Tim Keefe". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  6. ^ Roer, Mike (2005). Orator O'Rourke: The Life of a Baseball Radical. McFarland. pp. 159–161. ISBN 0786423552.
  7. ^ "He Won't Be Missed". The Morning Herald. March 1, 1891. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  8. ^ ""Tim" Keefe Released" (PDF). The New York Times. July 22, 1891. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  9. ^ "Harvard's Baseball Nine" (PDF). The New York Times. May 15, 1893. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  10. ^ "Grimes and 6 Others Join Baseball's "Hall"". Pittsburgh Press. July 25, 1964. Retrieved September 6, 2013.

External links

Preceded by
Charlie Radbourn
National League Pitching Triple Crown
Succeeded by
John Clarkson
1885 New York Giants season

The 1885 New York Giants season was the franchise's 3rd season. The team finished in second place, 2 games behind the Chicago White Stockings.

1886 New York Giants season

The 1886 New York Giants season was the franchise's 4th season. The team had a record of 75–44, finishing third in the National League, 12.5 games behind the Chicago White Stockings.

1887 New York Giants season

The 1887 New York Giants season was the franchise's 5th season. The team finished in fourth place in the National League with a record of 68–55, 10.5 games behind the Detroit Wolverines.

1888 New York Giants season

The 1888 New York Giants season was the franchise's 6th season.

Claiming six future Hall of Famers (Roger Connor, Mickey Welch, Buck Ewing, Tim Keefe, Jim O'Rourke, and John Montgomery Ward), the team won the National League pennant by nine games and defeated the St. Louis Browns in the "World's Championship."

Keefe led the league in several major statistical categories, including wins, winning percentage, strikeouts, and earned run average.

1888 World Series

The 1888 World Series was an end-of-the-year professional baseball season championship playoff series between the National League champion New York Giants and the old American Association champion St. Louis Browns.

The Giants won, 6 games to 4. Hall of Fame pitcher Tim Keefe went 4–0.

This was the Browns' last appearance in a championship tournament and pre-modern-era World Series, the last of their four consecutive AA pennants. The club would later join the NL in 1892 and be renamed as the St. Louis Cardinals by 1900. It would be 1926 before they would win their next league pennant.

1888 in baseball

The following are the baseball events of the year 1888 throughout the world.

1889 New York Giants season

The 1889 New York Giants season was the franchise's 7th season. The team finished first in the National League with a record of 83–43. They beat the Boston Beneaters by just one game. The Beaneaters won the same number of games as the Giants, but lost two more games, giving the pennant to the Giants. The Giants went on to face the American Association champion Brooklyn Bridegrooms in the 1889 World Series, winning six games to three. The series marked the very first meeting between the Giants and the team that would become the Dodgers, a rivalry that continues to this day.

1892 Philadelphia Phillies season

The 1892 Philadelphia Phillies season was a season in American baseball. The team finished with an overall record of 87–66, fourth-best in the National League. They finished in third place in the first half of the season, and in fifth place in the second half.

1964 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1964 followed the system introduced for even-number years in 1962.

The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voted by mail to select from recent major league players with provision for a second, "runoff" election in case of no winner. The runoff was necessary this year, with Luke Appling the winner.

Meanwhile, the Veterans Committee was meeting annually to consider executives, managers, umpires, and earlier major league players.

It selected six people: Red Faber, Burleigh Grimes, Miller Huggins, Tim Keefe, Heinie Manush, and John Montgomery Ward.

Further, the eligibility of retired players was reduced from having retired thirty years prior to election to twenty.

300 win club

In Major League Baseball, the 300 win club is the group of pitchers who have won 300 or more games. Twenty-four pitchers have reached this milestone. The New York Gothams/Giants/San Francisco Giants are the only franchise to see three players reach the milestone while on their roster: those players are Mickey Welch, Christy Mathewson, and Randy Johnson. Early in the history of professional baseball, many of the rules favored the pitcher over the batter; the distance pitchers threw to home plate was shorter than today, and pitchers were able to use foreign substances to alter the direction of the ball. The first player to win 300 games was Pud Galvin in 1888. Seven pitchers recorded all or the majority of their career wins in the 19th century: Galvin, Cy Young, Kid Nichols, Tim Keefe, John Clarkson, Charley Radbourn, and Mickey Welch. Four more pitchers joined the club in the first quarter of the 20th century: Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, Eddie Plank, and Grover Cleveland Alexander. Young is the all-time leader in wins with 511, a mark that is considered unbreakable. If a modern-day pitcher won 20 games per season for 25 seasons, he would still be 11 games short of Young's mark.

Only three pitchers, Lefty Grove, Warren Spahn, and Early Wynn, joined the 300 win club between 1924 and 1982, which may be explained by a number of factors: the abolition of the spitball, World War II military service, such as Bob Feller's, and the growing importance of the home run in the game. As the home run became commonplace, the physical and mental demands on pitchers dramatically increased, which led to the use of a four-man starting rotation. Between 1982 and 1990, the 300 win club gained six members: Gaylord Perry, Phil Niekro, Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan, Don Sutton and Tom Seaver. These pitchers benefited from the increased use of specialized relief pitchers, an expanded strike zone, and new stadiums, including Shea Stadium, Dodger Stadium and the Astrodome, that were pitcher's parks, which suppressed offensive production. Also, the increasing sophistication of training methods and sports medicine, such as Tommy John surgery, allowed players to maintain a high competitive level for a longer time. Randy Johnson, for example, won more games in his 40s than he did in his 20s.Since 1990, only four pitchers have joined the 300 win club: Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Johnson. Changes in the game in the last decade of the 20th century have made attaining 300 career wins difficult, perhaps more so than during the mid 20th century. The four-man starting rotation has given way to a five-man rotation, which gives starting pitchers fewer chances to pick up wins. No pitcher reached 20 wins in a non strike-shortened year for the first time in 2006; this was repeated in 2009 and 2017.Recording 300 career wins has been seen as a guaranteed admission to the Baseball Hall of Fame. All pitchers with 300 wins have been elected to the Hall of Fame except for Clemens, who received only half of the vote total needed for induction in his first appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2013 and lost votes from that total in 2014. Clemens' future election is seen as uncertain because of his alleged links to use of performance-enhancing drugs. To be eligible for the Hall of Fame, a player must have "been retired five seasons" or deceased for at least six months, Many observers expect the club to gain few, if any, members in the foreseeable future. Ten members of the 300 win club are also members of the 3,000 strikeout club.

Dutch Leonard (left-handed pitcher)

Hubert Benjamin "Dutch" Leonard, (April 16, 1892 – July 11, 1952) was an American left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball who had an 11-year career from 1913 to 1921, and 1924 to 1925. He played for the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers, and holds the major league modern-era record for the lowest single-season ERA of all time — 0.96 in 1914. The all-time record holder is Tim Keefe with a 0.86 ERA in 1880. He is not to be confused with a pitcher of the same name that had pitched in the National League around a decade later.

Jim Mutrie

James J. Mutrie (June 13, 1851 – January 24, 1938) was an American baseball pioneer who was the co-founder and first manager of both the original New York Metropolitans and the New York Giants. His career winning percentage of .611 was a 19th-century record, and remains the second highest by any major league manager with at least 500 wins, trailing only Joe McCarthy's mark of .615.

Mutrie, nicknamed "Smilin' Jeems" and "Truthful Jim", was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, and grew up playing cricket, first playing baseball at age 16. He played in the minor leagues from 1877 to 1879. In 1880 he moved from New England to New York, where he obtained financial backing from August Belmont and John B. Day to start the independent New York Metropolitans. At the end of the 1882 season, Day and Mutrie accepted offers from both the American Association and the National League to enter a New York team; they met their double commitment by entering the Mets in the American Association, and acquiring most of the players from the Troy Trojans to form the New York Gothams for the National League.

Mutrie managed the Metropolitans in 1883 and 1884, leading them to the 1884 World Series the latter year. In 1885, he switched to managing the Gothams, and is credited with giving them their nickname, the Giants. With star players such as Buck Ewing, Tim Keefe and Roger Connor, the Giants won National League pennants and World Series titles under Mutrie in 1888 and 1889. Ewing, Keefe and many other players defected to the Players' League's New York Giants in 1890, and the National League Giants under Mutrie slumped to sixth and then third place. When the Giants were reorganized after the 1891 season under new ownership, Mutrie was not retained as manager.

After leaving baseball, Mutrie operated a hotel in Elmira, New York and a newsstand on Staten Island. He died of cancer on Roosevelt Island in New York City at age 86.

List of Major League Baseball career fielding errors as a pitcher leaders

In baseball statistics, an error is an act, in the judgment of the official scorer, of a fielder misplaying a ball in a manner that allows a batter or baserunner to advance one or more bases or allows an at bat to continue after the batter should have been put out.

In baseball, the pitcher is the player who throws the baseball from the pitcher's mound toward the catcher to begin each play, with the goal of retiring a batter, who attempts to either make contact with the pitched ball or draw a walk. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the pitcher is assigned the number 1. The pitcher is often considered the most important defensive player, and as such is situated at the right end of the defensive spectrum. There are many different types of pitchers, such as the starting pitcher, relief pitcher, middle reliever, lefty specialist, setup man, and closer.

Bobby Mathews is the all-time leader committing 220 career errors as a pitcher. Mathews is the only pitcher to commit more than 200 career errors at the position. Tim Keefe is second all-time with 166 career errors as a pitcher. A total of seventeen pitchers all-time have committed more than 100 career errors at the position.

Mert Hackett

Mortimer Martin "Mert" Hackett (November 11, 1859 – February 22, 1938), was an American Major League Baseball player from Cambridge, Massachusetts, who played mainly as a catcher from 1883 to 1887 for three different teams; the Boston Beaneaters, Kansas City Cowboys, and Indianapolis Hoosiers. His brother, Walter Hackett, and cousins John Clarkson, Walter Clarkson, and Dad Clarkson as well as Tim Keefe and Joe Kelley (all born in Cambridge, Massachusetts) also played in the majors.Hackett died in his hometown of Cambridge at the age of 78, and is interred at St. Paul Cemetery. His brother, Walter, named one of his sons Mortimer Martin Hackett after him.

New York Giants (PL)

In 1890, the short-lived Players' League included a team called the New York Giants. This baseball team was managed by Hall of Famer Buck Ewing, and they finished third with a record of 74-57. Besides Ewing, who was also a catcher on this team, the roster several former members of the National League New York Giants, such as Hall of Famers Roger Connor, Jim O'Rourke, Hank O'Day, and Tim Keefe. The team played its home games at the Polo Grounds.After the season, their owner, Edward Talcott, bought a minority stake in the National League Giants—in effect, merging the two clubs.

Philadelphia Phillies all-time roster (K)

The Philadelphia Phillies are a Major League Baseball team based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball's National League. The team has played officially under two names since beginning play in 1883: the current moniker, as well as the "Quakers", which was used in conjunction with "Phillies" during the team's early history. The team was also known unofficially as the "Blue Jays" during the World War II era. Since the franchise's inception, 2,006 players have made an appearance in a competitive game for the team, whether as an offensive player (batting and baserunning) or a defensive player (fielding, pitching, or both).

Of those 2,006 Phillies, 68 have had surnames beginning with the letter K. Two of those players have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame: pitcher Tim Keefe, who holds the record for the lowest single-season earned run average (ERA) in major league history; and right fielder Chuck Klein, who played 15 seasons for Philadelphia in three separate stints. The Phillies are listed by the Hall of Fame as Klein's primary team. He is one of two members of this list to be elected to the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame—the other being John Kruk— and holds two franchise records (career slugging percentage – .553; career on-base plus slugging – .935). Klein is the only player on this list for whom the Phillies have retired a number; since he began play with Philadelphia before uniform numbers were widely in use and wore a variety of numbers throughout his Phillies career, he is represented by the letter "P" rather than a specific number.Among the 32 batters in this list, Klein has the highest batting average, at .326; other players with an average over .300 include Bill Keister (.320 in one season), Ed Konetchy (.321 in one season), and Kruk (.309 in six seasons). Klein also leads all players on this list with 243 home runs and 983 runs batted in.Of this list's 36 pitchers, two—Jack Kucek and Bob Kuzava—have undefeated win–loss records; each has won one game and lost none. Jim Konstanty, the closer for the Whiz Kids, has 51 victories and 39 defeats, most among this list's pitchers; Keefe's 226 strikeouts lead in that category. Johnny Klippstein compiled this list's lowest earned run average, with a 2.28 average in two seasons with Philadelphia.

Troy Trojans (MLB team)

The Troy Trojans were a Major League Baseball team in the National League for four seasons from 1879 to 1882. Their home games were played at Putnam Grounds (1879) and Haymakers' Grounds (1880–1881) in the upstate New York city of Troy, and at Troy Ball Clubs Grounds (1882) across the Hudson in Watervliet, or "West Troy" as it was known at the time.

Overall, the franchise won 131 games and lost 194. The Trojans, along with the Worcester NL team, were expelled from the league shortly before the end of the 1882 season, as Troy and Worcester were seen as too small for the league's ambitions, but were encouraged to play out the rest of their seasons as lame-duck teams.

On September 28, 1882, only six fans appeared to watch Worcester host the Trojans in the second-to-last game of the season, then only 25 arrived for the last game between the two teams. Among games that have had at least one paying attendee, the attendance figure of six is the lowest attendance ever recorded at a Major League baseball game. In 1883 the New York Gothams, later known as the Giants, took the Trojans' former slot in the National League. Four of the original Gotham players were former members of the disbanded Trojans, including three Hall of Famers: Buck Ewing, Roger Connor and Mickey Welch.

A previous team named the Union Base Ball Club Lansingburgh was organized in 1860, the successor to the Victories of Troy, and was a member of the National Association of Base Ball Players. That team was given the nickname Haymakers by a defeated New York City team.Notable players for the Trojans included Hall of Famers Dan Brouthers, Connor, Ewing, Tim Keefe, and Welch.

Another Troy Trojans minor league team continued play until at least 1916.

Troy Trojans all-time roster

The Troy Trojans were a professional baseball team that played in the National League from 1879 to 1882. During their four seasons in existence, the team had a record of 134-191.

Major League Baseball pitchers who have won the Triple Crown
Inducted as a Giant
Inductees who played
for the Giants
Giants managers
Frick Award
Inducted as a Phillie
Inductees who played for the Phillies
Phillies' managers
Phillies' executives
Frick Award
Spink Award
Veterans Committee
J. G. Taylor Spink Award
First basemen
Second basemen
Third basemen
Designated hitters
Executives /

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