Above: Orioles Hall of Famers: From left to right Willie Keeler, Joe Kelley, John McGraw and Hughie Jennings.
The 1894 Baltimore Orioles are a shadow lost in the dark of the great Baltimore Orioles teams of the 1950's and 1960's. In 1894, all Orioles in the starting lineup hit .300. In their rotation, they had greats such as Sadie McMahon and Kid Gleason. Gleason is otherwise known as the manager of the 1919 Black Sox.
The 1894 O's were managed by Ned Hanlon, who had just a .530 career managerial winning percentage, but .601 with the Baltimore Orioles (946 wins, 555 losses). That year, they had 89 wins and 39 losses.
The Orioles lineup was as follows:
Catcher Wilbert Robinson: Robinson had a great year that year. He hit just one home run, but drove in 98 RBI and a .353 batting average. In a 17 year career, Robinson had 18 home runs, 722 RBI and a .273 batting average. He played for Baltimore until 1899, when he left for St. Louis and played for them for one year. He promptly returned to Baltimore for 1900 and 1901 before retiring.
1st basemen Dan Brouthers: Dan Brouthers is one of the most overrated players in baseball history, in my opinion. He had 106 home runs, 1296 RBI and a .342 batting average, eighth all time. Yet, he gets little credit. Has anyone here heard of Dan Brouthers before reading this? Ironically, 1894 was Brouthers only full season with Baltimore. He made it count, though. For the O's, he had nine home runs, 128 RBI and a .347 batting average. He left the O's midseason in 1895 to play for Brooklyn.
2nd basemen Heinie Reitz: Heinie Reitz was a great fielding second basemen and didn't have a very long career, but 1894 was his best season. He had two home runs, 105 RBI and a .303 batting average. Comically, he had the lowest batting average for any Oriole starter. Reitz only played seven seasons, hit .292 and had 462 RBI along with a whopping total of eleven home runs: Babe Ruth's total in his first season as an outfielder.
Shortstop Hughie Jennings: Hughie Jennings had a great year for Baltimore, with 109 RBI, four homers and a .337 batting average. He was known for getting excited in the dugout and dancing embarrasingly. Just look it up on Google. A career .311 hitter, Jenning was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945. Not bad for an undrafted free agent out of Mansfield University in a tiny town in Pittsburgh.
3rd basemen John McGraw: You might now John McGraw for his managing abilities with the New York Giants. But McGraw was a solid hitter and third basemen for the O's during the 1890's. In 1894, he had 92 RBI and one homer with a .340 batting average. Not many recognize him for his skills as a ballplayer because of his amazing managing. He hit .334 with 13 home runs and 462 RBI.
Left fielder Steve Brodie: Steve Brodie had an amazing year for the O's in 1894. He had 113 RBI, three homers and a phenomenal .366 batting average. In his career, he hit .303 with 25 home runs and 900 RBI in 12 seasons. He played with the Baltimore Orioles in 1894, 1895 and 1896. He then fled Baltimore for Pittsburgh and returned to Baltimore in 1899.
Center fielder Joe Kelley: Joe Kelley is one of the true hidden gems in baseball history. He had 1,194 career RBI, a .317 batting average and a .402 on base percentage. In this Orioles dream lineup, he had six home runs, 111 RBI and a .393 batting average. The most amazing thing in my mind: his K-BB strikeout. He had 107 walks and 36 strikeouts that year and led the O's to an amazing year.
Right fielder Willie Keeler: Willie "Wee Willie" Keeler had the best career of any of these guys. He had a .341 career batting average, was sixty eight hits shy of 3,000 for his career and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1939. In 1894, he had five home runs, 94 RBI and had a .371 batting average. That was in his third year in baseball. He had 33 home runs and 810 career RBI, not as good as Joe Kelley, but he is known as a better player.
While the lineup was amazing, the starting rotation was not as incredible. The lowest ERA for any starting pitcher was an unflattering 3.92. The rotation had some stars, though:
Sadie McMahon: Sadie McMahon had a very nice career, but not a very long one. In 1894, he was 25-8, but had a pretty bad 4.21 earned run average. In his career, he had 173 wins, 127 losses and a 3.51 earned run average. He had trouble with wildness throughout his playing time, though. He had just twenty two more strikeouts than walks (967/945). He allowed just 52 home runs.
Bill Hawke: Bill Hawke played just three seasons in baseball, but 1894 was his best-and last, year. He was 16-9 despite a 5.81 earned run average. He was 32-31 with a 4.98 ERA in his career. He played for the Cardinals and Orioles, each for a season and a half. He, too, had trouble with wildness (234 BB, 193 K).
Kid Gleason: As I stated earlier, Kid Gleason is mostly known for being the manager of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox. He was also a pitcher from 1888 to 1895, until transferring to a hitter. As a pitcher, he was quite good: 138 wins, 131 losses and a 3.79 earned run average. In 1894, he was 17-11, but he as well had a bad ERA, at 4.85. As a hitter, he batted .261 with 823 RBI in a 22 year career.
Bert Inks: Bert Inks stayed with one team for one full season in five years in the majors, he was always jumping around. In his year with the Orioles, he had a record of nine wins and four defeats, but just like all other O's pitchers on the respective staff, he had a very high ERA. His was a pretty bad 5.84.
Duke Esper: Charles "Duke" Esper was by far the best O's pitcher of 1894. He had ten wins and two losses. His ERA was pretty good, at 3.92. In his career, he was a very modest 101-100 with a 4.19 earned run average. However, he struggled with wildness. He walked 75 and struck out just 49 in 217 innings of work.
Despite the struggles of the staff, that's a damn good team.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!