Syracuse Baseball History – Part I

Baseball in Syracuse, New York can be traced back to 1877 when the Syracuse Stars were a part of the League Alliance which was a semi affiliated minor league team. Teams that played as independents would affiliate with major league teams which would honor the minor league contract. This league was in existence for just the 1877 season, although another version was attempted in 1882.

Dick Higham and George Brackett co-managed the Stars in 1877 as part of that League Alliance. They had many players who would go on to play major league baseball. They included Hick Carpenter, Jim Clinton, Mike Dorgan, Jack Farrell, Billy Geer, Al Hall, Dick Higham, Pete Hotaling, Mike Mansell, Alex McKinnon and Syracuse’s own Harry McCormick who would play four years in the major leagues (1879-Syracuse, 1881 Phillies,1882-1883 Cincinnati Red Stockings). McCormick was a pitcher who in 4 seasons had a record of 41 wins 58 losses and a 2.66 ERA, 96 complete games and 10 shutouts. Syracuse would finish with a record of 17 wins 16 losses and finish in fifth place behind the St. Paul Red Caps. A high point to the season was on August 28th when Harry McCormick beat Indianapolis 9-0, throwing a no hitter in the process.

The International Association of Professional Baseball Players was the name for two separate Canadian-American baseball leagues that operated from 1877 to 1880 and 1888 to 1890. It was thought by some to be the first minor leagues although it was conceived as a rival to the National League and was also thought by some to be the sole major league of the area. Mike Dorgan was the manager of this squad and George Adams, Tom Carey, Hick Carpenter, George Derby, Dorgan, Jack Farrell, Frank Heifer, Pete Hotaling, Denny Mack, Jimmy Macullar, Mike Mansell, Hal McClure, Harry McCormick(Syracuse), Alex McKinnon and Tom Smith, all played with Syracuse and all played in the major leagues at some point. The team would finish in second place with a record of 26-10, ½ game behind the Buffalo Bisons. The Stars George Derby led the league with two home runs and his teammate Harry McCormick won 26 games to lead the league.

In 1879 the Syracuse Stars were a major league baseball team that finished 7th in the National League with a record of 22 wins 48 losses for managers Mike Dorgan, Bill Holbert and Jimmy Macullar, 30 games behind the Providence Grays. They would play their home games at Star Park. It was located at Taylor and Salina Streets in Syracuse. Bill Holbert, Hick Carpenter, Jack Farrell, Jimmy Macullar, Red Woodhead, Mike Mansell, Blondie Purcell, John Richmond, Mie Dorgan, George Ceamer, John McGuinness, Jack Allen, Kick Kelly, George Adams, Frank Decker, Charlie Osterhout, Tom Mansell and Harry McCormick were the major leaguers on the roster in 1879.

It was 1885 when the Syracuse Stars were a member of the New York State League and were managed by Henry Ormsbee and John Humphries. The team finished in first place with a record of 52-37, 3 ½ games ahead of the Utica Pent Ups. The players who had or would play in the major leagues on the 1885 Stars roster were; Bob Casey, Dell Darling, Daisy Davis, Bob Emslie, Jay Faatz of Weedsport, Mike Griffin of Utica, John Humphries, Tom Kearns, Fred Lewis, Mac MacArthur, Doc Oberlander and Charlie Osterhout who led the league in runs scored in 1885 with 74 runs. James Devine would league the league with a 0.76 ERA.

The International League was created when the member teams from the Eastern League, the New York State League and the Ontario League merged. Syracuse was a member of this league in 1886 and the Stars at that time were managed by Frank Olin, Henry Ormsbee and Jim Gifford. The players who had or would play in the major leagues and played for Syracuse that 1886 season were: Wally Andrews, Cal Broughton, Dick Buckley, Doug Crothers, Joe Crotty, Jim Devlin, Buttercup Dickerson, Buck Gladmon, Ed Glenn, Bill Harbridge, Charlie Householder, Harry Jacoby, Heinie Kappel, Ed Knouff, Lefty Marr, Bill McCloskey, Doc Oberlander, Frank Olin, John Schappert, Hank Simon, Charlie Sweeney and Phil Tomney. The Stars would finish with a record of 46-47 and in sixth place behind the first place Utica Pent Ups by 14 ½ games.

The Stars team of 1887 was managed by Lawrence Murphy, Joe Simmons and Jim Gifford when they were a member of the International Association. Syracuse would finish with a record of 61-40, in third place, four games behind the Toronto Canucks. Joe Battin, Olli Beard, Dick Buckley, Doug Crothers, Ed Dundon, Jim Gray, Harry Jacoby, Tom Lynch, Lefty Marr, Mox McQuery, Con Murphy, al Schellhase, Hank Simon and George Strief were players who played with Syracuse in 1887 and had careers in the major leagues. Con Murphy would lead the league with a 2.19 ERA.

The manager of the Syracuse Stars of the International Association in 1888 was Charlie Hackett and the following is a list of the players with major league experience who played on the 1888 team. There was Joe Battin, Ollie Beard, Cupid Childs, Ed Dundon, Bones Ely,Frank Gilmore, Bill Higgins, Lefty Marr, Max McQuery, Con Murphy, Al Scellhse, Bill Serad, Mike Sullivan, Fleet Walker and Rasty Wright. Walker was a catcher and an outfielder and the brother of Welday Walker. What is significant about Fleet Walker is he was a black man and thought to be by many people to be one of the first Negro players to play in organized baseball and the Major Leagues. The team would finish in first place with a record of 81 wins 30 losses, 5 ½ games ahead of the Toronto club. Rusty Wright would lead the league in runs with 143, Ollie Brand was the league leader in hits with 174 and Con Murphy would lead the league in both wins with 35 and a 1.27 ERA

In 1889 the Stars of the International League had Joe Battin, Bill Bishop, Grant Briggs, Cupid Childs, Bones Ely, John Keefe, Toby Lyons, Barney McLaughlin, Mox McQuery, Con Murphy, Doc Oberlander, Fleet Walker and Rasty White as the players at one time or another had major league experience. The manager of the team was Jack Chapman. The Stars finished in second place 6 ½ games behind the Detroit Wolverines

In 1890 the Stars would play 54 games at Star Park II from April 28, 1890 to October 4, 1890. They would play only one game at Iron Pier Park in Syracuse on August 3, 1890 and three games at Three Rivers Park in Three Rivers New York between May 18, 1890 and July 20, 1890. The managers of the team were George Frazier and Wally Fessenden. The American Association was considered a major league and the entire roster of players were Grant Brggs, Mox McQuery, Cupid Childs, Barney McLaughlin, Tim O’Rourke, Rasty Wright, Bone Ely, Pat Friel, Hank

Vic Willis

Simon, Tom O’Rourke, Mike Dorgan, Joe Battin, Herman Pitz, Pat Dealy, George Proeser, Ducky Hemp, John Leighton, Dan Burke, John Peltz, Louis Graff, Bill Higgins, Dan Casey, John Keefe, Mike Morrison, Ed mars, Bill Sullivan, Toby Lyons, Charlie McCullough, Ezra Lincoln and Frank Keffer. Their record of 55-72 put them in sixth place 30 ½ games behind the Louisville Colonels.

The Eastern Association was the league that Syracuse played in for the 1891 season. The managers of the team were Henry Ormsbee, George Freeman, George Geer and George Frazier. Players with major league experience included Joe Battin, Doc Bushong, Roscoe Coughin, Jay Faatz, Alex Ferson, Pat Friel, Ed green, Mike Kilroy, John Leighton, Jerry McCormick, Tom McLaughlin, Mike Morrison, George Myers, Tom Quinn, Hank Simon, Will Smalley and Buck West. This team disbanded on August 25, 1891 with a record of 56-42

The 1892 team was known as the Syracuse/Utica Stars and was managed by both Jay Faatz and Sandy Griffin. Bob Barr, Ed Beecher, Roscoe Coughlin, Conny Doyle, Jay Faatz, Henry Fournier, Bill Higgins, Joe Knight, Mike Mansell, George Myers, Tim Shinnick, Mike Sullivan, John Thornton and Chicken Wolf were Stars players who would at some point in their careers play ball in the major leagues. With a record of 24-36 this version of the Stars disbanded on July 22, 1892.

After a one-year hiatus in 1893 the Syracuse Stars returned as members of the Eastern League under managers Jay Faatz and Sandy Griffin in 1894. They would end the season with a record of 63 wins 56 losses placing them 18 ½ games behind the Providence Grays.The players with major league experience were George Bausewine, Will Calihan, Monte Cross, Bill Eagan, Jay Faatz, Sandy Griffin, Tom Hess, Mike Hickey, Buster Hoover, Matt Kilroy, Frank McPartlin, Dan Minnehan, Harley Payne, Tom Power, Jack Rafter, Hank Simon, Aleck Smith, Curt Welch and Tug Wilson.

For the 1895 season the players who would end up with some major league experience for their careers were; Bill Day, Bill Eagan, Gussie Gannon, Sandy Griffin, Tom Hess, Henry Killeen, Matt Kilroy, Mart McQuaid, Tom Power, Jack Rafter, Hank Simon, Dan Sweeney and Curt Welch. The manager of the team was Sandy Griffin and Syracuse finished 12 games behind the Springfield Maroons.

The 1896 version of the Eastern League’s Syracuse Stars were managed by George Kuntzch. Tom Bannon, Scoops Caey, Bill Eagan, Jim Garry, Joe Harrington, Tom Hess, Harry Jordan, Henry Lampe, Ernie Mason, Dan Minnehan, Jack Rafter, Harry Raymond, Bill Reidy, Charlie Reilly, Jack Ryan, John Shearon, Ollie Smith, George Treadway, George Ulrich and Fred Zahner were members of the 1896 Stars squad. One other member of the 1896 Stars was Vic Willis who went on to play 13 years in the major leagues compiling a record of 249 wins and 205 loses. Willis was a member of the 1909 World Series winning Pittsburgh Pirates and in 1995 was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Syracuse’s record in 1896 was 59-62 and they finished 13 ½ games behind the Providence Grays.

The Eastern League was again home to the Stars in 1897 and they were managed by Al Buckenberger. Besides Vic Willis who played with Syracuse again in 1897 team members who had major league careers were: Tom Bannon, Ollie Beard, om Dowse, Bill Eagan, Howard Earl, William Gallagher, Jim Garry, Elmer Horton, Bill Kissinger, Henry Lampe, Abel Lizotte, John Malarkey, Ernie Mason, Jack O’Brien, Jack Ryan, Frank Scheilbeck, Al Shaw, John Shearon and Jud Smith. The Stars finished in first place 3 ½ games ahead of Toronto. In the finals between Syracuse and Toronto with the series tied three games each there was a dispute over where game seven was to be played. The title was awarded to Toronto and the Steinert Cup series was cancelled forever. Elmer Horton led the league with 27 wins and teammate Vic Willis struck out 171 to lead the league in that category

Al Buckenberger and George Kuntzch managed the Stars in the Eastern League in 1898 to a sixth place finish with a record of 52-63. This put the Stars 15 ½ games behind the Montreal Royals. The players who had major league experience at one time or another included Bob Becker, George Blackburn, George Bone, Buster Burrell, Bill Eagan, Howard Earl, Bill Kissinger and Fred Lake. There was also Henry Lampe, Abel Lizotte, John Malarkey, Jim McGuire, Jack O’Brien, Al Shaw, Heinie Smith and Jud Smith.

Fleet Walker

There were a number of players who had or would have major league experience on the 1899 Syracuse Stars and they included: Joe Burke, Harry Croft, Frank Cross, Jim Donnelly, Gus Dundon, Jim Field, Sandy Griffin, Alex Hardy, Jack Keenan and Abel Lizotte. There was also Billy Lush, Henry Lynch, John Malarkey, Mike McDermott, Chappie MacFarland, Jack O’Neil, Bobby Rothermol, Spike Shannon, Farmer Steelman, Billy Taylor, Lew Whistler and Zeke Wrigley. The team would be managed by Sandy Griffin and Lew Whistler. The team would finish in eighth place with a record of 39-68, 29 games behind the Rochester Bronchoes.

Syracuse remained a part of the Eastern League in 1900 and the team was managed by the trio of Frank Leonard, Wally Taylor and Arthur Irwin finishing with a record of 43-84 that placed them eighth out of the eight teams in the league, 36 ½ games behind the Providence Clamdiggers. Nick Altrock was a member of this team and in a 16-year major league career compiled a record of 83 wins and 75 losses. He also defeated Mordecai “Three Fingers” Brown in game one of the 1906 World Series and was thought by many to be one of the game’s best pitchers of that time period. He is better known as the “Clown Prince of Baseball” and performed along with Al Schacht all over the country. In addition to Altrock there was George Browne, Bill Byers, Pat Duff, Gus Dundon, Mal Eason, Frank Eistace, Billy Gilbert, Billy Gling, Pat Hannivan, Jack Keenan, Charlie Kuhns, Pate lamer, Tack Latimer, Henry Lynch, Tom Messitt, Jack O’Neil, Jack Rothfuss, Spike Shnnon, Jack Sutthoff, Farmer Weaver, Jack White, Harry Wilhelm, Snake Wiltse, Zeke Wrigley and Charlie Ziegler.

1901 was the team’s final season in the Eastern League and they played under the leadership of manager Frank Leonard. They were known as the Syracuse Stars/Brockton B’s. Tom Bannon, Duff Cooley, Lee DeMontreville, Henry Lynch, Ed MacGamwell, Frank McManus, Mike Roach, Jud Smith, Jack White Walt Woods and Patsy Flaherty were the players who went on or did play in the major leagues. The team finished in seventh place 42 games behind the Rocherster Bronchoes. The Syracuse franchise transferred to Brockton on July 25.