I’ve looked at great hitters, workhorse pitchers, Aces who joined forces, and team owners. For this last post, I’ll take a look at the cards showing the previous year’s World Champions.
World Series Champions
The 1886 World’s Series pitted the St. Louis Browns of the American Association against the Chicago White Stockings of the National League. It was quite possibly the most notable of the 7 World’s Series held between the NL and the AA. First, it was the only series won by the American Association. The Browns won 4 pennants in a row, going 1-2-1 in that span, but the other 3 were all NL victories. Additionally, it signaled the end of Chicago’s run as baseball’s first dynasty. This would be the last pennant they’d win for 20 years. The Gypsy Queen set featured primarily National League players, but they did feature cards of the WS champion Browns. Here is a comparison of the key members of that team – alongside similar players from last year’s champions, the San Francisco Giants.
The Browns best hitter was outfielder Tip O’Neill. In 1886, O’Neill led the Browns’ position players in hitting, slugging, OBP, hits and RBI (of note – Bob Caruthers, the team’s 2nd pitcher, may have actually had an even better hitting year than O’Neill). O’Neill was one year shy of a truly historic season. In 1887, he wasn’t just the best hitter on the Browns, who again won the AA. O’Neill posted what is probably the 2nd best season in the 19th century, behind only Hugh Duffy’s 1894 season. He won the triple crown and led the league in every major offensive category except stolen bases. He set an incredible number of records – many of which were only outdistanced by Duffy in 1894. This included: Average (.435), OBP (.490), SLG (.691), H (225), 2B (52), R (167), TB (357). He merely led the league in HR, 3B and RBI. Aubrey Huff was the Giants best hitter last year – he had a truly underrated season. He led the team in hits, runs, HR, RBI, was just behind his college teammate Pat Burrell in SLG.
Dave Foutz, along with 2nd hurler Caruthers, pitched the Browns to the title in 1886. Foutz went 41-16 with a 2.11 ERA and threw over 500 innings. He was the best pitcher in baseball that year – he led the AA in wins and ERA. After splitting 4 decisions and giving up just a 0.62 ERA in the 1885 World Series (the Browns and Chicago tied this series), Foutz went 1-1 in the 1886 “Fall Classic”. It was actually Caruthers who won 2 of his 3 decisions. Perhaps all the innings wore down Foutz – he had 3 solid seasons, 1885-1887, though he won only 25 games and saw his ERA balloon to 3.87 in 1887. He wouldn’t pitch a full season after the 1887 campaign, though he continued on with Brooklyn for almost another decade as a first baseman. Tim Lincecum is the obvious choice here – the two-time Cy Young winner is clearly the team’s Ace.
Soul of the Team
I wouldn’t want to have any reference to the Giants’ 2011 season without including Buster Posey! Posey led the club in hitting, provided leadership behind the plate for the young staff – all during his first season. Naturally, he won the Rookie of the Year. Arlie Latham was the “spark plug” of the 1886 champion Browns. Latham led the league with 152 runs and was an excellent base stealer. Meanwhile, he was a known practical joker – often playing pranks on his owner (Chris von der Ahe) or manager (Charlie Comiskey). He made some notable history later in his life – he was the first full-time coach in baseball, hired so by John McGraw in the early 1900’s. He is also (still) the oldest man to steal a base – he played in 4 games for McGraw in a pinch in 1909, almost 15 years after his retirement.
So that’s the last of my individual player comparisons from the two Gypsy Queen sets, 124 years apart. I hope everyone enjoyed it – it was fun to do, I learned some new things and refreshed some things I learned a long time ago. I’ll continue on with some other posts about Gypsy Queen over the next week-plus, similar to what I did with Topps Heritage. By then, it will be time for Topps series 2 (someday, I’ll pick back up with Topps 1990).