The Chicago White Stockings sold National League batting champion and future Hall of Famer Mike Kelly to the Boston Beaneaters on February 14, 1887 for what was at that time a record $10,000. Kelly would earn the nickname “King” while in Boston, where he would hit .311 during this three-year span with the team.
Adrian Constantine “Cap” Anson was born on April 17, 1852 in a log cabin in Marshalltown, Iowa. He was the youngest son of Henry and Jeannette Rice Anson. Henry and Jeannette Anson had moved westward to the area from New York state with their oldest son, Sturgis, in a covered wagon, and young Adrian was the first pioneer child born in Marshalltown. Jeannette Anson died when Adrian was merely seven years old.
Henry Anson enrolled his sons in a preparatory course at the College of Notre Dame, and then later again at the state college in Iowa City (now the University of Iowa), but Adrian Anson was more interested in baseball and skating than in his studies. As a teenager, Adrian earned a place on the town baseball team, the Marshalltown Stars. With Henry Anson playing third base, Adrian’s brother Sturgis in centerfield, and Adrian at second base, the Stars went on to win the Iowa state championship in 1868.
In 1870, the Rockford Forest City baseball club and its star pitcher, Al Spalding, came to Marshalltown for a pair of games. The Forest City team won both games, but the Anson men played so well that Rockford management sent contract offers to all three of the Ansons. Henry and Sturgis turned the offer down, but Adrian accepted and joined the Forest City team in the spring of 1871.
Adrian Anson batted .325 for Rockford while playing third base, but the team disbanded at the end of the season. He was then signed by the Philadelphia Athletics, where he batted .415 in 1872, third best in the National Association. In 1874, Cincinnati Red Stockings manager Harry Wright and pitcher Al Spalding organized a three-week trip to England. Both the Athletics and the Red Stockings sailed across the Atlantic to play both baseball and cricket in front of British crowds. Anson led both teams in hitting throughout the tour, and he and Spalding developed a friendship during this trip, as well.
Anson’s numbers declined slightly in 1874 and 1875, but he still captured the attention Chicago White Stockings president William Hulbert. Anson signed with Chicago, and he went on to be named captain-manager of the club in 1879, moving across the diamond to play first base. His new role as captain-manager led to his nickname, “Cap,” short for “Captain Anson.” Under Anson’s leadership, the White Stockings won five pennants between 1880 and 1886. Anson introduced new tactics to the game, including the use of a third-base coach, having fielders back up one another, signaling batters, and the pitching rotation.
Anson played twenty-two seasons for Chicago, hitting at least .300 in twenty of those years. He led the league in RBIs eight times between 1880 and 1891, winning batting titles in 1881 and 1888. He retired after the 1897 season at the age of forty-five, having collected big league records for games, hits, at-bats, doubles and runs. He also finished with 3,081 hits, making him the first player ever to cross the 3,000-hit line.
After leaving Chicago, Anson managed the New York Giants for 22 games in 1898 before his big league career came to an end. He died on April 14, 1922 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.
On October 9, 1894, Jack Manning of the Philadelphia Quakers (Phillies) became the first player in franchise history to hit three home runs in a single game. The outfielder accomplished the feat in an 11-7 loss to the White Stockings at Chicago’s Lake Front Park.
On May 20, 1878, Jim McCormick became the first player born in Scotland to appear in a major league game. In his debut, right-handed pitcher McCormick and the Indianapolis Blues lost to the Chicago White Stockings, 3-1. The following season, the Scot would become the team’s manager as the team made its move to Cleveland. At the age of 23, this made McCormick the youngest skipper in the game.
The Chicago White Stockings, in their fifth season as a franchise, made their National League debut on April 25, 1876, winning 4-0 over the Grays at the Louisville Baseball Park in Kentucky. The White Stockings won the NL’s first championship during this season with a record of 52–14. The franchise would be also known as the Colts and the Orphans before becoming the Cubs in 1903.
On August 14, 1888, New York Giants pitcher Tim Keefe lost to Gus Krock and the White Stockings, 4-2, at the Polo Grounds. This defeat marked the end of a nineteen-game winning streak for Keefe. 1888 proved to be the Hall of Fame pitcher’s best year, as he posted a 35-12 record and a 1.74 ERA with 335 strikeouts, earning him the Triple Crown that season.
Experiencing inflammation in his right index finger, on June 16, 1884, right-handed pitcher Larry Corcoran of the White Stockings pitched ambidextrously in a game against the Buffalo Bisons. He alternated arms throughout, though I haven’t been able to figure out if he switched arms every pitch or every batter. He would keep this up for four innings, before being moved to shortstop, as Chicago lost 20-9 in Buffalo.