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Andy Leonard

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Andrew Jackson Leonard

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"Andrew Leonard at left field ten years ago was a daisy, and no mistake. His fly catches with his back turned to the audience on a dead run down the field, often having to jump in the air, were pictures, and then the way he would turn and duck his head, sending the ball to the home plate on a shooting bound not over ten feet from the ground, at any distance, will not soon be forgotten . . . Andy was a first-class base-runner and A 1 batsman. . ." - Tim Murnane, from Sporting Life of March 24, 1886

Andy Leonard, a member of the legendary 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, became an above-average player in the National Association and later played four seasons in the nascent National League as one of its older players.

Leonard was born in 1846 in Ireland and given the name Andrew Jackson Leonard (President Andrew Jackson had served from 1829-37). It is said that he is the first Irish-born player in the major leagues, but there were actually several players in the National Association, and he had his debut just a few days before the rest of them. There were also a number of Irish-born players who appeared in 1876, the first year of the National League.

He joined the Red Stockings in 1869 when he was 23 and already older than most of the players. He continued to play for them in 1870, as they ran their undefeated record to 81 straight games before finally losing in extra innings before 10,000 spectators in New York.

At the time, his regular occupation was listed as "hatter".

He was part of the 1871 Washington Olympics, in the first year of the National Association. He was 25, and the team age was 24 1/2. The team finished 15-15 and Andy, playing 2nd base, hit .291 which was a bit over the team batting average of .277. Playing next to him was shortstop Davy Force, who was four years younger and hit .278.

Andy then spent the next 7 years in Boston, first with the National Association team and then with the National League team in that city. He moved to the outfield primarily, although he continued to fill in at second or short sometimes.

The Boston Red Stockings of the National Association won all four seasons, from 1872-1875. Andy hit at least .315 each year, in a league where the overall batting average was at first over .290 but then dropped as low as .254 in 1875. On the other hand, the Red Stockings always hit well over .300 as a team, so Andy was never the top hitter - it was Ross Barnes or Cal McVey each year.

He led the league with 11 stolen bases in 1874.

Pictures of Leonard from the time show a good-looking fellow with a moustache who is shorter than many of the other players. He is listed at 5 ' 7 ".

He was 30 when the National League started. His average never reached .290 in the National League, although in 1876 and 1878 he hit higher than the team batting average.

After not playing in the majors in 1879, he came back for one last season in 1880 with the 1880 Cincinnati Reds, playing third base and shortstop. His .211 average looks singularly unimpressive until one realizes that the team as a whole hit only .224. Only five of the team's 17 players hit higher than Andy. At age 34, he was the oldest player on the team, two years older than teammate Deacon White, and the third oldest in the league (the oldest was Old Joe Start at age 37).

In 1897 he was part of an old-timers team that took on an Australian team.

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