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Tully Sparks

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Thomas Frank Sparks

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Thomas "Tully" Sparks pitched 12 seasons in the big leagues, winning 121 games. Most of his major league career was with the Philadelphia Phillies at a time when they won at most 83 games in a season. Nevertheless, in 1907 he went 22-8 for them.

Sparks was born in Etna, GA, west of Atlanta near the Alabama border. He attended Beloit College shortly before Ginger Beaumont was there. Tully was the first major leaguer from Beloit.

Tully pitched for a number of minor league teams in the South before coming to the Phillies in late 1897 for one game. He spent 1898 with Richmond, throwing a no-hitter against Newark on August 15th. He was then was back in the majors in 1899 with the 1899 Pittsburgh Pirates, for whom he appeared in 28 games, mostly as a starter.

With the Pirates, he was one year younger than teammate Jack Chesbro, and he had a better ERA than Jack's, although both were worse than the team average. After the 1899 season he was sold to the Phillies again, but then the Phillies sold him to Milwaukee.

Tully joined the new American League in 1900, at that time a minor league, and went 16-12 for the Milwaukee Brewers. Rube Waddell was a teammate there. Tully stayed with the team as the 1901 American League became a major league, and while his 7-17 record wasn't impressive, his 3.51 ERA was one of the best on the team.

In early 1902 he was the property of the 1902 Browns but then jumped to the 1902 Giants and later was released in July 1902. He spent the rest of the season with the 1902 Somersets. Then, before the 1903 season started he jumped to the 1903 Phillies and spent the rest of his major league career with the Phillies.

While with the Phillies his ERA was in the top ten in the league four times. The blog Phillies Nation chooses him as the # 78 greatest Phillie of all time.

He died in Anniston, AL, about 40 miles from Etna, GA where he was born.

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