Kid Nichols

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Charles Augustus Nichols

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1949

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Biographical Information[edit]

"(He) took pride in two things - his election to (the Hall of Fame), and the fact he was never removed from a game for a relief hurler." - from the New York Times obituary of Kid Nichols

With 361 career wins, Charles "Kid" Nichols was one of the 19th Century's great pitchers. He was the 1890s winningest pitcher and played on five pennant-winning squads in that decade.

1889 baseball card for Charles 'Kid' Augustus Nichols of the Omaha Omahogs

After playing for an amateur team in Kansas City, Nichols began his pro career with the Kansas City Cowboys of the Western League as a 17-year-old in 1887 and won 21 games that summer, while earning the nickname that would follow him the rest of his life. He split the next summer between Kansas City and the Southern League's Memphis Grays, a team which featured the 38-year-old Davy Force, a famous player more than twice Nichols' age. In 1889, he joined skipper Frank Selee's Omaha Omahogs of the Western Association and posted a 36-12 record.

Nichols joined the Boston Beaneaters of the National League in 1890 when Selee became the club's manager, and in his first big league season, he went 27-19 with a 2.23 ERA, 47 complete games, and a National League-best 7 shutouts. The following summer, in 1891, he won 30 games as the team captured the NL pennant. He posted an even better record in 1892, going 35-16 and winning two games in the league's Championship Series as the team defeated Cy Young and the Cleveland Spiders.

In 1893, the pitching distance was increased from 50 feet to 60 feet 6 inches, and Nichols' strikeout totals dropped dramatically, from 192 to 94, but he still went 34-14 as the Beaneaters won another league title. The team finished lower in the standings the next three seasons, but Nichols continued to perform well, winning 32 games in 1894, 26 in 1895, and an NL-high 30 in 1896.

Nichols again paced the National League in wins in 1897 with 31, and his team captured another league crown. The Beaneaters repeated as champs the next year, and Nichols won 31 games again, leading the circuit in victories for the third straight season. However, his fortunes, and those of his team, declined in the next several years, and he went 13-16 in 1900, posting the first losing record of his big league career. The following summer, many of his teammates jumped to the Boston Americans of the new American League, but he remained with the Beaneaters and won 19 games. However, after that season, he was let go by the club in order to save money. He umpired a total of three games in the National League in 1900 and 1901.

In 1902, Nichols went back to the minors as a player-manager with the Kansas City Blue Stockings of the Western League and was also a part-owner of the team. He was 26-7 in his first year there, and the club went on to win the league crown. The next summer, he posted a 21-12 mark.


Nichols returned to the majors in 1904 as player-manager of the St. Louis Cardinals. He won 21 games in his first year with the team, as the club finished just under .500. He was fired as skipper just 14 games into the 1905 campaign and later that summer claimed off waivers by the Philadelphia Phillies. He won 10 games for Philadelphia in 1905 and made just a handful of appearances for the team in 1906. He ended his playing days following a stint with the Pueblo Indians of the Western League in 1908.

Nichols ended his career with 361 big league wins (seventh best of all-time as of 2009). He also threw 532 complete games (fourth best) in 562 starts.

Following his playing days, Nichols managed the Oshkosh Indians of the Wisconsin-Illinois League in 1908 and led the Bonham Sliders of the Texas-Oklahoma League in 1914. He coached Missouri Valley College during World War I. He later ran a movie distribution business and partnered with Joe Tinker to open a chain of bowling alleys in Kansas City. He went on to live a long life and was inducted into the Hall of Fame at age 79, four years prior to his death. His election took a long time as he was off the radar in Kansas City, when major league baseball went no further west than St. Louis, MO, and because by the time the Hall opened in 1936, not many people remembered his exploits of four decades earlier. Thus, a number of much less qualified pitchers were let in before him. One interesting note is that he and Cy Young both made their debut in 1890, and by the end of of the decade, Nichols was ahead of him in terms of career numbers; however, Nichols was about to start his decline at that point, whereas Young won over 200 games in the 20th Century.

Nichols liked to sign his name "Charles 'Kid' Nichols".

"You never heard anyone with a sore arm in my day. When we weren't pitching, we either played the outfield or doubled as ticket takers. The biggest strain my arm ever underwent was at the Polo Grounds when I counted 30,000 tickets." - Kid Nichols, 1948

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 3-time NL Wins Leader (1896-1898)
  • 2-time NL Games Pitched Leader (1897 & 1898)
  • 4-time NL Saves Leader (1891, 1895, 1897 & 1898)
  • NL Innings Pitched Leader (1897)
  • 3-time NL Shutouts Leader (1890, 1894 & 1900)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 11 (1890-1899 & 1904)
  • 30 Wins Seasons: 7 (1891-1894 & 1896-1898)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 13 (1890-1901 & 1904)
  • 300 Innings Pitched Seasons: 12 (1890-1899, 1901 & 1904)
  • 400 Innings Pitched Seasons: 5 (1890-1894)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 2 (1890 & 1891)
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1949

Preceded by
Patsy Donovan
St. Louis Cardinals Manager
Succeeded by
Jimmy Burke

Year-By-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1902 Kansas City Blue Stockings Western League 82-54 1st none none League Champs
1903 Kansas City Blue Stockings Western League 65-61 3rd none none
1904 St. Louis Cardinals National League 75-79 5th St. Louis Cardinals
1905 St. Louis Cardinals National League 5-9 -- St. Louis Cardinals replaced by Jimmy Burke on May 4
1908 Oshkosh Indians Wisconsin-Illinois League 7th none replaced George Bubsir in July
1914 Bonham Sliders Texas-Oklahoma League 5th none replaced Senter Rainey on May 28 /
team disbanded on July 30

Records Held[edit]

  • Seasons of 30 or more wins, 7

Further Reading[edit]

  • Richard Bogovich: Kid Nichols: A Biography of the Hall of Fame Pitcher, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2012. ISBN 978-0-7864-6522-4
  • David L. Fleitz: "Kid Nichols", in Ghosts in the Gallery at Cooperstown: Sixteen Little-Known Members of the Hall of Fame, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2004, pp. 79-94. ISBN 978-0-7864-1749-0
  • Harold Kaese: "Nichols Game's Fifth Winningest: 'Hall' finally recognizes arm that won 360 decisions", Baseball Digest, July 1949, pp. 49-50. [1]

Related Sites[edit]