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Pittsburgh Alleghenys

From BR Bullpen

The Pittsburgh Alleghenys was the name of two baseball clubs in the 19th century. Officially the club was known as Allegheny. The club took its name from the city of Allegheny, Pennsylvania which until 1907 was located across the Allegheny River from Pittsburgh. Currently Allegheny is a part of Pittsburgh's North Side.

Pittsburgh Alleghenys I[edit]

The first Allegheny club was formed back in 1876. When the National League was formed on February 2nd, Allegheny was passed over, possibly due to the fact that the city was not quite a major league market. It was said that league officials would consider allowing Allegheny to join the National League only if one of the current members dropped out. Following this, the team then went on to join the International Association. The Alleghenys opened the season at their home ballpark, Union Park, against the Xantha Baseball Club, whom the Alleghenys defeated 7-3. The team finished the season with a 39-25-3 record. Among the teams that the Alleghenys defeated were: the New Haven Elm Citys, St. Louis Brown Stockings, Cincinnati Red Stockings, and the St. Louis Red Stockings.

During the off-season, team owner Denny McKnight met with fellow owner L.C. Waite, who was the club secretary with the St. Louis Red Stockings. Both men were unhappy with the discrimination that they faced due to the National League denying them entry into the league. After much discussion, including consulting with owners of other baseball teams, the pair decided to test the waters of professional baseball. With the help of Harry Chadwick, the two formed the International Association.

Prior to the start of the 1877 season, the Alleghenys brought in a pitcher by the name of Jimmy Galvin. Allegheny opened the season on April 23rd against the Syracuse Stars at Union Park. Galvin and Stars pitcher Harry McCormick pitched 5 scoreless innings until an errant throw by McCormick allowed Galvin to reach first base. Throughout the game, Galvin would allow only 2 hits to McCormick’s 9, in what was a 3-2 Allegheny win over the Stars. A week later, Galvin threw the first shutout in league history when Pittsburgh defeated the Columbus Buckeyes 2-0. Galvin was involved in another memorable game on May 2nd when the Boston Red Stockings came to town. In a pitching duel against Tommy Bond, both pitchers went scoreless for 7 innings when Galvin hit a home run in the top of the 8th in what was to be the only score of the game, which ended 1-0. The Red Stockings would get revenge in early August defeating the Alleghenies 10-3 in two games. Throughout the season the team managed to stay in first place, even while it was dogged by allegations of gambling, which saw players such as Al Nichols, Joe Blong, and Joe Battin being let go, as well as the team being plagued by injuries. Near the end of the season, two ball clubs dropped out of the league: the Lynn Live Oaks, and the Columbus Buckeyes. This caused the standings to be reconfigured and the Alleghenys' record dropped to 11 wins. The Alleghenys finished the season in second place with a 13-6 record behind the London Tecumsehs. During the off-season, the team was reorganized with many of the players leaving the club, leaving inferior players. As a result the team was only able to win 3 of their first 26 games in 1878. The team dropped out of the league on June 8th, bringing an end to first Allegheny team.

Pittsburgh Alleghenys II[edit]

The second Allegheny team was formed in 1881, on October 15th, also by Denny McKnight. A few weeks later, the Alleghenys joined as one of the founding franchises in the newly formed American Association. In addition to serving as principal owner, President and General Manager of the Alleghenys, McKnight was also president of the new league. To manage the club, McKnight selected Al Pratt, who had little managerial experience, managing the Riverside Base Ball Club from Portsmouth, Ohio in 1868. The team opened its inaugural 1882 season on the road with a 10-9 win against the Cincinnati Red Stockings on May 2nd. When the club arrived back in Pittsburgh for their first home game, they had a 2-2 record and were in 2nd place. They would defeat the visiting St. Louis Brown Stockings, 9-5, before a return to Cincinnati for one game. Aside from being in 1st place for one day, the team spent the early part of the season in either 2nd or 3rd place. A road trip in June which saw the Alleghenys lose 8 of 11 games dropped the team to 5th for most of the season. It wasn’t until late August that the team managed to rise and stay in 4th place where they would finish with a 39-39-1 record.

It was hoped that the 1883 season would be better than the last. Unfortunately, the Alleghenys lost their first 4 games, and never recovered. Pratt was let go after an 11-4 win over the Columbus Buckeyes. At the time the team was in 6th place with a 12-20 record. Pratt's replacement, Ormond Butler, lasted only 53 games, and like his predecessor was replaced following a win. However Butler’s replacement, Joe Battin was named manager right before the team's last road trip which saw the team win only 2 games. The Alleghenys finished the season in 7th place with a 31-67 record. During the off-season many changes were made to the team both in the front office and on the field. When the 1884 season started, only 7 players remained from the previous year's squad, including former manager Joe Battin. While McKnight continued as principal owner, he was replaced in the day-to-day activities as President and General Manager by Edmund C. Converse. McKnight took over managerial duties, but he would last only 12 games before being replaced by longtime journeyman Bob "Death to Flying Things" Ferguson. Ferguson lasted 42 games, before being replaced by Joe Battin. Battin managed the team for 13 games, but resigned in early August and ended up managing the Pittsburgh Stogies in the Union Association. His replacement, fellow teammate George Creamer never won a single game before being replaced by Horace Phillips for the rest of the season. Most of the 1884 season, found the team in bottom half of the standings, and it would reach as high as 8th only three times. Converse must have liked what he saw in Phillips as he was around to manage the team in 1885. It should be noted that prior to managing the Alleghenys, Phillips had been manager of the Columbus Buckeyes, and may have still had connections to his old team because when it was learned that the Buckeyes were dropping out, both Phillips and team President Converse traveled to Columbus and signed many of the former players. The result saw the team finish in 3rd place with 56-55 record.

The 1886 season saw the team start off slowly going 4-7 on the road before opening at home against the St. Louis Browns. The Alleghenys lost to the Browns, 5-4, but when the Browns left after the second four-game series, both teams had won two games apiece, which was a slight improvement from the first meeting in which the Browns had won three out of the four games. It was the same thing when the Red Stockings came to town. By the time the Alleghenys went back out on the road, they were 3 1/2 games out of first place with an 11-12 record. The team would reach as high as second place on May 29th, but the rest of the season saw the team in either second or third place with the occasional drop down to fourth, the last time occurring on August 4th. The team finished in second place with a franchise-best 80 wins. This was also the team's last year in the American Association. Back in March, the team had been involved in a controversy over a player named Sam Barkley. Browns owner Chris von der Ahe offered Barkley to Allegheny for $1,000.00. Baltimore Orioles manager Bill Barnie matched the offer and signed Barkley to an undated contract. But due to the previous deal, Barkley wound up in Pittsburgh. The Orioles appealed to the league, which decreed that Barkley would be fined and suspended for a year. McKnight refused the decision, and did not inform Barkley. Barkley then sued the league. It was then decided that Barkley would not be suspended, just fined, and that the Orioles would get a different ballplayer. For his role in the controversy, Denny McKnight was sacked as league president. William A. Nimick, who had taken over as team president and majority owner decided to leave the American Association. The team left the league on November 18th for the National League as an expansion franchise. During the team's first three seasons in the National League, from 1887 to 1889, they would not post a winning record. Their best finish came in 1889 when they finished in 5th place. Record-wise, the team's best year came in 1888, when the team finished two games below .500 with a 66-68-4-1 record.

Horace Phillips managed the team until the 1889 season. After 28 games, he was replaced as manager by Fred Dunlap, due to Phillips having a mental breakdown. Dunlap lasted 17 games before being replaced by Ned Hanlon, who finished the season. During the off-season, many of the players including the team manager, Ned Hanlon, left the team and formed a rival club, the Pittsburgh Burghers which was one of the founding clubs of the Players League. Like many of the teams in the National League and American Association, the Alleghenys were affected by the new league. The team posted a 23-113 record in 1890, setting franchise records for both the fewest wins and most losses in a season. Things were so bad financially for the Alleghenys that Nimick and McKnight returned the franchise to the league at the end of the season. However, McKnight wouldn't stay out of baseball for very long. Shortly thereafter he joined the Pittsburgh Burgers owners in buying the team. During that eventful off-season, reporters renamed the Pirates due to their pirating of second baseman Lou Bierbauer from the Philadelphia Athletics.

Among the prominent players to have played for the team were: Ed Swartwood, Ed Morris, Fred Carroll and Doggie Miller.

Sources:[edit]

  • Fred Lieb: Pittsburgh Pirates, SIU Press, 1948
  • John McCollister: The Bucs!: The Story of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, MD, 2016
  • Brian Martin: Pud Galvin: Baseball's First 300-Game Winner, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2016
  • Michael Gliozzi: The History of Baseball in Pittsburgh, Popular Pittsburgh.com
  • Brock Helander: Prelude to the Formation of the American Association Helander