Infielders during baseball’s dead ball era must have been a special breed of players, since the infield was filled with pebbles, stones and even tiny bits of broken glass. Kind a like some neighborhood fields we all played on one time or another. And, most wore no gloves at all or a variety of mainly lightly padded, mushy, hand sewed, homemade variety.
A few of the highest rated infielders during the last two decades of the 1800s were Tom Burns, shortstop, and Ned Williamson, third baseman, of the Chicago Cubs, 1880-1890, Art Irwin, shortstop, Providence of the National League, 1880s, Jack Rowe, shortstop, Buffalo and Detroit (early 1880s NL teams), Bill Gleason, shortstop, ST. Louis of the NL, 1880s, John Monte Ward, shortstop, New York Giants 1880s and Jack Glasscock, shortstop, Cleveland and St. Louis and NY Giants (NL teams) 1880-1894.
Although he’s not well-known today, one shortstop stands out from the rest in this era… Pebbly Jack Glassock.
The following from Microsoft Baseball:
“His one verifiable idiosyncrasy was his penchant for landscaping his position—it brought hoots from rival benches and gave him a promising nickname. Critics said he found pebbles to throw away where none existed. Perhaps so, but “Pebbly Jack,” playing without a glove until 1890, led the league’s shortstops in putouts twice, in double plays four times, and in fielding percentage and assists six times each. Meanwhile, less fastidious shortstops earned no nicknames and were charged with countless bad-hop errors.”
“Glasscock’s career fielding percentage of .910 may not impress modern fans, but it easily tops the career marks of his peers, among them Tom Burns (.886), Sam Wise (.859), Bill Gleason (.860), Ned Williamson (.866), Art Irwin (.881), Jack Rowe (.882), and Hall of Famer John Montgomery Ward (.885).”
Notes from baseballhistorian.com archives - in 1886 Jack Glasscock hit .325 and in 1889 he led the NL with 205 hits and batted a career-high .352. He doubled as the Indianapolis manager of the National League for part of the 1889 season.
Playing in New York with the Giants in 1890, Jack Glasscock again led the league in hits and also in batting average with .336. In a September 27 game he went six-for-six.
Pebbly Jack Glasscock - 1888 Goodwin Champions N162 Card
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