John Montgomery Ward: Wikis


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John Montgomery Ward

Born: March 3, 1860(1860-03-03)
Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
Died: March 4, 1925 (aged 65)
Augusta, Georgia
Batted: Left Threw: Right 
MLB debut
July 15, 1878 for the Providence Grays
Last MLB appearance
September 29, 1894 for the New York Giants
Career statistics
Batting average     .275
Hits     2,104
RBI     867

As Player:

As Manager:

Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction     1964
Election Method     Veteran's Committee

John Montgomery Ward (March 3, 1860 – March 4, 1925) was an American Major League Baseball star pitcher, shortstop and manager.[1][2] Ward was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Renovo, Pennsylvania.[3] He led the formation of the first professional sports players union and a new baseball league, the Players' League.


Early life

At 13 years of age, he was sent to Penn State University. In his short time there, he helped jump start a baseball program and is often credited for developing the first curve ball.[citation needed] The following year, in 1874, his parents died. As a result he was forced to quit school and try and earn his own way. He tried to make it as a travelling salesman, but when that proved unsuccessful, he returned to his hometown. It was there that he discovered baseball.[3] In 1878, the semi-pro team that he was playing for folded, which opened the door for him to move on to a new opportunity. He was offered a contract to pitch for the Providence Grays of the still new National League, an all professional major league that had begun its operations in 1876.[3]

Providence Grays

Ward's first season with the Grays was a successful one, going 22-13 with a 1.51 ERA. He played that season exclusively as a pitcher, but during the following two seasons he played increasingly in the outfield and at third base.[2] Ward had his two finest seasons as a pitcher, going 47-19 with 239 strikeouts and a 2.15 ERA in 1879 and 39-24 with 230 strikeouts and a 1.74 ERA in 1880. Perhaps more remarkably, he pitched nearly 600 innings each year (587.0 in 1879 and 595.0 in 1880).[2] As a 19 year old pitcher, he won 47 games and led the 1879 Providence Grays to a first place finish.[4]

In 1880, he began to play other positions and also expanded his leadership role to include managing when he became a player-manager for 32 games, winning 18 of them, as the Grays finished in second place.[1] On June 17, 1880, Ward became only the second man in history to pitch a perfect game, defeating future Hall of Famer Pud Galvin 5-0.[3] Lee Richmond had thrown baseball's first perfect game just five days before, on June 12. The next perfect game by a National League pitcher would not happen for 84 years, when Jim Bunning pitched a perfect game in 1964.[5]

The seasons of 1881 and 1882 were the first in which he played more games in the outfield than he pitched, this was due to a nagging arm injury he originally incurred sliding into a base.[3] He still pitched well when he did pitch, winning 37 games over those two seasons and having ERAs of 2.13 and 2.59 respectively,[2] and on August 17, 1882, he pitched the longest complete game shutout in history, blanking the Detroit Wolverines 1-0 in 18 innings.[3] By this time, however, the Grays felt his best days were behind him and sold their former ace hurler to the New York Giants.

New York and Reserve Clause

Ward moved to the New York Gothams (renamed the Giants in 1885) in 1883, and completed his transition from a pitcher to an everyday player in 1884. With his pitching career over due to his arm injury, he could not wait for his arm to heal before he returned to the field, so he taught himself to throw left-handed in order to play center field for the remainder of the 1884 season. With his arm fully recuperated, he became the every day shortstop in 1885.[6]

John Montgomery Ward baseball card, 1887

Ward graduated from Columbia Law School in 1885 and led the players in forming the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players, the first sports labor union. Ward and the players had become frustrated with the owners reserve clause, which allowed them to sign players to one year contracts and then not allow them to negotiate with other teams when those contracts expired. The players felt that the owners had absolute power. At first, the players had some success, gaining the freedom to negotiate with other teams when they were asked to take a pay cut by their current team.[3] In October 1887, Ward married actress Helen Dauvray.[6]

In 1888, after the Giants had finished first in the National League,[7] and had won a playoff series known today as a "World Series", Ward and a group of All Stars headed off on a barnstorming world tour. The owners held their winter meetings, and created a classification system that would determine a player's salary. Under the system the most a player could earn was $2,500. The Giants then sold Ward to the Washington Nationals for a record price of $12,000. Ward was furious and left the tour early. He then demanded a meeting with the owners, and said he would refuse to play for Washington unless he received a large portion of his record sale price. Washington would eventually refuse payment on the transaction, nullifying the deal.[3]

The owners denied Ward's request for a meeting to discuss the new classification system, saying there would be no talks until after the upcoming season. Though Ward and the union fought hard for these issues, this did not distract him or his Giants team as he hit .299 and helped the Giants capture their second straight "World Series" title in 1889.[3][8]

The Players' League

Ward realized that negotiations with the owners were going nowhere and threatened to create a Players' League. The owners thought of it as nothing more than an idle threat but had failed to realize Ward's connections in the business community, and he began to launch the new league. This new Players' League included a profit sharing system for the players and had no reserve clause or classification plan.[3]

The season began in 1890 with over half of the National League's players from the previous year in its ranks.[3] Ward acted as a player-manager for the Brooklyn club, nicknamed the Ward's Wonders, and finished seventh in the league with a .335 batting average.[2] While the Players' League drew well at the box office, the teams' owners grew nervous when the money did not come in as expected because of the profit sharing system. Soon they began holding secret meetings with their National League counterparts and, one by one, sold their teams to the rival league.[3]

Later career

Due to an agreement after the dissolution of the Players' League, Ward stayed in Brooklyn as player-manager for the National League team, the Brooklyn Grooms. Following the 1892 season, Ward expressed his desire to return to the Giants and was sold to his former club for $6,000. Following the 1894 season, he retired at the age of 34. He finished his career with a .275 average, 2,104 hits, and 540 stolen bases. He is the only man in history to win over 100 games as a pitcher and collect over 2,000 hits.[3]


Ward retired from baseball at age 34 in order to enter the legal profession. As a successful lawyer he represented baseball players against the National League. Later he acted as president and part-owner of the Boston Braves franchise and became an official in the short lived Federal League in 1914, acting a the business manager of the Brooklyn Tip-Tops.[3]

In the last quarter century of his life, Ward’s real sporting passion became golf. He won several championships around New York, played all over Europe, and competed regularly in the United States Golf Association U.S. Amateur, he finished second in the prestigious North and South Amateur Championship at Pinehurst Country Club in North Carolina in 1903. The North and South Amateur was the equal of any major golf event at the turn of the century. The first North and South event took place in 1901. Ever the organizer, he was one of the founders of the New York Golf Association and the Long Island Golf Association.

John Montgomery Ward died in Augusta, Georgia, the day following his 65th birthday on March 4, 1925 after a bout of pneumonia[9], and is interred in Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale, Long Island, New York.[10] He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1964.[11] Ward is one of the most underappreciated players in the Hall of Fame. According to the win shares formula developed by Bill James, Ward is the 15th greatest non-pitcher in major-league history.

See also


  1. ^ a b "John Montgomery Ward's managerial statistics". Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "John Montgomery Ward's career statistics". Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Simply Baseball Notebook: Legends". Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  4. ^ "1879 Providence Grays team page". Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  5. ^ "Perfect games by pitchers:Box scores". Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  6. ^ a b "Who Was Baseball's Most Interesting Character? Monte Ward, by Mike Attiyeh". Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  7. ^ "1888 New York Giants team page". Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  8. ^ "1889 New York Giants team page". Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  9. ^ "John Montgomery Ward's Obituary". New York Time, Thursday, March 5, 1925. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  10. ^ "John Montgomery Ward's Hall of Fame profile". Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  11. ^ "John Montgomery Ward's career statistics". Retrieved 2007-11-17. 

External links

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