Arthur Irwin bigraphy, stories - Major League Baseball player, manager

Arthur Irwin : biography

February 14, 1858 - July 16, 1921

Arthur Albert Irwin (February 14, 1858 – July 16, 1921), nicknamed "Doc", "Sandy", "Cutrate" or "Foxy", was a Canadian-American shortstop and manager in Major League Baseball (MLB) during the late nineteenth century. He played regularly in the major leagues for eleven years, spending two of those seasons as a player-manager. He played on the 1884 Providence Grays team that won the first interleague series to decide the world champions of baseball. Irwin then served as a major league manager for several years.

Irwin occupied numerous baseball roles in the later years of his career. He spent time as a college baseball coach, a major league scout and business manager, a minor league owner and manager, and a National League umpire. For most of Irwin's career, the collegiate and professional baseball schedules allowed him to hold positions at both levels in the same year. Irwin also produced several innovations that impacted sports. He took the field with the first baseball fielder's glove, invented a type of football scoreboard, promoted motor-paced cycling tracks and ran a short-lived professional soccer league.

Irwin became terminally ill with cancer in the last weeks of his life. Shortly after his death from an apparent suicide, Irwin made headlines when it was discovered that he led a double life for nearly thirty years. Two wives and families survived him in separate cities.

Early life

Arthur Irwin was born in 1858 in Toronto, Ontario to an Irish blacksmith and a Canadian mother. As a child, he moved with his family to Boston and attended school there. He played local amateur baseball from 1873 until he was recruited by the Worcester Ruby Legs of the National Association in 1879. In late 1879, manager Frank Bancroft took Irwin and most of the other Worcester players on a baseball tour that included visits to New Orleans and Cuba. The team, which traveled under the name of the Hop Bitters, returned to the United States after only a few days due to financial and contractual difficulties. The team may have played as few as two games in Cuba.

Baseball career

Playing days

Irwin's major league career began when the Ruby Legs moved into the National League (NL) in 1880. He led the league in assists in his rookie season, and remained with the team through 1882, when it folded due to poor attendance. Irwin spent three seasons with the Providence Grays, and was captain and starting shortstop of the 1884 Providence team that became world champions. The 1884 Grays featured star pitchers Charles Radbourne and Charlie Sweeney; the two hurlers did not get along well, and Sweeney left the team in the middle of the season. The club folded after a fourth-place finish in 1885.

Irwin moved on to the newly formed Philadelphia Quakers in 1886. Tragedy struck the Philadelphia squad in 1888 when pitcher Charlie Ferguson developed typhoid fever; he died at Irwin's home. During the 1889 season, Irwin went to the Washington Nationals for his first opportunity as player-manager, but the team folded at the end of the season. He played for the Boston Reds in the Players' League in 1890. That same year, Irwin coached the baseball team at Dartmouth College. While Irwin served as a player-manager for Boston in 1890, he was able to focus on the managerial role for the team in 1891. That year the team signed his brother, John Irwin, on May 21. Newspapers brought accusations of nepotism and criticized John's mediocre play. John Irwin was released by Boston on July 16, and his major league playing career was over by the next month.

Although Irwin's regular playing career ended after the 1890 season, he appeared in six games while managing the Boston team after it moved to the American Association in 1891. He also played in one game while managing the 1894 Philadelphia Phillies. A left-handed hitter, Irwin finished his playing career with 1,015 games played and batted .241 in 4,190 plate appearances. He tallied 396 runs batted in and 552 runs scored. Stolen bases were not awarded until 1886, but Irwin tallied 93 stolen bases in his last 532 games. He recorded an .878 career fielding percentage, committing 647 errors in 5,317 fielding chances. Irwin played 947 games at shortstop and 56 games at third base. He also appeared at second base, pitcher and catcher.

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