Duke Farrell

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Duke Farrell.jpg

Charles Andrew Farrell

  • Bats Both, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 1", Weight 208 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

1903 Breisch Williams

Duke Farrell was a rarity, a 19th century catcher who had a very long career. He played 18 years in the majors, appearing in four different major leagues. He led the American Association in 1891 in both home runs and RBI.

In 1897, playing for the Washington Senators, Farrell set a major league record with eight pinch-hits, breaking Doggie Miller's record of 6. Eight years later Sammy Strang broke Farrell's record. Prior to 1904, Farrell was hitting almost .500 as a pinch-hitter.

Farrell is listed at 208 lbs., but pictures make him look heavier, and given that he was 6' 1" tall, it's quite likely that he weighed more.

Farrell played semi-pro ball and then in the New England League before joining Cap Anson's Chicago White Stockings as a 21-year-old in 1888. He was among the National League leaders in home runs in 1889, with 11, and then went to the Players League in 1890.

In 1891, now in the American Association with the Boston Reds, he had a breakthrough year, leading the league in both homers and RBI. However, he wasn't quite as dominant a hitter as his teammates Dan Brouthers and Bill Joyce, both of whom had higher slugging percentages. Behind the exploits of those players as well as Tom Brown (who had 177 runs scored) and Hugh Duffy, the team won the pennant.

In 1892, following the demise of the American Association, Farrell went to the National League, where he was to stay for the next eleven years. He joined the Pittsburgh Pirates that season, but over the years, he stopped hitting for power, although his batting average actually went up as the league average began to drop. In 1897, he played with the Washington Senators. He is often credited with a record 8 runners caught stealing in a game against the Baltimore Orioles on May 11th, but that is incorrect. He did pick up 8 assists in that game, but only 5 were on caught stealings; the other came on a pick-off play and two on other plays. He came to the Brooklyn Superbas in 1899, and played on another pennant winner along with Hughie Jennings, Willie Keeler, Joe Kelley and Bill Dahlen. They won the pennant again in 1900.

At the age of 36, Farrell came to the American League for the first time with the Boston Americans in 1903, and played on the champions of the first World Series. He appeared in only 17 games in the regular season, but hit .404 and slugged .538, both highs for the team. He appeared in a couple of the World Series games. The Americans won the pennant in 1904 as well, but there was no Series that year, because of the New York Giants' refusal to play the series. He ended his career with 7 games for Boston in 1905.

Farrell played over 1,000 games in the majors at catcher, but at times played at other positions. In 1888 he played almost as much outfield as catcher, and in 1891 and 1892, he was primarily a third baseman, also playing at third a lot in 1893, 1895, and 1896. He appeared in over 100 games in the outfield and over 100 games at first base in his career as well. After his major league days, he played in Quebec. When he stopped playing, he served as a coach for the New York Yankees in 1909, 1911 and from 1915 to 1917, and as a scout for the Boston Braves. He also umpired a total of three games in the National League in 1901 and 1902.

When Farrell was dying of stomach cancer in 1925, Christy Mathewson wrote around to National League team presidents asking for financial help for Farrell (Mathewson was himself president of the Boston Braves at the time). Farrell would die in February while Mathewson died later that year, in October.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • AA Home Runs Leader (1891)
  • AA RBI Leader (1891)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (1891)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (1891)
  • Won a World Series with the Boston Americans in 1903

Further Reading[edit]

  • Brian Marshall: "Catcher Duke Farrell's Record Performance: Game Notes from May 11, 1897", The Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Volume 45, Number 2 (Fall 2016), pp. 102-106.

Related Sites[edit]