Hugh Nicol

From BR Bullpen

Hugh Nicol.jpg

Hugh Nicol

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 4", Weight 145 lb.

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

"A marble cutter by trade, Nicol thought himself to be the strongest 5 ' 4 " man in the country. Cynics supposed the Browns kept him around because he was the only man on the team smaller than Von der Ahe." - from the book The Beer and Whisky League

Hugh Nicol played 10 seasons in the majors and set the single-season record for stolen bases (at a time when a "steal" was defined differently than it is today).

Nicol was born in Scotland. As early as 1879 he was playing pro ball for Rockford, and by 1881 he was up in the majors with the Chicago White Stockings managed by Cap Anson, who had once played for Rockford.

Hugh was not a big man, being listed at 5' 4" and 145 lbs. Nicol was not much of a hitter but he stayed with the White Stockings in both 1881 and 1882, years in which they won the pennant both times.

In 1883 the St. Louis Browns bought him for $50 and he spent four years with them in the American Association. The Browns won the pennant in 1885 and 1886.

Nicol, although he sometimes played second base or shortstop, was primarily a right fielder with a good fielding percentage. Although he hit decently in 1883 and 1884, his batting was usually well below average.

After the 1886 season he was traded to the Cincinnati Red Stockings, and he spent the rest of his major league career with teams in Cincinnati. He set his stolen base record in 1887 with 138, beating Arlie Latham by nine.

He continued to play minor league ball for several years after his major league days, mostly with Rockford. He eventually became a player-manager. He also umpired three National League games in 1894

Nicol was a minor league manager for 8 seasons between 1894 and 1906, with his longest stint coming with the Rockford Red Sox in the Three-I League from 1901 to 1904, including a pennant in 1902. He also managed the St. Louis Browns for part of the 1897 season.

He became the head coach at Purdue University in 1906 and continued in that position until 1914. He was also athletic director and continued in that role through 1916. Purdue is in West Lafayette, IN, and one day Hugh asked one of the local prominent citizens why the area did not have a golf course. Out of that conversation eventually came the Lafayette Country Club and a golf course.

In 1906 his son Lyle died after being kicked in the abdomen during a football game. Lyle was said to have been a phenomenal athlete with tremendous speed.

Preceded by
Tommy Dowd
St. Louis Browns Manager
Succeeded by
Bill Hallman

Year-by-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Notes
1894 Des Moines Prohibitionists Western Association -- none replaced by Bill Traffley
St. Joseph Saints Western Association 6th none replaced Bill Kneisley
1895 Rockford Forest City Western Association 66-60 4th none
1896 Rockford Forest City Western Association 44-37 4th none Team disbanded on July 25
1897 St. Louis Browns National League 8-32 -- St. Louis Browns replaced Tommy Dowd (6-22) on May 28/
replaced by Bill Hallman on July 17
1901 Rockford Red Sox Three-I League 57-55 4th none
1902 Rockford Red Sox Three-I League 74-52 1st none League Champs
1903 Rockford Red Sox Three-I League 58-60 6th none
1904 Rockford Red Sox Three-I League -- none replaced by Jack Meek
Rock Island Islanders Three-I League 6th none replaced Kahley Miller
1905 Peoria Distillers Three-I League -- none replaced by Henry Simon

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • AA Stolen Bases Leader (1887)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 2 (1887 & 1888)
  • 50 Stolen Bases Seasons: 3 (1887-1889)
  • 100 Stolen Bases Seasons: 2 (1887 & 1888)

Records Held[edit]

Stolen bases, season, 138, 1887

Related Sites[edit]