Robert Maloney

From BR Bullpen

Robert Kissam Maloney
formerly listed as John Maloney

  • Bats Unknown, Throws Unknown

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Biographical Information[edit]

Robert Maloney played two games in centerfield for the New York Mutuals in the first year of the National League, in 1876 and one more for the Hartford Dark Blues, who were based in Brooklyn, NY, in 1877.

For years, he was listed in encyclopedias as John Maloney, although this proved to be erroneous. When he actually appeared in the games in 1876, contemporary newspapers only referred to him as "Maloney of the New York Nine". Of course the "New York Nine" could be any amateur ballclub of the time. However, various other mentions in newspapers in July of 1876 mention a man named Maloney pitching for the amateur Mutuals of New York, the most prominent amateur club in New York, NY at the time. In 1877, he was called "Maloney of the Memphis Reds". Coincidentally, in both cases, he was filling in for Jim Holdsworth. The Reds had disbanded by mid-1877, so Maloney would have been available by the end of August when the name reappeared in an NL boxscore. Maloney being a common name, it was not even certain that the two ballplayers were in fact the same man. As to where "John" came from, there was no indication.

Looking at the Memphis connection, researchers found that a John Moloughney or Malowney (spellings differ) was playing catcher in 1879 for the Riverside Club of Memphis, another prominent amateur club. Memphis, TN was hit by a yellow fever epidemic that year, and several of the Riverside players were affected, including John Maloughney as were James Maloughney and William Maloughney. The three were listed as brothers in the 1860 census and were living at the same address according to city directories, with William the oldest, followed by John and James. John's main occupation was as a plumber, and he died in Memphis in 1908, but the question was still open as to whether he was the major league ballplayer or even the player with the Memphis Reds in 1877.

This proved to be a false lead as according to a story in the Chicago Tribune, the Memphis Reds' roster included a rightfielder named R.A. Maloney, and a boxscore from a different game showed a second player identified just as "Malo'hn'y" playing third base - who may well have been one of three Maloughney brothers. The Reds were a professional team, and recruited players from all over, so their regular right-fielder, in contrast to the one-game fill-in at third base, was unlikely to be a local boy. Looking for a possible match around New York, the researchers realized that there were very few Irishmen with first names starting with the letter "R" at the time, and that one of the rare candidates was one "Robert Maloney", whose profession was "lead burner", but nothing linked him to baseball. A story from a Wheeling, WV paper about the 1877 Reds mentioned that Maloney had played in Brooklyn the previous season, reinforcing the probability that he was from the Big Apple. Other articles give the Reds' player's first name as Bob or Robert, confirming that the name "John" was a mistake. Further research unearthed a Maloney pitching for the Reliance club of Brooklyn in 1874 and 1875, most likely the same person as the amjor league ballplayer.

The Robert Maloney who was a lead burner was the right age, and the only person of that name living in Brooklyn or New York at the time. The smoking gun was when his obituary was found following his death in Brooklyn in 1908: it clearly states that he was an enthusiastic baseball player in his youth, making it certain that he was the right player.

Further Reading[edit]

  • "Robert Maloney Found", in Bill Carle, ed.: Biographical Research Committee Report, SABR, July/August 2019, pp. 1-6.

Related Sites[edit]