Baseball History: Remembering the Cleveland Blues

The Cleveland Blues played ball in the National League from 1879 to 1884, compiling a record of 242 wins, 299 losses, with 8 ties. Their best season was in 1880, when the Blues finished third in the National League with a record of 47-37-1. Calling Kennard Street Park home, the Blues were perennial cellar-dwellars of the National League.

Today, the Cleveland Blues are all but forgotten. However, this article will profile five of the best players in the history of the franchise, which includes one Hall of Fame outfielder.

– Fred Dunlap. Nicknamed “Sure Shot”, Dunlap was an excellent second-baseman who played for the Cleveland Blues from 1880-1883. In his Cleveland career, Dunlap chalked up 448 hits in only 342 games, for a batting average of .302. He led the National League in doubles in 1880 with 27, and finished his 12-year professional career with 1159 hits and 224 doubles.

– Bill Phillips. Phillips was a first-baseman who played for the Blues from 1879 to 1884, the entire existance of the franchise. A native of New Brunswick, he was enshrined in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988. In 1879, his rookie season, he led the team in hits and runs scored. He finished his career with 1130 hits, 214 doubles, and 98 triples (tied for 164th all-time with Hall of Famers Hank Aaron and Andre Dawson).

– Jack Glasscock. A star shortstop, Glasscock led the National League in fielding percentage seven times- a record that wasn’t broken for over a century. “Pebbly Jack”, who played for the Blues from 1879 to 1884, finished his career with 2040 hits (241st all-time), 313 doubles, and 372 stolen bases (89th all-time).

– Jim McCormick. The first Scotland native to play professional baseball, McCormick was the ace pitcher throughout the team’s six-season existence. He finished his career with a record of 265-214, with 1704 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.43. He ranks 36th in all-time MLB wins, 33rd in career ERA, 99th in strikeouts, and 11th in complete games. Despite these impressive numbers, McCormick was never inducted into the Hall of Fame.

– Ned Hanlon. Hanlon, the only Blues player to make it to the Hall of Fame, did not have a very impressive playing career. However, he ranks 26th all-time in managerial wins with 1313. As a player, he chalked up 1317 hits and 329 stolen bases (123rd all-time).

These players, though never superstars or multi-millionaires, played in an era when gloves were unheard of, spitballs were legal, and baseball was the true American pastime.