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Fred Clarke

Fred Clarke

Library of Congress

Fred Clarke of the Pittsburgh Pirates at the West Side Grounds in 1903

Position(s):
OF, SS, 3B
Nicknames:
Cap
Born:
October 3, 1872
Bats:
Left
Throws:
Right
Height:
5' 10"
Weight:
165 lbs
Major League Debut:
6-30-1894 with LS3
Hall of Fame:
1945

Fred Clarke

Fred Clarke

The history of Pittsburgh baseball would not be the same without Fred Clarke. When the National League paired down to eight teams in 1900, Clarke led his best players from Louisville to Steeltown, setting the foundation for a decade of success in Pittsburgh. He managed the Bucs to the first three modern NL pennants, four pennants in all, and finished second five times. He was no slouch as a player either, earning Hall of Fame election due to his batting (career .312), baserunning (506 steals), and tremendous throwing arm. He batted in front of Honus Wagner, forming one of the most feared duos in baseball in the early 20th century.

Career Batting Stats
G AB H R HR RBI SB AVG SLG OBP OPS OPS+
2242 8568 2672 1619 67 1015 506 .312 .429 .386 .814 119.2

Teams Fred Clarke Managed

Louisville Colonels (1897-1899)
Pittsburgh Pirates (1900-1915)

 

Where does Fred Clarke rank among baseball greats?

Fred Clarke rank among the Top 50 all-time at LF. Rankings ?
 

Clarke All Time Team!

 

Best Season: 1903
Despite missing time due to injuries, Clarke led the National League in slugging (.532), and OPS (.946) in 1903, as he led the Pirates to the first modern World Series. He also paced the league in doubles (32), and finished second to teammate Honus Wagner in the batting race (.351). Another season of note for Clarke include 1897 when he batted .390 (losing the crown to Willie Keeler) and finished in the top five in OBP, SLG, OPS, hits, and total bases.

 

Description
Fred Clarke was one of those people who were born without the ability to kiss anyone's ass. He would tell you exactly what he thought, even if you didn't ask. As a result of that character trait, Clarke had more than his share of run-ins with teammates and opposing players. As a manager, he especially had little patience with pitchers who couldn't get the ball over the plate.

 

Where He Played
Left field (more than 2,100 games).

As a Manager
Clarke won more games (1,602), managed more games (2,829), and has the highest winning percentage (.576) of any Pirate manager.

 

Born
Fred Clifford Clarke was born on October 3, 1872, in Winterset, IA.

 

Died
August 14, 1960, Winfield, KS

 

 

Nicknames
Cap

 

Similar Players
Roberto Clemente

 

Related Players
Honus Wagner, Deacon Phillippe, Tommy Leach, Claude Ritchey, Max Carey

 

Hall of Fame Voting
Year Election Votes Pct
1936 BBWAA 1 .4%
1936 Veterans 9 %
1937 BBWAA 22 10.9%
1938 BBWAA 63 24.0%
1939 BBWAA 59 21.5%
1942 BBWAA 58 24.9%
1945 BBWAA 53 21.5%
1945 Old Timers %

 

Post-Season Appearances
1903 World Series
1909 World Series

 

Milestones
Had Clarke played 20 years later, during the offensive boom of the 1920s and 1930s, he most assuredly would have reached 3,000 hits. He collected 2,672 during his career, spent primarily in the dead ball era.

Batting Feats

  • July 23, 1901: Cycle...

  • May 7, 1903: Cycle...

Notes
According to research done by SABR member Maria Vaccaro, Fred Clarke wore "smoked glasses hinged to bill of cap" in 1911 or about that time. It would be one of the earliest documented cases of a player using "flip-down" sunglasses on the field in the majors.

 

Hitting Streaks
35 games (1895)

Replaced
As a rookie in 1894 with Louisville, 21-year old Clarke replaced Larry Twitchell in left field.

Replaced By
21-year old Max Carey worked his way into left field in 1911 part-time, and by 1912 full-time. Carey went on to a Hall of Fame career, giving the Pirates a Hall of Famer in left field for more than 20 years in a row. Later, Clarke was instrumental in getting rid of Carey, with whom he had several disagreements with.

Best Strength as a Player
The measure of a power-hitter in Clarke's day was the number of triples he hit. Clarke clubbed 220 and finished in the top ten in that category 11 times. He was a very good hitter with power.

Largest Weakness as a Player
He was somewhat injury-prone.

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Tagged:
1945 Hall of Fame, Baseball History, Fred Clarke, Louisville Colonels, Pittsburgh Pirates

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