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Matty McIntyre

Matty McIntyre

Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society

Position(s):
OF
Born:
June 12, 1880
Bats:
Left
Throws:
Left
Height:
5' 11"
Weight:
175 lbs
Major League Debut:
7-03-1901 with PHA

One of baseball's forgotten men, Matty was a left-handed thrower and leadoff hitter who played more than 550 games as Detroit's left fielder with Cobb and Crawford, while the well-remembered Davy Jones sat on the bench.

Despite his impressive performance on the field, McIntyre may be best remembered as the leader of the "anti-Cobb" clique on the Tigers during Cobb's early years. McIntyre joined the Tigers in 1904 and was a 26-year old starter when 18-year old Cobb joined the team in 1905. Early in Cobb's rookie season, Cobb went after a flyball that was clearly in McIntyre's left field territory. By cutting in front, Cobb caused McIntyre to drop the ball, infuriating McIntyre. McIntyre was a Connecticut Yankee who had little in common with the taciturn kid from Georgia. McIntyre and his cohorts led a prolonged hazing campaign, locking Cobb out of an empty washroom, flicking food at Cobb, and nailing his shoes to the clubhouse floor. Cobb's legendary temper only added fuel to the fire, and the McIntyre-Cobb feud continued until McIntyre was sold to the White Sox after the 1910 season. (Cobb's feud with McIntyre is documented in Al Stump's 1994 book, "Cobb: The Life and Times of the Meanest Man Who Ever Played Baseball.")

Biography:

Matthew W. "Matty" McIntyre (June 12, 1880 – April 2, 1920) was an outfielder in Major League Baseball who played ten seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics (1901), Detroit Tigers (1904–10), and Chicago White Sox (1911–12).

Born in Stonington, Connecticut, he helped the Tigers win the American League Pennant three times, from 1907 to 1909. He led the American League in singles (131), times on base (258), and runs (105) in 1908.

In 1,072 career games, McIntyre batted .269 with 562 runs, 1,066 hits, 140 doubles, 69 triples, 4 home runs, 319 RBI, 120 stolen bases, 439 walks, 1,356 total bases, and 87 sacrifice hits.

His best season was 1908, when he helped lead the Tigers to the World Series and was the second best hitter in the American League (behind teammate Ty Cobb). In 1908, McIntyre was first in the American League in several categories: plate appearances (672), times on base (258), runs (105), and singles (131). In 1908, he was also among the leaders in almost every other offensive category: No. 2 in on base percentage (.392), fifth in batting average (.295), fifth in slugging percentage (.385), fourth in OPS (.775), third in hits (168), 4th in total bases (218), 9th in doubles (24), fifth in triples (13), third in bases on balls (83), 3rd in runs created, and 7th in extra base hits (37).

He made his major league debut in 1901 with the Philadelphia Athletics, in the American League's first year as a major league. He was born in Connecticut but had grown up on Staten Island, NY and was hitting .292 for Augusta of the New England League when the league folded in June 1901 and he was picked up by the A's. He hit .276 in 82 games in his rookie season, but was still sent back to the minors for more seasoning in 1902. He spent 1902 with Newark of the Eastern League, then hit a solid .342 for Buffalo of the same league in 1903, after flirting with .400 for much of the summer. That prompted his purchase by the Detroit Tigers at the end of the year.

McIntyre earned a starting spot in the Tigers' outfield in spring training of 1904 and would be a fixture for the team for several years, mostly playing left field with Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford as the other outfielders. He was a very good fielder, a fast baserunner and an excellent bunter, reminding many observers of the great Willie Keeler. He hit .253 in 152 games in his first season in Detroit, then upped his average to .263 in 1905, when he became the team's leadoff hitter. A left-handed batter, he was known for being equally tough on southpaws, a result of his taking extensive batting practice against any portsider he could find. Late in the 1905 season, the young Ty Cobb joined the team, but he and McIntyre would quickly begin to clash; McIntyre was the leader of a gang including catcher Boss Schmidt who picked on Cobb in his rookie year of 1906. Some people believe that McIntyre's behavior was the reason that Cobb turned so angry and thought the world was against him. That season was also memorable for other reasons, including a famous feud between McIntyre and manager Bill Armour, who lifted him from a game for not chasing a fly ball to the outfield fence, then suspended him when he protested. He was eventually reinstated after a few days and hit .260 for the year with 29 stolen bases, but this was one of a number of clashes between Armour and his troops that cost the manager his job after the season.

1907 was a lost season for McIntyre. He held out until right before opening day, while trade rumors swirled around his name, but after only 20 games, he broke his ankle sliding into first base, putting him out for the season. As a result, he missed the Tigers' first appearance in a World Series that year. In 1908 he hit .295 (fifth in the league) with 13 triples. He led the league that year in plate appearances, runs scored, and times on base. That season, the Tigers' outfield of McIntyre, Cobb and Sam Crawford was the second best of all-time, as calculated by the Win Shares method. He appeared in both the 1908 World Series (he went 4 for 18 as the Tigers lost to the Chicago Cubs) and the 1909 World Series. However, the latter season, he had hit only for a .244 average and only went to bat three times in the Series. He had lost much of his speed because of his 1907 ankle injury, and his defense was suffering as well.

After the 1909 season, Matty McIntyre organized a team of mainly Detroit players who went to Cuba to barnstorm. The experience was positive, and McIntyre returned to the island regularly in subsequent years He was even a member of the Almendares team in the Cuban Winter League in 1911 and a teammate of the great José Méndez. In 1910, he played in only 83 games with a .236 average and gradually lost his job to Davy Jones. He was sold to the Chicago White Sox after the season, where he experienced a rebirth in 1911. That year, he hit .323 with 11 triples and scored 102 runs as the Sox's regular right fielder. However, he fell off a cliff in 1912, as his batting average tumbled all the way to .167 and he was sold to San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League before the season ended.

McIntyre played for the Providence Grays of the International League in both 1913 and 1914; that second year, Providence won the pennant behind the pitching of teammates Carl Mays and Babe Ruth. He hit .310 that season, then became manager of the Lincoln Tigers of the Western League in 1915, moving on to the Mobile Sea Gulls of the Southern Association in 1916. He then played for semi-pro clubs in the Detroit area over the next seasons.

He fell victim to the influenza epidemic that swept across the globe at the end of World War I, and while he recovered, his health remained poor and he died before he was 40. His obituary in the Detroit Free Press called him a "Favorite Tiger". His main teammates included Sam Crawford (3401) and Ty Cobb (2801).

Resources:

BR Bullpen, Wikipedia and Baseball Library

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