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Jan 12

Hank O’Day Hall of Fame

Congratulations to Hank O’Day. His combined record in Washington was 41-63, although his time here was just a footnote in his long career. In his honor we present some information about his early days in Washington.

It is not for mere mortals to try to understand the reasons why persons are selected, or not selected, to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Certainly many have written long and extensively offering their opinions on the subject. It was, we must admit, with a sense of bewilderment when we saw on the Baseball.Reference.com web site that Hank O’Day had been selected by the Veteran’s Committee to the Hall of Fame.

I would suggest the Learner family offer up to the fans a special day in 2013 to honor Mr. O’Day for his service here in Washington. we would personally select 7 June for the date. It would be a Friday night game against the Twins so fitting in other regards as well. Washington could appear as one of the most inept teams ever to play for the District, the 1884 American Association nine, and the Twins as the Toledo Association Club. For on that day Mr. O’Day came to town with his teammates from Toledo and were defeated by the Washingtons by a score of 10 to 4.

While Hank O’Day was in the box the focus was on the young Toledo catcher, Moses Fleetwood Walker. The first African American to play a major league baseball game in Washington. A 10 to 7 win.

The Washington National Republican writes in their 7 June edition. “The Toledo’s meet the Washington’s at Athletic Park this afternoon for the first time. The Toledo’s are a strong team, as is fully evident by their having warmed the Baltimore’s yesterday to the tune of 4 to 2. Walker, the noted colored catcher of the Toledo’s, will play today, and will no doubt serve to attract many desirous of witnessing the colored man and brother in this new field of labor.

“The Washington’s downed the Toledo’s in good style. Their batting was light, but was materially helped by some damaging errors made by Toledo. It is hoped that the boys will now take courage and play the good games they are capable of.” The Washington’s score four runs in the first and two more in the second to put the game out of reach. It has been a tough year for the club, the hitting has been weak and the pitching has been unable to carry the club. The game was witnessed by a small crowd. Ed Trumbull is in the box and showed more command of the ball than he has for some time. John Humphries‘ catching is the feature of the game. Second baseman Thorny Hawkes also played well and caught everything hit to him. EE Smith playing his first game for Washington appears to be a good hitter. Buck Gladmon guarded his territory about third base to perfection.

The win is the fifth for the Washington’s. Hank O’Day strikes out ten batters and gets the loss. O’Day is also charged with five wild pitches. Ed Trumbull stuck out eight batters with his swift pitching, Toledo failing to master it,”

The Washington National Republican writes, “Walker the colored catcher, caught O’Day’s wild and swift pitching well, considering the formidable nature of the task.”

In July 1885 the Washington Nationals, now a member of the Eastern League, are on the lookout for pitching.

“This is said to be a low point for baseball in Washington. The poor play of Washington on the recent road trip brought comments from the press. The problem is described as too much “lushing” by the players and weakness in the pitching box. Michael Scanlon has been unable to accompany the team on road trips because of business commitments. The players have been criticized for “lushing” having “too good a time on the road. “One player on the team has been able to perform despite his activities but it is a question of time. Others who try to emulate him do not recover as quickly.”

The best pitcher, Bob Barr, was also a government employee and only available for home games, leaving Charlie Geggus and Abner Powell to do the bulk of the work on the road. Geggus has been hampered by a lame arm. Powell is a good hitter and fielder and has been used on the mound but the results have not been good.

Bill Wise will be engaged for the rest of the season. If given a chance he is capable of great work in the box. His fielding is number one and he keeps runners close. Hank O’Day late of Pittsburgh has been given a liberal offer but has not replied.

On the 25th of July the Nationals release Charlie Geggus and Tom Morrissey, and engage Sam Trott and Hank O’Day. Morrissey for his drinking and Geggus for his arm. O’Day is said to be a very fair pitcher, but not as good as Geggus when the latter was in his best form. Nor was hank O’Day the pitcher Michael Scanlon really wanted. That pitcher was Frank Mountain. But Pittsburgh could be induced to release him.

Hank O’Day made his first start for Washington on 30 July, a 15 to 6 win at home over Trenton. We would suggest the Bowie Baysox offer up a bobble head of Mr. O’Day on this date when they host the Manchester nine. Might be a nice marketing touch for them.

Here is a recap of his first game, “A long, and but for a few brilliant plays would have been a very uninteresting game. The home management put Hank O’Day their new pitcher, in the box, and he may be considered a good one, as the visitors did not bat him with any success until the eighth inning. O’Day struck out five, allowed one walk and one hit batter. The new man has all the curves, his inshoots being very deceptive, and his speed, coupled with a good command of the ball, should make him a teaser for visiting statesmen. The batting stars are Buster Hoover and Phil Baker. Mike Tiernan who struck out thirteen on his last start here is wild walking five.”