John McGraw is no doubt known for being one the best managers in baseball history. He ranks second behind Connie Mack in career wins with 2763 and boasted a .586 winning percentage. He was a fiery competitor and was known to do what it took to win games.
|1||Connie Mack HOF||53||1894||1950||7755||3731||3948||.486||5|
|2||John McGraw HOF||33||1899||1932||4769||2763||1948||.586||3|
For eight years, McGraw was also a player-manager. Between 1899-1906 after nine years in pro baseball, ‘Little Napoleon’ took the field as manager. Some years as skipper, he really contributed at the plate. Such as 1899. That year, he hit .391 and led the league in runs and walks. Then there were years like 1905, where it almost seems like he was put in as a stop gap. In 1905, he appeared in only three games, never came to the plate and stole one base (obviously as a pinch runner). That’s it.
What does APBA do with stats like that? Well, in 1988 when the card was published, they fill his card up with 11s. He received six 11s and two 10s along with two 9s and a 14*. Using my Quick and Dirty method of estimating a batting average of an APBA card, I figure if a replayer really wanted to actually use the 1905 McGraw card at the plate, he would probably hit around .265-.270.
Even taking McGraw’s unusual situation out of context, his card is quite unconventional. He has no 8s compared to two 9s on his card meaning he would probably hit B pitchers slightly better than C pitchers (the 10s WOULD be stopped in some base situations by Bs, though). Further, McGraw’s six 11s are the equivalent of a 55-7 but the lack of the standard 8-8-8-9-9 (or even 8-8-9-9) brings his anticipated average down a bit. Having just one 14 doesn’t help either.
Another slight anomaly in McGraw’s card is the placement of the speed numbers. On those rare occurrences when early players have more than four 11s and 10s (think Maury Wills or Lou Brock), APBA generally put the fifth speed number on 55. I hardly fault APBA for breaking from the norm with McGraw’s 1905 card, though. His only other legit hit numbers were the two 9s so it just made sense.
A bit of meaningless trivia
John McGraw had a teammate on the 1905 Giants team by the name of Archibald Graham otherwise known as ‘Moonlight’ Graham. Graham was popularized in the movie Field of Dreams (portrayed by Burt Lancaster, I believe) as the player who made an appearance in one big league game but never got his chance to bat.
Thanks to Scott Fennessy for suggesting the 1905 John McGraw card!
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