seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

John Joseph “Jack” Doyle Becomes First Major League Pinch Hitter

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jack-doyleJohn Joseph “Jack” Doyle, Irish-American first baseman of the Cleveland Spiders in Major League Baseball, becomes the first to pinch hitter in a baseball game on June 7, 1892. He comes through with a game-winning single against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Doyle is born in Killorglin, County Kerry, on October 25, 1869, and emigrates with his family to the United States when he is a child, settling in Holyoke, Massachusetts. After attending Fordham University, Doyle embarks on a baseball career that lasts 70 years. He makes his first appearance at the major league level by signing and playing two years for the Columbus Solons of the American Association. Doyle plays for ten clubs between 1889 and 1905, batting .299 in 1,564 games with 516 stolen bases. He begins as a catcher–outfielder and becomes a first baseman in 1894. His best years are in 1894, when he bats .367 for the New York Giants, and in 1897, when he hits .354 with 62 stolen bases for the Baltimore Orioles.

Because of his aggressive playing style, Doyle is known as “Dirty Jack”, often feuding with umpires, fans, opposing players, and even at times, his own teammates. He carries on a lengthy feud with John McGraw that starts when they are teammates in Baltimore. McGraw, of course, has to have the last word. In 1902, McGraw is appointed manager of the Giants and his first act is to release Doyle, even though he is batting .301 and fielding .991 at the time. Even with these seemingly out-of-control traits, Doyle is deemed a natural leader and is selected as team captain in New York, Brooklyn and Chicago, and serves as an interim manager for the Giants in 1895 and Washington Senators in 1898.

In 1905, after playing one game with the New York Highlanders, Doyle becomes manager of Toledo of the Western Association. One year later, he is named the manager of the Des Moines Champions, so named because they won the league championship the previous year, and they win it again under Doyle’s helm. Following his championship season at Des Moines, he manages Milwaukee in 1907.

In 1908–1909, the only years of his adult life spent outside of baseball, Doyle serves as police commissioner of his hometown of Holyoke. He returns to baseball as an umpire and works in the National League for 42 games in 1911. He later joins the Chicago Cubs as a scout in 1920. He remains in that capacity until his death at age 89 on New Year’s Eve 1958. Doyle is buried at St. Jerome Cemetery in Holyoke.

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