Cincinnati Reds fans will assert that Joe Morgan was the best
second baseman in the team's long history. Johnny Temple was
good, too, but he wasn't in Morgan's class. There were others
like Alex Kampouris and Tommy Helms and Hughie Critz talented,
but not sensational.
the turn of the century, in an era when baseball was a different
game from what it is today, there was a second baseman with the
Cincinnati Reds who was in a class by himself among professional
baseball players. His name was John Alexander McPhee,
affectionately known as Bid McPhee.
was lauded in his day as the "king bee of second basemen" by
Cincinnati fans and by a majority of others scattered around the
all the skills needed to be a
standout, and the Reds were once offered the sensational sum of
$10,000 by Cap Anson for McPhee's contract. He held the
Cincinnati career record for most hits until a fellow named Pete
Rose broke it some 70 years later. He once stole 96 bases in one
season and had more than 700 in his career. He set a fielding
mark that stood for 29 years.
did that without wearing a glove in the field. Bid
McPhee was one of the last major league infielders to begin
using a leather fielding aid, and he did it only in the final
three years of his career - after setting a one-season fielding
mark of .982.
in an interview in
April 12, 1890, said, "No, I never use a glove on either hand in
a game. I have never seen the necessity of wearing one; and
besides, I cannot hold a thrown ball if there is anything on my
hands. This glove business has gone a little too far. It is all
wrong to suppose that your hands will
battered out of shape if you don't use them (gloves). True,
hot-hit balls do sting a little at the opening of the season,
but after you get used to it, there is no trouble on that
in New York, McPhee was raised in a small Illinois town, played
three seasons of
league baseball in Davenport, Iowa, and Toledo, Ohio, before
joining the Reds in 1892. It took a great deal of convincing by
the Cincinnati management to persuade McPhee to play baseball.
He was an
accountant in the off-season and made more money keeping books
than the Reds were willing to pay for playing baseball. But
Cincinnati upped its ante and McPhee gave up his accounting
McPhee spent all 18 of his major league seasons with the Reds.
For two years, 1901 and 1902, he was
the team's manager. Later, he scouted for Cincinnati. He broke
all ties with baseball after the 1909 campaign.
1932 an article in
proclaimed that McPhee had passed ro "that great infield in the
sky," bur all the time he was living in obscurity in
Beach, California, a community near San Diego. "It is not often
a man has the pleasure of reading his own obituary," McPhee
telling one and all that he was very much alive.
lived another 11 years in retirement away from the game he
played so well, dying at the age of 83 in 1943.
can only wonder what he would think today of the huge gloves
that adorn the hands of baseball's infielders.