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Fred Clarke
#?? | Left fielder | Pittsburgh Pirates


Fred Clifford Clarke: "Cap"

     As a brash 21-year-old, he set a still-standing major league record by going 5-for-5 in his major league debut with the Louisville Colonels on June 30, 1894.  Fearless and dynamic, he considered each season a war and each game a battle.  In 1897, he batted .406 as the team's player-manager, only to lose the batting title to Willie Keeler.  In addition to his hitting prowess, he was an outstanding outfielder and manager.

     After the 1899 season, Clarke was one of the 14 players who went to Pittsburgh when Dreyfuss virtually merged the Pirates and Colonels.  With the best players from both teams, Clarke had hitters like Honus Wagner and Ginger Beaumont in the lineup, and great pitchers Jack Chesbro, Deacon Phillipe, and eventually Vic Willis.  Clarke's powerhouse won 859 games in 1901-09 (.634 winning percentage).  Clarke's strong leadership, potent bat, and a star-studded lineup accounted for three straight NL pennants, culminating with the first World Series in 1903, which the Pirates lost to the Boston Pilgrims (Red Sox).

 

     Following the Louisville-Pittsburgh merger in 1900, he guided the Pirates to three straight pennants from 1901 to 1903, and then took the 1909 Pirates - one of the greatest teams ever assembled - to the World Series.  That team amassed a club-record 110 wins, and Clarke hit two homers against Detroit in the Series, which the Pirates won in seven games.

     That was Clarke's last great achievement.  He had just completed four straight sub-.300 seasons as a hitter, after having hit over .300 ten times in his first 13 campaigns.  Pushing sore, aging legs, Cap hit .324 in 1911, then virtually stopped playing, though he appeared in 12 games in 1913-15.  After the 1915 season, he quit baseball and returned to his Kansas ranch.

 

 


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