James Francis Galvin was a right handed pitcher from St. Louis, Missouri. Born on Christmas Day in 1856, the fireballer stood only 5’8”, and was also known alternately as “Pud,” “Gentle Jeems,” and “The Little Steam Engine.” He made his big league debut in 1875 with the St. Louis Brown Stockings in the National Association, racking up a 4-2 record in eight games with a ridiculous 1.16 ERA. That was followed with four seasons out of professional ball.
Galvin resurfaced in 1879 with the Buffalo Bisons in the National League. Over parts of seven seasons, he accrued 218 wins against 179 losses with a 3.10 ERA and a total of 39 shutouts. In 1883, he set high marks in the NL with 76 games, 75 starts, 72 complete games, five shutouts, 656.1 innings pitched, and a mind-boggling 2741 batters faced. Midway through the 1885 season, the Bisons sent him to the Pittsburgh Alleghenys for either $600 or $5000, depending on your sources.
Over the last part of the 1885 season with Pittsburgh, Galvin started 11 games, completing nine of them. He posted a 3-7 record with a 3.67 ERA with only seven walks in 88.1 innings. The Alleghenys finished out the season with a decidedly average 56-55 record, finishing third in the American Association.
1886 would see Galvin post a 29-21 record with a 2.67 ERA (AA sixth in wins, fifth in ERA), both marks ranking second on the team behind fellow starter Ed Morris. He completed 49 of his 50 starts for the 80-57 Alleghenys, who finished 12 games behind the pennant winning St. Louis Browns.
In 1887, Galvin went 28-21 for Pittsburgh, collecting a 3.29 ERA while finishing 47 of his 48 starts. His record was all the more impressive considering the Pirates racked up a 55-69 record, and Galvin accounted for over half of the team’s pitching victories. He led the pitching staff in most categories, including those above, and also with three shutouts. The team finished well out of the first place money, finishing in sixth place 24 games behind the NL pennant winning Detroit Wolverines (yeah, those were different times).
Galvin continued to plod on in 1888, going 23-25 with a 2.63 ERA while completing 49 of his 50 starts. His middling success was matched by that of the Alleghenys, who went 66-68 on the season. His record, ERA, and all other significant statistics placed him in second on the team, again behind teammate Ed Morris.
In 1889, Galvin kept his win total steady while dropping in the loss column, finishing at a respectable 23-16. Although his ERA ballooned to a robust 4.17, the team seemed better when he was on the mound (The Alleghenys were 61-71, which translates to a 38-55 record without Galvin on the hill). He led the team in wins, finishing second to teammate Harry Staley in ERA, innings pitched, and strikeouts.
1890 would see Galvin jump ship to play with the Pittsburgh Burghers in the upstart Players League. He went 12-13 with a 4.35 ERA before rejoining the NL franchise in 1891.
Now known as the Pirates, Pittsburgh welcomed Galvin back, seeing him respond with a 15-14 record and a 2.88 ERA. He was the only pitcher on the club to finish with a winning record, as the Pirates floundered to a 55-80 campaign, 30.5 games behind the Boston Beaneaters.
In 1892, Galvin started the season with a 5-6 record. The Pirates traded him on June 14th to the St. Louis Browns for second baseman Cub Stricker. Galvin posted an identical 5-6 record with the Browns to close out the season and his Major League career.
Galvin joined the Hall of Fame in 1965 as a selection by the Veteran’s Committee. For a full writeup, check out his full biography, by Charles Hausberg over at SABR.ORG.
All-Time Statline: Seven seasons, 126-110, 3.10 ERA, 246 games, 241 starts, 225 CG, 17 shutouts, zero saves, 2084.2 innings pitched, 2422 hits allowed, walked 370, struck out 434, 1.253 WHIP, 18.6 wins above replacement.
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