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John Montgomery Ward

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John Montgomery Ward

A photo of John Montgomery Ward.

John Montgomery Ward (March 3, 1860March 4, 1925) was a 19th century Major League Baseball star pitcher, shortstop and manager. Ward was a pitcher and outfielder for his first 7 seasons and then played 11 years as a shortstop and second baseman. He also acted as player-manager and was a leader of the 1879 pennant winning Providence Grays, posting 47 victories as a 19-year old pitcher. Ward together with Ned Hanlon formed the first baseball players union, The Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players in 1885, successfully challenging the player reserve clause. He also was one of the leads in forming a new baseball league - the Players League - which lasted one year. Throughout his career, Ward played with many of the legendary 19th century ballplayers including Charles Radbourn, Roger Connor, Buck Ewing, James "Tip" O'Neill and Dave Orr. While most modern sources use the name “Monte” when referring to Ward, during his time as a player and manager the nickname seldom used by Ward, his team mates, Major League Baseball or the vast majority of the press.

Baseball Hof
John Montgomery Ward
is a member of
the Baseball
Hall of Fame

Ward was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, and later attended Penn State University. In his short time there, he helped jump start a baseball program and is often credited for developing the first curveball. Ward entered the National League with the Providence Grays in 1878 and played that season exclusively as a pitcher, going 22-13 with 1.51 ERA. Over the following two seasons, while seeing increasing time in the outfield and at third base, Ward had his two finest seasons as a pitcher, going 47-19 with 239 strikeouts and a 2.15 ERA in 1879 and 39-24 with 230 strikeouts and a 1.74 ERA in 1880. Perhaps more remarkably, he pitched nearly 600 innings each year (587.0 in 1879 and 595.0 in 1880).

Ward moved to the New York Gothams (renamed the Giants in 1885) in 1883, completed his transition from a pitcher to an everyday player in 1884, and became the every day shortstop in 1885. Ward played for the Brooklyn Ward's Wonders in 1890 in the short-lived Players League before returning to the National League to play for the Brooklyn Grooms in 1891 and 1892. Ward finished his career after playing the 1893 and 1894 seasons with the New York Giants. He accumulated 1408 runs, 26 home runs, 867 RBI and a .275 batting average, including three seasons batting over .300. He is the only major league player to win 100 or more games as a pitcher, and to accumulate 2000 or more hits as a batter. (Babe Ruth won 94 games as a pitcher.)

Ward retired from baseball at age 34 in order to enter the legal profession. As a successful lawyer he represented baseball players against the National League. Later he acted as president of the Boston Braves franchise and became an official in the short lived Federal League in 1914. One interesting fact of Ward's career was he pitched the second perfect game in baseball history, both occurring within a six day period. Pitching for Providence against Buffalo on June 17, 1880, Ward retired 27 batters in a row, striking out two, and won 5-0. John Lee Richmond had thrown baseball's first perfect game just five days before, on June 12. The next complete perfect game by a National League pitcher wouldn't happen for 84 years, when Jim Bunning pitched a perfect game on Father's Day in 1964 for the Phillies vs. the New York Mets. Harvey Haddix had 12 perfect innings in a 1959 game.

Ward also managed parts of seven seasons (1880, 1884, 1890, 1891, 1892, 1893, 1894), accumulating 412 wins and 320 losses for a .563 winning percentage.

He was selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veteran's Committee in 1964, after a heated electioneering campaign by baseball historian Lee Allen. Chosen with him were Burleigh Grimes, Red Faber, Heinie Manush, Tim Keefe, and Miller Huggins.

John Montgomery (Monte) Ward died the day following his 65th birthday on March 4, 1925 and is interred in Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale, Long Island, New York.

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Preceded by:
Tommy Bond
National League ERA Champion
1878
Succeeded by:
Tommy Bond
Preceded by:
John Lee Richmond
Perfect game pitcher
June 17, 1880
Succeeded by:
Cy Young
Preceded by:
Bill McGunnigle
Brooklyn Grooms Manager
1891–1892
Succeeded by:
Dave Foutz
Preceded by:
Pat Powers
New York Giants Manager
1893–1894
Succeeded by:
George Davis

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