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Happy Birthday "Hug"

Updated: Jun 25, 2020

Yesterday, in Mountain Athletic Club history, Miller James Huggins - among the best second basemen of the dead-ball era and one of the smallest big leaguers of all time (5' 1" or 5'2" and 125 lbs) - was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1878.

Hug had a solid thirteen year career with the Reds and St. Louis Cardinals, but is best remembered with plaques in Cooperstown (inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1964) and Yankee Stadium's Monument Park for his managerial career. Huggins led the Yankees' "murderer's row" teams of Ruth and Gehrig to three World Series titles in 1923, 1927, 1928.

Huggins joined the Fleischmann nine in the Summer of 1900 when Julius Fleischmann took over a Cincinnati sporting goods store owned team called Spinney's Specials to beef up his Catskills club. The 1900 campaign for the Tourists (as they were often referred to) was their best season. One report stated that the "crack private baseball team of the millionaire Mayor" only lost four out of sixty games. Hug is pictured here sitting below Mayor Fleischmann:

Other players on that team (pictured above) include Charles "Red" Dooin (C) who still holds the Philadelphia Phillies franchise record for games caught; Guy Harris "Doc" White a crafty pitcher for the Chicago White Stockings that held a major league record for consecutive scoreless innings for 64 years; Nick Altrock, famous baseball clown and the oldest player to hit a triple in professional baseball at age 47, and George "Whitey" Rohe (3B) who's clutch hitting led the 1906 ChiSox "hitless wonders" to the pennant over the Cubs.

Among their most notable games in 1900 was when they traveled to Cincinnati to take on the Reds. Huggins appeared in this game using an assumed name "Proctor". Being back home in Cincinnati, Huggins didn't want his father - a strict Methodist and clearly not big on baseball - to see his name in the box score. Black Jack Keenan - a player who had a tea cup of coffee in the big leagues (he appeared in only one game) pitched the M.A.C. to a win that day.

In another contest that year, the M.A.C. traveled to Albany for a strong pitching performance from "Doc" White (shown here as "Harris"). Notice Huggins is using his birth name on this roster.

Huggins died rather young at 51 years, 9-2 likely due to the stress of managing Ruth and the Yankees. He had garnered so much respect for his baseball knowledge and personality, that on the day of his funeral, all games in the Major Leagues were cancelled to honor the "Little Manager". His old battery mate from the M.A.C., shortstop "Peekskill" Pete Cregan was on hand that day. Cregan's family recalled a story that the guards holding back the crowds from the small church that day had let Pete up front to where he could pay his last respects.

Sources: A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center @ National Baseball Hall of Fame, Brian McKenna, Steve Steinberg, John Thorn, wikipedia

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