Friday, April 23, 2010

T206 Brooklyn Dodgers: Harry Lumley

I've decided that I'm going to do a little feature that focuses on Brooklyn players from the most famous and storied of all Baseball sets. The T206 is one of the most recognizable Baseball cards outside of the hobby. After all, most folks have heard and seen a photo of the Honus Wagner, the most valuable card around. They were produced by the American Tobacco Company from 1909 to 1911 and were inserted into at least 16 different smoking products. When it comes to the team from Brooklyn there are 26 different cards with 6 players having two different poses. Only one Hall of Famer is represented, Zach Wheat, so it won't be too expensive to put together. Still at nearly $20 to $30 for a common card in VG condition it can be a challenge.
Harry Lumley, nicknamed "Judge," played his entire 7 year Major League career for the Brooklyn Superbas. In his rookie season, 1904, he lead the league in home runs (9) and triples (18), which has never been done since. That year he also lead the team in batting (.279) and RBI's (78). Had there been a rookie of the year award he surely would have won. The future looked bright for the young man from Forest City, PA.
Ring Lardner described Lumley as one of a dozen left-handed hitters "who hit fly balls or high line drives and who hit them so far that opposing right- and centre-fielders moved back and rested their spinal columns against the fence when it was these guys' turn to bat."
Two years later was the best of his career. Lumley batted .324, nearly 100 points higher than the team average, lead the league in slugging at .477 and had a OPS+ of 179 (also a league best). In addition to his prolific hitting he stole 35 bases. Instantly, he became Brooklyn's most popular player. Unfortunately, this year would be the start of some physical woes.

He would be hampered by both injuries and an inability to stay in playing weight- a vintage version of Belliard or Belisario. In 1906 he suffered from both rheumatism and a split finger, broke his ankle in 1907 while sliding, hurt his good leg a year later and then injured his shoulder in 1909. Nevertheless, he was named team captain in 1908 and became the manager at the end of the season. He stayed on in that position for the entire 1909 season. Unfortunately, by 1910 he was replaced by Bill Dahlen as manager and played in only 8 games that year before being released.

Read more about him at SABR's Biography Project.

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