Michael Francis Welch Born as Michael Francis Walsh (July 4, 1859 – July 30, 1941), nicknamed "Smiling Mickey", was a Major League Baseballpitcher. He was the third pitcher to accumulate 300 career victories. Welch was born in Brooklyn, New York, and played 13 seasons in the major leagues, three with the Troy Trojans, and 10 with the New York Gothams/Giants. He was very successful with an effective curveball, a change of pace, and a version of the screwball. During his 13 major league seasons, he posted 20 or more wins nine times, seven in succession.
Welch made his major league debut in 1880, winning 34 games for the Troy Trojans. On July 6, 1880, he pitched a one-hitter against the Cleveland Blues. Welch's totals dipped during the following two seasons, when he began to split starts with Tim Keefe, who also went on to win more than 300 games. The duo would only enjoy moderate success over the course of three seasons with the Trojans, a team that never finished higher than fourth in the National League during its four season run.
After the Trojans disbanded after the 1882 season, the New York Gothams replaced them, taking many of the Troy players, including Welch. He resumed a heavy workload in 1883, throwing 426 innings in 54 games. This time he split pitching duties with John Montgomery Ward, which turned out to be Ward's final season as a regular pitcher. His two finest individual seasons came in 1884, when he went 39-21 with 345 strikeouts and a 2.50 ERA, and 1885, when he went 44-11 with 258 strikeouts and a 1.66 ERA. That 1885 season saw Welch and Keefe reunite as a two-man pitching rotation, with Keefe having a 32-13 win/loss record. The team, now called the Giants, had an incredible record of 85 and 27, with Welch winning 17 consecutive games at one point, but finished second to the Chicago White Stockings, who finished with a record of 87-25. Welch holds the record for most consecutive batters struck out to begin a game, with 9, set on August 28, 1884. The record still stands today, although Tom Seaver now holds the consecutive strikeout record with 10, which he accomplished in 1970.
Welch's career slowed down after the Giants won the National League pennant in 1888 and 1889. He retired after one start in the 1892 season having compiled 307 victories, 210 losses, 1850 strikeouts and a career 2.71 ERA.
On September 10, 1889, he is credited as having become the first pinch hitter in Major League history, when he batted for Hank O'Day‚ and struck out. Conventional wisdom indicates that this must have been an injury situation since a rule allowing pinch hitters in non-injury situations was not instituted until 1892. The first pinch hitter under that rule is generally agreed to be Jack Doyle‚ on June 7‚ 1892. On April 24, 1890, with the score tied 2-2 in the 7th inning between his Giants and the Boston Beaneaters‚ Welch got into an argument with umpire McDermott, an argument that resulted in the umpire declaring the game forfeited to host Boston.