March 16, 1859|
New York City
|Died: August 16, 1927
|May 2, 1881, for the Providence Grays|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 10, 1894, for the Louisville Colonels|
|Career highlights and awards|
Jeremiah Dennis Denny (Jeremiah Dennis Eldridge; March 16, 1859 in New York City – August 16, 1927 in Houston, Texas) was a third baseman in Major League Baseball. Denny holds the distinction of being the last Major League position player (non-pitcher) to play his entire career on the diamond without wearing a fielding glove.
Over 13 professional seasons he played for the Providence Grays (1881–1885), St. Louis Maroons (1886), Indianapolis Hoosiers (1888–1889), New York Giants (1890–1891), Cleveland Spiders (1891), Philadelphia Phillies (1891), and Louisville Colonels (1893–1894). After leaving the Major Leagues, Denny continued playing Minor League baseball until 1902.
Unconventional fielding technique
At the time Denny began his professional career, fielding gloves had not yet become standard equipment, other than padded mitts for catchers and first basemen. Fielding gloves gradually gained acceptance between 1885 and the mid-1890s, but Denny refused to adapt. He was one of the few ambidextrous major league players; although he threw primarily with his right arm, he could also toss with his left. This gave him a defensive advantage at his customary field position—in ranging to his left on a ground ball, if he saw a play at second base, instead of having to transfer the ball to his right hand while pivoting and repositioning his body (as third basemen would customarily do), Denny could dispatch the ball to second with his left hand. This skill contributed to his refusal to wear a glove in the field, long after most players considered gloves essential.
In 1884, Denny helped the National League champion Grays defeat the New York Metropolitans of the American Association in the major leagues' first post-season championship match-up. That season, he was the Grays' leader in home runs (six, and one in the championship series) and runs batted in (59), and second in extra base hits (37).
His career totals are 1,237 Games and 4,946 At Bats, 714 Runs, 1,286 Hits, 238 Doubles, 76 Triples, 74 Home runs, 667 RBI, 130 Stolen bases, 173 Walks, a Batting average of.260, an On-base percentage of.287, a Slugging percentage of.384, and 1,898 Total bases.
He led the National League in Games (85) in 1881 and Strikeouts (79) in 1888.
Use of name "Jerry Denny"
Eldridge attended St Mary's College, Phoenix in the late 1870s, and wanted to play semi-professional baseball during the summer months, when he wasn't playing for the college as an amateur. He used the pseudonym "Jerry Denny" to hide his professional play from the college.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Bio at ProvidenceGrays.org
- Player bio at Baseball Historian
- Obituary, New York Times, August 17, 1927
- The 1884 Providence Grays' season and championship were chronicled in Edward Achorn's Fifty-Nine in '84: Old Hoss Radbourn, Barehanded Baseball, and the Greatest Season a Pitcher Ever Had (HarperCollins, 2010), in which Denny makes cameo appearances.
- Jerry Denny at Find a Grave