September 28, 1865|
|Died: January 31, 1926
|April 17, 1886, for the Philadelphia Athletics|
|Last MLB appearance|
|April 30, 1898, for the St. Louis Browns|
|Runs batted in||835|
Louis W. Bierbauer (September 28, 1865 – January 31, 1926) was an American professional baseball player of German descent. He was a second baseman in Major League Baseball during the late 1880s and 1890s. Over that period of time, he played for the Philadelphia Athletics of the American Association before joining many other major leaguers in jumping to the Brooklyn Ward's Wonders in the newly formed Players' League for the 1890 season, a league which folded after just one year of play.
A "piratical" act
When the Players' League folded in 1891, pretty much every player that left the National League or the American Association for the league in 1890 was allowed to return to their original team. However Lou Bierbauer never signed a contract to return to Philadelphia Athletics. The National League's Pittsburg Alleghenys realizing Bierbauer's absence in the Athletics line-up soon became determined to sign him at all cost.
Alfred Spink, the founder of the Sporting News, wrote about the incident in his 1910 book "The National Game". According to Spink, the Alleghenys' manager, Ned Hanlon, traveled to Presque Isle in the dead of winter to sign him, crossing the ice on the harbor during a snow storm. He finally reached Bierbauer's home and got him to sign a contract with Allegheny.
The Athletics, upon learning of this deal, objected to Bierbauer's signing and stated that he should return to the A's, since that was the team that employed him before his defection to the failed Players' League. An official for the American Association also objected to Bierbauer signing with the Alleghenys and called the act "piratical." However the Alleghenys contended that since "the [American Association] did not reserve Bierbauer, he was a free agent". An arbitrator agreed, and soon players and fans alike were calling the team the "Pittsburg Pirates."
Alfred Spink would go on to call Bierbauer the "one-time king of second basemen", a great "all-around player" who dominated both the National League and the American Association. In a 1955 story also reprinted in The Pirates Reader, a friend of Bierbauer told the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph that "Louie loved the Pirates and rooted for them until the day of his death in 1926."
- Nemec, David (2004). The Beer and Whisky League : The Illustrated History of the American Association—Baseball's Renegade Major League. Guilford: The Lyons Press. ISBN 1-59228-188-5.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs
- Lou Bierbauer at Find a Grave