Cuppy on the front cover of Sporting Life, February 11, 1893
July 3, 1869|
|Died: July 22, 1922
|April 16, 1892 for the Cleveland Spiders|
Last MLB appearance
|August 7, 1901 for the Boston Americans|
|Earned run average||3.48|
George Joseph "Nig" Cuppy (July 3, 1869 – July 27, 1922) was an American baseball pitcher during the 1890s. He spent nine years of his 10-year major league career as the number two starter behind Cy Young.
Cuppy was born George Maceo Koppe in Logansport, Indiana (it is unclear at what point he changed his name but "Cuppy" is the phonetic spelling of the German name "Koppe"). His rookie season came with the Cleveland Spiders in 1892, two years after Cy Young's debut with the team. In his first season Cuppy recorded an ERA of 2.51 and a record of 28–13, a performance better than either of Young's first two major league seasons. However, Cuppy was never able to match these figures. In 1893 the distance between the pitcher's mound and home plate increased from 50 feet to 60 feet, 6 inches. Although he remained an effective pitcher throughout the rest of his career, after this rule was enacted he never recorded an ERA under 3.00.
On August 9, 1895, Cuppy scored five runs against the Chicago Colts in an 18–6 victory, the most runs ever scored by a pitcher in a major league baseball game. In 3 post-season appearances with the Spiders (1892, 1895–96) he compiled a 1–4 record. In three of his four losses, his teammates were shut out.
Cuppy remained with the Spiders until March 29, 1899, when the club's owners transferred him, along with the majority of the roster, to their other team, the St. Louis Perfectos. He spent only one season with the Perfectos before being sold to the Boston Beaneaters on May 23, 1900. The 1900 season was the only year of his career in which he did not pitch with Young. At the end of the season, during which he had recorded an ERA of 3.04 and a win-loss record of 8–4, he moved across town to the newly formed Boston Americans.
The 1901 season, Cuppy's last in major league baseball, resulted in the only season in which he had a losing record, albeit he did have a career-low 13 appearances. Cuppy was released by Boston in August 1901.
His nickname, "Nig", is often adjudged to be a racist reference to his dark complexion. In the first half of the 20th century, before the game was integrated, ballplayers with a dark complexion were sometimes nicknamed "Nig". In addition to Cuppy, the following other major league players bore the nickname: Johnny Beazley (1941–49), Joe Berry (1921–22), Bobby Bragan (1940–48), Nig Clarke (1905-1920), Nig Fuller (1902), Johnny Grabowski (1923–31), Don Gutteridge (1936–1948), Nig Lipscomb (1937), Charlie Niebergall (1921–24), Nig Perrine (1907), and Frank Smith (1904–15).
- "Nig Cuppy". Retrosheet.org. Retrieved 2006-11-27.
- "Baseball Rule Change Timeline". Baseball-Almanac.com. Retrieved 2006-11-27.
- Arthurs, Al. "Nig Cuppy". BaseballLibrary.com. Retrieved 2006-11-27.
- "Runs Scored Records". Baseball-Almanac.com. Retrieved 2006-11-27.
- Glory Fades Away, by Jerry Lansche, 1991, Taylor Publishing, ISBN 0-87833-726-1
- http://bioproj.sabr.org/bioproj.cfm?a=v&v=l&bid=3100&pid=15364 at bioproj.sabr.org