January 20, 1859|
County Cork, Ireland
|Died: April 25, 1944
|August 27, 1881, for the Detroit Wolverines|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 26, 1894, for the Cleveland Spiders|
|Earned run average||3.05|
|Career highlights and awards|
Anthony John "Tony" Mullane (January 20, 1859 – April 25, 1944), nicknamed "Count" and "The Apollo of the Box", was an Irish Major League Baseball player who pitched for seven teams during his 13-season career. He is best known as a pitcher that could throw left-handed and right-handed, and for having one of the highest career win totals of pitchers not in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Born in County Cork, Ireland, Mullane emigrated to the United States in 1864. He made his Major League debut with the Detroit Wolverines on August 27, 1881, picking up his first career win 9–1 over the Chicago White Stockings.
Mullane suffered an injury to his right arm and managed to teach himself to throw left-handed. Mullane resumed throwing right-handed once the injury healed, and he would even alternate throwing right-handed and left-handed in the same game, which was easy for him since he did not wear a glove. Mullane would face the batter with both hands on the ball, and then use either one to throw a pitch.
It was not for over a hundred years before another ambidextrous pitcher, Greg A. Harris, using a specially made ambidextrous glove, did get to switch-pitch in one game shortly before he retired with the Montreal Expos, becoming the only such pitcher in the 20th Century. Harris had spent most of his career prohibited by the Red Sox from pitching left-handed. On June 5, 2015 Pat Venditte began his major league career by switch pitching two scoreless innings for the Oakland Athletics.
In 1882, Mullane moved on to the American Association and joined the Louisville Eclipse, where he started 55 of the team's 80 games and compiled a record of 30–24 with a 1.88 ERA, the first of five consecutive 30-win seasons. On September 11, he pitched a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Red Stockings. He recorded 35 victories with the 1883 St. Louis Browns.
In 1884, Mullane attempted to sign with the St. Louis Maroons of the Union Association, a new independent league, even though under the reserve clause the Browns still had rights to his services. Threatened with banishment for defying his contract, Mullane relented. The Browns then sold Mullane to the expansion Toledo Blue Stockings, with whom Mullane won a career-high 36 games. The Browns attempted to reclaim Mullane after the 1884 season when both the Union Association and the Blue Stockings folded, but before the Browns could re-sign him under the rules, Mullane managed to sign with Cincinnati. For this action, the American Association suspended Mullane for the entire 1885 season. Coming in the midst of his string of consecutive 30-win seasons, this likely cost Mullane a 300-win career.
Following the suspension, Mullane joined the Cincinnati Red Stockings for the 1886 season and remained there for the next seven and a half years, over which he won 163 games. At the plate, in 1889 he recorded career-highs with 24 stolen bases, a .296 batting average and a slugging percentage of .418 in 196 at-bats.
The 1893 season brought several rules changes, most notably the moving of the pitcher's mound an additional five feet from home plate. Mullane began the season a mediocre 6–6, and was traded to the Baltimore Orioles on June 16. He staggered to an 18–25 record with the Orioles in a little more than one full season over 1893 and 1894. Mullane set a dubious record on June 18, 1894, by allowing 16 runs in the first inning of a game with the Boston Beaneaters. A month later he was traded once again, this time to the Cleveland Spiders, for whom he played only four games.
Mullane retired after the 1894 season with a record of 284–220 and a 3.05 ERA over a 13-year career. He also worked five games as an umpire. His 284 wins tie him with Ferguson Jenkins for 27th on the all-time list; he is fourth among eligible pitchers not in the Hall of Fame, behind only Roger Clemens (354), Bobby Mathews (297) and Tommy John (288). Mullane still holds the record for the most wild pitches in Major League history, with 343.
After his baseball career, Mullane went on to join the Chicago Police Department, from which he retired in 1924. Tony Mullane died at the age of 85 years in Chicago, and is interred in an unmarked grave (grave 2, lot 48, block 5, section 58) at Holy Sepulchre Catholic Cemetery located in Worth, Illinois. He was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds' Hall of Fame on July 17, 2010.
- List of Major League Baseball career wins leaders
- List of Major League Baseball annual strikeout leaders
- List of Major League Baseball annual saves leaders
- List of players from Ireland in Major League Baseball
- List of Major League Baseball no-hitters
- List of St. Louis Cardinals team records
- Pat Venditte and Greg A. Harris, also switch pitchers
- Jackson, Frank. "The Plunks of Hazard: Baseball's order of the Purple Heart". hardballtimes.com. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
- "Tony Mullane's career statistics". retrosheet.org. Retrieved 2008-08-29.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Playing statistics at Retrosheet
- BaseballLibrary.com profile
- Mullane's obituaries in The New York Times and Chicago Daily News
- Tony Mullane at Find a Grave
September 11, 1882