“This glove business has gone a little too far. True, hot-hit balls do sting a little at the opening of the season, but after you get used to it there is no trouble on that score.” – Bid McPhee
John “Bid” McPhee is regarded as one of the best defensive second basemen in the 19th century. For almost his entire 18-year career, McPhee took the field without benefit of a glove. He first used a glove in 1896 when he was 36 and promptly set a record for fielding percentage by a second baseman.
McPhee played his whole career with the Cincinnati Reds, beginning in 1882 when the organization was a part of the American Association and called the Red Stockings. That season, McPhee helped the Red Stockings to the American Association championship.
Aside from his defense, McPhee was also known for his ability to hit triples. He only once led the league in triples (19 in 1887), but he ranks 11th all-time with 189. He also stole more than 568 bases and scored 100-or-more runs 10 times.
But McPhee’s refusal to wear a glove may be his most remembered quality. When he finally put on a glove for the first time, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported it was in an attempt to protect a sore he had developed on his left hand. His fielding percentage jumped from .955 in 1895 to .978 in 1896.
McPhee retired after the 1899 season at the age of 39. He finished with a career .272 batting average, 1,684 runs scored and a .944 fielding percentage, having led his league's second basemen in double plays 11 times, putouts nine times, fielding percentage seven times and assists six times. His 6,552 putouts remain the most of any second baseman in history.
McPhee passed away on Jan. 3, 1943. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2000.