Mickey Welch

Michael Francis Welch
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 1973
Primary team: New York Giants
Primary position: Pitcher

Michael “Mickey” Welch became the third pitcher in baseball history to reach 300 wins on July 28, 1890 against Pittsburgh. The only two hurlers that preceded him were Pud Galvin and Timothy Keefe.

The right-hander relied on an assortment of off-speed pitches to keep him effective on the mound. He was able to find continued success using the number of different pitches he had in his artillery, and taking time to understand the players he was throwing to.

“I studied the hitters and I knew how to pitch to all of them,” Welch said. “I had a pretty good fastball, but I depended chiefly on a change of pace and an assortment of curveballs.”

Over his first big league season with the Troy Haymakers in 1880, Welch went 34-30 and threw a total of 574 innings. When the franchise moved to New York in 1883, he pitched the first game in the original Polo Grounds in New York City. Welch also played 38 games in the outfield that season.

In 1884 Welch completed 62 of his 65 starts, winning 39 games and fanning a career-high 345 batters. On Aug. 28, 1884, he struck out the first nine Cleveland Blues batters he faced, a record that has yet to be matched in the major leagues.

He was able to utilize his array of pitches en route to becoming a nine-time 20-plus game winner. His best season was in 1885 when he won 44 games, including seven shutouts. From July 18 to Sept. 4 of that year, Welch notched 17 consecutive victories with four shutouts and four one-run games. He completed each of the 55 games he started that year and posted a 1.66 ERA.

Teamed up with Keefe, the pair won 76 games for the New York Giants during the 1885 season. Keefe was the only pitcher in the league to have a better ERA than Welch, at 1.58.

Together, the duo was responsible for 61 of New York’s wins in 1888, bringing their team to its first pennant. The Giants were once again league champions when Welch went 27-12 in 1889.

Welch recorded 40 total shutouts in his career, and won 10 of them by just a 1-0 score. He remains among the baseball leaders in complete games with 525 and in innings pitched with 4801. He also held a 309-212 career record, and notched 1850 strikeouts along the way.

Not only was he effective on the mound, but Welch also hit for decent numbers as a pitcher. He had 492 career hits, and 92 of them were doubles. The hurler didn’t bat lower than .200 in his first eight seasons.

Welch was also the first ever major league pinch hitter. On Aug. 10, 1889, he batted for teammate Hank O’Day in the bottom of the fifth inning.

"Smiling Mickey’s pay check never exceeded $4,000 a year and he earned the money. Manager Jim Mutrie had him playing centerfield on the days he wasn’t pitching and he also had to be at the park an hour ahead of time to watch the turnstile. "
Obituary, 1941

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Career stats

Year Inducted: 1973
Primary Team: New York Giants
Position Played: Pitcher
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Birth place: Brooklyn, New York
Birth year: 1859
Died: 1941, Concord, New Hampshire
Played for:
Troy Trojans (1880-1882)
New York Giants (1883-1892)
Innings PitchedIP
Winning %Winning %
Games StartedGS
Complete GamesCG
Earned RunsER