SABR

King Brady

This article was written by Bill Nowlin.

If you’re a fifth-place team like the 1908 Boston Red Sox, and you have a pitcher who was a 20-game winner in the minors and appears in one game for you, throwing a late-season 4-0 shutout against New York, don’t you bring him back? Jim Brady threw that shutout – but didn’t return to the majors until 1912. When he did, it was for Boston – but the Boston Braves, not the Red Sox. And again he appeared in only one game.

Brady was 6 feet tall and weighed 190 pounds, a right-hander who had been born as James Ward Brady in Monroeville, New Jersey, in the southwestern part of the state, on May 28, 1881. He was of Irish ancestry, one of 12 children of James and Sarah Camp Brady. James Sr. was a farmer at the time of the 1900 Census and later a glassworker, whose “sons took to baseball like a duck to water. It used to be said in Elmer [next to Monroeville] that the Brady boys could put on their own team of brothers and beat a full team of nine other players.”i

King Brady’s first work in the majors came pitching two games for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1905. He had been pitching for a team in Clayton, New Jersey, in 1905, already 24 years old, when he caught the eye of the Phillies. He joined Philadelphia on September 14.

The first of Brady’s two games for the Phillies was played on September 21, a 6-1 loss to the Pirates in the second game of a doubleheader in Pittsburgh. He walked only one and struck out two, but he gave up 12 hits. Phils manager Hugh Duffy gave him a chance to redeem himself and it paid off, Brady winning the last game of the 1905 season, beating the pennant-winning Giants at the Polo Grounds (again the second game of a doubleheader) on October 7. The score was the same as the game he’d lost: 6-1. He walked one and allowed six hits in the 55-minute, five-inning game (due to darkness and a first game that had lasted ten innings).

Brady got some other work in the 16 days between the two regular-season games, starting an exhibition game in Zanesville, Ohio, against the local nine – Brady was beaten, 10-4, while pitcher Lucas of Zanesville struck out 12 Phillies; and again pitching on October 4 in Youngstown, Ohio, coming out on top there, 8-3.

The two games during regular play were the start of a major-league career that saw Brady play for four different teams in five different seasons (over an eight-year stretch) but appear in only eight games, and only through 49⅔ innings. Two of those games were the aforementioned games he pitched for the two Boston teams – one in 1908 for the Red Sox and one in 1912 for the Braves.

The team for which he pitched the most was the Pittsburgh Pirates; in 1906, he appeared in three games – again producing the same 1-1 record he had for the other Pennsylvania team, the Phillies. Most of 1906 had been spent with the Little Rock Travelers (Southern League), where he had been transferred in March and where he went 14-24, while Little Rock finished in last place (40-98). The Phillies had officially dropped Brady.ii The Pirates were doing much better; they finished third (although 23½ games behind the Chicago Cubs). Brady was aggressive in writing Pittsburgh during the season, letting the team know that after the Little Rock season was over and he was back in Philadelphia, he would call on the club when the Pirates were in Philly “and ask for a trial. Sure enough he came around. [Pirates manager Fred] Clarke put him in. He worked so well that he was taken to Brooklyn. Any man who can fan out six and seven in a game has something besides nerve.”iii

Brady apparently didn’t get much help on balls and strikes. “[Pittsburgh team] Secretary Locke wrote home that Umpire Johnstone roasted Brady at Brooklyn. The poor fellow put them right over and heard ‘ball’ called.”iv

The Pirates had probably also been impressed by Brady’s showing on August 27, when he won a 1-0 game against Montgomery, striking out 11. Officially, the Pirates drafted him in September, after Little Rock’s season was over. His first appearance for them came on September 25, indeed in Philadelphia, where he came in to throw seven innings of relief after Sam Leever had been shelled in the first inning. Brady did strike out six, and allowed six hits. Two runs were charged to him.

Brady started on September 28, lasting seven innings, giving up five runs, and losing to Brooklyn, 5-4. His third appearance was another start, on October 1, when he won, 5-1 – though he surrendered 12 hits and walked three.

The Pirates formally secured Brady’s contract from Little Rock later in October and brought him back, briefly, in 1907. He began the season with Pittsburgh, but appeared in only one game and that for only two innings – the May 30 holiday morning game against the visiting Cubs. Brady pitched the eighth and ninth, and lost the game “mainly through the wildness of [Lefty] Leifield. They secured a good lead in the third inning by scoring four runs, but lost it on bases on balls and some dopey playing.” The Cubs had a 5-4 lead when Brady came in. He allowed one run, and the Pirates lost, 6-4. (He had pitched in an exhibition game against Newark on May 19, losing 5-3.)

At one point Brady was struck by what must have been a foul ball. Sporting Life commented, “Jim Brady used to be lop-faced because he ever had a wad of loose chewin’ in his right jaw. After getting that soaker with a batted ball at Philly he was even, for the left side swelled up proportionately.”v

Brady was transferred to the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, club in the Tri-State League. The Johnnies went through three managers in 1907, and finished in sixth place, with a 46-77 record. Brady was 6-15. His record was deceptive, however, according to a report which argued, “King Brady continues to be the hard-luck pitcher of the league. He loses games day after day although he holds his opponents down to three and four hits. He is always steady, and has not had a bad day since joining Johnstown.”vi

Ed Ashenback managed the Johnnies in 1908, and Brady blossomed (or perhaps just got better run support) and finished with a 20-10 record, winning almost a third of the fifth-place team’s 64 victories. The Boston Red Sox took him in the draft and he suited up in Boston for the first time on September 14. The first time he pitched was in an exhibition game at Columbus, Ohio, on September 20 in front of 4,000 fans on an unusually hot day. Brady pitched a complete game, a 9-5 win, a couple of the runs scoring after Boston catcher Pat Donahue dropped the ball on what would have been an inning-ending play at the plate.vii

“Brady, A New Pitcher, is Effective Against Highlanders” – so read the Boston Globe headline on October 5 after Brady’s work against New York at the Huntington Avenue Grounds. The Red Sox scored twice in the second and twice in the eighth. Brady held New York to eight hits –seven according to the Globe, which assigned an error on one play to second baseman Amby McConnell. Young Tris Speaker was much of the offense; he drove in three runs for the Red Sox and scored the other one. Brady, wrote Tim Murnane, gave a “first-class exhibition. He did not pass a man and had fine speed and a raise ball that bothered the visitors. The young man was always at ease and covered his position like a ball player well trained in the fielding art.”viii Brady struck out three.

On January 27 the Globe advised readers that waivers had been obtained on 12 of the Red Sox – eight of them pitchers, and one of them Brady. The question remains: Why did the Sox let him go? It’s not as though they won all 154 games; the ’08 Red Sox finished in fifth place at 75-79. They had a 20-game winner (Cy Young, 21-11, 1.26 ERA) but he was traded to Cleveland within a month. Not one of the pitchers let go (Aitken, Brady, Friel, Glaze, Hartman, McMahon, Roberts, and Thomas) came back to the Red Sox. And it’s not as though the 1909 pitching staff wowed the league.

Brady was actually signed by Kansas City in December 1908 through a sale from the Red Sox and he began the season with them, pitching against Minneapolis on May 2 and Louisville on May 5, losing a two-hitter 1-0 on May 8, and on into June, when President Tebeau of the Kansas City club looked to cash in on Brady’s success and entertained offers for him. A deal was struck with Newark in the Eastern League.ix We don’t have statistics for Kansas City, but after the deal, Brady was 10-8 in 22 games for Newark, which finished in second place.

In 1910 Brady started with Newark again but was unconditionally released (no explanation noted) by May 20, and is found pitching for Jersey City on July 20 and with Wilkes-Barre by August 10, when a dispatch from the Pennsylvania city said that manager Bill Clymer had been “annoyed all season by the actions of three or four of the players who have been complaining, circulating false stories about the owners, and trying to cause dissension,” so he took action, discharging pitcher Applegate and signing three new pitchers, one of whom was Brady.x We have no statistics for Brady in 1910. Wilkes-Barre did repeat as New York State League champions.

Through an unknown transaction, Brady ended up pitching for Albany in 1911, and was 17-8. His best game was undoubtedly his one-hit, 2-0 shutout against Troy on September 4.

In 1912 King was one of two King Bradys in major-league ball. Both of them pitched for the Boston Nationals, and both of them appeared in just one game. William Aloysius Brady, 22, appeared for one inning in one game – the quintessential cup-of-coffee player – on September 9. He gave up two hits but retired the side without allowing a run. For Bill Brady, it was his only major-league game and, perhaps being the pinnacle of his brief career, the last he played in Organized Baseball.

Jim Brady kept playing, though. On January 20 the Braves announced his signing. There was an unusual controversy in February when Hugh Duffy of Milwaukee said he had accepted Brady’s terms and filed papers with the National Board, while Boston admitted it had not yet filed its papers. Brady said he’d actually not come to terms with Duffy, and did wind up with Boston.xi

Brady’s one game for the Braves was played on April 13. He was the second of four pitchers who faced Philadelphia that day, giving up a combined 14 runs. Brady pitched 2⅔ innings and was tagged for five hits, three bases on balls, and six runs. When the Braves left on their next road trip, Brady was one of three left behind. He was released on option to Atlanta on May 28, replacing pitcher Piggy Paige. After the season, in a case brought before the National Commission (baseball’s governing body), Brady asserted that since Atlanta had not paid him between September 15 and October 10, Boston would do so. Brady produced a signed document showing Boston’s promise, no doubt offered to induce him to go to Atlanta, the days in question representing the end of the Southern Association schedule and that of the National League. The Commission ruled in Brady’s favor.xii

William and Jim Brady weren’t even the only King Bradys around; the Washington Post reported a King Brady pitching for the Loffler Provision Company in a game later in April. But our King’s time with the Braves was up. He spent the rest of the season pitching for Atlanta (10-13) and worked for Atlanta again in 1913 (8-6). He is listed as playing for Scranton in 1914 before being turned adrift in June, and for Elmira in 1915.

After a long illness, Brady died of uremic poisoning and an internal hemorrhage on August 21, 1947, in Albany, New York. He had lived in the city for 31 years and operated a grill there, “but never sold an ounce of hard liquor.”xiii He was survived by his wife, Margaret (Corbett) Brady, his mother, five sisters, and four brothers.xiv

Where had the “King” come from? We may never know. Nothing in Brady’s record suggests a reason, save perhaps for the shutout he threw in his one game for the Red Sox. Diamond Jim Brady was a national figure of the day, but we haven’t found anything of similarity between the two Bradys. There was a comment on the subject: “There is good in the boost campaign, even if the men do not stand the pace later on. Couple of springs ago correspondents with the Pittsburgs doted on the showing made by Jim Brady, a twirler. One man styled him ‘King Brady.’ The appellation was striking. It was an enthusiasm producer. Home papers took it up. Jim B. was given space galore. His photo was ordered by wire, etc. Brady put up valiant work in the practice bouts. He didn’t last as a regular, however, when the big race started.”xv

 

Sources

In addition to the sources noted in this biography, the author also accessed Brady’s player file and player questionnaire from the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, Retrosheet.org, and Baseball-Reference.com.

 

Notes

i Obituary from unknown newspaper located in Brady’s Hall of Fame player file. The newspaper is almost certainly the Albany Times.

ii Sporting Life, March 10, 1906.

iii Sporting Life, October 13, 1906.

iv Ibid.

v Sporting Life, June 8, 1907.

vi Sporting Life, September 14, 1907.

vii Boston Globe, September 21, 1908.

viii Boston Globe, October 6, 1908.

ix Sporting Life, December 19, 1908 and February 6, 1909 both report the deal with Kansas City.

x Sporting Life, August 20, 1909.

xi Boston Globe, February 10, 1912.

xii Sporting Life, December 28, 1912.

xiii Obituary from unknown newspaper in Brady’s Hall of Fame player file, almost certainly the Albany Times.

xiv New York Times, August 23, 1947.

xv Sporting Life, April 3, 1909.

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