SABR

Ed Hughes

This article was written by Bill Nowlin.

There aren’t very many players at all who played as both a pitcher and a catcher, and never played another position. It likely helped Ed Hughes that he had a noted brother who preceded him in baseball – Long Tom Hughes, who pitched for several teams in the early part of the 20th century.

The brothers were two of the six sons of Irish immigrants Mr. & Mrs. Patrick Hughes. Father Patrick worked in the steel mills. Mother Bridget (McNally) gave birth to Ed on October 5, 1880, the youngest of her seven children. Tom was just shy of two years Ed’s senior.

Tom had gone 20-7 for the Boston Americans in 1903, with a 2.57 ERA. He started Game Three of that year’s World Series – the first World Series ever played – he lasted just two-plus innings, giving up three runs and was charged with the loss. With Boston in 1902 and 1903, he was 23-10.

Ed’s debut came on August 29, 1902, as a catcher for the Chicago White Sox, filling in after regular catcher Billy Sullivan was out for a couple of weeks and backup Eddie McFarland had hurt his hand in the previous game. Hughes was 1-for-4 at the plate, but only 7 for 9 behind the plate (in nine chances, he committed two errors, for a .778 fielding percentage). He did throw out two base runners, thus credited with two assists – but the Athletics stole 10 bases on him. The next day’s Chicago Tribune paper minced no words. The headline read “Young Catcher Brings Defeat” with two subheads: “Too Slow in Throwing” and “Hughes’ Inexperience Enables the Visitors to Steal Bases at Will”. Hughes was even blamed for the rest of Chicago’s shoddy play: Hughes’ slowness to throw was a “handicap [which] threw the rest of the local team into a fit, evidently, for they made enough errors behind [starting pitcher] Callahan to last a whole season.” It was as discouraging a game story as you would want to see in your hometown newspaper after your debut in the major leagues.  And it was his only appearance for the White Sox that season.

In 1903, it appears that Hughes reinvented himself as a pitcher, working for the Davenport (Iowa) River Rats in the Three-I League. No record could be found for 1903, and the year 1904 remains a blank. In 1905, Hughes was back with the River Rats with a 14-13 record, and in August 1905 he was sold to the Boston Americans. His first game for his new team came on September 4.

Boston was the same team for which brother Tom had pitched, but Long Tom was long gone, traded that December 1903 to the New York Highlanders for Jesse Tannehill. Rumors were that manager Jimmy Collins found him a difficult charge. By mid-1904, Tom was with the Washington Senators and pitched for them through 1913. He won 132 games and lost 174, with a career 3.09 earned run average.

When Ed joined the Boston Americans, he appeared in six games (including four starts), going 3-2 with an earned run average of 4.59. Even though both brothers pitched in the American League in 1905 and 1906, they never went directly up against each other, and both enjoyed mixed success against their opponents. One does wonder how they comported themselves when their two teams met. Did fraternization rules apply to truly fraternal siblings?

Three of Ed’s four starts in 1905 were in the second games of doubleheaders, first on September 11 and lastly on October 7. In his first start, he was gone before the first inning was over, charged with four runs. Norwood Gibson wasn’t any better -- and Gibson was left in to pitch the entire rest of the game, a 14-0 defeat.  His best game came on September 20. In the words of the Boston Post writer, “Eddie Hughes, brother of ‘Long Tom,’ pitched a great game for the Boston champions today, and were it not for a little letup in the second inning Washington would have been shut out.” The final score was 7-1.

He didn’t last too long in 1906, though it was a year one would think the team might have needed all the help it could get. Hughes appeared in just two games, closing out both of them. 

His last appearance was on May 31, 1906, a 9-2 loss to Washington, when Ed came on in relief. Boston had scored twice in the first but then was stopped cold. Jesse Tannehill lasted a little over one inning and Cy Young pitched through the sixth. Hughes finished the game, yielding just one run in three innings.

Boston’s record after the loss was 10-29.  Hughes had only thrown 10 innings in the first month and a half of the season. He had given up six earned runs for a 5.40 ERA. Perhaps they should have stuck with him a little longer, but this was one of the worst years in franchise history. Even Cy Young was a 20-game loser; in fact, both Young and Joe Harris lost 21 games, Bill Dinneen lost 19 games and George Winter lost 18. Hughes lost none at all - he had no decisions – but at season’s end the Boston Americans were 49-105 (a .318 winning percentage) and they finished 45 ½ games behind the first-place Chicago White Sox. 

Ed got up to bat only three times in two games and didn’t get a hit at all. His lifetime .222 average plunged to just .190 and he was out of the majors for good.  He played a partial season with the 1907 Little Rock Travelers.

After baseball, Ed was a member of the Chicago Police Department for nearly 20 years.  He was remembered as a hero for an incident 11 years earlier. It was on July 18, 1916. A “crazed negro” named Henry J. McIntyre had opened fire on his neighbors with a rifle, killing three of them. McIntyre’s wife joined him, the pair apparently firing a pistol, a rifle and a shotgun for some period of time, and killed a police patrolman who had come to the scene, while injuring two other policemen and another neighbor. They also shot a police horse. The police responded with several hundred shots but were unable to get the shooters, so they decided to dynamite the house after evacuating the immediate area with the help of “50 Negroes…organized into a volunteer posse armed and stationed at various points.” Police marksmen positioned themselves in the second-floor windows of the Vulcan Iron Works across the street. The superintendent of the nearby Artesian Stone Quarry provided 10 sticks of dynamite and the police threw sticks of dynamite into the building, finally exploding a number of them directly over the bedroom in which the McIntyres had holed up.

Off-duty, Hughes had happened on the incident, which had attracted thousands of people. Police Captain Wesley Westbrook ordered Hughes to leave the area, but instead the former catcher walked into the house. “I’m going to get that guy,” Hughes said and ran into the building after the final explosion. Hattie McIntyre was apparently already dead, but Hughes found Henry McIntyre “leaning against the wall, swaying to and fro, with his rifle held limply in his hand.” Hughes shot him in the head – though McIntyre didn’t die until he was in the hospital shortly afterward.

McIntyre had apparently styled himself a prophet, who had written notes explaining that he had to die in order to carry “a message to the Almighty”. A letter he had written to Prince Menelik of Abyssinia had come back to him unopened three months earlier. The precipitating factor in the attacks was perhaps the failed attempt to serve him with a warrant for disturbing the peace earlier in the day; the policeman who attempted service found McIntyre out and decided to come back the following morning.

The Washington Post said that McIntyre “claimed divine authority” and that his wife believed in him. He was a former stationary engineer but had evolved in his understanding such that he “didn’t believe in work for himself” and convinced his wife of the fact. She took in washing to pay the bills.

Ed Hughes had never married and lived with his mother, Bridget. He died on October 14, 1927 - at age 47 - of a pulmonary hemorrhage, due to underlying tuberculosis, while he was on a hunting and fishing vacation with some friends and staying at a cottage at McCollum’s lake in McHenry, Illinois. The Chicago Tribune’s obituary noted Tom Hughes’ baseball career, but not Ed’s. His mother survived him, as did two brothers and a sister.

September 5, 2011

Sources

In addition to the sources noted in this biography, the author also accessed Hughes’s player file from the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Retrosheet.org, and Baseball-Reference.com. The most complete accounts of the McIntyre case are found in the July 19, 1916 Chicago Tribune. The New York Times called him a “crazed negro” and the Washington Post a “crazed colored man”. The October 20, 1927 issue of the McHenry Plaindealer carried an account of the circumstances of Hughes’s death. Tom Hughes lived for years afterwards, running a saloon in Chicago.

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