Gone and virtually forgotten today, Claude Ritchey was one of the key members of the first seven of Fred Clarke's highly successful Pittsburgh Pirate teams of the early 1900s, a time when he acquired a reputation as a sure-handed, clutch-hitting second baseman and a durable performer. And even as late as 1964, after Bill Mazeroski had become a fixture at second base for the Pirates, no less an authority than Joe Reichler, the compiler and editor of the Ronald Encyclopedia of Baseball, chose Ritchey as the greatest Pittsburgh second baseman of all time. 
Born in Emlenton, Pennsylvania, on October 5, 1873, the son of Lucreatia Annette Ritchey (1849-1938)--his biological father is unknown--Claude Cassius Ritchey was raised by his mother and his stepfather, Amos Crum.  There is not much information on Ritchey's early life, though it is known that he attended Emlenton High School and first played baseball in his hometown in 1890.  He later played at Parkers Landing, Pennsylvania, at some unspecified date, before beginning his professional career with Franklin, Pennsylvania, in 1894.  The next two seasons saw him gaining valuable minor league experience while making a name for himself as a shortstop for Steubenville-Akron, Ohio, of the Inter-State League, and Warren, Pennsylvania, of the Iron and Oil League in 1895, and for Buffalo of the Eastern League in 1896.  At Steubenville-Akron, Ritchey met and became friends with the 21-year-old Honus Wagner, a teammate with whom he was reunited at Warren after Steubenville-Akron folded during the '95 season.  At Buffalo, he caught the eye of major league scouts as he contributed to the Bisons' second-place finish and a spot in the league playoffs.
In fact, Ritchey made enough of an impression at Buffalo that the Brooklyn Bridegrooms drafted him for the 1897 season. However, Ritchey's long and winding road to Pittsburgh was not meant to go through the Big Apple. In the spring of '97, Brooklyn sold the short (Ritchey was only five feet six and a half inches tall) but effective infielder to Cincinnati when Tommy Corcoran, who Brooklyn had traded to the Reds, failed to report. So it was with the Reds that Ritchey made his major league debut on April 22, 1897.
Ritchey's first exposure to the National League was a mixed one. On one hand, he played in 101 games, mostly at shortstop, and hit big league pitching at a .282 clip, 10 points lower than the league average, though better than what four teams averaged, and certainly acceptable for a rookie. On the other hand, his fielding was atrocious, even by the standards of the late 1890s. Perhaps because of his defensive problems--50 errors in 100 games at five positions (shortstop, second base, and all three outfield slots)--and/or perhaps because Tommy Corcoran, a defensive standout, eventually did report, Ritchey wound up with the lowly Louisville Colonels for the 1898 season as part of a deal for pitcher Bill Hill.
At Louisville, Ritchey was reunited for a second time with his friend, Honus Wagner, but unfortunately for both Ritchey and the Colonels, the change of scenery did not improve Ritchey's fielding by much and lowered his batting average to .254, 17 points below the league average. However, during the middle of the 1898 season, the Louisville manager, feisty Fred Clarke, tired of the way his team had performed for the first three months and trying to do something to get the Colonels out of 11th place, rearranged his infield and, in the process, moved Ritchey to second base.  The Clarke shuffle paid immediate dividends for the team, with the Colonels playing .632 ball between July 20, the date of the change, and September 4, and finishing in ninth place with a 70-81 record. As for Ritchey, the move caused his range factor to go up and his errors to go down.
The results of the change were even more evident for Ritchey the following year when he had one of his better seasons with the bat, hitting an even .300 with 66 runs scored and 73 driven in, while in the field, he recorded 414 assists and took part in 54 double plays, despite making 51 errors.
Approximately three months before the National League contracted the Louisville franchise in March of 1900, a trade was made with Pittsburgh in which Ritchey, along with Clarke, Wagner, and the other Colonel standouts, was sent to the Steel City. It was here, or more specifically at Exposition Park, that Ritchey became a fixture at second base for the new-look Pirates. Teaming with the likes of Clarke, Wagner, Tommy Leach, Ginger Beaumont, Deacon Phillippe, and Sam Leever, Ritchey helped propel the Pirates to three pennants and two runner-up spots in seven seasons.
During those glory years, Ritchey's personal stats were also impressive. Although usually batting in the lower half of the order, he averaged 61 runs scored and 60 runs driven in while hitting .277 with an on-base percentage of .351. In fact, it was the combination of his size and his ability to drive in needed runs that gained him the nickname of "Little All Right." As his son, John, later remarked, "[my father] got his hits when they counted."  And Honus Wagner, who knew a thing or two about batting, commented, "Claude was never a great hitter except in a pinch. But then is when you could bet on him. That is why the fans gave him the name of Little All-Right [sic]."  In the field, Ritchey led National League second basemen in assists twice, double plays twice, and fielding percentage four times.  Such fielding prowess caused Wagner to say, "[Ritchey] was the best man I ever saw in picking up ground balls between the bounces. Nothing seemed to fool him."  In addition, Ritchey demonstrated his durability by participating in 95% of the Pirate games and topping National League second basemen in games played three times. 
One of the reasons for Ritchey's stamina may have been his unusual way of keeping in shape during the off-season: he would throw a baseball over the roof of a neighboring barn and then run around to the other side to catch it before it hit the ground. 
Perhaps the two most memorable moments of Ritchey's career with the Bucs were being involved in the 1903 World Series and breaking up Harry McIntire's no-hitter on August 1, 1906. In the first event, Ritchey established records that have since been tied but, as of March 1, 2012, not broken for the most assists (eight) and the most total chances (13) by a second baseman in a nine-inning game. In the second event, Harry McIntire of the Brooklyn Superbas had pitched 10 2/3 innings of no-hit ball before Ritchey singled to ruin his masterpiece. McIntire eventually tired in the 13th, and the Pirates won the game by a score of 1-0.
Beginning with his Louisville days and continuing while he was with Pittsburgh, Ritchey was Honus Wagner's closest friend as a teammate, and the two men often roomed together on road trips and shared their love for cheese sandwiches.  Ritchey was even one of the charter members of Wagner's "Pinochle Club," along with utility man Otto Krueger and pitcher Deacon Phillippe. 
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and so it was for Little All Right's stay with the Pirates. Even though Ritchey still had two good seasons left in him, the Pirates traded their star second sacker to the Boston Beaneaters in late 1906 as part of a package that included Pat Flaherty and eventually Ginger Beaumont (the "player to be named later") for another western Pennsylvania native, Ed Abbaticchio. Abbaticchio, who had been a starting middle infielder for Boston from 1903 to 1905, had sat out the 1906 season, and since he was no phenom and the Pirates were generous in what they offered the Beaneaters to get him, a certain amount of controversy has arisen concerning Ritchey's inclusion in the trade. Some writers have speculated that Barney Dreyfuss, the owner of the Pirates, may have purposely given away more than he should have because he was friends with George Dovey, who had recently purchased the Boston team, and he wanted to help Dovey resurrect a franchise that had been all but dead for the previous two seasons.  And to thicken the plot, at the time of the trade, Dovey's mother was living in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, which just happened to be Abbaticchio's place of birth and where he was running a hotel that had a liquor license. 
However, Dreyfuss appears to have been too good of a businessman to let friendship stand in the way of his club winning ballgames. So, perhaps the best explanation for Ritchey being tossed into the deal is a combination of two coincidental factors. First, despite putting up solid numbers for the '06 season, the wear and tear of playing over 150 games for three straight years coupled with Ritchey's overindulgence of alcohol had affected Ritchey's performance on the field. This did not go unnoticed by Dreyfuss, Clarke, and even A. R. Cratty, who covered the Pirates for Sporting Life.  And second, John McGraw, the manager of the New York Giants and Dreyfuss' archenemy, coveted Abbaticchio and had offered him $12,000, a large sum of money in 1906, to play for his team for the next two seasons.  The thought of losing Abbaticchio to the Giants may have been too much to bear for Dreyfuss, who was still smarting from the abuse that McGraw had given him the previous year, so he fattened the offer by adding Ritchey. 
For his part, Dovey visited Abbaticchio in Latrobe to see if he could persuade his holdout to stay with Boston, but Abbaticchio refused.  The interest that three franchises had in Abbaticchio indicates a third factor that could have helped to bring about the trade: Abbaticchio was considered a better player in 1906 than the analysts rate him today. Thus, Dreyfuss may have felt that trading two of his men who were declining--Ritchey and Beaumont--and one who was currently in the minors--Flaherty--for a potential star was worth it. 
Whatever the reason or reasons for his departure, once in Beantown, Ritchey continued to perform well for two seasons, leading National League second basemen in fielding percentage in 1907  and in double plays and range factor per game in 1908. However, when his skills declined in 1909, he was released to Providence, where he participated in 62 games, hit .237, and averaged 2.5 assists per game. Ritchey later claimed to have played for two weeks for Louisville in 1910, but he apparently confused the year with 1911, when he was the starting second baseman in 13 games for the Colonels before breaking his arm in a collision with a Kansas City base runner.  Subsequently, Ritchey retired from professional baseball after a brief comeback attempt in 1912 with the Pittsburgh Filipinos of the United States League. 
Ritchey's activities outside of baseball consisted of holding several jobs in the Emlenton area, including operating a clothing store, working for the Quaker State Oil Refining Corporation (known as the Emlenton Refining Company between 1895 and 1931), and pulling wells.  When he was traded to Boston in December of 1906, he owned "a productive oil farm on which [there were] four oil wells,"  though he did not have it later in life and his surviving children knew little or nothing about what had happened to it.  In that same December, he also owned "some lucrative bank stock,"  but it, too, appears to have vanished over the years.
During his leisure time, Ritchey liked to pick berries and entertain his former Pirate teammates.  Although having a laid-back personality off the field and not being very sociable by nature, he enjoyed partying with his ballplayer friends and would have the Pirates come to Emlenton to hunt grouse and, sometimes, deer.  Within the Emlenton community, he would give advice to children on how to bat and field, and he started and coached a baseball team, named Sterling Oil, which was made up of workers employed by the town refinery. 
Ritchey was married twice: in 1903 to Sophia Bayer, from whom he was divorced in 1917, and in 1924 to Kathryn Ruth Kunselman (1897-1965), a homemaker and cook.  By his first marriage, he had one daughter, Eleanor; by his second marriage, he had two daughters, Lois and Marian, and a son, John. 
Sadly for Ritchey, the effects of his alcoholism eventually caught up with him, causing his death from cirrhosis of the liver at 2:00 A.M. on November 8, 1951.  His grave can be found in Emlenton Cemetery.
Note: An early version of this biography appeared in Tom Simon, ed., Deadball Stars of the National League (Washington, D.C.: Brassey's Inc., 2004).
"The Am. Assoc'n." Sporting Life, April 15, 1911.
American Association Box Scores. Sporting Life, April 22, April 29, and May 6, 1911.
"American Association Roster for 1911." Sporting Life, April 1, 1911.
Beals, Duane to Angelo Louisa. E-mail message of September 13, 2000. Provided information on Claude Ritchey's children, problems with alcohol, and work outside of baseball.
Boyer, Marian (Ritchey). Telephone interview with Angelo Louisa on August 1, 2001. Provided information on Claude Ritchey's (her father's) family, work outside of baseball, lack of oil wells, problems with alcohol, and cause of death.
"Claude Ritchey." New York Herald Tribune, November 9, 1951.
"Claude Ritchey Dies at 76 [sic]; Wagner's Keystone Mate." The Sporting News, November 21, 1951.
Claude Ritchey File. National Baseball Hall of Fame Library. Cooperstown, New York.
"Claude Ritchey, The New Second Baseman of the Boston National League Club." Sporting Life, December 29, 1906.
"Claude C. Ritchey, 78, Dies Thursday." [Oil City] Derrick, November 9, 1951.
Cobb, William R., ed. Honus Wagner: On His Life & Baseball. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Sports Media Group, 2006.
"Colonels Get Claude Ritchey." Washington Post, February 19, 1911.
Colwell, Louise to Angelo Louisa. E-mail message of September 12, 2000. Provided information on Claude Ritchey's family and his life after he retired from playing baseball.
Cratty, A. R. "Pittsburg Points." Sporting Life, December 29, 1906.
________. "Pittsburg Points." Sporting Life, September 8, 1906.
DeValeria, Dennis, and Jeanne Burke DeValeria. Honus Wagner: A Biography. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1995.
Finoli, David, and Bill Ranier. The Pittsburgh Pirates Encyclopedia. N.p.: Sports Publishing L.L.C., 2003.
"Former Pirate Dies at 78." Pittsburgh Press, November 8, 1951.
Foster, John B., ed. Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide, 1911. New York: American Sports Publishing Company, 1911.
________, ed. Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide, 1910. New York: American Sports Publishing Company, 1910.
"George B. Dovey, The New Owner of the Boston National League Club." Sporting Life, December 8, 1906.
Gillette, Gary, and Pete Palmer, eds. The ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia. 5th ed. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2008.
Hageman, William. Honus: The Life and Times of a Baseball Hero. Champaign, Illinois: Sagamore Publishing, 1996.
Hittner, Arthur D. Honus Wagner: The Life of Baseball's "Flying Dutchman." Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 1996.
Howard, Reed to Angelo Louisa. E-mail messages of August 29, 2001; September 3, 2001; September 4, 2001; and September 23, 2001. Provided information on Claude Ritchey's minor league career.
James, Bill, John Dewan, Neil Munro, and Don Zminda, eds. Bill James Presents . . . STATS All-Time Baseball Sourcebook. Skokie, Illinois: STATS Publishing, 1998.
________, eds. Bill James Presents . . . STATS All-Time Major League Handbook. Skokie, Illinois: STATS Publishing, 1998.
Kaufman, Kathryn L. (Ritchey) to Angelo Louisa. E-mail messages of September 11, 2000; May 30, 2001; June 11, 2001; June 14, 2001; June 16, 2001; and June 19, 2001. Provided information on Claude Ritchey's (her grandfather's) family, schooling, minor league career, practice habits, work outside of baseball, leisure activities, and personality.
Koelsch, William F. H. “Metropolitan Mention.” Sporting Life, December 22, 1906.
Lieb, Frederick G. The Pittsburgh Pirates. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1948. Reprint, Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, 2003.
"Louisville Signs Claude Ritchey." Washington Post, April 22, 1910.
McConnell, Bob to Angelo Louisa. E-mail messages of December 5, 2006, and December 7, 2006. Provided information on Claude Ritchey's minor league career.
McConnell, Bob to Angelo Louisa. Letters of September 2, 2001, and November 30, 2006. Provided information on Claude Ritchey's minor league career.
Morse, J. C. "Dovey a Magnate." Sporting Life, December 8, 1906.
1910 United States Federal Census.
Reach's Official Base Ball Guide for 1897. Philadelphia: A. J. Reach Co., 1897.
Reichler, Joe, comp. and ed. Ronald Encyclopedia of Baseball. 2nd ed. New York: The Ronald Press Company, 1964.
"Release for Claude Ritchey." Chicago Daily Tribune, April 30, 1912.
Richter, Francis C., ed. The Reach Official American League Base Ball Guide for 1911. Philadelphia: A. J. Reach Company, 1911.
________, ed. The Reach Official American League Base Ball Guide for 1910. Philadelphia: A. J. Reach Company, 1910.
Ritchey, John. Telephone interview with Angelo Louisa on May 13, 2001. Provided information on Claude Ritchey's (his father's) personality, nickname, work outside of baseball, lack of oil wells, and second wife.
Russell, Tedee and Patty to Angelo Louisa. E-mail message of October 1, 2000. Provided information on Claude Ritchey's personality.
Saunders, John A. “John A. Saunders’ Louisville Lines.” Sporting Life, May 28, 1910.
Wright, Marshall D. The American Association: Year-by-Year Statistics for the Baseball Minor League, 1902-1952. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 1997.
 Joe Reichler, comp. and ed., Ronald Encyclopedia of Baseball, 2nd ed. (New York: The Ronald Press Company, 1964), sec. 2:67.
 Kathryn L. (Ritchey) Kaufman to Angelo Louisa, e-mail messages of June 11 and June 16, 2001.
 Kathryn L. (Ritchey) Kaufman to Angelo Louisa, e-mail messages of June 11 and June 14, 2001.
 Kathryn L. (Ritchey) Kaufman to Angelo Louisa, e-mail message of June 11, and Reed Howard to Angelo Louisa, e-mail messages of September 3 and September 23, 2001.
 Kathryn L. (Ritchey) Kaufman to Angelo Louisa, e-mail message of June 11, 2001; Reed Howard to Angelo Louisa, e-mail messages of September 3 and September 23, 2001; Dennis DeValeria and Jeanne Burke DeValeria, Honus Wagner: A Biography (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1995), 19; and Arthur D. Hittner, Honus Wagner: The Life of Baseball's "Flying Dutchman," (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 1996), 20, 23. In 1895, the Steubenville franchise relocated to Akron after its May 10 game, playing its first game at its new home on May 13. Hittner, 22.
 DeValeria and DeValeria, 24; William Hageman, Honus: The Life and Times of a Baseball Hero (Champaign, Illinois: Sagamore Publishing, 1996), 6; and Hittner, 31.
 Hageman, 21, and Hittner, 59.
 John Ritchey, telephone interview with Angelo Louisa on May 13, 2001.
 William R. Cobb, ed., Honus Wagner: On His Life & Baseball (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Sports Media Group, 2006), 145.
 These accomplishments include leading second basemen in both major leagues once each in assists and double plays. www.baseball-reference.com.
 Cobb, 145.
 Of those three times, he once led second basemen in both major leagues and once tied for the lead. www.baseball-reference.com.
 Kathryn L. (Ritchey) Kaufman to Angelo Louisa, e-mail message of June 11, 2001.
 DeValeria and DeValeria, 55-56, and Hittner, 106.
 Hittner, 137.
 George Dovey and his brother, John, had played for Dreyfuss' Paducah, Kentucky, team in their younger days. "George B. Dovey, The New Owner of the Boston National League Club," Sporting Life, December 8, 1906, 3.
 www.baseball-reference.com, and A. R. Cratty, "Pittsburg Points," Sporting Life, December 29, 1906, 9.
 Frederick G. Lieb, The Pittsburgh Pirates (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1948; reprint, Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, 2003), 122; A. R. Cratty, "Pittsburg Points," Sporting Life, September 8, 1906, 10; and Cratty, "Pittsburg Points," Sporting Life, December 29, 1906, 9.
 J. C. Morse, "Dovey a Magnate," Sporting Life, December 8, 1906, 3, and William F. H. Koelsch, "Metropolitan Mention," Sporting Life, December 22, 1906, 10.
 For details on the "Hey, Barney!" incident, see Lieb, 116-119.
 Morse, 3.
 Also, the DeValerias state that ". . . Dreyfuss questioned [Ritchey's] work habits and wondered how much longer he would desire to play since his oil wells [something that he had at that time, but not later in life] were producing substantial personal wealth." DeValeria and DeValeria, 164. In addition, see note 28 of this article.
 Ritchey also led second basemen in both major leagues in this category. www.baseball-reference.com.
 In a letter dated March 9, 1950, and sent to an unknown person working for the Cincinnati Reds, Ritchey wrote that he had played for two weeks for Louisville of the American Association in 1910 before breaking his arm in three places and retiring from baseball. This information is repeated in somewhat modified forms in two of Ritchey's obituaries: one in The Sporting News, which states, ". . . the following season  [Ritchey] went to Louisville. A broken arm suffered while sliding into second base ended his career"; and the other in the Pittsburgh Press, which states, "He . . . closed out his career in 1910 with [Louisville] for whom he played just one game." And to further add to the confusion, there are two references to Ritchey being signed by Louisville in 1910: the first, a short article published in the April 22, 1910, issue of the Washington Post; the second, in a story with a May 3, 1910, dateline that Bob McConnell discovered in Sporting Life. However, Ritchey's name cannot be found in any of the Louisville box scores for that season. Nor is there any mention of Ritchey playing for Louisville in 1910 in the 1911 Reach and Spalding guides or in Marshall Wright's work on the American Association, which lists the rosters for all the clubs in the league. And according to John A. Saunders in an article published in the May 28, 1910, issue of Sporting Life, which Bob McConnell also discovered, “Louisville didn't take Claude Ritchie [sic] after making a dicker with him." But there is plenty of evidence found in various issues of Sporting Life to show that Ritchey did indeed play for Louisville in 1911 until his arm was broken in a game against Kansas City on April 27 of that year. Also, the Washington Post reported that the Colonels had acquired the services of Ritchey for 1911. Cf. Claude Ritchey File, National Baseball Hall of Fame Library, Cooperstown, New York; "Claude Ritchey Dies at 76 [sic]; Wagner's Keystone Mate," The Sporting News, November 21, 1951, 16; "Former Pirate Dies at 78," Pittsburgh Press, November 8, 1951, 2; "Louisville Signs Claude Ritchey," Washington Post, April 22, 1910, 9; Francis C. Richter, ed., The Reach Official American League Base Ball Guide for 1911 (Philadelphia: A. J. Reach Company, 1911), 301-312; John B. Foster, ed., Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide, 1911 (New York: American Sports Publishing Company, 1911), 182-187; Marshall D. Wright, The American Association: Year-by-Year Statistics for the Baseball Minor League, 1902-1952 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 1997), 53-54, 398; Bob McConnell to Angelo Louisa, letters of September 2, 2001, and November 30, 2006; Bob McConnell to Angelo Louisa, e-mail messages of December 5 and December 7, 2006; John A. Saunders, “John A. Saunders’ Louisville Lines," Sporting Life, May 28, 1910, 15; “American Association Roster for 1911," Sporting Life, April 1, 1911, 11; "The Am. Assoc'n," Sporting Life, April 15, 1911, 14; American Association Box Scores, Sporting Life, April 22, 1911, 12, April 29, 1911, 12-13, and May 6, 1911, 14; and "Colonels Get Claude Ritchey," Washington Post, February 19, 1911, S3.
 "Release for Claude Ritchey," Chicago Daily Tribune, April 30, 1912, 9, and DeValeria and DeValeria, 252.
 John Ritchey, telephone interview with Angelo Louisa on May 13, 2001; Kathryn L. (Ritchey) Kaufman to Angelo Louisa, e-mail message of June 14, 2001; and "Claude C. Ritchey, 78, Dies Thursday," [Oil City] Derrick, November 9, 1951, 1.
 "Claude Ritchey, The New Second Baseman of the Boston National League Club," Sporting Life, December 29, 1906, 5.
 Both John Ritchey and Marian (Ritchey) Boyer confirmed that their father owned oil wells, and Marian added that they were sold when the farm was sold, though the exact date of the sale is unknown. John Ritchey, telephone interview with Angelo Louisa on May 13, 2001, and Marian (Ritchey) Boyer, telephone interview with Angelo Louisa on August 1, 2001. However, whether or not Ritchey was still independently wealthy in 1910, the United States Federal Census for that year has him living with his in-laws, which would suggest that he was not.
 "Claude Ritchey, The New Second Baseman of the Boston National League Club," 5.
 Kathryn L. (Ritchey) Kaufman to Angelo Louisa, e-mail message of June 14, 2001.
 Tedee and Patty Russell to Angelo Louisa, e-mail message of October 1, 2000, and Kathryn L. (Ritchey) Kaufman to Angelo Louisa, e-mail message of June 14, 2001.
 Louise Colwell to Angelo Louisa, e-mail message of September 12, 2000, and Kathryn L. (Ritchey) Kaufman to Angelo Louisa, e-mail message of June 14, 2001.
 Kathryn L. (Ritchey) Kaufman to Angelo Louisa, e-mail messages of June 11 and June 14, 2001.
 Kathryn L. (Ritchey) Kaufman to Angelo Louisa, e-mail messages of September 11, 2000, and June 11, 2001.
 Duane Beals to Angelo Louisa, e-mail message of September 13, 2000; Marian (Ritchey) Boyer, telephone interview with Angelo Louisa on August 1, 2001; and "Claude C. Ritchey, 78, Dies Thursday," 1. Duane Beals was particularly expressive about the cause of Ritchey's demise when he said, "Claude had succumbed to demon rum. . . ."