Tip O’Neill

This article was written by Steve Hatcher

Tip O'Neill (TRADING CARD DB)James Edward O’Neill, the original “Tip,” was one of the most extraordinary Canadian batsmen in the history of baseball. He was born on May 15, 1860, in the village of Springfield, Ontario, the second eldest of four sons and three daughters of Irish Canadian innkeepers James and Mary O’Neill (nee Jeffrey).1 His parents owned the O’Neill House, a three-story hotel at 121-129 Market Square (now 28 Finkle Street) in Woodstock, twenty miles to the northeast. As a youth, he sharpened his baseball skills in the hotel ballroom.2

Baseball flourished in southwest Ontario due to railroads and the proximity to large American cities such as Detroit, Buffalo, and Cleveland.3 A budding tailor by profession, he was drawn to baseball and began his career as a right-handed pitcher for the Active Club of Woodstock in 1877, remaining with the team through the 1881 season. In 1880, he defeated the Canadian Champion Maple Leafs of Guelph twice: 17-2 and 1-0. 4 O’Neill also hurled a one-hit gem against the Cass Club of Detroit on July 2, 1881. That same year he pitched several games for the Franklin Club of Chicago, as well as a few matches with the barnstorming Grays, a Detroit-based professional team.5 In 1882 the Philadelphia Athletics of the American Association approached O’Neill with a gratifying offer, but he declined, choosing to sign with John B. Day’s Metropolitan Club of New York, an independent professional club and member of the League Alliance. O’Neill was by far the tallest player on the team at 6’1” and 178 pounds.

The Metropolitans had a spectacular season, winning 101 games against various clubs, including 14 of 20 games against Alliance rival Philadelphia for the League Alliance crown.6 The Mets also won 18 of 60 games against National League clubs. Unfortunately, O’Neill’s season was somewhat marred by a felon on his right hand, a painful abscess of the deep tissues of the palmar surface of the fingertip that is typically caused by bacterial infection and is marked by swelling and pain.7

Both the American Association and the National League tendered membership to the Metropolitans for the 1883 season, with Day choosing the one-year-old Association’s arrangement. Almost simultaneously Day gobbled up the defunct Troy Trojans National League franchise and transferred the club to New York City, where it later became known as the Giants. Originally, O’Neill was placed on the Metropolitan squad for the 1983 season, but Day reassigned the young pitcher to his NL franchise.8 New York finished in sixth place with a record of 46-50, 16 games behind the NL champion Boston Reds.9 The team’s peculiar home grounds were situated on the southeast diamond of the Polo Grounds, a bit north of Central Park. O’Neill’s role was limited by Manager John Clapp to 19 starts, which he performed in a six-by-four-foot box, 50 feet from home plate. His won-lost record was 5-12 with 15 completions and a 4.07 ERA. A right-handed batter, he hit a dismal .197 over 23 games, including seven appearances in the outfield.10

It was in 1883 that O’Neill may have acquired his nickname “Tip.” In a 1904 article, former St. Louis Browns owner Chris von der Ahe observed, “He merely seemed to ‘tip’ the ball when batting. He stood at the plate straight as an arrow. A giant in physique and it seem[e]d that he would push out his bat and the ball would shoot like lightning. He seldom drew back and made a swipe at the ball.”11 However, according to Curt Welch, the Browns’ fine center fielder of the mid-1880s, he came up with “Tip,” short for County Tipperary in Ireland.12 In any case, O’Neill was already known as “Tip” during the 1884 season, a year before Welch joined the Browns.13

John Day tried to return his young pitcher to the Metropolitans of the American Association for the 1884 season, but the reassignment was thwarted when Canadian sportswriters Alfred Spink and Billy Spink and others persuaded O’Neill to sign instead with von der Ahe’s St. Louis Browns of the AA for approximately $1,900, or about nine dollars per day.14

He was now a member of a club that had finished in second place the previous year, and featured such notable stars as third baseman Arlie Latham, catcher Tom Deasley, and captainfirst baseman Charlie Comiskey.15 The Browns home field was Sportsman’s Park, tailored for long hits with its deep center field fence about 460 feet from home plate.16 In the beginning, O’Neill was used exclusively as a starting pitcher and usually batted eighth.17 (All pitchers had to adjust to the batter’s call for a high or low ball if he so chose. The Browns competition not only included eleven other Association clubs but two other leagues as well. The Browns contended for local patronage with Henry Lucas’s Maroons of the Union Association that played at the Union Grounds about a quarter of a mile to the northwest of Sportsman’s Park.18

Instead of “Our George” McGinnis, the St. Louis ace, Tip O’Neill was given the honor of starting the season opener against the Indianapolis Hoosiers on a wet field at Sportsman’s Park. With Deasley behind the plate to handle his complex changes of pace, O’Neill struck out five, walked two, gave up six singles and two unearned runs, winning, 4-2. He also contributed a single and scored a run.19

O’Neill started twelve games through July 12 but developed arm problems and was shifted primarily to left field, and occasionally to center. His last major league pitching start was on August 30, a loss to Toledo, 2-1.20 A few days later, O’Neill strained his knee running the bases at Indianapolis.21 Remarkably the next day, he appeared in his final career game as a pitcher against Indianapolis, turning in a dreadful middle-relief performance in a one-sided St. Louis loss. For the season, O’Neill posted an 11-4 record in 18 appearances. His batting average was .276 in 78 games.22 The Browns completed the season in fourth place (67-40), eight games behind the champion Mets.

In 1885, O’Neill slugged his way to the top of the Association hitting list but lost almost three months playing time due to injury.23 The Browns finished the regular season with a pennantwinning 79-33 record, 16 games ahead of Cincinnati. O’Neill occupied the fourth spot among AA batters with an average of .350.24 Known for his strong throwing arm, he also ranked sixth in fielding for left fielders with a not-so-impressive average of .881, but not so unimpressive in the era of bare-handed fielding.25

The National League victors were the Chicago White Stockings, and a “Meeting of the Champions” was organized in a best-of-seven-series. The series began on October 14 in Chicago and ended in Cincinnati on October 24 under a cloud that remains today.26

There was a positive attitude as the 1886 campaign unfolded, and owner von der Ahe ordered the champion’s pennant to fly atop the 300-foot-high Sportsman’s Park flag pole.27 The optimistic sentiment was not shared by Cap Anson of Chicago, who predicted a fifth-place finish for St. Louis.28

O’Neill continued to defend left field while batting in the third spot behind infielders Arlie Latham and Bill Gleason. Picking up where he had left off, he jumped into the batting lead in early May but slumped in June, batting below .250. Tip turned it around in the second half and was leading the pack with eight games left. Regrettably, he collected just eight hits in the final eight games of the season to finish fifth with a .328 average.29 Meanwhile St. Louis was crowned champions of the Association for the second year in a row, 12 games ahead of Pittsburgh with a 93-46 record..

With much bravado and wagering, another post-season clash of the two pennant-winners was played between Chicago and St. Louis. The White Stockings won two of three at West Side Park, but the Browns won all three at Sportsman’s Park to win their second straight world’s championship. The series was decided in the sixth game on October 23 on a wild pitch that scored Welch in the last of the tenth.30 The pitching stars were Bob Caruthers for the Browns and John Clarkson for the White Stockings. The hitting star was Tip O’Neill, whom Clarkson pitched around in certain situations. Tip had two home runs in the second game, the first of which was a deep liner to left field in the first inning that carried into the parked carriages. His second home run was a solo shot to left-center in the fifth inning. He tried to stretch triples into home runs in the fourth and sixth games but was thrown out.

The entire nineteenth century was a period of fine-tuning and experimentation, and the 1887 season was one with more than its share of sweeping changes. The most peculiar innovation, however, was a scoring rule. The common base-on-balls was now scored as a single, a “walking hit” if you will.31 It also took a five-ball count to draw such a walk and four strikes for a strikeout. Obviously, batting averages were distorted, resulting in controversies that have plagued baseball record keepers and historians to this day.32

After spending about two months in New York City squiring around an attractive “New York Belle,” O’Neill journeyed to the Mound City sporting a new mustache that transformed his looks for the better, or so some would believe. He purportedly brought along what was described as a cord of wood to be sharpened into his personal bats.33 The regular Association campaign began on April 16 at Louisville, as the Browns took the field attired in new solid brown road uniforms.34 Once again, O’Neill batted third in the lineup behind Latham and Gleason and just ahead of Comiskey. On May 6, O’Neill, hitting over .500, blistered the farthest home run ever hit at Sportsman’s Park to left-center, over 400 feet from home plate.

The Browns surged with a streak of 15 victories in a row in large part due to O’Neill’s slugging. In the first 24 games, Tip smacked four or more hits in eight different games, twice hitting for the cycle. In late May, however, O’Neill missed twelve games with an injured wrist, returning on June 6.35 The powerful Browns hardly missed their top hitter, going 11-1 during his absence. In fact, the Browns were practically unstoppable for the rest of the campaign as they piled up a 95-40 record and led the procession by 14 games over second-place Cincinnati.

From season’s end to the present day, controversy has attended calculation of Tip O’Neill’s 1887 batting average. The problem begins with both The Sporting News and the 1888 Reach Guide. The former published an unbelievable .495 average based on 270 hits in 545 at-bats.36 The Guide is inconsistent, contradicting itself by publishing the .495 figure in O’Neill’s profile, yet recording a .492 average under the Individual Batting Record. Eventually his average was recorded as 277 hits in 563 at-bats for a .492 average.37 Current authority adjusts all 1887 batting averages downward, eliminating walks as base hits. On this basis, O’Neill’s base-hits total has been reduced by 50, which still leaves him with an extraordinary .435 BA for the season. O’Neill also became the first and only batter in history to lead a league in doubles, triples, and homers in the same season.38

Tip O'Neill (TRADING CARD DB)His contribution in the best-of-fifteen “World’s Championship Series” against the NL Detroit Wolverines was disappointing, as the Michiganders put an end to the Browns’ two-year reign, 10 victories to five, in games played in seven different cities during October. Only 659 fans saw the cold-weather finale in St. Louis on October 26. Overall, O’Neill had but 13 hits in 65 at-bats for a paltry .200 average.39 Although O’Neill is often decried as a baserunner, he and Arlie Latham were awarded diamond sleeve buttons for best base-running and batting by the Mennod and Jaccard Jewelry Co. of St. Louis.40

In a reversal of sorts, several rule changes and clarifications were made for the upcoming 1888 campaign. The Joint Committee on Rules eliminated the unpopular four-strike rule and the “phantom” or “walking hit.” The five-ball count for a base-on-balls, however, was retained.41 O’Neill arrived in St. Louis from his home in Canada in mid-February on his way to Hot Springs, Arkansas.42 The Ontarian was now 27 years old and one of only three Canadians in the American Association.43

The Browns of 1888 had a different look with the departure of stalwarts Bill Gleason, Bob Caruthers, Dave Foutz, Doc Bushong, and Curt Welch. They even discarded their familiar vertical-striped caps for two horizontal-striped ones and adopted a uniform with a primarily white and brown scheme. Harry Lyons, who had arrived late last season, replaced Welch in center field, future Hall-of-Famer Tommy McCarthy patrolled right, and Silver King, a bricklayer by trade, handled the pitcher’s box.

The Browns shot out of the gate like Macbeth II at Churchill Downs in May, winning the first five games and 18 out of their first 24 contests. Batting in his usual third spot behind Latham and Lyons for the first 57 games, O’Neill was among the batting leaders once again, averaging .364 by the end of May, but he then slumped with substandard hitting and fielding for much of the first half. Consequently, Captain Comiskey fined the Canadian $75.44

In mid-July, amid accusations that Brooklyn was trying to coax O’Neill to join the Bridegrooms. O’Neill was benched for two days by Von der Ahe because he refused to see the owner’s doctor, preferring his own. His subpar play was either because of illness and weakness as was claimed, or he was simply playing poorly on purpose to force his release to Brooklyn. In any case, after his two-day suspension O’Neill went 5-for-6 with a double, and the matter was resolved by a special meeting of the Association.45 It was disclosed that O’Neill had indeed been sick, and a report was published after the campaign that he had been afflicted with malaria.46 Tip missed another three games in the latter part of September due to an unspecified “illness” or suspension.47

The Browns finally captured first place on July 20, and held off Brooklyn, the Athletics, and Cincinnati for the balance of the season. Despite all his complications, the hitting star was once again Tip O’Neill who led the American Association for the second consecutive year with an original .332 average, revised decades later to .335.

That season’s best-of-nine World’s Series was thoroughly dominated by New York Giants hurling ace Tim Keefe and his various deliveries and changes of pace. Keefe pitched carefully to the skillful O’Neill, who was no more successful than he had been against Detroit the previous year. The series was essentially over by the time the two pennant victors finally headed for St. Louis. Including two meaningless final games, Tip O’Neill batted .243.48

The 1889 season promised to be a more interesting one for the Association. The base on balls was trimmed back to four balls, and Tip accumulated 72, his career high. He arrived from Canada slimmer than usual with no truth to the wedding bell rumors that were circulating. In fact, he never married. He was now 29 and the main hitting support behind pitchers Elton “Ice Box” Chamberlain, Silver King and new addition Jack Stivetts.

Despite team unrest over Yank Robinson’s suspension by owner Von der Ahe, the Browns clung to the Association lead for the first 110 games.

A big scare had occurred on May 17 when O’Neill, averaging .386, came up in the first inning. A pitch caromed off his bat and struck the Canadian squarely on the head which put him out of commission for two days. Upon his return, Tip’s batting plunged immediately connecting for a mere three hits in the following five games.49 St. Louis was finally caught by Brooklyn during a disastrous road trip from late August to mid-September. Compounding the situation, O’Neill missed five games due to the untimely death of his eldest brother John, who managed the family’s O’Neill House in Woodstock.50

A perilous situation occurred in Brooklyn on Saturday, September 7. The Browns, after refusing to complete the match under supposed darkening skies and leading tenuously, 4-2, were treated with a hurl of stones, empty beer glasses, and who knows what else by a mob of angry fans. Among the many unnerving quotes, Tip O’Neill remarked, “I expected that every one of us would get lynched before we got outside of the town. Why, the crowd was the craziest I ever got into.”51 The game was forfeited to Brooklyn, which was later overturned. The following day, the Browns were scheduled to play a Sunday match against the Bridegrooms at Ridgewood Park in Newtown outside of Brooklyn. They refused, given the threatening atmosphere, and the game was awarded to Brooklyn.

Even though the club won 13 of their final 14 decisions, the Browns were still dethroned by the Bridegrooms after four years at the Association helm. Even Tip was unseated as the Association’s top hitter by Baltimore’s switch-hitting Tommy Tucker and his hefty .375 average. O’Neill, originally credited with .337, came in second at .335. He was also second in fielding average among Association left fielders to Jim Manning of Kansas City.52

Sometime in November, Charlie Comiskey and Tip O’Neill severed ties with the St. Louis Browns and the American Association and signed with the Chicago Pirates of the newly- formed Players League.53 The Brotherhood circuit filled its ranks with most of the game’s talented players. With the help of O’Neill’s bat, the Pirates won 11 of their first 15 games before losing seven games straight in Brooklyn and New York.

As the season progressed, the Pirates developed their share of problems. Arlie Latham was released on July 29 due to subpar play. Center fielder Jimmy Ryan was suspended for more than a week in September for an on-field dispute with O’Neill, presumably over the disappointing play of the club.54 O’Neill was hitting just under .300 at the time, and Chicago was barely hanging on in the first division. The Pirates’ best month was September, but they still finished in fourth place, 75-62, ten games behind the Boston Reds. O’Neill hit .415 over the final 16 games to finish at .302, with 18 doubles, 16 triples, and three home runs.55

With the demise of the ill-fated Players League, Charlie Comiskey returned once again to manage St. Louis, bringing his popular left fielder with him.56

As the campaign advanced, St. Louis and Boston maintained a nip-and-tuck battle for the Association flag until the Reds gradually pulled ahead and won the pennant by 8½ games. Known as the hardest hitter in baseball, O’Neill finished third in the AA batting with a .323 average, along with 20 doubles, four triples, and 10 home runs.57

Throughout the 1891 season, merger negotiations between the National League and American Association held a cloud over the campaign. A settlement was feared by O’Neill, who stated that salaries would be slashed.58 Over the ensuing winter, the National League absorbed four Association clubs, spawning a swollen 12-team conglomeration known as the National League and American Association of Professional Base Ball Clubs.

Players were bouncing all over the map, including Charlie Comiskey, who severed ties with the Browns and signed with the Cincinnati Reds. Tip O’Neill followed his captain in March, something that was not popular with many Cincinnati fans. It was to prove the most ineffectual and exasperating year in Tip O’Neill’s career, if not his life. After 23 games, he was hitting a mere .213 on 19 hits. On May 13, he took sick with a wrench or “queer” pain in his abdomen.59 He recovered two days later but continued to lack the pluck and hitting prowess he was famous for, and Reds fans clamored for small Eddie Burke to take his place. Tip even quit smoking, a possible cause of his malaise. Captain Comiskey surmised that O’Neill’s ailment might explain his lack of energy.60

Comiskey, whose patience was not limitless, finally blew his top on August 9. When O’Neill muffed a fly ball in the blinding afternoon sun at Cleveland’s League Park, Comiskey yanked his left fielder off the field and ordered him back to Cincinnati.61 After six games in the doghouse, O’Neill suddenly found his old form in a seven-game outburst, batting .370, with six singles, two doubles, and two triples. That in turn was followed by another mysterious slump of one single in 15 at-bats.

Whatever the anguish, whatever the ailment, it convinced the discouraged O’Neill to quit for the season. As it turned out, he played his last major league game on August 30, 1892. Although Tip batted .315 during his final 48 games, his season average was .251, the lowest since 1883.62 Whether a matter of choice or circumstance, O’Neill’s career as a professional ballplayer had come to an end. Tip O’Neill finished his ten-year major-league career with 1,052 games, 4,248 at-bats, 879 runs, 1,385 hits, and a .326 batting average.

There is plenty of evidence to show that O’Neill had not willingly given up baseball. The Reds still had him on reserve in early 1893,63 and Captain Comiskey explained that O’Neill’s poor play was due to bad health and bad luck from the very beginning of the season.64 Notwithstanding his desire to continue playing and his substantial resume, 32-year-old O’Neill received zero offers. Consequently, his attentions eventually turned to other things such as horse racing at Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn.65

Instrumental in Montreal’s inclusion into the Eastern League in 1897, Tip was eventually hired by the Eastern League to serve as an umpire.66 His first game was on August 1 in Montreal, and he continued umpiring through the 1898 season before retiring. He remained active in baseball in and around Montreal, working as a sectional umpire and a scout for the Chicago White Sox. He played on local clubs like the Montreal Reserves of the Canadian Baseball League in 1907. His business interests included a thriving cigar trade, but his saloon went up in flames in 1900.67 After his brother George died in 1909, Tip became proprietor of the Hoffman Café on Rue Notre-Dame.

On the last day of 1915, O’Neill was stepping off a streetcar near the cafe when he died suddenly from a heart attack. He was 55.68 His youngest brother and sister arranged for his burial in the family plot at St. Mary Cemetery in Woodstock, Ontario.69

The struggle and confusion for precision is difficult to sift through due to various later “O’Neills” dubbed with the moniker “Tip.” Incorrect photographs have been used for profiles and short biographies of Canadian James Edward O’Neill over the years. Three prominent men have caused some difficulty in searching the past: William John “Tip” O’Neill, Norris Lawrence “Tip” O’Neill, and Frederick James “Tip” O’Neill. There’s also Thomas Phillip “Tip” O’Neill Jr., Speaker of the House of Representatives in modern times, who was nicknamed “Tip” in honor of the original. There was even a Tip O’Neill who pled guilty to using firearms and disturbing the peace and was fined five dollars in Topeka, Kansas, on January 5, 1886.70

After more than a century, Tip O’Neill’s legacy lives on. In 1983 he was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, which created in his honor “The Tip O’Neill Award” presented annually to “the Canadian born ballplayer judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to baseball’s highest ideals.”71



This biography was reviewed by Bill Lamb and Norman Macht. It was fact checked by Kevin Larkin.



Sources for the biographical information provided herein include family information posted by Library and Archives Canada, the 1881 Canadian Census; The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum; the profile of “O’Neill, James Edward (Tip),” by Michel Vigneault, Dictionary of Canadian Biography; the profile of James Edward “Tip” O’Neill by Robert L. Tiemann and William E. Akin published in Nineteenth Century Stars, Tiemann and Mark Rucker, eds. (Cleveland: SABR, 1989); the profile of James E. O’Neill compiled by Jean-Pierre Caillault, foreword by John Thorn, published in the Complete New York Clipper Baseball Biographies, Volume 2, McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2009; and by various newspaper articles cited below. Statistics have been taken from Baseball-Reference and Retrosheet, with references to the Spalding, Reach Guides, and others.



1 Birthdate per the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s bio of O’Neill: baseballhalloffame.ca/blog/2009/05/08/james-tip-oneil/ The current O’Neill birthdate was adopted by the Museum in 2019. Other authorities, however, give O’Neill different dates of birth. For additional family background, see “O’Neill, James Edward (Tip),” Michel Vigneault, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, biographi.ca/en/bio/o_neill_james_edward_14E.html.

2 On this background, see Daily Sentinel-Review (Woodstock), September 21, 1886: 2; oscarwildeinamerica.org/lectures-1882/may/0529-woodstock.html, and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s bio of O’Neill. Note: some sources state his birthplace was Woodstock.

3 The Canadian Encyclopedia.

4 “James Tip O’Neill,” The Woodstock Wonder, Dennis Thiessen, Canadian Baseball History Conference, November 2018.

5 “James E. O’Neil (sic),” New York Clipper, April 28, 1883, re-printed in Jean-Pierre Caillault, The Complete New York Clipper Baseball Biographies, Volume 2 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2009), 504.

6 Brock Helander, The League Alliance, (https://sabr.org/bioproj/topic/league-alliance).

7 Caillault, 504.

8 The 1992-1995 Supplement for Baseball, Football, Basketball, and Other Sports, edited by David L. Porter, Greenwood Publishing Group.

9 Harold Kaese in his, The Boston Braves calls the Bostons the “Reds” And “Red Stockings” in his chapter on 1883, p. 33. I also found “reds” for Boston in the Sporting Life issue of May 13, 1883, p. 2.

10 O’Neill’s hit .178 according to both the Reach and Spalding Guides of 1884.

11 Chris von der Ahe,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 17, 1904: 40.

12 Porter, above.

13 “The Last Columbus Game,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 26, 1884: 5.

14 “Fat Salaries,” Sporting Life, July 2, 1884: 6.

15 “Von der Ahe’s Club,” Sporting Life, December 5, 1883: 3

16 Philip J. Lowry, Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of Major League and Negro League Ballparks, (New York: Walker & Company, 2d ed., 2006): 198.

17 A case in point was his two-hitter against the Bay Citys on April 7 (Cincinnati Enquirer, April 28, 1884: 8.).

18 Lowry, 198-199.

19 “Base-Ball Games,” New York Times, May 2, 1884: 2.

20 Louisville Courier-Journal, August 31, 1884: 5. (The game was subsequently ruled a forfeiture.)

21 “St. Louis vs. Indianapolis,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 3, 1884: 8.

22 O’Neill’s hit .272 according to both the Reach and Spalding Guides of 1885.

23 O’Neill was injured on June 13 in the first inning trying to steal second base versus the Metropolitans and was replaced by Yank Robinson in left field according to “Baseball Games,” The Times (Philadelphia), June 14, 1885: 2.

24 O’Neill hit .342 according to both the Reach and Spalding Guides of 1886.

25 O’Neill’s fielding average was .897 according to the Reach Guide of 1886. For the era’s fielding, see Peter Morris, A Game of Inches: Stories behind the Innovations That Shaped Baseball (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2006), 426-427.

26 Before the seventh and final game on October 24, the two champions decided to throw out the forfeited game leaving the series in a two-two tie. See “Champions, Tantrum and Bad Umps,” Baseball Research Journal, Paul E. Doutrich, 2017, p. 10.

27 “Caught on the Fly,” The Sporting News, March 17, 1886: 2.

28 “Caruthers and Foutz call the Chicagoan’s Bluff,” The Sporting News, July 19, 1886: 4.

29 O’Neill hit .339 according to both the Reach and Spalding Guides of 1887. The figures are from the 1887 Spalding Baseball Guide, The Sporting News, and Sporting Life, and are a few points different than modern sources. O’Neill’s revised record has been clipped to a .328 average. His fielding average of .927 and total chances are unchanged.

30 The Sporting News, October 25, 1886: 2, and October 30, 1886: 2-3; and Antlers News-Record (Oklahoma), July 26, 1912: 12. Note Baseball-Reference and other sources claim the 1885 World’s Series was a tie.

31 “Walking hit” is my own term.

32 “New Pitching Rules,” The Sporting News, January 29, 1887: 6.

33 “Around the Bases,” The Sporting News, April 2, 1887: 5.

34 “Notes and Comments,” Sporting Life, March 9, 1887: 3

35 “Believe No Fairy Tales,” The Sporting News, June 4, 1887: 1.

36 “Batting Averages,” The Sporting News, October 22, 1887: 3.

37 Daguerreotypes, 1981, 213, and various others.

38 O’Neill also led the AA with 357 total bases, 225 hits, 167 runs, 123 runs batted in, and several modern categories.

39 Caillault, New York Clipper, October 15, 1887, 494; October 22, 1887, 509-510; October 29, 1887, 525-526, and November 5, 1887, 541-542.

40 “The Season on the Diamond,” The Wilkes-Barre Sunday Leader, March 4, 1888: 6.

41 “Changing Rules,” Sporting Life, November 23, 1887: 5.

42 “Changing Rules,” Sporting Life, November 23, 1887: 5.

43 The other two were Bill Phillips of Kansas City and George Walker of Baltimore who appeared in only four games.

44 “Comiskey, Baseball and Der Browns,” Sporting Life, June 6, 1888: 4.

45 “A Bad Break,” Sporting Life, July 18, 1888: 1, and “The Association,” Sporting Life, August 15, 1888: 1. Note also About the same time McCarthy became severely bedridden with illness, “Notes and Comments,” Sporting Life, July 18, 1888: 5.

46 Joe Pritchard, “St. Louis Siftings,” Sporting Life, October 17, 1888: 3.

47 “Games Played Saturday, September 22,” Sporting Life, October 3, 1888: 4; and

St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 25, 1888:

48 Various articles in The Sporting News and Sporting Life.

49 Sporting Life, May 22, 1889: 2.

50 “Notes and Gossip,” Sporting Life, September 25, 1889: 5; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 19, 1889: 10; and Evening Sentinel-Review (Woodstock), September 14, 1889: 1.

51 “Joe Pritchard,” St. Louis Siftings, Sporting Life, September 25, 1889: 3.

52 Figures taken from 1890 Reach Guide.

53 Evening Sentinel-Review (Woodstock), November 27, 1889: 1.

54 “A Player Suspended,” Sporting Life, September 6, 1890: 1; “Jimmy Ryan’s Case,” The Sporting News, September 13, 1890: 1.

55 Some sources record 18 doubles.

56 “Baseball,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 17, 1891: 8.

57 O’Neill hit .321 according to the Spalding Guide of 1891: 135.

58 “News, Gossip, Editorial, Comment,” Sporting Life, October 24, 1891: 2.

59 Cincinnati Enquirer, May 14, 1892: 2.

60 “Cincinnati Chips,” Sporting Life, May 7, 1892: 15.

61 “Tip O’Neill Laid Off,” The Sporting News, August 13, 1892: 1.

62 O’Neill hit .250 according to the Reach Guide of 1893: 85

63 “Ban Johnson,” Cincinnati Chips, Sporting Life, Jan 14, 1893: 14.

64 Ottawa Daily Citizen, December 12, 1892: 3.

65 “Base Ball Gossip,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jun 27, 1893: 6.

66 The Eastern League was classified a step below the National League.

67 “A Big Blaze,” Bowbells Tribune (North Dakota), March 2, 1900, p. 1.

68 Michel Vigneault, Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

69 Michel Vigneault, Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

70 The Daily Citizen (Topeka), January 5, 1886: 4, and Topeka (Kansas) Capital, January 6, 1886: 4.

71 O’Neill was inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.

Full Name

James Edward O'Neill


May 15, 25, 1860 at Springfield, ON (CAN)


December 31, 1915 at Montreal, QC (CAN)

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