Approximately 400 spectators turned out at Detroit’s Recreation Park to watch the first of a four-game National League series between the Detroit Wolverines and the Providence Grays as the 1885 season wound down. The contest had been rescheduled from a June 26 rainout. They cheered enthusiastically as their Wolverines collected 18 base hits, rolling to a 14-2 win. The Detroit Free Press characterized the game with a headline that read, “The Detroits Do the Hitting and the Providence Men Chase the Ball.”1
Detroit had been progressively improving over recent seasons. In 1884 the Wolverines placed dead last in the NL with a record of 28-84-2. They had improved in 1885; with eight games remaining in the season, they already had six more wins than in the entire 1884 season.
Providence had seven consecutive winning seasons from 1878 to 1884, including two pennants. The Grays won the World Series2 over the American Association’s New York Metropolitans in 1884, but in 1885, their luck had run out. Twenty games over .500 (44-24) on August 6, they had lost 29 of 34 heading into their series in Detroit.
Two young pitchers faced each other in the September 28 game. For the Wolverines, 21-year-old Pretzels Getzein had the mound duties. The right-hander had made his first major-league start on August 13, 1884, and was used heavily down the stretch of the 1884 season, eventually making a total of 17 starts (of which he won just five). In 1885 he again secured a spot in the Detroit rotation, sharing turns on the mound with Lady Baldwin, Dan Casey, and Stump Weidman.
Opposing Getzein was left-hander Dupee Shaw. Although 26 years old, Shaw was in only his third big-league season and first with Providence. Shaw had pitched for Detroit in 1883 and part of 1884, amassing a 19-33 record for the Wolverines before moving to the Boston Reds in the Union Association. With the Reds, Shaw won 21 of 36 decisions, posting a 1.77 ERA.3 He spent 1885 with the Grays and made 49 starts (the same number as his teammate, veteran Old Hoss Radbourn).
Leading Detroit’s offensive attack against the Grays was Mox McQuery, the Wolverines’ 24-year-old first baseman. He banged out four hits in five at-bats, a single, double, triple, and home run.
McQuery had started his major-league career with the Cincinnati Outlaw Reds in 1884. He began the 1885 season with the Indianapolis Hoosiers of the Western League and was sold to Detroit on June 15. He quickly became the everyday first baseman for the Wolverines. Although not a power hitter (he had 22 extra-base hits in 278 at-bats), he did establish a respectable batting average (.273) with a team that struggled offensively.
The Wolverines “started run getting”4 in the bottom of the first inning.5 Ned Hanlon and Sam Thompson hit back-to-back singles to begin the game. After Charlie Bennett forced Thompson at second with a grounder, Hanlon scored on a fly out by Weidman, who was playing left field, one of several appearances as a position player around his regular pitching duties in 1885.6
Jim Manning launched a fly ball to deep right field that sent Lon Knight “out to the track after the leather,”7 resulting in a two-run homer and a 3-0 Detroit lead. This was Manning’s only round-tripper for the 1885 Wolverines.8
Two innings later, Detroit struck again. With two outs, Manning launched another fly ball, this time to center fielder Paul Hines, who muffed the catch, and Manning reached safely. McQuery, who had grounded out to end the first inning, brought Manning home with a triple. Jim Donnelly’s single plated McQuery, and the Wolverines led 5-0.
Manning reached on another error (this time by shortstop Paul Radford) to lead off the fifth inning. He scored on McQuery’s double. McQuery then scored from second on a passed ball charged to catcher Barney Gilligan, pushing the lead to 7-0.
The Wolverines put the game well out of reach in the sixth. Hanlon singled. An out later, Bennett reached on a walk. Weidman’s single brought Hanlon across home plate. After Manning flied out, McQuery lined a single which scored Bennett with Detroit’s ninth run.
The two-out rally continued as Donnelly doubled, driving in both Weidman and McQuery. Sam Crane singled, putting runners at the corners. With Getzein batting, Crane took off for second base, starting a double-steal attempt. Gilligan threw to Jack Farrell, who was covering second base, and he tagged Crane out. Donnelly, however, had crossed the plate before Crane was tagged out, so the run counted.
In the eighth inning, Weidman singled with one out. After Manning flied out, McQuery “hit the ball so hard that he crossed the plate before it was back in the diamond.” With his two-run home run. McQuery had hit for the cycle.
The term “cycle” was not in use in the nineteenth century, but the Detroit Free Press told its readers that “McQuery hit for the whole diamond – a single, double, triple and home run.”9 The home team now led 14-0 and had reached Shaw for 18 hits and 28 total bases.
Meanwhile, Getzein blanked the Providence Nine into the ninth inning. He was one out from a seven-hit shutout, but Shaw lined a two-out double in the ninth to start a rally. Singles by Hines and Radford and a double by Cliff Carroll followed, and Providence posted two runs on the scoreboard.
The final score was 14-2 in favor of Detroit. This established a record for the most runs the Wolverines had scored all season.
McQuery’s accomplishment marked the second time a National League batter had hit for the cycle in 1885. Another Wolverine, George Wood, had also done so on June 13 against the Chicago White Stockings in Chicago.10 Two batters in the American Association also hit for the cycle that season: Dave Orr (New York Metropolitans, June 12, against the St. Louis Browns) and Henry Larkin (Philadelphia Athletics, June 16, against the Pittsburgh Alleghenys). Before 1885, there were only five occurrences of a major-league batter getting a single, double, triple, and home run in a game.
McQuery finished the season playing for Detroit, but the following spring he was obtained by the Kansas City Cowboys, a new NL club. He batted .247 in 122 games, but then spent 1887 through 1889 in the International Association, playing for the Hamilton Hams (part of 1887) and the Syracuse Stars (1887-1889). He was on the Syracuse squad when the Stars joined the American Association in 1890.
In 1991 McQuery played for the Washington Statesmen (also in the AA), but he was released on August 1. He finished the season with the Troy Trojans (Eastern Association). Still attempting a major-league comeback as a 31-year-old, McQuery spent 1892 playing for the Evansville Hoosiers (Illinois-Iowa League) and then the Marinette Badgers (Wisconsin-Michigan League). His minor-league stats are incomplete, but in five major-league seasons, McQuery batted .271 with 13 career home runs.
The two teams played three more games over the next three days. Detroit swept the series, outscoring Providence 45-14 in the four contests. The Wolverines ended the season by winning three out of four against the Boston Beaneaters, giving them nine victories in their final 10 games of the year. They came in at 41-67, good for sixth place in the NL, their highest finish since 1882.
Even better days were ahead in Detroit. About two weeks before this game, on September 16, Detroit had shrewdly brokered a deal that paid $7,000 for a controlling share in the Buffalo Bisons club. That gave them the ability to acquire a core of stars known as the “Big Four.”11 Hardy Richardson, Jack Rowe, and future Hall of Famers Dan Brouthers and Deacon White had been Buffalo’s main drawing card since 1881, and now the Wolverines were poised to improve.
They went 87-36-3 in 1886 (finishing second in the NL) and then 79-45-3 in 1887, capturing the pennant and winning the “World Series.” Getzien, who won just 12 games in 1885, became the team’s ace over the next two seasons, winning 30 games in 1886 and 29 in 1887.12
The Grays rebounded after these losses to Detroit by sweeping Buffalo in four straight contests to finish 1885 in fourth place (53-57). Still, it was the first losing season in club history. Perhaps this is why the New York Times reported that “the visitors played listlessly, seeming to care little how the game might result.”13
During the Winter Meetings after the season ended, the National League discussed a need to regroup for the 1886 season. Buffalo’s purchase by Detroit had assured the demise of the Bisons franchise. According to SABR author Mark Pestana, Providence, too, “gave up the ghost, and by the end of November, the Rhode Islanders had been bought up”14 by Boston’s ownership. Two new teams – the Kansas City Cowboys and Washington Nationals – replaced Buffalo and Providence in the NL in 1886.
This article was fact-checked by Kevin Larkin and copy-edited by Len Levin.
In addition to the sources mentioned in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com, MLB.com, Retrosheet.org, and SABR.org. Box scores and play-by-play are not available from either Retrosheet or Baseball-Reference.
1 “Slugging the Sphere,” Detroit Free Press, September 29, 1885: 8.
2 There was no institutionalized World Series in 1884. The Grays and the New York Metropolitans of the American Association agreed to play a three-game postseason series. The Grays won all three games.
3 Shaw made his first start for Boston on July 16, 1884. In 61 games as a member of the Boston Reds, Shaw pitched in 39, making 38 starts.
4 “Slugging the Sphere.”
5 In 1886 the home team’s captain could decide whether his team would bat first or second; however, in 1885, the visiting team batted first. According to the box scores for this game, Providence, the visiting team, is listed second, but Detroit made only 24 outs (to Providence’s 27), indicating that the Wolverines did not bat in the bottom of the ninth, since they had the lead. See “Baseball Rule Changes,” found online at https://www.baseball-almanac.com/rulechng.shtml. Accessed September 2022.
6 Stump Weidman started 38 games for Detroit in 1885. He pitched 37 complete games, with a 14-24 record and 3.14 earned-run average. He also played seven games in the outfield (making six errors in 13 chances) and one game at second base (one error in his only chance). He batted .157 with one home run and 14 RBIs in 1885.
7 “Slugging the Sphere.”
8 Manning was sold to Detroit for $500 by the Boston Beaneaters earlier in the month. He had hit two homers for the Beaneaters that season, and he ended his career with 8 home runs in 364 games, spread over five seasons.
9 “Slugging the Sphere.”
10 McQuery had joined the Wolverines two days after this game.
11 Mark Pestana, “1885 Winter Meetings: A Temporary Stability,” Baseball’s 19th Century Winter Meetings: 1857-1900, eds. Jeremy K. Hodges and Bill Nowlin, SABR, 2018. Accessed online September 10, 2022. None of the “Big Four” appeared in this game.
12 Getzien’s .690 winning percentage in 1887 (29-13) led the league.
13 “Detroit’s Easy Victory,” New York Times, September 29, 1885: 2.
Detroit Wolverines 14
Providence Grays 2
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