Tim Keefe

A Biography of the Hall of Fame Pitcher and Player-Rights Advocate


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About the Book

One of the greatest pitchers of the 19th century, Tim Keefe (1857–1933) was an ardent believer in the artisan work ethic that was becoming outmoded in burgeoning industrial America. A master craftsman, he compiled 342 career victories during his 14-season Major League career while adapting to numerous changes in pitching rules during the 1880s. Known as a strategic pitcher, he outsmarted batters, particularly with his change-of-pace pitch. He led the New York Giants to the National League pennant in 1888 and 1889, establishing a Major League record with 19 consecutive pitching victories in 1888.
He taught pitching as a college baseball coach, wrote several articles about his craft and established a sporting goods firm where he manufactured a baseball of his own design. He was a proponent for players’ rights as the secretary of the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players, which formed the ill-fated Players’ League in 1890. This first-ever biography of Keefe covers the career of the 1964 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee.

About the Author(s)

Charlie Bevis is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and adjunct professor of English at Rivier University. He has written for Nine, The Cooperstown Symposium, The National Pastime and Base Ball, and is the author of several baseball books. He lives in Chelmsford, Massachusetts.

Bibliographic Details

Charlie Bevis
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 292
Bibliographic Info: 22 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9665-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2231-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
1. Sir Timothy 5
2. Irish Roots and Artisan Thinking 11
3. Carpenter’s Son Growing Up Near Boston 16
4. Infielder on Amateur and Semipro Teams 24
5. Pitcher in the Minor Leagues 34
6. Pitching in the National League for Troy 49
7. College Baseball Coach 61
8. With the Metropolitans in New York City 66
9. Transfer to the New York Giants 83
10. Secretary of the Brotherhood 92
11. Strategic Pitcher with ­League-Leading 42 Wins 101
12. Land Owner in Cambridge 114
13. Adapting to Numerous Pitching Rule Changes 118
14. Clara Helm, the Future Mrs. Keefe 135
15. Record-Setting 19 Consecutive Wins 140
16. Sporting Goods Proprietor 159
17. Successful Salary Holdout 163
18. Establishing the Players’ League 180
19. Capitalists Desert the Ballplayers 191
20. Aftermath of the Players’ League 203
21. Ending His Pitching Career in Philadelphia 212
22. Harvard Baseball Coach 220
23. Umpire in the National League 223
24. Retirement from Baseball in Cambridge 235
25. Hall of Fame Selection 244
25. Unsung Pioneer of Ballplayer Rights 250
A: Tim Keefe on Pitching 255
B: Tim Keefe on Shorthand 257
C: Tim Keefe on Strategic Pitching 258
D: Pitching Changes Keefe Adapted to, 1880 to 1893 260
Chapter Notes 263
Bibliography 279
Index 283

Book Reviews & Awards

“Extensively researched…well written…Bevis is to be commended”—Nine
“Another worthy addition to the literature of the experiment that was the Players League”—Nineteenth Century Notes.