Half-Baked Hall Profile: Tim Keefe

Tim Keefe 1857-1933


Troy Trojans 1880-1882
New York Metropolitans 1883-1884
New York Giants 1885-1889, 1891
New York Giants (PL) 1890
Philadelphia Phillies 1891-1893
NL Umpire

Quote: “I was considered a robber because I held out for $2,100,”

Career WAR: 89.9 Pitching, -2.2 Batting

Best Season: 1888: 35-12 1.74 ERA 156 ERA+ 1.89 FIP 0.937 WHIP 10.3 WAR

Known For: Change-of-pace pitch. Won 19 straight games in 1888. Leader of the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players, one of the leaders in the formation of the Player’s League. Currently 10th on the all-time wins list with 342, between Roger Clemens (354) and Steve Carlton (329).

The Bad: Lost the first two games of the best-of-three 1884 World Series, then umpired the third game.

Interesting: Was the pitcher in an 1887 game when Dan Casey got a late hit to tie the game in a moment that many believe to have been the inspiration for the poem “Casey at the Bat”

Pitching Motion:

Besides pitching at different speeds, Keefe threw with different arm motions, often side-arm and underhand (submarine style, in today’s parlance) even though the overhand delivery had been legalized in 1884. He also made liberal use of the entire pitcher’s box, throwing from different angles (not simply straight on to the batter) and taking multiple steps before releasing the ball, not always pitching from a set position. Keefe was a master of the multistep hop, skip, and jump delivery, which he described in 1888 as combining “plenty of speed and strength and a series of gymnastics to terrify the batter,” in which “the pitcher had the batter completely at his mercy.”29 As Keefe recalled later in life, “We were pitching from a 50-foot distance then, and honestly, I sometimes used to wonder how they even hit us, with those advantages which we had.”30Charlie Bevis

Hall of Fame Facial Hair: Yes.

Nickname: “Sir Timothy” – due to his gentlemanly behavior on the field. Was used derisively when he was an umpire.

Comments from Voters:

“Keefe and Radbourn are locks for my yes vote, and I haven’t looked at the rest of the ballot.” -AMR

“Keefe is a slam-dunk for me. The guy was a beast.” -Beau

“Tim Keefe scoffs at Al Spalding’s 76%, storming past him with a more decisive 77% of the vote” -Beau

WGOM Election Results Page


Actual Hall of Fame Page



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