Half-Baked Hall Profile: John Clarkson

John Clarkson pitching for Boston.

John Clarkson 1861-1909


Worcester Ruby Legs 1882
Chicago White Stockings 1884-1887
Boston Beaneaters 1888-1892
Cleveland Spiders 1892-1894

Career WAR: 85.7

Best Season: 1889 73 G 49-19 2.73 ERA 150 ERA+ 3.49 FIP 1.27 WHIP 16.7 WAR

Quotes: “(Clarkson) could put more turns and twists into a ball than any pitcher I ever saw.” – Billy Sunday

“In knowing exactly what kind of a ball a batter could not hit and in his ability to serve up just that kind of ball, I don’t think I have ever seen the equal of Clarkson.” – Cap Anson

Known For: Right handed pitcher who relied heavily on his curve ball. Won 30 or more games in six seasons, and retired with a total of 327 NL wins. Liked to keep his pitch count low so he pitched so the batter would hit it and the fielders would do their jobs.  Got into a year-long dispute with Al Spalding. Spent the last five years of his life in various asylums due to a nervous breakdown, depression, paranoia, and possibly various other mental disorders exacerbated by excessive drinking.

The Bad: Was blacklisted by many of his fellow players when he backtracked on his agreement with the brotherhood of players and negotiated a contract with the National League Boston club. Many thought he was sitting in on the early union meeting simply to report back to the NL owners.

Not that Bad, however: For a time, the rumor that Clarkson murdered his wife Ella during the last few years of his life was reported as fact. It is not true. She outlived him.

At least he looked good: Clarkson was known for his style and fashion. He was once called the “bright particular dude” of the Chicago White Stockings by Sporting Life.

That might pay for an inning decent pitching in 2014: When he joined the Beaneaters in 1888, he and catcher King Kelly were hyped as the “$20,000 battery”

Voter Comments:

“His numbers are extremely similar to Tim Keefe, and Keefe went in first-ballot. Clarkson had about 500 fewer innings, but had a slightly better ERA” – Beau

“I thought Clarkson was a slam dunk yes” – Daneekas Ghost

WGOM Election Results Page


Actual HOF Page




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