Claude Cassius Ritchey
(Little All Right)
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 5' 6½", Weight 167 lb.
- High School Emlenton High School
- Debut April 22, 1897
- Final Game June 24, 1909
- Born October 5, 1873 in Emlenton, PA USA
- Died November 8, 1951 in Emlenton, PA USA
"A king-pin second baseman, he aided Pittsburgh in scooping in a trio of pennants." - Sporting Life, Nov. 30, 1912, succinctly summarizing Claude Ritchey's career
Claude Ritchey was short but talented, hence his moniker "Little All Right". He played 13 seasons in the majors, much of it as a teammate of Honus Wagner.
Ritchey was born in Emlenton, PA, in northwestern Pennsylvania. It was reported that he was a strict vegetarian since early childhood. He attended Emlenton High School. He played amateur ball in Pennsylvania and then in 1894 turned pro. It was inevitable that he would eventually run into another Pennsylvania native who was the same age, Honus Wagner - the two played together for Steubenville in 1895, along with Honus's brother Al Wagner.
In 1896 Claude played for Buffalo, a team managed by a star from the 1880's, Jack Rowe. He attracted major league attention and the Brooklyn Bridegrooms drafted him. They later sold him to the 1897 Cincinnati Reds, where manager Buck Ewing used him as the regular shortstop. Neither his hitting nor his fielding was spectacular, though, and he was traded to the 1898 Louisville Colonels where he was reunited with Honus.
Claude split his time between shortstop and second base in 1898, looking better at second base. Honus played first base that year. In 1899 Ritchey left shortstop behind and became primarily a second baseman for the rest of his major league career. As a hitter, he broke the .300 level for manager Fred Clarke.
After the 1899 season much of the Louisville team, including Ritchey, Honus and Clarke, moved to Pittsburgh. Claude stayed at Pittsburgh from 1900-06, a time when the Pirates always played well over .500. The Pirates were league champs in 1901-03, and in the first World Series in 1903 Ritchey hit sixth in the lineup. He and Honus became good friends.
He closed out his major league career playing three seasons with the Boston Doves (1907-09). For manager Joe Kelley in 1908 he was perhaps the strongest-hitting regular, with a .273 batting average on a team whose average was .239 during the dead-ball era.
Ritchey always tended to get on base, with a .348 lifetime OBP largely achieved during the hit-scarce dead-ball era. He also was good with sacrifice hits, leading the league in that category in 1899 and finishing his career with 224 sac hits.
In 1909 he also played in the minors for Providence. He later played pro ball briefly in 1911 and 1912.
After baseball he went back to his hometown, where he worked in several businesses, including a men's clothing store.
He died in 1951 in his birthplace, Emlenton.