Ed Morris (morried01)

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Edward Morris

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Biographical Information[edit]


Ed Morris was a star left-handed pitcher who set several records, some of which stand. One of the first players from California to star in the major leagues, he was the ace of the Pittsburgh Alleghenies in the mid-1880s. He was arguably the top southpaw hurler of the 19th Century. He played for Pittsburgh in three different leagues. He was nicknamed "Cannonball" for the velocity with which he threw. He was a temperamental player who would often sulk, earning him accusations of not trying his best. [1] Off the field, he had jobs ranging from the ownership of a billiards hall to deputy warden of a jail.

On the way to the majors[edit]

Morris was born in Brooklyn, NY but moved to San Francisco, CA as a child. He began as a catcher with the Eagles in San Francisco in 1879, then moved to the San Francisco Nationals. In 1881, he was with the San Francisco Mystics. John Ward convinced him to come try his hand playing in the East. He signed with the independent Philadelphias team initially. [2] His next stop came with the Reading Actives in 1882, along with fellow Californians Henry Moore and Fred Carroll, the latter of whom would be his longtime battery mate. He developed a rhythm with Carroll wherein he would pitch the ball as soon as he got it back from his catcher, keeping opponents off-balance. [3] Reading turned him into a pitcher, though he was used as a center fielder when not pitching. [4] While he did well in the field, he got into some trouble off it, when he and Moore were involved in a brawl in a Reading saloon; $27 had to be paid in restitution to avoid prosecution. [5] He hit .300/?/.443 for Reading in 1883 and went 16-6 with a 1.80 ERA, 25 walks and 140 strikeouts in 199 2/3 IP. He tied for 9th in the Interstate Association with five triples, tied Adonis Terry for 4th in wins (the top 3 would also be in the majors during their careers), was third behind John Harkins and John Schappert in strikeouts and was 7th in ERA.

American Association star[edit]

Morris moved up to the majors when he and Carroll were signed by the Columbus Buckeyes for 1884. He went 34-13 with a 2.18 ERA, .90 WHIP and 302 strikeouts in 429 2/3 IP in 1884, posting a 139 ERA+. On May 1st, he broke Lee Richmond's record for strikeouts by a lefty by fanning 13 Cincinnati Red Stockings batters. [6] On May 29th, he no-hit the Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He tied Dave Foutz for second in the 1884 AA in ERA (.38 behind Guy Hecker), tied Will White for 5th in wins, was second to Hecker in WHIP, was 6th in strikeouts, tied White and Hardie Henderson for 7th in games pitched (52) and was third in ERA+ (behind Hecker and Foutz).

Ed moved to Pittsburgh in 1885 when Columbus and Pittsburgh merged. [7] He went 39-24 with a 2.35 ERA and .96 WHIP, completing all 63 of his starts, striking out 298 in 581 innings. He set a major league record for wins by a lefty, but Lady Baldwin would top it the next year. [8] He was third in the 1885 AA in ERA (behind Bob Caruthers and Hecker), second in wins (one shy of Caruthers), third in walks, second in hits allowed (80 behind Henderson despite more innings pitched), 2nd in losses (11 behind Henderson), 3rd in wild pitches (36), 4th in ERA+ (138, between Mathews and Foutz) and led in WHIP (.046 ahead of Caruthers), games pitched, complete games, innings (41 2/3 ahead of runner-up Henderson), strikeouts (12 more than #2 Bobby Mathews) and shutouts (7, one more than Caruthers).

In 1886, Morris set a record for the third straight year. This time, he set a mark with 12 shutouts for a left-hander, a record that still stands as of 2013. [9] He pitched Pittsburgh into second place in the 1886 AA behind the powerful St. Louis Browns dynasty. For the season, his record 41-20, 2.45 (1.03 WHIP, 326 K in 555 1/3 IP). He finished among the league leaders in ERA (4th, between Toad Ramsey and Pud Galvin), wins (tied for first with Foutz), WHIP (1st again .024 ahead of Caruthers), games pitched (64, 3rd behind fellow lefties Matt Kilroy and Ramsey), innings pitched (3rd, trailing Ramsey and Kilroy), strikeouts (a distant third behind Kilroy and Ramsey), complete games (63, 3rd, 3 behind Kilroy and Ramsey), shutouts (1st, one more than Foutz), walks (tied for 8th with Hecker), losses (10th) and ERA+ (4th, between Caruthers and Hecker).

National League[edit]

Pittsburgh moved to the National League in 1887 and Morris was not as effective in the better of the two major leagues of the time, at least in his first year. He went 14-22 with a 4.31 ERA and 1.40 WHIP, only striking out 91 in 317 2/3 IP. He tied Henry Boyle for 10th in the NL with 37 complete games, was 9th in hits allowed (375), ranked 5th in losses and tied Charlie Getzien for 7th with 152 earned runs surrendered.

In 1888, Morris proved he could handle NL batters too. From September 10th to 15th, he threw four straight shutouts, a NL record that stood until 1968 when Don Drysdale broke it. [10] On October 10th, he cost a fellow Cannonball, Cannonball Titcomb, a no-hitter by getting the lone Pittsburgh hit in a 1-0 loss. [11] In his best NL season, the veteran went 29-23 with a 2.31 ERA and 114 ERA+. He was 9th in the league in ERA (between Henry Gruber and Gus Krock), 4th in wins (behind Tim Keefe, John Clarkson and Pete Conway), first in pitching appearances (55, one ahead of Clarkson), second in innings (480 1/3, 3 behind Clarkson), first in complete games (54, one more than Clarkson), tied Mickey Welch for 5th in shutouts (5), allowed the most hits (470, 22 ahead of Clarkson), was 6th in losses and 10th in ERA+.

Morris fell to 6-13, 4.13 in 1889 and only made the NL leaderboard in home run rate (the lowest with 4 HR in 170 IP) and walk rate (2.54 BB/9, 7th). He also faced legal troubles before the season, when he and teammate Willie Kuehne were charged with running a gambling hall (they said it was a billiard hall); the charges did not stick. The time spent fighting the charges, though, may have taken its toll on his arm as he was not in shape for the season. [12] He and Kuehne had been billiards hustlers together, as Morris was excellent at the game. [13]

Players League[edit]

When the Players League was formed in 1890, Morris pitched for Pittsburgh in a third league following the AA and NL. Former teammates Carroll, Kuehne and Jake Beckley pushed for the PL team to acquire Morris. [14] He was 8-7 with a 4.86 ERA for the Pittsburgh Burghers, only posting an ERA+ of 81. Like many 19th Century pitchers, his arm was dead from overwork well before his 30th birthday. He was released mid-season, but continued to report to the park each day, claiming the team could not cut his contract. [15]

Career Summary and Life After Baseball[edit]

Morris ran a saloon in Pittsburgh, then umpired a Pittsburgh-Washington game in 1895. He applied to be on the NL umpiring staff for 1896 but was turned down on account of his weight (now over 210 pounds). [16] He did return to be home plate umpire of a game in 1897. [17] He then worked as a deputy warden at the Western Pennsylvania Penitentiary. [18] He died of an infection that began in his toe. [19]

Morris was 171-122 with a 2.82 ERA in 311 major league games (307 starts). In 2,678 innings, he allowed 2,468 hits and 498 walks while striking out 1,217. He had a 115 ERA+. He won more games than any other left-handed pitcher of the 19th Century. [20] He hit .161/.193/.208 with 100 runs and 63 RBI, for a 26 OPS+ and fielded .891 on the mound (he fielded .923 in 11 games in the outfield). As of mid-2013, he ranked among MLB's career leaders in wins (tied for 180th with George Bradley, Danny Darwin, Eddie Rommel and Rick Sutcliffe), ERA (107th), winning percentage (175th, .0003 behind Brandon Webb), WHIP (26th, between Fred Glade and White), fewest walks per 9 innings (between Tiny Bonham and Dick Hall), innings (198th, between Urban Shocker and fellow Pittsburgh ace Vern Law), complete games (297, tied for 44th with Pink Hawley), shutouts (29, tied for 125th), K/BB ratio (111th, between Webb and LaMarr Hoyt), wild pitches (112, tied for 76th with Tom Gordon, Lindy McDaniel and Don Sutton) and errors by a pitcher (70, tied for 45th with Eddie Cicotte, Hawley and Sadie McMahon). He holds the top two marks for wins in a season by a Pittsburgh hurler, 9th in franchise history in that department for a career. He also holds single-season team records for strikeouts and complete games and is in the top 10 in several other Pittsburgh career leader boards.

One of the most similar players (based on the similarity scores method), is Jack Chesbro, who also had 41 victories one year and who also spent several years in Pittsburgh. Others on the list are Hecker, Jeff Pfeffer, Eddie Lopat, Jesse Tannehill, Bret Saberhagen, Hippo Vaughn, Art Nehf, Mel Stottlemyre Sr. and Slim Sallee - an unusually varied group in terms of style and time period.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • AA Wins Leader (1886)
  • 2-time League Games Pitched Leader (1885/AA & 1888/NL)
  • AA Saves Leader (1886)
  • AA Innings Pitched Leader (1885)
  • AA Strikeouts Leader (1885)
  • 2-time League Complete Games Leader (1885/AA & 1888/NL)
  • 2-time AA Shutouts Leader (1885 & 1886)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 4 (1884-1886 & 1888)
  • 30 Wins Seasons: 3 (1884-1886)
  • 40 Wins Seasons: 1 (1886)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 5 (1884-1888)
  • 300 Innings Pitched Seasons: 5 (1884-1888)
  • 400 Innings Pitched Seasons: 4 (1884-1886 & 1888)
  • 500 Innings Pitched Seasons: 2 (1884 & 1886)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 3 (1884-1886)
  • 300 Strikeouts Seasons: 2 (1884 & 1886)


  1. Major League Baseball Profiles: 1871-1900 ed. by David Nemec vol. 1 pg. 136
  2. Major League Baseball Profiles: 1871-1900 ed. by David Nemec vol. 1 pg. 136
  3. The Great Encyclopedia of 19th Century Major League Baseball by David Nemec, pg. 153
  4. Major League Baseball Profiles, vol. 1, pg. 136
  5. Major League Baseball Profiles, vol. 2, pg. 241
  6. The Great Encyclopedia of 19th Century Major League Baseball, pg. 126
  7. The Beer and Whisky League by David Nemec, pg. 93
  8. The Great Encyclopedia of 19th Century Major League Baseball, pg. 288
  9. The Great Encyclopedia of 19th Century Major League Baseball, pg. 805
  10. Major League Baseball Profiles: 1871-1900, vol. 1, pg. 136
  11. Major League Baseball Profiles: 1871-1900, vol. 1, pg. 190
  12. Major League Baseball Profiles: 1871-1900, vol. 1, pg. 137
  13. The Beer and Whisky League, pg. 106
  14. Major League Baseball Profiles: 1871-1900, vol. 1, pg. 137
  15. ibid.
  16. ibid.
  17. Retrosheet
  18. The Beer and Whisky League, pg. 106
  19. Major League Baseball Profiles: 1871-1900, vol. 1, pg. 137
  20. The Great Encyclopedia of 19th Century Major League Baseball, pg. 288

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