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John McGraw

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John McGraw

Born : 7 April 1873
City : Truxton, New York, United States
Rank : ( 544 )
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John McGraw Biography

John Joseph McGraw (April 7, 1873 – February 25, 1934), nicknamed "Little Napoleon" and "Muggsy," was a Major League Baseball player and long-time manager of the New York Giants. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937.

Much-lauded as a player, McGraw was one of the standard-bearers of dead-ball era major league baseball. Known for having fists as quick as his temper, McGraw used every advantage he could get as both a player and manager. He took full advantage of baseball's initial structure that only provided for one umpire, becoming notorious for tripping, blocking and impeding a baserunner in any way he could while the umpire was distracted by the flight of the ball. His profligacy in employing such tactics may have led to additional umpires being assigned to monitor the basepaths

personal life
Early years

McGraw's father, whose name was also John, and his older brother Michael immigrated from Ireland in 1856. He and his brother had arrived in time for the Civil War, and were drawn into the conflict as part of the Union army. Shortly after the war, he married and McGraw's older half-sister was born. John McGraw senior's first wife died, and he began moving around looking for work—a search that ultimately led him to Truxton, New York in 1871. It was there that the elder John McGraw married young Ellen Comerfort. They had the younger John McGraw on April 7, 1873.

The younger John McGraw was named "John" after his father, and "Joseph" after his grandfather back in Ireland. Even as a baby, young Johnny (as he was called) had raven hair, and eyes so dark that many people thought they were black. The boy's birth was the first of many to the family, as seven more children were born over the course of the next 12 years. The sheer number of children, combined with the paucity of well-compensated work led to hard times for the large family. It was often a struggle simply to have ample food for everyone and clothing enough to protect them all from the harsh winters of upstate New York.

Marriages

McGraw, then 23, married Minnie Doyle, the daughter of prominent Baltimore politician Michael Doyle, on February 3, 1897. This was at the height of his fame as a player for the old Baltimore Orioles of the National League. Two years later, while McGraw was on a road trip with his team, she developed appendicitis. An emergency appendectomy was performed, and McGraw was called back from Louisville, Kentucky. However, her condition worsened and, surrounded by not only McGraw, but other members of the family as well, young Minnie, only 23 years old, died on September 1, 1899.

He married his second wife, Blanche Sindall, on January 8, 1902. She outlived McGraw by nearly 30 years, dying on November 4, 1962. Even after her husband's death, Mrs. McGraw was a devoted fan of the team he had managed for so long. In 1951, she threw out the first pitch during a World Series game in which her beloved Giants played the New York Yankees. Sadly for Mrs. McGraw, the Yankees won that day, 6–2, and would go on to win the championship—their second in a row—in six games.

Later years

In 1923, only nine years before he would retire, McGraw reflected on his life inside the game he loved in his memoir My Thirty Years in Baseball. He stepped down as manager of the New York Giants in the middle of the 1932 season. He was reactivated briefly when he accepted the invitation to manage the National League team in the 1933 All-Star Game.

Less than two years after retiring, McGraw died of uremic poisoning at age 60 and is interred in New Cathedral (Roman Catholic) Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland.

Baseball career

In 1890, Bert Kenney bought a portion of the new professional baseball franchise in Olean, New York. The team was to play in the newly formed New York-Pennsylvania League. In return for this investment, he was named player/manager of the team (this was called "captain" at the time).

When McGraw heard the news, he immediately went to visit his former coach, begging him for a chance to play on the new team. Kenney had seen a lot of baseball by this time, and doubted that his former pitcher's one great pitch (the "outcurve," as it was called) would work as effectively against professional competition. Yet the man liked the teenaged McGraw very much, and when the boy insisted that he could play any position available, Kenney decided to give him a chance. McGraw signed his first contract to play professional baseball on April 1, 1890.

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