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Kid Nichols


Position: Pitcher
Teams: Boston Beaneaters, 1890-1901; St. Louis Cardinals, 1904-1905; Philadelphia Phillies, 1905-1906
Manager: St. Louis Cardinals, 1904-1905
Managerial Record: 80-88

Kid Nichols
Kid Nichols relied almost entirely
on one pitch -- his fastball.

When he first joined the Boston Beaneaters in 1890, Charlie Nichols looked so youthful and so physically unprepossessing that he was called "Kid." The nickname stuck with him for the remainder of his life.

Nichols is the only 300-game winner in major-league history who got by with just one pitch. He had a fastball, period. And at that, it was by no means an overpowering fastball.

What Nichols did possess in spades, however, was control. When he walked a batter, it was usually only because he was afraid to let him hit. Later in his career, Nichols developed a changeup but used it only infrequently. Until the end of his career, his fastball remained his "out" pitch.

Charles Augustus Nichols (1869-1953) began his career in 1887 with his hometown Kansas City club in the Western League. After two years, Nichols landed with Omaha in the Western Association, managed by 29-year-old Frank Selee (already a keen judge of talent). Selee was hired as the Beaneaters’ manager the following year and proceeded to sign Nichols.

Nichols won 27 games as a rookie in 1890 and 273 games in his first 10 seasons, more than any other pitcher during the decade of the 1890s. On eight occasions he collected 30 or more victories, reaching a high of 35 in 1892. Never a strikeout or an ERA leader, Kid nevertheless topped the National League three times in shutouts and always ranked among the leaders in both complete games and saves (staff leaders were also often used as stoppers then).

The Boston Beaneaters were the most formidable team in the game in the 1890s, and no one had more to do with Boston’s success than Nichols, who had 10 straight winning seasons. In 1898, Ted Lewis, Vic Willis, and Nichols (who won 31 games) teamed up to win 82 games among them, bringing the Beaneaters their fifth flag of the decade.

The club began to falter after that, however. When team owner Arthur Soden lost several stars to the American League by refusing to match the offers made them by junior loop clubs, Nichols quit the Beaneaters and bought a part interest in the Kansas City team in the Western League.

After two years as a player-manager with Kansas City, Kid was lured back to the majors by the St. Louis Cardinals. He won 21 games for St. Louis in 1904. When the club got off to a poor start the next year, Nichols was released, finishing his career with the Phillies. Despite 361 career wins, Nichols was not named to the Hall of Fame until 1949.

Here are Kid Nichols' major league totals:

W L ERA G CG IP H ER BB SO
361 208 2.94 620 532 5,084 4,912 1,660 1,272 1,877

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