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Roger Bresnahan

Position: Pitcher, Catcher, Outfielder, Infielder
Washington Senators, 1897; Chicago Cubs, 1900, 1913-1915; Baltimore Orioles, 1901-1902; New York Giants, 1902-1908; St. Louis Cardinals, 1909-1912
Manager: St. Louis Cardinals, 1909-1912; Chicago Cubs, 1915
Managerial record: 328-432

If Hall of Fame membership was based upon ongoing contributions to the game and involvement in some of the most memorable incidents in baseball history, then Roger Bresnahan is among the Hall’s most qualified members.

Claiming to hail from Tralee, Ireland, Roger Philip Bresnahan (1879-1944) earned the nickname “The Duke of Tralee” (although he was born in Toledo, Ohio). Roger first made his mark on major-league baseball as an 18-year-old pitcher for Washington in 1897, when he went 4-0 in six late-season games. The Senators, however, could not meet his terms. He later surfaced in Baltimore, where he pitched as well as played nearly every other position.

Hall of Famer Roger Bresnahan
Roger Bresnahan caught for Christy Mathweson and was also
a solid player in his own right.

He was part of John McGraw’s bold power play to enter the National League in 1902. McGraw persuaded Cincinnati owner John T. Brush to buy an interest in the American League Baltimore club and then release McGraw, Bresnahan, Joe McGinnity and others. They quickly caught on with the Giants, Brush sold the Cincinnati club and bought the Giants, and a powerhouse was born.

Bresnahan became a catcher and outfielder and a disciple of the fiery, win-at-all-costs McGraw. Roger was a favorite of McGraw’s and would manage the new players in spring training until McGraw and the vets reported. In an effort to remain in the lineup, Bresnahan developed shin guards and a chest protector for catchers.

Although only a .280 lifetime batter, he was a solid hitter, reaching .350 in 1903. He had exceptional speed for a catcher and was a terrific baserunner, allowing McGraw to use him in the leadoff spot. He stole 212 bases in his career, an unheard-of number for catchers.

He is forever linked with Christy Mathewson, whom Bresnahan caught from 1902 to 1908, including the 1905 fall classic. In the only World Series in which he played, Roger hit .313 and had the distinction of catching four shutouts, including three by Mathewson, as the Giants beat Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s four games to one.

Bresnahan became player-manager of the Cardinals in 1909, and though he matched McGraw in determination and became notorious as an umpire-baiter and a fighter, he could not match McGraw’s success. After four years in St. Louis, he moved on to coach the Chicago Cubs in 1913 and retired after managing the 1915 season. He later managed in the minors and coached in the majors.

Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1945, one year after his death, Bresnahan became the first catcher honored in Cooperstown.

Here are Roger Bresnahan's major league totals:


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