Teams: Troy Trojans, 1880-1882; New York Metropolitans, 1883-1884; New York Giants, 1885-1889, 1891; New York Giants (PL), 1890; Philadelphia Phillies, 1891-1893
Tim Keefe played alongside Mickey
Welch, creating a formidable
Like virtually all the 19th century’s 300-game winners, Tim Keefe had the luxury of playing for good teams for the better part of his career. In an era when most quality pitchers started upward of 50 games a season, winning 30 or 35 games with a contender was a routine matter, provided a hurler was durable -- and Keefe was certainly that.
In his first nine full seasons in the major leagues, he labored 4,103 innings and racked up 285 victories. Although he posted only a 57-51 record for the remaining five seasons of his 14-year career, he totaled 342 wins, the eighth most in history.
Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Timothy John Keefe (1857-1933) played for local amateur teams until he was 22 years old. He joined the Utica team of the National Association in 1879. By the middle of the following season, he was in the majors with the Troy Trojans of the National League.
In 1880, Troy already had an outstanding rookie pitcher in Mickey Welch, and Keefe seemed destined to become no more than the club’s second-line hurler. Early in the 1881 season, however, Keefe slowly but steadily began to prove himself the more tireless worker.
When the Troy franchise moved to New York in 1883, the pitching duo of Keefe and Welch was split up, with Keefe going to the Metropolitans, the New York representative in the rival American Association.
After the Metropolitans won the pennant in 1884, Keefe and several other of the team’s stars were quickly transferred to the National League entry in New York, soon to be renamed the Giants. What made the shift an easy matter, albeit somewhat unethical, was that both Gotham clubs were under the same ownership.
Reunited in 1885, Keefe and Mickey Welch helped carry the Giants to National League pennants in 1888 and 1889. On both occasions, New York beat the American Association champion in the World Series with comparative ease, giving Gotham fans cause to believe a dynasty was in the making.
After the 1889 season, though, the Brotherhood revolted and formed the Players League. Along with most of the other Giants stars, Keefe jumped to the New York franchise in the Brotherhood circuit, which was managed by Buck Ewing, his former catcher on the Giants.
Although the best team on paper, Ewing’s club could finish no better than third when Keefe was held to 17 victories by arm trouble. Returning to the National League after the Brotherhood League failed, he pitched three more seasons without much distinction, then became an umpire. Keefe was named to the Hall of Fame in 1964.
Here are Tim Keefe's major league totals:
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