Born: March 8, 1869|
Died: March 29, 1945 76) (aged|
|September 29, 1891, for the Milwaukee Brewers|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 30, 1900, for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Earned run average||4.87|
Jim Hughey (March 8, 1869 – March 29, 1945) was an American Major League Baseball pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1891, the Chicago Colts in 93, the Pittsburgh Pirates from 96 to 97, the St. Louis Browns/St. Louis Cardinals from 98 to 1900, and Cleveland Spiders in 1899 where he holds the record for being the last major league pitcher to lose 30 games in one season. Shortly after his other siblings were born he and his family packed up and moved to Algansee Township in Branch County, Michigan just seven miles southeast from Coldwater. It was there in Coldwater that Jim developed a love of baseball and many other sports like fishing, trapping, and hunting. When he was old enough he joined the local athletics club and started pitching for them. His team were the area's number one team and one of the greatest in south central Michigan who brought in players from all over the country to play for them. During his time with the club he led them to a regional championship in 1889 before leaving.
Hughey got his professional start with the Indiana State League. Although there are no records for his time there he must have done good enough seeing that after his one-year stint at the club he was signed to the Wisconsin club in 91. There he developed his nickname "Smiling Jim" due to him smiling sarcastically before striking out any batter. This also must have been a successful season for Hughey because in 1891 when the Cincinnati team was removed from the American Association and replaced with the Milwaukee club Hughey was one of the only players’ contract they bought back. His time at Milwaukee was short-lived due to the association dismantling, the National League took in 4 teams unfortunately Milwaukee was not one of them.
In 1892 he was with the Kansas City club and turned out to be clubs best pitcher of the season with 111 strikeouts in 28 games before July when that league was also stopped. From there he moved to Macon city in 93 and then was invited to the Chicago Colts. After two days with the Colts he was removed for his poor performance in a game where he allowed ten runs in the second inning of a game against Louisville. In 94 Ban Johnson revived the Western League and Hughey signed with the Toledo White stockings for the season. During his time with Toledo he amassed a 25-12 record with 135 strikeouts in 335 innings. At the start of the 95 season Hughey's playing ability was dampened to what he described as an "crick in his elbow.", on his second start with the season he lost 19-5 to the Indianapolis club. He regained his ability back and pushed himself to another successful campaign with 150 strikeouts in 317 innings, unfortunately his teams financial situation worsened and after a ban was moved to Indiana and then finally he was bought by the Pittsburgh Pirates due his performance with the Toledo team.
Jim was hesitant about his move to the Pirates saying: ""I'm not stuck on pitching ball in the Big League. When I was in the Western League I received as much salary and had an easier time of it. The newspapers do not roast the players in the Western League (the Blade excluded), though in the big league the men are subjected to severe roasts if they lose two or three games, especially the pitchers. Of course the pitcher is invariably blamed when his team loses."
Overall his time with the Pirates shifted between very good and very bad. At the start of the season he was noted be a great interrogation pitcher with him leading his team to a 6-5 victory of Brooklyn. Later in the season aside from a victory again St. Louis in July the rest of the year saw Hughey as a waste finishing with the record of 6-8 in over 25 games. The 97 season went in the same direction with Hughey again being undistinguished with for some reason another great July win over Chicago with a 7-5 win. He finished the 87 season with a 6-10 record and 5.06 ERA.
In 98 he joined Chris Von Der Ahe's St. Louis Browns whose stadium was destroyed as the result of a fire in April of that year. Even with all those obstacles in front of him he still had his best season in major leagues overall, in a game against the Pirates he won 13-1, he also batted a triple and a home run resulting in the best day in his career in general. And even though his time with the Browns were good he still couldn’t lead his team to winning that season finishing with a 7-24 record. 99 saw Hughey at one of his worst seasons when the owner of the Cleveland Spiders bought the Browns and sent most of his team members to the new team the Perfectos, but chose to send Hughey to Cleveland after seeing his record with the Browns. The Spiders had the worst record in the whole league with a 20-134 record and Hughey saw most of it. Hughey finished that season with a 4-30 record and the record for most losses by a pitcher which hasn’t been broken to this day.
After a couple more years of moving from baseball team to baseball team he finally retired in 1907 after less than 20 years in baseball and moved back to Coldwater with his family and managed a farm and local store. Jim would continue to trap and hunt just like he did when he was a kid and would gladly talk about his career in baseball even with his hardships and embarrassing records during his time of playing. On March 29, 1945 he died at the age of 76 and was buried just a mile south of his store and home.