This second baseman had 6,545 putouts, the most by a second baseman in major league history. 529 of those came in one season, also a record. He batted .300 or better 4 times and scored 100 or more runs 10 times. He regularly led the league in double plays, fielding average and assists. He ranks 24th on the all-time stolen base list with 568. He’s a Hall of Famer and was a Cincinnati fan favorite.
And no, his name is not Joe Morgan.
His name is John Alexander McPhee.
But you can call him Bid.
In 18 seasons, all with the Cincinnati Reds, Bid McPhee was a model of consistency, sportsmanship and skill. In McPhee’s era, (1882-1899) ballplayers found little use for fielding gloves. In fact, Bid McPhee was one of the last players to give in and don the leather. And he did so only because of a finger injury suffered to begin the 1896 campaign. Somehow I don’t imagine guys with handle bar mustaches go on the disabled list too often.
Morgan on the other hand, set the standard for modern second baseman. He combined power, speed and excellence in the field. When one thinks of great ballplayers, no matter the position, Joe Morgan usually ranks near the top.
It is neither fair nor practical to compare McPhee and Morgan. Both Hall of Famers are considered the premiere players at their position in their respective eras. McPhee was a gamer that demonstrated a high baseball I.Q. before anyone thought of having a high baseball I.Q. Morgan was a smart, dynamic and fierce competitor that found your weakness and exposed it. McPhee played in front of relatively small crowds (at least compared to today) and was at the mercy of unforgiving 19th century newspaper reporters. Morgan played in front of much larger audiences, more media and in the age of endorsements. (Although I am willing to bet that if Bid McPhee had a horse and buggy dealership, business would have been good)
But let’s be unfair and impractical for a moment. McPhee was known for his stellar defense, while Morgan displayed power and speed. However, if you look at the Reds all-time offensive records, you’ll see McPhee near or the top of the heap. Stolen bases? McPhee is number one with 568 while Morgan sits at number two with 406. Runs? McPhee is second with 1,678 and Morgan comes in tenth with 816. Walks? Bid McPhee again at number two with 981 and Morgan at number five with 881. McPhee played in 2,138 games batting .272. Morgan played in 2,649 games batting .271. Different eras. Same results.
When it comes to second baseman, the Reds have been fortunate to have two of the greatest to ever play the position.
One did it without a glove, the other with a flap of the arm.