Sports Reference Blog

Change to Major League Player Identification

Posted by Mike Lynch on May 19, 2023

Thanks to some superb sleuthing by the SABR Biographical Research Committee we have moved eight plate appearances (as well as the associated fielding statistics) with the 1882 Philadelphia Athletics from one John Farrell to another (sort of).

Here's the explanation from SABR's Bill Carle:

Our Find of the Month concerns a couple of guys named Farrell who played back in the 1870s and 1880s. I had listed John Farrell (known as Hartford Jack) playing in 1874 with Hartford. There was also a player listed as John Farrell (sometimes known as Bill) who played in the American Association with Philadelphia in 1882 and Baltimore in 1883. Justin McKinney did some research on these players and concluded that the 1882 Philadelphia AA record should belong to Hartford Jack.

Notes from 1879 and 1880 show that the Hartford man was playing shortstop and catcher for Sacramento and San Francisco. When Farrell signed with Philadelphia in 1882, a note in the Philadelphia City Item said that Philadelphia had signed John Farrell of San Francisco as change catcher. It seems reasonable to assume that this is the same man who had previously played in Hartford.

That leaves the Farrell who played for Baltimore in 1883. The Baltimore paper just identified him as Farrell of Philadelphia, the new man. There was nothing to really identify him. He could also be Hartford Jack, but there is nothing to really prove that. So we will list him as Farrell, first name unknown, until we can get further clarification as to his identity.

So our page for Hartford Jack Farrell now includes the 1882 Philadelphia stat line. The other John Farrell (whom we listed as Bill Farrell) keeps his line with Baltimore in 1883, but is now listed with no first name until one can be determined. The 1882 Athletics page now links to the correct Farrell, as well.

One thing to note is that the Batting Value table does not reflect this change because we do not re-run WAR retroactively as a matter of routine. This will be fixed the next time we run a historical rebuild of WAR.

Thank you to Justin McKinney, Bill Carle and SABR for identifying and sharing this change.

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