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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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McGinnity with the Dubuque Climbers.
Image courtesy: Mike Day. Kendall C. Day Family Collection

MCGINNITY, Joe. (Cornwall, Township IL, March 20, 1871 – Brooklyn, NY, November 14, 1929) was an American right-handed pitcher in major league BASEBALL in the late 19th and early 20th century. His early minor-league career gave no indication of his future success. In 1893-94 he was a combined 21-29 for Montgomery of the Southern Association and Kansas City of the Western League, with more walks than strikeouts and far more hits than innings pitched. Returning to Springfield, Illinois, McGinnity operated a saloon and served as his own bouncer when the need arose. He also pitched at the semipro level for the next three years.

In 1898 McGinnity returned to professional baseball with Peoria of the Western Association, going 9-4 with fewer hits (118) than innings (142) and more strikeouts (74) than walks (60) for the first time in his professional career. (1)

McGinnity played for ten years, pitching for the National League's Baltimore Orioles (1899) and Brooklyn Superbas (1900), before jumping to the American League to play for the Baltimore Orioles (AL) (1901–1902). He returned to the National League with the New York Giants (1902–1908). (2)

In major league baseball, he won 246 games with a 2.66 earned run average (ERA). He had seven 20-win seasons and two 30-win seasons. Including his time in the minor leagues, McGinnity won close to 500 games as a professional ballplayer. He led major league baseball in wins five times (1899, 1900, 1903, 1904, and 1906) and ERA once (1904). With the Giants, he won the 1905 World Series. His teams also won National League pennants in 1900 and 1904. (1)

On February 27, 1909, the Giants finally released McGinnity, but that ended only phase one of his baseball career. He went on to spend another 14 seasons in the minors, becoming part-owner and player-manager of teams in Newark, Tacoma, Butte, and Dubuque. (1)

McGinnity served as player-manager of the Danville Veterans of the Class-B Illinois–Indiana–Iowa League in the 1922 season and Dubuque Climbers of the Class-D Mississippi Valley League during the 1923 season. With Dubuque, McGinnity won 15 games at age 52. He managed the team to the league pennant that year pitching in 25 games, a record unequaled by other pitcher. (5) One of those wins was a shutout, pitched in a record one hour and seven minutes. Two years later, he returned to play for Dubuque and Springfield Senators of the Illinois–Indiana–Iowa League during the 1925 season.

His appearances at the plate were often the source of comment for weeks. A poor batter with a .130 average, McGinnity was playing against Marshalltown when he squatted down at home plate when it was his turn to bat. Thge bases were loaded. The pitcher sailed a strike across the plate. McGinnity continued to squat, but as the pitcher let go with the second pitch, an slow one, McGinnity stretched up and hit the ball over the right fielder's head bringing in two runners and winning the game. (6) It was against Waterloo that Dubuque was being beaten by 7 runs in the bottom of the 7th inning in the first of a double-header. McGinnity convinced the Waterloo manager to join him in asking the umpire to call the game and start the second. The umpire agreed, and the second game began. McGinnity then approached the umpire and protested that Dubuque had not had the opportunity to play the full nine innings. The protest was taken to the league manager who agreed with McGinnity. The game was later replayed, and Dubuque won. (5)

On July 8, 1925 McGinity resigned and sold his interest in the Dubuque club due to differences with John Armstrong who took over as manager. (3)

McGinnity was nicknamed "Iron Man" because he worked in an iron foundry during the baseball off seasons. His nickname came to suggest his longevity and durability, as he routinely pitched in both games of doubleheaders. He set National League records for complete games (48) and innings pitched (434) in a single season, which still stand. The Veterans Committee elected him to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946. (4)



1. Wells, Michael. "Joe McGinnity," Society for American Baseball Research, Online: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/f75cf09d

2. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_McGinnity

3. " 'Iron Man' McGinnity Quits Organized Baseball," Milwaukee Sentinel, July 9, 1925, p. 27.

4. Joe McGinnity. Baseball-Reference.com. Online: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/mcginjo01.shtml

5. Milavetz, Mitch. "Sports Pitch," Telegraph Herald, Aug. 19, 1955, p. 6