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Iowa History Daily: October 3 - Baseball Hall of Famer

Iowa History Daily: On October 3, 1872, Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Fred Clarke was born in Winterset. Clarke played leftfield and managed both the Louisville Colonels and Pittsburgh Pirates over the course of a long and accomplished career in baseball.

Born on a farm in rural Madison County, Clarke’s family ventured west to Kansas in a covered wagon convoy before eventually resettling in Des Moines. By coincidence, Clarke sold newspapers for the Iowa State Register where fellow future MLB Hall of Famer Ed Barrow. Clarke developed a reputation as a crack left handed hitter and outfielder while in Des Moines, and lucked into a ticket to join a traveling team out of Nebraska where another player backed out.

Eventually, Clarke wound up in the Southern League where he caught the attention of the Louisville Colonels. In his first game, he racked up five hits in five at bats, still a Major League record. In Clarke’s second season, he shined with a batting average of .347, 191 hits and 96 runs. In 1897, Clarke took over managerial duties while only 24 years old and managed to hit a career-high .390.

When the Colonels folded, Barney Dreyfuss became the owner of the Pittsburgh franchise and tapped Clarke as left fielder and manager for the Pirates. Of the nine pennants in Pittsburgh franchise history, Clarke served as player-manager for four of them, as well as the 1909 World Series. Clarke batted over .300 in 11 different seasons, and his 35-game hitting streak in 1895 represented the second-longest in Major League history at the time. For six years, Clarke held the Major League record for wins by a manager. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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