The Fourth Member of the Deadball Era’s Greatest Infield

Card #536 of the T206-Helmar series, featuring Stuffy McInnis.

What would the $100,000 infield be worth today? Inflation would make the Philadelphia A’s famed deadball infield foursome’s value of $100,000 worth about $3 million today.

But in real dollars, the greatest infield in baseball would probably command more like $60 million in 2022.

The $100,000 Infield consisted of Philadelphia first baseman Stuffy McInnis, second baseman Eddie Collins, shortstop Jack Barry, and third baseman Frank “Home Run” Baker. The group was a big reason Connie Mack’s A’s won pennants in 1910, 1911, 1913, and 1914. Only the emergence of the rival Federal League could halt the great infield, which was broke up after the Athletics lost the 1914 World Series.

McInnis was the best fielding first baseman in the American League for nearly a decade, and he was employed by two of baseball’s greatest dynasties. He helped the A’s and Boston Red Sox win five pennants in the years between 1910 and 1918. He was in some ways, the most unrecognizable of the four infielders who starred for Mack’s dynasty.

Collins was a brash competitor who was so sure of himself that his Philly teammates nicknamed him “Cocky.” Third baseman Baker was a talented slugger who wielded a heavy bat and led the league in home runs each season from 1911 to 1914. The shortstop, Jack Barry, was respected for his far-ranging glove and his ability to turn a double play. He was extremely popular in the Philadelphia.

But Stuffy was a short (even for his era) first sacker who wore his cap down over his forehead, almost banishing him to anonymity compared to his famous teammates.  

McInnis was superb at fielding bunts, which was an important skill in the deadball era when batters usually dropped down five or six bunts every game. A right-handed thrower, Stuffy was skilled at charging in to field the bunt, spinning to his left so his back faced away from second or third and firing the ball to get a lead runner. He and Barry crafted the play through diligent repetition. McInnis had been a shortstop early in his pro career, and he never lost that range and agility. He and Barry were lifelong friends, but the competitive McInnis bristled when his teammate gave him a low throw that resulted in an error, ending Stuffy’s record errorless streak. McInnis would remind Barry of the errant toss for years. 

Eventually, Mack traded off his famous quartet, with Stuffy the last to leave the Athletics.

McInnis was no slouch with the bat, hitting enough singles to top .300 twelve times. He came out of retirement to sign with the Pirates in June of 1925, and proceeded to hit .368 in 59 games to help the Bucs to the pennant. He was inserted into the lineup after the Pirates fell into a 3-games-to-1 hole and helped spark the team to a comeback to win the World Series. It was the fourth world championship for Stuffy.

The $100,000 infield may seem cheap by today’s standards, but there was nothing insignificant about McInnis and his infield pals when the A’s were dominating the American League in the early years of the 20th century.

2 thoughts

  1. The $100,000 Infield was right up there among the iconic groups of the Deadball Era, with The Golden Outfield in Boston and Tinker to Evers to Chance in Chicago. I’d love to see Helmar release an Oasis card of Stuffy to complete the group!

    Liked by 1 person

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