One of the finest sluggers during the 1800s, Silent Mike is now simply the unsung star of Jim Mutire’s early New York Giants dynasty. Mutrie had Buck Ewing, Jim O’Rourke, Roger Connor and John Ward – all Hall of Famers – but arguably the best – one Silent Mike Tiernan – is still left out of the Hall of Fame.
Silent Mike joined Mutrie’s Giants in 1887. The team was on the rise, adding Tiernan to a roster with Hall of Famers Ward, Connor, O’ Rourke and Ewing as well as the gifted run scorer George Gore and a pair of Hall of Fame hurlers in Mickey Welch and Tim Keefe. Silent Mike was the final piece to the puzzle, helping the Giants to back-to-back championships in 1888 and 1889. Silent Mike was second on a powerhouse Giants team in homeruns, on-base percentage and stolen bases in 1888.
Leading the league with 96 walks in 1889 enabled Silent Mike to also lead the league in runs scored with 147. He played in 122 games that season, placing him on the short list of players who scored an average of more than a run per game during a season. For the champion Giants, Tiernan topped the team in runs, hits, walks, batting average an on-base percentage. Silent Mike had an amazing .447 on-base percentage (he would have four years with an on-base percentage above .400 and nine above .360).
When the Player’s League was formed, Mutrie’s dynasty crumbled as all his Hall of Fame batters bolted for the new league. Silent Mike remained loyal to the grand ol’ man and stayed with the Giants, leading the NL in homeruns, slugging average and total bases. When the Player’s League folded after one season, many of the stars returned to the old league making Silent Mike’s chances of repeating as the homeruns king small, but Tiernan eclipsed all NL sluggers with 16 long balls (an amazing total in the Deadball Era).
He finished third in the homerun department in 1893, stroking a total of 14 long balls while driving in 102 runs. In the 1890s, the Giants weren’t the team they used to be, but Silent Mike was still a productive player. Beginning in 1895, Tiernan began a three year string of scoring at least 120 runs and posting an on-base percenatge of .400 or better. He hit .347 in 1895, .369 in 1896 and .330 in 1897 during that same three year span.
Silent Mike ended his career in 1899, playing his entire Major League life with the New York Giants – a rarity during the 1800s. One of the top sluggers of the 1800s, Tiernan has a higher slugging average than Hall of Famers Cap Anson, Buck Ewing, King Kelly and Tommy McCarthy: all of whom played during Silent Mike’s time. Also, Tiernan scored an average of 0.889 runs per game, higher than Hall of Fame peers Jim O’Rourke (0.815), Tommy McCarthy (0.838) and Jesse Burkett (0.830).
G 1,475/R 1,312/H 1,843/2B 248/3B 159/HR 106/RBI 849/BA .311/SA .464