Jack Doyle could very well be seen as the posterchild for baseball during its early years. He didn’t come by the nickname “Dirty Jack” for being a polite sportsman. The old Baltimore Orioles of John McGraw and Hughie Jennings were noted for the all-out, hustling and rather militaristic style of play and Doyle manned first base for them a couple of seasons. He was tough, swift and a heady ballplayer.
Doyle got his start in the Major Leagues with the old American Association’s Columbus Solons in 1889. Doyle showed versatility early on. Originally a catcher, he had to play all over the diamond because the Solons had Peach Pie O’Connor behind the dish. Dirty Jack grew disenfranchised with the team and jumped to the National League’s Cleveland Spiders in 1891. But it wasn’t until the Giants gathered him up that Dirty Jack began to shine.
Managed by player/manager John Ward, Doyle found himself playing on the same club with Hall of Famers Roger Connor and King Kelly. With the aging Connor on the roster, Doyle played predominantly behind the plate and enjoyed his first .300 hit season, when he finished with a stout .321 batting average. The Giants finished in second place in 1894 and Doyle flourished. Dirty Jack pushed Hall of Famer Connor to the side and had a terrific season, driving in 100 runs in 105 games, he hit .367 and had an amazing on-base percentage of .420. He led the Giants with 30 doubles.
When Ward was let go as manager, the Giants asked Hall of Fame shortstop George Davis to manage but he failed and the post was handed over to Doyle. The 25-year-old Dirty Jack led the Giants to a .500 finish but wasn’t asked to return as manager in 1896. The Giants instead traded Doyle to the rowdy Baltimore Orioles for Kid Gleason. Dirty Jack fit right in with skipper Ned Hanlon’s charges, helping them to a pennant by scoring and driving in 100 runs or more.
The Orioles had five players hit over .350 in 1897 with Dirty Jack chipping in a .354 mark. The offense was top-flight but the mound staff wasn’t and the Orioles failed to repeat as champions. After the season the Orioles used Doyle as trade bait to bring in pitcher Doc McJames and first baseman Captain Dan McGann from Washington. But Doyle was quickly picked back up by the Giants during the 1898 season. In 1899, Doyle hit a nifty .299 for the Giants.
When the 1900s came about, Dirty Jack became a nomad. He joined the Chicago Cubs in 1901. He split 1902 between the Giants and Senators. His last great year came in 1903 with the Brooklyn Superbas (now the Dodgers) when he hit .313 and led National League first basemen in hits and RBI. He then spent the 1905 through 1907 seasons as a minor league player manager before ending his playing days altogether. Later in life, Doyle served as a scout with the Cubs and helped build their powerhouse of The Lively Ball Era.
G 1,542/R 997/H 1,814/2B 305/3B 66/HR 25/RBI 968/SB 558/BA .302/SA .387