Arthur Irwin played sandlot baseball in Toronto, before moving to Boston at age 15. Signed by the National League’s Worcester Ruby Legs, the young Canadian made his major league debut on May 1, 1880. The finest season of his 11-year playing career was in 1883, when he hit .286 and registered 116 hits with the Providence Grays. When the Grays captured the league crown the following year, he became the first Canadian to be part of a championship squad.
The gritty infielder revolutionized fielding after he broke two fingers on his left hand in 1885. Unwilling to sit out with the injury, Irwin took a large buckskin driving glove, padded it, made a fastening at the back and sewed the third and fourth fingers together to leave room for the bandages. In devising this contraption, Irwin has been credited with popularizing the fielder’s glove.
Fifty-two games into the 1889 season, Irwin’s career took a different turn, when he became the player/manager of the National League’s Washington Nationals. Irwin’s greatest managerial success would come with the Boston Reds in 1891, when he piloted his squad to an American Association title. He would also act as bench boss in Philadelphia and New York and record 405 wins during his career as a big league skipper. He continued to manage in the minor leagues until 1921, when it’s believed that he died after jumping from a ship into the Atlantic Ocean.
Career Major League Statistics
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