Tom Colcolough

26 Oct

Thomas Bernard “Coke” Colcolough (his name was pronounced “Cokely”) posted a 14-11 record in parts of four seasons in the National League with the Pittsburgh Pirates and News York Giants.

His greatest baseball achievement has been lost to history.

Before the 1893 season, professional baseball eliminated the five and a half by four-foot pitcher’s box and replaced it with the rubber, while moving the distance to the current 60 feet, six inches.  Intended to increase offense the change had the desired effect increasing batting averages throughout baseball.

Not everyone immediately took to the new rule.  The Boston Globe and Cleveland Plain Dealer predicted the rule would be eliminated.  They were wrong, it was there to stay.

One consequence of the new rule was the sharp decline in no-hitters.  In the National League seven no-hitters were thrown between 1890 and 1892.  From the beginning of the 1893 season until Cy Young’s in September of 1897, there was but one:  On August 16, 1893, Bill Hawke of the Baltimore Orioles no-hit the Washington Senators.

Hawke’s was not the first professional no-hitter after the change.  That belonged to Charleston Seagulls pitcher Tom Colcolough on June 23 against the Montgomery Colts in the Southern Association.  The Sporting Life said:

“Colcolough, the rising young pitcher of the Charleston Club, has the honor of being the first pitcher under the new rules to dispose of an opposing team without a safe hit in a full game.  He accomplished the feat against the hard-hitting Montgomerys.”

Colcolough was 16-11 for Charleston and earned his first trip to the Major Leagues.   Prone to wildness (166 walks in 319 1/3 Major League innings), Colcolough was returned to the minor Leagues in 1895, pitching for the Wilkes-Barre Coal Barons in the Eastern League from 1895 through 1898.

Tom Colcolough

Colcolough earned one more shot in the National League with the Giants in 1899 posting a 4-5 record.  He was sent to Jim O’Rourke’s Bridgeport Orators in the Connecticut League in July and was released at the end of the season.

Colcolough returned to Charleston, South Carolina and served as a city councilman.  He passed away there in 1919.

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One Response to “Tom Colcolough”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Human Rain Delay « Baseball History Daily - November 7, 2012

    […] While Cuppy remained a very good pitcher throughout the 1890s, he never quite matched his rookie numbers (28-13, 2.51 in 1892), and suffered from the 1893 elimination of the pitcher’s box. […]

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