Born: July 5, 1857
Died: February 8, 1914
John A. Farrell was born July 5, 1857 in Newark. The boy everyone called Jack (and later “Moose”) grew up watching two excellent early teams, the Newark Club and the Eurekas. A talented infielder with a potent bat, he came of age as professional baseball was just hitting its stride. Jack signed his first contract at the age of 19 with the Syracuse Stars, an independent minor-league club that held its own in games against National League teams. Among Jack’s teammates was Hick Carpenter, who would go on to become one of the most beloved players on the Cincinnati Reds.
Syracuse joined the NL in 1879. Jack was the starting second baseman and leading hitter with a .303 average. Late in the year he was acquired by the Providence Grays, the best team in baseball. John Ward won 47 games on the mound and Jim O’Rourke was the team’s top hitter. Player-manager George Wright made it three Hall of Famers on the Grays, who went 59–25 to win the pennant by 5 games—while Syracuse 7th out of 8 clubs.
In 1880, Jack replaced Mike McGeary as the Grays’ everyday second baseman and remained a key man in the Providence lineup through the 1885 season. He was one of the game’s elite fielders and among the leaders on homers, walks and runs scored. In 1881, he also served as player-manager for part of the season.
In 1883, Jack had his best year, batting .305 in era of low averages and knocked in 61 runs in 95 games. The Grays were in the pennant chase every year, repeating as champions in 1884. That year they defeated the New York Metropolitans 3 games to 0 in the World’s Series. Jack went 4 for 9 with a pair of doubles in the series.
Financial problems led to the folding of the Grays after the 1885 season, and Jack the next year with Philadelphia and Washington. Jack played three more seasons in the big leagues—one with Washington and two with the Baltimore Orioles before playing two more years in the minors. He retired as a player at 33.
Jack moved back to New Jersey after his playing days. He passed away at age 56 in Overbrook.