Bid McPhee was an Irish-American who played baseball when it wasn’t stylish to be Irish. The “Irish Hyphens,” Irish-hyphen-American, the F1 generation, those offspring of the Irish who emigrated are sometimes an odd lot. There are as many ordinary Irish-dashes as any other, but wherever the Irish landed, there are those who’ve risen above the foam, who are outstanding in their fields. One such Irish-American is John Alexander McPhee, Biddy McPhee. Raised of Irish parents, this fine ball player made a real first-class impression on second base.
Biddy McPhee was the best second baseman in baseball and had a career that spanned 18 years. The fans rightly called him King Bid. His record 529 putouts achieved in 1886 have yet to be exceeded. At a time when fine fielding was very much admired in baseball, King Bid led his league in double plays in 11 seasons and had the best fielding average in nine. His .978 mark in 1897 was the highest of any second baseman in his time, barehanded. Though baseball gloves were standard by the 1886 season, Biddy wore no glove until 1897, the very end of his career.
McPhee did his job without grandstanding: always in condition, always steady and reliable. He commanded the respect of his fans and his teammates, exhibiting an excellence and style so quietly impressive that it thrilled his fans then and earned him his place as the last 19th century player admitted to the Baseball Hall of Fame. There may be others from his era worthy of the honor, but none more deserving. Bid embodied all that was good about baseball’s first century and almost nothing that was bad. Brave, honest, imaginative, and immensely talented, he is one of the few Hall of Famers who can honestly be called a “pioneer.”
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