History lesson: The story of hall-of-famer John ‘Bid’ McPhee

History lesson: The story of hall-of-famer John "Bid" McPhee
Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 7:03 AM EST
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MASSENA, New York (WWNY) - We go back to the 19th century, where one man from Massena became a hit in the American Association of Professional Baseball.

“John ‘Bid’ McPhee was born here in Massena in 1859,” town historian Josh Davis said. “As a matter of fact, he grew up on Main Street, the current site of the Schine Theater.

Bid McPhee. The name became synonymous with second base for the Cincinnati Red Stockings. He was mighty in talent, but smaller in size.

“The nickname ‘Bid’ may have come from his stature,” Davis said. “He wasn’t a large man, he was bitty. He was 5′7″. Nonetheless, he was quite successful in the league.”

McPhee spent 18 years with the Red Stockings. In that time, he was a league leader for putouts, double plays, and homeruns. And he was the last ever second baseman to play with a bare hand.

“He was famous for not having worn a glove, even when other players were adopting it,” Davis said. He kind of derided the concept of it.”

It’s said that he would toughen his hands by soaking them in salt water before games.

“He was gloveless and tough physically, but apparently, he was quite the gentleman. He never got thrown out of a game, even when the association was known as the beer-and-whiskey league. He was the well-behaved one for the group.”

His talents earned him a spot in the American Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000, more than 100 years after he played his last game.

“Currently, he is the only Hall of Famer to come from here,” Davis said, “so it is neat to have that connection to local history.”

McPhee is honored with a plaque at Lashomb Baseball Field in Massena. It only seems right that I uncover it without a glove.