Silver King Essentials

Positions: Pitcher
Bats: R Throws: R
72 Weight: 170
Born: 1 11, 1868 in St. Louis, MO USA
Died: 5 19 1938 in St. Louis, MO USA
Debut: 1886-09-28
Last Game: 1897-08-19
Full Name: Charles Frederick King


“My pitching stock consisted mainly in speed,” recalled Charles “Silver” King, a former phenom who averaged 36 wins per year over his first four full seasons (1887-90) in the majors. The strapping lad possessed pinpoint control and a blazing heater that we would today call a riding fastball. Here’s how catcher Jim Keenan described it in an 1890 interview with The Cincinnati Enquirer: “[T]his ball makes what is called the jump ball—that is, it seems to catch a second flight of speed right before the batter and rises. . . . Phenomenally fast pitchers like [Jesse] Duryea, [Frank] Foreman, [and] Silver King . . . can use it successfully.” The big righty was also a noted master of deception and among the first to utilize a sidearm or “cross fire” delivery. Patsy Tebeau later recalled: “You could hide the ball then, and he [King] used to come, whirling around like a serpent up to the 50-foot mark, and let go.”

Said to be strikingly handsome, King’s nickname may have derived from his blonde hair, which the Chicago Herald said resembled “burnished silver.” The 6-foot, 170-pound Adonis began his career with the 1886 Kansas City Cowboys (NL), appearing in only five games. As a 19-year-old with the 1887 St. Louis Browns (AA), he finished among the league’s top-10 in wins (32), Ks (128), and ERA (3.78). In 1888, King enjoyed one of the best seasons in MLB history: he fanned 258 batsmen while pacing the league in wins (45), ERA (1.63), CGs (64), IP (585), and WHIP (0.874). Those 45 victories accounted for 49% of the pennant-winning Browns’ season total (92). rates King’s 1888 season as the second most dominant pitching performance in MLB history.

King followed his epic season by going 35-16 with 47 CGs and a 3.14 ERA in 1889. The 22-year-old joined the upstart Players’ League in 1890, pacing the circuit in ERA (2.69) while finishing second in wins (30), CGs (48), and Ks (185); this was his fourth straight 30-win campaign. Back in the National League, King went 36-53 with a 3.20 ERA over the 1891-92 seasons. Already experiencing arm troubles, the 1893 rule that moved the pitcher’s box back five feet hit King like a ton of bricks. The one time ace would spend three more years in the NL, compiling an inflated 4.99 ERA over what would be his final seasons. All told, King’s impressive 10-year career produced a 203-152 record, 328 CGs, 1,222 Ks, and a 3.18 ERA. Despite having played only six full seasons in the 1871-1892 era, King’s 180 wins and 1,119 Ks rank 15th and 17th, respectively, among all hurlers during the span.
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