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1/13/08 This Day in Washington Baseball History...

The Continuing Attempt To Educate A Montreal Fan About DC Baseball History...

     On January 12, 1903, former Washington Senators' pitcher George Barclay "Win" Mercer, a veteran of nine MLB seasons during which he manned every position in the field, (never going behind the plate), died of an apparent suicide at the age of twenty-eight.

      Originally a pitcher that the Senators realized could hit well enough to play the field, Win Mercer debuted with Washington in 1894, going (17-23) in 50 appearances with a 3.85 ERA in 336.1 innings on the mound, with a .291 AVG, 2 HR's and 29 RBI's at the plate.

      A native of Chester, West Virginia, Mercer, who stood 5'7'', and weighed in at 140lbs, led the Majors in wins in 1896 when he went (25-18) in 45 starts with a 4.13 ERA, and the next season Mercer would win 20 games again while batting .317 with 2 doubles, 3 triples and 19 RBI's.

     In his nine-year MLB career, (7 in DC), Win Mercer collected a (131-164) record with 251 complete games, 528 K's and a 3.99 career ERA, to go along with a .286 BA, 39 doubles, 3 triples, 7 HR's and 197 RBI's in 1,768 at bats playing alongside some of the All-time great Senators like Boileryard Clarke, Piggy Ward, Silver King and Butts Wagner, and once even matching Cy Young with 11 shutout innings in a game Mercer eventually won. (ed. note- "OK, those are just the best names on the rosters with Mercer, but he did indeed beat Cy Young on 8/31/1896 according to his profile.)

     Win Mercer made headlines off the field throughout his career, as, reportedly, quite a ladies' man. According to's profile of Mercer, which quotes a book entitled, "The Baseball Hall of Shame" by Bruch Nash and Allan Zullo:

          "'Washington liked to pitch Mercer on Tuesdays and
          Fridays, which were designated 'Ladies' Days.' One
          Ladies' Day game in 1897 ended in shambles when
          women rioted after Umpire Bill Carpenter ejected Mercer.

          "According to Nash and Zullo,an army of angry females
          poured out of the stands. They surrounded Carpenter,
          shoved him to the ground and ripped his clothing. Finally,
          police brought the situation under control."

     Shortly after being named a player/manager of the Detroit Tigers in 1902, Win Mercer checked into the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco and according to several reports, commited suicide by inhaling illuminating gas(a mixture of hydrogen, methane and ethylene, used for gas lighting).

     According to the BaseballLibrary's profile of Win Mercer, Mr. Mercer, "...left a suicide note warning of the evils of women and gambling." There were also reports the Mercer was deeply in debt, but according to a New York Times article quoted but not identified in's profile, "He left a statement of his financial accounts, showing that he owed no money." (ed. note- "According to William Akin's profile of Win Mercer, the NY times article is entitled, ""Winnie Mercer A Suicide," New York Times, January 14, 1903, for any with 105-year old NY Times copies accessable.)

     The real reasons for and circumstances surrounding Win Mercer's death remain somewhat a mystery to this day...

(One more ed. note- "Here's that great page on Win Mercer mentioned above at The Baseball Biography Project, written by William Akin..."

*Win Mercer Links*

Win Mercer's career stats at the Baseball Almanac:

Win Mercer's career stats at's Win Mercer profile: