Happy Birthday, Ed Cushman!

The Union Association only lasted but one season, the summer of 1884, and his team only played 13 games in that association, but in his first start for the Milwaukee Creamers against the Washington Nationals on 28 September, Ed Cushman threw a no-hitter.

Edgar Leander Cushman was born 27 March 1852 to Leander and Mary (Birdsill) Cushman while they lived in Eaglesville, Ohio.  He was the second of five kids that the shoemaker and housewife had in their Ohio and New York based family (they moved some).

“The record of yesterday’s game indicates that the new pitcher, Cushman, may prove an acquisition. Nine hits in thirteen innings – about a game and a half – is not a bad record for a new man’s first league game. Cushman is a base ball enthusiast, who has played with the Erie clubs for the past six or eight years, and has always been rated there a first rate general player, good both at the bat and in the field. He is a big fellow, and a man of good character, correct habits, and quiet manners. He has been a freight conductor on the Lake Shore road for several years.”

“Diamond Notes”, Buffalo Morning Express, 07 July 1883, Page 4.

“…(T)he Bisons produced a left-hander also, one Cushman, a gentleman of the “grasshopper Jim” style of architecture. He is a puzzler. He sends in a rather indolent ball, by a not at all tortuous route, that looks as if it could be flattened by a tyro. But it cannot. The Detroit batters utterly failed to find it, even when they struck at it, but, in general, they let it go by unheeded, and looked surprised when the umpire called strikes…”

“Sporting Matters.”, Detroit Free Press, 07 July 1883, Page 1.

Cushman didn’t get a professional baseball gig until he was 31 years old – Buffalo in the National League gave him a shot and he got off to a good start but wasn’t really ready for major league baseball in 1883.  He finished the season with Toledo in the Northwest Association where he helped Toledo win that pennant, then took a job pitching for the Milwaukee Creamers in that same league for 1884.  The association included a number of teams from various towns throughout the Midwest, including Grand Rapids, Bay City, Quincy, Saginaw, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Fort Wayne, Muskegon, St. Paul, and Stillwater.

Milwaukee invested a good chunk of money in their team and new pitcher and while Cushman was winning nearly every start, he wasn’t pitching that frequently.  He’d often end up with a sore arm and would only pitch once a week.

“The directors feel that, under the circumstances, Cushman should have pitched in yesterday’s game, and after a consultation together, wired Manager McKee to place Cushman in the box and to strain every nerve to take the third game from the Bay Citys.”

(He didn’t, and a new pitcher, named Murphy, won the game anyway.)

“Still the directors think that Cushman should appear oftener, and when it is considered that, including traveling expenses and board, he has received an average of $150 for each game in which he has played, he appears to be too expensive a luxury to be long sustained. Cushman’s salary is $2,100 for the season, and his board paid while away from home, and the directors are unanimous in the opinion that he ought to play oftener than once a week. It is but fair to Cushman to state that he has expressed a willingness to pitch every game if he was able, and his rare appearances are due to his sore arm. It is probable, however, that he will appear oftener in the future.”

“Not Satisfied With Cushman”, St. Paul Globe, 24 May 1884, Page 4.

Cushman’s only loss was a 30 – 5 crushing on Decoration Day to a very good Grand Rapids team.  Cushman left that game trailing 5 – 4 due to a sore arm.  Not long after this game, he requested and received a two week leave of absence.  When he came back, his arm was up to the task and he rattled off a winning streak that didn’t end for the remainder of the season.

Unfortunately for the Creamers, many of the other teams in the league folded by the end of the summer and would not show up for advertised games.  The league reorganized to just a four-team league in August, only for Minneapolis to fold three weeks later.  It was at this point, the Creamers joined the Union Association where they would win eight of thirteen league games – Cushman was 4 – 0, allowing only ten hits in his 36 innings of work, striking out 47 batters.

Naturally, this made Cushman somewhat of a star prospect and he signed to pitch with the Philadelphia Athletics in the American Association.  As with Buffalo in 1883, Cushman opened up the year pitching great – he would beat the New York Metropolitans on opening day, allowing five hits and striking out ten.

“Cushman is every inch a pitcher, but outside the box his movements are very awkward. His style resembles that of Radbourn and he seems to have the ability to change his pace at will and to curve a ball in all possible ways.”

“Base Ball.”, Philadelphia Times, 07 April 1885, Page 3.

He wasn’t much of a hitter and, already an older guy, he wasn’t the fastest of runners.  However, after one good month in Philadelphia he had a couple of bad months and was released.  One of the challenges Cushman faced was that he threw with a higher arm slot than the American Association rules allowed.  If you threw the ball and it was released above the shoulder, the pitch would be called a balk.

“Philadelphia, June 16. – Manager Gifford, of the Metropolitan Club, has secured Cushman, formerly of the Athletics, as a change pitcher. Since Cushman was released by the Athletics, he has refused a number of tempting offers. He is a first-class player, and the new pitching rule will benefit his delivery to some extent. His poor success in this city was attributed to the restricted style of delivery. Cushman is a high-arm pitcher, and now that the pitching rules of the American Association have been changed it is thought by good critics that he will prove very effective.”

“A New Pitcher for the Mets”, New York Times, 17 June 1885 Page 2.

The New York Metropolitans signed Cushner in mid-summer 1885.  He finished well enough and the Metropolitans retained him for the 1886 season.  Unfortunately, New York wasn’t very good in 1886, finishing seventh in an eight-team league.  Cushman, though, wasn’t the source.  In his 38 starts, he went 17 – 21.  The rest of the team, though, went 36 – 61.  Cushman continued with New York for 1887, though he did make a couple of starts for Milwaukee at the end of that year.

“[Cushman] was received with a roar of applause when he stepped in the diamond, for Cush always was a favorite with Milwaukeeans.”

“Des Moines 9, Milwaukee 3.” The Des Moines Register, 19 June 1888, Page 8.

At this point, Cushman became a bit of a baseball nomad.  He’d pitch for Des Moines in the Western Association, Toledo for their International League and American Association entries (losing part of one year to a broken wrist – the awkward fielding pitcher was hit by a line drive), Rochester, Erie, Rock Island-Moline, and finally finishing in Erie making four appearances as a 41 year old pitcher in 1893.

“The Rock Island-Molines were most awfully scorched at Rockford Wednesday when the Forest City club dallied with them to the extent of 16 to 0. On receipt of the news, the management attired itself in sack cloth and ashes, and immediately wired the captain to release Pitchers Cushman and Fielders Dale and Hoffman.”

“In General”, Davenport Daily Times, 15 July 1892, Page 4.

Cushman had good moments and bad during this period.  He threw his second professional no-hitter while with Toledo in 1889, blanking Rochester.  This was when Toledo was in the International League.  When his career was over, his major league record stood at 62 – 81, having pitched in parts of six major league seasons – all of them in his 30s.

“Handsome Ed Cushman looks as big as ever.  He looks well and says he never felt better in his life. Marriage seems to have agreed with him.”

“Base Hits”, Sporting Life, 25 March 1893, Page 13.

Cushman married Emma Swalley sometime in 1885; their life together lasted thirty years but included no children.  He spent some time as a conductor for the New York Central railroad before settling in Erie permanently.  The Cushmans operated a billiard room and a restaurant in Erie until Cushman’s death on 26 September 1915.  He passed in his sleep at home of intestinal carcinoma.  Emma survived another twenty years before her death in 1936.

“After an illness of more than four months, Edgar L. Cushman, an uncle of H. F. Swalley, of this city, and once famous as a baseball pitcher, died at his home in Erie, Saturday night. Mr. Cushman, during the last year of his baseball career, pitched for the Erie aggregation in the old Eastern League. In that year, 1893, Erie won the pennant. Before this Mr. Cushman had made a name for himself in the baseball annals of the country. He was the mainstay of the Metropolitans of New York, then a member of the American Association; the New York Nationals, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Toledo, Milwaukee, and Rochester. He also pitched for the Des Moines club of the Western Association for some time. Since he left baseball, Mr. Cushman was engaged for a time as conductor on the New York Central railroad. Later he conducted a restaurant at Eighth and State streets, Erie. He was a member of the Elks, Masons, Shriners, Knights of Pythias and Royal Arcanum. He is survived by his widow, a daughter of the late Christian Swalley, Mr. and Mrs. Swalley left today for Erie to attend the funeral.”

The Kane Republican, 27 September 1915, Page 2.


Death Certificates
1855 NY Census
1860, 1870, 1900, 1910 US Censuses

Baseball Reference – Ed Cushman Page

Find A Grave

Nemec, David. Major League Baseball Profiles, Volume 1, Pages 41 – 42.

“The Ball Tossers.” Buffalo Evening Telegraph, 08 April 1884, Page 4.
“Notes”, St. Paul Globe, 09 June 1884, Page 6.
“Northwestern League Re-Organized”, St. Paul Globe, 15 August 1884, Page 4.
“Milwaukee to Disband.” St. Paul Globe, 05 September 1884, Page 4.
“Milwaukee Champions.”, Milwaukee Journal, 29 September 1884, Page 1.
“Oh, What A Roast!”, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 19 June 1889, Page 7.
“Baseball Chatter”, Pittsburgh Post, 10 December 1893, Page 6.


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