Happy Birthday, Frank Fennelly!

Frank Fennelly

This image of an Old Judge baseball card was uploaded to Ancestry.com by an unknown member and associated with Fennelly’s record there.

Francis John Fennelly was a fine shortstop for Cincinnati during the 1880s, playing over 500 games for the Red Legs before his bat left him in the 1888 season. For many of his seasons in the major leagues Fennelly was named captain of the team for his leadership qualities – though not everyone was happy with streaks of error-prone play.

“All the base ball people of the city commend the release of Frank Fennelly, who during his career in the city has proved himself to be one of the most erratic and unreliable men in the profession. Sometimes his playing is exceedingly brilliant, and again he piles up errors at a frightful rate.”

“Notes From the Queen City”, Philadelphia Times, 30 September 1888, Page 15.

“Frank Fennelly, the short stop and captain of the team, is a native and resident of Fall River, Mass. He is 28 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches in height and weighs 170 pounds. He first played ball with the local semi-professional and amateur teams about Fall River until the opening of the base ball season of 1882, when he took his first professional engagement, with the Merritts, of Camden, N. J. After playing there one season he joined the Brooklyn Base Ball Club, then in the Inter State League, in 1883. In 1884 he became a member of the National League team of Providence, R. I., going from there to Cincinnati, in 1885, where he played short stop and captained the American Association club of that city until 1889, when he was released to the Athletics, of Philadelphia. Remaining there during the season of 1889 he was released to Manager Kennedy, being one of the first men engaged for the Brooklyn Association team.”

“The Three Big Teams”, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 20 April 1890, Page 17.

Francis John Fennelly was born to Thomas and Catherine (Morriss) Fennelly on 18 February 1860. Thomas was listed as a teamster in the 1870 and 1880 US Census. Both of Frank’s parents immigrated to the United States from Ireland. He was the eighth of nine kids – all but one were boys. In 1885, he married Julia Sullivan and they had one child, Daniel, in August, 1886.

For a few years after his professional days were over, Fennelly ran a saloon in Fall River and played semi-pro ball in his hometown. He left the saloon business to become an insurance collector by 1910. Additionally, the active Democrat served four terms in the Massachusetts Legislature as a representative from the 10th district. He passed to the next league on 04 August 1920.

“Baseball Notes.”, Boston Globe, 06 April 1894, Page 2.

“F. J. Fennelly, Old-Time Shortstop, Dies at 60.”, Boston Globe, 05 August 1920, Page 14.

Other Sources:



1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920 US Censuses
Massachusetts Marriage Records


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