September 25, 1894: Frank Figgemeier
To tell the story of today's featured "cup of coffee" player, we must go back 125 years to 1894 when Frank Figgemeier pitched his one and only game for the Philadelphia Phillies, one of baseball's oldest franchises still competing. Like many players of his day, Figgemeier's career did not culminate with his one big-league appearance, but actually started with it.
He pitched against the lowly St. Louis Browns, but they didn't look so lowly against him that afternoon at Robison Field in St. Louis. In front of a mere 500 fans, he let his one career major-league appearance get away from him. The Browns, who finished 56-76, tagged Figgemeier for 10 earned runs in eight innings. Clearly, Figgemeier was up just to eat innings at the end of the season as he technically pitched a complete game, even while allowing 14 hits and double-digit earned runs.
St. Louis won the game 14-7 as the 1894 season wound to a close. While not confirmed, it is very possible, perhaps even likely that Figgemeier was a local collegiate or semi-pro player in St. Louis who was asked by the Phillies to make a professional start after having appeared in five games for the Western League's Milwaukee Brewers earlier that season. This would explain why a player with almost no previously documented playing experience pitched eight innings in his hometown against the home team.
His lone appearance against the Browns didn't win him another major-league job, but it did put him on the map and help pave the way for a relatively lengthy career in the minors. After having played for the Brewers before his big-league debut, going 1-2 with a 1.95 ERA in just 33.1 innings of work, he landed another job in 1895. The Class-B Des Moines Prohibitionists gave him a shot and he did not disappoint. In 50 games (40 starts), he went 25-16 and pitched a complete game in 38 of his 40 times out.
He was out of baseball in 1896, but returned in 1897 with the Western League's Minneapolis Millers. There, he went 13-24 with a 3.23 ERA. Slowly, in 1898, his promising career began to fall apart. Split between Minneapolis, Columbus, and Omaha, he 0-7 with an 8.34 ERA in 68 innings. It forced his second break from the game in 1899 before once again returning in 1900. With the New Castle Quakers of the Interstate League, he proved to be a workhorse, going the distance in 37 of his 38 starts in 1900. He took one more hiatus in 1901 before performing his swan song with the Millers, pitching just 69 innings to a 3-2 record. After his final appearance there, he disappeared from the world of organized baseball.
Figgemeier reemerged in the public eye just 13 years later when the news of his death was published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Dated April 15, 1915, seven days short of his 42nd birthday, the obituary makes no reference to his baseball days.
"On Thursday, April 15, 1915, at 5:30 a.m., Frank Figgemeier, dearly beloved husband of Grace Figgemeier (nee McClenan), dear son of the late Anton Figgemeier and Christina Figgemeier (nee Fischer), dear brother of Anton Figgemeier Jr., Lillian Steinlage (nee Figgemeier), William, Delia, Margaret and Joseph Figgemeier, our dear son-in-law, brother-in-law, and uncle, after a short illness, aged 42 years [unclear whether family was rounding up or if his recorded birthday of April 22, 1873 is inaccurate].
The funeral will take place on Saturday, at 8:30 a.m., from residence, 4315 N. Twentieth Street, to Holy Trinity Church, thence to Calvary Cemetery. Relatives and friends invited.
Minneapolis (Minn.) and Wichita (Kan.) papers please copy."