Arthur Irwin

Inventor of the fielder's glove

Born: 14 February 1858, Toronto, Ontario
Died: 16 July 1921

Arthur Irwin was born in Toronto and moved to Boston with his family when he was fifteen years old. He started his professional baseball career as a shortstop with the Worcester Ruby Legs on 1 May 1880. Never a great hitter, Irwin was an excellent shortstop, fielding .800 consistently throughout his career.

In 1883, a hard ball broke two fingers on Irwin's left hand. In order to keep playing, he bought a large, buckskin glove, added some padding, and sewed the third and fourth fingers together. The advantages of such a glove became apparent very quickly and within a couple of years, most players were using the ‘Irwin glove’.

During his career, Arthur Irwin played 1001 games for 7 teams over 13 seasons. He retired from playing in 1894 and became the manager and/or scout for several teams in the US and Toronto.

Irwin committed suicide on 16 July 1921 by jumping off a steamer, the Calvin Austin, somewhere between New York and Boston. His body was never found. Shortly after his death, it was discovered that while he was legally married to a woman in Boston, Irwin also had a family in New York, a secret he had kept for more than thirty years.

Arthur Irwin was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.

Additional trivia:

Irwin was a National League umpire for the 1902 season.

More information:

Articles from the New York Times on Irwin's death
Arthur Irwin's statistics


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Added 13 March 2003.