All-Time Indians: Steve O’Neill

Name: Stephen Francis O’Neill Position: Catcher/Manager
Tribe Time: 1911-1923/1935-1937 DOB: 07/06/1891
Accolades: Top 25 MVP (1913, 1922)
Stats G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB OBP SLG AVG OPS ISOP
Best Season (1920) 149 489 63 156 39 5 2 71 211 69 39 3 0.41 0.43 0.32 0.84 0.11
Career 1365 4182 394 1109 220 33 11 458 1428 491 351 30 0.34 0.34 0.27 0.68 0.08
Post Season Career 7 21 1 7 3 0 0 2 10 4 3 0 0.44 0.48 0.33 0.92 0.14
As Manager W L T W%
Career 199 168 6 53%

O’Neill was the second longest tenured catcher in Indians history (after Jim Hegan), spending over a decade crouching behind the plate in Cleveland. In 1913 O’Neill took over the starting role from light hitting catcher Ted Easterly. He maintained as the starter through 1923, the longest string of consecutive seasons for an Indians catcher without missing a significant time due to injury. Among Indians catchers, O’Neill is first in career hits, doubles and walks and among the top five in runs, triples, total bases and steals.

Arguably the most important time of O’Neill’s career came in 1920, when the Indians won their first World Series. In that seven game series, O’Neill played all seven games (one of five players to do so) and his seven hits were only second to player/manager Tris Speaker. Most impressive was the fact that he caught the entire series with back-up catcher Les Nunamaker only receiving two at bats during the series. While you can’t give him too much credit, he did call the games for the entire pitching staff in that series that ended with a 0.88 ERA, strongly supported by Stan Coveleski‘s three complete game performance.

In the mid 1930’s O’Neill returned to manage the Indians, running the Tribe for 373 games over three seasons. One of many former catchers to return to manage the Tribe, his .534 winning percent remains among the best by an Indian manager to control the team for more than a single season. He has to be included in an discussion of the greatest Indians managers of all-time.

Steve O’Neill died in 1962. He was considered for the baseball Hall of Fame, one year getting 5% of the BWAA vote, but simply didn’t have the credentials. He was inducted into the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame in the inaugural class in 1951.

Steve O'Neill

Joseph Coblitz

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians.

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