The St. Paul Saints had a diamond in the rough on their hands. Martin James O’Toole, southpaw spitballer, bounced back and forth between various leagues for a time prior to being recalled by St. Paul in 1910. Seems the youngster had found his stride while pitching with the Sioux City Packers of the Western League, so the Saints brought him back into the fold. As a result, O’Toole performed well for Mike Kelley‘s St. Paul club in 1911, leading the American Association in strikeouts with 199 while posting a 15-11 record for the 4th place Saints. Turns out the Pittsburg Pirates were looking for pitching help, so they paid the largest sum in the history of major league baseball to that point: $22,500.
According to Sporting Life magazine, O’Toole’s “light remained hidden under a bushel for some years until the 1911 season when his winning work for St. Paul attracted national attention and caused the lively competition which forced his price up to unprecedented proportions.” (October 7, 1911)
Apparently O’Toole was quite the multi-talented prospect, as the hurler was experienced as a song-and-dance man on the vaudeville circuit. Soon after accepting the grand contract with the Pirates, O’Toole sensibly turned down “two or three” offers from various vaudeville managers, but had not been definitive in his refusals. Some guys just thrive on the lime-light…
O’Toole’s big league career never took off, however. You can view his record at: