Two Who Missed the Cut  

by Alan O'Connor


Historian and author Alan O'Connor notes that the artificial cutoff of 1910 for our 100 year timeframe removes from consideration players such as James "Jay" Hughes, who pitched and performed admirably in the National League from 1898 through 1902. He also points to Clarence "Cack" Henley as emblematic of players who many years in the PCL, which was the considered the "third major league" at the time and the equivalent of the National or American League in those days. T

Here are OConnor's stories about these two players.

(From O'Connor's book " Gold on the Diamond")

Jay Hughes was born in Sacramento, January 22, 1874. He died in Sacramento June 2, 1924 from head injuries resulting from a fall from a train trestle where the tracks crossed Sutterville Road (near where the zoo is now). He played in local leagues in Sacramento in the early 1890s and began pitching professionally for Victoria of the North West League in 1896. He was “discovered” November 26, 1897 while pitching for the Sacramento Gilt Edge team against the touring Baltimore Orioles. He shut out twelve batters while allowing only three hits in front of 5,000 avid base ball fans. Orioles manager Ned Hanlon brought Jay back east to pitch in the major leagues for the Baltimore Orioles in 1898 and the Brooklyn Superbas in 1899, where he had a league-leading 28-6 mark. (His older brother Michael J. “Mickey” Hughes had played professionally from 1888 through 1890, winning 25 games for the 1888 Brooklyn Trolley-Dodgers). Jay got married in 1900 and at the request of his new wife decided to stay in Sacramento and play for the Gilt Edge where he went 23-9. This decision was made easier when local businesses matched the salary offered by Brooklyn. He pitched again for the Brooklyn Superbas in 1901 and 1902 accumulating a lifetime major league record of 83 and 41 with a 3.00 ERA. Jay preferred the west coast, so he returned to pitch for four years in the PCL. From 1903 through1904 he was with the Seattle Indians and from 1906 through 1907 with the San Francisco Seals, winning 61 games and losing 34 with a 2.50 ERA during those four years. A back injury in 1907 ended his career.


In 1908 Hughes became a “driver” (presumably of wagons) and from 1909 through 1911 he held various jobs with the city streets department. In 1912 and 1913 he worked as a gardener at the state capitol. Jay was later a bartender and then a groundskeeper at the Sutterville baseball diamond. He had four children: Jay Junior, who played baseball for Cleveland in 1923, Edward, Margaret and Marjorie. In the 1930s, local baseball fans considered Hughes to be “the greatest pitcher of all times” and the man who “perfected the ‘famous fade away ball’ for which Christy Mathewson afterwards became famous”. 


Clarence Timothy “Cack” Henley
was born in 1885 in Sacramento. Cack never played for the Sacramento Senators, but he is a Sacramentan who enjoyed an 11 year Pacific Coast League (PCL) Hall of Fame pitching career primarily with the San Francisco Seals. The 6’ 1” 185 pound right hander grew up in a brick house on 13th Street in Sacramento that was built about 1880 by his father Oscar. (The dwelling is currently the oldest brick house in Sacramento). 


Henley’s career: 

  • 1905 pitched in 49 games for the Seals with a 25-20 record and a 2.32 ERA;
  • 1906 was a split season. 8-5 for the Pueblo Indians in the Western League and a 4-4 record with the PCL Seals;
  • 1907 he was a mainstay in the Seals pitching staff with a 25-16 record and a 2.13 ERA;
  • 1908 20-19 with a 2.56 ERA;
  • 1909 31-10 with a 1.56 ERA; PCL Champs
  • 1910 34-19, 1.76 ERA;
  • 1911 17-14, 2.39 ERA;
  • 1912 14-23, 2.61 ERA;
  • 1913 15-15, 2.67 ERA;
  • Henley was traded to the Venice Tigers for the 1914 season and he seemed to enjoy Southern California going 17-13 with a 2.78 ERA.
  • His last professional baseball season was 1915 with the Venice/ Vernon Tigers--his record was 15-21 but his ERA was a respectable 2.78.
  • His lifetime pitching record was 225-179 with a 2.24 ERA. Good control.


Henley is noted for throwing the longest shutout by a single pitcher in professional baseball history: 24 innings—and one of the greatest outings by a pitcher in baseball history. While the Oakland Oaks pitcher Jim Wiggs pitched a terrific 23 shutout innings, the Seals claimed the 1-0 victory at Oakland’s Freeman’s Park.


Henley later played semi-pro ball in the Trolley and Sacramento Valley Leagues. He built another brick home in Sacramento’s Colonial Heights area (his granddaughter still lives in it!) and worked as a school bus driver. He passed away July 9, 1929 in Sacramento.  

O'Connor is a frequent contributor to and the author of
Gold On the Diamond: Sacramento's Great Baseball Players 1886-1976.

 Uploaded 01/20/2010