John Montgomery “Monte” Ward, 1860-1925, a member of baseball’s Hall of Fame, was a native of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania who attended Pennsylvania State College before embarking upon a career as a professional ballplayer. He reached the major leagues in 1878 as a pitcher for the Providence Grays of the National League, just two years after the founding of the so-called “Senior Circuit.”
In his first year, the eighteen-year-old Ward recorded the National League’s lowest earned run average (1.51) while compiling a record of 22 wins and 13 losses. The high-point in Monte’s career came in 1879 when he recorded 47 wins and 19 losses while leading the Grays to their first National League championship. In that year he led the league in winning percentage (.712) and strikeouts (239). In June, 1880 he pitched a perfect game–one of only fourteen in the history of major league baseball. Ward remained in Providence through 1882 before signing with New York. After injuring his throwing arm in 1883, Ward concluded his seventeen-year playing career as an infielder, retiring in 1894.
Ward’s achievements in baseball were far more diverse than the statistics registered by a 5’9″, 165-pound right-handed pitcher. He managed the New York and the Brooklyn teams for several years, published the first baseball book for a general audience written by a player in 1888, and served as an organizer and the first president of the Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players, a protective organization designed to “promote the betterment of the game,” and to combat baseball’s infamous reserve clause.
Ward was fluent in five languages, and in the late 1880s, he earned degrees in political science and law from Columbia University. After his playing and managing days were over, Ward represented several players in disputes with management, although he briefly became president of the National League’s Boston Braves (1911-12).
Ward was also a skilled and nationally-ranked amateur golfer moving to Augusta, Georgia where he died in 1925 at the age of sixty-five. He was eulogized by sportswriter Grantland Rice who commented that “in many respects” Ward was “the greatest competitor this country ever has known.”