Born: January 7, 1875 in Worcester, Massachusetts
Died: May 1, 1947 (aged 72) in Worcester, Massachusetts
Weight: 207 lbs.
Position: First Baseman
Boston Beaneaters (1898)
Pittsburgh Pirates (1901–04)
Philadelphia Phillies (1905–11)
Chicago Cubs (1911)
A smooth-fielding, hard-hitting first baseman, Kitty Bransfield helped form the nucleus of the juggernaut Pittsburgh Pirates that dominated the National League from 1901 to 1903. Yet in the great tradition of baseball superstitions, his departure from Pittsburgh after a dismal 1904 season left such a void that the club’s decades-long quest for another adequate first sacker became known as “The Bransfield Curse.” Bransfield revived his career in Philadelphia; in his book The National Game, published in 1910, Alfred H. Spink described the big first baseman of the Quakers as “something unusual–a player who was almost all in and then came back stronger than ever.” The lifetime .270 hitter remained with the Phillies through 1911, becoming (according to Spink) “probably the most popular player in the National League.”
William Edward Bransfield was born on January 7, 1875, in Worcester, Massachusetts, and he would spend most of his life in that baseball-crazed city. His original nickname was “Kid,” but a reporter with bad hearing heard it as “Kitty” and the name stuck.
Bransfield began his career in baseball as an outfielder with shop teams in Worcester. In 1894 he went behind the bat, and the following year he received a tryout with the professional team in Pawtucket. Found wanting, Kitty returned to the Worcester area and played for strong semipro teams in Westboro and Grafton. In 1898 the 23-year-old backstop received another professional trial, this time with the National League’s Boston Beaneaters. Already well-stocked at catcher with the talented (albeit volatile) Marty Bergen, the Beaneaters looked Kitty over for five games and released him to Worcester’s minor league team. After spending the 1899 season behind the plate, the 5’11”, 207 lb. Bransfield switched to first base in 1900 and led the Eastern League in hitting with a .371 average.