Fred Dunlap, whose picture is above given, was born in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1858, and began his career as a ball-player with the Gloucester Club of Gloucester, N.J., in 1874. The following year he played short-stop for the Cregar Club of Camden, N.J., and he filled the same position with the Kleinz Club of his native city in 1876. His first professional engagement was with the Auburn Club of Auburn, N.Y., with whom he played sixty-eight games during the season of 1877, and gained quite a reputation as a second-baseman. He commenced the season of 1878 with the Hornells of Hornellsville, N.Y., and on their disbandment in August of that year he was promptly secured by the newly-organized Albany Club, with whom he has since played. Although he is one of the youngest professionals in the fraternity, it would be hard to find his equal as a second-baseman, he being a sure catch, and, besides covering more ground than any player we know of, he plays with rare judgment and goes for every ball that comes anywhere near him, no matter how hot it may be, some of his catches and stops being extraordinary. He is also a very good batsman, and can go the circuit of the bases in lively style. He is a reliable, hard-working and sharp player, and his quiet gentlemanly bearing and modest way of doing his work have made him a general favorite.
-New York Clipper, July 19, 1879
What's amazing about this short bio of Dunlap is that it appeared in the Clipper the season before he made his major league debut (a season in which he led the NL in doubles and was probably the best second baseman in the League). It's kind of like, today, when we read a profile on the next hot prospect that's coming up. Except that this was 1879.
The other really interesting thing is what a nice, young man they make Dunlap out to be. And he may have been a nice kid in 1879, although I doubt it. I believe that Dunlap's personality was formed long before he started playing professional baseball and the Clipper is just giving us gloss. It wouldn't be long before Dunlap's true nature was revealed.
Now, I don't want you to think that Dunlap was some kind of evil monster because he wasn't. Dunlap was, simply, a rather selfish human being. He was self-centered and cared only about himself. He was both greedy and miserly. But, again, he wasn't evil. Dunlap's main concern was Fred Dunlap and the protection and preservation of Fred Dunlap. And given his background as an orphan who stated that he never had a home or a family, it's understandable.
Dunlap was a great ballplayer. As I said, he was probably the best second baseman in the League as a rookie. He was probably the best player in the League by the age of 23. His first seven years as a major league player are fantastic. Throw out 1884 and you're still looking at one of the best players of his generation. The leg injuries that he suffered, starting in 1887, really destroyed his career but that doesn't change the fact that from 1880 through 1886, Fred Dunlap was a star.
But he wasn't a quiet, reliable, modest gentleman.