Roger Connor 1857-1931
First Base, Third Base
Troy Trojans 1880-1882
New York Gothams/Giants 1883-1889; 1891; 1893-1894
New York Giants (Players) 1890
Philadelphia Phillies 1892
St. Louis Brown 1894-1897
Career WAR: 84.1
Best Season: 1885 .371/.435/.495/.929 200 OPS+ 225 TB 51 BB 8 K 1 HR
Known For: One of the first sluggers in baseball, he held the major league career home run record (138) prior to Babe Ruth.
The Bad: Kind of a boring figure, he was considered a very good ballplayer but uninteresting in his day, and was often overshadowed in the press by his more colorful teammates. In Connor’s mind, the worst thing he did was marry a non-Catholic outside of the Church, and actually felt that his first daughter Lulu died before her first birthday as divine retribution for that sin.
That nickname will never last: It is suggested that the New York baseball club took the name Giants in part because of their 6’3″ 220 lb slugger, who stood out among his contemporaries.
A True Gentleman: Connor played in 1,998 major league baseball games without being ejected once. His only professional ejection came in a 1906 in a Connecticut State League game. The 45-year old Connor pummeled Tommy Tucker after Tucker threw Roger’s brother and teammate Joe to the ground. Among the reasons Connor hated his short stint as a manager in St. Louis: he was uncomfortable challenging umpires.
Home Run King: Among the positives that came from Hank Aaron’s chase of Babe Ruth’s home run record in the 1970’s – Roger Connor started to get noticed. People started to ask the question “whose record did Babe Ruth break?” and Connor, who had been largely forgotten by baseball, became a part of the Hall of Fame conversation. He was inducted in 1976.
Not sure if this is true, but: The BBHOF page gives him credit for hitting the first grand slam in big league history on September 10, 1881.
* Roger Connor
One of the very few people in MLB history to have played an entire season at third as a lefty.
84 Career rWAR
5th Place All time in JAWS Among First Basemen (ahead of people like Bagwell, the Big Hurt, and McCovey)
Lots of Triples (5th all time) – I like to reward triples
He once hit a home run clear out of Polo Grounds off of Old Hoss Radbourn that prompted a sportswriter to write:
“He met it squarely and it soared up with the speed of a carrier pigeon. All eyes were turned on the tiny sphere as it soared over the head of Charlie Buffinton in right field.”
Not as amazing as the quadruple spin in the outfield, but impressive.
Didn’t live up to the power hitting levels of later first basemen (though he was generally in the top ten in at bats per home run for his era, he never approached the home run totals of, say, Frank Thomas).