Billy Hamilton 1866-1940
Kansas City Cowboys 1888-1889
Philadelphia Phillies 1890-1895
Boston Beaneaters 1896-1901
Career WAR: 63.3
Best Season: 1894 .403/.521/.523/1.004 157 OPS+ 198 R 100 SB 128 BB 292 TB 8.2 WAR
Quote: “I never saw a runner get a lead off first base like Billy” – Jack Carney
Nickname: Sliding Billy
Known For: Stolen bases and runs. Perhaps the prototype lead off hitter. Was baseball’s career stolen base leader until Lou Brock broke his record in 1979. One of only three players in baseball history to average more than one run scored per game played. Fourth on the career on-base percentage list behind Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, and John McGraw.
Total Number of Steals?: Depending on the source, its somewhere between 912 and 937. Hamilton was extremely protective of his base-stealing legacy, and even wrote at least one letter to the editor claiming that he was short changed in total stolen bases. If he were still alive, he would very likely argue that he should rightfully be second on the list (Brock retired with 938 SB).
Trivia: One of four major league hitters to lead off a game with a home run and end the game with a walk-off home run (Vic Power, Darin Erstad, Reed Johnson, Ian Kinsler).
More Rare Air: Hamilton’s 198 runs scored in 1894 is still a record for runs in a single season. The modern record belongs to Babe Ruth, who scored 177 runs in 1921. Nobody else has come any closer than that.
Half-Baked Hall is right: Hamilton’s induction was controversial. In a scandal that is right up there with Dan LeBatard’s vote-loan, a certain WGOM corny voter engaged in ballot-stuffing that was responsible for Hamilton’s election.