A Look Back: Baseball In The 1800's.

Sergio ValdezContributor IISeptember 21, 2009

Baseball originally started as a pro sport back in the 1800's. Though baseball then is hardly ever talked about, I thought I'd write an article about baseball and it's players back when it become a pro sport in the 19th century:

Records of the 1800's:

TOTAL, BATTING (min. 3,000 PA's)

Batting average: .384, Willie Keeler
On-base percentage: .461, John McGraw
Slugging percentage: .520, Dan Brouthers
Hits: 3,418, Cap Anson
Home runs: 138, Roger Connor
Triples: 233, Roger Connor
Doubles: 581, Cap Anson
Walks: 1,016, Billy Hamilton
Hit-by-pitches: 272, Tommy Tucker
Sacrifice hits: 98, Bones Ely
Runs scored: 1,996, Cap Anson
Runs Batted In: 2,076, Cap Anson
Stolen bases: 860, Billy Hamilton
Plate appearances: 11,319, Cap Anson

Roger Connor actually held the home run record until Babe Ruth broke it in (I believe) 1921. He almost certainly did not know that he ever held the record. Billy Hamilton AVERAGED 141 runs scored per season (min. 400 PA), partially because he played in the 1890's, which was the most favorable era for scoring runs. Bones Ely had so many sacrifices because he stinked--he had a 69 career OPS+--but his 98 sacrifice hits aren't nearly the all-time record, as Eddie Collins had 512. Tommy Tucker just missed the all-time record for hit-by-pitches, as Hughie Jennings (who also owns the single-season record with 51) beat him by 15 HBP's.

TOTAL, PITCHING (min. 2,000 IP)

Earned run average: 2.10, John Ward
ERA+: 146, Kid Nichols
HR/9: 0.05, Candy Cummings
BB/9: 0.49, Tommy Bond
SO/9: Toad Ramsey, 6.49
WHIP: 1.044, John Ward
IP: Pud Galvin, 6,003
Complete games: 646, Pud Galvin
Relief appearances: 55, Jack Stivetts
Saves: 16, Kid Nichols
Winning percentage: .796, Albert Spalding
Wins: 364, Pud Galvin

Toad Ramsey? Yeah, never heard of him either. But his SO/9 record wasn't a fluke of the 2,000 IP borderline I gave; the record holder minimum one more inning pitched than him is Amos Rusie--with 4.63, almost two K's per nine innings less. Pud Galvin also owns the 1800's loss record, with 310.


BA: .440, Hugh Duffy, 1894
OBP: .547, John McGraw, 1899
SLG: .694, Hugh Duffy, 1894
H: 240, Jesse Burkett, 1896
HR: 27, Ned Williamson, 1884
3B: Heinie Reitz, 1894
2B: 55, Ed Delahanty, 1899
BB: 136, Jack Crooks, 1892
HBP: 51, Hughie Jennings 1896
RS: 192, Billy Hamilton, 1894
RBI: Sam Thompson, 166, 1887
SB: 138, Hugh Nicol, 1887
PA: 722, George Van Haltren, 1898

1894, man... The average 1894 game had 7.36 runs scored in it. The LEAGUE batted .309/.379/.435. The entire Philadelphia outfield--and that includes their fourth outfielder, Tuck Turner--batted .400.

Ned Williamson hit 27 home runs because of his ballpark. The 19th century single-season home run record holders are...White Stockings players from 1884. Seven of the top ten home run-hitters that year were White Stockings players, including all of the top four. The White Stockings that year hit 142 home runs--the next-highest team, the Buffalo Bisons, hit 39. The reason for this was that the right field fence was only 200 feet away--in seasons after 1884, balls hit over the right field wall would be counted as ground rule doubles.

Hugh Nicol holds the single-season stolen base record, not Rickey Henderson.


ERA: 1.23 ERA, George Bradley, 1876
ERA+: 205, Charley Radbourne, 1884
HR/9: 0.00, George Zettlein, 1875 (tied with five other pitchers)
BB/9: 0.13, Candy Cummings, 1875
SO/9: 8.68, Hugh Daily, 1884
SO: 513, Matt Kilroy, 1886
WHIP: 0.817, Charlie Sweeney, 1884
IP: 680, Will White, 1879
CG: 75, Will White, 1879
GR: 12, Sam Leever, 1899
W%: .917, Al Spalding, 1875
W: 59, Charley Radbourne, 1884

Yes, Matt Kilroy holds the single-season record for strikeouts. A myth has since been created, by the way, that claims that "K" (for "Kilroy") was the abbreviation for the strikeout because of this. That's false; in actuality, "K" is the abbreviation for strikeouts because "S" had already been used for "sacrifice", so Henry Chadwick decided to use "K", as it is the last letter of the word "struck."

Will White's 680 innings pitched is the single-season record for innings pitched, but in 1877 Jim Devlin became the first--and so-far only--pitcher to ever throw every single one of his team's innings in a season. He did that with a 146 ERA+, but that was still his last season, as he was banned from baseball afterwords for throwing games in 1877 and costing his team the pennant. Every year after that until his death he was seen in ruined clothing begging for his job back, but, never getting another chance to play in pro baseball, he died of tuberculosis at age 35 in 1883.


BA: .222, Pop Smith
OBP: .254, Pop Snyder
SLG: .269, Art Whitney
OPS+: Art Whitney, 64
Outs: 6,875, Cap Anson


ERA: 4.94, Kid Carsey
ERA+: 85, Kid Carsey
HR/9: 0.41, Jack Stivetts
BB/9: 4.18, Mark Baldwin
SO/9: 0.44, Albert Spalding
WHIP: 1.609, Kid Carsey
W%: Stump Wiedman, .393
L: 310, Pud Galvin

SINGLE-SEASON, BATTING (WORST, not including pitchers)

BA: .136, Tom McLaughlin, 1886
OBP: .155, Redleg Snyder, 1876
SLG: .156, Tom McLaughlin, 1886
OPS+: 0, Morgan Murphy, 1897
Outs: 172, Morgan Murphy, 1897


ERA: 6.26, Bill Hart, 1897
ERA+: 59, Dory Dean, 1876
HR/9: 0.75, Harry Staley, 1893
BB/9: 5.83, Mike Morrison, 1887
SO/9: 0.13, Bill Stearns, 1873
HR: 35, Larry Corcoran, 1884
BB: 289, Amos Rusie, 1890
WHIP: 1.863, Mike Morrison, 1887
W%: .118, Jim Hughey, 1899
L: 48, John Coleman, 1883


Baseball was very interesting back in the 1800's. It's early inception of a pro sport in America. To this day, the game still lives on in this country.