Billy Hamilton (baseball, born 1866)

Last updated
Billy Hamilton
Billy Hamilton Baseball Card.jpg
Born:(1866-02-16)February 16, 1866
Newark, New Jersey
Died: December 15, 1940(1940-12-15) (aged 74)
Worcester, Massachusetts
Batted: LeftThrew: Right
MLB debut
July 31, 1888, for the Kansas City Cowboys
Last MLB appearance
September 16, 1901, for the Boston Beaneaters
MLB statistics
Batting average .344
Hits 2,154
Home runs 40
Runs batted in 742
Stolen bases 912
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svgEmpty Star.svgEmpty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svgEmpty Star.svgEmpty Star.svg
Induction 1961
Election MethodVeteran's Committee

William Robert "Sliding Billy" Hamilton (February 16, 1866 December 15, 1940) was an American professional baseball player in Major League Baseball (MLB) during the 19th-century. He was notable for his offensive skills as a hitter and as a base stealer. He played for the Kansas City Cowboys, Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Beaneaters between 1888 and 1901. Hamilton was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in 1961. As of early 2019, he is third on the all-time list of career stolen bases leaders.

Baseball Sport

Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting and fielding. The game proceeds when a player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball which a player on the batting team tries to hit with a bat. The objectives of the offensive team are to hit the ball into the field of play, and to run the bases—having its runners advance counter-clockwise around four bases to score what are called "runs". The objective of the defensive team is to prevent batters from becoming runners, and to prevent runners' advance around the bases. A run is scored when a runner legally advances around the bases in order and touches home plate. The team that scores the most runs by the end of the game is the winner.

Major League Baseball Professional baseball league

Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization, and the oldest of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. A total of 30 teams play in the National League (NL) and American League (AL), with 15 teams in each league. The NL and AL were formed as separate legal entities in 1876 and 1901 respectively. After cooperating but remaining legally separate entities beginning in 1903, the leagues merged into a single organization led by the Commissioner of Baseball in 2000. The organization also oversees Minor League Baseball, which comprises 256 teams affiliated with the Major League clubs. With the World Baseball Softball Confederation, MLB manages the international World Baseball Classic tournament.

Batting (baseball) baseball offensive act of facing the pitcher and attempting to hit the ball into play

In baseball, batting is the act of facing the opposing pitcher and trying to produce offense for one's team. A batter or hitter is a person whose turn it is to face the pitcher. The three main goals of batters are to become a baserunner, to drive runners home, or to advance runners along the bases for others to drive home, but the techniques and strategies they use to do so vary. Hitting uses a motion that is virtually unique to baseball, one that is rarely used in other sports. Hitting is unique because unlike most sports movements in the vertical plane of movement hitting involves rotating in the horizontal plane.


Early life

Hamilton was born on February 16, 1866 [1] in Newark, New Jersey. His parents, Samuel and Mary Hamilton, had emigrated to New Jersey from Ireland. Biographer Roy Kerr writes that evidence suggests that Hamilton was descended from the Ulster Scots people. (As an adult, Hamilton was known to proudly proclaim his Scottish ancestry.) When Hamilton was a small child, his family moved to Clinton, Massachusetts. [2] He worked in a Clinton cotton mill as a young teenager. [3]

Newark, New Jersey City in Essex County, New Jersey, U.S.

Newark is the most populous city in the U.S. state of New Jersey and the seat of Essex County. As one of the nation's major air, shipping, and rail hubs, the city had a population of 282,090 in 2018, making it the nation's 73rd-most populous municipality, after being ranked 63rd in the nation in 2000.

The Ulster Scots, also called Ulster Scots people or, outside the British Isles, Scots-Irish (Scotch-Airisch), are an ethnic group in Ireland, found mostly in the province of Ulster and to a lesser extent in the rest of Ireland. Their ancestors were mostly Protestant Presbyterians Lowland Scottish migrants, the largest numbers coming from Galloway, Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Ayrshire and the Scottish Borders, with others coming from further north in the Scottish Lowlands and, to a much lesser extent, from the Highlands.

Clinton, Massachusetts Town in Massachusetts, United States

Clinton is a town in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 13,606 at the 2010 census.

Professional career

Hamilton broke into the major leagues in the American Association with the Kansas City Cowboys in 1888. He established himself as a star the following season by batting .301 with 144 runs and 111 stolen bases. In 1890, the Cowboys, who were ceasing operations, sold Hamilton to the Philadelphia Phillies. The next year he led the NL in batting average (.340), runs scored (141) and hits (179). For a third consecutive season, Hamilton led the NL in stolen bases.

The American Association (AA) was a professional baseball league that existed for 10 seasons from 1882 to 1891. Together with the National League (NL), founded in 1876, the AA participated in an early version of the World Series seven times versus the champion of the NL in an interleague championship playoff tournament. At the end of its run, several AA franchises joined the NL. After 1891, the NL existed alone, with each season's champions being awarded the prized Temple Cup (1894-1897).

Kansas City Cowboys (American Association) professional baseball team, major league American Association 1888 to 1889

The Kansas City Cowboys were a professional baseball team based in Kansas City, Missouri for two seasons from 1888 to 1889 in the American Association. They were the third, and last incarnation of this franchise name, following the Kansas City Cowboys of the Union Association in 1884 and the Kansas City Cowboys of the National League in 1886. The franchise initially used Association Park as their home field in 1888, then moved to Exposition Park for last game that season, and all of 1889.

Batting average (baseball)

In baseball, the batting average (BA) is defined by the number of hits divided by at bats. It is usually reported to three decimal places and read without the decimal: A player with a batting average of .300 is "batting three-hundred." If necessary to break ties, batting averages could be taken beyond the .001 measurement. In this context, a .001 is considered a "point," such that a .235 batter is 5 points higher than a .230 batter.

In 1892, Hamilton hit both a leadoff and game-ending home run in the same game. Only Vic Power (1957), Darin Erstad (2000), Reed Johnson (2003) and Ian Kinsler (2009) have accomplished the same feat. [4] He hit .380 in 1893, which led the major leagues.

Darin Erstad American baseball player and coach

Darin Charles Erstad is an American former professional baseball player and the former head coach of the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers baseball team. Prior to 2007, he had played with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim franchise (1996-2006) before signing with the Chicago White Sox in 2007. He batted and threw left-handed. He was a two-time MLB All-Star and a three-time Gold Glove Award winner.

Reed Johnson Major League Baseball outfielder in the Miami Marlins organization

Reed Cameron Johnson is an American former professional baseball outfielder. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, and Washington Nationals.

Ian Kinsler American baseball player

Ian Michael Kinsler is an American professional baseball second baseman for the San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels, and Boston Red Sox. With the Red Sox, he won the 2018 World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Philadelphia outfielders Hamilton, Sam Thompson, Ed Delahanty and Tuck Turner all hit over .400 in 1894. That year Hamilton set the all-time standard for most runs scored in a season (198); since then, Babe Ruth has come closest to Hamilton in runs scored, with 177 in 1921, setting the American League and modern MLB record. Hamilton also set the record for most stolen bases in one game, with seven on August 31, 1894. He set the record for most consecutive games scoring one or more runs, with 35 runs in 24 games in July–August 1894. [5]

Sam Thompson American baseball player

Samuel Luther "Big Sam" Thompson was an American professional baseball player from 1884 to 1898 and with a brief comeback in 1906. At 6 feet, 2 inches, the Indiana native was one of the larger players of his day and was known for his prominent handlebar mustache. He played as a right fielder in Major League Baseball for the Detroit Wolverines (1885–88), Philadelphia Phillies (1889–1898) and Detroit Tigers (1906). He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.

Ed Delahanty Major League Baseball outfielder

Edward James Delahanty, nicknamed "Big Ed", was an American professional baseball player, who spent his Major League Baseball (MLB) playing career with the Philadelphia Quakers, Cleveland Infants, Philadelphia Phillies, and Washington Senators. He was renowned as one of the game's early power hitters, and while primarily a left fielder, also spent time as an infielder. Delahanty won a batting title, batted over .400 three times, and has the fifth-highest career batting average in MLB history. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, in 1945. Delahanty died falling into Niagara Falls or the Niagara River, after being removed from a train while intoxicated.

Tuck Turner American baseball player

George A. Turner was a 19th-century Major League Baseball player for the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Browns.

Hamilton led the league in steals for a fifth time in 1895. In 1896, Hamilton moved to Boston, for whom he played his final six seasons. Although his numbers declined, Hamilton still scored over 100 runs in all but two of those seasons.

Hamilton retired after the 1901 season. Over his career he compiled 912 (or 937; see this article's "legacy" section) stolen bases, a .344 batting average and 1690 runs in 1591 games; he is one of only three players to average more than one run per game played. His .455 career on-base percentage ranks fourth all-time behind Ted Williams, Babe Ruth and John McGraw, and his 912 stolen bases ranks third behind Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock.

On-base percentage

In baseball statistics, on-base percentage is a statistic generally measuring how frequently a batter reaches base. Specifically, it records the ratio of the batter's times-on-base (TOB) to their number of plate appearances. It first became an official MLB statistic in 1984.

Ted Williams American baseball player, member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the last baseball player to bat .400 in a season

Theodore Samuel Williams was an American professional baseball player and manager. He played his entire 19-year Major League Baseball (MLB) career as a left fielder for the Boston Red Sox from 1939 to 1960; his career was interrupted only by mandatory military service during World War II and the Korean War. Nicknamed "The Kid," "The Splendid Splinter," "Teddy Ballgame," and "The Thumper," Williams is regarded as one of the greatest hitters in baseball history. Williams was a nineteen-time All-Star, a two-time recipient of the American League (AL) Most Valuable Player Award, a six-time AL batting champion, and a two-time Triple Crown winner. He finished his playing career with a .344 batting average, 521 home runs, and a .482 on-base percentage, the highest of all time. His career batting average is the highest of any MLB player whose career was played primarily in the live-ball era, and ranks tied for 7th all-time.

Babe Ruth American baseball player

George Herman "Babe" Ruth Jr. was an American professional baseball player whose career in Major League Baseball (MLB) spanned 22 seasons, from 1914 through 1935. Nicknamed "The Bambino" and "The Sultan of Swat", he began his MLB career as a stellar left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, but achieved his greatest fame as a slugging outfielder for the New York Yankees. Ruth established many MLB batting records, including career home runs (714), runs batted in (RBIs) (2,213), bases on balls (2,062), slugging percentage (.690), and on-base plus slugging (OPS) (1.164); the latter still stands as of 2019. Ruth is regarded as one of the greatest sports heroes in American culture and is considered by many to be the greatest baseball player of all time. In 1936, Ruth was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame as one of its "first five" inaugural members.

He is the Philadelphia Phillies career leader in batting average (.361), on-base percentage (.468) and stolen bases (508). He holds Phillies single-season records for on-base percentage (.523 in 1894), runs (196 in 1894), stolen bases (111 in 1891) and times on base (355 in 1894).


Though stolen bases were credited differently during Hamilton's career than they are in modern times, he was very proud of his stolen base marks. In 1937, Hamilton lambasted the Sporting News in a letter he wrote to them, stating, "I was and will be the greatest base stealer of all time. I stole over 100 bases on many years and if they ever re-count the record I will get my just reward." [6]

His career steals total differs, based on the source. Hamilton's plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame credits him with 937 steals, [7] while credits him with 912 steals [8] and Baseball credits him with 914 steals. [9]

Later life

After his playing days ended, Hamilton managed several minor league teams in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts and served as a scout with the Boston Nationals. [10]

Hamilton died on December 15, 1940, at his home at 6 Lucian Street in Worcester, Massachusetts. He was survived by his wife Rebecca (Carr) Hamilton, four daughters and two grandchildren. [10] He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1961.

See also


  1. While most sources list this date of birth, biographer Roy Kerr writes that Newark archives suggest a date of birth of February 15, 1866.
  2. Kerr, pp. 38-39.
  3. Kerr, p. 40.
  4. Andro, Anthony, "Francisco goes back on DL because of pneumonia", Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 7/20/09, accessed 9/16/09
  5. Solomon, Abbot Neil (1988). Baseball Records Illustrated, Quintet Publishing, London.
  6. Russell Roberts (1999) Stolen!: A History of Base Stealing, McFarland, ISBN   0-7864-0650-X Excerpt, pg. 30
  7. Hamilton, Billy. Baseball Hall of Fame. Retrieved on April 12, 2014.
  8. Hamilton stats
  9. Billy Hamilton Statistics and History. Retrieved on April 12, 2014.
  10. 1 2 "Billy Hamilton, 74, ex-baseball star". New York Times. December 16, 1940. Archived from the original on December 17, 1940. Retrieved January 9, 2016.

Related Research Articles

Ryne Sandberg American baseball player

Ryne Dee Sandberg, nicknamed "Ryno", is an American former professional baseball player, coach, and manager. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a second baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs for sixteen years.

Eddie Collins American baseball player

Edward Trowbridge Collins Sr., nicknamed "Cocky", was an American professional baseball player, manager and executive. He played as a second baseman in Major League Baseball from 1906 to 1930 for the Philadelphia Athletics and Chicago White Sox. A graduate of Columbia University, Collins holds major league career records in several categories and is among the top few players in several other categories. In 1925, Collins became just the sixth person to join the 3,000 hit club – and the last for the next 17 seasons. His 47 career home runs mark the lowest home run total for a member of the aforementioned 3,000 hit club.

Roger Connor American baseball player

Roger Connor was a 19th-century Major League Baseball (MLB) player. He played for several teams, but his longest tenure was in New York, where he was responsible for the New York Gothams becoming known as the Giants. He was the player whom Babe Ruth succeeded as the all-time home run champion. Connor hit 138 home runs during his 18-year career, and his career home run record stood for 23 years after his retirement in 1897.

Chuck Klein American baseball player and coach

Charles Herbert Klein, nicknamed the "Hoosier Hammer", was an American professional baseball outfielder. Klein played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs (1934–1936), and Pittsburgh Pirates (1939). He was one of the most prodigious National League sluggers in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and was the first All-Star Game player to be selected as a member of two different MLB teams. Klein was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980.

César Tovar baseball player

César Leonardo Tovar, nicknamed "Pepito" and "Mr. Versatility," was a Venezuelan professional baseball player, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Minnesota Twins (1965–1972), Philadelphia Phillies (1973), Texas Rangers (1974–1975), Oakland Athletics (1975–1976), and New York Yankees (1976). Tovar was an extremely versatile player capable of playing various defensive positions on the field. In 1968, he became only the second player in MLB history to play all nine field positions during a single game, a feat first accomplished by Bert Campaneris, in 1965. Tovar also had a prolific career in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League (VPBL), where he played 26 seasons — second only to the 30 seasons played by Vic Davalillo.

Bert Campaneris baseball player

Dagoberto Campaneris Blanco, nicknamed "Bert" or "Campy", is a Cuban American former professional baseball shortstop, who played Major League Baseball (MLB) for four American League (AL) teams, primarily the Kansas City and Oakland Athletics. One of the mainstays of the Athletics' championship teams of 1972 to 1974, he holds the A's franchise records for career games played (1795), hits (1882), and at bats (7180). Campaneris led the AL in stolen bases six times between 1965 and 1972 and retired with the seventh-most steals in MLB history (649). Defensively, he led the league in putouts three times; his career totals at shortstop place him among the all-time MLB leaders in games played and double plays, at that position. Campaneris is the cousin of former MLB player Jose Cardenal.

Juan Pierre American baseball player

Juan D'Vaughn Pierre is an American former professional baseball outfielder. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 2000–2013 for the Colorado Rockies, Florida/Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, and Philadelphia Phillies. Known for his speed, he stole 614 bases in his career, the 18th-most in MLB history at the time of his retirement. He worked as an MLB Network on-air analyst before joining the Marlins as a Minor League Outfield Coordinator for the 2019 season.

Kenny Lofton American baseball player

Kenneth Lofton is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) center fielder. Lofton was a six-time All-Star (1994–1999), four-time Gold Glove Award winner (1993–1996), and at retirement, was ranked fifteenth among all-time stolen base leaders with 622. During his career, he played for the Houston Astros, Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Texas Rangers.

Tommy Harper American baseball player and coach

Tommy Harper is an American former Major League Baseball outfielder and third baseman. He played with the Cincinnati Reds (1962–67), Cleveland Indians (1968), Seattle Pilots (1969), Milwaukee Brewers (1970–71), Boston Red Sox (1972–74), California Angels (1975), Oakland Athletics (1975), and the Baltimore Orioles (1976).

Davey Lopes American baseball player and manager

David Earle Lopes is an American former second baseman and manager in Major League Baseball (MLB). He batted and threw right-handed. He played in MLB for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Athletics, Chicago Cubs, and Houston Astros; he managed the Milwaukee Brewers.

Luis Castillo (second baseman) Dominican baseball player

Luis Antonio Castillo is a former Major League Baseball second baseman. Castillo is a three-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, and won the World Series with the Florida Marlins in 2003. He is also the only player who played for the Marlins in both of their World Series winning seasons who did not get traded in between the two seasons.

Bill Dahlen American baseball player

William Frederick Dahlen, nicknamed "Bad Bill" for his ferocious temperament, was an American shortstop and manager in Major League Baseball who played for four National League teams from 1891 to 1911. After twice batting over .350 for the Chicago Colts, he starred on championship teams with the Brooklyn Superbas and the New York Giants. At the end of his career he held the major league record for career games played (2,443); he ranked second in walks and fifth in at bats (9,033), and was among the top ten in runs batted in (1,234), doubles (414) and extra base hits (661). He was also among the NL's top seven players in hits, runs (1,589), triples (163) and total bases (3,447). After leading the league in assists four times and double plays three times, he set major league records for career games (2,132), putouts (4,850), assists (7,500), total chances (13,325) and double plays (881) as a shortstop; he still holds the record for total chances, and is second in putouts and fourth in assists. His 42-game hitting streak in 1894 was a record until 1897, and remains the fourth longest in history and the longest by a right-handed NL hitter.

Sherry Magee American baseball player

Sherwood Robert "Sherry" Magee was an American left fielder in Major League Baseball. From 1904 through 1919, Magee played with the Philadelphia Phillies (1904–14), Boston Braves (1915–1917) and Cincinnati Reds (1917–1919). He batted and threw right-handed and in a 16-season career posted a .291 batting average with 83 home runs and 1,176 runs batted in through 2,087 games played.

Duff Cooley American baseball player

Duff Gordon "Sir Richard" Cooley was a professional baseball player whose career spanned 17 seasons, 13 of which were spent in Major League Baseball (MLB). Cooley, an outfielder and first baseman, had a career batting average of .294 in 1,317 games played. He compiled 849 runs, 1,579 hits, 180 doubles, 102 triples, 26 home runs, and 557 runs batted in (RBI). In Major League history, he is tied in 148th place for most all-time triples and, his 224 career stolen bases, place him equal 279th on the all-time list. Cooley made his Major League debut at the age of 20, and spent the majority of his career there, but he also appeared in minor league baseball. After breaking his leg with the Tigers in 1905, he was replaced with future Hall of Fame outfielder Ty Cobb. Cooley, nicknamed "Sir Richard" due to his aristocratic manner, was listed as standing 5 feet 11 inches (180 cm) and weighing 158 pounds (72 kg).

Billy Shindle American baseball player

William D. "Billy" Shindle was a third baseman in Major League Baseball who played from 1886 through 1898 for the Detroit Wolverines (1886–87), Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Athletics (1890), Philadelphia Phillies (1891), and the Brooklyn Grooms & Bridegrooms (1894–98). Shindle batted and threw right-handed. He was born in Gloucester City, New Jersey. He was slightly built at 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m) and 158 pounds.

Billy Hamilton (baseball, born 1990) American baseball player

Billy R. Hamilton is an American professional baseball center fielder for the Kansas City Royals of Major League Baseball (MLB). He played for the Cincinnati Reds from 2013 through 2018.