No. 198 Billy Hamilton (Number 16 Center Field)

This is Billy Hamilton from the 19th century. Not the current player Billy Hamilton. Both were fast, probably the fastest players in their eras. This Billy Hamilton would probably be the next 19th century player I would pick for my hall of fame.

His statistics are so great, some would argue he was the greatest leadoff player of all time. I would say he was the greatest leadoff hitter of the 19th century, with Rickey Henderson the greatest of the 20th Century. He led the league in runs score four times (once with 196 runs the major league record), stolen bases five times, on base percentage 5 times, walks five times, batting average twice and OPs Plus twice. The year he scored 196 runs he played in a park that compressed offense. However, he was probably on the best hitting team that year so that helped him score a lot of runs. Either way he had a fantastic year and career. However, I would take Henderson over Hamilton for two reasons. First the game improved so Rickey played against tougher completion and second and more importantly in context to his time I think Henderson’s stats were better. So do a lot of people who study the game.

His career was somewhat short. He retired at age 35 but was still a solid player. His on base percentage was still over .400 which is outstanding. He didn’t have much power left, and he got on base a lot by drawing walks which no one really cared about in those days. After his retirement from baseball, Hamilton stayed involved in the game in the minors, first as a manager then as a scout.

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