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Bill Traffley

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William Franklin Traffley

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11½", Weight 185 lb.

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Bill Traffley was a shortstop for a few top amateur clubs in Chicago, IL during his teenage years, though he played every position at times. One day, Cap Anson saw Traffley play and was impressed by his speed, arm and style of play. Anson invited Traffley to try out with the 1878 Chicago White Stockings and manager Bob Ferguson liked the 20-year-old, signing him up. Bill was the second-biggest player on the team behind only Anson. Traffley was 1 for 9 in two games for Chicago that year.

For four years, Bill played for the Union Pacific Club of Omaha, NE, a semipro team. In one game, he had 21 putouts in 9 innings and he won acclaim as a top defensive backstop for his throwing speed and accuracy. Traffley then was signed by the 1883 Cincinnati Red Stockings, where he was Ren Deagle's personal catcher. Bill hit .200/.229/.248 in his second-best major league season and played the odd combination of C and SS.

Traffley moved on to the 1884 Orioles and doubled in a run in his first game with the team. He had three double plays, two of them coming unassisted, on May 14, then hit the winning triple on May 23. Overall, though, he hit just .176/.192/.252. He tied for sixth on the club with six triples (an impressive number for a catcher even in those triple-friendly days) and his double plays were third in the 1884 AA, impressive for a part-timer.

Becoming a starter for the 1885 Orioles, Traffley batted just .154/.215/.220 for a 38 OPS+. He did have the top fielding percentage (.943) among catchers in the 1885 AA, though his 104 passed balls are the second-highest mark in the history of Major League Baseball.

Bill improved to .212/.295/.235 with the 1886 Orioles, above-average on the lowest-average team in MLB history. He only had hit .175/.220/.237 in 663 AB in the majors. Moving on to the Des Moines Hawkeyes, Traffley concluded his career there. He then settled in Des Moines, IA where he was a saloonkeeper. His brother John Traffley played in the majors for one game in 1889 under unusual circumstances. Bill died in 1908 of cirrhoisis.

Source: Mendoza's Heroes by Al Pepper

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