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Billy Gilbert

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Billy Gilbert.jpg

William Oliver Gilbert

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 4", Weight 153 lb.

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Billy Gilbert was in the new American League in 1901-02, then played several years for John McGraw's New York Giants and finished up in the majors with the St. Louis Cardinals. He appeared in the 1905 World Series and hit .313 while batting eighth in the lineup in each game ahead of the two starters, Christy Mathewson and Iron Man McGinnity.

BillyGilbert.jpg

Gilbert was born in Tullytown, PA, and played minor league ball in New York and New England before coming to the majors. The 1897 Fall River team also featured a 39-year-old Roger Connor.

Billy's first year in the majors was 1901, at age 25. He played in the American League in its first year as a major league. With the 1901 Milwaukee Brewers, he was second on the team in runs scored.

Billy stood 5 ' 4 " tall, so he was not a tall man. But he wasn't all that much shorter than fellow teammates Jimmy Burke at 5 ' 7 ", outfielder/manager Hugh Duffy, also 5 ' 7 ", shortstop Wid Conroy at 5 ' 9 ", outfielder Irv Waldron at 5 ' 5 " and outfielder Bill Hallman at 5 ' 8". First baseman John Anderson was, however, 6 ' 2 " tall.

Gilbert moved to the 1902 Baltimore Orioles the next year, a team which was managed part of the season by John McGraw. While Billy was the weakest-hitting regular, he played in the most games. Billy was exclusively a second baseman every season in the majors except 1902, when he was exclusively a shortstop. The Baltimore American of July 22, 1902, noted that he was now hitting right-handed.

After the season Billy jumped leagues and went to play with John McGraw's New York Giants. The 1903 New York Giants finished second in the 1903 National League and Billy played alongside some players such as Roger Bresnahan and Dan McGann with whom he had previously played in the American League.

Gilbert stayed with the Giants for four seasons, getting at least 300 at-bats each year. In 1904 the Giants won the pennant, with 106 victories, in 1905 they repeated with 105 victories and in 1906 they won 96 which ended them up in second place.

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Billy's batting average was always modest, but he could draw a walk and even in 1906, although he had a .231 batting average, his OBP was .341.

Gilbert played for Trenton in 1907 before coming back to the majors in 1908-09 with the Cardinals. It was a very different experience from the Giants, with the Cardinals losing around 100 games each season. In 1909 Gilbert's old teammate Roger Bresnahan was the player-manager. Billy was more-or-less the regular second baseman in 1908 but in 1909 had only 12 games with the team.

He continued to play in the minors through 1912. He managed at the following: 1909, 1911 Erie(Ohio-Penn), 1912 Erie(Central), 1913 Erie (Interstate), 1921-22 Waterbury(Eastern), 1923 Denver(Western) and 1924 Pittsfield(Eastern). For a total of eight years.

While not a strong hitter, Billy sometimes was among league leaders. From 1902-04 he was either second or third each year in hit-by-pitch. In 1903 he was second in the league in sacrifice hits. In 1902 he was fourth in the league in stolen bases and then in 1903 he was sixth in the league in that category. In 1906 he was tops in the league in range factor at second base.

He is not to be confused with Bill Gilbert, who played in the majors in 1892.

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