Note: This page is for Hall of Famer Billy Hamilton; for the outfielder from the 2010s, click here
William Robert Hamilton
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 5' 6", Weight 165 lb.
- Debut July 31, 1888
- Final Game September 16, 1901
- Born February 15, 1866 in Newark, NJ USA
- Died December 15, 1940 in Worcester, MA USA
"Burkett was one of the greatest hitters I've ever seen. But Hamilton was one of the very best ball players." - Hugh Duffy
Sliding Billy Hamilton had one of the highest batting averages of all time, .344, which he accomplished in a 14-year career. He played much of his career in a lively ball era, in the 1890s, and hit .404 in 1894 (his fellow outfielders Sam Thompson and Ed Delahanty also hit over .400 that year). Hamilton added numerous walks to help him get on base, with a lifetime on-base percentage of .455, # 4 on the all-time list.
Hamilton's set the single-season record for runs scored in 1894, although the exact number of runs he scored that year differs depending on the source, from 192 to 198. To figure out what the exact number was, SABR researcher Herb Krabbenhoft and three colleagues undertook a game-by-game study of each of the runs scored by the Philadelphia Phillies that year and came up with the number 196 for Hamilton. The fact that official scoresheets from that season are no longer extant and that boxscores published in various newspapers sometimes disagree mean that no one can be 100% sure of that number, but it is the best possible guess based on current evidence.
"I never saw a runner get a lead off first base like Billy." — Handsome Jack Carney
Primarily a centerfielder, Hamilton had good range.
His minor league career started in 1887 in Waterbury, and he also played in Worcester and Kansas City. After his major league playing days, he was a minor league manager in at least five cities, and also scouted (for the Braves). He also co-owned a minor league team in Worcester, MA.
"Hamilton is one of the wealthiest players in the big League, and out of his earnings he has made investments in real estate that have netted him a considerable fortune." - Sporting Life, November 5, 1898
- 2-time NL Batting Average Leader (1891 & 1893)
- 5-time NL On-Base Percentage Leader (1891, 1893, 1894, 1896 & 1898)
- 2-time NL OPS Leader (1893 & 1898)
- 4-time NL Runs Scored Leader (1891, 1894, 1895 & 1897)
- NL Hits Leader (1891)
- 5-time NL Bases on Balls Leader (1891 & 1894-1897)
- 5-time League Stolen Bases Leader (1889/AA, 1890/NL, 1891/NL, 1894/NL & 1895/NL)
- 4-time NL Singles Leader (1890-1892 & 1894)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 11 (1889-1898 & 1900)
- 200 Hits Seasons: 2 (1894 & 1895)
- 50 Stolen Bases Seasons: 9 (1889-1892 & 1894-1898)
- 100 Stolen Bases Seasons: 3 (1889-1891)
- Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1961
- Runs, season, 196, 1894
- Runs, left handed batter, season, 192, 1894
- Consecutive games scoring a run, 24, 1894
- Roy Kerr: Sliding Billy Hamilton: The Life and Times of Baseball's First Great Leadoff Hitter, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2010. ISBN 978-0-7864-4639-1
- Herb Krabbenhoft et. al.: "Discrepancy in an All-Time MLB Record: Billy Hamilton's 1894 Runs Scored", The Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Volume 45, Number 2 (Fall 2016), pp. 108-114.