Paul A. Hines
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 9½", Weight 173 lb.
- Debut April 20, 1872
- Final Game July 3, 1891
- Born March 1, 1852 in Virginia USA
- Died July 10, 1935 in Hyattsville, MD USA
"The greatest play I ever saw was made by Paul Hines . . . he caught a low fly ball behind shortstop on a full run, continuing on to third base where he put out the two men . . . from second and third bases, making the triple play unassisted." - from the book A History of the Boston Base Ball Club, 1897, quoting Arthur Irwin regarding one version of the famous event
Paul Hines was one of the top stars in the early days of baseball and his statistics indicate that he would be a reasonable Hall of Fame candidate. Hines broke in at age 17 in 1872, and thus played his first 8 years in the 1870s, winning the first Triple Crown in baseball history in 1878 and winning the batting championship again in 1879. He ranks well above the average Hall of Famer on the Gray Ink Test and a bit above average on the Black Ink Test. He played 20 years in the major leagues, with an OPS+ that exceeded 140 in eight different seasons.
He is given credit for 13 "firsts" in the major leagues, including the first unassisted triple play, though this is not the commonly accepted version of what transpired. Both Jack Manning (one of the players retired) and Jim O'Rourke reported that Hines had an unassisted double play, making the catch and touching third to force Manning before throwing to second to retire Ezra Sutton. Some present said Sutton had passed third and was out when Hines reached the base, but this is the minority version.
One of his other firsts, the first Triple Crown, was unknown for a spell, as he was listed for years as the runner-up in the 1878 NL batting race.
He was a regular on the first National League pennant winner, the 1876 Chicago White Stockings who won the pennant with a record of 52-14. He was with the Providence Grays from 1878-1885, and they were contenders most of those years, winning the pennant in 1879 and 1884. He was the only player to be with the Grays every year they were a major league team. He finished out his career in 1891 in the American Association, in the last year that it existed.
He was one of the youngest players in the league when he made his debut, and he was one of the oldest players in the league in his last major league season. He continued to play ball after he left the majors, finishing in 1896.
Hines was the regular center fielder for his teams for many years, playing 1,303 games at the position. He was famous for spectacular running catches, and one source says he wore sunglasses. He occasionally came into the infield to play first base or second base.
In 1885, it was reported that Hines had accepted the challenge to catch a ball dropped from the top of the Washington Monument but this was canceled a week later.
Hines was known for his attraction to the ladies and one newspaper clipping from 1890 states that "many of the girls are badly 'gone' on his shape" and when he wore a tightly-fitting shirt, it "would have brought a blush to the face of many a fair maid, well accustomed as she might be to the exposure of a decollette costume."
After baseball he worked for the Post Office of the Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC. In 1922, he was arrested, at the age of 65, for three charges of pickpocketing. When the police searched his home, they found purses, pocketbooks and 25 pairs of glasses. He was a popular man in Washington and had friends in the police department as well as a reputation that "has always been of the highest" as per the Washington Star. His obituary later said that "A cleaner, more upright player never set foot on a bag."
Hall of Fame case
Why, then, isn't he in the Hall of Fame? It's frequently been charged that the Hall of Fame has stiffed worthy players from the 1870s. The key reason may be that teams in the 1870s played fewer games, and thus Hines did not accumulate 3000 hits or some of the other counting stats that Hall of Fame voters tend to look at. As late as 1883, when Hines was in his 12th major league season, he appeared in only 97 games because his team played only 98. However, when he retired in 1891 with 7,062 lifetime at-bats in the majors, the all-time leader was Cap Anson with only a few more at 7,680.
One source: 19th Century Player Paul Hines.
- 2-Time NL Batting Average Leader (1878 & 1879)
- NL On-Base Percentage Leader (1878)
- NL Slugging Percentage Leader (1878)
- NL At-Bats Leader (1879)
- NL Hits Leader (1879)
- 2-Time NL Total Bases Leader (1878 & 1879)
- 3-Time NL Doubles Leader (1876, 1881 & 1884)
- NL Home Runs Leader (1878)
- NL RBI Leader (1878)
- Tony Salin: Baseball's Forgotten Heroes, Masters Press, Chicago, 1999, pp. 81-88.