William Oliver Gilbert
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 4", Weight 153 lb.
- Debut April 25, 1901
- Final Game June 27, 1909
- Born June 21, 1876 in Tullytown, PA USA
- Died August 8, 1927 in New York, NY USA
Billy Gilbert was in the new American League in 1901 and 1902, 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 starting pitchers, Christy Mathewson and Iron Man McGinnity.
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 Baltimore Orioles (1901-1902) in 1902, 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 McGraw's New York Giants. The 1903 Giants finished second in the National League and Billy played alongside such players 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.
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 and 1909 with the Cardinals. It was a very different experience from the Giants, with the Cardinals losing around 100 games both seasons. 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 and 1911 with Erie (Ohio-Pennsylvania League), 1912 Erie (Central League), 1913 Erie (Interstate league), 1921-1922 Waterbury (Eastern League), 1923 Denver (Western league) and 1924 Pittsfield (Eastern League). He was a minor league manager for a total of eight years.
While not a strong hitter, Billy sometimes was among league leaders. From 1902-1904 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.