Charlie Hickman

From BR Bullpen

1903 E107 (RC)

Charles Taylor Hickman
(Piano Legs or Cheerful Charlie)

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Biographical Information[edit]

"Piano Legs is one of the best-liked players in the game, without an enemy in either league . . ." - from the Sporting Life issue of February 12, 1910

Charlie "Piano Legs" Hickman played 12 years in the major leagues, recording some fine offensive statistics and some less admirable defensive ones. A multi-position infielder/outfielder, Charlie also pitched 30 games with a record of 10-8.

An early slugger, Hickman approached a triple crown in 1902, placing second in the American League in home runs (11) and RBI (110), and third in BA (.363). The same year he was the first player to lead a league in hits while playing for two teams (Boston and Cleveland) with 193. Earlier that season he Nap Lajoie and Bill Bradley became the first trio to hit consecutive home runs in this century, clubbing back-to-back-to-back round-trippers on June 30th.

Though the statistic is a modern creation which had no bearing on player performance or evaluation during his day, when putting balls in play was the fashion and walks were not revered as they have become today, Hickman posted a highly respectable 132 OPS+. This puts him in the company of Hall of Famers Al Simmons and Tony Gwynn, 1950s-1960s slugger Rocky Colavito, and standout contemporary outfielder Fred Clarke.

With the New York Giants in 1900, he set a National League record for errors by a third baseman with 91, after which he was usually stationed in the outfield or at first base.

Although a top player, Hickman never stayed too long with any one major league team. His longest stint was with Cleveland during part of 1902, all of 1903 and part of 1904. Toward the end of his career he played parts of four seasons in the minors with the Toledo Mud Hens during 1908-1911.

Charlie's most common position in the majors was first base, where he played 394 games. He also played 242 in right field, 152 at second base, 140 at third base and lesser numbers at left field, shortstop, pitcher and center field. He also worked one American League game as an umpire in 1907.

He appeared on his first Baseball Card in the rare 1903 E107 Breisch Williams set.

His nickname described his massive limbs which supported his 5'9" 215-lb frame. (ME) It was a nickname previously bestowed on George Gore, whose career ended a few years before Hickman's started. He was considered a slow runner although he stole 72 bases in his major league career.

Hickman was the baseball coach at West Virginia University in 1913 and 1915-1917. He had attended the school in 1895-1897 and remains through 2009 the player out of WVU with the most major league at-bats (Paul Popovich is a distant second).

According to the SABR biography of Hickman, much of his post-baseball career involved politics in Morgantown, WV. He served as city recorder and mayor, and also as county sheriff and captain of operations in the local office of the Department of Justice. Some sources list his birth date as May 4th, but that is the result of an old typo that was reproduced over the years.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • AL Hits Leader (1902)
  • AL Total Bases Leader (1902)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (1902)

Related Sites[edit]