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Hugh Duffy

Position: Outfielder
Teams: Chicago White Stockings, 1888-1889; Chicago Pirates, 1890; Boston Reds, 1891; Boston Beaneaters, 1892-1900; Milwaukee Brewers, 1901; Philadelphia Phillies, 1904-1906
Manager: Milwaukee Brewers, 1901; Philadelphia Phillies, 1904-1906; Chicago White Sox, 1910-1911; Boston Red Sox, 1921-1922
Managerial Record: 535-671

Hugh Duffy
Hugh Duffy was one of 19th-century
baseball's greatest hitters.

For years, Hugh Duffy was listed in the record books as the player with the highest single-season batting average in major-league history (a .438 mark in 1894). A reexamination of that season’s box scores recently divulged that the record books may have been wrong all this time. Duffy may have actually hit .440 in 1894.

On the other hand, a similar reassessment altered Duffy’s career batting average from .330 to .324, and most of his other career totals have also suffered a reduction. Even after the modification of his achievements, however, Duffy remains one of the outstanding hitters of the 19th century.

Hugh Duffy (1866-1954) began his major-league career with the Chicago White Stockings in 1888. Standing 5'7" and slim, Duffy was mistaken at first by Chicago manager Cap Anson for a batboy.

Unwilling to believe any outfielder so small could cut it with his heavy-hitting team, Anson kept Duffy on the bench for several weeks until regular right fielder Billy Sunday, later a famous evangelist, was traded to Pittsburgh. Given his chance, Duffy quickly showed he belonged in top company. By the end of the season, Duffy was stationed at the more demanding center field spot.

After a solid season in 1889, Duffy jumped to the Players League the following year and led the rebel loop in both hits and runs. Rather than return to the White Stockings when the circuit folded, Duffy signed on with the Boston Reds of the American Association. In his first year in the Hub, Duffy won his first pennant.

The following year, the American Association combined with the National League to form a 12-team circuit, and Duffy, a free agent, signed with the defending National League-champion Beaneaters. Also joining the Beaneaters in 1892 was right fielder Tommy McCarthy. The two Irish fly chasers were quickly embraced by Boston fans for their heady play and became known as the “Heavenly Twins.”

Boston won pennants in each of the first two seasons the pair played together, then gave way to a newly emerging dynasty in Baltimore. When the Orioles grabbed the 1894 flag and repeated the next year, the Heavenly Twins were split up; McCarthy was sent to Brooklyn to make room for Billy Hamilton, who had been acquired from Philadelphia.

Duffy remained with the Beaneaters throughout the 1900 season. He then became player-manager with the Milwaukee Brewers of the reorganized American League. He stayed on in Milwaukee after the franchise joined the minor Western League. Duffy was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1945.

Here are Hugh Duffy’s major league totals:

.324 1,736 7,043 1,551 2,283324
116 105 1,299 583

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