Position: Third baseman
Teams: Boston Beaneaters, 1895, 1896-1900; Louisville Colonels, 1895; Boston Somersets (Pilgrims, Red Sox), 1901-1907; Philadelphia Athletics, 1907-1908
Manager: Boston Somersets (Pilgrims, Red Sox), 1901-1906
Managerial record: 455-376
By 1908, the year that Home Run Baker made his debut with the Philadelphia Athletics, major-league baseball had existed for 36 seasons. Only one third baseman who played before Baker, however, is in the Hall of Fame. Simply put, Jimmy Collins was the most outstanding third sacker in the 19th Century.
Jimmy Collins was far and away
the best third baseman of his era,
and a winning manager as well.
Adding more weight to his heavy credentials, Collins was also a productive hitter (pacing the National League in home runs in 1898) and a fine manager.
He piloted the Boston Pilgrims to the championship in the first modern World Series in 1903, then garnered a second pennant the following year. He was denied a chance for another world title, though, when the 1904 NL-champion New York Giants refused a postseason match.
Collins was anything but an immediate success in baseball. Already past age 25 when he reached the majors with the Beaneaters in 1895, Jimmy was judged by manager Frank Selee to be in need of polishing.
Boston thereupon loaned Collins to the last-place Louisville Colonels, a maneuver that was done occasionally at the time when a player on a contending team needed further seasoning. Recalled to Boston in 1896, Collins held down the hot corner for the Beaneaters for five seasons.
To the dismay of owner Arthur Soden, Collins then grabbed an offer from Charles Somers, the magnate of the Boston team in the newly revamped American League. The theft of Collins caused Somers' club to be called the Invaders initially.
Installed as the manager and third baseman of the new Hub entry, Collins surrendered the former post late in the 1906 season when it became obvious that his charges were doomed to last place. The following year, Collins began spring training to play under new manager Chick Stahl, a former teammate. Stahl, Collins' roommate, committed suicide on March 28, 1907.
Two months later, the BoSox traded Collins to the Athletics. Hitting just .217 in 1908, his second and last season with Philadelphia, he was released. His replacement was Baker, the only time in history that one future Hall of Fame third baseman was succeeded by another. Collins was selected for the Hall of Fame in 1945.
Here are Jimmy Collins' major league totals:
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