Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Jimmy Collins

Position: Third baseman
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.

Hall of Famer Jimmy Collins
Jimmy Collins was far and away
the best third baseman of his era,
and a winning manager as well.

Those who witnessed James Joseph Collins (1870-1943) play claimed he was without even a close rival. The first to charge bunts and play them barehanded, he also could range equally well toward the line or into the shortstop's territory to his left. Playing for the Boston Beaneaters in 1899, he accepted a record 629 chances. The following year, he set a 20th-Century mark when he accumulated 252 putouts.

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:


See more information on the Baseball Hall of Fame:

See the players in the Baseball Hall of Fame by position:

Second Basemen
First Basemen
Third Basemen

See the members of the Baseball Hall of Fame by team:

Atlanta Braves
Cincinnati Reds Milwaukee Brewers Philadelphia Phillies Seattle Mariners
Anaheim Angels Cleveland Indians Minnesota Twins Pittsburgh Pirates Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Baltimore Orioles
Detroit Tigers
Montreal Expos
St. Louis Browns Texas Rangers
Boston Red Sox
Houston Astros
New York Mets
St. Louis Cardinals Toronto Blue Jays
Chicago CubsKansas City Royals

New York Yankees

San Diego Padres Washington Senators
Chicago White SoxLos Angeles DodgersOakland A's
San Francisco Giants