Ed Delahanty

Position: Outfielder
: Philadelphia Quakers (Phillies), 1888-1889, 1891-1901; Cleveland Infants, 1890; Washington Nationals, 1902-1903

Ed Delahanty
Ed Delahanty is famous both for his
hitting record and his tragic life story.

Some analysts consider Ed Delahanty to be the greatest right-handed hitter of all time. The most famous and eldest of the only family to produce five brothers who became major-league players, Ed batted over .400 three times and took batting titles in both the National League and American League (the only player to accomplish the feat). Yet with the sole exception of Lou Gehrig, Delahanty is baseball's most tragic figure.

Born in Cleveland, Edward James Delahanty (1867-1903) broke in with the Philadelphia Phillies as a second baseman in 1888. He put in four seasons before he first topped the .300 mark. After batting .306 in 1892, however, he never again hit below .323.

Called “Big Ed” more for his strength than his size, Delahanty played for the Phillies all but one of his first 14 seasons. He joined the Players League in 1890 with the Cleveland Infants.

Returning to the National League in 1891, Delahanty found the Phillies considerably improved. With Big Ed in left field, the club had the strongest hitting attack in the game for the next four years. Despite a team batting average that soared to an all-time record high .349 in 1894, however, the Phils could never rise above third place.

During the 19th century’s last decade, Delahanty led the NL in almost every major hitting department at least once. In 1899, while rapping .410 and also pacing the loop in hits and RBI, Delahanty ripped 55 doubles, a major-league record that stood until 1923.

In 1901, Delahanty and Nap Lajoie, the Phillies’ two biggest stars, both jumped to the new circuit; Delahanty went to Washington. Washington was a poor team, however, and Delahanty longed to play on a pennant winner.

Before the 1903 season he struck a bargain with John McGraw to join the New York Giants, but a peace settlement between the two leagues froze all players with their old teams. Stuck in Washington, owing McGraw money he had been advanced and experiencing marital trouble, Delahanty grew despondent and began drinking heavily.

On the night of July 2, 1903, he was ejected from a train that was about to cross the International Bridge over Niagara Falls. Drunk and frustrated, he set off in pursuit of the locomotive but had difficulty negotiating the railway ties. He tumbled through the ties and plunged to his death into the Niagara River. His body was not found for days. In 1945, Delahanty was named to the Hall of Fame.

Here are Ed Delahanty's major league totals:

.346 1,835 7,509 1,601 2,597 520 183 100 1,464 455

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