Position: First baseman
Teams: Troy Trojans, 1880-1882; New York Giants 1883-1889, 1891, 1893-1994; New York Giants (PL), 1890; Philadelphia Phillies, 1892; St. Louis Browns, 1894-1897
Manager: St. Louis Browns, 1896
Managerial Record: 8-37
Roger Connor was the only player
before 1900 to collect more than
Born of Irish parentage in Connecticut, Roger Connor (1857-1931) started his baseball career as a left-handed third baseman with the local team in 1876.
Three years later, while playing for Holyoke, Massachusetts, Connor caught the eye of Bob Ferguson, the manager of a rival team in Springfield. When named manager of the National League’s Troy Trojans, Ferguson signed both Connor and Mickey Welch, a pitcher on the Holyoke team.
Still a third baseman, Connor might have been the earliest to play that position for his entire career and subsequently make the Hall of Fame were it not for an injury. A dislocated shoulder necessitated his move to first base, and there he stayed for most of his 17 remaining seasons in the majors.
Connor was one of the game’s first noteworthy sluggers. Early in his career, though, the mark of a long-ball hitter was not the number of home runs he tallied but rather his other extra-base-hit totals (triples in particular).
Connor’s 233 career triples are fifth on the all-time list and first among players active solely in the 19th century. He was also the only player before 1900 to collect more than 1,000 walks. In addition, his 136 home runs stood as the career record until Babe Ruth surpassed the mark in 1921.
The neglect into which Connor’s reputation fell after his retirement in 1897 is puzzling. Not only are his career totals in almost every major batting department among the highest of any player in the 19th century, but he spent his prime years with the New York Giants, a team that was always in the limelight. Moreover, the Giants won two pennants during his tenure and were contenders on several other occasions.
Traded to the lowly St. Louis Browns early in the 1894 season, Connor played parts of four seasons there before departing the majors to extend his career in the minors. Flashing a new pair of glasses, he served as owner, manager, and first baseman of the Waterbury team in the Connecticut League in 1898. The loop’s batting leader, he remained its most renowned player until his retirement in 1903.
He withdrew more from the public eye with each passing year until his death in 1931. Until Hank Aaron’s pursuit of Babe Ruth’s career home run record made historians wonder whose record Ruth had broken, Connor was largely forgotten. In 1976, Connor was at long last selected for the Hall of Fame.
Here are Roger Connor's major league totals:
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