Yesterday’s batter Jackie Tavener, while spectacular on September 12, was sadly a tragic figure. So it’s time for a true Baseball Hero.
- Question: We know that Hank Aaron broke The Babe’s career home run record with number 715 on April 8th 1974, but who did Babe Ruth eclipse? Roger Conner.
Who was Roger Connor? He was the 19th Century’s first true home run king, and one of the original Giants of New York. At 6-3 and 220 pounds, his size and baseball skills and tremendous hitting are the source of the renaming the NY Gothams to NY Giants. He was New York’s First Baseball Superstar.
Called the Gentleman of the Diamond, the left-handed batting Roger Connor was baseball’s first home run hero. He was chosen to be the historical batter of the day for much of his hitting heroics in the second week of September.
He played for 18 years as baseball’s premier power hitter during the evolutionary period of pitching when the mound distance was moved back and pitchers threw overhand. He was Baseball Home ruling run king from 1895 to the 1920 season with 138. And also the ruling Triples King from 1888 to 1904 and career triples hitter 233. He hit over .300 in a dozen seasons while holding the 19th Century record of hitting 10 or more home runs seven times, and was the only player to receive over 1000 bases on balls. Yet despite all these achievements, he was not elected to the Hall of Fame until 1976 by the Veterans Committee.
His only full-length biography, “Roger Connor: Home Run King of 19th Century Baseball” by Roy Kerr was published on September 9th, coincidentally
On September 10, 1881 Connor hit the first grand slam walk-off home run, with two – out of course. His Troy Trojans defeated the Worchester Ruby Legs 8-7.
The four day stretch of September 12 to 15, Connor lead the Giants to 3 wins in four games; hit three home runs and two doubles while batting .500 (8 for 16). The Sporting Life of September 12, 1887 reported, “Connor carried off the batting honors for his club by making two doubles and a home run.” Below are two of the box scores from the games he hit home runs. This was during a road trip that took the Giants to the Midwest, first to Indianapolis and then Chicago to play the Cubs.
The game in Chicago was a wild one. The Giants batting out of order was caught by Cap Anson and brought to the Umpires attention. As a result the Giants lost a home run. This game might have been be the first time a Chicago player would call out a questionable error by a Giants player but definitely not the last.
Baseball Hall of Fame, http://baseballhall.org/hof/connor-roger
SABR Bio Project by Bill Lamb. http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/4ef2cfff#_ednref23
Sporting Life Volume 9 Number 24 September 21, 1887.
Kerr, Roy, Roger Connor: Home Run King of 19th Century Baseball, McFarland (2011).
Seamheads.com. Roger Connor the Original Giant