Friday, September 03, 2010
120 years ago today: the first 100-HR hitterPosted by Chris Jaffe
On Sept. 3, 1890, a bit of baseball history was made: the 100-homer club, currently 754 members strong, came into existence as the first player to ever crack triple digits knocked one out of the park.
I'd love to say it's a famous name everyone's heard of, but that's not the case. It was Harry Stovey. See? You never heard of him, did you?
He was a heckuva player. He led the league in homers five times, which ain't bad. In one of those seasons, he tied the all-time single season HR high in the long-defunct American Association with 19. (The current minor league of that name is a different league that emerged later). Stovey was also the all-time career home run king before Roger Connor, who was the all-time HR king before Ruth. Stovey nearly became the only man to lead three leagues in homers. He paced the NL twice and the American Association thrice, and finished two behind Players Leaguer Connor in 1890.
Yet despite all that, he's not in Cooperstown. Not only did he peak a half-century before the Hall of Fame's creation, but he did so in the wrong league. Though the American Association was a major league from 1882-91, it was the second of the two major leagues. No one who spent most of his career in that league has been enshrined in Cooperstown. Stovey has to settle for enshrinement in the Hall of Merit.
For a modern spin, three active players are sitting on 99 homers: Jack Cust, Garrett Atkins and Jeff Francoeur. If one of them goes deep today, he'll have a rather well timed 100th.
History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail. Oh, and now he's on twitter.