Next up in my “Founders” 1976 celebration of the 100th season of Major League baseball is the very first batting champ in league history, Ross Barnes. Check it out:
Barnes was a hitting machine during his short 9-year career between 1871 and 1881.
During his playing days in the National Association with Boston between
1871 and 1875, he put up about as gaudy a set of numbers you’ll ever
In 1873 he scored 125 runs while leading the league with a .431 average. And keep in mind that run total was in just 60 games!
Obviously the game being what it was back then we take these stats with a
grain of salt, but in 1876, the Majors’ inaugural season, Barnes paced
the circuit with a .429 average while also leading in runs (126), hits
(138) doubles (21) triples (14), on-base-percentage (.462) and slugging
Retiring from the game at a young 31 years of age, he finished with a
.360 lifetime average, with 698 runs scored in just 499 games and 2391
It’s also worth noting that Barnes played a key role in certain rules being adopted that we use to this day.
For example back then, if a batter struck a ball that chopped fair, then
bounced off the diamond BEFORE reaching a base, it was still considered
Now, Barnes was a MASTER at doing so, frequently chopping down at the
pitch and bouncing the ball off the field before it reached a base.
This led to the league establishing that a batted ball MUST bounce fair
until AFTER a base to be considered in play instead of foul, a rule in
place to this very day.