Sunday, January 31, 2016

MAJOR LEAGUE FOUNDERS: ROSS BARNES 1876-1976

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 see.
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 (.590).
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 at-bats.
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 fair.
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.

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