Sunday, January 31, 2016


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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