|Adrian (Cap) Anson
Born: April 11, 1852 (Marshalltown, Iowa)
ML Debut: May 6, 1871
Final Game: October 3, 1897
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Hall of Fame: 1939 (Veterans Committee)
Played for Rockford Forest Citys (1871), Philadelphia Athletics (1872-1875), Chicago White Stockings/Colts (1876-1897).
Managed Philadelphia Athletics (1875), Chicago White Stockings/Colts (1879-1897), New York Giants (1898).
For most of the 27 years that Cap Anson played baseball he was first baseman for the Chicago White Stockings (Colts). During 20 of those seasons he batted over .200, and collected over 3,000 hits.* When retired he held the records for games played, at bats, hits, doubles, and runs. Charles Comiskey said of him: "He was the greatest batter that ever walked up to hit a baseball .... I played against him, and I know." His best season was 1881 when he led the league in batting (.399), hits (137), total bases (175), RBIs (82), OBP (.442), and OPS (.952). He was the first player to hit three consecutive home runs, five homers in two consecutive games, four doubles in a game, and perform two unassisted double plays in a game. He scored six runs in a game played August 24, 1886.
After a year at Notre Dame, Anson started playing for Rockford in the National Association (NA), then spent four years with the Philadelphia Athletics. During his five years in the NA he batted .350 four times. He was one of the players Chicago White Stockings President William Hulbert negotiated with during the 1875 season, which violated NA rules and, ultimately, led Hulbert to found the National League. Anson was named captain-manager of the White Stockings in 1879 and Chicago went on to win pennants in 1880, 1881, 1882, 1885 and 1886.
In 1888 he signed a 10-year contract to manage the White Stockings/Colts. He was fired after the 1897 season, having failed to win another pennant. In 1898 the Colts called themselves the Orphans to reflect Anson's departure. That year Anson briefly managed the New York Giants (in June and July), then retired. He was made president of the short-lived American Association, became city clerk of Chicago in 1905, and in later years did a stint in vaudeville. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1939. Though a century has passed since Anson played, he still holds several Chicago Cubs franchise records, including runs and career hits.
Anson is credited with developing such tactics as the "hit and run" and pitcher rotation. He and Chicago President Al Spalding were innovators in taking players to points south for spring training. Despite being a proponent of segregated baseball and having a combative personality on the field, Anson excelled as an ambassador of the game both at home and abroad, making baseball a more popular sport.
-- Jason Manning
Won two batting titles (1881, 1888)
Led the league in RBIs seven times (1880-82, 1884-86, 1888)
Finished career with a .333 batting average, 7th all-time, and 2,076 RBI, 3rd all-time
"Cap seemingly swallowed from a fountain of youth, and at times it looked as though he would go on forever."
-- Fred Lieb (sportswriter)
* "There is much controversy as to whether he became the first player ever to make 3,000 hits in a major league career; for many years, recognized statistics credited him with precisely that total, but researchers in the 1990s argued that he was incorrectly credited with 20 extra hits in 1879, dropping him to 2,995 according to statistics officially recognized by Major League Baseball. However, if one counts his 423 earlier hits in the NA, the major leagues' predecessor (which Major League Baseball does not) he is well over the mark. He was, by any standard, the first player to make 3,000 hits in his professional career."
"When he retired, [Anson] would take with him statistics providing a strong case for his qualification as not only the greatest player of the last century but of all time. Playing his prime years in a period when the season schedule called for less than 100 games, Anson still managed to accumulate over 3,000 hits and 1,700 RBIs. Projecting his career totals over the 154-game schedule that did not come into existence until after he retired would bring him within easy range of almost every major batting record."
-- David Nemec
The Ulitimate Baseball Book