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Billy Hamilton

A photo of Billy Hamilton.

William Robert "Sliding Billy" Hamilton (b. February 15, 1866, d. December 15, 1940 was a 19th century Major League Baseball player. He holds a number of offensive records that still stand today and is regarded as one of the greatest 19th century baseball players He was selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame (with Max Carey) in 1961.

Born in Newark, New Jersey, "Sliding Billy" Hamilton broke into the Majors in the American Association with the Kansas City Cowboys in 1888 and established himself as a star the following season by batting .301 with 144 runs and 111 stolen bases.

Hamilton joined the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League in 1890 and continued his trend-setting ways over the following six years, averaging 146 runs and 92 stolen bases a season while hitting as high as .404 (in 1894). Hamilton was part of one of the greatest hitting outfields and teams of all-time. He, along with Sam Thompson, Ed Delahanty and Tuck Turner, all hit over .400 for the season. In 1896, he moved to the Boston Beaneaters, for whom he played his final six seasons. Although his numbers declined, Hamilton still scored over 100 runs in all but two of those seasons. He holds the major league record for runs scored in a season, scoring 198 runs in 1894.

Hamilton retired after the 1901 season. Over his career he compiled 912 stolen bases, a .344 batting average and 1690 runs in 1591 games; he is one of only 3 players to average more than one run per game played (the others are Harry Stovey and George Gore) His .455 career on base percentage is ranked 4th all time behind Ted Williams, Babe Ruth and John McGraw, and his 912 stolen bases rank 3rd behind Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock. When Brock was in his last year, Hamilton's total was then listed as 937, and Brock reached 938 (SABR research later changed his total to 912). He also holds the record for most stolen bases in one game, with seven, set August 31, 1894.

Baseball Hall of Fame
Billy Hamilton
is a member of
the Baseball
Hall of Fame

Hamilton was selected for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1961 (belatedly, many felt) along with fellow-basestealing champion Max Carey. He was the first New Jersey native so honored, and remains the only one from the northern part of the State, although Alabama-born Monte Irvin grew up in East Orange and South Carolina-born Larry Doby grew up in Paterson, New Jersey. Hamilton died in 1940.


  • Selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame (1961)
  • 3rd all time for stolen bases in a career (912)
  • Led the Major Leagues in stolen bases (1889-91, 1894, 1895)
  • Led the National League in batting average (1891, with .340)
  • Led the National League in runs scored (1891, with 141)
  • Led the National League in hits (1891, with 179)
  • Led the National League for times on base (1891)
  • Led the Major Leagues in batting average (1893, with .380)
  • Led the Major Leagues in runs scored (1894-95, 1897)
  • Led the Major Leagues for times on base (1894, 1896-97)
  • Set record for runs scored with 198 in 1894.

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Preceded by:
Jack Glasscock
National League Batting Champion
Succeeded by:
Dan Brouthers
Preceded by:
Dan Brouthers
National League Batting Champion
Succeeded by:
Hugh Duffy