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Honus Wagner Photo   Honus Wagner
"Things were changing fast by that time, women were beginning to come to the ball parks. We had to stop cussing. "

Full Name: John Peter Wagner
Nickname: The Flying Dutchman
Physique: 5' 11", 127 lbs
Right-Handed Hitter
Born: Feb 24, 1874, Chartiers, PA
Died: Dec 6, 1955  (81 years old)
Ranking: #24 All-time ( #23    All    #25 )
career average

3,415 hits

Pittsburgh Pirates
1897 - 1917

Hall of Fame: 1936

He was born in the Pittsburgh suburb of Mansfield (now Carnegie), Pennsylvania. In a career that spanned 21 seasons (1897-1917), he led the National League in batting average eight times, and in RBI and stolen bases five times each.

Wagner's speed, both on the basepaths and in the field, combined with his considerable size, earned him the nickname "The Flying Dutchman", a reference to a legendary "ghost ship" of the same name. In those very much ethnic-aware days, the term "Dutch" equated to "German", and the newspapers frequently tagged Wagner with Teutonic versions of his first name, such as "Hans" or "Hannes", the latter being short for "Johannes" and written down as "Honus".

After a short stint in the minor leagues starting in 1895, Wagner began his major league career with the Louisville Colonels of the National League, playing with them for three seasons. Louisville was one of four National League teams contracted out of existence in 1900, and the remnant of the Louisville team was merged with the Pittsburgh Pirates, catapulting the team into contention, including participation in the first World Series in 1903. After the 1899-1900 merger, Wagner played 18 more seasons, all with the Pirates, winning a World Series title with them in 1909.

His broad range of skills earned him the high praise of his peers, and in 1936 he was among the first five individuals ever inducted to membership in the Baseball Hall of Fame, in the select company of Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, and Babe Ruth. He won the National League batting title eight times. He retired from baseball in 1917 as the National League record holder in career hits, doubles, triples, runs, RBI, stolen bases, and games played. His lifetime batting average was .329. In 1999, even though he had played his last game 82 years earlier, he was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, as one of three shortstops, with Ernie Banks and Cal Ripken, Jr. The same year, The Sporting News placed him at number 13, and the highest-ranking shortstop, on their list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players.

Famous baseball manager (and contemporary of Wagner's) John McGraw spoke for many when he said of Wagner that "while he was the greatest shortstop, I believe he could have been the number one player at any position he might have selected. That's why I vote him baseball's foremost all-time player." Similarly, in his section of the book, The Glory of Their Times, Ty Cobb's own teammate Sam Crawford rated Wagner, not Cobb, the best player he ever saw, and certainly far superior on the personal level.

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