This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com
Over the last 120 years of professional baseball where statistics have been recorded, Paul Hines remains high among important lists of offensive numbers. For one, only 199 players in history have collected more hits than Hines’ 2,133. Some notable players that fall short of Hines on the hits ladder include Dale Murphy, Ellis Burks, Paul O’Neill, and at least until some time in late August, Albert Pujols.
Though not a Hall of Famer, Paul Hines left an indelible impression on major league baseball that remains all these years later. Hines was born on March 1st, 1855, a full six years before the Civil War broke out. He first played professional ball with the Washington Nationals in the National Association in 1872, a team that actually lost all eleven games they played before folding. Hines played four seasons in the National Association before moving on to the National League, where he had his most success as a member of the Providence Grays.
In a May 1947 issue of Baseball Digest, Guy M. Smith describes how “The Hines Play” inaccurately credited Paul Hines with the first unassisted triple play. Click here to check it out!
Between 1878 – 1884 Paul Hines maintained a .315 average, including leading the league in average twice. Though not recognized at the time, Hines has been considered the first winner of the Triple Crown in 1878 with 4 home runs, 50 RBIs, and a .358 average. After his time with the Grays, Hines played with 6 more teams, twice returning to the Washington D.C. area to play for some variation of the Washington Nationals.
Most impressive about Hines’ career is the length of time his numbers remained among the best. At retirement, he ranked third all time in the National League with 1,823 NL hits. His 16 seasons as a center fielder was not surpassed until Tris Speaker and Ty Cobb more than three decades later.
Paul Hines arguably ranks among the top 200 to play the game, when you consider the various offensive categories where he ranks all-time. Batting Average(184th), Runs Scored(160th),Hits(200th),Singles(153rd), and Doubles(165th). Part of his success can be attributed to a few great players he played alongside. With the Providence Grays, Hall of Famer Old Ross Radbourn played alongside Hines. With the Chicago White Stockings in 1876, Hines played with Hall of Famer Cap Anson.
Though Albert Pujols and other modern day players will continue to knock Paul Hines down the list of greats, it’ll be another hundred years before the pre-Civil War born player is long forgotten.
Also Born On This Day:
Ramon Castro(b. 1974) is a 12 year major league veteran, primarily playing catcher. He has played with four teams, most recently with the Chicago White Sox. He was drafted in the first round of the 1994 amateur draft, becoming the first Puerto Rican native to be taken in the first round. His 63 career home runs are more than any other player born on March 1st.
Mark Gardner(b. 1962) is a retired major leaguer after playing 13 seasons in the big leagues, the last half with the San Francisco Giants. His 99 career wins leads players born on March 1st. In July 1991, Gardner lost a no hitter when he allowed a hit in the 10th inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.