May 31, 2013
Jacoby Ellsbury made an ass out of the Phillies last night, swiping five bags, and in the process setting a team record. It was also the most the Phillies have ever given up to one player in a game. But there is a Phillie who has done even better, and a member of the Philadelphia A’s who did better twice in a two week time frame!
One of the all-time great Phillies is Billy Hamilton, a member of the 1894 Phillies outfield that had 3 players (Hamilton, Ed Delahantey, and Sam Thompson) each hit over .400, and yet still finished 3rd in the NL.
On August 31, 1894, the Phils took on the hapless Washington Senators, on their way to a 11th place finish. Bill Wynne took the hill for his first (and last) Major League start. Behind the plate was back-up catcher Dan Dugdale. Hamilton made their lives a living hell, taking advantage of the inexperienced pitcher and a catcher whose career would be over a month later, and swiped seven bases (2nd base four times and 3rd base three times), still tied for an MLB record. The Phils won easily, 11-5. It was hardly an anomaly, as Hamilton would steal 100 on the season, leading the league. He would finish his career with 914 stolen bases, still good for 3rd all time after Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock. He’d end his career with a .344 batting average as well, and be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1961. His 7 steals in a game tie him with George Gore of the Chicago White Stockings, who did it in 1881.
Only 4 different players have stolen 6 bases in a game. Carl Crawford did it in 2009, Eric Young did it in 1996, and Otis Nixon did it in 1991. But remarkably, Philadelphia A’s superstar Eddie “Cocky” Collins did it twice…in 12 days! The first time was on September 11th, 1912, against the Detroit Tigers. On September 22nd, he did it again, this time against the Red Sox. He’d finish the season with 63 steals. Despite being the greatest 2nd baseman in Philadelphia baseball history, these days Collins is probably better known as the “honest” guy on the 1919 Black Sox.