Billy Hamilton made an inauspicious debut with the American Association Kansas City Cowboys in 1888, batting .264 in 35 games. It would be the last time he would hit below .300 until his final season in 1901. Hamilton had incredible speed, leading the league in steals five times and runs four times. He led the league in batting average twice, in 1891 and 1893 as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. Hamilton was the all-time leader in stolen bases for eighty years, until Lou Brock broke his record in 1978. His lifetime average of .344 is tied for seventh all-time, alongside Ted Williams. Hamilton is one of only two players in the history of baseball to have more runs scored than games played.
Hamilton’s single season record of 198 runs scored is now 119 years old and will likely never be broken. The closest any 20th century player has ever come to challenging that record was Babe Ruth, who scored 177 in 1921.
July 21, 2011