James Henry O’Rourke was one of baseball’s earliest stars, making his debut with the National Association Middletown Mansfields in 1872. The following year he would move to Boston, first with the NA Red Stockings before moving to the National League Red Caps in 1876. He led the league in home runs three times (with whopping Dead Ball totals of 5 in 1874, 6 in 1875 and 6 in 1880). Like many early players, his lifetime statistics are adversely effected by the irregular schedules of the pre-20th century game. It was not until 1884, his eleventh year of play, that he appeared in more than 100 games. He hit better than .300 thirteen times and retired with a lifetime average of .310. Despite only appearing in 1999 games lifetime, he recorded 2639 hits in his 23 years of play, including time at the end of his career with the New York Giants and Washington Senators.
O’Rourke retired as a full time player in 1893 but played in a single game for John McGraw’s Giants in 1904, going 1 for 4 with a run scored, and catching the entire game, at the age of 54.
September 21, 2010