Wee Willie Keeler had a nineteen-year career and for the first fifteen of those years he hit better than .300. The ultimate place hitter, in a career that brought 2932 base hits, only 419 of those were for extra bases. Briefly playing for the New York Giants and Brooklyn Grooms in 1892 and 1893, he established himself with the National League Baltimore Orioles in 1894. He hit better than .370 six seasons in a row, including a league leading .424 in 1897 and .385 in 1898. He had more than 200 hits eight seasons in a row. In 1899 he moved to the Brooklyn Superbas where he led the league in runs. He was an original New York Highlander in 1903, where he played seven more seasons, although the last three marked the first time in his career he hit below .300. He finished his career, and whirlwind tour of New York ball clubs, with a final season alongside his old Oriole teammate John McGraw in 1910.
History states that Keeler uttered his famous “Hit ‘em where they ain’t,” to Abe Yager, sportswriter for the Brooklyn Eagle, but the original source for that story has never been found.
August 18, 2010