Joe Battin Essentials

Bats: R Throws: R
Weight: 169
Born: 11 11, 1853 in West Bradford, PA USA
Died: 12 10 1937 in Akron, OH USA
Debut: 1871-08-11
Last Game: 1890-05-28
Full Name: Joseph V. Battin


Noted for his good looks and ebullient personality, Joe Battin—who is presumably not Zac Efron’s great-grandfather—was among the most popular and respected of 19th-century ballplayers. Following the 1877 season, the 23-year-old’s sixth in the majors, the Memphis Daily Appeal gushed: “He [Battin] is an excellent batter, thrower, and third base player.” High praise for an eventual .225 career hitter who slashed .199/.220/.288 with the 1877 St. Louis Brown Stockings and wouldn’t, as it turned out, appear in another big league game for five years. Deficiencies at the plate aside, there were four things that allowed Battin a 21-year career (1871-94) in pro baseball: defense, scrappiness, reliability, and leadership. Despite having played in only 480 big league games, Battin—a close friend of Cap Anson and Connie Mack—actually received a Hall of Fame vote in 1936.

Battin began his big league career as a 17-year-old with the 1871 Cleveland Forrest Citys of the fledgling National Association, appearing in one game. He next appeared in a game with the 1873 Philadelphia A’s, going 3-for-5 with two RBI. Originally a second baseman, Battin played his first full season in 1874: he hit only .233 but distinguished himself in the field, ranking among the league leaders in fielding percentage and range factor. The 5-foot-11-inch, 170-pound youngster moved to the hot corner after joining the Brown Stockings in 1875 (in the days before gloves, third base was an especially treacherous position). The National League’s inaugural 1876 season would be one of Battin’s best as a professional: he hit .300 with 11 doubles and paced NL third basemen in fielding percentage. After an 1877 season that saw his average drop 101 points, Battin was released.

In 1882, Battin returned to the majors as a member of the Pittsburgh Alleghenys; he posted a paltry .201 average during his three-year tenure with the club. Battin’s defense, however, was sublime: he paced American Association third sackers in fielding percentage, putouts, assists, and range factor in 1883. Barring a few games in 1890, Battin was back in the minors for good following the 1884 season; over the next nine years, he played for at least 10 different clubs. In September 1888, The Waterbury Democrat reported that the 34-year-old team captain was still impressive in the field, calling him “the very best third baseman that ever wore a [Syracuse] Star uniform.” The article goes on to say: “Battin’s work at the most difficult of infield positions has been marvelous, and has delighted patrons all season.”
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