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His average of .385, in the 1898 season, is the highest in history for a player with more than 1,000 hits (1,147 hits) at the end of a season.He ended his career with a .341 average, the 14th greatest of all time. He batted .300 on 16 occasions out of the 19 seasons he played, averaging over .400 once. He led the league twice in batting average and three times in connected hits. Keeler hit the spectacular record of 206 hits during the 1898 season, a record that lasted for more than 100 years until being overtaken by Ichiro Suzuki. In addition, Keeler had a percentage of enbase higher than .400 for seven consecutive seasons. When he retired, in 1910, he was the second in history in hits with 2,932, behind Cap Anson.
Keeler was one of the smallest players to participate in the Major Leagues, with approximately 5’7 ” (some sources say he was only 5’4 ”) and 65kg in weight, hence his nickname “Wee Willie ” He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1939, being one of the shortest players to be selected. He was the smallest player to appear on the list of the 100 best baseball players in history (100 Greatest Baseball Players) published by “The Sporting News” (No.75) and who was nominated as a finalist in the Game of the Century of Major League Baseball (Major League Baseball All-Century Team). Keeler retired in 1910, being the player with more time since his retirement to be included in both lists.
Keeler playing for the Giants in 1910.
Keeler had the ability to play virtually any ball thrown at him. He was the main reason for the modification of the rule so that the third strike in touch of ball was strike-out. In the Baltimore Orioles of Ned Hanlon, he perfected the one known as Baltimore Chop in which he used to hammer the ball against the turf with enough force so that the height reached by the ball allowed him to score first before the fielder could throw the ball.
In 1897, Keeler began the season chaining the figure of 44 consecutive games hitting hit, beating the previous record of 42, imposed by Bill Dahlen. Keeler had hit a hit in the final game of the 1896 season, which put the National League record in 45 consecutive hitting games. This mark was surpassed by Joe DiMaggio in 1942, when he achieved a chain of 56 hits hitting games. In 1978, Pete Rose equaled Keeler’s record of 44 games in a season. No other player in history has reached these numbers. Keeler also reached the number 200 hits in eight consecutive seasons, a record exceeded by Ichiro Suzuki in 2009.
When Ban Johnson created the American League in 1901, one of his first strategies was to attract National League players by offering him big contracts. Keeler received offers from six of the eight new American League teams, including a Chicago offer for two years at $ 4,300 each season. However, Keeler remained in Brooklyn and did not move to the new league until 1903, when he signed with New York. In 1905, Keeler set the record for the Yankees of more sacri-hits for a season with 42.
More Facts about Willie Keeler
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