This Day in Reds History: Ross Barnes and the "Fair-Foul Hit"

Ross Barnes - Wikimedia.org

On this day in Reds history, Ross Barnes, one of baseball's earliest stars, died in Chicago.

On this day in 1888, former Red Bill Rariden was born in Bedford, IN.

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On this day in 1897, former Red and Hall of Famer Charley "Old Hoss" Radbourn died of complications from syphilis in Bloomington, IN at the age of 42.

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On this day in 1915, former Red Ross Barnes died in Chicago at the age of 64. Barnes was one of the first professional baseball stars. He twice won the batting title in the National Association (NA) and holds a number of the career records for that league. Barnes perfected the "fair-foul hit" to take advantage of a long extinct rule. In the early days of baseball, a ball was fair if it landed in fair territory and rolled foul, even in the infield. Barnes mastered the ability to place bunts that would curl foul upon landing. This technique led to batting averages of .430, .431, and .429 before the National League outlawed the play in 1877. Barnes fell ill with a fever in 1877 that shortened his season and ultimately his career. He would play only two more seasons of professional baseball (1879 and 1881).

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On this day in 1919, National League president John Heydler dropped accusations of game-fixing against Reds first baseman Hal Chase. Cincinnati manager Christy Mathewson and president August Herrmann alleged that Chase threw games and colluded with gamblers. Heydler believed that Chase's poor play was due to "carelessness" rather than any ill intent (Baseball-Reference Bullpen). Chase almost certainly was throwing games as he had a long, sordid history with gambling and bribing teammates. For instance, Cincinnati pitcher Jimmy Ring claimed that Chase paid him $50 to throw a game in 1918 (Wikipedia). The Reds traded Chase to the Giants a couple weeks later for Walter Holke and Bill Rariden.

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On this day in 1928, former Redleg Don Hoak was born in Roulette, PA. The third baseman had a big year for the Redlegs in 1957 when he made the All-Star team and led the league in doubles with 39. Hoak slashed .293/.381/.482 (127 wRC+) in more than 600 plate appearances that season. After a down season in 1958, Cincinnati traded him to Pittsburgh in a blockbuster trade that I mentioned last week.

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On this day in 1929, former Red Al Worthington was born in Birmingham, AL. Worthington pitched for Cincinnati in 1963 and part of 1964 before the Reds sold him to the Twins.

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Garymaloyjr earned a point last time.

1) On May 2, 1876, Ross Barnes did what for the first time (ever) in a National League game?

2) Don Hoak's 39 doubles in 1957 is tied for fifth most by a Reds third baseman in a season. Which Reds third baseman hit the most in a season? How many did he hit? You must get both parts correct to earn the point.

Please remember that looking up the answer is discouraged.

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