19th century star Harry Stovey
The 1883 triumph was a glimpse of outstanding years to come for Stovey. He led or tied for the league lead in home runs five times (1883-86, 1889), runs four times (1883-85, 1889), hits twice (1883-84), average once (.404 in 1884, though somewhat disputed), RBI once (1889) and stolen bases once (1886). The first baseman and outfielder was also described as a five-tool player who possessed steady hands to go with a rifle arm.
Though he was nicknamed “Gentleman Harry” for his clean play, Stovey’s peers maintained that he was as fierce a competitor as anyone. He was the first to wear sliding pads after developing leg bruises from his reckless runs on the basepaths. He is also widely credited as the first to slide with his spikes in the air.
“He could beat Ty Cobb and Hal Chase,” wrote a sportswriter of Stovey’s drive in 1883. “And when it came to daring, he would take more chances than a sailor at a turkey raffle.”