Bobby Wallace

Rhoderick John Wallace
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 1953
Primary team: St. Louis Browns
Primary position: Shortstop

Bobby Wallace made his major league debut in 1894, taking the mound for the Cleveland Spiders. In a few short years, he evolved into one of the best shortstops the game has ever seen.

He pitched for a starting rotation that included Cy Young and in his first full season he won 12 of his 26 decisions. Though his pitching wasn’t overwhelmingly impressive to the team’s management, the level of athleticism he displayed was enough for them to start giving him chances at other positions.

Wallace played the outfield as much as he took the mound by his third year in Cleveland, and he eventually turned into a regular infielder.

The versatile player’s best season came in 1897 when he batted .335 with 173 hits in 130 games while playing third base full time. He drove in a team-leading 112 runs, scored 99 runs, and hit 33 triples and 21 doubles.

He was moved from the hot corner to the middle infield, first spending time at second base before getting a chance at shortstop, where he made a lasting impression with anyone he ever played with.

“[Bobby Wallace] is one of the greatest fielding shortstops who ever lived,” fellow St. Louis Browns player Jimmy Austin said. “It was a delight to play third base next to that fellow.”

In 1901, Wallace led all shortstops in chances per game, assists and double plays, and was still a threat at the plate, batting .324 over the duration of the season. Though he wasn’t known for his hitting power, and his lifetime average is well below what it was in his best years, Wallace had plenty to offer to his teams.

“The Scot was not the most robust hitter that ever lived, but he was no pigeon at the plate,” sportswriter Bill Corum said, in 1952. “Save for that, Bobby had one weakness as a shortstop – that was that he played in the same era as Honus Wagner.”

Wallace made more plays per game than any other shortstop who played at least 600 games during the first decade of the major leagues, including players like Wagner, Joe Tinker and George Davis.

He led the American League in assists twice in his career, and field percentage three times. In 1902 he set a league record for the most chances in a game with 17. He also finished in the top 10 in RBIs eight times in his career, even though he played for losing teams most of the time.

Because of his smart style of play and his remarkable defensive skills, Wallace was able to play the game until he was 44 years old. After taking the field for a total of 25 seasons, he holds the record for the longest career in baseball without ever making an appearance at the World Series.

"The best player in the American League, the only man I would get if I could, plays on a tail-end team, and few people pay any attention to him. I mean Bobby Wallace of St. Louis. There’s boy who can play any position and hit. I wish I had him "
Barney Dreyfuss

Career stats

ESSENTIAL STATS
Year Inducted: 1953
Primary Team: St. Louis Browns
Position Played: Shortstop
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Birth place: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Birth year: 1873
Died: 1960, Torrance, California
Played for:
Cleveland Spiders (1894-1898)
St. Louis Cardinals (1899-1901)
St. Louis Cardinals (1917-1918)
St. Louis Browns (1902-1916)
Managed:
St. Louis Browns (1911-1912)
Cincinnati Reds (1937)
CAREER AT A GLANCE
GamesG
2383
At BatsAB
8618
RunsR
1057
HitsH
2309
Doubles2B
931
Triples3B
143
Home RunsHR
34
RBIRBI
1121
Stolen BasesSB
201
WalksBB
774
Batting AverageBA
.268
OPSOPS
.690
On Base %OBP
.332
Slugging %SLG
.358