Bill Dahlen stands test of time

Part of the BASEBALL HISTORY series
Written by: Craig Muder

For some players, time can dim their accomplishments. But for turn-of-the-century shortstop Bill Dahlen, the passage of years has brought attention to his remarkable career.

Today, Dahlen stands one step away from the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Dahlen is one of 10 finalists on this year’s Pre-Integration Committee ballot at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The Pre-Integration Committee will vote on Dec. 7 at baseball’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn.

The 10 candidates on the Pre-Integration Committee ballot are: Doc Adams, Sam Breadon, Wes Ferrell, August (Garry) Herrmann, Marty Marion, Frank McCormick, Harry Stovey, Chris von der Ahe, Bucky Walters and Dahlen. Any candidate who receives at least 75 percent of all ballots cast will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2016.

Dahlen was born Jan. 5, 1870 about an hour north of Cooperstown in Nelliston, N.Y. Nicknamed “Bad Bill”, Dahlen was known for his offensive and defensive skills as a shortstop. Dahlen played for four National League teams from 1891 to 1911: The Chicago Cubs (1891-1898), Brooklyn Dodgers (1899-1903), New York Giants (1904-1907), Boston Braves (1908-1909) and the Dodgers again (1910-1911). He was the starting shortstop on the 1905 Giants team that defeated the Philadelphia A’s in the World Series.

Dahlen had an impressive batting average of over .350 two times while playing for the Cubs. He also scored over 100 runs with 10 or more triples in each of his first six seasons.

Dahlen’s specialty, however, was fielding, to which his 7,500 shortstop assists and 13,325 chances attest. He was also a consistent hitter with considerable power for the dead ball era.

Dahlen surpassed the then-record 33-game hitting streak by George Davis with a 42-game hitting streak from June 20 to Aug. 6 in 1894. Twice in Dahlen’s career, in 1896 and 1898, he tripled three times in a game, and in 1900 tripled twice in one inning.

In his 21-season career, Dahlen batted .272 and hit 84 home runs, which at the time of his retirement was among the 15 highest totals in history. He recorded 2,457 hits, 163 triples, 547 stolen bases and 1,233 RBI in 2,443 career games.

At the time of his retirement, no player had appeared in more big league games than Dahlen.

Dahlen managed the Brooklyn Dodgers for four seasons (1910-1913) and posted a 251-355 record for a .414 winning percentage.

Dahlen passed away on Dec. 5, 1950.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the BASEBALL HISTORY series