The batter who slashed the National League’s first hit, Jim O’Rourke played the game professionally past the age of 50 before continuing his baseball life as a manager, umpire and minor league president.
Explaining his longevity, O’Rourke said, “I lived a clean life. I never touched liquor in any form, nor did I ever use tobacco. I always took care of myself. That’s the reason I’m playing ball today, and that is the reason why I can enjoy the game.”
Nicknamed “Orator Jim” because of a tendency toward lengthy rhetoric, O’Rourke captured the NL batting title in 1884 with a .347 average. During his career, he batted .300 or better 13 times and finished with a .310 average.
O’Rourke hit a career-high .362 with the 1877 Boston Red Stockings, leading the National League with an on-base percentage of .407. He scored a league-leading 68 runs in 61 games.
O’Rourke helped the New York Giants to their first two league championships in 1888 and 1889. In 1889 at age 38, he batted .321 with 81 RBI and 33 stolen bases.
In 1890 when a member of the New York Giants of the Players League, O’Rourke put together a standout season. He batted .360 with a career-high 115 RBI in 111 games and a career-high nine home runs.
O’Rourke continued to play in the minor leagues after hitting .287 as a 42-year-old in 1893 for Washington. At the age of 54, he played one more game in the major leagues with the New York Giants, going 1-for-4 for manager John McGraw.
O'Rourke passed away on Jan. 8, 1919. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1945.