Cap Anson was the greatest player of the century - the 19th century, that is. A stern, iron-willed leader, he had an unmatched sense of integrity and discipline as the game of baseball was becoming America's pastime; he was also a racial bigot who played a major role in keeping blacks out of major league baseball.
8 times this fearsome slugger led the National League in RBIs. He was also a great leader, acting as the first baseman-manager of the Chicago White Stockings and leading his team to 15 first division finishes, including five pennants, in 19 years.
As a manager, he was a student of the game and a creative thinker - one of the first managers to rotate pitchers, Anson developed the hit-and-run and made basestealing a part of his offense. He was also the first manager to institutionalize preseason training, demanding of his players a strict adherence to the program he laid out for them and punishing those who deviated with fisticuffs.
Though he was a premier hitter and leader, the stocky Anson was, by all accounts, no great fielder. He holds the all-time record for most errors committed by a first baseman (though he played at a time when gloves were not used and errors were common; plus, longevity also helped account for his error record).
It is clear that Anson had an explosive temper, and he could be a cruel bench jockey to players and umpires alike. In Toledo in 1883, Anson refused to play in an exhibition game because the other team had a black catcher - Moses Fleetwood Walker. Anson also allegedly used his influence to block George Stovey, a black pitcher, from being signed by the Giants in 1887.
He was a hallmark of consistency - including the five years he spent with the Rockford Forest Citys and Philadelphia Athletics of the National Association, he played for 27 years at the highest level of baseball competition. During his 22 years with the White Stockings of the National League - later the Chicago Colts, then the Chicago Orphans, and finally the Chicago Cubs - he produced 2,995 hits, then a record. Including his time in the National Association he was the first player to accumulate 3,000 hits. He hit over .400 twice and his lifetime .329 batting average is 29th all-time. He still holds the National League record for most seasons with a batting average of .300 or higher (18).
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