Honus Wagner

The Life of Baseball’s “Flying Dutchman”


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About the Book

Regarded by many of his contemporaries as the greatest baseball player of all time, John Peter “Honus” Wagner enjoyed a remarkable career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. His record of 17 consecutive .300-plus seasons is a mark that will probably never be broken. He led the National League eight times in hitting, six times in slugging percentage and five times in stolen bases. Known as the Flying Dutchman, he also excelled in the field, defining the shortstop position for a generation.
Though one of the original inductees in the Baseball Hall of Fame, he has often been overlooked by baseball fans and historians. A humble man whose biggest passions were hunting and fishing, the Pirate shortstop lacked the flamboyance of a Ty Cobb or Babe Ruth. He rarely smoked or drank, though sometimes he indulged in a sandlot game with the neighborhood kids. Based on contemporary newspaper accounts, family scrapbooks and correspondence, and Wagner’s own vestpocket notebooks, this is the story of baseball’s first superstar.

About the Author(s)

Arthur D. Hittner is a retired attorney in the Boston office of Nixon Peabody LLP. He is a longtime member of SABR and a former co-owner of the Lowell Spinners, a minor league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. He lives in Natick, Massachusetts.

Bibliographic Details

Arthur D. Hittner

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 336
Bibliographic Info: photos, references, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2003 [1996]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1811-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0395-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
Preface 1
1. Ham and Eggs 3
2. “As Good a Home as Any Boy in Carnegie” 10
3. “Tear Down the Grand Stand” 18
4. Swamp Grass and Homesickness 27
5. “Hail Hero Hannes” 36
6. Louisville Slugger 49
7. “The Mayor of the Bleachers” 63
8. The Homecoming 74
9. “Pennant Comes to Pittsburgh” 85
Between pages 98 and 99 are 16 pages of plates containing 18 photographs
10. The Gumshoe Caper 99
11. “Hercules of the Diamond” 109
12. “Amplitudinous and Triangular” 127
13. “Hey Barney!” 137
14. A Hundred Wives 148
15. The Gasoline Wagon 156
16. “Every Dog Has His Day” 164
17. Clash of the Titans 177
18. “The Fallen Idol” 192
19. A Man’s Best Friend 201
20. “He Can’t Do More Than Three Men’s Work” 208
21. “Bandages and Braces” 213
22. The Fish Commissioner 217
23. Have Mercy on the Criminal 223
24. Bigfoot 229
25. The Last Hurrah 233
26. Nursing Nickels 239
27. Stories You Could Tell Your Mother 247
28. “The Greatest of Them All” 255
Appendix A: Wagner’s Lifetime Batting Record 258
Appendix B: Wagner’s Major League Fielding Record 259
Appendix C: Wagner’s Major League Pitching Record 261
Appendix D: Wagner’s Major League Managing Record 261
Notes 263
Bibliography 285
Index 291

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Winner, Seymour Medal—Society for American Baseball Research
  • “A full-length examination of the greatest player in the National League during the first half-century of its existence”—Choice
  • “Recommended”—Library Journal
  • “Exhaustive”—USA Today Sports Weekly
  • “Scholarly”—Spitball
  • “Exhaustively researched, thoroughly detailed”—Baseball America
  • “A fabulous job…interesting”—SABR Deadball Committee Newsletter
  • “Excellent…superior…a must-read…outstanding”—HaroldSeymour.com