Today’s #TBT sports blog rewinds the clock to more than a century ago when MLB Hall of Fame star Wee Willie Keeler was the best hitter in baseball.
The under-sized Keeler stood shorter than any player who ever wore a Major League Baseball uniform.
His bat was the tiniest ever used in the history of the game – just 29 ounces in weight and a mere 30 inches long.
This baseball player’s simple advice to Hit ‘em Where They Ain’t became his unusual nickname.
Unless you’re part baseball historian, you may have never heard of him.
But, this fantastic little player also slugs his way into my book MLB Favorites.
Originally known as Wee Willie Keeler for his tiny 5’4” and 140 lbs. frame, this 19-year Major Leaguer had the best bat control in the history of the game. Keeler would routinely choke up on his little 30” bat. Then, he would often reach base by punching, slapping, chopping or bunting his way on.
The fleet-footed, lefty-hitting Keeler’s incredible bat control helped him direct any pitch wherever there was an opening in the infield. That’s how he got the nickname Hit ‘em Where They Ain’t.
Keller always hit ‘em where they weren’t!
In deference to his amazing batting ability, The Sporting News named Keeler #75 on its list of top 100 players ever. Keeler collected 200 or more hits in eight consecutive seasons and batted an amazing .424 in one year. This last average was earned in 1897, perhaps his best overall season. His Baltimore Orioles team won a second straight Temple Cup Series, which pre-dated today’s World Series Championships.
Willie would definitely Hit ‘em Where They Ain’t – or weren’t – a lot during his career. Keeler batted better than .300 16 times in 19 Major League seasons. He finished his career with a .341 lifetime batting average. His numbers included 2,932 hits (85% of them singles), 1,718 runs scored and the longest single season hitting streak at the time of 44 games.
A two-time National League batting champion in 1897 and 1898, the speedy Keeler scored 100 or more runs in eight seasons. He was always a threat to steal when on base and was a terrific outfielder who could regularly chase down batted balls.
The tiny Wee Willie Keeler may have used his unique batting style to slap, chop, poke and bunt his way on base during his 19 MLB seasons.
However, what remains true about Keeler in baseball history is that he was voted into baseball’s Hall of Fame for his incredible ability with a baseball bat to Hit ‘em Where They Ain’t.
MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!