Bill Keister

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Bill Keister.jpg

William Hoffman Keister
(Wagon Tongue)

  • Bats Left, Throws Right
  • Weight 168 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

"Keister is a boy that was recommended by manager Hanlon . . . His fielding, base running and batting are superb. He enters heart and soul into the game, and hustles . . ." - Sporting Life of April 25, 1896, about the young Bill Keister in the minors

"Keister is playing a brilliant game at second, and his fast work has helped him to figure in several double plays that could not have been pulled off with a less capable man filling the position." - Sporting Life of June 4, 1910, writing about the 38-year-old Bill Keister, who was playing for Williamsport

Bill "Wagon Tongue" Keister was an infielder-outfielder who hit well but moved around from team to team. His lifetime major league average was .312, and he was in the top ten in slugging percentage three times in his five full seasons.

In those five full seasons, he was a shortstop his first year, a second baseman his second year, a shortstop again his third year, a multi-position player his fourth year, and a rightfielder his fifth year. He played 215 games at shorstop in his major league career, 214 at second base, 167 in the outfield (mostly in right), and 23 at third base.

Each of those five seasons he hit at least .300, and was sometimes among the leaders in doubles, triples or home runs. In 1901 he led the new American League in triples. In 1902, playing for the Washington Senators, he homered in four straight games from June 24-27; he was the second player in American League history to do so, following Bill Bradley of the Cleveland Bronchos by just one month. No other batter would reproduce the feat in the major leagues until Steve Evans in the 1914 Federal League, while in the AL the next man to do so would be Babe Ruth in 1918. He could also steal a base, with a high of 33 in 1899.

Keister's problem was apparently his defense. He was usually below average in both fielding percentage and range factor. In 1901, while playing shortstop next to third baseman and player-manager John McGraw on the 1901 Baltimore Orioles, Keister made 97 errors in 112 games.

In the minors he played for Paterson, Rochester/Ottawa, Jersey City, Toronto and Buffalo.

Keister was born in Maryland the same month as Otis Stocksdale, who came to the majors several years before him. Keister died in Baltimore, MD the same year that Jimmy Macullar died there.

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