3B 1899-1910, 14-15 Cubs, Indians , Brooklyn
Manager in 1914 Brooklyn
Until he was injured in 1906, Bill Bradley was the greatest third baseman in the
short history of the American League. In his first season as a regular, with the
Cubs in 1900, the 22-year-old hit .282, but he showed a bit of what was to come by
leading NL third basemen in total chances per game. When the AL declared itself a
major league in 1901, Bradley jumped to his hometown Cleveland Blues (later the Indians).
In the first seven years of the league, he led its third basemen in at least one
fielding category every year except his injury-shortened season of 1906, and his
.955 fielding average in 1904 set an AL record that stood for ten years. All told,
he led AL third basemen four times in fielding, three times in double plays, twice
in putouts, and once each in assists and errors. His AL career 3B marks in games,
putouts, assists, double plays, total chances, and errors all stood until Frank "Home
Run" Baker broke them.
But what also helped place Bradley above such contemporaries
as Hall of Famer Jimmy Collins was his potent bat. In the first four years of the
league, Bradley was consistently among the league's offensive leaders. His 29-game
hitting streak in 1902 set an AL record that Ty Cobb broke in 1911. Bradley's streak
helped him to his best season
offensively, as he reached career highs in BA (.340,
sixth in the AL), runs (104, fourth), doubles (39, tied for third), and HR (11, tied
for second). On July 28, 1903 he hit three triples in a game, tying a still-standing
AL record, and he hit for the cycle that September 24.
His hitting declined starting
in 1905, and after 1907 his fielding slipped a bit; he hit .186 in 1909 and .196
in 1910, which cut down on his playing time. Managing the Brooklyn franchise in the
Federal League in 1914, he hit .500 using himself as pinch hitter (3-for-6). The
following season, 37 years old, he played 66 games for the FL's Kansas City team
despite hitting .187.
|FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY|
|» May 24, 1902: Bill Bradley, Cleveland 3B, is the AL's first to hit a HR in four consecutive games, a record not matched until Babe Ruth does it June 25, 1918.
» June 30, 1902:
Cleveland is the first AL team to hit three consecutive HRs in one inning as Nap Lajoie, Piano Legs Hickman, and Bill Bradley connect in the sixth off St. Louis, with all the hits ending in the LF bleachers at St. Louis. The last two come on the first pitch thrown. Jack Harper tees up the gopher balls in the 17-2 loss. It was last done on May 10, 1894.
» September 24, 1903: Bill Bradley of Cleveland hits for the cycle and adds an extra double for 12 total bases.
» March 7, 1908: Near Lexington, Kentucky, the train carrying the Cleveland Naps is struck by two bricks shattering windows. Elmer Flick, Bill Bradley, and Harry Bay are hit by the flying glass while playing euchre, but no injuries occur. Tomorrow, the team will arrive safely in Macon, Georgia, for spring training.
» May 13, 1909:
The Red Sox jump on former teammate Cy Young for 17 hits-4 by Harry Hooper-in an 8-1 win over Cleveland. Cleveland 3B Bill Bradley makes seven putouts, tying his own team mark set in 1901.
» June 19, 1911: At Detroit's Bennett Field, Ty Cobb singles off Chicago's Irv Young, then scores from first on a single. With his hit, Cobb equals Bill Bradley's AL hit record of 29 straight games set in 1902. Detroit wins 8–5,
» May 15, 1951: At Fenway Park, the Red Sox celebrate the 50th anniversary of their first American League game in Boston. On hand are 29 old-timers who played, managed, or umpired in the AL in that first year including Connie Mack, Dummy Hoy, Cy Young, Hugh Duffy, Clark Griffith, Tom Connolly, Billy Sullivan, Wid Conroy, Bill Bradley, and Ollie Pickering. Eight of the 29 participated in the first AL game, played in Chicago on April 24, 1901.