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About Cap Anson

Adrian Constantine "Cap" Anson



Cap Anson

Adrian Constantine "Cap" Anson was born to Henry and Jennette Rice Anson in Marshalltown, Iowa was born on April 11, 1852. Henry was one of the main founding fathers of this midwestern town.

Cap Anson was the first man to reach 3,000 hits, and the first manager to rotate pitchers. A hard-driving disciplinarian, Anson was perhaps the most influential player in the nineteenth century.

He played in the first professional league, the National Association, from its inception in 1871 and hit .331 in the National League twenty-five years later. Using a split grip, he hit .300 or better in twenty-five seasons, won two batting titles and eight RBI crowns averaging an RBI every five at-bats over the course of his career. Anson spent a year at Notre Dame, turned pro with the NA Rockford Forest Citys, played third base for the Philadelphia Athletics for four years, and joined Chicago when White Stockings owner William Hulbert formed the National League. Anson became the White Sox captain in 1878 and switched to first base exclusively when he took over as manager in 1879. He managed Chicago to pennants from 1880 to 1882, 1884, and 1885, rotating his pitchers and using signals to his hitters and fielders.

He has a claim to originating platooning and initiated pre-season training. He used bed checks to keep tabs on his charges, but also got them first-class hotel rooms and personally marched them onto the field single file before every game.

In 1883, Anson refused to play in an exhibition game at Toledo because the home team had a black catcher, Moses Fleetwood Walker. Anson backed down when threatened with forfeiture of the gate. Another of Anson's racial incidents took place in 1887, when in a home exhibition game against Chicago, two black players on Newark, N.J., of the International League, George Stovey and Moses "Fleet" Walker, reportedly sat out because of Anson's objection. That incident took place in the afternoon following a vote that morning by International League owners to approve no more contracts with black players, helping to forever link Anson with the drawing of the sport's "color line," broken for good by Jackie Robinson in the late 1940s. Despite this black mark on his character, Anson later mellowed, even umpiring amateur games involving black and white players, such as from Algona and Saylor, Iowa, in 1901. He also owned in a team in Chicago's main semi-pro league from 1907 to 1909, in which a rival all-black team, the Leland Giants, was led by Rube Foster, future founder of the first of the Negro Leagues. Anson even played first base twice in 1908 against Foster's club.

In 1897, following his career in the Big League, "Cap" opened a billiard saloon, tried to organize a rival major league-the abortive American Association of 1899, entered vaudeville (doing skits written by Ring Lardner), and served a term as city clerk in Chicago. Anson died on April 14, 1922.

He was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1939.


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