The turn-of-the-century catcher would have turned 138 today.
On this day in 1875 William Joseph Sullivan Sr. (Billy) was born in Oakland, Wisconsin. He was 24 when he made his major league debut as a catcher for the 1899 Boston Beaneaters, who would later become the Braves.
The Deadball Era was a different time for baseball, and Hamilton's batting record clearly shows it. He played in 1147 games over 16 major league seasons despite batting just .213/.254/.281 over nearly 4000 plate appearances. He caught 137 of the White Sox's 152 games in 1908 despite batting just .191 with a .228 slugging percentage. The White Sox weren't hurt too much by having his bat in the lineup, as they still won 88 games.
Sullivan was also a player/manager for the White Sox in 1909, going 78-74 in his only season as a skipper and finishing fourth in the eight-team American League. His son, Billy Jr., also caught in the majors from 1931-47.
Today is also the 20th anniversary of the A's signing Kevin Seitzer as a free agent, ending the first leg of his Brewer career. We covered that event in this space last year.