27 April 2014

wee willie keeler was a brooklyn double dipper

hall of famer willie keeler played for the brooklyn grooms in 1893 before moving on to the baltimore orioles where he had his best years from 1894 through 1898.  for the 1899 season, keeler returned to brooklyn to join the superbas.  he was a dodger franchise double dipper.

[this is the sixtyseventh installment in the double dippers posts.  here are the previous posts - brett butler, omar daaleric young, nick willhitechris gwynn, mickey hatcherdave anderson, don zimmerrafael landestoy, dave hansen, jose vizcaino, hideo nomo, greg maddux, mike madduxjon garland, chan ho parkvicente romogene mauch, denny lewallyn, von joshua, joe moellerdioner navarro, rudy seanez, bart shirleyrandy wolf, ismael valdes, bobby castillo, mike devereaux, pete richert, jay johnstone, jesse orosco, lee lacy, giovanni carrara, jeff weaverted sizemore,  orel hershisertom goodwinjoe fergusoneddie murraymatt lukeken mcmullen, tim wallach, jerry grotedon suttonralph branca, todd hundley, elmer dessensguillermo motajoe beckwithjamie hoffmannbabe hermanjoe medwickjuan castroron perranoskiclyde kingpaul wanerhughie jenningsron negray, broadway aleck smithgeorge smith, johnny cooney, jim faireyfrenchy bordagaraydoc casey, waite hoytluis olmo, and clyde sukeforth.]

when i was a kid reading 'the image of their greatness', i would confuse wee willie keeler with wee willie winkie (my grandma used to sing that nursery rhyme to me when i went to bed).  give me a break; i was 8.  

anyway, the only cards i have of keeler show him as a dodger coach, in fact this 1994 conlon the sporting news card
and this 1990 target card
each use the same photo of keeler from 1912, when they were, in fact, known as the dodgers.

keeler first played for the brooklyn grooms in 1893 after his contract was purchased from the new york giants for $800.  he hit .313 for the team but brooklyn traded him to baltimore after the season ended.  keeler went on to have his best seasons with the orioles (who were a national league team at the time and are not part of the current orioles' franchise legacy).  in his five seasons in baltimore, keeler never hit below .371, and he led the league in batting twice with a .385 average in 1898 and a ridiculous .424 average in 1897.

the brooklyn superbas, as they were now known, were somehow able to get keeler back following the 1898 season, and he re-wrote the early brooklyn franchise record books upon his return.  his .379 batting average and 216 hits in 1899 were the best the team had seen and the best they would see until babe herman hit .381 with 217 hits 30 years later.  keeler's 190 singles in 1899 is still the franchise record for a season, and no one has or will come close to his ab/k ratio of 285 from that same year.  overall, keeler spent 5 seasons with brooklyn as a player, and his batting average over those seasons was .352 - also a franchise record.

keeler is remembered for many things - hitting 'em where they ain't, his 44-game hitting streak, being the fastest player to reach 1000 and 2000 career hits, that remarkable .424 batting average in 1897 - and now you can add double dipper to that list if you didn't know before.

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