- 3B, SS, 1B, P, 2B
- February 13, 1878
- 185 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 8-26-1899 with CHN
Until he was injured in 1906, Bill Bradley was the greatest third baseman in the short history of the American League. Bradley began his pro career in 1897 and reached the majors with the Chicago Orphans in 1899. 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 his first year in Cleveland, he recorded seven putouts in a game, and the following season, he homered in four straight contests, a particularly impressive feat during the Deadball Era. He ended the 1902 campaign with career-highs in batting average (.340, sixth best in the AL) and home runs (11, second in the circuit). He remained in the top ten in batting, slugging, and home runs the next two seasons, and he managed the club (now known as the Cleveland Naps) for part of the 1905 season.
Over his 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, Bradley then missed much of the 1906 season after suffering a broken arm, then contracting typhoid fever. He returned to full time play in 1907 his fielding slipped a bit. In 1908, he did set a record with 60 sacrifice hits (later broken by Ray Chapman in 1917).
he hit .186 in 1909 and .196 in 1910, which cut down on his playing time, he spent three seasons in the minors with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Managing the Brooklyn Tip-tops 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. After guiding the club to a .500 record and a fifth place finish, he moved on to the Kansas City Packers in strictly a playing capacity in 1915, his final year in the majors.
Following his playing days, Bradley scouted for the Cleveland Indians for 25 years until he retired in 1953.
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