On this day in 1950, Honus Wagner, “The Flying Dutchman,” officially retired from baseball. Wagner’s professional baseball career spanned nearly four decades. He followed up his 21 year playing career with an 18 year stint as coach with the Pirates.
Brought up in the humble coal mining neighborhood of Chartiers in Pittsburgh, Wagner became a home town hero and spent nearly his entire career with the Pirates. He remains the Pirates career leader in nearly every important offensive category. During his career, Wagner garnered eight National League batting titles, a record he now shares with Tony Gwynn.
Statistician Bill James considers Wagner’s 1908 season to be one of the greatest seasons in baseball history. During the height of the dead ball era, Wagner batted .354 and drove in 109 runs. He threw in 53 stolen bases for good measure, and led the league in hits, doubles, triples, RBI, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Keep in mind, that all of this was accomplished in a season which the leaguewide ERA was 2.35, an all time low.
The Flying Dutchman was a member of the inaugural Hall of Fame class. He continues to hold a place amongst the game’s greatest all-around players of all time.