Induction: August 3,1983
Born (date, year, place): May 25, 1861 in Springfield, Ontario
Died (date, year, place): December 31, 1915 in Montreal, Quebec
Primary Position: Outfielder, Pitcher
Years Played: 1883 to 1892
Teams Played: New York, St. Louis, Chicago, Cincinnati
“Tip” O’Neill honed his baseball skills in the ballroom of his parents’ hotel in Woodstock during his youth. After starring locally, nationally and internationally with barnstorming teams, the gifted youngster was signed by the American Association’s New York Metropolitans.
Sometimes dubbed Canada’s Babe Ruth, the talented Canadian made his major league debut as a pitcher on May 5, 1883. A formidable moundsman (his career ERA was 3.39), O’Neill was hampered by arm problems early in his career. Fortunately, his bat was potent enough to convince the St. Louis Browns to employ him in their outfield.
It was in the Gateway City that O’Neill would become Major League Baseball’s first Triple Crown winner in 1887. In that magical campaign, he set big league marks in hits, doubles, slugging percentage and total bases. His batting average was an astounding .492 (walks were included as hits that season, but even without the walks, his average was .435, the second highest in big league history). Largely due to his hitting heroics, the Browns would capture four consecutive American Associations Championships from 1885 to 1888.
When his playing days were over, he moved to Montreal where he helped secure an Eastern League franchise for the city. One of the greatest Canadians to play in the big leagues, O’Neill’s legacy lives on. The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame hands out the Tip O’Neill award annually to the player judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to baseball’s highest ideals.
CAREER MAJOR LEAGUE STATISTICS
To view James’ season by season Major League statistics click HERE.