John Owen "Chief" Wilson (August 21, 1883 – February 22, 1954) was an American professional baseball right fielder in Major League Baseball from 1908 to 1916. He played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and St. Louis Cardinals.
Wilson played minor league baseball for three teams until the end of 1907, when he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates. After spending six seasons with the organization, Wilson was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, where he spent the last three seasons of his major league career and with whom he played his last game on October 1, 1916. Wilson is best known for setting the single-season record for triples in 1912 with 36, a record that still stands.
|Born: August 21, 1883|
|Died: February 22, 1954 (aged 70)|
|April 15, 1908, for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 1, 1916, for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Runs batted in||571|
|Career highlights and awards|
Wilson was born on August 21, 1883, in Austin, Texas. He grew up at a ranch owned by his family located approximately 50 miles north of Austin in Bertram. He was known for his introverted nature; his Pirates teammate and roommate Bobby Byrne recounted how Wilson "wouldn't say two words all day." Wilson started his baseball career playing on several teams in independent leagues, before joining the Austin Senators in 1905.
After he retired from baseball, Wilson returned to his family ranch in Bertram, where he became a stock farmer and held various positions in service to the community. He died on October 24, 1954, at the age of 70 and was interred at Austin Memorial Park. On March 31, 2007, the Bertram Little League Sports Complex was dedicated to and named after Wilson.
Contrary to popular belief, Wilson was not of Native American descent. He was nicknamed "Chief" because his Pittsburgh teammates and manager Fred Clarke thought Wilson, a native Texan with a towering height of 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m), resembled a "Chief of the Texas Rangers."
In 1905, Wilson signed with the Austin Senators, a minor league baseball team in the Texas League. However, the team disbanded in the middle of the season on June 6 and Wilson joined the Fort Worth Panthers, playing for them until he was promoted to the Des Moines Champs of the Western League in 1907. He performed well, posting a batting average of .323 in 56 games. It was during his first (and only) season with the Champs that Wilson was spotted by Denver Grizzlies' pitcher Babe Adams, who had signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates at the end of 1907. Adams informed Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss of Wilson's "tremendous arm" and his ability "not only as a hitter but as a fielder." This prompted Dreyfuss to sign Wilson to the Pirates as their right fielder. Wilson made his major league debut for the Pirates on April 15, 1908, at the age of 24, in a 3–1 Opening Day win against the St. Louis Cardinals.
During his 1908 rookie season, Wilson had a relatively disappointing year, batting .227, slugging .285 and finished sixth in the National League (NL) in strikeouts with 66. Out of his 120 hits that season, only 18 were extra base hits. As a result of his offensive woes, Pirates fans booed him on a constant basis. Wilson greatly improved his batting in the following season, raising his batting average to .272, playing all 154 games in the season and finishing fifth in the NL in triples with 12. This success culminated in the Pirates winning the World Series at the conclusion of that season. In the Opening Day game of the 1910 season, Wilson got injured and had to sit out for seven games, with Vin Campbell taking his place in the lineup. On July 3, against the Cincinnati Reds, he hit for the cycle. He finished the season with similar statistics as the previous year, batting .276 and hitting 13 triples.
The 1911 season was a breakout year for Wilson. He posted a batting average of .300, finished third in the NL in doubles (34), fifth in home runs (12) and sixth in slugging (.472) and drove in 107 runs batted in (RBI), thus becoming the league's RBI champion. The 12 home runs he hit that season marked a Pirates team record he held until 1925.
In 1912, Wilson recorded the same batting average as the year before and came second in the league in slugging (.513) and games played (152), third in home runs (11), fourth in RBI (95) and seventh in hits (175). Furthermore, he set the single-season record for triples, hitting 36 in total that year. However, his record received almost no press coverage whatsoever. Baseball sportswriter Ernest Lanigan suggested that this was because a record book erroneously attributed Nap Lajoie with having 44 triples in 1903, when he hit only 11 that year. As a result, several newspapers—most notably the Pittsburgh Press—were under the belief that Lajoie held the record.
Wilson's record still stands today and is currently the third oldest single-season record, behind Lajoie's .426 batting average in 1901 and Jack Chesbro's 41 wins in 1904. It is considered one of baseball's most unbreakable records, as only Sam Crawford (1914) and Kiki Cuyler (1925) have come the closest to breaking the record; both players hit 26 triples. Wilson's record also accounted for part of the 129 triples amassed by the Pirates that year, setting a single-season for most triples by a team since 1900. Due to his stellar and record-breaking performance, Wilson finished eighth in that season's voting for the Chalmers Award, the precursor to the MLB Most Valuable Player Award.
Only a phenomenal burst of long swats will give the Texan a chance to equal Lajoie's season mark of 44 three-base knocks...the wonderful record once made by Lajoie.
| Single-season triple record holder
1912 – present
| Hitting for the cycle
July 3, 1910
The 1908 Pittsburgh Pirates season was the 27th season for the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise. The team finished tied for second place in the National League with the New York Giants, one game behind the Chicago Cubs. The Pirates spent 46 days in first place, and were on top on October 3. However, they lost their last game to the Cubs, which set up a replay of the infamous "Merkle" game between the Cubs and the Giants. The Cubs took it to win the pennant. Pittsburgh finished tied for second place with the Giants, just one game back. It was one of the closest races in baseball history.
Shortstop Honus Wagner had one of the most dominating hitting performances of all-time. The "Flying Dutchman" led the majors in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs batted in, and stolen bases. He missed the triple crown by two home runs. For his efforts, Wagner was paid $5,000, possibly the most on the team.1909 Pittsburgh Pirates season
The 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates season was the 28th season for the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise, during which they won the National League pennant with a record of 110–42 and their first World Series over the Detroit Tigers. Led by shortstop Honus Wagner and outfielder-manager Fred Clarke, the Pirates scored the most runs in the majors. Wagner led the league in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and runs batted in. Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss opened the Pirates' new ballpark, named Forbes Field, on June 30, 1909.The Pirates' 110 wins remain a team record, a record they set in the last game of the season by beating the Cincinnati Reds 7–4 in muddy conditions on October 5. It is in fact the best regular season win percentage by any World Series winning team.1910 Pittsburgh Pirates season
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The 1912 Pittsburgh Pirates season was a season in American baseball, the 31st in franchise history. The team finished second in the National League with a record of 93–58, 10 games behind the New York Giants.
During the season, Chief Wilson set a major league record by hitting 36 triples in a single season. After 118 games, Chief Wilson already had 33 triples and was on pace to get 43 triples.1913 Pittsburgh Pirates season
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The Pittsburgh Pirates are a professional baseball team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They compete in the Central Division of Major League Baseball's (MLB) National League (NL). Founded in 1882 as Allegheny, the club played in the American Association before moving to the National League in 1887. The list below documents players and teams that hold particular club records.
In 134 seasons from 1882 through 2015, the team has won over 10,000 games and five World Series championships. The team has appeared in 18 postseasons and has won nine league pennants. Roberto Clemente owns the most career batting records with five. Ralph Kiner, Arky Vaughan and Paul Waner each own three single-season batting records. Bob Friend owns the most career pitching records and Ed Morris the most single-season pitching records, both with six.
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