Jim O'Rourke (baseball)

James Henry O'Rourke (September 1, 1850 – January 8, 1919), nicknamed "Orator Jim", was an American professional baseball player in the National Association and Major League Baseball who played primarily as a left fielder. For the period 1876–1892, he ranks behind only Cap Anson in career major league games played (1644), hits (2146), at-bats (6884), doubles (392) and total bases (2936), and behind only Harry Stovey in runs scored (1370) (Stovey was a younger player; Anson played five seasons and O'Rourke four prior to 1876.).

Jim O'Rourke
Portrait of Jim O'Rourke
Born: September 1, 1850
Bridgeport, Connecticut
Died: January 8, 1919 (aged 68)
Bridgeport, Connecticut
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 26, 1872, for the Middletown Mansfields
Last MLB appearance
September 22, 1904, for the New York Giants
MLB statistics
Batting average.311
Home runs62
Runs batted in1,208
As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Election MethodVeteran's Committee


O'Rourke was born in East Bridgeport, Connecticut, and worked on his family's farm while playing youth league and semi-pro baseball. He began his professional career as a member of the Middletown Mansfields in 1872, joining the one-year-old National Association team as a catcher. The Mansfields were not a top-tier team, and folded in August, but O'Rourke had impressed other teams sufficiently enough to be offered a contract with the Boston Red Stockings, with whom he played until 1878. On April 22, 1876, O'Rourke had the first base hit in National League history.

He graduated from Yale Law School in 1887 with an LL.B.,[1] practicing law in Bridgeport between early playing stints, and earning the nickname "Orator Jim" because of his verbosity on the field, his intellect, and his law degree—uncommon in a game regarded as a rough immigrant sport at the time.[2]

After leaving the major leagues following the 1893 season he continued to play in the minor leagues until he was over 50 years old. As an executive of the Bridgeport team in the Connecticut League, in 1895 O'Rourke hired the first African American minor league baseball player in history.[3]

In 1904, he made a final appearance with the New York Giants under manager and friend John McGraw, becoming at age 54 the oldest player ever to appear in the National League, and the oldest player to hit safely in a major league game.[4][5][6] O'Rourke is one of only 29 players in baseball history to appear in Major League games in four decades.

In 1912, he returned to the field to catch a complete minor league game at the age of 60.[7][8]

O'Rourke died of pneumonia at age 68 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945 as one of the earliest inductees from the 19th century. His older brother John O'Rourke and his son James "Queenie" O'Rourke also played in the majors.

One legend concerning O'Rourke is that he was asked to drop the "O'" from his last name when he signed a contract with Boston and its Protestant backers. The son of Irish immigrants and the husband of a woman born in Ireland, O'Rourke refused, saying "I would rather die than give up my father's name. A million dollars would not tempt me."[9]

Another legend about O'Rourke is that his signing by the Mansfields in 1872 was conditioned on the team finding someone to take over O'Rourke's chores on his parents' farm.

O'Rourke has made a brilliant record for himself as an outfielder, being an excellent judge of a ball, a swift runner, and making the most difficult running catches with the utmost ease and certainty. As a thrower, too, he stands pre-eminent, being credited with a throw of 365 feet, the next to the longest yet accomplished by any player.

— The Sporting Life

See also


  1. ^ New York Times, O'Rourke Becomes a Lawyer, November 6, 1887
  2. ^ C.J. Hughes, Famous and Forgotten: A Baseball Legend From Bridgeport, New York Times (Aug. 8, 2004)
  3. ^ Bridgeport Banner, A Fitting Tribute for Orator Jim (Jun. 17, 2009) A Fitting Tribute for Orator Jim Archived 2009-11-06 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Meriden Daily Journal, Bostons in Lead: American Race, September 27, 1904
  5. ^ Detroit Free Press, Old Jim O'Rourke in Giants' Century Win, September 23, 1904
  6. ^ Scott Gargan, Fairfield News-Times, It’s a Hit: Baseball Exhibit at Fairfield Museum and History Center, June 21, 2010
  7. ^ New York Times, Holds Record for Playing Baseball, September 14, 1913
  8. ^ Lewiston Daily Sun, O'Rourke Connected With Baseball Half Century, January 14, 1916
  9. ^ Lawrence Baldassaro and Richard A. Johnson, eds., The American Game: Baseball and Ethnicity (S. Ill. Univ. Press 2002), pp.61–62

External links

Preceded by
John Reilly
Hitting for the cycle
June 16, 1884
Succeeded by
Dave Orr
Preceded by
Charley Jones
Career home run record holder
Succeeded by
Charley Jones
1919 in the United States

Events from the year 1919 in the United States.

James O'Rourke

James O'Rourke may refer to:

James O'Rourke (canoeist), American canoeist who competed at the 1936 Summer Olympics

James O'Rourke, Jr., his son, American sprint canoeist

Jim O'Rourke (baseball), American baseball player of the late 19th century

Jim O'Rourke (musician), musician and filmmaker

Jim O'Rourke (Connecticut politician)

Jimmy O'Rourke, Scottish footballer

List of Buffalo Bisons managers

The Buffalo Bisons were a Major League Baseball team that was based in Buffalo, New York. They played in the National League from 1879 through 1885. During their time as a Major League team, the Bisons employed five different managers. The duties of the team manager include team strategy and leadership on and off the field.

List of Washington Senators (1891–1899) managers

The Washington Senators were a Major League Baseball team that played in Washington, D.C.. They played in the American Association when it was considered a major league in 1891 and in the National League from 1892 through 1899, after which the team was eliminated when the National League contracted from twelve teams to eight teams. In their inaugural season, they played as the Washington Statesmen. During their time as a Major League team, the Senators employed 12 managers. The duties of the team manager include team strategy and leadership on and off the field.The Senators first manager was Sam Trott. Trott managed the Senators for 12 games before being replaced by Pop Snyder. Gus Schmelz holds the Senators' record for most games managed (434), managerial wins (155) and managerial losses (270). Tom Brown and Jack Doyle share the Senators' record for highest winning percentage as manager, with .471. Billy Barnie, who didn't win either of the two games he managed, holds the Senators' record for fewest wins. Arthur Irwin is the only Senators manager who served more than a single term. Irwin was one of three managers the Senators employed in its first National League season of 1892, and also the last Senators manager. In total, Irwin managed 293 games for the Senators, with 110 wins and 177 losses for a winning percentage of .383. Jim O'Rourke is the only Senators manager to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.


O'Rourke (Irish: Ó Ruairc) is an Irish Gaelic clan based most prominently in what is today County Leitrim. The family were the historic rulers of Breifne and later West Breifne until the 17th century.

Veterans Committee
First basemen
Second basemen
Third basemen
Designated hitters
Executives /
Inducted as a Giant
Inductees who played
for the Giants
Giants managers
Frick Award

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.