The impish Latham laughed his way through baseball. A dandy third baseman and leadoff hitter for the St. Louis Browns of the then-major league American Association when they won four straight pennants in the 1880s, he scored 100 or more runs nine times, leading the AA in 1886 (152). In 1888 he led with 109 stolen bases under the more liberal scoring rules of the time.
He was equally famous for his comedy in the coach’s box, taunting rivals while amusing the crowd with his antics. He was probably the first clown in baseball to develop an act and certainly the first to be hired exclusively as a baseline coach, by John McGraw of the Giants.
Eventually, he and his wife moved to England, returning only when WWII seemed imminent. The Giants made a place for him as an attendant in the press box, where the still spry Latham amused writers with his witty observations and reminiscences.