Bill Lange

Later described by A.H. Spink, founder and editor of The Sporting News, as “Ty Cobb enlarged, fully as great in speed, batting skill and base running,” the legendary Chicago outfielder quit baseball at his peak to wed the daughter of a San Francisco real estate magnate, who forbade her to marry a ballplayer. The exceptionally popular Lange set the Cub season batting record with .389 in 1895 (still unbroken) and had a string of six consecutive .300 seasons when he quit. He was famous as a reveler while with the Cubs, but he also discovered Frank Chance and recommended him to the team. Fables grew around his career. For many years he was credited as the last player before Maury Wills to steal 100 bases in a season, but later research reduced his 1896 total to 84. The next season Lange led the NL with 73. His defense was so sensational that a story grew up that he once crashed through a wooden outfield fence making a catch. Again, later research has restored the boards (though the catch was remarkable, according to eyewitnesses). A huge man for his time, the 6’1″ 190-lb Lange refused all comeback offers once he left the game, although the marriage for which he quit the game ended in divorce.