Uncle Ezra, as admiring Boston fans called him, was a power hitter in the bare-handed days. He once hit three consecutive triples in a single game and had respectable numbers for slugging average and total bases. Originally a cross-handed batter (from the righthander’s side of the plate), he adopted the normal grip to enhance his effectiveness against pitchers’ ever-increasing speed.
Essentially a third baseman, he played all infield positions as needed, had a strong throwing arm, and unflinching courage facing “fair-foul” hits down the line. Except for a league-leading .908 in 1884, however, his fielding percentages were usually in the .800s. While with the Athletics he made the first error in the first National League game ever played.
A solid contributor to Boston’s 1877, 1878, and 1883 champions, he came to a sad end, dying crippled and impoverished.