After Van Haltren walked 16 batters in a game (tying a still-standing major league record) as a Chicago rookie in 1887, manager Cap Anson began to use the lithe, swift youngster in the outfield at times. Van Haltren threw a six-inning no-hitter against Pittsburgh on June 21, 1888, but didn’t pitch at all in 1889, and hit .300 for the first of 12 seasons. He jumped to the Players’ League in 1890 and went 15-10 for Brooklyn, while batting .335. He played for and briefly managed two Baltimore clubs, and in 1894 he joined the New York Giants.
Van Haltren became a star attraction at the Polo Grounds for a team that had fallen considerably since winning championships in 1888 and 1889. He was a centerfielder and lefthanded leadoff hitter who played with the kind of elan New Yorkers appreciated. His graceful, far-ranging, strong-armed outfield play set a high standard. In 1896 he batted a career-high .351 and tied for the NL lead with 21 triples. His 45 stolen bases in 1900 tied him for the league lead; he had 583 steals lifetime. A broken ankle curtailed Van Haltren’s ML career, but he played in the Pacific Coast League from 1904 to 1909.