Originally a barehanded fielder, Corcoran successfully made the transition to gloves and the 20th century. In Cincinnati, he played shortstop alongside Bid McPhee, whose career was coming to an end, and Miller Huggins, who was just beginning. In his final season, with the Giants, the 18-year veteran spelled rookie Larry Doyle at second.
Corcoran survived two collapsed leagues (the Players’ League and the American Association) in his first two seasons, caught on with Brooklyn, and was traded to Cincinnati in 1897. There he excelled for a decade as a shortstop and team captain. In 1903, he set a still-standing ML record for SS with 14 assists in a nine-inning game. Corcoran ranks high on the lifetime lists for putouts, assists, and total chances. A skillful sign stealer, he once uprooted an electric signaling device the Phillies had buried in their third base coaching box (a binocular-equipped observer in the scoreboard passed along catcher’s signs to aid Phillie batters). Corcoran later umpired in several leagues, including the Federal League.