Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Millvale, Allegheny County
Hall of Fame shortstop Bobby Wallace played in the major leagues from 1894 to 1918.
Awards: Baseball Hall of Fame
Rhoderick John Wallace, commonly known as Bobby Wallace, was born on November 4, 1873, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He played baseball at a young age and moved on to play for one of the best semi-professional teams ever to take the field in Franklin, PA. Bobby Wallace began playing for the majors on September 15, 1984. He started as a pitcher and worked his way around to almost every position until he found his niche at shortstop. Wallace was one of the best shortstop players of his time and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1953. He died on November 3, 1960, in Torrance, California.
Rhoderick John Wallace was born on November 4, 1873, in Pittsburgh. Rhoderick, also known as Bobby, began playing baseball at a young age and quickly developed a knack for the sport. During his earlier years, Bobby Wallace played with many professional teams, usually at pitcher or outfield. In 1894, he played for a team in Franklin, PA, which was possibly the best semi-pro team ever to take the field.
After shining with this team, he signed on with the Cleveland Spiders in 1894. On his debut on September 15, 1894, he came into the league as a pitcher for the Spiders. Wallace won 12 of his first 26 games and soon the management of the Spiders realized that Wallace truly shined in other positions. The Cleveland management began switching Bobby Wallace from pitcher to outfielder regularly. Finally, in 1887, the staff was so impressed with his fielding ability, he was moved to the infield.
1887 was Wallace's best season. He played exceptionally at third base as well as at bat. He had a batting average of .335, the best of his 25 year career, had 112 RBI's, and scored 99 runs for the Cleveland Spiders. In 1899, however, the owner of the Spiders, Frank De Haas Robison, bought up the St. Louis Perfectos (now the Cardinals) and moved his best players including Wallace to St. Louis because they allowed Sunday baseball.
In 1901, Wallace had another outstanding season with St. Louis, showing his prowess at the shortstop position. Wallace led the league in double plays, chances per game, and assists. Staying consistent both offensively and defensively he did not fall short at the plate, earning an impressive batting average of .324.
In 1902, the St. Louis Browns (now the Baltimore Orioles) took note of Wallace's outstanding talent at short stop and gave him an offer he couldn't refuse. The Browns signed Bobby Wallace for five year contract worth over $32,000, which in 2006 factoring in inflation would be worth $747,496.88.
Wallace played well at shortstop for the Browns, keeping them top contenders in the league, but by 1907 the team had fallen into the bottom of the league. The end of Bobby Wallace's career was marked by a broken hand and the Browns inability to measure up to the rest of the competition in the league. In 1918, Wallace retired from his 25 year baseball career.
Wallace did more during and after his time with baseball than just play the sport. He started umpiring in the summer of 1917 for the American League and umpired for about a year. After retiring from the Majors, Wallace did some managing in the minors and majors. He coached the St. Louis Browns and the Cincinnati Reds briefly and earned the record of having the worst record for a manager with 200 or more MLB games (62 wins, 154 losses). Wallace realized managing a baseball team was not for him but he still continued scouting for Cincinnati until he died of a heart attack on November 3, 1960, one day before his 87th birthday.
In 1953, Wallace was inducted into the Hall of Fame; however, he was too sickly at the time to attend the ceremonies. Wallace was one of the most versatile baseball players of his time. He played practically every position on the field in the pros and was especially known for his ability to field the ball well. While not known to be a power hitter, having only a career total of 24 home runs, he was known for his speed and ended his career with 200 stolen bases, 2300 hits, 1121 RBI's, and 153 triples. Wallace was arguably the best shortstop of his time, and set a high standard for all shortstops that would follow him.