Charlie Snow

This article was written by Mike Cooney

Charlie Snow had a perfect major-league batting average and a perfectly imperfect fielding average. He was probably the most unlikely player to get a hit in his first major-league at-bat and yet, perhaps, the most likely player to never get a second at-bat.

Charles M. Snow was born on August 3, 1849, in Lowell, Massachusetts, to Benjamin Snow, a laborer, and Laura G. Snow.1 In the 1850 federal census, Benjamin Snow was listed as a “manufacturer.”2

Charles had two younger sisters, Ida and Ella. Benjamin is no longer shown as part of the family unit starting with the 1860 census. His mother, Laura, shows as a housekeeper.3 Snow’s youngest sister, Ella, no longer shows in the family unit beginning with the 1865 Massachusetts State census. At 16, Snow was listed as a clerk.4

By 1870, the family had moved to Suffolk County, Massachusetts (Boston). Then 21, Snow claimed he had no occupation.5 It is safe to assume Snow joined one of the three main Boston amateur baseball teams, probably the Boston Atlantics,6 during the early 1870s. 

Beginning with the 1874 season, the Boston Atlantics changed their name to the Boston Amateurs.7 Snow was a member of the Amateurs on October 1 when the major-league Boston Red Stockings played the Brooklyn Atlantics in what would result in a 29-0 Boston victory.8  

In their game the day before, Atlantics catcher Henry Kessler broke his thumb in the third inning. The Atlantics had to play the rest of the game with eight players.9

With Kessler injured, Brooklyn had to telegraph catcher Jake Knowdell to report to Boston for the October 1 game.10 With Knowdell’s arrival, the Atlantics were able to put nine men on the field. However, in the fifth inning, Knowdell broke the second finger of his right hand. Knowdell’s injury again left the Atlantics with just eight players.11

SABR member and nineteenth century baseball historian David Nemec speculates that the Atlantics, in order to continue the game with nine players, looked to the fans for a replacement. Snow was at the game and either volunteered or was recommended by a Boston player who knew him.12 Snow joined the Atlantics for the final three innings.

Since Snow replaced catcher Knowdell, most baseball data sites show him as a catcher who had three fielding chances and made three errors for an unparalleled fielding percentage of .000 for a player with more than two chances.13

A blogger who calls himself The Flagrant Fan, in his A Charlie Snow Day, wrote: “According to Charlie Snow’s player page, in that one game behind the plate, most likely catching Tommy Bond, Snow had three chances in the field and botched them all.”14

However, Charlie Snow did not play catcher for the Atlantics. Brooklyn third baseman Bob Ferguson went behind the plate, shortstop Dickey Pearce moved to third base, and center fielder Pat McGee moved to shortstop. Charlie Snow replaced McGee in center field.15

As for Snow’s fielding, the Boston Post box score for the game shows Snow had three chances and made three of the 30 errors made by the Atlantics,16 while the Boston Globe box score shows he had four chances and made four of the 36 Atlantics errors.17

The Boston Globe, in commenting on the 29-0 game it called “the funniest game of the season,” wrote: “The chief cause of the disaster lay in the loose play of (Al) Martin, Ferguson, Knowdell and his substitute Snow.”18

It is difficult to understand why the two major Boston newspapers differed in the total Atlantics team errors as well as the number of errors made by Snow. Regardless, whether Charlie Snow made three errors or four, it was as a center fielder.19

What is not in question is Snow’s hitting prowess. In a game where Boston’s future Hall of Fame pitcher Al Spalding gave up only four hits, 25-year-old Charlie Snow singled in what was his only major-league at-bat.20

It is easy to speculate that Spalding “eased up” when pitching to Snow, thus allowing him to get a hit. However, David Nemec commented that, based on Spalding’s reputation, he would not ease up on anyone, let alone an amateur fill-in.21 In other words, Snow’s hit was probably well earned.

After the game, Snow went home with a 1.000 major-league batting average and a .000 fielding average. At the time he was the only major league player to finish his career with a 1.000 batting average.22

He would never get another at-bat in the majors. In fact, there is no evidence that Snow played baseball at any level after that October 1 game.

It does appear that Snow moved to Brooklyn, New York, shortly after the game. In the 1880 US Census, he is shown as living in Brooklyn and working as a ticket agent.23 Snow continued to live in Brooklyn, at some point moving from his ticket-agent job to that of a stationery salesman.24

A review of federal census reports would indicate Snow never married.

Snow was 80 years old when he died on August 27, 1929. He is buried at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.25

Charlie Snow seemingly lived an anonymous life except for one October day in 1874 – the day he made major-league history that can never be bettered (or worsened in the case of his fielding): one game, one at-bat, one hit, 1.000 batting average; three or four chances, three or four errors, .000 fielding percentage..


In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author also consulted

Special thanks to David Nemec for sharing his insight and his research on Charlie Snow.



1 Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 for Charles M. Snow (

2 1850 United States Federal Census (

3 1860 United States Federal Census (

4 Massachusetts, State Census, 1865 (

5 1870 United States Federal Census (

6 “Base-Ball,” Boston Globe, May 9, 1874: 3.

7 “Local News,” Boston Post, May 16, 1874.

8 “Base Ball,” Boston Post, October 2, 1874.

9 “Base Ball,” Boston Post, October 2, 1874.

10 “Base Ball,” Boston Post, October 2, 1874.

11 “Base Ball,” Boston Post, October 2, 1874.

12  Author interview with David Nemec, November 12, 2019.

13 Tom Ruane of Retrosheet ran a query and found the following players who committed errors in both of their only two chances: Bob Allen, Jodie Beeler, Harry Fuller, Pete Hasney, Rontrez Johnson, James Morris, John Rudderham, Lefty Schegg, Brian Slocum, Tom Thobe, and Mauro Zarate. Emmanuel Clase of the 2019 Texas Rangers falls in this category as of the beginning of 2020. There are 73 players who made an error in their one and only chance. Tom Ruane email to Bill Nowlin, December 2, 2019.


15 “Base Ball,” Boston Post, October 2, 1874.

16  “Base Ball,” Boston Post, October 2, 1874.

17 “Out-Door Sports – Base Ball,” Boston Globe, October 2, 1874: 5.

18 “Out-Door Sports – Base Ball,” Boston Globe, October 2, 1874: 5.

19 in fact lists Snow as a center fielder. says he was the catcher. Both say he made three errors.

20 David Nemec, The Rank and File of 19th Century Major League Baseball. Biographies of 1084 Players, Owners, Managers and Umpires (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2012), 267-268.

21 David Nemec interview.

22 David Nemec interview.

23 1880 United States Federal Census for Charles Snow (

24 1920 United States Federal Census for Charles Snow (


Full Name

Charles M. Snow


August 3, 1849 at Lowell, MA (USA)


August 27, 1929 at Brooklyn, NY (USA)

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