Rothenberg: New evidence leads to ‘switch’ in Roger Connor’s record

From SABR member Matt Rothenberg at on May 16, 2017, with mention of SABR members Peter Morris and Bill Ryczek:

More than 40 years following his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Roger Connor has recently joined another exclusive club.

Research performed over the winter shows that Connor, long considered just a left-handed hitter, was also a quite capable batsman from the right side of home plate. Therefore, he becomes one of just 19 Hall of Famers – eight of whom were primarily pitchers – be listed as a switch-hitter.

Connor, who has a lifetime batting average of .316, played for five clubs over 18 seasons, from 1880 to 1897. Until surpassed by Babe Ruth in the 1921 season, Connor held the career mark for home runs with 138.

How does someone go from batting one way to becoming a switch-hitter? It could be traced to the development of the curveball and the increase in left-handed pitchers during the late 19th century.

Peter Morris, author of A Game of Inches: The Story Behind the Innovations that Shaped Baseball, notes, however, that the “first known switch-hitter, Bob Ferguson, began doing so before the curveball was a large part of baseball.” Ferguson was a star infielder for various teams in the National Association and the nascent National League. He was also a teammate of Connor’s with Troy from 1880-1882.

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Originally published: May 17, 2017. Last Updated: May 17, 2017.