Thorn: The life of Reilly, home run hero and artist

From SABR member John Thorn at Our Game on October 3, 2017:

Long John Reilly was a great ballplayer in his day, with a knack for hitting home runs. In 1888 his 13 home runs not only led the league but constituted the second most impressive home-run mark of the 19th century, as measured by standard deviations above the norm. Indeed, by this measure Reilly’s mark remains one of the top 25 in all baseball history, as described in Bill Felber’s “The Most Dominant Home Run Season Ever: Sabermetric Methods Applied to Feats of Long Ago” (

Forgotten today by all but a handful, first baseman Reilly had an impressive OPS+ of 129 for his career, which was punctuated by a record three instances of hitting for the cycle (twice in one week in 1883, including a six-hit game). In 1890 he hit an astounding 26 triples. Had he not played his entire big-league career in Cincinnati, all but three in the American Association, baseball savants might have awarded Reilly consideration for the Hall of Fame.

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Originally published: October 13, 2017. Last Updated: October 13, 2017.