New research shows a change in the oldest known big-league batter to hit safely.
On September 22, 1904, eleven years after his regular playing career ended, Jim O’Rourke had a single for the New York Giants. O’Rourke, 54 at the time, has long been considered the oldest major-leaguer to have a hit in a regular-season game. Until now.
Cliff Blau, with help from Richard Malatzky, discovered that the honor actually belongs to Charley O’Leary. On September 30, 1934, 21 years after his regular playing career ended, coach O’Leary had a single for the St. Louis Browns.
We’ve long known about O’Leary’s 1934 hit, but what we didn’t know was his correct birth date. It was previously thought to be October 15, 1882, but it was actually October 15, 1875, making him just short of 59 at the time of his hit.
(This article first appeared in the Baseball Records Committee’s October 2010 newsletter.)