Edward Nagle "Ned" or "Ed" Williamson (October 24, 1857 March 3, 1894) was an American Major League Baseball player for 13 seasons from 1878 until 1890. He played for three different teams: the Indianapolis Blues of the National League (NL) for one season, the Chicago White Stockings (NL) for 11 seasons, and the Chicago Pirates of the Players' League for one season.
From 1883 and 1887, Williamson held the single season record for both doubles and home runs. Although his record for doubles was surpassed in 1887, he held the home run record until 1919, when it was topped by Babe Ruth of the Boston Red Sox. Statistically, he was one of the best fielders of his era. During the first eight years of his career, he led the league, at his position, in both fielding percentage and double plays five times, and assists six times. Later, when he moved to shortstop, he again led the league in both assists and double plays.
His career was shortened by a knee injury that he suffered in Paris, France, during a world-tour organized by Albert Spalding. After he left organized baseball, his health declined rapidly. He contracted Tuberculosis, and ultimately died at the age of 36 of dropsy.
During this time period, the establishment of the ground rules of each park, rested with the home team. Cap Anson, the team captain, and on-field manager, decided that in 1884, balls that were hit over the fence were to be home runs. Williamson used these short dimensions, and new ground rules to set the single season home run record by hitting 27 in a 112-game season, surpassing the record of 14 set by Harry Stovey the previous year. Of the 27 home runs he hit that year, 25 of them were hit at home. This record stood for 35 years until it was broken in 1919 by Babe Ruth, who hit 29 for the Boston Red Sox in a 140-game schedule. The first three of Williamson's 27 home runs came on May 30, in the second game of a doubleheader against the Detroit Wolverines. By doing so, Williamson became the first major league baseball player to hit three home runs in one game. During these two record-breaking seasons, his fielding prowess did not recede. He did not lead the league in fielding percentage in either 1883 or 1884, but did lead in assists, capping off a streak of five consecutive years in which he did so, while also leading the league in double plays for the second and third consecutive year.
Chicago won the National League championship that season, and agreed to play the American Association champions, the St. Louis Browns in a seven game "World Series". Before game one began, the players of both team held a field day which included contests of skill, and Williamson won the long throw, with a toss that travelled 400 feet, four inches.
The 1885 series ended in a tie when each team won three games, and one games ended in a tie. Williamson collected two base hits in 23 at bats, for a .087 batting average, and scored one run.
Spalding's world tour
At the completion of the 1888 baseball season, Albert Spalding organized an around-the-world tour to promote the game of baseball. The two teams Spalding selected were the White Stockings and a collection of players from other National League teams. The tour departed on October 20, 1888 to play exhibition games throughout the western United States for a month, before departing to Hawaii. The tour visited several foreign countries, such as; Australia, Egypt, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), France, Italy, and England. It was during a game played on at the Parc Aristotique in Paris, France on March 8, 1889, when Williamson suffered a torn knee cap which forced him to be bedridden in England on doctor's orders, missing the tour through Britain. Though players in the 19th century were responsible for their own medical care, Williamson asked Spalding to help him financially with the mounting medical costs. Spalding refused, citing that he was not obligated to assist, and Williamson never forgave him for this. Williamson, among his baseball contemporaries, wrote the most colorful articles to newspapers as the tour was unfolding. Williamson, an 1880s teammate of Anson in Chicago, had a knack for roastingpoking fun athis teammates, while always coming across as good-natured. A testament to the letters' significance is that they are a dominant source of one recent book's World Tour presentation.
Indianapolis Blues (1878)
Chicago White Stockings (18791889)
Chicago Pirates (1890)
Set the single season doubles record with 49 in 1883
Set the single season home run record with 27 in 1884
Led the National League in games played in 1878, 1885, and 1888
Led the National League in base on balls in 1885
Played on five National League championship teams, 1880-1882, 1885-1886
Played in two World Series, 1885-1886