A star right fielder during the Deadball Era, Silent John Titus was noted for his handlebar moustache (they were no longer fashionable on the diamond when he wore his) and for always playing with a toothpick in his chompers. An Army veteran who served during the Spanish-American War, Titus was a gifted star who posted seven consecutive seasons of 20+ outfield assists.
Born in Pennsylvania, Silent John was already long in the tooth when given his initial Major League trial with the Phillies in 1903. Purchased from the Concord Marines in 1903 to ease the pain of Ed Delahanty and Elmer Frick’s losses to the upstart American League, Titus hit .286 as a 27-year-old rookie. Inserted as the everyday left fielder in 1904, Silent John paced senior circuit left fielders in base hits.
In 1905, skipper Hugh Duffy shifted Titus to right field and moved 1904 right fielder Sherry Magee to left. Silent John was in a league to himself amongst his position peers. The only .300 hitting right fielder in the NL during the 1905 season, Titus led NL right fielders in RBI, runs, hits, doubles (2nd in the National League), walks and slugging average. After a breakout 1905 season Silent John regressed slightly in 1906 but was back on top in 1907. That year Titus tied for the most doubles by an NL right fielder.
Titus hit .286 in 1908 while leading National League right fielders in runs scored. The toothpick chomping Army vet sharpened his eyesight in 1909 when he paced NL right fielders in walks drawn. He upped his base on balls total to 93 in 1910 which enabled him to post a flattering on-base percentage despite his lower batting average. In that 1910 season, Silent John teamed with Sherry Magee and Johnny Bates to give the Phillies the only all-90 runs scored outfield in the Major Leagues.
Silent John suffered a broken leg in 1911 and missed half the season. Healthy again in 1912, John got off to a hot start with the Phillies but he was traded at the age of 36 in June for Doc Miller of the Braves. The trade fueled Silent John and he went on a tear with the Braves. In 96 games with Boston, Silent John hit .325 with a terrific .422 on-base percentage. During his last Major League season, 1913, Silent John paced the Braves with a .297 batting average. He played two final years with the Kansas City Blues of the American Association who were battling with the upstart Federal League’s KC Packers for fans.
G 1,402/R 738/H 1,401/2B 253/3B 72/HR 38/RBI 561/SB 140/BA .282/SA .385