A backstop from the 1800s, Jack “Peach Pie” O’Connor spent the bulk of his career with the now forgotten Cleveland Spiders of the National League. A rarity in his day–a catcher who played on into his 40s–Peach Pie still holds a rather dubious record. In 1906, as a 40-year-old backstop with the St. Louis Browns, Peach Pie banged out 33 hits (all singles) which set a still-standing record of most hits in a season without an extra base hit.
Peach Pie made his debut with the old Cincinnati Red Stockings of the American Association in 1887. A rather versatile fellow, O’Connor was used as an outfielder/catcher for the second place Red Stockings as a rookie in ’87. His lack of playing time was remedied in 1889 when he joined the Columbus Solons, a second division club, where he became the team’s regular catcher. Peach Pie tied for the team lead in homeruns his first year in Columbus while leading catchers in putouts and fielding percentage.
His finest season came in 1890 when Peach Pie hit .324 (second on the team) and helped the Solons climb the standings. They jumped up to second place as Jack nurtured a fine pitching staff that boasted 30-game-winner Hank Gastright, southpaw Frank Knauss and a young Icebox Chamberlin who posted a 2.21 ERA. But the Solons success was short-lived as they fell back into the second division in 1891 and then the American Association was disbanded in 1892.
After Columbus dropped out of the Major Leagues, Peach Pie began his association with the Cleveland Spiders. The Spiders finished second in 1892 as O’Connor played more games in the outfield to accommodate veteran star backstop Chief Zimmer. In 1894, he upped his batting average to .315. The Spiders finished second again in 1895 as he shared catching duties with Zimmer while also seeing action at the infield corners. That season Jack gunned down 40% of would-be basestealers while Zimmer torpedoed 38%.
In 1897, Peach Pie posted his fourth straight season of a batting average of .290 or better. When the Spiders suffered from poor attendance in 1898, their owner, who also owned the St. Louis Perfectos (the Cardinals today) shifted all his Cleveland stars to St. Louis as punishment to Spiders fans for their poor support. The aging O’Connor lasted a year and a half with St. Louis before the powerhouse Pirates purchased his contract.
With the first place Pirates, Peach Pie found himself in usual terrain in 1901: platooning with Chief Zimmer. The Pirates captured the NL pennant in 1901 and 1902, but due to animosity between the leagues, there wasn’t a World Series. During the latter campaign, Peach Pie paced National League catchers with a .294 batting average. He jumped the powerhouse Pirates after the 1902 season and joined the New York Highlanders (now the Yankees) for the 1903 season.
Peach Pie played one year in New York before he was dealt to the Browns for Honest John Anderson. By this time O’Connor was pushing 40 and was used sparingly by the Browns. In 1906, at the age of 40, Peach Pie played in 55 games and tallied 33 hits–all of which were singles. His last Major League action came in 1910 when he, as manager, inserted himself into the lineup for one last game.
G 1,452/R 714/H 1,418/2B 201/3B 66/HR 19/RBI 738/SB 219/BA .263/SA .336/OBP .307