Jim O'Rourke (baseball)

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Jim O'Rourke
Portrait of Jim O'Rourke.jpg
Born: (1850-09-01)September 1, 1850
Bridgeport, Connecticut
Died: January 8, 1919(1919-01-08) (aged 68)
Bridgeport, Connecticut
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 26, 1872 for the Middletown Mansfields
Last MLB appearance
September 22, 1904 for the New York Giants
Career statistics
Batting average .311
Hits 2,643
Runs 1,729

As Player

As Manager

Career highlights and awards
Induction 1945
Election Method Veteran's Committee

James Henry O'Rourke (September 1, 1850 – January 8, 1919), nicknamed "Orator Jim", was an American professional baseball player in the National Association and Major League Baseball who played primarily as a left fielder. For the period 1876–1892, he ranks behind only Cap Anson in career major league games played (1644), hits (2146), at-bats (6884), doubles (392) and total bases (2936), and behind only Harry Stovey in runs scored (1370). (Stovey was a younger player. Anson played five seasons and O'Rourke four prior to 1876.)


O'Rourke was born in East Bridgeport, Connecticut. On April 22, 1876, he had the first base hit in National League history. After leaving the major leagues following the 1893 season he continued to play in the minor leagues until he was over 50 years old. In 1904 he made a final appearance with the New York Giants under manager and friend John McGraw, becoming at age 54 the oldest player ever to appear in the National League, and the oldest player to hit safely in a major league game.[1][2][3] He returned to the minors as president of the Connecticut League, and in 1912 returned to the field to catch a complete minor league game at the age of 60.[4][5]

O'Rourke is one of only 29 players in baseball history to appear in Major League games in four decades.

He graduated from Yale Law School in 1887 with an LL.B.,[6] practicing law in Bridgeport between early playing stints, and earning the nickname "Orator Jim" because of his verbosity on the field, his intellect, and his law degree—uncommon in a game regarded as a rough immigrant sport at the time.[7] Legend has it that O'Rourke, a child of Irish immigrants, was asked to drop the "O'" from his last name when he signed a contract with Boston and its Protestant backers, but refused, saying "I would rather die than give up my father's name. A million dollars would not tempt me."[8] As an executive, O'Rourke later hired the first African American minor league baseball player in history.[9]

O'Rourke died of pneumonia at age 68 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945 as one of the earliest inductees from the 19th century. His older brother John O'Rourke and his son James "Queenie" O'Rourke also played in the majors.

"O'Rourke has made a brilliant record for himself as an outfielder, being an excellent judge of a ball, a swift runner, and making the most difficult running catches with the utmost ease and certainty. As a thrower, too, he stands pre-eminent, being credited with a throw of 365 feet, the next to the longest yet accomplished by any player."

— The Sporting Life

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Meriden Daily Journal, Bostons in Lead: American Race, September 27, 1904
  2. ^ Detroit Free Press, Old Jim O'Rourke in Giants' Century Win, September 23, 1904
  3. ^ Scott Gargan, Fairfield News-Times, It’s a Hit: Baseball Exhibit at Fairfield Museum and History Center, June 21, 2010
  4. ^ New York Times, Holds Record for Playing Baseball, September 14, 1913
  5. ^ Lewiston Daily Sun, O'Rourke Connected With Baseball Half Century, January 14, 1916
  6. ^ New York Times, O'Rourke Becomes a Lawyer, November 6, 1887
  7. ^ C.J. Hughes, Famous and Forgotten: A Baseball Legend From Bridgeport, New York Times (Aug. 8, 2004)
  8. ^ Lawrence Baldassaro and Richard A. Johnson, eds., The American Game: Baseball and Ethnicity (S. Ill. Univ. Press 2002), pp.61–62
  9. ^ Bridgeport Banner, A Fitting Tribute for Orator Jim (Jun. 17, 2009) A Fitting Tribute for Orator Jim

External links[edit]