|Pitcher & Outfielder|
March 20, 1853|
|Died: December 30, 1898
|June 26, 1871, for the Washington Olympics|
|Last MLB appearance|
|June 12, 1875, for the Washington Nationals|
|Earned run average||4.28|
William "Bill" Stearns (March 20, 1853 – December 30, 1898) was a professional baseball player who played pitcher and outfielder in the National Association from 1871 to 1875. He was the first person who had played baseball in a major league to become a casualty of military service.
Stearns was born in 1853 in Washington, D.C. and although he was only 12 years old when the American Civil War ended, he was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, which indicates he served in some capacity during the war, perhaps as a drummer or messenger.
For the first three seasons of his career, Stearns appeared exclusively as a pitcher. In 1871—the first year of the National Association—he pitched two complete games for Washington Olympics, winning both, with a 2.50 ERA. In 1872 he pitched 11 complete games for the Washington Nationals, unfortunately losing all of them, with a 6.18 ERA. In 1873 he pitched 32 complete games for the Washington Blue Legs, posting a record of 7–25, with a 4.61 ERA.
In the final two seasons of his career, Stearns appeared both as a pitcher and an outfielder. In 1874 with the Hartford Dark Blues his pitching record was 3–14 with a 2.95 ERA, and he played 19 games in the outfield. In his final season of 1875—also the final year of the National Association—he was with the Washington Nationals, pitching to a 1–14 record with a 4.02 ERA, and playing 7 games in the outfield.
Stearns' career pitching record was 13–64 with a 4.28 ERA, and as a batter he had 411 plate appearances, hitting .191 with just two extra base hits, both doubles. He later served as an umpire during 1884.
|Place of burial||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1898|
|Unit||First District of Columbia Volunteers|
In 1898 with the outbreak of the Spanish–American War, Stearns volunteered for military service. He was a private with the First District of Columbia Volunteers, and deployed to Puerto Rico in July. While there he became ill and contracted malaria, and although he returned to his hometown in September, he never recovered and died there on December 30.
- Russo, Frank (2014). The Cooperstown Chronicles. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 243. ISBN 978-1-4422-3639-4.
- "Bill Stearns". baseballsgreatestsacrifice.com. Retrieved 2016-10-07.
- "William E "Bill" Stearns". dcbaseballhistory.com. Retrieved 2016-10-07.
- "Bill Stearns' career statistics". retrosheet.org. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
- "William Eckloff "Bill" Stearns". findagrave.com. Retrieved 2016-10-07.
- "MLB: Twelve Players Who Made The Ultimate Sacrifice". calltothepen.com. Retrieved 2016-10-07.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference