1. James J. Collins was born in 1870 in Clifton, New York (now Niagara Falls, New York) where he father was a cop. Eventually the father became chief of police for Buffalo, New York.
2. He began his career with the International League (minor league) Buffalo team in 1893. Although he started out as a third baseman, he spent most of his minor league career in the outfield.
3. In 1895 he was sold to the Boston Beaneaters (now the Braves) as an outfielder. He wasn’t very good and was loaned (they don’t do it that way anymore) to the Louisville Colonels for the bulk of the season.
4. According to the story Louisville was playing the Baltimore Orioles (not the current team) when the third baseman was having a difficult time fielding bunts, an Orioles specialty. Knowing Collins had played some third in the minors, the manager shifted him to third where he threw out four consecutive bunters. That got him a more or less permanent change to third (he played a handful of games at shortstop).
5. According to the same story Collins is supposed to have invented the third baseman charging the ball on a bunt, fielding it bare-handed, and flipping it underhand to first for the out. Maybe. But considering that gloves were relatively new, fielding a bunt bare-handed was certainly not original with Collins. Possibly he’s the first to throw the ball without standing up first.
6. He went back to Boston in 1896 settling in as the team’s primary third baseman. He generally hit around .300 and led the National League in both home runs and total bases in 1898.
7. In 1901, he jumped to the newly formed Boston Americans (now the Red Sox) of the fledgling American League, staying there into the 1907 season.
8. He became Boston’s first manager, holding the job into the 1906 season. As manager, he won pennants in 1903 and 1904.
9. The 1903 team played, and won, the first World Series (the 1800s postseason games were not called “World Series”). Collins hit .250 in the Series, scored five runs, had one RBI, and became the first manager to win a Series. In 1904 there was no World Series.
10. In 1907 he was traded to the Philadelphia Athletics, where he played through 1908, then left the Major Leagues.
11. He retired to Buffalo, made money in real estate, and worked for the city parks department.
12. He died in 1943 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1945. At the time of his death, he was universally recognized as one of the two or three finest third basemen in Major League history.
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