“Ginger” Beaumont and His Baseball Feat That Will Never Be Matched

On most days between April and September, I talk about Clarence H. “Ginger” Beaumont. Among my duties as a Pittsburgh Pirates PNC Park tour guide is to show guests the home team batting cage.

On the wall is the list of all the Pirates who have won batting championships—-eleven different players (see if you can name them; answer below*) for a total of 25 crowns.

Below Honus Wagner and next to the year 1902 Beaumont’s name is painted in white lettering.  I rarely gave Beaumont more than a passing thought until a visitor asked if “Ginger” was his real name. That simple question started my inquiry into Beaumont’s life and times.

“Ginger,” known on his birth certificate as Clarence, got his nickname because of his red hair. Beaumont holds a place in baseball history that can never be surpassed or outdone. In the 1903 first-ever World Series, the visiting Pirates faced the Boston Americans’ Cy Young. Beaumont, leading off, flew out to center field. Thus, Beaumont became the first batter in World Series history.

Beaumont, as I learned, was a great of a player—good enough so that when Honus Wagner and Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem made out their all-time teams both chose Ginger as their center fielder.

During the Deadball Era, Beaumont was considered baseball’s finest leadoff man, a lifetime .311 hitter. When Beaumont’s contemporaries praised him, they focused on his blazing speed (he was once clocked from home to first in 4.4 seconds), unusual for his 190 pound, 5’8″ frame.

According to famous Pittsburgh sportswriter John Gruber:

He [Beaumont] was an excellent base runner, being very fast on his feet, but nobody who saw him for the first time ambling along on his way to the batter’s box would admit this. A lazier or more indifferent-appearing player, emphasized by a burly body, could not be conceived. But when he hit the ball he was off like a streak, which astonished the uninitiated and made him one of the wonders of the century.

Beaumont began his career the old minor league Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers traded Beaumont to Pittsburgh in 1900 and he played for the Pirates for eight seasons.

In addition to his batting title, Beaumont also led the National League in hits three times and scored 100 runs four times, leading the league once. Ironically, one of the fastest players in his, bad knees ended Beaumont’s career in just 12 seasons.

Once out of baseball, Beaumont returned to his native Wisconsin and settled in Honey Creek where he owned a store, did some farming and auctioneering, conducted the church choir, became a grandfather and enjoyed his status as a local legend. Beaumont died on April 10, 1956 at the age of 79.

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*Pittsburgh Pirates batting champions: Wagner (8), Beaumont (1). Paul Waner (3), Deb Garms (1), Arky Vaughn (1), Dick Groat (1), Roberto Clemente (4), Matty Alou (1), Bill Madlock (2), Dave Parker (2) and Freddie Sanchez (1)

0 thoughts on ““Ginger” Beaumont and His Baseball Feat That Will Never Be Matched”

  1. I’m his grandson. Of Klem’s and Wagners All Time Teams, my grandfather is only player on those teams NOT in the Hall of Fame. I was extremely disappointed when this year of the Golden Era inductees, grandpa Beau did not get in. It’s long overdue. I sent Idelson and Hall many new newspaper clippings the majority of the voting committee hadn’t seen. I learned none of it was presented to the committee. His records are many. I think his being the first batter in the first World Series has kept him out of the Hall.

    Tom Beaumont

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