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.
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.
*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)