Gore, George (1970)
Officially born in Saccarappa, Maine (although it is also claimed he was born in Hartland, Maine), Gore was born into a poor, country family. As a young man, he grew up playing baseball in and around his hometown of Hartland. While working for, and playing for the S.D. Warren Paper Mill in Westbrook, Maine, his skills caught the attention of pro scouts and in 1877 he signed a contract with a team in Fall River, Massachusetts of the New England League. He showed up to his first professional baseball tryout without shoes.
The following year, he played for the New Bedford Whalers, batted .324 and helped the team win the New England championship.[Scouts from seven major league teams were vying for his services, but it was when he was playing in an exhibition game against Anson's Chicago White Stockings team that he got his opportunity to sign a major league contract. After the game, White Stockings owner Albert Spalding offered him a contract to play for his team, and Gore signed. Spalding offered him $1,200 a season, and although Gore originally asked for $2,500, they eventually compromised on $1,900.
He made his major league debut with Chicago on May 1, 1879. He played in 63 games that first season as the club's starting center fielder and batted .263. Gore excelled during his second season with Chicago, leading the league with a .360 batting average, as well as a .399 on-base percentage, and .463 slugging percentage. Additionally, he finished in the top five among league leaders in runs scored, hits, doubles, runs batted in (RBIs), bases on balls and singles.
In 1881 and 1882, Gore continued his hitting success, as he finished in the top 10 in multiple offensive categories. He led the league in runs scored both seasons, and walks in 1882. On June 25, 1881, he became the first known player to record at least seven stolen bases in one game when the Chicago Tribune noted that Gore stole second base five times and third base three times . It considered the all-time record even though at the time stolen bases were not recorded as an official statistic. This feat has only been equaled by Billy Hamilton, who also stole seven bases on August 31, 1894.
The White Stockings failed to finish the 1883 season in first place, after having captured league titles the previous three years. Gore's production did not decline despite his team's sinking performance as he was again among the top players in several offensive categories over the next two seasons, including a league-leading 61 walks in 1884.
In 1885 and 1886 the White Stockings returned to the top of the NL. Gore's offensive production continued at a high level, again among league leaders in several categories.On July 9, 1885, in a game against the Providence Grays and their pitcher Charles Radbourn, he gathered five extra-base hits, three doubles and two triples. He is the first player to accomplish this feat, which has since been equalled many times, but never surpassed. After the 1885 season, Chicago played the St. Louis Browns, the American Association (AA) champion, in a best-of-seven series of exhibition games known as the "World Series." The series ended with Chicago and St. Louis each winning three games, and one game ending in a tie.
Gore joined a New York Giants team that had a roster that contained no less than six future Baseball Hall of Famers: John Montgomery Ward, Roger Connor, Buck Ewing, Tim Keefe, Mickey Welch, and Jim O'Rourke. Gore took his usual position in center field, replacing O'Rourke, who was the starter the previous season. Gore played well that first season in New York, batting .290 and scoring 95 runs, but the team finished in fourth place in the National League.
For the 1888 season, Gore played in just 64 of the team's 138 games. O'Rourke had reclaimed a starting position, this time in left field, while Gore split his playing time between center and left field. Gore regained his starting position in center field for the 1889 season, and his play improved over his 1888 performance. He batted .305, scored 132 runs, and hit seven home runs in 120 games played . The Giants again finished the season as the champions of the NL, and met the Brooklyn Bridegrooms in the 1889 World Series after the season. New York was again declared the victor after winning six of the nine games exhibition games played. Gore played in five of these games, collecting seven hits in 21 at-bats for a .333 batting average.
After the 1889 season, Gore's teammate, John Montgomery Ward, had organized a new league, the Players' League, and many players were a part of his new union of baseball players called "The Brotherhood". The Players' League began play for the 1890 season, and Gore joined many of his fellow Giants as they joined the new league to play for the New York Giants. Again, Gore split his playing time between left and center field with both Slattery and O'Rourke, but did finish the season appearing in 93 of the team's 132 games, and batted .318 with 132 runs.
Return to the Giants
Following the 1890 season, the Players' League folded and all the players were allowed to return to their previous teams. Gore returned the Giants along with all of his teammates. In 1891, the Giants did not return to their previous championship status. They finished third among the league's eight teams, with Gore as their starting center fielder, while O'Rourke had moved to left due the departure of Slattery. Gore batted .284 and scored 103 runs in 130 games played.
Gore began the 1892 season as the starting center fielder of the Giants, but through an unknown transaction, had moved on to the position of player-manager for the St. Louis Browns of the NL. He began his tenure on August 1, and it ended on August 18, during which time his Browns had a win–loss record of 6–9 in the games he managed. In the 20 games that he played in, his batting average was .205. He soon departed the team, and he never played major league baseball again.
From the Society of American Baseball Research . This article was written by Will Anderson
Maine’s only batting champion as of 2010 was most definitely one of the outstanding performers of his day. That his day was a long, long time ago should not detract from his achievements. A batting champ of one era is not likely to hit .214 in another!
George F. “Piano Legs” Gore was born in Saccarappa, Maine, in 1855. It was in Hartland that he learned a love of the game, playing as often as he could in fields and pastures in and around town. He eventually moved to Saccareppa (Westbrook), where he found ample opportunity to play – and play well – for the S.D. Warren paper mill team. In one game he blasted a ball 450 feet. Word spread, and soon George was persuaded to leave Maine and give pro ball a try.
Playing briefly in 1877, George hit .319 in 33 games for Fall River in the New England League. The next season, 1878, he really began to show his stuff: He socked a solid .324 for the New Bedford Whalers, in the International Association. “They paid me $55 a month and expenses. That was good money for a youngster in 1878,” George later reminisced. A.G. Spalding, owner of the Chicago White Stockings, was impressed: He offered Gore $1,200 to play in Chicago in 1879. George said, “No.” He wanted $2,500. Many credit him, accordingly, with being baseball’s first holdout. The two eventually compromised on $1,900 and George started his 14-year major-league career.
From The Working Waterfront Archives
"Baseball statistician and historian Bill James ranks Gore as the 40th best centerfielder of all time and the best player in the National League in 1880"
From Baseball Reference
George Gore fan forum