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Ross Barnes: Hall of Famer,
or Just Another Shadow on the Grass?

By Karl Jacobsen

Ask any kid at Wrigley Field, "Who was the greatest second baseman to ever play for Chicago in the National League?" and you'll probably hear the name Ryne Sandberg. His grandpa could say Billy Herman, while his great-grandpa might be emphatic with his choice of Johnny Evers.

All good answers: two members of baseball's Hall of Fame and a certain future inductee.

Ask the same three, "Who was the greatest major league second baseman to ever call Rockford, Illinois, his home?" and I doubt any of them could come up with a name.

But there's another former Chicago National League player that just might be the best of them all.

Ross Barnes was a pioneer of the game. Not only did he play an integral role in the formation of both the National Association and the National League, but his presence on the diamond helped change the way the game was and is played. It's unfortunate, but time has a way of obscuring one's deeds. The years may have gone by, but one of the great things about baseball is that a player's accomplishments are a matter of record, and Ross Barnes's record is impressive.

To read the rest of this story, click here to order a copy of the Spring 2000 issue.

KARL JACOBSEN lives in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. A longtime nineteenth century baseball crank, he enjoys researching forgotten players and teams.

© 2000 Karl Jacobsen


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