Jim O’Rourke started playing big league baseball before the formation of the National League. The 5’8″ catcher/first baseman spent four years in the National Association, America’s first professional sports league.
When the National League was formed in 1876, O’Rourke joined the Boston Redstockings. That season he recorded the first hit in NL history.
O’Rourke played during an era with a shortened schedule compared to today’s game. He led the league in games played in both 1876 and 1877 with 70 and 61, respectively.
He appeared in his first big league game at age 21 and his last at 54. Despite playing in the condensed seasons, O’Rourke still totaled 2,639 hits, 1,729 runs, and 1,208 RBI.
According to the Hall of Fame, O’Rourke explained his longevity thusly, “I lived a clean life. I never touched liquor in any form, nor did I ever use tobacco. I always took care of myself. That’s the reason I’m playing ball today, and that is the reason why I can enjoy the game.”
O’Rourke was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1945.