After two years in the minors and in independent ball, Roger Connor got his start in the big leagues playing for the Troy Trojans in 1880. Originally a third baseman, Connor moved across the diamond to take up first base, the primary position for the rest of his career.
Connor holds a special place in baseball history. In 1895 he hit his 123rd career homer to break Harry Stovey’s MLB record. Interestingly, Connor never led the league in homers in any season.
Before retiring Connor hit 15 more round-trippers to extend the record to 138. He held the mark for 26 years until Babe Ruth surpassed his total in 1921.
In the collection is this letter written to Hall of Fame National League president William Hulbert. Dated October 12,1880 – just after the conclusion of Connor’s first MLB season – it is written by the owner of the Troy Trojans, Gardner Earl. The Trojans boasted five future members of the Hall of Fame on their roster that year, three hitters and two pitchers.
In addition to Connor, Troy had Dan Brouther who held the career homerun mark for two seasons starting in 1887, and Buck Ewing who was the finest catcher of the 1800s. Taking the mound for the Trojans in 1880 was a pair of eventual 300-game winners, Tim Keefe and Smiling Mickey Welch.
Letters from the 1800s with baseball content prove difficult to find. This one written by the owner of Roger Connor’s first big league team to a Hall of Fame pioneer represents a rare artifact.