William Angle “Bill” Rariden
Born: February 5, 1888 - Bedford, IN
Died: August 28, 1942 - Bedford, IN
Career BA: .237
Boston Doves/Rustlers/Braves NL (February 4, 1888 - August 28, 1942)
Indianapolis Hoosiers FL (1914)
Newark Pepper FL (1915)
New York Giants NL (1916–1918)
Cincinnati Reds NL (1919–1920)
Even though he was a weak hitter, any manager would have loved “Bedford Bill” Rariden behind the plate. Keeping in mind that bunting was a key strategy during the Deadball Era, Rariden was exceptional because of his small frame and agility at throwing out baserunners. Actually, Rariden still holds the record for most assists in a season for a catcher (238), albeit for the Newark Pepper of the fledgling Federal League. From a defensive standpoint Rariden was quite good, leading the league as catcher in putouts in 1914, 1915, and 1916; assists in 1914 and 1915; and range factor in 1915 and 1916. The light-hitting Rariden had a decent offensive season in 1917 batting .271.
After the Federal League folded, Rariden caught most of the games for John McGraw’s Giants. Although he did not shine offensively, he was stellar behind the plate and it is unfortunate that he is remembered for a mental mistake that cost the 1917 Giants the World Series. In Game 6, the Giants had future Hall of Famer Eddie Collins in a rundown from third base, but Rariden failed to cover the plate, which forced Giants third baseman Heinie Zimmerman to chase Collins down the line. There was speculation that Zimmerman allowed Collins to score because he bet against his own team and threw the game, but Zimmerman denied it. Rariden, on the other hand, simply made a bad play. Could Zimmerman have tagged out Collins? Some say that he certainly could. If Rariden were in position, however, the Zimmerman controversy would never have taken place. Bill Rariden also participated in another controversial World Series. This time he was on the winning side as the World Champ Cincinnati team the beat the 1919 Black Sox. Although he only batted .211 in the Series, he did a very nice job behind the plate.
– Tom and Ellen Zappala, The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players. For more information on their book and/or to order a copy at a special PSA discount, visit http://crackerjackplayers.com/PSA_order.html