William Albert Harbridge
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Weight 162 lb.
- Debut May 15, 1875
- Final Game October 3, 1884
- Born March 29, 1855 in Philadelphia, PA USA
- Died March 16, 1924 in Philadelphia, PA USA
"Roaring" Bill Harbridge was unusual as a left-handed catcher (he also played outfield and all the infield positions) in early major league baseball. His career lasted nine seasons, first in the last season of the National Association's existence, then in the first few years of the National League's existence, and then in the one year of the Union Association's existence.
As a 20-year-old with the 1875 Hartford Dark Blues, he caught Candy Cummings, and continued to do so as the team moved to the National League in 1876. Bob Ferguson, manager at Hartford, moved to the Chicago White Stockings in 1878, and Harbridge did too. His .296 average was only a bit over the team .290 average.
In his last major league season, with the 1884 Cincinnati Outlaw Reds, he had his best year in a league that was not as tough as the National League. His batting average and slugging average were comfortably above the league averages. However, it was the only year the Union Association existed.
In 1896 it was reported that he had his foot crushed by the fall of a heavy joist.
Harbridge was apparently an unusually well-educated young man who knew his classical literature:
"An Augusta base ball reporter came to grief the other day. He informed the Augusta public that the home players had been reading up on Shakespeare and adopted the motto, 'There is no such word as fail,' whereupon that noted Shakespeare scholar, Billy Harbridge, desired to be informed at what period of his life Shakespeare wrote Bulwer's Richelieu. The reporter was completely flattened out." - from Sporting Life, May 5, 1886, about Billy Harbridge setting a reporter straight as to who actually authored the quotation in question