Samuel James Tilden Sheckard
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 5' 9", Weight 175 lb.
- Debut September 14, 1897
- Final Game September 28, 1913
- Born November 23, 1878 in Upper Chanceford Township, PA USA
- Died January 15, 1947 in Lancaster, PA USA
". . .he was a bigger cog in the old invincible Cub machine than he ever received credit for being." - Johnny Evers
Jimmy Sheckard was a star early in the 20th century who might have made it into the Hall of Fame had he been more consistent.
Standing 5' 9", he broke in with the Brooklyn Bridegrooms in 1897. He played well that year and in 1898, showing some power, and in 1899 he spent a year with the Baltimore Orioles - their last season before being contracted out of the league - before returning to Brooklyn in 1900, 1901, and most of 1902 before joining the new American League Baltimore team for 4 games at the end of 1902. Then, he was back to Brooklyn for another three years.
His 1901 season was notable, as he hit .354 with substantial power and drove in 104 runs. He led the National League in slugging percentage. He also hit grand slams on consecutive days, an amazing feat, especially in the Deadball Era. It would be 77 years until another National Leaguer, Phil Garner, matched the accomplishment. In 1903, he hit .332, again with good power.
Sheckard joined the Chicago Cubs from 1906 to 1912, which was their greatest era. They won the World Series in 1908, and won the pennants in 1906 (when they went 116-36), 1907, and 1910. Sheckard, however, was not able to play as well for them as he had earlier in the decade. While he was still an above-average player, other Cubs players were the big contributors. His best year with the Cubs was 1911, a year in which the Cubs did not win the pennant, when Sheckard led the league in runs scored, partly because he had 147 walks. That was a National League record until Eddie Stanky drew 148 walks for the 1945 Brooklyn Dodgers, but his total is likely understated as there are at least five games in which his daily record (from which official statistics are compiled) appears to be missing a plate appearance, which was almost certainly a walk.
He finished out his career in 1913, split between St. Louis and Cincinnati.
Bill James has pointed out that Sheckard was a very talented player who at different times in his career did many impressive things. However, he could not consistently put those talents together for a whole career. Early in his career he led the league in stolen bases (in 1899 and 1903), once he was in the top 5 in batting average (in 1901), once he led the league in triples (in 1901), once he led the league in home runs (in 1903). In the middle of his career he twice led the league in sacrifice hits (1906 and 1909) and in fact holds the National League record for sacrifice hits in a season with 46. Later in his career, he led the league in walks twice (1911 and 1912), and in runs scored (in 1911).
He played in approximately 2,100 games and had around 2,100 hits. His lifetime .274 batting average was hurt by playing in the Deadball Era for most of his career. His substantial number of walks gave him an impressive on-base percentage of .375.
He died after being hit by a car.
- NL On-Base Percentage Leader (1911)
- NL Slugging Percentage Leader (1901)
- NL Runs Scored Leader (1911)
- NL Triples Leader (1901)
- NL Home Runs Leader (1903)
- 2-time NL Bases on Balls Leader (1911 & 1912)
- 2-time NL Stolen Bases Leader (1899 & 1903)
- 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (1901)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 3 (1899, 1901 & 1911)
- 50 Stolen Bases Seasons: 2 (1899 & 1903)
- Won two World Series with the Chicago Cubs in 1907 and 1908