Player Profile

William Henry Keeler

(Wee Willie))
B: Mar 3, 1872 Brooklyn, NY
D: Jan 1, 1923

Brooklyn, NY

Throws Left
Bats Left
Height 5'4"
Weight 140
Seasons 19

Biography / Pre-Major League Career

  • Willie Keeler played baseball from 1892 until 1910. 
  • Despite his stature, he became one of the greatest hitters of all time with a .341 career average..
  • He used one of the lightest bats in baseball history, measuring only 30 inches in length and only 29 ounces. He mastered the bunt and the infamous 'Baltimore Chop'. Willie had an outstanding batting eye and rarely struck out. When asked his secret to hitting, he responded 'Keep your eyes clear and hit 'em where they ain't'.
  • Unlike many of his teammates during his career, Keeler was shy, quiet and polite. He never married instead devoting his life to baseball and living with his parents most of his life. 
  • His semi pro days were played with the Brooklyn Acmes. Played  as infielder and also a pitcher. Salary: $1.50 per game.
  • An injury to the third basemen of the Binghamton's club of the Eastern League, got Willie a look. They liked what they saw and signed him. 
  • His first game with Binghamton, Willie played SS. HIs second game he took the mound and gave up 18 hits in a losing cause. This would be the last time he would take the mound.
  • Eventually installed at third base and won a batting title with a .373 average. His 48 errors however indicated the infield was not his station. 


His Playing Days

  • 1892: Late in the season, Keeler was purchased by the New York Giants. Played in 14 games, batting .321 and committing 5 errors.
  • 1893: Sold to Brooklyn after only 7 games for New York and after 20 games was farmed out to Binghamton.
  • 1894: Willie and Dan Brouthers were traded to the Baltimore Orioles for 3B Billy Shindle and OF George Treadway. Became an instant hit and a fan favorite. Teaming up Hughey Jennings, John McGraw, Wilbert Robinson and Joe Kelley became part of one of the finest teams, not to mention colorful teams in baseball history.  Batted .368 with 218 hits, the first of 8 consecutive seasons with 200+ hits. Installed in right field and displayed a surprisingly good throwing arm and became noted for brilliant catches.
  • 1897: Willie started the season with a 44 game hitting streak, a streak that wasn't broken until Joe DiMaggio's of 56 games in 1941. Batted .424, one of the highest batting averages in the history of baseball.
  • 1898: After the season, the Baltimore team was broken up. Keeler, Jennings and Kelley landed in Brooklyn with the Superbas.
  • 1899: Brooklyn wins the NL pennant and Willie bats .379, 4th in the league.
  • 1900: Brooklyn repeats as champions as Keeler bats .362.
  • 1901: With the formation of the American League, many players jumped to the new league. Keeler remained loyal to the National League despite his $2400 per year salary, the league maximum.
  • 1903: Finally yielded to the financial temptation and signed with the New York club for $10.000 per year, baseball's first $10,000 player.
  • 1904: Bats .343 but his club loses the pennant on the final day of the season. This was Keeler's last great season.
  • 1907: At age 35 and after 15 consecutive seasons over the .300 mark, Willie suddenly drops to .234.
  • 1908: With a chance to manage the New York club, Keeler disappeared and Kid Elberfeld was appointed manager. Willie felt uncomfortable and lacked the confidence to manage a team of men physically larger than himself.
  • 1910: Old friend and New York Giants manager John McGraw, gives Willie a 'final farewell' job as mainly a pinch hitter. He collects 3 hits in 10 at bats.

Post Major League

  • 1911: Returns to the Eastern League and bats .277 for the Toronto club, before calling it a career.
  • 1914: Willie coached the BrookFeds club of the Federal League.
  • 1915: Scouted for the Boston Braves.
  • 1923: On New Years Day, passes away at his lifelong home, 376 Pulaski Street in Brooklyn.

Hall of Fame

  • 1939: Elected to the Hall of Fame

Career Statistics

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