(By the way, the book is set for release on July 16th. Right now, you can pre-order it at Amazon for a significant discount. Once it's released, the price will go up by more than thirty percent.)
And now--Without further ado, here's a lost profile from Chapter One.
Best Record: 90-39 (1896)
Number of Pennants: 3
Hall of Fame Players: Wilbert Robinson (C), John McGraw (IF), Willie Keeler (OF), Joe Kelley (OF), Hughie Jennings (SS), Ned Hanlon (Mgr)
Championships: 2 (1896, 1897, Temple Cup)
Born in Chicago, Reitz got his first taste of professional baseball in the California League during the 1890 slate. He bounced around the minors for three seasons before the Orioles purchased his contract. Installed as a regular second baseman, Reitz had a highly successful debut, hitting .286 in 130 games with 90 runs scored and 76 RBIs. Despite his contributions, the O’s slumped to a 60-70 record in 1893, landing them in eighth place.
During the Orioles’ Temple Cup run of ‘94-‘97, Reitz was a productive member of the club every year with batting averages ranging from .287 to .303. He drove-in more than 100 runs twice in that span. His crowning achievement came in 1894 when he collected 31 triples, tying a single-season record. The mark has been surpassed only once since then—by Chief Wilson of the Pirates in 1912.
Reitz never came close to matching his ’94 output for triples and ended up getting packaged in a six-player trade to Washington in December of ‘97. After hitting .303 in 132 games for the Senators, he was shipped to Pittsburgh after the’98 season was over. Outfielder Tom Brown commented that Reitz was “near perfection in gauging swift grounders” and added that “no finer hand-worker ever lived.” Reitz remained active in the minors through the 1908 campaign. A drinker and carouser, he allegedly went missing three times while playing for the Spokane Smoke Eaters of the Pacific Northwestern League in 1902.
In 1914, Reitz became the first major league ballplayer to die in a car accident. He was only forty-seven years old. At the time of his passing, sportswriter John Gruber of The Washington Evening Star wrote: “Henry P. Reitz was soon accounted one of the brightest among the galaxy of luminaries. Besides being a first class fielder, he was a safe batter and a skillful base runner.”