Billy Purtell

William Patrick "Billy" Purtell (January 6, 1886 – March 17, 1962) was a third baseman who played five seasons in Major League Baseball with the Chicago White Sox (1908–1910), Boston Red Sox (1910–1911), and Detroit Tigers (1914).

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Purtell hit .227 in 335 major league games. The only hitting category in which he excelled was the sacrifice hit. He had 28 sacrifice hits in 1909 (10th best in the American League) and 32 in 1910 (3rd best). In 1910, Purtell set an unusual record that still stands. While batting .210 in 151 games for the White Sox and Red Sox, he hit only 6 doubles, the fewest by any major league player in 150 or more games. He did have 5 triples and two home runs. He knocked in 51 runs in 1910.

Also in 1910, Purtell became the first player in Major League history to strike out twice in the same inning. Future Hall of Famer Walter Johnson fanned him twice in the sixth inning of a game on May 10 of that year.

On August 9, 1910, Purtell was traded by the Chicago White Sox with Frank Smith to the Boston Red Sox for Harry Lord and Amby McConnell.

After playing in the major leagues, Purtell continued to play professional baseball. In fact, his playing career spanned 25 years from 1904 to 1928. In 1918, he was the starting third baseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League—considered one of the best minor league teams of all time. The team went 88–39 in 1918, and Purtell hit .311 for the Maple Leafs.

Purtell died in 1962 at age 76 in Bradenton, Florida. He was buried at Mansion Memorial Park in Ellenton, Florida.

By Dean Hanley

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