Before Joe DiMaggio, there was Willie Keeler’s 45-game hitting sttreak.
William Henry O’Kelleher was born on March 3, 1872, in Brooklyn, NY. He became one of the best hitters of his time, as we see in this report from the SABR:
The tiny (5-feet-4½-inches, 140 pounds) right fielder’s career covered 19 big-league campaigns, and in 13 of them – every year from 1894 to 1906 – he hit over .300 and ranked in his league’s top ten in hits.
Eight straight times he collected more than 200 hits, and his .424 average in 1897 is the highest single-season mark by a left-handed hitter in baseball history. Keeler compiled a .341 career batting average and racked up 2,932 hits – 85 percent of them singles – in 2,123 games.
An amiable Brooklyn native who was the son of Irish immigrants, Wee Willie played for all three New York teams (the Brooklyn Superbas, the Highlanders, and the Giants), and was a key member of the raucous Baltimore Orioles dynasty of the 1890s.
A two-time batting champion and a three-time league leader in hits, he had the speed to leg out infield singles, the bat control to drop down bunts, chops and rollers in front of infielders, and when they moved in, the ability to loft a base hit over their heads.
He finished his career with 366 sacrifice hits, the fourth highest total in major-league history.
He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1939.