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Bill Bergen
Full Name: William Aloysius Bergen
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 184 lbs.
Born: Jun 13, 1878 in N.Brookfield, MA
Major League Debut: May 06, 1901
Died: Dec 19, 1943 in Worcester, MA

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CAREER STATISTICS - BATTING TOTALS

BATTING
YR
1901
1902
1903
1904
1905
1906
1907
1908
1909
1910
1911
TM
Cin
Cin
Cin
Bro
Bro
Bro
Bro
Bro
Bro
Bro
Bro
LG
NL
NL
NL
NL
NL
NL
NL
NL
NL
NL
NL
POS
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
G
87
89
58
96
79
103
51
99
112
89
84
AB
308
322
207
329
247
353
138
302
346
249
227
R
15
19
21
17
12
9
2
8
16
11
8
H
55
58
47
60
47
56
22
53
48
40
30
2B
6
8
4
4
3
3
3
8
1
2
3
3B
4
3
2
2
2
3
0
2
1
1
1
HR
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
RBI
17
36
19
12
22
19
14
15
15
14
10
TB
72
72
55
68
54
65
25
65
54
44
35
BB
8
14
7
9
7
7
1
5
10
6
14
IBB
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Totals G
947
AB
3028
R
138
H
516
2B
45
3B
21
HR
2
RBI
193
TB
609
BB
88
IBB
0


BATTING BASERUNNING PERCENTAGES
YR
1901
1902
1903
1904
1905
1906
1907
1908
1909
1910
1911
TM
Cin
Cin
Cin
Bro
Bro
Bro
Bro
Bro
Bro
Bro
Bro
LG
NL
NL
NL
NL
NL
NL
NL
NL
NL
NL
NL
K
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
39
42
HBP
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
SH
10
6
4
9
11
12
4
13
16
18
9
SF
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
GDP
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
SB
2
2
2
3
4
2
1
1
4
0
2
CS
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
SB%
1.000
1.000
1.000
1.000
1.000
1.000
1.000
1.000
1.000
-.---
1.000
AVG
.179
.180
.227
.182
.190
.159
.159
.175
.139
.161
.132
OBP
.199
.214
.252
.204
.213
.175
.165
.189
.163
.180
.183
SLG
.234
.224
.266
.207
.219
.184
.181
.215
.156
.177
.154
AB/HR
308.0
--.-
--.-
--.-
--.-
--.-
--.-
--.-
346.0
--.-
--.-
AB/K
--.-
--.-
--.-
--.-
--.-
--.-
--.-
--.-
--.-
6.4
5.4
Totals K
81
HBP
0
SH
112
SF
0
GDP
0
SB
23
CS
0
SB%
1.000
BAVG
.170
OBP
.194
SLG
.201
AB/HR
1,514.0
AB/K
37.4


TEAM ABBREVIATION KEY
YEARS
1901-1903
1904-1910
1911
TM
Cin
Bro
Bro
LG
NL
NL
NL
TEAM NAME
Cincinnati Reds
Brooklyn Superbas
Brooklyn Dodgers
LEAGUE NAME
National League
National League
National League


Baseball's all-time Lowest Career Batting Average (.170) player who qualifies as a regular career player. However, he is ranked as one of the Top 10 defensive catchers ever by many writers and researchers. Bill's older brother, Marty Bergen, also was a big league catcher. (see Marty's page) but, unfortunately, known more for his tragic death than his baseball career.

You have to look deep, but Bergen did have a few positive notes offensively. He had a surprisingly high number of triples, 21 in all and as many as 4 in his rookie year. Bill also had a bit of speed, as evidenced by his 23 lifetime stolen bases.

As you have seen a pattern, based on previous all-time Mendoza's Heroes, Bill Bergen earned his keep with the catcher's mitt. The statistics do not lie here -- not only was Bergen a competent defensive catcher, but he is right up with the best fielding backstops ever! His defensive specialties included a superb ability in getting under and making the catch on foul balls. Like Johnny Bench and Pudge Rodriguez, Bill also had a howitzer of an arm and could get the ball away quickly and accurately to second base while remaining flat-footed. Looking at his fielding quantitatively, Bill Bergen ranks in the top-twenty for baseball's career assists by a catcher. Apparently, he called a good game as well, catching two no-hitters despite usually being on teams with less-than-stellar pitching.

While best known as a Brooklyn (known back then as the Superbas, not the Dodgers) player, Bergen’s first three years (1901-1903) were with the Cincinnati Reds. Relatively speaking, these were his best hitting years. During his 1901 rookie season, Bergen rapped out a personal-best .234 slugging average and hit his first of two career home runs. In his second season in the Majors, he drove in a career-high 36 RBI. The following year, he batted a tremendous -- by Bergen standards -- .227.

Sold to the Brooklyn prior to the ‘04 season, Bergen would play in the dark ages of the franchise’s history. During his 7-year tenure in Brooklyn, the team owned a wretched 471-765 record and finished no better than fifth place. A typical season at the plate for Bergen would see him anywhere from 80-100 games played, a batting average from the .130s to the .180s, around 15 RBI and, of course, no home runs.

In David Nemec’s The Great American Baseball Team Book, the 1905 Brooklyn Superbas earned the dubious distinction of the worst National League team of the 1901-1919 era. They finished with an execrable 49-102 record, Brooklyn’s first cellar finish since 1875. The team pitching’s 3.76 ERA, while respectable in today’s hyper-run style of play, was the highest in the Majors that year – over one run above the mean ERA for all Major League teams. They couldn’t hit either; not one player batted above .300 nor had at least 50 RBI. Finally, they had trouble on defense; their .936 fielding average was far and away the worst in the Majors. Even sure-handed Bergen let several slip away. As a back up to Lou "Old Dog" Ritter, Bill Bergen finished tied for second in errors by a NL catcher – a category led by none other than "Old Dog" himself.

Bergen apparently turned things around with his mitt just two years later. In 1907, he set the standard for defensive flawlessness behind the plate with a stellar .989 fielding percentage (7 errors in 614 chances). That topped Johnny Kling's .987 in 1907. He held the record until 1912.

In his busiest campaign, 112 games in 1909, he sunk to a .139 average -- just 48 hits in 346 at bats with only 3 extra-base hits (a .156 slugging average). Both his BA and SA that year are all-time lows for any player with over 300 at bats in a season. But on defense, he was gold glove caliber. He led the NL catchers with 18 DPs and 202 assists, which is still the ninth highest season assist total ever. On August 23 of that year, Bill Bergen gunned down seven would-be base-stealers in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

By 1911, the bat of Bill Bergen was little more than an impotent length of wood. He would sink to a career-low .132 with just 10 RBI in 227 at bats. Yet he still paced all National League catchers with a .981 fielding average. There was one game that year where it seemed nothing would go right for Bill. On June 10, Brooklyn was at Pittsburgh. The Pirates' Bobby Byrne stole around the horn in an unusual fashion. His loop began as part of a double steal with Fred Clarke on third. Clarke scored on a questionable call. Bill Bergen immediately got into a heated argument with plate umpire Bill Klem. Meanwhile, time had not been called and Byrne made it to third base uncontested. After Dots Miller walked, the double steal was executed again, with Byrne scoring. Later in the game, with the Pirates up 8-0 in the eighth and bases loaded, they attempted a triple steal scoring another run on a throwing error by Bergen.

Despite still being the top defensive catcher in the game at the time, the clock ran out for the 38-year old Bill Bergen. For the 1912 season, Brooklyn would insert Otto Miller in as their new catcher. Though Miller was not quite as polished behind the plate as Bergen, he was quite competent and as a career .245 hitter, far exceeded Bergen as a batter. Bill Bergen never played another Major League game after the 1911 season.


For a complete story on Bill Bergen see SABR Member Al Pepper's Web Page on Bill Bergen which contains extensive information on this Mendoza Hero who just missed a career Mendoza Line Trifecta (batting average, on-base average, and slugging average) all below .200. His career slugging percentage of .201 spoiled the record.