Born: December 5, 1860
Died: June 3, 1936
William D. Shindle was born December 5, 1860 in Gloucester. Fleet of foot but slight of build, Billy excelled as an infielder in his teens. Regardless of the position he played, there was very little he could not get to. His footwork was exceptional and he had a good arm. Many of the errors he made were errors of exuberance, or misplays on balls that other fielders might not have even touched.
Despite having a sterling reputation in semipro ball, Billy did not reach the big leagues until he was 25. He signed with the Detroit Wolverines in 1886 but could not crack the star-studded starting lineup. Billy’s contract was purchased by the Baltimore Orioles of the American Association after the 1887 season. In his second year with the club, he found his batting stroke and hit .314—a good number for a third baseman in that era. That season he also reached 50 stolen bases for the first time. He would get to 50 again in 1889 and 1890.
In 1890, Billy followed many of the game’s top players and jumped to the newly formed Players League, a third major league. He hit .324 for the Philadelphia Athletics and led the league in total bases. Billy was pressed into service at shortstop and was less than brilliant. He was charged with 122 errors—the most in a season for any player. The Players League disbanded after one season and Billy became the property of Philadelphia’s NL team, the Phillies. He hit poorly for the Phillies and was released.
Billy returned to the Orioles in 1892. They were now a member of the National League. The Orioles were a terrible club, but they were gathering some excellent young players, including Joe Kelley, Hughie Jennings and a teenager named John McGraw. Billy wasn’t around when this team started winning pennants. In fact, he was the key acquisition for the Brooklyn Superbas in a trade that sent young Willie Keeler and veteran Dan Brouthers to Baltimore—a deal that transformed the O’s into a powerhouse club. Billy played his last five years as a big-leaguer in Brooklyn.
Billy continued to play ball as a minor leaguer until he was 41. He was an everyday player and manager for the Hartford Indians until 1901. In 1902, he “came home” and joined the Jersey City Skeeters, performing as their leadoff hitter. Billy retired to his actual hometown of Gloucester and died at age 75 in 1936 in neighboring Lakeland.