Roger Connor (July 1, 1857 – January 4, 1931) was a 19th century Major League Baseball player, born in Waterbury, Connecticut. Known for being the player whom Babe Ruth succeeded as the all-time home run champion, Connor hit 138 home runs during his 18-year career, and his career home run record stood for 23 years after his retirement in 1897.
He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976.
Connor entered the National League in 1880 as a member of the Troy Trojans. He later played for the New York Gothams, and, due to his great stature, gave that team the enduring nickname "Giants". He was regularly among the league leaders in batting average and home runs until his retirement in 1897. Although he only led the league in home runs once (the Players League in 1890), Connor's career mark of 138 was a benchmark not surpassed until 1921 by Babe Ruth. He finished his career with a .317 batting average. Connor is credited with being the first player to hit a grand slam in the major leagues and being the first to hit an over-the-wall home run at the Polo Grounds. His grand slam came with two outs and his team down three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning. George Vescey, in The New York Times wrote: "Roger Connor was a complete player — a deft first baseman and an agile base runner who hit 233 triples and stole 244 bases despite his size (6 feet 3 inches and 200 pounds)."
Over a 12-year period, 1880 through 1891, Connor finished in the top ten in batting average ten times. He led the National League with a .371 average in 1885. Over an 18 year career, Connor finished in the top ten for doubles ten times, finished in the top three for triples seven times and is still remains the fifth all-time leader in triples with 233. He also established his power credentials by finishing in the top ten in RBIs ten times and top ten in homers twelve times.
In the 1880s, the Polo Grounds was considered a difficult place to hit a home run. However, on September 11, 1886, Roger Connor hit a ball completely out of the Polo Grounds. He hit the home run off Boston's Old Hoss Radbourn, depositing the ball over the right field fence and onto 112th street. The New York Times reported of the feat, "He met it squarely and it soared up with the speed of a carrier pigeon. All eyes were turned on the tiny sphere as it soared over the head of Charlie Buffinton in right field."
Another notable fact from Connor's career: in his first year in the Majors with the Troy Trojans, he teamed with future Hall-of-Famers Dan Brouthers, Buck Ewing, Tim Keefe and Mickey Welch, all of whom was just starting out their careers. Also on that 1880 Trojans team, though much older, was the interestingly nicknamed Bob "Death to Flying Things" Ferguson.
After retiring as a player in 1897, Connor moved back to his hometown of Waterbury and managed several minor league teams. He lived to see his career home run record bested by Babe Ruth, although if it was celebrated, it might have been on the wrong day. At one time, Connor's record was thought to be 131, as per the Sporting News book Daguerreotypes. As late as the 1980s, in the MacMillan Baseball Encyclopedia, it was thought to be 136. However, John Tattersall's 1975 Home Run Handbook, a SABR publication, credited Connor with 138. Both MLB.com and the independent Baseball-Reference.com now consider Connor's total to be 138.