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Why write an article about Heinie Reitz? Well for one thing, even with his having had a short career (six years) it was a pretty good one. That’s not enough though to devote an article about this player who appeared in the early days of the game.

We’ll save that for last.

In 1893 Heinie Reitz was sold to the Baltimore Orioles for  a sum of $300 (which was for those times pretty high).

It paid off though. He ended up hitting .286 in 490 games with 76 RBIs. The next year was even better with a .303 BA that supported 105 RBIs and a baseball setting mark that tied the record of Dave Orr of thirty six triples. It wasn’t until 1912 that Chief Wilson surpassed that record with 36 to send both men into second place.

Among the triples Reitz hit were two with the bases loaded that same year in one game that tied Sam Thompson’s record.

While with Baltimore he played second base along with the famous Baltimore infield of Dan Brouthers, Hughey Jennings, and John McGraw.

After four years with Baltimore he was traded to Washington for one year and then went to the Pirates for what proved to be his final year in the game.

The day was November 19, the year was 1914. and Reitz was 47 years old. It was quite sunny, there was a bit of a glare which bothered him as he drove in his new Ford heading towards his mothers house in Sacramento California. A few miles from his destination another car made a turn coming off a fork in the road, the glare made it difficult for both drivers to see and they collided. The other driver held on for a few days and then passed away. Reitz died that same day.

As far as baseball historians have been able to determine this was the first recorded incident of any Major League baseball player dying in an automobile accident.

It would not prove to be the last!

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