Old Judge Cigarette Card, 1987-90, Courtsey of Library of Congress
A giant of a man during his era, Roger Connor was the home run king of the 19th century. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Connor was the leading power hitter of his era, as well as a capable first-baseman with good speed, evidenced by his lifetime 233 triples and 244 stolen bases. On September 10, 1881, Connor hit the first-ever bases loaded homer in major league history, and he hit three homers in one game on May 9, 1888 - no small feat during the 'dead ball era.' In 1886, he led the league in triples for the second time with 20, was second with 107 RBIs, and hit .355. The next season, 1887, he crashed 17 home runs, but missed the home run title when Washington's Billy O'Brien hit 19. When the Giants won their first-ever pennant the next year, Connor hit 14 homers. One of New York's most popular players, Connor earned one of the top salaries of this era - $2,100.
For a long time, Conner had generally been credited with either 132 or 136 home runs, but many considered Gavvy Cravath as the home run king with his 119 major league home runs between 1908-1920. Eventually, however, baseball certified its records and credited Conner with 138 home runs--the record until Babe Ruth hit his 36th homer--and 139th of his career--on July 18, 1920 in Detroit. When Connor died on January 4, 1931, he was honored as a member of the Giants but there was little knowlege of his home run record. That didn't change until Hank Aaron passed Ruth's 714 HRs in 1974, when attention was brought to Connor's pre-Ruth HR record. That led to Connor's election to the Hall of Fame in 1976.
On September 11, 1886, at the original Polo Grounds (located at 110th Street and 5th Avenue, now the NE corner of Central Park), Connor crushed a monstrous homer out of the park. To honor the first time anybody had hit a ball out of the stadium, the crowd they took up a collection and brought him a gold watch.