Livingston County native Roscoe Conkling "Ross" Barnes had a brief -- but acclaimed -- professional baseball career. A technicality has kept him ineligible for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, but a Mount Morris man wants to change that.
CALLING THE HALL
Town boards urge Cooperstown consideration for local ballplayer Ross Barnes
Two town boards, prompted by a locally-organized “Ross Barnes Hall of Fame Committee,” will entertain resolutions urging the inclusion of 19th Century baseball great and Livingston County native Charles Roscoe “Ross” Barnes in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
The Lima Town Board will consider a resolution on June 6; the Mount Morris Town Board on June 13. (RELATED: Our editorial from February.)
An eligibility technicality requiring 10 major league seasons has kept Barnes out of the Hall of Fame.
Barnes has just nine, but during those nine years he was the only player ever to have four seasons with a batting average in the .400s; compiled the second highest lifetime batting average, .360, of any player, just under Ty Cobb; compiled the best average runs-scored-per-game, 1.4, of any player ever; hit the first home run in the National League; led his teams to league championships during the five-year period from 1872 to 1876; and was one of the era’s outstanding defensive players, ambidextrously covering second base in a gloveless era.
For his time and among his peers — Barnes ranked among the very best.
Barnes learned to play baseball in Livingston County. He lived the first six years of his life on River Road in the Town of Mount Morris before he and his family relocated to a farm just beyond the Lima village line on West Main Street.
The next year, 1866, Barnes was in Rockford, Ill., playing alongside Albert Spalding, who was in the process of assembling what was to be one of the best baseball teams in the nation. During the next 11 seasons, Barnes garnered the reputation of being the game’s top second baseman and quite possibly its best all-around player. His career included nine years in a recognized major leagues, starting with Boston in the National Association in 1872 and continuing with the Chicago White Stockings in the first year of National League play, 1876. A malaria-type illness, contacted after the 1877 season, curtailed Barnes’ playing career, which ended in 1881.
Mount Morris baseball buff and 19th Century baseball historian Gary Passamonte chairs the Barnes Committee and has been campaigning for Barnes’ Hall of Fame inclusion for more than 20 years.