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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Rifle in the outfield

     August 27, 1880 -- It was a big day in the life of Buffalo Bisons' outfielder Bill Crowley, even though he wouldn't have believed it if you had told him he'd still be in the baseball record books more than 130 years later for his accomplishment.

     Crowley was credited with four outfield assists on this particular day. He had done it once before in that season, on May 24. Perhaps he was hoping that the assists would make up for a glove that produced 33 errors in the outfield that season, giving him a fielding percentage of .824.

     It turned out that that tied the record for most outfield assists in a game. What's more, no one else in the history of major league baseball has ever done it twice in a career.

     Fielding obviously has changed greatly over the years in baseball. A year after Crowley's record, Bisons' outfielder Hardy Richardson piledup 45 assists in 1881 -- only five away from the league record.

     These days, outfielders don't come close to running up those numbers. Shin-Soo Choo of Cleveland had 14 in 2010 to lead the majors.

     As for Crowley, he played pro baseball for eight years. He died at the age of 33 in 1891 due to kidney problems (Bright's disease).

--- Budd Bailey

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