Born: April 21, 1855
Died: January 14, 1931
Town: Clarksboro, New Jersey
Abram Harding Richardson was born April 21, 1855 in Clarksboro. Known as Hardy (often spelled Hardie), he was a nimble and powerfully built athlete with large, soft hands—an important attribute in the days before fielders wore mitts. Hardy was a free-swinger who could propel a baseball great distances. He was also good enough to play any position.
Hardy came of age at a time when professional baseball was just developing. He made a name for himself with semipro teams in South Jersey and in the Philadelphia area in the early 1870s. In 1877, he agreed to a contract with the Binghamton Crickets, who were members of the International Association—one of baseball’s first modern leagues. In 1878 he played for Utica in the same league and in 1879 he made his big-league debut with the Buffalo Bisons, who had just joined the National League. He was a center fielder during this time.
In Buffalo, Hardy would gain fame as a second baseman in the Bisons’ “Big Four” infield. He played beside first baseman Dan Brouthers and shortstop Jack Rowe. The third baseman was Jim White. During seven seasons in Buffalo Hardy took turns at every position. He typically batted in the middle of the order, but his aggressiveness at the plate made him a good leadoff hitter in the thinking of the time.
In 1886, the cash-strapped Bisons sold all of their players to the Detroit Wolverines and dropped out of the league. In his first year with the Wolverines, Hardy batted .351 and led the league in at bats, hits and home runs. In Detroit, Hardy played left field while Fred Dunlap handled second base duties. The 1887 Wolverines won the National League pennant and defeated the St. Louis Browns of the American Association in the World Series.
The Wolverines had spent loads of money to bring a champion to Detroit, but in the days before the automobile, “Motown” had no way of supporting such an ambitious enterpise. The Wolverines folded after the 1888 season, but not before selling Hardy to the Boston Beaneaters. Over the next three seasons, Hardy would play for three Boston teams in three different leagues, as baseball went through a complex labor struggle. In 1890, as a member of the Boston Reds of the Players League (and reunited with his pal, Brouthers), Hardy had a phenomenal season, driving in 146 runs to lead the league.
Hardy finished his career with Senators and Giants in 1892, then retired to Upstate New York, where he ran a hotel in Utica. Later he worked in the Remington factory in Ilion, about a half-hour away. Hardy died in Utica at the age of 75 in 1931.