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Walter Arlington Latham (March 15, 1860 – November 29, 1952) was an Americanmarker third baseman in Major League Baseball from - . He died in Garden City, New Yorkmarker, at the age of 92.

Personality

Nicknamed "The Freshest Man on Earth", Latham was a colorful player known for playing practical jokes on his owner Chris von der Ahe and manager Charles Comiskey. In one famous stunt, he lit a firecracker under third base in an effort to "wake himself up", after Comiskey had been complaining about him falling asleep on the job. Also he would occasionally put on a clown's nose while walking behind von der Ahe.

Playing Career

Latham was known as a very good base stealer in his day. In , as a member of the St. Louis Browns, he stole 129 bases. This record is not recognized by Major League Baseball, as stolen bases were defined differently prior to . In 1909, he became the oldest man in Major League history to steal a base, at the age of 49, a record that still stands today. Latham ended his career with 739 stolen bases. Latham’s baserunning expertise was apparently purely instinctive.

He holds the career record for errors at third base, with 822, more than 200 more than the next player on the list. He apparently had the habit of letting catchable ground balls go past him by standing still as one passed to his side. Until decades after his playing days, when a third baseman did this it was said that he "Arlie Lathamed it."

Coaching Career

Latham was major league baseball's first full-time coach. When he was a player, as at that time there were no coaches, he would stand on the third base line and yell insults at the other team's pitcher, attempting to distract him and give the Browns an advantage. One of his techniques was to scream while running up and down the third base line during the pitcher's delivery. The coach's box was introduced to prevent him from doing this.

In 1907, John McGraw, the manager of the New York Giants, hired him as their third base coach. Latham tried to do the same things in New York as he had done years earlier in St. Louis, but times had changed and screaming obscenities was not looked well upon, as baseball was being changed into more of a family-friendly game by then. In the opinion of Fred Snodgrass he was “probably the worst third base coach that ever lived”.

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