But as with a handful of others on this countdown: Roy Thomas (24), Gavvy Cravath (23), Cy Williams (21), and Sam Thompson (17), his contributions to the Philadelphia Phillies have been lost to time for most contemporary fans.
Hamilton was born in 1866 to Scottish immigrants in Newark, New Jersey. The family moved to Massachusetts when he was four years old, and that was where Hamilton was raised, learning to play baseball as a boy.
He became a top player in the semipro leagues around his new hometown of Clinton, especially known for his speed game. As a 21-year-old in 1887, Hamilton made his professional debut. Less than a year later that speed was his ticket to the big leagues, where he would debut with the American Association's Kansas City Cowboys.
In his first full season in 1889, Hamilton led the American Association with 111 stolen bases. It would be the first of three consecutive seasons and four total over his career in which he would steal more than 100 bases.
At the end of that 1889 campaign, Kansas City folded under the weight of financial problems. Hamilton's contract was sold in January of 1890 to the Philadelphia Phillies organization of the National League.
The Phillies manager at the time was future Hall of Famer Harry Wright. He had taken over the reigns during the team's second-ever season of 1884. Known alternately as the "Quakers" prior to 1889, Wright quickly turned the club into a winner.