The starting second baseman and manager, for forty-nine games, of the 1897 St. Louis Browns was William Wilson Hallman. Hallman was a legit pro who played in over 1500 major league games but he was never a great player. In Major League Baseball Profiles, Volume One, Dave Nemec writes the following about Hallman:
[His] peak years came in 1893-96, when anything less than a .300 BA was a mark of failure. Consequently, his .272 career BA (built around four consecutive .300 seasons during his peak) was about average for his position and some 10 points below the league mark of .282. Hallman was also about dead average as a fielder...
In 1897, Hallman was just awful. He had an OPS+ of 46 and -1.3 WAR for the Browns in eighty games, after they traded Tommy Dowd to get him from the Philadelphias on June 1. And they made him the manager.
The failures of the 1897 Browns can not be placed on the shoulders of manager Hallman. This disaster wasn't his fault. But we can identify one of the problems that the club had as being the fact that they played someone as bad as Hallman at second base for eighty games. Among players who got a significant amount of playing time for the 1897 Browns, Hallman put up the worst numbers - except for, perhaps, Morgan Murphy, who was the backup catcher.
So Hallman, while a decent little player over the course of his career, was just terribly bad for the Browns in 1897. Among a group of players who did not have a particularly good season that year, his numbers really stand out.
Returning to Major League Baseball Profiles to wrap this up, Nemec mentions a couple of interesting things:
Bill Hallman was an actor and vaudeville song-and-dance man in the off-season during his playing days. It kept his legs in shape and seems to have earned him more recognition than he ever received for [his baseball career...]
Initially a favorite of Browns owner Chris Von der Ahe's, he swiftly lost the fickle mogul's suport once he was named manager of the club. Hallman was fined $200 by Von der Ahe after he broke his thumb in Cleveland and then contracted malaria that he claimed was brought on because "the dressing rooms which Von der Ahe furnishes his players are never clean."