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rogershornsby

Rogers Hornsby (1896-1963) is one of the greatest players in the history of Major League Baseball. Thanks to Babe Ruth (who was the player who saved baseball after the destructive Black Sox Scandal) and Ty Cobb (another contemporary who is the only player to finish his career with a higher composite batting average), Hornsby is one of those players well known only to baseball junkies and historians. The brash, opinionated Texan was the best hitter in the 1920s not named Ruth or Cobb, and for a six year stretch (1920-1925) was absolutely unbelievable. He led the National League in batting in each one of those years, with averages of .370, .397, .401, .384, .424(!), and .403, an unheard-of run that will never happen again. He was also a power hitter, leading the NL in homers in 1922 with 42 (the second-place guy, Ray Grimes, hit only 21.) He regularly boasted OPS (on base average plus slugging percentage) numbers over 1.000. Because of a steep decline that occurred as the 1920s wore down (Hornsby had his share of injury problems), he finished his careeer with 2930 hits, seventy short of the almighty mark of 3000 hits.

After the 1925 season, the Cardinals fired manager Branch Rickey (who would later go on to become the General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He signed a certain player named Jackie Robinson in 1947, making league history and giving Harrison Ford a new role to play in 2013). The brass picked Hornsby to become the player-manager of the Cards, a move that helped them win the World Series over Ruth’s and Lou Gehrig’s (and Hornsby’s former manager Miller Huggins’) Murderers’ Row Yankees. That series remains one of the biggest upsets in Major League Baseball history, with a polite nod to the 1988 Dodgers, the 1990 Reds, and the 1960 Pirates. It would be the only World Series ring that Rogers Hornsby would ever win.

His caustic personality was ultimately too much for the Cardinals, and in the 1926 off season they swapped their future Hall-of-Fame playing manager to the New York Giants for “The Fordham Flash” Frankie Frisch and wild-throwing pitcher Jimmy Ring. This is one of the few times that one Hall of Famer was traded for another, as Frisch would go on to post a Hall of Fame career (Ring was a slightly-below-league average pitcher known for his wildness). He would last in New York for just a season (not surprisingly, Hornsby didn’t get along with John McGraw, and he was dealt to the terrible Boston Braves after one season. He was then traded to the Cubs, where he managed to hang on for more than one season. He posted his last great year for the Northsiders, winning the 1929 MVP and posting an OPS of 1.139(!). Even though he was only 33, that would be his last good season as a player.

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About the Author

I'm a 38 year old writer from New Providence, New Jersey, working a "day job" as a data processor in North Carolina. When I'm not slaving away at that job, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool baseball fan who enjoys discussing today's baseball news in a historical context. I'm a former columnist for the Summit Herald in New Jersey and a college radio geek who decided to use the power of podcasting to share my point of view wih the world. Besides baseball, I love horse racing, video games, and good music (who doesn't?). I am a Christian and live with my wife Amy and two cats Reagan and Cassie in our home studio. Expect more writing from me at scotteiland.com, and thank you for listening!

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