Babe Herman

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Floyd Caves Herman

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Biographical Information[edit]


"Though he was an outstanding hitter, he was perhaps best remembered for what were viewed as his misadventures in the field and on the basepaths." - from Babe Herman's obituary in the New York Times

Babe Herman was at the same time a source of humor because of his foibles and yet also an extremely good ballplayer, with a lifetime .324 batting average and an Adjusted OPS of 140. In earlier decades, there were many calls to put him into the Hall of Fame. His excellent hitting was contrasted, however, with his relatively poor fielding and a famous baserunning mistake (see below). It was often claimed that he had once been hit on the head while trying to catch a fly ball.

Herman began his pro career in 1921 with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Western Canada League. The following year, 1922, he went to spring training with the Detroit Tigers, but he was sent to the Omaha Buffaloes of the Western League when the season started and hit .416 in 92 games there. Following the campaign, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox. He spent the following two summers in the minors and was sold to the Seattle Indians of the Pacific Coast League in 1925.

After one year in Seattle, Herman's contract was purchased by the Brooklyn Robins. During his first summer with Brooklyn, in 1926, he got hits in nine straight at-bats, and he ended the season with a .319 average while playing as the club's regular first baseman. He was moved to the outfield in 1928 and hit .340. The following year, 1929, he finished second in the National League (behind Lefty O'Doul) with a .381 average, and he finished second to Bill Terry with a .393 mark in 1930. He also was second in the NL in stolen bases in 1930 and 1931 and hit for the cycle twice in the latter year. It would be 81 years until another major leaguer, Aaron Hill, had two cycles in a season.

Prior to the 1932 season, Herman was traded to the Cincinnati Reds along with Ernie Lombardi. He hit .326 with a league-leading 19 triples for the club but was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Rollie Hemsley and three others. In a July 20, 1933 game against the Philadelphia Phillies, he clubbed 3 home runs and drove in 8 runs, and on September 30th, he hit for the cycle against the St. Louis Cardinals (it was the third time he accomplished that feat in his career, a record he holds with John Reilly, Bob Meusel and Adrian Beltre). He ended that year with a team-high 16 homers and 93 RBI.

Following the 1934 campaign, Herman was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Over the next three years, he went from the Pirates back to the Reds and on to the Detroit Tigers. Released by Detroit during the 1937 season, he returned to the minors. He spent six years with the Hollywood Stars of the PCL, hitting at least .307 in every season with the club. He rejoined the Brooklyn Dodgers at age 42 in 1945, more than eight years after his last major league game, and made 37 appearances for the club.

Herman's Adjusted OPS was above average for every season in his major league career.

After his playing career ended, he was a Pittsburgh Pirates coach in 1951 and manager of the Bakersfield Bears of the California League for part of the 1957 season. The New York Times' obituary on Herman reported that he served as a scout for various teams over 22 years. An AP report dated February 18, 1953 says that Babe, then a Yankees scout, signed his son Don.

Three Men on Third[edit]

"Babe Herman did not triple into a triple play, but he doubled into a double play, which is the next best thing." - John Lardner

Herman was involved in one of the most absurd plays in baseball history when he doubled into a double play. With the bases loaded, he hit a long hit and began racing around the bases. As he rounded second, the third base coach yelled at him to go back because the runner from first, Chick Fewster, hadn't yet rounded third. The runner from second, pitcher Dazzy Vance, misunderstood and headed back to third, even though he could have scored easily. Herman ignored the coach and headed for third himself, so that all three players wound up there. The third baseman tagged all three runners, putting out Fewster and Herman but not Vance, who was entitled to the base according to the rules as the lead runner there (and not forced to advance from there).

In addition to the quote from Lardner above, the three men on third story led to a standard joke in which a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, on being told that his team had three men on base, demanded to know which base.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • NL Triples Leader (1932)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 2 (1929 & 1930)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1930)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 2 (1929 & 1930)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 2 (1929 & 1930)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 2 (1929 & 1930)

Records Held[edit]

  • Most times hitting for the cycle, career, 3 (tied)
  • Most times hitting for the cycle, season, 2, 1931 (tied)

Related Sites[edit]