Bennie Michael Kauff
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 5' 8", Weight 157 lb.
- Debut April 20, 1912
- Final Game July 2, 1920
- Born January 5, 1890 in Pomeroy, OH USA
- Died November 17, 1961 in Columbus, OH USA
Benny Kauff was an outfielder for some twelve seasons, including 8 with the New York Highlanders, New York Giants, and in the Federal League; and semipro and minor league baseball. He was a World War I Veteran.
Heralded as the "Ty Cobb of the Federal League", Kauff never lived up to his braggadocio about what he could do if he played for the Giants. After playing briefly for the Giants in 1912, he led the Federal League in hits, doubles, runs and batting average (.370) in 1914. Transferred to Brooklyn when his 1914 team, Indianapolis, relocated east to Newark, he hit a three-run homer on opening day in 1915. Feeling overworked and underpaid, he tried to jump back to the Giants but was thwarted in that attempt by opposition teams who cited contractual responsibilities. He finished the season in the Federal League but was sold to the Giants for $30,000 upon the League's disbandment in 1915.
He became a good, but not great performer, topping .300 in two of five seasons. He turned down a $500 bribe from teammates Hal Chase and Heinie Zimmerman to throw a game, reported the incident to Giant manager John McGraw. He remained in the team's good graces until he ran afoul of the law in February 1920 for accepting stolen cars in a used car business he and his brother ran. Commissioner Kenesaw Landis banned him before the 1921 season got underway, calling his subsequent acquittal a "miscarriage of justice".
Banned, he was a baseball scout for 22 years and then became a salesman for John R. Lyman Company. He died at age 71 and is buried at Union Cemetery in Columbus, OH.
In addition to his major league career, he played four seasons in the minors. He spent much of 1920 with Toronto (a team managed by Hugh Duffy), and he had the highest batting average on the team.
- 2-time FL Batting Average Leader (1914 & 1915)
- 2-time FL On-Base Percentage Leader (1914 & 1915)
- FL Slugging Percentage Leader (1915)
- 2-time FL OPS Leader (1914 & 1915)
- FL Runs Scored Leader (1914)
- FL Hits Leader (1914)
- FL Total Bases Leader (1914)
- 2-time League Singles Leader (1914/FL & 1917/NL)
- FL Doubles Leader (1914)
- 2-time FL Stolen Bases Leader (1914 & 1915)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (1914)
- 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (1914)
- 50 Stolen Bases Seasons: 2 (1914 & 1915)
- Michael Clair: "He was the unluckiest, brashest baseball man", mlb.com, May 20, 2021.