John Frank Lelivelt
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 5' 11", Weight 175 lb.
- Debut June 24, 1909
- Final Game June 24, 1914
- Born November 14, 1885 in Netherlands
- Died January 20, 1941 in Seattle, WA USA
Jack Lelivelt was a very successful minor league player and manager who had a very good 123 OPS+ in his career in the majors. Overall, he had over 3,000 hits in Organized Baseball and won over 1,800 games as a minor league manager.
1906-1909: Early career in the minors
Census records indicate that Lelivelt was born in the Netherlands, although his family had moved to the United States by the time of the 1900 census. He debuted in 1906 as an outfielder and pitcher for the Lake Linden Sandy Cities, hitting .299/?/.422. In 1907, hye hit .265/?/.391 for the Hartford Senators and .263/?/.305 in 29 games for the Reading Pretzels. Remaining in Reading, he hit .305/?/.405 with 11 triples and 32 steals in 1908. He batted .345/?/.506 in 41 games for Reading in 1909, earning him a shot in the majors.
He began his major league career in with the Washington Senators. His main teammates using the Bill James teammate score in the majors were Walter Johnson and Clyde Milan. He hit .292/.334/.355 for a 122 OPS+ in the heart of the Deadball Era. He led the 1909 Senators in both OBP and slugging. The rookie even got to hit cleanup.
Jack hit .265/.343/.311 for the 1910 Senators, still good for a 109 OPS+. He was third among the club's starters in both OBP and slugging, trailing the other two outfielders. He also stole 20 bases. In 1911, Lelivelt hit a fine .320/.386/.409 for a 123 OPS+ while hitting third in the order primarily. As the year progressed, though, rookie Tilly Walker took his place in left field. Perhaps Lelivelt was injured, given his loss of time despite his productive bat.
1912: Record-setting times in the IL and a fine time in the majors
In 1912, he set an International League record by hitting safely in 42 consecutive games for the Rochester Hustlers. This remained unmatched until 2007, when Brandon Watson of the Columbus Clippers had a streak of 43 games. (Joe Wilhoit holds the minor league record, with 69 games.) That year, the 26-year-old flyhawk batted .351/~.398/.498 with 14 triples and 23 stolen bases. He finished fourth in the IL in batting average. With Rochester in first place, he was sold to the New York Highlanders; Rochester would fade and finish in second.
1913: Limited time, lows and highs
After a .214/.267/.286 batting line in 18 games for the 1913 Yankees, he was dealt with Bill Stumpf to the Cleveland Naps for Roger Peckinpaugh. Backing up Shoeless Joe Jackson in Cleveland, Jack hit .391/.391/.478 in 23 AB over 23 games.
1914: Two teams, one city
In 1914, Lelivelt jumped between the major league Cleveland Naps and minor league Cleveland Bearcats. He batted .328/.348/.438 in 34 games for the 1914 Naps and .295/?/.388 in 92 contests for Cleveland. An outfielder up until that point, he began playing significant time at first base that year. For the next five years, he would bounce between the two, before settling at first base. Despite having hit .301/.353/.381 for a 123 OPS+ in 384 games, impressive numbers for the Deadball Era, he would never play again in the major leagues.
1915-1917: Kansas City star
He led the 1915 American Association with 199 hits, 41 doubles, and a .346 average for the Kansas City Blues. He slugged .485, scored 85 runs and stole 16 bases. Returning to Kansas City the next year, he hit .306/?/.424 with 12 triples and 80 runs. In his third year for the Blues, the veteran hit .294/?/.431 in 102 contests.
1918-1919: More AA action
Moving to the Louisville Colonels in 1918, he hit .325/?/.460 and led the AA with 11 triples. The next year, he was on the Minneapolis Millers and hit .287/?/.393. The 33-year-old stole 21 bases, his most in 7 years, and had 34 doubles and 75 runs.
1920-1925: Western League
Lelivelt dropped a couple levels in 1920, taking on managerial duties of the Omaha Rourkes while still playing. He hit .309/?/.422 with 36 doubles, 10 triples, 77 runs and 24 stolen bases. In 1921, he trashed Western League pitching, as his .416 average led all of minor league baseball. He also had 274 hits (leading the league), 70 doubles (leading the league), 14 home runs (his best yet, helped by the new, lively ball), 24 steals and 149 runs. He slugged .613 with the Omaha Buffaloes. He was second to Carl East in the WL with 404 total bases and fifth in runs. His doubles total is tied for 10th all-time for a single season in the minor leagues. On May 3, he was replaced as manager by Bert Griffith. His hit total was a league record that would not be broken.
In 1922, Lelivelt became player-manager of the Tulsa Oilers and hit .369/?/.537 with 18 steals, 114 runs, 48 doubles, 219 hits and a career-high 16 home runs. He was 4th in the WL in average and won his first pennant as a manager. The next year, he hit .344/?/.495 for Tulsa with 48 doubles, 114 runs and 18 steals, duplicating his prior year's totals in three categories. In his third year with Tulsa, the 38-year-old first baseman still batted .384/?/.561 with 124 runs, 228 hits, 56 doubles, 8 triples and 16 stolen bases. He was fined $100 at one point for letting a first baseman pitch. He was one point behind batting titlist Charlie Miller, almost winning his third minor league batting title. He tied Jack Knight for fourth in doubles, well behind teammate Lyman Lamb's minor league record 100 of the same year.
Winding down his playing career, the old-timer hit .320/?/.411 with 83 runs, 37 doubles and 15 stolen bases in 156 games for the 1925 St. Joseph Saints as a player-manager. He would play one more game, in 1931, as a pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels. He is a member of the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame.
Lelivelt managed 2,671 hits in the minors to go with 347 major league hits for a total of 3,018 hits in Organized Baseball. He had hit .331/?/.465 in the minor leagues with 288 steals, 1,284 runs, 533 doubles and 135 triples in 2,164 games. Overall, he had 576 doubles, 157 triples and a .328 average in Organized Baseball.
In 20 seasons as a minor league manager between 1920-1940, his teams won 1,648 games against 1,300 losses (see below for details).
Jack is the brother of Bill Lelivelt, who also debuted in the major leagues in 1909.
Year-by-Year Managerial Record
Sources: The Western League by W.C. Madden and Patrick Stewart, The American Association by Bill O'Neal, The International League: Year-by-Year Statistics by Marshall Wright, Minorleaguebaseball.com article on Lelivelt, The Minor League Register ed. by W. Lloyd Johnson, 1909 and 1911 lineups from personal research by Mischa Gelman in the Pittsburgh Post archives at the University of Pittsburgh