Nellie Fox

From BR Bullpen


Jacob Nelson Fox
(Mighty Mite)

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1997

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Biographical Information[edit]

"I hate to play a single game without him. It's like trying to run an auto without spark plugs. He's the heart of the team." - Marty Marion, 1955

"Fox is what you'd call a manager's ballplayer. He does his job expertly and he does it every day. He's the type of player you can count on. He's an old pro. A great many times, he is hurting pretty badly from the dumpings he's taken on the field, but he's always ready to play." - Hall of Fame manager Al Lopez

"Nellie was the toughest out for me. In 12 years I struck him out once, and I think the umpire blew the call." - Whitey Ford

Jacob Nelson "Nellie" Fox (December 25, 1927December 1, 1975) was a second baseman for the Chicago White Sox and is a member of the Hall of Fame. Fox is best known for the White Sox's 1959 World Series season, when he was selected as the MVP of the American League.

Fox was born in St. Thomas, PA. After leading the Interstate League in hits, triples, runs, putouts, assists, and fielding average in 1945, Fox missed the 1946 season while in the military service. In his career he played with the Philadelphia Athletics (1947-1949), the White Sox (1950-1963), and the Houston Colt .45s and Astros (1964 and 1965). He was traded by the Athletics to Chicago on October 29, 1949.

1960 Topps

With the White Sox, Fox worked alongside shortstops like Venezuelans Chico Carrasquel (1950-1955) and Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio (1956-1962), and was, year after year, a member of the strongest infield in the League. Only 5'9", he made up for his modest size and minimal power (he hit only 35 home runs in his career) with his good batting eye, excellent fielding, and baserunning speed. In 1959, he batted .306 and had an on base percentage of .380. Although not known as a great hitter (lifetime .288 batting average), he batted over .300 six times, with 2663 hits, 355 doubles, and 112 triples. He also led the league in singles for seven straight years, in triples once, and in hits four times. In addition, he won three Gold Gloves and was a twelve-time All-Star.

One of his better attributes was his ability to make ball contact. During his 19-year career, most of these spent as an everyday player, the most he ever struck out in one season was 18 times!

He was a coach with the Washington Senators from 1968 to 1971, first under Jim Lemon and then Ted Williams. He accompanied the team when they became the Texas Rangers in 1972. When Williams announced his retirement at the end of that season, he recommended that Fox succeed him, but the Rangers perfered to hire Whitey Herzog, and he retired from baseball.

Fox was not selected to the Hall of Fame in his initial period of eligibility. In 1985, Fox came within two votes of election in his final year of eligibility under voting by the BBWAA. As a result, he had to wait twelve more years before finally being elected by the Committee on Baseball Veterans, in 1997. He would have been elected one year earlier, as he received sufficient votes form the Committee in 1996, but it had already reached its quota of inductions for the year, so he had to wait one more year. During the 1990s, his candidacy for the Hall became a popular movement in Chicago. The most similar player to Fox is Red Schoendienst, and it was not lost on Chicago fans that Schoendienst was in the Hall while Fox, at the time, was not.

Nellie Fox died in Baltimore, MD, at the age of 47, in 1975. He died of skin cancer 24 days shy of his 48th birthday.

"(From Nellie) I learned not only technique but a kind of artistry that only comes with a real love of the game . . . 'Feel the ball.' Nellie would emphasize this over and over again." - Hall of Famer Joe Morgan

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 12-time AL All-Star (1951-1961 & 1963)
  • AL MVP (1959)
  • 3-time Gold Glove Winner (1957/ML, 1959/AL & 1960/AL)
  • 5-time AL At Bats Leader (1952, 1955, 1956, 1959 & 1960)
  • 4-time AL Hits Leader (1952, 1954, 1957 & 1958)
  • 8-times AL Singles Leader (1952 & 1954-1960)
  • AL Triples Leader (1960)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 4 (1954-1957)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (1954)
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1997

1958 1959 1960
Jackie Jensen Nellie Fox Roger Maris

Records Held[edit]

  • Most seasons leading league in singles, 8

Further Reading[edit]

  • Robert W. Bigelow and Don Zminda: "Nellie Fox", in Steve West and Bill Nowlin, eds.: The Team That Couldn't Hit: The 1972 Texas Rangers, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2019, pp. 239-245. ISBN 978-1-943816-93-4

Related Sites[edit]