Rogers Hornsby

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Rogers Hornsby

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1942

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Biographical Information[edit]


"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring." - Rogers Hornsby

Rogers Hornsby was an incredible player who retired while holding the record for the most career home runs in the National League, and he continues to hold the National League record for the highest career batting average. Hornsby's major league career batting average of .358 was more than 100 points higher than his minor league career batting average (once the winning answer to a SABR Trivia contest in 1987). Although he finished the 2005 season 108th on the all time home run list, Hornsby was once second all time to Babe Ruth in home runs. He was also a long-time manager, a couple of whose teams rebelled against him. As manager of the 1926 Cardinals, he brought St. Louis their first World Series victory.

Hornsby, sometimes called "Rajah", was obsessed about baseball, refusing to do anything off-field that might strain his eyes.

He was primarily a shortstop during his first 5 seasons, playing some third base as well. It was the dead-ball era, and so his stats are not as eye-popping as his later accomplishments. However, he was second in batting in 1917 and 1919, and he led the league in slugging in 1917. He was second in triples in 1916 and first in 1917, and was in the top 5 in home runs from 1917 to 1919.

While quite proud of his fielding ability as a shortstop in those years, Hornsby nevertheless had mediocre range factors and improved his range when he moved to 2nd base in 1920.

The lively ball era ushered in by Babe Ruth was welcomed by Hornsby, who took advantage of playing in a small park in St. Louis. Not only did his doubles go up, but his home runs shot up as high as 42 and his triples stayed as high as they had been in the dead-ball era. He holds a five-year batting record with a .402 batting average over the span 1921-1925. He also won the 1922 and 1925 National League Triple Crowns. He was MVP in 1925.

Throughout the 1920s, Hornsby missed hitting .360 only once. He won the batting championship 7 times that decade, and was second once and third once. His high was .424 in 1924. Hornsby was the first player to reach 300 home runs in the National League, on May 17, 1924. And he wasn't a one-team player. When traded to the New York Giants in December 1926 at age 31 (for Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch, a younger player), Hornsby responded by finishing second in the league in batting, first in on-base percentage and second in slugging. When he moved to the Boston Braves in 1928, he led the league in batting, on-base percentage and slugging. When he moved to the Chicago Cubs in 1929, at the age of 33, he won the MVP award.

He never played a full season after that, although in 1931 he finished first in OBP and second in slugging while appearing in 100 games. Hornsby had become a player-manager in 1925, and was to gradually play less and less under teams he managed. His last year as a player was 1937, in which he hit .321 in 56 at-bats for the St. Louis Browns. It was also the last year for Jim Bottomley, who had played alongside him on the Cardinals as a young player, and who now finished up with the Browns. He played 2 games in Mexico in 1944 for Veracruz, going 1 for 1 with a double.

As a manager, Hornsby managed 15 years with 6 teams, of which he was player/manager with 5 of them. The 1926 St. Louis Cardinals team won the World Series under his helm.

"I played my best ball for him, but he was mean . . . I played my greatest time for him, but everyone hated him." - Harlond Clift, about Hornsby as the manager of the St. Louis Browns

Ted Williams credited Hornsby as having a big impact on him as a hitter.

Hornsby (center) takes delivery of a new 1937 Oldsmobile.

Hornsby led the league in batting 7 times, and is 2nd on the all-time list (1st on the National League all-time list). He led the league 9 times in OBP, and 9 times in SLG. He led the league 5 times in runs scored, 4 times in doubles, 2 times in triples, 2 times in home runs, and 4 times in RBI.

By the "Black Ink" method of appraising performance, he ranks #3 all-time. By the "Hall of Fame Standards" method he also ranks #3 all-time.

Bill James ranks Hornsby as the third greatest second baseman of all time, behind both Joe Morgan and Eddie Collins. He is almost universally ranked as the top offensive second baseman, but some analysts and fans have argued that his poor defense drops him below the likes of Morgan, Collins or Nap Lajoie as the top all-around second baseman.

Hornsby's son, Bill Hornsby, was a minor league outfielder. His brother, Everett Hornsby, pitched in the minors from 1906 to 1916. With Ronald Reagan playing Grover Cleveland Alexander, Frank Lovejoy played Hornsby in "The Grover Cleveland Alexander Story". His first Baseball Card appearance was in the 1916 E135 Collins-McCarthy set.

"Son, when you pitch a strike Mr. Hornsby will let you know." - An umpire, in response to a rookie pitcher's complaint that some of his pitches had incorrectly been called as balls

As opposed to the quote above, Hornsby "peddles life insurance" during winter, per a January 21, 1921 newspaper article, see link title.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2-time NL MVP (1925 & 1929)
  • 2-time NL Triple Crown (1922 & 1925)
  • 7-time NL Batting Average Leader (1920-1925 & 1928)
  • 9-time NL On-Base Percentage Leader (1920-1925, 1927, 1928 & 1931)
  • 9-time NL Slugging Percentage Leader (1917, 1920-1925, 1928 & 1929)
  • 11-time NL OPS Leader (1917, 1920-1925, 1927-1929 & 1931)
  • 5-time NL Runs Scored Leader (1921, 1922, 1924, 1927 & 1929)
  • 4-time NL Hits Leader (1920-1922 & 1924)
  • 7-time NL Total Bases Leader (1917, 1920-1922, 1924, 1925 & 1929)
  • 4-time NL Doubles Leader (1920-1922 & 1924)
  • 2-time NL Triples Leader (1917 & 1921)
  • 2-time NL Home Runs Leader (1922 & 1925)
  • 4-time NL RBI Leader (1920-1922 & 1925)
  • 3-time NL Bases on Balls Leader (1924, 1927 & 1928)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 7 (1921, 1922, 1924, 1925 & 1927-1929)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 3 (1922, 1925 & 1929)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1922)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 5 (1921, 1922, 1925, 1927 & 1929)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 6 (1921, 1922, 1924, 1925, 1927 & 1929)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 7 (1920-1922, 1924, 1925, 1927 & 1929)
  • Won a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1926
  • NL Pennants: 2 (1926 & 1932)
  • Managed one World Series Champions with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1926
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1942

1924 1925 1926
Dazzy Vance Rogers Hornsby Bob O'Farrell
1928 1929 1930
Jim Bottomley Rogers Hornsby No Award

Preceded by
Branch Rickey
St. Louis Cardinals Manager
Succeeded by
Bob O'Farrell
Preceded by
John McGraw
New York Giants Manager
Succeeded by
John McGraw
Preceded by
Jack Slattery
Boston Braves Manager
Succeeded by
Judge Fuchs
Preceded by
Joe McCarthy
Chicago Cubs Manager
Succeeded by
Charlie Grimm
Preceded by
Bill Killefer
St. Louis Browns Manager
Succeeded by
Jim Bottomley
Preceded by
Zack Taylor
St. Louis Browns Manager
Succeeded by
Marty Marion
Preceded by
Luke Sewell
Cincinnati Reds Manager
Succeeded by
Buster Mills

Year-By-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1925 St. Louis Cardinals National League 64-51 4th St. Louis Cardinals replaced Branch Rickey (13-25) on May 31
1926 St. Louis Cardinals National League 89-65 1st St. Louis Cardinals World Series Champs
1927 New York Giants National League 22-10 3rd New York Giants replaced John McGraw (70-52) on September 3
1928 Boston Braves National League 39-83 7th Boston Braves replaced Jack Slattery (11-20) on May 25
1930 Chicago Cubs National League 4-0 2nd Chicago Cubs replaced Joe McCarthy (86-64) on September 25
1931 Chicago Cubs National League 84-70 3rd Chicago Cubs
1932 Chicago Cubs National League 53-46 -- Chicago Cubs replaced by Charlie Grimm on August 4
1933 St. Louis Browns American League 19-33 8th St. Louis Browns replaced Bill Killefer (34-57) and Allen Sothoron (2-6)
on July 29
1934 St. Louis Browns American League 67-85 6th St. Louis Browns
1935 St. Louis Browns American League 65-87 7th St. Louis Browns
1936 St. Louis Browns American League 57-95 7th St. Louis Browns
1937 St. Louis Browns American League 25-52 -- St. Louis Browns replaced by Jim Bottomley on July 21
1938 Chattanooga Lookouts Southern Association 36-48 7th Washington Senators replaced Wally Millies (30-37) on June 27
1939 Baltimore Orioles International League 68-85 6th none
1940 Oklahoma City Indians Texas League 56-43 4th none Lost in 1st round replaced Jim Keesey (26-35) on June 9
1941 Oklahoma City Indians Texas League 31-37 -- Cleveland Indians replaced by Homer Peel (38-48) on June 23
1942 Fort Worth Cats Texas League 84-68 3rd none Lost in 1st round
1944 Azules de Veracruz Mexican League -- none replaced by Ramon Bragana
1950 Beaumont Roughnecks Texas League 91-52 1st New York Yankees Lost in 1st round
1951 Seattle Rainiers Pacific Coast League 99-68 1st none League Champs
1952 St. Louis Browns American League 22-29 -- St. Louis Browns replaced by Marty Marion on June 10
Cincinnati Reds National League 27-24 6th Cincinnati Reds replaced Luke Sewell (39-59) and Earle Brucker (3-2)
on August 5
1953 Cincinnati Reds National League 64-82 -- Cincinnati Reds replaced by Buster Mills on September 19

Records Held[edit]

  • Batting average, right handed batter, career, .358
  • Batting average, season (since 1900), .424, 1924
  • Batting average, right handed batter, season (since 1900), .424, 1924
  • On base average, right handed batter, career, .434
  • On base average, right handed batter, season, .507, 1924
  • Slugging percentage, right handed batter, season, .756, 1925
  • On base plus slugging percentage, right handed batter, season, 1.245, 1925
  • Total bases, right handed batter, season, 450, 1922
  • Home runs, second baseman, season, 42, 1922 (tied)
  • Seasons batting .400, 3 (tied)
  • Highest batting average over five consecutive seasons, .402 (1921-25)
  • Highest batting average over four consecutive seasons, .404 (1922-25)

Further Reading[edit]

  • "Ernie Banks Better Hitter Than Willie Mays - Hornsby", Jet, August 21, 1958, p. 51. [1]
  • Charles Alexander: Rogers Hornsby: A Biography, Henry Holt, New York, NY, 1995.
  • Aubrey O. Cookman Jr.: "The Mechanics of Batting", Baseball Digest, May 1947, pp. 91-95, 268 & 272. [2]
  • Barney Kremenko: "Billy Williams - Above-Average Player: How Hornsby improved his hitting", Baseball Digest, October 1964, pp. 84-86. [3]
  • C. Paul Rogers, III: "Rogers Hornsby", in Gregory H. Wolf, ed.: Winning on the North Side: the 1929 Chicago Cubs, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2015, pp. 95-110. ISBN 978-1-933599-89-2

Related Sites[edit]