Snuffy Stirnweiss

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1952 Topps #217 Snuffy Stirnweiss

George Henry Stirnweiss

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Biographical Information[edit]

Snuffy Stirnweiss, a second baseman who had a ten-year career in the major leagues, is best known for winning the 1945 batting championship.

Stirnweiss was born in New York, NY but went to school at the University of North Carolina, where he was a star football player. He was drafted by the Chicago Cardinals of the NFL, but chose to pursue baseball instead. He was signed as a free agent by the New York Yankees in 1940, out of college. In the minors he played in Norfolk in 1940 and then Newark from 1940 to 1942.

Gastric ulcers and hay fever prevented him from being in the military.

He broke into the majors during the 1943 season, hitting .219 in 274 at-bats and playing mostly shortstop. The Yankees won the World Series, and Stirnweiss appeared in one game, scoring a run.

The next season, 1944, he played solely second base, and hit exactly 100 points higher. He was fourth in the American League in batting, only eight points behind winner Lou Boudreau. He led the league in runs, hits, singles, stolen bases, and triples, and was fourth in the MVP voting.

In 1945, when he won the batting title, his average was actually lower than in 1944. He hit .309 to lead the league that year, and also led the league in slugging, runs scored, hits, total bases, triples, and stolen bases. He was third in the MVP voting. He was named to his first All-Star team. After he hit 15+ triples in two consecutive seasons in 1944 and 1945, no one else did it until Jose Reyes in 2005-2006.

In 1946, he slumped to .251 and his power fell off. It was a year when most of his games were at third base. Even though it was an off-season, he was still named to the All-Star team. He was second in the league in stolen bases with 18.

Throughout the rest of his career, Stirnweiss never hit higher than .261. His playing time slipped, and eventually he was traded to the St. Louis Browns and later to the Cleveland Indians. He did appear in the 1947 World Series with the Yankees, hitting .259 with 8 walks while playing in all 7 games. In 1949, he was also in the World Series, but only in one game, with no at-bats.

In 1948, he set a record with a .993 fielding percentage at second base. After the 1948 season, he joined a barnstorming team called the Birdie Tebbetts Major League All-Stars, along with players such as Vic Wertz, Vern Stephens, and Jim Piersall.

After his playing days, he was a manager in Schenectady and in Binghamton. He then went into banking but had to temporarily retire when he had a heart attack in 1957. In 1958, he had begun to be involved in youth baseball. He died at age 39 in a train wreck when his train went off the CRRNJ Newark Bay Bridge between Elizabethport, NJ and Bayonne, New Jersey, killing many people. He was a foreign freight agent at the time. He had six children, the youngest only 17 months old.

Two explanations are given for the nickname "Snuffy". First, it is said he had a football injury that affected his breathing. Second, he had sinus problems that he treated with snuff.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2-time AL All-Star (1945 & 1946)
  • AL Batting Average Leader (1945)
  • AL Slugging Percentage Leader (1945)
  • AL OPS Leader (1945)
  • AL At Bats Leader (1945)
  • 2-time AL Runs Scored Leader (1944 & 1945)
  • 2-time AL Hits Leader (1944 & 1945)
  • AL Total Bases Leader (1945)
  • AL Singles Leader (1944)
  • 2-time AL Triples Leader (1944 & 1945)
  • 2-time AL Stolen Bases Leader (1944 & 1945)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 3 (1944, 1945 & 1947)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (1944)
  • 50 Stolen Bases Seasons: 1 (1944)
  • Won three World Series with the New York Yankees (1943, 1947 & 1949)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Kevin Cook: Electric October: Seven World Series Games, Six Lives, Five Minutes of Fame That Lasted Forever, Henry Holt and Co., Macmillan, New York, NY, 2017. ISBN 9781250116567

Related Sites[edit]