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Hack Wilson

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Full Name: Lewis Robert Wilson Primary Position: OF
Height/Weight: 5' 6"/190 First Game: September 29, 1923
Birthdate: April 26, 1900 Final Game: August 25, 1934
Birthplace: Ellwood City, Pennsylvania MLB Experience: 12 years
Died: November 23, 1948
Deathplace: Baltimore, Maryland
Bat/Throw: Right/Right
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Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979


Biography

Lewis Robert "Hack" Wilson was born on April 26, 1900 in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania. He began playing professional baseball 1921 for the Martinsburg club in the Blue Ridge League. After two impressive offensive seasons, Wilson was promoted to the Portsmouth club in the Virginia League, where he switched positions from catcher to outfield. During the 1923 season, Wilson won the Virginia League's Triple Crown, and on September 6 of that year, Hack was purchased by the New York Giants and played in the MLB team's final three games.


Hack Wilson played two unspectacular seasons in New York and supposedly earned a spot in John McGraw's doghouse. And after the 1925 season, Wilson's option was not picked up by the Giants and he was subsequently picked up by the Chicago Cubs. Years later, McGraw would swear until his death that a clerical error had resulted in the Giants not retaining Wilson.


The Cubs drafted Wilson (via the 1925 Rule V Draft) from Toledo of the American Association, where he ended up after the New York debacle. It was in the Windy City that Hack Wilson hit his stride as a baseballer. In 1926, Wilson hit .321, drove in 109, and won his first home run title with 21. In 1929, Wilson won his first RBI crown (159) as he led the Cubbies to the World Series. Wilson went on to hit 8 for 17 (.471) in the Series, but is better remembered for his sloppy defensive play. The Philadelphia Athletics went on to win that Series 4-1. But Hack came back strong in 1930, putting up one of the most phenominal offensive seasons ever seen:

At Bats Runs Hits 2B 3B HR RBI AVG Slg Pct OBP OPS
585 146 208 35 6 56 191 .356 .723 .443 1.166

The 56 home runs set a National League record that would stand for 68 years when, in 1998 it was surpassed by both Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. The .723 slugging percentage is the 22nd best single-season mark in MLB history (and the 11th best by someone not named Ruth or Bonds). Most impressive, however, was the 191 RBI which is a Major League Baseball record that still stands to this day.


After the 1932 season, due partially to a slip in production and partially to a personality clash with new manager Rogers Hornsby, Wilson (along with pitcher Bud Teachout) was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for 37-year-old pitcher Burleigh Grimes. Less than a month later, before he had even donned a St. Louis uniform, the Cards shipped Wilson to the Brooklyn Dodgers for minor-leaguer Bob Parham and $45,000. Although he posted solid numbers for Brooklyn in 1932 (.297, 23, 123), Wilson would never again display the kind of production that made him one of the most-feared hitters in the game.


Despite his heavy drinking (which is widely believed to be the cause of his declining production), Wilson managed to bounce around the game until the end of the 1934 season, and by 1935, only five years after one of the best offensive seasons ever seen (even to this day), Hack Wilson was out of the Major Leagues. After a couple of unsuccessful comeback attempts in semi-professional leagues, Wilson retired from the game completely and opened a bar in Chicago. On November 23, 1948, Hack Wilson died at age 48 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Quote

A former manager, concerned with Wilson's heavy drinking tried to get him off the juice: "When I put a worm in a glass of
water, nothing happens to it. But when I put that same worm in a glass of whiskey, it dies. What does that tell you?"

Hack's response: "That I'll never get worms from drinking whiskey!"

Career Highlights

  • Led the NL in HR in 1926 (21), 1928 (31), and 1930 (56).
  • Led the NL in RBI in 1929 (159), and 1930 (191).
  • Holds MLB single-season RBI record (191 in 1930).

Statistics

Batting Stats

Year Team G AB R H HR RBI AVG OBP SLG 2B 3B BB SO HBP SH SB IBB GDP
1923 NY N 3 10 0 2 0 0 .200 .200 .200 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
1924 NY N 107 383 62 113 10 57 .295 .369 .486 19 12 44 46 1 6 4 0 0
1925 NY N 62 180 28 43 6 30 .239 .322 .422 7 4 21 33 1 4 5 0 0
1926 CHI N 142 529 97 170 21 109 .321 .406 .539 36 8 69 61 6 9 10 0 0
1927 CHI N 146 551 119 175 30 129 .318 .401 .579 30 12 71 70 6 18 13 0 0
1928 CHI N 145 520 89 163 31 120 .313 .404 .588 32 9 77 94 2 24 4 0 0
1929 CHI N 150 574 135 198 39 159 .345 .425 .618 30 5 78 83 2 16 3 0 0
1930 CHI N 155 585 146 208 56 191 .356 .454 .723 35 6 105 84 1 18 3 0 0
1931 CHI N 112 395 66 103 13 61 .261 .362 .435 22 4 63 69 0 0 1 0 0
1932 BRO N 135 481 77 143 23 123 .297 .366 .538 37 5 51 85 1 6 2 0 0
1933 BRO N 117 360 41 96 9 54 .267 .359 .389 13 2 52 50 0 1 7 0 8
1934 PHI N 7 20 0 2 0 3 .100 .217 .100 0 0 3 4 0 0 0 0 2
1934 BRO N 67 172 24 45 6 27 .262 .401 .395 5 0 40 33 0 0 0 0 5
1934 TOT N 74 192 24 47 6 30 .245 .383 .365 5 0 43 37 0 0 0 0 7
Total 1348 4760 884 1461 244 1063 .307 .395 .545 266 67 674 713 20 102 52 0 15

Fielding Stats

Year Team POS G GS INN PO A ERR DP TP PB SB CS PkO AVG
1923 NY N OF 3 0 0 6 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .857
1924 NY N OF 103 0 0 230 8 8 2 0 0 0 0 0 .967
1925 NY N OF 50 0 0 75 3 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 .975
1926 CHI N OF 140 0 0 348 11 10 5 0 0 0 0 0 .973
1927 CHI N OF 146 0 0 400 13 14 3 0 0 0 0 0 .967
1928 CHI N OF 143 0 0 321 11 14 2 0 0 0 0 0 .960
1929 CHI N OF 150 0 0 380 14 12 4 0 0 0 0 0 .970
1930 CHI N OF 155 0 0 357 9 19 2 0 0 0 0 0 .951
1931 CHI N OF 103 0 0 210 9 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 .978
1932 BRO N OF 125 0 0 220 14 11 4 0 0 0 0 0 .955
1933 BRO N OF 90 0 0 181 3 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 .963
1933 BRO N 2B 5 0 0 11 18 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 .906
1934 PHI N OF 6 0 0 11 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
1934 BRO N OF 43 0 0 71 3 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 .974
1934 TOT N RF 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
1934 TOT N LF 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
1934 TOT N OF 49 0 0 82 3 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 .977
Total OF 1257 0 0 2810 98 105 28 0 0 0 0 0 .965
Total 2B 5 0 0 11 18 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 .906

Transactions

  • Sold by Portsmouth (Virginia) to New York Giants (September 6, 1923).
  • Traded by New York Giants with a player to be named later to Toledo (American Association) in exchange for Earl Webb (August 8, 1925); Toledo (American Association) received Pip Koehler (February 15, 1926).
  • Selected by Chicago Cubs from Toledo (American Association) in the Rule 5 major league draft (October 9, 1925).
  • Traded by Chicago Cubs with Bud Teachout to St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Burleigh Grimes (December, 1931).
  • Traded by St. Louis Cardinals to Brooklyn Dodgers in exchange for Bob Parham and $45000 (January 23, 1932).
  • Released by Brooklyn Dodgers (August 8, 1934).
  • Signed by Philadelphia Phillies (August 10, 1934).
  • Released by Philadelphia Phillies (September 5, 1934).

Trivia

See also

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