Rogers Hornsby

To write about Rogers Hornsby would and could take volumes. Let’s just hit the surface of his tenure in the Cardinals organization.

Here is the first paragraph of his wikipedia page;

Rogers Hornsby, Sr. (April 27, 1896 – January 5, 1963), nicknamed “The Rajah“, was an American baseball infielder, manager, andcoach who played 23 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB). He played for the St. Louis Cardinals (1915–1926, 1933), New York Giants (1927), Boston Braves (1928), Chicago Cubs (1929–1932), and St. Louis Browns (1933–1937). Hornsby had 2,930 hits and 301 home runs in his career; his career .358 batting average is second only to Ty Cobb’s average. He was named the National League (NL)’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) twice, and was a member of one World Series championship team.

Natural abilities

The abilities that Hornsby had on the diamond were tremendous but the people skills were lacking in a big way. While Rogers Hornsby might have been a pain to teammates and management, he was an even bigger headache to opposing pitchers.
The Rajah spoke loudly and carried a big stick. His .424 batting average in 1924 is the best season mark this century. Three times in four years he batted above .400, averaging .402 (1,078-for-2,679) from 1921 through 1925. A right-handed hitter, his .358 lifetime average is second in history to only Ty Cobb’s .367.

Notable accomplishments

Two MVPs, with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1925 and the Chicago Cubs in 1929.
Two Triple Crowns (1922 and 1925).
Seven National League batting crowns (six consecutively, a league record).
Led the NL in runs batted in four times, runs scored five times, slugging percentage nine time, doubles and hits four times each, and triples and homers twice each.
In the 15 seasons he played at least 100 games, he batted at least .313 14 times. (He played parts of eight other seasons.)
In his first full season as player-manager, he led the Cardinals to their first pennant since they joined the NL in 1892 and to victory in the World Series.

unusual batting stance

Hornsby’s batting stance was unusual. Feet close together, he stood deep in the batter’s box and far from the plate, making him appear vulnerable to pitches on the outside corner. But he had a way of striding in that closed the distance in a hurry, and he was an outstanding opposite-field hitter.

sharp tongue

While his sharp tongue invariably caused the second baseman to get into major disagreements with management, he also was careful to keep his eyes and body sharp. To preserve his batting eye, he tried to avoid straining his eyes by not going to the movies or reading books. He also tried to stay in shape by watching his diet, not smoking or drinking, and getting plenty of rest.

not a mr. congeniality

While Hornsby was a star on the field, he had difficulty dealing with people. He could be cold, contentious and belligerent. Management would only take so much before dealing him away. As a manager, these same qualities caused many of his players to dislike him. Fired as Cubs manager during the 1932 season, the players showed their feelings about him when they refused to vote him a World Series share after winning the pennant under Charlie Grimm.

Wow numbers

He led the league in 10 offensive categories, many by huge margins with totals that rank among the all-time best. He romped to his first Triple Crown, with his career-best 42 homers leading the league by 16, his career-high 152 RBI leading by 20 and his .401 average winning the batting title by 47 points. He also led the league with 450 total bases, 250 hits, 102 extra-base hits, a .722 slugging percentage, 141 runs, 46 doubles and a .459 on-base percentage.

In 1924, when Hornsby hit his astounding .424, he didn’t win the MVP, finishing second to Brooklyn pitcher Dazzy Vance, who went 28-6 with a league-leading 2.16 earned-run average.

But there was no stopping Hornsby from the MVP the next year when he won his second Triple Crown (.403, 39 homers and 143 RBI). One-quarter into the season, he became player-manager for the Cardinals, with the team going 64-51 under him after it had been 13-25 under Rickey.

ownership tired of his personality

While Hornsby was a hero to St. Louis fans, Cardinals owner Sam Breadon had grown tired of Hornsby’s quarrelsome manner. When Hornsby rejected a one-year contract to remain as player-manager for 1927, Breadon had enough. Combining his personal dislike for the man and their financial differences, Breadon went against public opinion and traded Hornsby to the New York Giants for Frankie Frisch and Jimmy Ring.

hall of fame

Hornsby, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1942, had 301 homers, 2,930 hits and a slugging percentage of .577 to go with that phenomenal lifetime .358 average. Among those who were awed by Hornsby the hitter was Ted Williams.


Baseball Reference Page

Hall of Fame Page

Official Rogers Hornsby Website

Hornsby Books 

My War with Baseball by Rogers Hornsby