A Biography in 1,000 Players No. 17 Rogers Hornsby (Number 3 Second Base)

I wonder what type of teammate Hornsby would be. I think late in his career he was hard to get along with. It is hard to tell from his history, but from what I have read he wasn’t a very fun guy, unless you loved horse races. Hornsby had rules for himself such as not reading the newspaper or much else and not going to movies so he wouldn’t strain his eyes. Players from the 1926 Cardinals called him a great manager and that he left them alone. Maybe he was worried about his own hitting that year. After six consecutive batting titles in which he hit over .400 in three of them he hit only .317 in 1926. His SABR biography said he had many minor ailments. But most players do during a season.

Whatever was happening, Hornsby did a great job with the Cardinals in 1926, winning the World Title. Then he was traded to the New York Giants. Before doing any research, I thought it would have been General Manger Branch Rickey who traded Hornsby as he would expect a power struggle with Hornsby as manager. It was Sam Breeden the owner, who apparently had troubles with Hornsby including Hornsby’s gambling. Hornsby like to go to the horse races and bet on them. I never read how heavily he bet on them, just that he spent a lot of time at the racetrack.

Hornsby went to the Giants in 1927 and had another great year and was traded again. It is hard to tell who Hornsby upset in New York, but I can guess that it was anyone in charge to some extent reading between the lines. A local bookie also sued Hornsby saying he own him $70,000 which is a lot of money in those days. If that is true, then I would say Hornsby had a pretty big gambling project and need help. However, we don’t know if it was true and in situations like that people have a tendency to exaggerate.

Hornsby had another excellent season with the Braves, but they were too poor to keep him although he managed them at the end of the season. They still finished 7th.  Hornsby helped arranged his own trade to the Cubs where he played for a young Joe McCarthy. They won the pennant and Hornsby played will enough to be named the league MVP.  It looked like the third time was charm and Hornsby had found a home. However, he was hurt and never really had a great season after that, even though he was only 33 years old. He had a decent season in 1931 put played only 100 games.

Even though Hornsby played in 23 seasons he didn’t play as much as Collins and Morgan. After age 35 Hornsby never played in 100 games in a season.  Some seasons he barely played, as he mostly managed. Hornsby played 100 games or more 14 times in his career. Collins and Morgan each accomplished the feat 18 times. Also, Hornsby only had 9,500 plate appearances while Collins had over 12,000 and Morgan over 11,000.  Since I’m doing career more than prime this hurts Hornsby in my evaluation of Hornsby and you can argue Hornsby was better in his prime. However, Collins and Morgan were great players also, and did contribute to their team more. Neither way is wrong, it just the way you look at it.

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