Rogers “Rajah” Hornsby

March 3, 2010
By mehnyehmeh BRONZE, Fairfield, Connecticut
mehnyehmeh BRONZE, Fairfield, Connecticut
2 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Early Life:

Rogers Hornsby was born in the small, isolated town of Winters, TX. His uncommon first name originated from his mother’s maiden name. The old-fashioned, Southern area in which he was raised indefinitely had an effect on his strict manners as a ballplayer.

Minor League Career:

Hornsby entered the St. Louis Cardinal’s farm system when he was 18, not yet nearly the type of hitter he would develop into years later. After only batting .232 in 113 games throughout the 1914 season, the Cardinals tried to sell his contract for $500 to the Little Rock franchise of the Southern League, who eventually declined the offer as a result of his poor performance. Not knowing what to do with the young man, Cardinals major league coaches such as the eventual Hall of Fame manager, Miller Huggins, set aside extra time to help improve Hornsby’s stance and swing. By improving his minor league statistics in the 1915 season, he was promoted up into the father club for the last few games of the year.

Early Major League Career:

Following a highly disappointing rookie year, Hornsby gained 25 pounds of muscle and quickly rebounded, leading the league in triples, slugging percentage, and total bases in 1917. Between 1915 and 1919, Hornsby would end the decade with an impressive .309 average, finishing second for the batting title twice.

Roaring Twenties:
The 1920’s was the time of Hornsby’s prime. He won 6 batting titles, 5 of them consecutive. In 1925 and ’29, he was voted the league’s MVP award, and in ’22 and ’29, the NL Triple Crown. His .424 average in 1924 is ranked 6th all time in a single season. Even more astonishingly, he was a player-manager for the Cardinals for 2 seasons, leading the team to their first ever World Championship title in 1926 over Babe Ruth and the Bronx Bombers. Hornsby is the perfect example of living the American Dream. Hard work and success; he refused to watch movies and read the newspaper in order not to damage his eyesight. Today, he is still very well known for having one of the best batting eyes the game has ever had. By the mid-decade, Hornsby was the National League’s most respected player.

Giants, Braves, and Cubs:

In the 1926 offseason, after demanding a $50,000 contract for his player-manager job combination, Hornsby was traded to the New York Giants for future Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch and Jimmy Ring. The team change did not seem to affect his great hitting ability, and he continued to lead the NL in multiple batting categories. Hornsby even filled in for manager John McGraw in 33 games that season, but personal conflicts between the two influenced another trade, this time sending him to the Boston Braves. At the time, the Braves were one of baseball’s poorest teams, and Hornsby was deemed manager upon arrival. As a player, he still excelled, but as a manager, the team finished in 7th place and Hornsby was again traded for 5 players and $200,000 to the Chicago Cubs. By now, 33 years of age, Hornsby was starting to wash out statistically. The Cubs hired him to manage parts of 3 seasons. After 1932, he moved back to St. Louis to play with the Cardinals for 46 games and then the Browns all the way until 1937, where he was able to keep playing and managing but only with limited success. Hornsby retired before the ’38 season.

Years After:

Following short stints as a lone manager of the Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds 1952-1953, Hornsby disappeared from the baseball eye almost for good. Before his death from a heart attack in 1963, he worked as a coach and scout for the Mets during their inaugural season.

The author's comments:
I hope to be a baseball journalist when I grow older. My favorite team generally is the NY Mets, however there are particular teams I also like a lot such as the 1965 Twins (Killebrew, Kaat, Oliva) and the 1970 Orioles (Frank and Brooks Robinson, Palmer, Cuellar, and Boog). My dad grew up watching Tom Seaver pitch at the late Shea Stadium, and my favorite story of all is his fan experience there with Rico Carty, the Atlanta Braves Dominican hitting great. To keep myself occupied during the off-season, I avidly collect vintage baseball cards and am a frequent at various shows in the NY and CT area. I am currently working on the 1967 Topps set.

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