Jimmie Foxx

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Jimmie Foxx
Jimmie Foxx 1937 cropped.jpg
Foxx with the Boston Red Sox in 1937
First baseman
Born: (1907-10-22)October 22, 1907
Sudlersville, Maryland
Died: July 21, 1967(1967-07-21) (aged 59)
Miami, Florida
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
May 1, 1925, for the Philadelphia Athletics
Last MLB appearance
September 23, 1945, for the Philadelphia Phillies
MLB statistics
Batting average.325
Hits2,646
Home runs534
Runs batted in1,922
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction1951
Vote79.2% (seventh ballot)

James Emory Foxx (October 22, 1907 – July 21, 1967), nicknamed "Double X" and "The Beast", was an American professional baseball first baseman who played 20 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Philadelphia Athletics, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, and Philadelphia Phillies.[1] His most productive years were with the Philadelphia Athletics and the Boston Red Sox, where he hit 30 or more home runs in 12 consecutive seasons and drove in more than 100 runs in 13 consecutive years.

Foxx was one of the greatest hitters in baseball history, capturing a vaunted Triple Crown, earning a then-record three MVPs, and becoming only the second player in MLB history to hit 500 career home runs. For nearly 67 years, he held the record for the youngest major leaguer to reach 500 home runs. His three career MVPs are tied for second all-time. Foxx was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1951.[2]

Early years[edit]

Foxx was born in rural Sudlersville on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, on October 22, 1907, to Dell and Mattie Foxx, who were farmers. Dell Foxx had played baseball for a town team when he was younger. Jimmie Foxx did well in school but excelled in sports, particularly soccer, track, and baseball. He played all three sports at Sudlersville High School, and set the state record in the 220 yard dash in 1923.[3] So great were his athletic exploits he was regarded as "the most promising athletic prospect in the State of Maryland",[4] and a scholarship to the University of Maryland was arranged – in track an field – should he wish to attend.[5]

Instead, Foxx joined the minor league Class D level Easton Farmers, who were managed by former Philadelphia Athletics great and Hall of Fame member Frank "Home Run" Baker. Foxx had hoped to pitch or play third base, but since the team was short on catchers, Foxx moved behind the plate, a position he had played in high school and on summer all-star teams.[6] He immediately drew interest from the Philadelphia Athletics (A's) and New York Yankees. Foxx signed with the A's and made his major league debut in May 1925 at age 17. He was still in his junior year of high school at the time.[7][8]

Major league career[edit]

Philadelphia Athletics[edit]

1933 Goudey baseball card

The A's catching duties were already filled by future Baseball Hall of Fame member Mickey Cochrane, so by 1927, Foxx was splitting time between catching, first base, and the outfield. In 1929, installed as the A's regular first baseman, Foxx had a breakthrough year, batting .354 and hitting 33 home runs. That year, Foxx appeared on the cover of Time magazine.[9]

In 1932, Foxx hit .364, with 58 home runs with 169 RBIs, missing the Triple Crown by just three points in batting average and falling just short of Babe Ruth's all-time Major League record. Foxx actually hit 60 that year, but two were hit in games that were rained out, erasing them from the official batting records. By modern rules Foxx would also have handily won the Triple Crown, with a 20-point lead over the runner up.[a]

Foxx came back strong in 1933, batting .356, driving in 163 runs, and hitting 48 home runs, earning him the Triple Crown and the second of back-to-back MVP honors.

Foxx was one of the three or four most feared sluggers of his era. The great Yankee pitcher Lefty Gomez once said of him, "He has muscles in his hair."

In 1937, Foxx hit a ball into the third deck of the left-field stands at Yankee Stadium, a very rare feat because of the distance and the angle of the stands. Gomez was the pitcher who gave it up, and when asked how far it went, he said, "I don't know, but I do know it took somebody 45 minutes to go up there and get it back."

When the Great Depression fully hit in the early 1930s, A's owner Connie Mack was unable to pay the salaries of his highly paid stars, and was obliged to sell off a number of them. After a 1936 contract dispute, Mack sold Foxx's contract to the Red Sox for $150,000 (equivalent to approximately $2,797,482 in 2020 dollars[10]).

Boston Red Sox[edit]

Seven of the American League's 1937 All-Star players, from left to right Lou Gehrig, Joe Cronin, Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Charlie Gehringer, Jimmie Foxx, and Hank Greenberg. All seven were elected to the Hall of Fame.

Foxx played six years for Boston, including a 1938 season in which he hit 50 home runs, drove in 175 runs, batted .349, won his third MVP award, and again narrowly missed winning the Triple Crown. Foxx is one of nine players to have won three MVPs; only Barry Bonds (7) has more. His 50 home runs would remained the single-season record for the Red Sox until David Ortiz hit 54 in 2006.

On June 16, 1938, he set an American League record when he walked six times in a game. In 1939 he hit .360, his second-best all-time season batting average.

Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies[edit]

Foxx's skills diminished significantly after 1941. Some sources attribute this to alcohol abuse, while others attribute it to a sinus condition.

He split the 1942 season between the Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, playing mostly a reserve role. He sat out the 1943 season and appeared only in 15 games in 1944, mostly as a pinch hitter.

He wound up his career with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1945, filling in at first and third, pinch hitting, and pitching nine games, including two as the starting pitcher. He compiled a 1–0 record and 1.59 ERA over 2223 innings. Foxx was often called the right-handed Babe Ruth, but his career was the opposite of Ruth in this regard. Ruth began his big-league career as a pitcher; Foxx ended his big-league career as one.

Foxx finished his 20-year career with 534 home runs, 1,922 runs batted in, 1,751 runs scored, 2,646 hits, 458 doubles, 125 triples, 1,452 bases on balls and a .325 batting average. His 12 consecutive seasons with 30 or more home runs was a major league record until it was broken by Barry Bonds in 2004. At the end of his career, his 534 home runs placed him second only to Ruth on the all-time list, and first among right-handed hitters. He retained these positions until Willie Mays passed Foxx for second place in 1966. Foxx set the record for the youngest player to reach 500 home runs at age 32 years and 338 days in the final week of the 1940 Major League Baseball season. It held until August 4, 2007, when it was broken by Alex Rodriguez at age 32 years and 8 days. Foxx was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1951.

Post-baseball career[edit]

Foxx as head coach for the University of Miami in 1957

Foxx worked as a minor league manager and coach after his playing days ended, including managing the Fort Wayne Daisies of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League for one season in 1952.[11] He took them to the playoffs where they lost in the first round 2 games to 1 against the Rockford Peaches. Foxx did not return for the 1953 season. The character of Jimmy Dugan in the 1992 movie A League of Their Own, played broadly by Tom Hanks, is loosely based on Foxx, though his players remember Foxx as having behaved significantly more gentlemanly to them Hanks towards his.[citation needed]

Foxx served as head coach for the University of Miami baseball team for two seasons, going 9–8 in 1956 and 11–12 in 1957.

A series of bad investments left Foxx broke by 1958.[12] The Red Sox responded by naming Foxx hitting coach of their Triple-A affiliate, the Minneapolis Millers of the American Association, that season.[11] In the early 1960s he lived in Galesburg, Illinois where he was reduced to working as a greeter at a locally owned steak house. He eventually retired to suburban Cleveland in Lakewood, and was employed by the Lakewood Recreation Department. His two children, a daughter and son, also lived in Lakewood. His son, Jimmie Foxx, Jr., was an outstanding football player at Lakewood High School and at Kent State University.

Foxx had a city baseball field named in his honor. The dedication ceremony included Foxx's son, grandchildren and several former members of the Cleveland Indians, including Herb Score and Mike Hegan. TV announcer Casey Coleman, son of announcer Ken Coleman, served as master of ceremonies of the event. A plaque commemorating Foxx's community service remains there today.

Death[edit]

Foxx died in 1967 at age 59 in Miami, Florida.[13] He became ill while eating dinner with his brother and was taken to a hospital, where resuscitative efforts failed. An autopsy showed that Foxx had choked on a piece of food. The year before, Foxx's second wife, Dorothy, had also died of choking.[14] Foxx is buried at Flagler Memorial Park in Miami.

Legacy[edit]

A statue of Foxx was erected in his hometown of Sudlersville, Maryland, on October 25, 1997. In 1999, he ranked number 15 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players,[15] and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

Tom Hanks's character Jimmy Dugan in the movie A League of Their Own was largely based on Foxx and Hack Wilson, although the producers took a number of liberties in creating the role.[12]

Foxx is mentioned in the poem "Line-Up for Yesterday" by Ogden Nash:

"Line-Up for Yesterday"

X is the first
Of two x's in Foxx
Who was right behind Ruth
With his powerful soxx.

Ogden Nash, Sport magazine (January 1949)[16]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Today's rules base the batting championship on 3.1 plate appearances per team games played. Boston Red Sox first baseman Dale Alexander hit .367, but in just 454 plate appearances. By modern rule 477 plate appearances would have been required for a then 154-game season. To compensate for falling 23 short, 23 points would have been deducted from his batting average, equivalent to having gone to the plate and made an out in each one. This would have reduced it to .344 for championship qualifying purposes.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Jimmie Foxx Statistics and History | Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2016-01-14.
  2. ^ "Jimmie Foxx". Baseball Hall of Fame. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  3. ^ Jimmy Foxx, The Pride of Sudlersville, Michael R. Milliken, The Scarecrow Press, 1998, p. 14
  4. ^ Milliken, p.14
  5. ^ Milliken, p.15
  6. ^ Milliken, p.13
  7. ^ "Jimmie Foxx". Baseball Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2016-01-14.
  8. ^ "Home Run Baker – Society for American Baseball Research".
  9. ^ "Jimmie Fox: July 29, 1929". Time. Archived from the original on June 28, 2006. Retrieved August 20, 2013.
  10. ^ 1634 to 1699: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy ofthe United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700-1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How much is that in real money?: a historical price index for use as a deflator of money values in the economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  11. ^ a b "James E. Foxx AAGPBL Player/Profile".
  12. ^ a b espn.com, Reel Life: 'A League of Their Own', accessed August 19, 2013.
  13. ^ "Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
  14. ^ Edes, Gordon (September 12, 2006). "Foxx news channeling: Ortiz's run prompts a glance into history". Boston Globe. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
  15. ^ "100 Greatest Baseball Players by The Sporting News : A Legendary List by Baseball Almanac". www.baseball-almanac.com.
  16. ^ "Baseball Almanac". Retrieved 2008-01-23.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Achievements
Preceded by
Ty Cobb
American League Triple Crown
1933
Succeeded by
Lou Gehrig
Preceded by
Pinky Higgins
Hitting for the cycle
August 14, 1933
Succeeded by
Earl Averill