NO. 15


Batter up


Eugene Hargrave hit better than .300 in six consecutive seasons during the 1920s and still holds a major-league record.


Though he passed away in 1969 and hasn't played in the major leagues since 1930, New Haven's Eugene Franklin Hargrave, shown here on the right, gets mentioned whenever Jason Kendall of Pittsburgh or Ivan Rodriguez of Texas get hot at the plate.

"Bubbles" Hargrave started his professional baseball career in Terre Haute in 1911, and the catcher was called up to the Chicago Cubs in 1913. Playing sparingly over three seasons, Hargrave hit .207, and the Cubs sent him back to the minors, where he spent six more seasons.

But Hargrave never gave up, and the Cincinnati Reds bought his contract from the Cubs in 1920 for $10,000. All that time in the minors paid off, as Hargrave started the best stretch of his career. He hit .289 in 93 games with the Reds in 1921, but the next year he started a string of six straight seasons with a .300 or better batting average.

He hit .316 in 1922, .333 in 1923, .301 in 1924 and .300 in 1925 before having a career year in 1926. Hargrave batted .353 in 326 at-bats to earn the National League batting title. He was the first catcher to win the title, and the feat was not matched until Ernie Lombardi hit .342 for the Reds in 1938. Hargrave's .353 average is still the major-league record for best batting average by a catcher.

His streak continued with a .308 batting average in 1927, but ended when he hit .295 in 1928. Hargrave's career ended in 1930 with the Yankees when he hit .278. He finished with a .310 lifetime batting average over 12 seasons with 29 home runs.

Bubbles Hargrave managed for one year in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, after he retired. He died Feb. 23, 1969, in Cincinnati.


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