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Arky Vaughan

Position: Shortstop
Teams: Pittsburgh Pirates, 1932-1941; Brooklyn Dodgers, 1942-1943; 1947-1948

Arky Vaughan
Arky Vaughan's .406 career on-base
percentage is the highest in history by
a shortstop.

A nine-time All-star, Arky Vaughan was one of the greatest offensive shortstops in baseball history. He led the NL three times in walks, triples, runs, and on-base percentage. He also led the loop in putouts and assists thrice.

Born in Clifty, Arkansas, Joseph Floyd Vaughan (1912-1952) was raised in Fullerton, California, where he received his nickname. He was signed in 1931 by Wichita of the Western Association, where he hit .338 with 21 homers and 145 runs scored. The Pirates made Arky their starting shortstop in 1932.

Vaughan retired with a .318 career batting average, the second highest in history by a shortstop. It is also the second highest by a shortstop on the team for which he played most of his career. Because he broke in with Pittsburgh, Arky invited immediate comparison to Honus Wagner, a comparison that he and every other shortstop could not but suffer for the making.

Although never Honus’s equal in the field, Arky gave Wagner a close run offensively. Vaughan’s .385 season in 1935 earned the National League batting crown and set a then-20th-century loop record for the highest average by a shortstop. A year later, he garnered 118 walks to carve out another senior circuit record for shortstops.

In the 1941 All-Star Game, Vaughan became the first player to hit two home runs in a midsummer classic when he rapped a two-run clout in the seventh inning and then repeated his feat in the eighth. Vaughan’s second dinger put the NL ahead 5-2 and seemed to cement his status as the game’s hero. With two out in the ninth, however, Ted Williams socked a three-run homer to give the AL a 7-5 win.

In 1943, Vaughan paced his loop in stolen bases. After being traded to the Dodgers the previous year, Vaughan was just 31 and still at his peak. He could not abide having to play for Brooklyn manager Leo Durocher, nonetheless.

Unable to get the Dodgers to trade him, the mild-mannered Vaughan opted to retire quietly. He sat out all of the next three seasons, returning only in 1947 when Durocher was suspended for the year. After slumping to .244 in 1948, he retired again, this time for good.

In 1952, Vaughan drowned in a fishing mishap. Noted for giving preference to living former stars, the Veterans Committee passed over Vaughan again and again until he was finally selected in 1985.

Here are Arky Vaughan's major league totals:


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