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Ross Youngs

Position: Outfielder
Team: New York Giants, 1917-1926

When the great Walter Johnson finally pitched a World Series game after 18 years in the majors, he lost in the 12th inning on a bases-loaded single by Ross Youngs. Johnson and the Senators won the final game of the Series, but during that game he intentionally walked one man twice to get to Hall of Famer George Kelly. The man he walked was Ross Youngs.

Ross Youngs was John McGraw's idea of the perfect Giant.
Ross Youngs was John McGraw's
idea of the perfect Giant.

Royce Middlebrook Youngs (1897-1927) grew up in West Texas as a football star in high school, but he was more interested in playing baseball. In 1914, Ross signed with Austin of the Texas League at age 17, but he was released after hitting only .097.

The next season, he played for two circuits that folded during the season, the Mid-Texas League and the Central Texas League. He blossomed in the Western Association in 1916, batting .362. John McGraw signed Ross that year and sent him to Rochester of the International League in 1917. Youngs hit .356, proving that the stocky, 5'8" outfielder was ready for the bigs.

In the old box scores and articles, “Youngs” is nearly always spelled with no “s.” McGraw called Youngs “the greatest outfielder I ever saw,” and “Pep” was a fixture on McGraw’s four straight pennant-winning teams of 1921 to 1924. He was a prototypical McGraw star: a fast, high-average hitter who had little power but played great defense. He had a fearsome arm, three times leading loop right fielders in assists.

At the plate, Ross batted over .300 in nine of his 10 seasons. He had a good eye, posting a lifetime on-base average of .399, and scored at least 90 runs in each of the Giants’ four pennant-winning seasons, leading the league with 121 in 1923. He was a fine World Series performer, batting .280, .375, and .348 in the first three; he hit just .185 in the fourth, but he scared Walter Johnson witless.

Youngs struggled during 1925, finishing at .264, the only season he fell below .300. In spring 1926, he was diagnosed with Bright’s disease, a terminal kidney illness. The Giants hired a full-time nurse to travel with the team, and Pep spent the season teaching young Mel Ott all he knew about baseball. Though the disease was taking its toll, Ross still hit .306.

Youngs died in 1927 in San Antonio at age 30. He was such a soft-hearted man that when he died he was owed over $15,000 by his debtors. The Veterans Committee selected Ross to the Hall of Fame in 1972.

Here are Ross Youngs' major league totals:


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