Bill Terry

Position: First Baseman
New York Giants, 1923-1936
New York Giants, 1932-1941
Managerial Record: 823-661

New York Giants first baseman Bill Terry -- the last National League player to hit .400 -- notched a .401 average in 1930.

William Harold Terry (1896-1989) was born in Atlanta and was a pitcher for local teams. He began his pro career in 1915 as a pitcher in the Georgia-Alabama League, where he went 7-1. He was sold to Shreveport of the Texas League, where he pitched for a couple of years. His record was 14-11 with a 3.00 ERA in 1917, and he hit .231.

The shrewd lefty was known for responding to pressure situations.
Bill Terry is the last National League
player to retire with a career batting
average of .340 or better (.341).

When he wasn’t offered a contract, he moved to Memphis to work for Standard Oil and to play first base for the company’s semi-pro baseball team. John McGraw was tipped off to this hot-hitting first sacker, and in 1922, on one of McGraw’s annual trips to Memphis, he signed Terry to a $5,000 annual salary.

Bill then ripped up the American Association for a couple of years. But it wasn’t until he was 26 years old that he joined the Giants in late 1923. He had to bust into an infield that included Travis Jackson, Freddie Lindstrom, Frankie Frisch, and George Kelly, all future Hall of Famers.

It was 1927 before Terry established himself as the regular first baseman, waiting for Kelly to be traded. Bill turned in six consecutive seasons of more than 100 runs and 100 RBI and showed good power, from 1927 to 1932.

McGraw turned over the managing duties to Terry in 1932, and “Memphis Bill” led the team to a World Series victory as player-manager in 1933, and to two more pennants, in 1936 and 1937.

Terry had his greatest year in 1930. He batted .401 with a National League-record 254 hits, 77 for extra bases, and posted career highs with 139 runs and 129 RBI. He was among the top MVP vote-getters for the next five years, and his .352 average for the 1930s was the best in the majors.

Terry was a standout with the glove as well, generally considered the best of his day. He led the league in fielding average twice, assists and putouts five times each, and total chances per game nine times.

Terry also topped the .340 mark six times in his career and rapped 200-plus hits in a season six times. He carved a .341 career average with 2,193 hits in only 14 years of service, five of those years with the added responsibility of managing the club.

Bill retired after the 1936 season but continued to manage the Giants until 1941. Despite his fine record as a hitter, fielder, and manager, he had to wait until 1954 before he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Here are Bill Terry's major league totals:


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