Chick Hafey

Position: Outfielder
Teams: St. Louis Cardinals, 1924-1931; Cincinnati Reds, 1932-1935; 1937

Plagued throughout his career by poor health and weak eyesight, Chick Hafey played more than 100 games in a season on just seven occasions and garnered only 1,466 hits and 833 RBI. Rogers Hornsby, however, called Hafey the greatest right-handed hitter he ever saw.

Even though he was well paid, Hafey never got used to playing for Cincinati.
Even though he was well paid, Hafey
never got used to playing for Cincinati.

A native of Berkeley, California, and a star athlete at Berkeley High, Charles James Hafey (1903-1973) had a chance to go to the University of California but opted instead to journey to Florida in 1923 to try out for the Cardinals as a pitcher. Unimpressive on the mound, he seemed destined for a trip home. However, a good day at the plate prompted Cardinals manager Branch Rickey to offer Chick a contract as an outfielder.

Hafey started his pro career with Fort Smith in the Western Association in 1923. Fort Smith was one of the first minor-league clubs that Rickey bought in developing a farm system for the Cardinals. Hafey hit .284 in his first year as an outfielder, and the Cards were so pleased that they moved Chick up to Houston of the Texas League for the 1924 season. There, he hit .360 with 90 RBI in 126 games.

A major-league club offered Houston $35,000 for Hafey, and the president of the Houston team had the right to sell his players -- despite the fact that the Cardinals owned 59 percent of the team. However, Rickey matched the bid. The Cardinals only paid $14,350 for Chick, since the other $20,650 (or 59 percent) ended up back in the St. Louis coffers.

Although Hafey joined the Cardinals to stay early in the 1925 season, injuries and poor health prevented Chick from playing a full season until 1928. That year he hit .337 and collected 111 RBI. A poor showing in the ’28 World Series helped convince Hafey to try playing with glasses the following season.

Having conquered the stigma of playing with “cheaters,” Hafey upped all of his offensive marks in 1929 and also enjoyed a good season the following year. In 1931, Chick had his finest campaign. He won the National League batting title in the closest three-way batting race in history. Hafey checked in at .3489, Bill Terry of the Giants was at .3486, and Chick’s St. Louis teammate Jim Bottomley batted .3482.

A contract dispute with Rickey prior to the start of the 1932 season prompted Hafey’s trade to the Reds. Illness and sinus problems plagued Hafey during his stint in Cincinnati. He quit the team in June 1935 but was talked into returning in 1937. When he batted only .261, he retired for good. Hafey was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971.

Here are Chick Hafey's major league totals:


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