Position: Shortstop, First Baseman, Second Baseman
Teams: Louisville Colonels, 1891-1893; Baltimore Orioles, 1893-1899; Brooklyn Superbas, 1899-1900, 1903; Philadelphia Phillies, 1901-1902; Detroit Tigers, 1907, 1909, 1912, 1918
Manager: Detroit Tigers, 1907-1920; New York Giants, 1925
Managerial record: 1,163-984
A catcher in youth, Hugh Ambrose Jennings (1869-1928) was held back at the backstop position by arm trouble, a problem that haunted him throughout his career.
Converted to shortstop when he turned pro, Hughie played just 13 games in the minors before joining the Louisville Colonels of the American Association in 1891. The loop was in its last year of existence and in disarray, enabling Jennings to hit .292 as a rookie. The following season, when the Louisville franchise was absorbed by the National League, Jennings batted just .222.
Hughie Jennings played several positions for a variety of different teams,
and also managed the Detroit Tigers.
Appointed team captain by Orioles manager Ned Hanlon, Hughie helped spark Baltimore to three straight pennants. His personal-best season came in 1896, when he belted .401, a record for shortstops, and collected 121 RBI despite not hitting a single home run. In addition, he was hit by 49 pitches, a record broken by Ron Hunt of the Expos in 1971.
A lame arm forced Jennings to move to first base after the 1898 season. The injury shortened his playing career but had an unexpected benefit. It made him turn to managing, where he was destined to make his greatest mark on the game.
In 1907, after spending several years in the minors learning his new trade, Jennings was hired to manage the Tigers. After swiftly capturing three straight pennants for Detroit, he piloted the Motor City entry for 11 more years without ever winning another.
Replaced by Ty Cobb at the Tigers helm in 1921, Jennings was hired as a third base coach by New York Giants manager John McGraw, a former Orioles teammate. With Jennings in the coaching box exhorting the club with his patented "Ee-yah" cry and McGraw in the dugout, the Giants swept a National League-record four straight pennants.
The job was not without stress. Below the surface of the Giants' success ran an undercurrent of duplicity and scandal. When McGraw fell ill in 1925, leaving Jennings in charge of the team, the burden proved too much. Hughie suffered a nervous breakdown and had to be put in a sanatorium. He never returned to baseball. After contracting spinal meningitis early in 1928, Jennings died. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1945.
Here are Hughie Jennings' major league totals:
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