Joe Cronin

Position: Shortstop; Manager
Teams: Pittsburgh Pirates, 1926-1927; Washington Senators, 1928-1934; Boston Red Sox, 1935-1945
Manager: Washington Senators, 1933-1934; Boston Red Sox, 1935-1947

At age 20 in 1926, Joe Cronin sat on the bench in Pittsburgh, was farmed out, and then sold. In 1959, he became president of the American League. In between, he turned in a Hall of Fame career as one of the best-hitting shortstops in history.

Cronin was probably the best shortstop in the majors between 1930 and World War II.
Cronin was probably the best shortstop in
the majors between 1930 and World War II.

Joseph Edward Cronin (1906-1984) was born in San Francisco a few months after the great earthquake. Coming from a low-income background, Joe grew up an all-around athlete. He won a citywide tennis championship as a youngster, and in high school he played soccer and basketball, along with baseball. He played semi-pro baseball after graduation.

A Pittsburgh Pirates scout signed Joe in 1925, and he played one good season for Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in the Mid-Atlantic League. Promoted to the Pirates the next year, he sat behind Glenn Wright in Pittsburgh for two seasons.

After his trials in the National League, Cronin finally landed in Washington in the AL in 1928. As the regular shortstop in 1929, he had a decent season, and followed it up with a year that was to earn him The Sporting News Most Valuable Player Award in 1930, when he hit .346 with 127 runs and 126 RBI. Joe reached the 100-RBI mark in eight seasons, remarkable for a shortstop with his fielding ability.

Cronin compiled a lifetime .301 batting average by hitting over .300 in 10 seasons. He socked 51 doubles in 1938 and hit 515 in his career. He was a fine defensive player and was named the outstanding major-league shortstop by The Sporting News seven times.

Cronin was active in an era when player-managers were common, and he served a long term in that role, as skipper of the Washington club in 1933 and 1934, and bossing the Red Sox for 13 years after his sale to the Boston club in 1934. His rookie year as a manager produced a pennant in 1933, and Cronin hit .318 as Washington lost to the Giants in the World Series.

Ted Williams said when Cronin quit playing he was “the greatest manager I ever played for.” Cronin also had many doubts about his double duty and tried to resign after his first season. He didn’t finish first again until 1946, the year he stepped down as a player, when he brought Boston its first pennant since 1918. A broken leg finally took him out of the lineup for good.

In 1959, Joe was elected president of the American League, the first former player to be so honored, remaining in the office until 1973. He was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1956.

Here are Joe Cronin's major league totals:


Here are Joe Cronin's major league managing totals:


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