Rogers Hornsby

Positions: Second Baseman; Shortstop; Third Baseman
Teams: St. Louis Cardinals, 1915-1926, 1933; New York Giants, 1927; Boston Braves, 1928; Chicago Cubs, 1929-1932; St. Louis Browns, 1933-1937
Manager: St. Louis Cardinals, 1925-1926; Boston Braves, 1928; Chicago Cubs, 1930-1932; St. Louis Browns, 1933-1937, 1952; Cincinnati Reds, 1952-1953
Managerial Record: 680-798

With the lone exception of Ty Cobb, no baseball superstar was more disliked than Rogers Hornsby. Hornsby was aloof, independent, and brutally honest. As a consequence, he was probably the least understood great player. Modern authorities cite his defensive lapses as a drawback, but Hornsby was the greatest right-handed hitter in history.

Rogers Hornsby was one of the few players to perform regularly at three infield positions.
Rogers Hornsby was one of the
few players to perform regularly
at three infield positions.

Rogers Hornsby (1896-1963) was given his unusual first name by his mother, whose maiden name was Rogers. Hornsby began as a shortstop in the Texas-Oklahoma League in 1914. Weighing just 140 pounds at age 18, he hit only .232. In 1915, Rogers was still a light-hitting and erratic-fielding shortstop, but the Cardinals saw enough talent in him to fork over $500 for his contract.

After putting on weight in the off-season, Hornsby hit .313 for St. Louis as a rookie and played a surprisingly adequate shortstop. In 1917, his second full season, he topped the National League in slugging and was second in batting. Moreover, he led all league shortstops in double plays.

Hornsby slipped below the .300 mark for the only time in his major-league career in 1918, but continued to rank high in all slugging departments. Moved to third base in 1919, the “Rajah” again finished second in the National League batting race. The following spring, Hornsby earned the batting and RBI crowns in his first season as a second baseman. His .370 average was the highest in the 20th century by an NL second baseman.

No one expected Rogers to duplicate that figure in 1921, and he did not. Instead, he hit .397 and then followed up by hitting .401 in 1922, .384 in 1923, .424 in 1924, and .403 in 1925 to make him the only player in history to average over .400 for a five-year span. During the 1920s, Hornsby hit below .361 just once— after he was made player-manager of the Cards in 1926. The dual responsibility held Rogers to a .317 mark, but the Cardinals nevertheless brought their first pennant to St. Louis under his leadership.

A fierce dispute with St. Louis owner Sam Breadon resulted in Hornsby being traded to the Giants before the 1927 season. In his lone season in New York, Hornsby set a new Giants season batting average record (since broken). Before the decade was out Rogers had also established season batting average franchise records for both the Braves and the Cubs. His .424 mark with the Cardinals in 1924 is also a 20th-century NL record. Hampered by injuries, Hornsby quit as a full-time player after the 1931 season. Rogers was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1942.

Here are Rogers Hornsby's major league totals:


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