Sam Crawford

Position: Outfielder
Cincinnati Reds, 1899-1902; Detroit Tigers, 1903-1917

In Sam Crawford's time the mark of a great slugger was still not how many home runs he hit but how many triples. By that standard, Crawford was the dead-ball era's most prolific long-ball hitter. He left the majors in 1917 with 312 triples.

Born in Wahoo, Nebraska, Samuel Earl Crawford (1880-1968) was tagged "Wahoo Sam" early in his professional career and grew so fond of the nickname that he asked that it be inscribed on his Hall of Fame plaque. Crawford first played pro baseball in 1899 and did so well that Cincinnati purchased him near the end of the season. Still just 19 when he made his debut with the Reds in 1899, Crawford hit .307 in 31 games with eight triples in just 127 at bats.

Hall of Famer Sam Crawford
Sam Crawford was the slugging counterpart to Ty Cobb on the Detroit Tigers.

After the 1902 season, Crawford seized the chance to escape the lowly Reds, a cellar-finisher in 1901 despite his loop-leading 16 homers. He jumped to Detroit in the American League. Wahoo Sam promptly hit .335 in his first year with the Bengals and cracked 25 triples, an AL record that stood until 1912 when Joe Jackson notched 26 three-baggers, a total that Crawford himself matched a year later.

Detroit remained a second-division team until Ty Cobb joined the cast in 1905. While not the hitter for average that Cobb was, Crawford was his superior as an extra-base-hit producer. Playing side by side in the outfield, the pair spearheaded the 1907 to '09 Tigers, the first team in AL history to garner three consecutive pennants.

Crawford fashioned a .309 career batting average in 2,517 games and logged at least 10 triples in every full season he played. He was a loop leader in three-baggers six times and also topped the AL on three occasions in RBI.

During his long tour of duty with Detroit, Crawford became very popular with Motor City fans, to the envy of Cobb. The relationship between the two grew so strained that reportedly the only time they spoke to each other was when a ball was hit between them.

Despite their animosity, it was Cobb who campaigned the hardest for Crawford when Wahoo Sam continued to be passed over for selection to the Hall of Fame. In 1957, Crawford received the long-overdue honor.

Here are Sam Crawford's major league totals:

.309 2,517 9,580 1,393 2,964 457 312 97 1,525 366

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