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Hack Wilson

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Hack Wilson

A photo of Hack Wilson.

Lewis Robert "Hack" Wilson (April 26, 1900November 23, 1948) was an American center fielder in Major League Baseball from 1923 to 1934. He is best known for his record-setting 191-RBI season of 1930. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979.

BiographyEdit

Wilson was a true rags-to-riches story. He grew up in the Pennsylvania steel mill town of Ellwood City. Although only 5'6" tall, he weighed 195 pounds, mostly muscle, and had an 18" neck but only size-6 shoes. One sports writer wrote that he was built along the lines of a beer keg, and not wholly unfamiliar with its contents.

During his career, Hack Wilson played for the New York Giants, Chicago Cubs, Brooklyn Dodgers, and Philadelphia Phillies. Wilson eclipsed the 100-RBI mark in 6 seasons. He set the National League single-season record for home runs with 56 in 1930, a record that stood until 1998 when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa both surpassed it, with 70 and 66 respectively. The current National League single-season record for home runs is held by all-time home run leader Barry Bonds, who hit 73 in 2001.

Wilson's 1930 season was one of the best ever by a hitter. In addition to hitting 56 home runs, leading the league with 105 walks, and boasting a batting average of .356, he drove in 191 runs, a mark that remains one of the most untouchable MLB records. (For years, record books gave the total as 190, until research in 1999 showed that an RBI credited by an official scorer to Charlie Grimm actually belonged to Wilson.) He recorded that total without hitting a grand slam.

In one game, Wilson was at bat and Bill Klem was the plate umpire. A close pitch went by and Klem called, "Strike!" Wilson said, "Strike? Bill, you sure missed that one." Klem answered, "Perhaps I did, Lewis; but if I'd had your bat, I wouldn't have."

Although his career was brilliant, it was fairly short. He finished his 12 year career having played 1,348 games with a lifetime batting average of .307, 244 home runs, and 1,063 RBI. His excessive alcoholism led him to a premature death at the age of 48. He is buried in Rosedale Cemetery in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  • Fouled Away: The Baseball Tragedy of Hack Wilson by Clifton Blue Parker (McFarland & Company 2000)

External linksEdit

Preceded by:
Rogers Hornsby
National League Home Run Champion
1926-1928
(1927 with Cy Williams
1928 with Jim Bottomley)
Succeeded by:
Chuck Klein
Preceded by:
Jim Bottomley
National League RBI Champion
1929-1930
Succeeded by:
Chuck Klein
Preceded by:
Chuck Klein
National League Home Run Champion
1930
Succeeded by:
Chuck Klein

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