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Nap Lajoie

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Napoleon "Nap" Lajoie

Napoleon "Nap" Lajoie

Personal Info
Birth September 5, 1874, Woonsocket, Rhode Island
Death: February 7, 1959, Daytona Beach, Florida
Professional Career
Debut August 12, 1896, Philadelphia Phillies vs. ,
Team(s) As Player
Philadelphia Phillies (18961900)
Philadelphia A's (19011902)
Cleveland Indians (19021914)

Philadelphia A's (19151916)
As Manager
Cleveland Naps (19051909)

HOF induction: 1937
Career Highlights
1901 American League Triple Crown
Napoleon "Nap" Lajoie [la-ZHOWAY] (September 5, 1874February 7, 1959), also known as Larry Lajoie, was an American professional athlete of French Canadian descent. In his career as a second baseman in Major League Baseball, he was considered one of the greatest players of the fledgling American League in the early 20th century and the most serious of Ty Cobb's challengers.

Born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, Lajoie started his career in the National League with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1896. In 1901, he jumped to the crosstown Philadelphia Athletics, owned by Connie Mack. Lajoie's batting average that year was .426 (earlier had been listed as .422), still a league record. Lajoie also was believed to be the first major leaguer to be intentionally walked with the bases loaded that year.

Baseball Hof
Nap Lajoie
is a member of
the Baseball
Hall of Fame

The next year the Phillies obtained an injunction, effective only in Pennsylvania, barring Lajoie from playing baseball for any team other than the Phillies. The American League responded by transferring Lajoie's contract to the Cleveland Indians, then known as the Broncos and subsequently renamed the "Naps" in Lajoie's honor for several seasons before adopting their current name in 1915 when Lajoie left the team. For the remainder of 1902 and most of 1903, Lajoie and teammate Elmer Flick traveled separately from the rest of the team, never setting foot in Pennsylvania so as to avoid a subpoena. The issue was finally resolved when the leagues made peace through the National Agreement in September 1903.

Lajoie won four batting crowns (1901, 1903, 1904, 1910) and might have won a fifth if he had not contracted blood poisoning from an untreated spike injury in 1905. Some sources erroneously give him the 1902 crown as well (after his figures were adjusted) but he did not play enough games to qualify. Ed Delahanty is the official AL batting champion With Cobb's arrival in the majors in 1905, however, Lajoie faced real competition.

Their rivalry reached a peak in 1910, when the Chalmers Auto Company promised a car to the batting leader (and MVP) that year. Cobb took the final 2 games of the 1910 season off, confident that his average was high enough to win the AL title—unless Lajoie had a near-perfect final day.

LaJoie, a far more popular player than Cobb, was allowed by the opponent St. Louis Browns to go 7-for-8 in a season-ending doubleheader. After a ‘sun-hindered’ fly went for a triple and another batted ball landed for a cleanly hit single, LaJoie had five subsequent 'hits'—bunt singles dropped in front of the (manager-ordered) deep-fielding third baseman. With one more hit, LaJoie would pass Cobb and win the title outright.

On his 8th at-bat that day, LaJoie’s bunt safety was ruled an error. The subsequent chicanery involved the Browns’ manager and a coach offering to change the decision of the official scorer, who was a woman, to whom they offered to buy a new wardrobe. Considering the uproar that followed, the Browns fired their manager and coach.

File:Nap Lajoie Baseball Card.jpg

As it turns out, Lajoie's average is not the only one tainted by controversy - Cobb's average might have been inflated by counting a single game twice in his statistics, as researchers discovered 70 years later. In the end, the Chalmers Auto Company avoided taking sides in the dispute by awarding cars to both Cobb and Lajoie.

Lajoie ended his career in 1915 and 1916 with a return to the Athletics, finishing with a lifetime .339 average. His career total of 3242 hits was the second best in major league history at the time, behind only Honus Wagner's total. Lajoie's 2521 hits in the AL was the league record until Cobb surpassed it in 1918.

Lajoie was among the second group of players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937, being inducted when the Hall opened in 1939. He died in Daytona Beach, Florida in 1959 at the age of 84.

In 1999, he ranked number 29 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

External linksEdit

Preceded by:
George Davis
National League RBI Champion
1898
Succeeded by:
Ed Delahanty
Preceded by:
First Triple Crown Winner
American League Triple Crown
1901
Succeeded by:
Ty Cobb
Preceded by:
First Champion
American League Home Run Champion
1901
Succeeded by:
Socks Seybold
Preceded by:
First Champion
American League RBI Champion
1901
Succeeded by:
Buck Freeman
Preceded by:
First Champion
American League Batting Champion
1901–1902; 1904
Succeeded by:
Elmer Flick
Preceded by:
Buck Freeman
American League RBI Champion
1904
Succeeded by:
Harry Davis
Preceded by:
Bill Armour
Cleveland Naps Manager
1905–1909
Succeeded by:
Deacon McGuire
Preceded by:
Ty Cobb
American League Batting Champion
1910
Succeeded by:
Ty Cobb

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