Jacob Nelson "Nellie" Fox (December 25, 1927 – December 1, 1975) was a Major League Baseball second baseman for the Chicago White Sox and is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Fox was born in St. Thomas Township, Pennsylvania. He was selected as the MVP of the American League in 1959. Nellie Fox died in Baltimore, Maryland at the age of 47. He died of skin cancer 24 days shy of his 48th birthday.
Fox began his career his the Philadelphia Athletics in 1947, though he was never a full-time starter during his three seasons with the team. Traded to the White Sox October 29, 1949, Fox's career took off with the White Sox. He spent 14 seasons with Chicago, making 10 All-Star teams. He played his final two seasons (1964-65) with the Houston Colt .45s and Astros. Nellie Fox, who played his final major league game on July 25, 1965, was the last active major league player to have played for Connie Mack. He and Vic Power (last game 10/3/65) were the last two active players to have played for the Philadelphia Athletics.
With the White Sox, Fox played next to a pair of slick-fielding shortstops, Venezuelans Chico Carrasquel (1950-55) and Hall-of-Famer Luis Aparicio (1956-62), and was, year after year, a member of the best defensive infield in the League. Fox won Gold Gloves in 1957, 1959 and 1960. Frank Bolling of the Detroit Tigers edged him oput for the Gold Glove Award in 1958.
Only 5-foot-9, he made up for his modest size and minimal power — he hit only 35 home runs in his career, and never more than six in a single season, with his good batting eye, excellent fielding, and baserunning speed. Fox was perennially one of the toughest batters to strike out, fanning just 216 times in his career, an average of once every 42.7 at-bats. He led the league in most at-bats per strikeouts a phenomenal 13 times in his career. Although not known as a great hitter (lifetime .288 batting average), he batted over .300 six times, with 2,663 hits, 355 doubles, and 112 triples. He also led the league in singles for seven straight years, in triples once, and in hits four times. He had the 3rd lowest strikeout percentage since official records were continuously compiled in 1910, but his percentage compared to the league percentage for the time was first - exceeding Joe Sewell and Lloyd Waner - the 2 men above him.
Nellie Fox died of cancer in Baltimore, Maryland in 1975, at the age of 47. He was not selected to the Hall of Fame in his initial period of eligibility. In his final opportunity, 1985, he gained 74.6 percent of the vote, just shy of the 75 percent required for election by the Baseball Writers Association of America. However, the longtime disappointment of his admirers was finally relieved in 1997, when the Veterans Committee belatedly selected him to membership in the Hall, along with Tom Lasorda and Negro Leaguer Willie Wells.
Fox's best season came in 1959, when the White Sox won their first pennant in 40 years. He batted .306, had an on base percentage of .380 and won his second Gold Glove. The Al Lopez-managed White Sox had the best record in baseball, going 94-60 to finish five games ahead of the Cleveland Indians and a surprising 15 ahead of the New York Yankees. It was one of just two seasons the Yankees would not win the pennant between 1949-1964.
In the World Series, Fox batted a team-high .375 with 3 doubles, but the Sox lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games. It was Fox's only postseason experience, and the White Sox would not make it back to the World Series until 2005.
- The first White Sox player elected MVP of the American League.
- Only 216 career strikeouts in over 9,200 at-bats: the 3rd best percentage in MLB history.
- Set the record for consecutive games played at second base, with 798.
- 12-time All-Star.
- 3-time Gold Glove Award winner.
- Hold American League record for most double plays by a second baseman; second-most in the majors after Bill Mazeroski.
- Between 1959 and 1960 the Aparicio-Fox duo won twice Gold Gloves, starting a select list of eight shortstop-second baseman combinations have won the honor in the same season while playing together. Fox and Aparicio are shown in a joint photo in the Topps' 1959 baseball picture card set.
- A life-sized bronze statue of him was unveiled at U.S. Cellular Field in 2006.
Fox is what you'd call a manager's ballplayer. He does his job expertly and he does it every day. He's the type of player you can count on. He's an old pro. A great many times, he is hurting pretty badly from the dumpings he's taken on the field, but he's always ready to play. - Hall of Fame manager Al Lopez.
Nellie was the toughest out for me. In 12 years I struck him out once, and I think the umpire blew the call. - New York Yankees Hall of Fame pitcher Whitey Ford
|American League Most Valuable Player|