April 18, 1888|
San Francisco, California
|Died: June 17, 1979
Salem, New Hampshire
|Batted: Right||Threw: Right|
|April 16, 1910 for the Boston Red Sox|
|Last MLB appearance|
|June 6, 1921 for the Washington Senators|
|Runs batted in||793|
|Career highlights and awards|
George Edward "Duffy" Lewis (April 18, 1888 – June 17, 1979), born in San Francisco, California, was a left fielder and right-handed batter who played Major League Baseball for the Boston Red Sox (1910–17), New York Yankees (1919–20) and Washington Senators (1921). Lewis attended Saint Mary's College of California.
George Edward Lewis, also known as “Duffy” Lewis, was born April 18th 1888 in San Francisco, California to George and Mary Lewis. Lewis received his lifelong nickname “Duffy” from his mother’s maiden name. Lewis grew up in a rough area of San Francisco, where he learned how to play baseball. As a youth Lewis experienced one of the worst natural disasters in US history, the infamous San Francisco earthquake which occurred on his 18th birthday (April 18, 1906). The earthquake, followed by widespread fires, killed over 3000 people and destroyed most of the city. Lewis later said, “I thought the whole world was coming to an end.” Lewis played baseball throughout the coast of California where his short right-handed swing and speed and agility in the outfield captured the attention of the big league scouts. Lewis attended Saint Mary’s College of California where he played baseball. After college Lewis signed with the Alameda Team in the California league, and he continued the next year playing 200 games and batting .279 in 1909. In September 1909 John L. Taylor, the Red Sox owner, drafted Lewis from the Oaks, after the 1909 season, Taylor went west and signed Lewis himself. Lewis joined the major leagues in 1910 when he was 21 years old with the Boston Red Sox. Spring training with the Red Sox was contentious for Lewis. He didn’t appreciate the treatment according to other players. Lewis would, for example, refuse “to limit his time in the batting cages or to back down from confrontations with fellow players.” Tris Speaker was one of the players who didn’t appreciate Lewis’s demeanor and this would lead to contemptuous relationship that lasted throughout their many years as teammates. Lewis also irritated his new manager Patsy Donovan, who fined and benched the brash rookie. Lewis played 149 games his rookie season hitting .283 with eight home runs, and 29 doubles. In 1911 Lewis’s average went up to .307 and hit seven home runs. He is known to have “covered the outfields with strong quick strides and packed a punch in his short right handed swing.” Lewis started out as the left fielder where he joined Tris Speaker and Harry Hooper in Boston’s starting outfield. Together the trio help the Red Sox win a pair of World Series titles. After the 1911 season ended, Lewis met his future wife Eleanor Ruth Keane, a young baseball fan. At the urging of the Red Sox owner Taylor, Lewis broke off the engagement two days before the wedding and headed back to California. But a month later the couple reconciled and were married in San Raphael, California on October 30, 1911.
In 1912 Boston’s Fenway Park was built, with a ten foot embankment in deep left field that became a trademark of the new stadium. “I’d go out to the ballpark mornings,” he told a sportswriter, “and have somebody hit the ball again and again out to the wall. I experimented with every angle of approach up the cliff until I learned to play the slope correctly. Sometimes it would be tougher coming back down the slope than going up. With runners on base, you had to come off the cliff throwing.” He became so good at fielding on the steep incline in front of Fenway Park’s left field fence it became known as “Duffy Cliff”. At bat he was a terrific line drive hitter and had great RBI stats with a personal high of 109 in 1912. In 1914 He was the first person to ever pinch hit for Babe Ruth. Lewis played for the Red Sox from 1910-1917. But he missed an entire year of baseball in 1918 when he served in the U.S. Navy during World War I, missing his team’s 1918 World Series Championship while he was serving as a player-manager in the naval baseball team at Mare Island California, near his home town. This absence may have ultimately led to the end of his career. 1918 he was traded to Yankees, along with Dutch Leonard and Ernie Shore, for $15,000 plus Frank Gilhooley, Al Walters, Slim Love, and Ray Caldwell, none of whom would contribute to the Red Sox in any way. But he would only play for them until 1920. He then played for the Washington Senators in 1921. Early in the 1921 season Lewis joined Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League, where he played through the 1924 campaign. He hit a league-high .401 in 1921, and took over as manager the next three years, in which he hit .362, .358, and .392. In 1925, he was the player-manager of Portland in the PCL, hitting .294 for the Beavers. Lewis finished his playing career with Mobile, Jersey City, and Portland (Maine) in 1926 and 1927, acting as manager at both Mobile and Portland. His last game with the major leagues was with the Senators on June 6, 1921. Lewis continued as a player/manager in the minors until 1927. This was not uncommon for the time to transition to a player/ manager position later in one’s career. He was primarily a single hitter with 1,518 career hits, 289 doubles. 69 triples and 37 home runs. His career batting average was .284 with 793 RBI. After his playing career was over he was a player/manager from 1929-1927. He managed several minor league teams to include Salt Lake City, Portland, Mobile and Portland in the New England league. Lewis later became a coach for the Boston Braves from 1931-1935 and the Braves traveling Secretary from 1936-1965. Lewis spent his later years in Salem New Hampshire with his wife Eleanor. They had no children. At the age of 91 he died in Salem on June 17, 1979, three years after his wife. He was buried with an unmarked grave at Holy Cross Cemetery in Londonderry, Hew Hampshire. Later, a newspaper reporter discovered the unmarked grave and released the story. Contributions started flowing in to create a fund large enough to provide not only a gravestone, but flowers in perpetuity. Lewis was inducted into the Red Sox hall of fame in 2002. As an added note, an unknown person said this: “Curse of the Bambino? No, it was Duffy's Curse. It was Duffy's Cliff before it was the Green Monster. It was Duffy who pinch-hit for The Babe. Then, right after the 1918 World Series, the Red Sox traded Duffy to the Yankees, and the rest is history...” just food for thought.
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?GRid=4809&page=gr http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/l/lewisdu01.shtml http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Duffy_Lewis http://www.baseballlibrary.com/ballplayers/player.php?name=Duffy_Lewis_1888
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Best outfield ever? - The Baseball Page
- Duffy Lewis at Find a Grave