Home Run Baker

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Home Run Baker
Frank Baker.jpg
Third Baseman
Born: (1886-03-13)March 13, 1886
Trappe, Maryland
Died: June 28, 1963(1963-06-28) (aged 77)
Trappe, Maryland
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 21, 1908 for the Philadelphia Athletics
Last MLB appearance
September 29, 1922 for the New York Yankees
Career statistics
Batting average .307
Home runs 96
Runs batted in 987
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Induction 1955
Election Method Veteran's Committee

John Franklin "Home Run" Baker (March 13, 1886 – June 28, 1963) was an American professional baseball player. A third baseman, Baker played in Major League Baseball from 1908 to 1922, for the Philadelphia Athletics and the New York Yankees.

Baker was a member of the Athletics' $100,000 infield. He helped the Philadelphia Athletics win the 1910, 1911 and 1913 World Series. He led the American League in home runs for four consecutive years, from 1911 through 1914. He had a batting average over .300 in six seasons, had three seasons with more than 100 runs batted in, and two seasons with over 100 runs scored.

Baker's legacy has grown over the years, and he is regarded by many as the best third baseman of the pre-war era. During his 13 years as a Major League player, Baker never played a single inning at any position other than third base. Baker was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.

Early life[edit]

Baker was born in Trappe, Maryland.[1] He enjoyed working on his father's farm, but he aspired become a professional baseball player from the age of ten. In Trappe, most of the residents attended the local baseball team's games on Saturdays.[2] Frank's older brother Norman was well known in the town for his playing ability and once tried out for the Philadelphia Athletics, but he did not like that city and stopped pursuing a baseball career.[3]

Baker pitched for the local high school baseball team and worked as a clerk at a butcher shop and grocery store owned by relatives. He signed with a local team in Ridgely at the age of 19. The team, which was managed by Buck Herzog, paid him $5 per week and covered his boarding costs. Herzog found that Baker could not pitch well, but that he could hit. Baker was unable to play the outfield well, but he was able to move into the infield as a third baseman for Ridgely.[4]

Professional career[edit]

Philadelphia Athletics[edit]

Home Run Baker

Baker broke into the major leagues in 1908 with the Athletics. Baker, who led the American League in home runs in 1911, earned the nickname "Home Run" during the 1911 World Series in which he hit a go-ahead home run off Rube Marquard in Game 2, and a ninth-inning game-tying home run off Christy Mathewson in Game 3. His home run crown would be the first of four consecutive seasons leading the American League in home runs. He hit 11 home runs in 1911, 10 in 1912, 12 in 1913 and nine in 1914. In two of those seasons he also led the American League in runs batted in.

In seven seasons with the A's he hit .321 with 48 home runs, 612 RBIs and 88 triples in 866 games played.

Baker played third base for the Athletics until 1915, when he sat out the entire season in a contract dispute with Connie Mack. He remained in baseball, playing for Upland, Pennsylvania in the semiprofessional Delaware County League.[5]

New York Yankees[edit]

Mack sold Baker's contract in 1916 to the New York Yankees, with whom he finished his career. Baker and Wally Pipp formed the center of the Yankees' batting order. Pipp led the American League in home runs with 12 in 1916; Baker finished second with 10. Pipp hit nine home runs in 1917, again leading the league.[6] Baker led the league with 141 games played in 1919.

Baker retired for one season in 1920, but came back to play two more years with the Yankees (and in their first two World Series as well), finishing as a Yankee with a .288 batting average, 48 home runs and 375 RBIs in 676 games.

Managerial career[edit]

Following his retirement, Baker managed for two seasons (19241925) in the Eastern Shore Baseball League, and was credited with discovering Jimmie Foxx and recommending him to Athletics manager Connie Mack.

Personal[edit]

Baker and his wife had twin babies in late January 1914. The babies were reported as doing well a couple of days later, but they died before they were two weeks old. The twins were initially reported as a boy and a girl by The New York Times, but they were reported as twin girls by the same publication a few days later.[7][8]

Later life and legacy[edit]

Baker was laid to rest in Easton, Maryland.

In addition to his 1955 election to the Baseball Hall of Fame, in 1981 Lawrence Ritter and Donald Honig included him in their book The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Baker, Frank". National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved September 26, 2012. 
  2. ^ Sparks, p. 3.
  3. ^ Sparks, p. 5.
  4. ^ Sparks, pp. 7-8.
  5. ^ Lanctot, Neil (1994). Fair Dealing and Clean Playing: the Hilldale Club and the development of black professional baseball, 1910-1932. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. p. 11. ISBN 0-89950-988-6. 
    "Semiprofessional" may be a euphemism. Upland employed other major leaguers between 1915 and 1919 (including Baker's longtime teammate Chief Bender), and by 1919 the Delaware County League was declared an outlaw league by organized baseball.
  6. ^ A Pipp of a Legend: The Man Who Was Benched in Favor of Iron-Horse Lou, June 29, 1987, Sports Illustrated.
  7. ^ "Home Run Baker father of twins". The New York Times. February 3, 1914. Retrieved April 17, 2014. 
  8. ^ ""Home Run" Baker's twins dead". The New York Times. February 10, 1914. Retrieved April 17, 2014. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]