|Shortstop / Third baseman|
August 8, 1913|
|Died: December 16, 2006
|May 16, 1933, for the Washington Senators|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 23, 1947, for the Washington Senators|
|Runs batted in||657|
|Career highlights and awards|
Cecil Howell Travis (August 8, 1913 – December 16, 2006) was an American shortstop and third baseman in Major League Baseball from 1933 to 1947 who spent his entire career with the Washington Senators. He led the American League in hits in 1941 before missing nearly the next four seasons due to military service in World War II. His career batting average of .314 is a record for AL shortstops, and ranks third among all shortstops behind Honus Wagner (.327) and Arky Vaughan (.318).
Travis was born on a farm in Riverdale, Georgia, the youngest of ten children, and declined a scholarship to Georgia Tech in favor of a scholarship to a baseball training school. A left-handed batter, he broke in with the Senators in 1933, getting five hits in his first game – joining Fred Clarke as the second and last player to do so – and batting .302 in 18 games at age 19. It remains the last pennant-winning campaign by a Washington team, although Travis did not play in the five-game World Series loss to the New York Giants. The following year he began to take over third base duties from veteran Ossie Bluege, and batted .319 as the team plummeted to seventh place. He followed by hitting .318, .317, .344 and .335, playing full-time at shortstop from 1937–39, but the 82-71 1936 team – on which he split time between shortstop and right field – would remain the only winning squad for which he would play regularly. He led the AL with 29 double plays at third base in 1935.
In 1938 he was named to his first All-Star team, and placed ninth in the AL's MVP voting. After slipping to a .292 average in 1939 while suffering two cases of the flu, he returned with All-Star seasons in 1940 and 1941, hitting .322 and .359 (second in the AL as Ted Williams batted .406). In the latter year Travis enjoyed his best overall season with career highs of 101 runs batted in, 106 runs scored, 39 doubles, 19 triples and 7 home runs, along with his league-best 218 hits, and finished sixth in the MVP vote.
Travis entered the Army in the winter of 1941-42, and spent most of World War II in the United States, playing on military baseball teams. Sent to Europe in late 1944 while serving in the 76th Infantry Division, he suffered a severe case of frostbite during the Battle of the Bulge, necessitating an operation to prevent amputation of his feet. Travis received a Bronze Star for his military service. Although only 31 years old when he returned to baseball, he was not the same player as he had been before the war, and hit .241 in late 1945 and .252 in 1946. He retired after batting .216 in 74 games in 1947. One month before his final game, he was honored with "Cecil Travis Night" at Griffith Stadium, with General Dwight D. Eisenhower in attendance.
In his career, Travis had 1544 hits, 665 runs, 657 RBI, 265 doubles, 78 triples, 27 home runs and 23 stolen bases in 1328 games. He was a Senators scout until 1956, and then returned to his family farm. He was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1975. He died at his home at age 93.
- Cecil Travis of the Washington Senators: The War-Torn Career of an All-Star Shortstop by Rob Kirkpatrick. University of Nebraska Press/Bison Books, 2009. ISBN 978-0-8032-2475-9.
- Cecil Travis of the Washington Senators: The War-Torn Career of an All-Star Shortstop – publisher's book page
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference
- Baseball Hall of Fame candidate profile
- SABR biography
- BaseballLibrary – career highlights
- The Baseball Page – biography
- Washington Post obituary
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Only war could keep him from Hall of Fame"
- New York Times obituary
- Baseball Think Factory – discussion of Hall of Fame candidacy