Hofmann as a coach for the St. Louis Browns
June 10, 1894|
St. Louis, Missouri
|Died: November 19, 1964
St. Helena, California
|September 26, 1919, for the New York Yankees|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 27, 1928, for the Boston Red Sox|
|Runs batted in||93|
|Career highlights and awards|
Fred Hofmann (June 10, 1894 – November 19, 1964), nicknamed "Bootnose", was a catcher, coach and scout in Major League Baseball, as well a player and manager in the Minor Leagues. Listed at 5 feet 11.5 inches (1.816 m), 175 pounds (79 kg), Hofmann batted and threw right-handed. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri.
Hofmann began his baseball career as a grade school catcher in St. Louis. In the minors, he not only served as a catcher, but also as a manager. He started at a professional level with the Cedar Rapids team of the Central Association in 1915, then he served in the U.S. Navy during World War I from 1918 through 1919.
Following his service discharge, Hofmann entered the majors in 1919 with the New York Yankees, sharing duties with Muddy Ruel and Wally Schang. He was a member of the Yankees teams who won the American League pennants from 1921–23, but only was used twice as a pinch-hitter in the 1923 World Series won by the Yankees over the NY Giants in six games. His most productive seasons for New York came in 1922 (.297 in 37 games) and in 1923, when he appeared in 72 games while hitting .290 with career-highs in runs (24), RBI (26), hits (69) and extrabases (17). He also was one of three Yankee players selected to the Major League All-Star Team who made a tour of Japan in 1922.
During the 1925 midseason, Hofmann was sent by the Yankees to the St. Paul Saints of the American Association in the same transaction that brought Mark Koenig to New York. Hofmann last saw major league action with the Boston Red Sox, hitting .272 in a career-high 87 games in 1927, and .226 in 78 games in 1928.
In a nine-season career, Hofmann was a .247 hitter (247-for-1000) with seven home runs and 93 RBI in 378 games, including 98 runs, 49 doubles, 11 triples, six stolen bases, and a .308 on-base percentage. In 340 catching appearances, he committed just 42 errors in 1363 chances for a .969 fielding percentage.
Following his playing career, Hofmann managed in the minors for the Mission Reds (PCL, 1932–33), Memphis Chicks (SA, 1935–36 [start]), Union City Greyhounds (1936 [end]) and Columbus Red Birds (AA, 1937), winning two pennants with Union City and Columbus. After that, he coached for the St. Louis Browns for over a decade (1938–49), remaining with them as a scout (1950–53) and later when the team moved to Baltimore as the Orioles in 1954. Two of his top finds for the Orioles were All-Star slugger Boog Powell and pitcher Wally Bunker, who won 19 games during his rookie season. He also was in a large measure responsible for the signing of third baseman Brooks Robinson, a future Hall of Famer.
Hofmann died in St. Helena, California, at age 70.
- On July 20, 1920, Babe Ruth drove his new car on a Yankee road trip. About 3 A.M., he was driving near Wawa, Pennsylvania, with wife Helen, team's coach Charley O'Leary, Hofmann and teammate Frank Gleich. When Ruth turned dangerously around a curve, the auto skidded out of control. As the machine went off the road, Helen and O'Leary were thrown clear as it flipped over. Incredibly, no one was hurt as Babe's group proceeded on to Philadelphia. RUTH REPORTED KILLED IN CAR CRASH, was the headline they found in one local paper, but Ruth was supposedly well enough to purchase a new version of the identical car when he returned to New York.
- While managing the Mission Reds, Hofmann invited Joe DiMaggio to try out with the club. According to DiMaggio's book, Lucky to be a Yankee, Hofmann offered him a $150 contract for a month, which was better that PCL clubs were paying at the time. However, Joe's older brother Vince, was playing for the San Francisco Seals, who used the same park as the Mission team, and Spike Hennessy, scout of the Seals, lured Joe from Hofmann.