|Shortstop / Manager|
October 12, 1906|
San Francisco, California
|Died: September 7, 1984
|April 29, 1926 for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
Last MLB appearance
|April 19, 1945 for the Boston Red Sox|
|Runs batted in||1,424|
Career highlights and awards
|Vote||78.76% (tenth ballot)|
Joseph Edward Cronin (October 12, 1906 – September 7, 1984) was a Major League Baseball (MLB) shortstop, manager and general manager. He also served as president of the American League (AL) for 14 years.
During a 20-year playing career, he played from 1926–45 for three different teams, primarily for the Boston Red Sox. Cronin was a major league manager from 1933–47. A seven-time All-Star, Cronin was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1956. Cronin became the first AL player to become an All-Star with two teams.
Cronin was born in Excelsior District of San Francisco, California. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake had cost his parents almost all of their possessions. Cronin attended Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory. He played several sports as a child and he won a city tennis championship for his age group when he was 14. As he was not greatly interested in school, Cronin's grades improved only when the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League began giving away tickets to students with good conduct and attendance. At the time, the nearest MLB team was nearly 2,000 miles from San Francisco.
Major league career
As a player
Baseball promoter Joe Engel, who scouted for the Senators and managed the Chattanooga Lookouts at Engel Stadium, originally signed Cronin. Engel first spotted Cronin playing in Kansas City. "I knew I was watching a great player," Engel said. "I bought Cronin at a time he was hitting .221. When I told Clark Griffith what I had done, he screamed, 'You paid $7,500 for that bum? Well, you didn't buy him for me. You bought him for yourself. He's not my ballplayer – he's yours. You keep him and don't either you or Cronin show up at the ballpark.'"
In 1930, Cronin had a breakout year, batting .346 with 13 home runs and 126 RBI. Cronin won both the AL Writers' MVP (the forerunner of the BBWAA MVP, established in 1931) and the AL Sporting News MVP. His 1931 season was also outstanding, with him posting a .306 average, 12 home runs, and 126 RBIs. Cronin led the Senators to the 1933 World Series and later married Griffith's niece, Mildred Robertson.
As a player-manager and manager
Cronin was named player-manager of the Senators in 1933, a post he would hold for two years. In 1935, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox by Griffith, also as player-manager. Cronin retired as a player in 1945, but remained manager of the Red Sox until 1947.
As early as 1938, it was apparent that Cronin was nearing the end of his playing career. Red Sox farm director Billy Evans thought he had found Cronin's successor in Pee Wee Reese, the star shortstop for the Louisville Colonels of the Triple-A American Association. He was so impressed by Reese that he was able to talk Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey into buying the Colonels and making them the Red Sox' top farm club. However, when Cronin went to scout Reese, Cronin realized that they were asking him to scout his replacement. He deliberately downplayed Reese's talent and suggested that the Red Sox trade him. Reese was eventually traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers, where he went on to a Hall of Fame career. As it turned out, Evans' and Yawkey's initial concerns about Cronin were valid. His last year as a full-time player was 1941; after that year he never played more than 76 games in a season.
Over his career, Cronin batted .300 or higher eight times, as well as driving in 100 runs or more eight times. He finished with a .301 average, 170 home runs, and 1,424 RBIs.
As a manager, he compiled a 1,236–1,055 record and won two American League pennants (in 1933 and 1946). His 1933 Senators dropped the 1933 World Series to the New York Giants, and his 1946 Boston Red Sox lost the 1946 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals.
As a general manager
At the end of the 1947 season, Cronin succeeded Eddie Collins as general manager of the Red Sox and continued through mid-January 1959. The Red Sox challenged for the AL pennant in 1948–49 (finishing second by a single game both seasons) thanks to Cronin's aggressive trades. In his first off-season, he acquired shortstop Vern Stephens and pitchers Ellis Kinder and Jack Kramer from the St. Louis Browns; all played a major roles in Boston's contending 1948 season, and Kinder and Stephens were centerpieces of the Red Sox' 1949–50 contenders as well.
But the Red Sox began a slow decline during the 1950s and did not seriously contend after 1950. Most attention has been focused on Cronin and Yawkey's refusal to integrate the Red Sox roster; by January 1959, the Red Sox were the only team in the big leagues without an African-American player. Notably, Cronin once passed on signing a young Willie Mays and never traded for an African-American player. The Red Sox did not break the baseball color line until six months after Cronin's departure for the AL presidency, when they promoted Pumpsie Green, a utility infielder, from their Triple-A affiliate, the Minneapolis Millers, in July 1959.
As AL president
In January 1959, Cronin was elected president of the AL, the first former player to be so elected. Cronin served as AL president until the end of 1973, when he was succeeded by Lee MacPhail.
|Joe Cronin's number 4 was retired by the Boston Red Sox in 1984.|
Hall of Fame
In the last months of his life, Cronin struggled with cancer that had invaded his prostate and bones; he suffered a great deal of bone pain as a result. Cronin came to Fenway Park for one of his last public appearances when his jersey number 4 was retired by the Red Sox on May 29, 1984. He died at the age of 77 on September 7, 1984, in Osterville, Massachusetts. He is buried in St. Francis Xavier Cemetery in nearby Centerville.
At the number retirement ceremony shortly before Cronin's death, teammate Ted Williams commented on how much he respected Cronin as a father and a man. Cronin was also remembered as a clutch hitter. Manager Connie Mack once commented, "With a man on third and one out, I'd rather have Cronin hitting for me than anybody I've ever seen, and that includes Cobb, Simmons and the rest of them."
- Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame
- Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame
- List of major league players with 2,000 hits
- List of Major League Baseball players with 400 doubles
- List of Major League Baseball players with 100 triples
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 runs
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 RBI
- List of Major League Baseball doubles champions
- List of Major League Baseball triples champions
- List of Major League Baseball player–managers
- Hitting for the cycle
- Corcoran, Dennis (2010). Induction Day at Cooperstown: A History of the Baseball Hall of Fame Ceremony. McFarland. p. 68. ISBN 0786444169.
- Armour, pp. 9-10.
- Rosen, Charley (2012). The Emerald Diamond: How the Irish Transformed America's Favorite Pastime. HarperCollins. ISBN 0062089919.
- Neyer, Rob (2006). Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Blunders. New York City: Fireside. ISBN 0-7432-8491-7.
- Edes, Gordon, George Digby and Willie Mays: The One Who Got Away. ESPN Boston, May 3, 2014
- Armour, p. 330.
- "Joe Cronin, baseball legend, American League president". The Morning Call. September 8, 1984. Retrieved November 29, 2014.
- "Joe Cronin, an ex-executive and star player in baseball". The New York Times. September 8, 1984. Retrieved November 29, 2014.
- "The All-Century Team". MLB.com. Retrieved October 31, 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Joe Cronin.|
- Joe Cronin at the Baseball Hall of Fame
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- Joe Cronin managerial career statistics at Baseball-Reference.com
- Joe Cronin at Find a Grave
- SoSH Player Page