October 12, 1915|
|Died: September 30, 1970
South Gate, California
|April 15, 1941, for the Chicago Cubs|
|Last MLB appearance|
|June 10, 1946, for the Philadelphia Phillies|
|Runs batted in||138|
Louis Alexander Novikoff (October 12, 1915 – September 30, 1970), nicknamed "The Mad Russian," was an American professional baseball player. Born in Glendale, Arizona, his professional career extended from 1937–1950, with all or parts of five seasons in Major League Baseball for the Chicago Cubs (1941–44) and Philadelphia Phillies (1946). The outfielder threw and batted right-handed, stood 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) tall and weighed 185 pounds (84 kg).
An outstanding minor league hitter, Novikoff batted over .350 in each of his first five minor league seasons. In 1940, playing for the top-level Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League, he batted .363 with 259 hits, including 41 home runs. He is a 2015 inductee in the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame.
His best year in the Majors was 1942, when he played nearly a full season and batted .300 as a Cubs outfielder during the first of the World War II years, when the player ranks were thinned by the draft. Altogether, as a big-leaguer he batted .282 with 305 hits, with 45 doubles, ten triples and 15 home runs.
Because of his eccentric personality, the media dubbed him "The Mad Russian," after a popular radio character of the same name played by Bert Gordon. According to Warren Brown's history of the Cubs (written after the 1945 season, when Novikoff had been recently active with the team), Novikoff was afraid to approach the ivy on the Wrigley Field walls, fearing that it was poison ivy, thus diminishing his usefulness as an outfielder at the time, however Cubs trainer Bob Lewis took Novikoff to the vines one day and rubbed them all over his body and chewed some up proving they were safe. Novikoff smiled politely afterwards and asked if they were ok for smoking. (Gold & Ahrens 22)
- Wulf, Steve (4 April 2014). "The fall guys". ESPN.com. Retrieved 5 April 2014.