Rogers Hornsby has been called one of the greatest hitters in the history of Major League Baseball. He was an infielder, playing second base, shortstop and third base. Hornsby was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1942. He was born on April 27, 1896 in Winters, Texas and died in Chicago, Illinois at the age of 66 on January 5, 1963.
After a few years playing semi-pro ball, Rogers was playing with a Denison, Texas Western League team when he was signed in 1915 by the St. Louis Cardinals. He remained with the Cardinals from 1915 to 1926. He played one year each for the New York Giants and Boston Braves before spending five seasons with the Chicago Cubs (1927-1932). He then went back to the St. Louis Cardinals for one season, signing as a free agent before finishing out his career with the St. Louis Browns for whom he played from 1933 to 1937. Team names and locations have changed since then. The Giants eventually moved to San Francisco, the Braves to Atlanta and the St. Louis Browns became the Baltimore Orioles.
A right handed hitter, Hornsby’s lifetime batting average was .358 in 8,173 plate appearances. He played in 2,164 games during which he accumulated 2,930 hits, scored 1,579 runs and had 1,584 runs batted in. He accumulated 301 home runs. His on base percentage was .434 (8th in the league).
Modern baseball followers have developed statistics by which players of various eras can be compared. Wins above replacement (WAR) is a statistic that attempts to measure a player’s total contribution to the team by estimating the number of games won when the candidate was playing versus the number of wins that would have been achieved by the candidate’s replacement player. The formula uses the following components involving offensive and defensive contributions to games. Hornsby’s WAR is a very high 127.1 which ranks favorably to familiar modern era infielders.
He also served as a player-manager during twelve seasons and three more seasons after he retired as an active player, accumulating a won-loss record of 701-812. This record included one league pennant and one World Series win with the St. Louis Cardinals.
He reportedly lived by his own standards, not drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco. He also did not attend movies in theaters because he felt that they would have been detrimental to his eyesight.
Rogers father was Aaron Edwards Hornsby and his mother was the former Mary Dallas Rogers. His father died when Rogers was two years old, after which his mother moved the family, including his three older siblings, to Fort Worth where he graduated from high school. It is unknown whether they were well acquainted with each other, but a second cousin was Texas Ranger Maney Gault. Maney Gault and Rogers Hornsby were both related to famous early Texan Edward Murray Burleson.
Rogers Hornsby died in 1963 after a long hospital stay in Chicago for a cardiovascular issue. He is interred in the family cemetery known as Hornsby Bend Cemetery in Austin, Travis County, Texas. He was survived by his wife, Marjorie Bernice Frederick Hornsby and one son. In 1949, he had been predeceased by another son, also named Rogers Hornsby, who was the product of a previous marriage.
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