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George Sisler

George Sisler

Chicago Historical Society/Chicago Daily News

Position(s):
1B, OF, P, 3B, 2B
Nicknames:
Gorgeous George
Born:
March 24, 1893
Bats:
Left
Throws:
Left
Height:
5' 11"
Weight:
170 lbs
Major League Debut:
6-28-1915 with SLA
Allstar Selections:
1922 MVP
Hall of Fame:
1939

Intro

George Sisler never played on a pennant winner and he wasn't a slugger, but in spite of that he earned a reputation as the best first baseman in the first 30 years of the 20th century. The greatest player in St. Louis Browns' history, he twice batted over .400, and his 257 hits in 1920 remain a modern major league record. That same year, the lefty-swinging Sisler hit in 41 consecutive games, an American League record that stood until surpassed by Joe DiMaggio. Sisler, who attended the University of Michigan, where he played for Branch Rickey, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1939.

Minor Leages

1931: Rochester (International Association) 1932: Shreveport/Tyler (Texas League)

Replaced By

Sisler collected 201 hits and batted .327 in 1927 for St. Louis. He was 34 years old and had just stolen 27 bases and played his usual brilliant first base. The Browns were an aging team and had finished in seventh place. On December 2, they traded for Heinie Manush, the hard-hitting outfielder from Detroit. In the deal, St. Louis also acquired Lu Blue, a first baseman. Blue was a switch-hitter, who had benefitted from Ty Cobb's tutelage and hit .300 or higher four times in Motown. But he was 30 years old, coming off an injury, and had hit a disappointing .260 for Detroit in 1927. For some reason, 12 days after the Manush deal, the Browns sold Sisler to Washington. Blue played three seasons as the Brown first baseman, never hitting higher than .293, though his power numbers were an improvement over Sisler, though slightly. Sisler played three more years, hitting .323, and in 1929, he collected 205 hits for the Bravesth 40 doubles and eight triples. By the end of the 1930 season, Sisler was 37 years old, but he hit .309 despite his eye troubles. He retired in January, and the Braves replaced him with 38-year old first baseman Earl Sheely.

Best Season

Sisler was a hitting machine. He led the AL in hits with 246, in runs with 134, and in batting with a .420 average. He enjoyed a 41-game hitting streak which lasted until the middle of September and was stopped only after he severely hurt his right arm. He had 42 doubles, 18 triples (league-high), 105 RBI, and a league-leading 51 stolen bases. It remains one of the best all-around offensive seasons in history. His 1920 season wasn't too shabby, either. That year he played every inning of 154 games and hit .407 with a record 257 hits. Among his 399 total bases were 171 singles, 49 doubles, 18 triples, and 19 home runs. He went hitless in only 23 games and finished the campaign red-hot: batting .442 in August and .448 in September. Batting third in the St. Louis lineup, he drove in 122 runs, his career-high. He was his usual pesky self on the basepaths: swiping 46 bases in 65 tries.

Factoid 1

On September 1, 1918, Sisler hit a double off Ty Cobb. Cobb was making his first major league appearance on the mound. Sisler also pitched in the game for St. Louis.

Factoid 2

As a pitcher, George Sisler defeated Walter Johnson twice. On July 25, 1918, he collected the only hit off Johnson, when the right-hander went the first 11 innings of a 15-inning game allowing just one hit.

Transition

December 14, 1927: Purchased by the Washington Senators from the St. Louis Browns; May 27, 1928: Purchased by the Boston Braves from the Washington Senators.

Strengths

Speed, and hitting for average.

Weaknesses

He didn't walk a lot, but seeing how he averaged about 220 hits a season, that isn't much of a weakness. He was a lot like Ichiro as a hitter.

Milestones

Had he not missed the entire 1923 season with sinus problems, Sisler would have easily topped the 3,000 hit mark. As it was, he finished less than 200 hits away.

Feats

Had a 41-game hitting streak in 1922, the longest in American League history until Joe DiMaggio broke it in 1941... In 1921, Sisler collected hits in ten straight plate appearances.

Bittersweet Defeat

In 1950, Sisler was the Head of Scouting for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Dodgers and Phillies played each other in the final game of the season, with the pennant hanging in the balance. Sisler's son Dick played for Philadelphia. "Who are you rooting for?" George was asked. "I've forgotten how to root," was his reply. Later of course, it was Dick Sisler's three-run homer that was the difference in the game for the Phils as George's Dodgers were defeated. Despite his employer's loss, George called the game his biggest thrill as a father.

Yer Out! Yer Out! Yer Out!

On April 9, 1922, in the finale of the "City Series" between the St. Louis Browns and St. Louis Cardinals, Sisler was thrown out at home plate three times by Cardinals' outfielder Austin McHenry.

Notes

Sisler was the prototypical player for a hitting streak, combining great speed with a consistent line drive bat. During the 41-game streak, he had 23 multiple hit games, a record for a streak of any length. From September 4-11 he strung together seven straight multi-hit games, banging out 18 hits during that stretch. He hit .420 for the streak season, and batted .460 (80-for-174) during the streak, with 43 runs, 14 doubles, seven triples, no homers, 11 walks, five strikeouts, and 13 stolen bases... In 1925, the left-hander strung together 34 straight games with a hit, beginning on Opening Day. During that streak, he hit .399 (59-for-148), with 25 runs scored, three doubles, one triple, two homers, three walks, four strikeouts, and two stolen bases. Sisler racked up 224 hits in 1925.... Named 1922 American League Most Valuable Player; Elected to the Hall of Fame 1939... George Sisler was the favorite ballplayer of comedienne/actor W.C. Fields.

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Tagged:
Baseball History, Branch Rickey, George Sisler, Hall of Fame, St. Louis Browns, firstbase

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