Billy Jurges

William Frederick Jurges (May 9, 1908 – March 3, 1997) was an American shortstop, third baseman, manager, coach and scout in Major League Baseball. He was born in Bronx, New York. During the 1930s, he was central to three (1932, 1935 and 1938) National League champion Chicago Cubs teams. In July 1932, Jurges recovered from gunshot wounds—suffered when a distraught former girlfriend tried to kill him—to help lead the Cubs to the pennant.

Billy Jurges
BillJurgesGoudeycard
Jurges with the Chicago Cubs in 1932
Shortstop / Manager
Born: May 9, 1908
Bronx, New York
Died: March 3, 1997 (aged 88)
Clearwater, Florida
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
May 4, 1931, for the Chicago Cubs
Last MLB appearance
September 9, 1947, for the Chicago Cubs
MLB statistics
Batting average.258
Home runs43
Runs batted in656
Managerial record59–63
Winning %.484
Teams
As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards

Career as a player

A right-handed batter and thrower who stood 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 m) tall and weighed 175 pounds (79 kg), Jurges batted .258 in 1,816 games over 17 seasons. He collected 1,613 hits, with 245 doubles, 55 triples and 43 home runs.

Although he was a light hitter, Jurges was known as a top-flight fielder as a shortstop. Baseball Reference credits him with leading in the National League in such defensive categories as Defensive Wins Above Replacement and Range Factor. He led NL shortstops in fielding percentage four times and in double plays once.[1]

During his first eight seasons (1931–38) in Chicago, he anchored an infield of Stan Hack (third base), Billy Herman (second base), and Charlie Grimm or Phil Cavarretta (first base). He then played seven more seasons (1939–45) with the New York Giants, missing over 90 games in 1940 after he was hit in the head by a pitched ball. However, he recovered to play regularly for the Giants from 1941 to 1943. He then returned to the Cubs as a player-coach in 1946–47. For a while, during the off-seasons in the 1930s, Jurges stayed in shape by working out at the Waple Studio of Physical Culture in Alexandria, Virginia.

Shooting

On July 6, 1932, Violet Valli, a showgirl with whom Jurges was romantically linked, tried to kill Jurges at the Hotel Carlos, where both lived. Jurges had previously tried to end their relationship. Valli (born Violet Popovich) also left a suicide note in which she blamed Cubs outfielder Kiki Cuyler for convincing Jurges to break up with her. Although initial reports stated that Jurges was shot while trying to wrestle the gun from Valli, later reports, based on Valli's suicide note, stated that she was trying to kill Jurges as well as commit suicide.[2]

A week after the shooting, charges were dismissed against Valli when Jurges appeared in court and announced that he would not testify and wished to drop the charges.[3] Valli was later involved in a lawsuit when she sued a real estate developer who was blackmailing her by threatening to release letters in which Valli threatened Jurges.[4]

Career as coach, manager and scout

Jurges was a full-time coach for the Cubs in 1948 under manager Grimm. Then, after leaving the Cubs, Jurges managed briefly in the farm systems of the Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Braves, before returning to the coaching ranks with the original Washington Senators franchise in 1956. On July 3, 1959, still a Washington coach, he was named the surprise manager of the Boston Red Sox, who had fired Pinky Higgins. Jurges' appointment was hurriedly announced by Boston general manager Bucky Harris without consulting owner Tom Yawkey.[5]

Managing from the third-base coach's box, Jurges was able to rally Boston in 1959: the Bosox won 44 of 80 games under him, improving from eighth to fifth place, and finally broke the color line with the promotion of Pumpsie Green from the minor leagues.

But the Red Sox, facing the end of Ted Williams' great career in 1960, were a team in disarray. Composed of aging veterans and mostly unpromising youngsters—and stunned by the sudden retirement, in his prime, of right fielder and 1958 Most Valuable Player Jackie Jensen—the 1960 Red Sox fell into the American League basement after losing 27 of their first 42 games. Jurges, an intense competitor, suffered in an alien organization composed largely of cronies of owner Yawkey.[6] The Red Sox front office was about to undergo a massive shakeup, with Harris, Jurges' patron, on his way out the door. On June 8, Jurges left the team, citing illness. (Some Boston baseball writers believed that he suffered from nervous exhaustion.[6]) He was fired two days later, and, after bench coach Del Baker handled the team for five days, Higgins returned to the manager's post he had lost 11 months before.

Jurges never managed again in baseball (his final record was 59 wins, 63 losses — .484) but he scouted for six teams before his final retirement: the Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets, Houston Colt .45s/Astros, the expansion Washington Senators and its successor, the Texas Rangers, the Seattle Mariners and the Cubs. He died at age 88 in Clearwater, Florida.

References

  1. ^ "Billy Jurges Stats - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  2. ^ "Letter Solves the Shooting of Bill Jurges". Chicago Tribune. 1932-07-07.
  3. ^ "Girl Who Shot Cubs' Player Goes Free". Chicago Tribune. 1932-07-16.
  4. ^ "Girl Regains Jurges Notes; Continue Case". Chicago Tribune. 1932-08-19.
  5. ^ Smiles, Jack, Boy Wonder: A Biography of Baseball's Bucky Harris. Jefferson, N.C.: Macfarland & Company, p. 262–268
  6. ^ a b Hirshberg, Al, What's the Matter With the Red Sox. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1973

External links

1932 Chicago Cubs season

The 1932 Chicago Cubs season was the 61st season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 57th in the National League and the 17th at Wrigley Field. The Cubs finished first in the National League with a record of 90–64, four games ahead of the second place Pittsburgh Pirates. The team was swept four games to none by the New York Yankees in the 1932 World Series.

1932 World Series

The 1932 World Series was a four-game sweep by the American League champions New York Yankees over the National League champions Chicago Cubs. By far its most noteworthy moment was Babe Ruth's "called shot" home run, in his 10th and last World Series. It was punctuated by fiery arguments between the two teams, heating up the atmosphere before the World Series even began. A record 13 future Hall of Famers played in this Series, with three other future Hall of Famers also participating: umpire Bill Klem; Yankee's manager Joe McCarthy; and Cubs manager Rogers Hornsby. It was also the first in which both teams wore uniforms with numbers on the backs of the shirts.

1933 Chicago Cubs season

The 1933 Chicago Cubs season was the 62nd season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 58th in the National League and the 18th at Wrigley Field. The Cubs finished third in the National League with a record of 86–68.

1934 Chicago Cubs season

The 1934 Chicago Cubs season was the 63rd season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 59th in the National League and the 19th at Wrigley Field. The Cubs finished third in the National League with a record of 86–65.

1935 Chicago Cubs season

The 1935 Chicago Cubs season was the 64th season for the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 60th in the National League and the 20th at Wrigley Field. The season saw the Cubs finish with 100 wins for the first time in 25 years; they would not win 100 games in another season until 2016. The Cubs won their 14th National League pennant in team history and faced the Detroit Tigers in the World Series, but lost in six games.

The 1935 season is largely remembered for the Cubs' 21-game winning streak. The streak began on September 4 with the Cubs 2.5 games out of first place. They would not lose again until September 28. The streak propelled the Cubs to the National League pennant. The 21-game winning streak tied the franchise and major league record set in 1880 when they were known as the Chicago White Stockings.

1937 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1937 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the fifth playing of the mid-summer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 7, 1937, at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C., the home of the Washington Senators of the American League. The game resulted in the American League defeating the National League 8–3.

The game, watched by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, is remembered because of a play in which Earl Averill of the Indians hit a ball that struck pitcher Dizzy Dean on the toe, breaking it. Complications of this injury shortened the career of the future Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher.

1938 Chicago Cubs season

The 1938 Chicago Cubs season was the 67th season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 63rd in the National League and the 23rd at Wrigley Field. The Cubs finished first in the National League with a record of 89–63. The team was swept four games to none by the New York Yankees in the 1938 World Series.

The team is known for the season of pitcher Dizzy Dean. While pitching for the NL in the 1937 All-Star Game, Dean suffered a big toe fracture. Coming back too soon from the injury, Dean changed his pitching motion to avoid landing too hard on his sore toe enough to affect his mechanics. As a result, he hurt his arm, losing his great fastball. By 1938, Dean's arm was largely gone. Cubs scout Clarence "Pants" Rowland was tasked with the unenviable job of obeying owner Philip K. Wrigley's direct order to buy a washed-up Dean's contract at any cost. Rowland signed the ragged righty for $185,000, one of the most expensive loss-leader contracts in baseball history. Dean still helped the Cubs win the 1938 pennant.

On July 20, Wrigley named 37-year-old Gabby Hartnett as the team's player-manager, replacing Charlie Grimm. When Hartnett took over, the Cubs were in third place, six games behind the first place Pittsburgh Pirates who were led by Pie Traynor. By September 27, with one week left in the season, the Cubs had battled back to within a game and a half game of the Pirates in the National League standings as the two teams met for a crucial three-game series. Dean pitched the opening game of the series and with his ailing arm, relied more on his experience and grit to defeat the Pirates by a score of 2 to 1. Dean would later call it the greatest outing of his career. The Cubs cut the Pirates' lead to a half game and set the stage for one of baseball's most memorable moments.On September 28, the two teams met for the second game of the series, where Hartnett experienced the highlight of his career. With darkness descending on the lightless Wrigley Field and the score tied at 5 runs apiece, the umpires ruled that the ninth inning would be the last to be played. The entire game would have to be replayed the following day if the score remained tied. Hartnett came to bat with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning. With a count of 0 balls and 2 strikes, Hartnett connected on a Mace Brown pitch, launching the ball into the darkness, before it eventually landed in the left-center field bleachers. The stadium erupted into pandemonium as players and fans stormed the field to escort Hartnett around the bases. Hartnett's walk-off home run became immortalized as the Homer in the Gloamin'. The Cubs were now in first place, culminating an impressive 19-3-1 record in September, and the pennant would be clinched three days later.It would be 50 years before lights were installed at Wrigley Field.

1939 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1939 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the seventh playing of the mid-summer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 11, 1939, at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, New York City, the home of the New York Yankees of the American League. The game resulted in the American League defeating the National League 3–1.

1940 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1940 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the eighth playing of the mid-summer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 9, 1940, at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, Missouri, the home of the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Browns. The game resulted in the National League defeating the American League 4–0.

1940 New York Giants (MLB) season

The 1940 New York Giants season was the franchise's 58th season. The team finished in sixth place in the National League with a 72-80 record, 37½ games behind the Cincinnati Reds.

1943 New York Giants (MLB) season

The 1943 New York Giants season was the franchise's 61st season. The team finished in eighth place in the National League with a 55–98 record, 49½ games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

1944 New York Giants (MLB) season

The 1944 New York Giants season was the franchise's 62nd season. The team finished in fifth place in the National League with a 67-87 record, 38 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

1946 Chicago Cubs season

The 1946 Chicago Cubs season was the 75th season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 71st in the National League and the 31st at Wrigley Field. The Cubs finished third in the National League with a record of 82–71.

1947 Chicago Cubs season

The 1947 Chicago Cubs season was the 76th season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 72nd in the National League and the 32nd at Wrigley Field. The Cubs finished sixth in the National League with a record of 69–85.

1948 Chicago Cubs season

The 1948 Chicago Cubs season was the 77th season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 73rd in the National League and the 33rd at Wrigley Field, as well as the first of many seasons to be broadcast on television on WGN-TV while keeping its separate WBKB telecasts. The Cubs finished eighth and last in the National League with a record of 64–90.

1959 Boston Red Sox season

The 1959 Boston Red Sox season was the 59th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished fifth in the American League (AL) with a record of 75 wins and 79 losses, nineteen games behind the AL champion Chicago White Sox.

1959 Major League Baseball season

The 1959 Major League Baseball season was played from April 9 to October 9, 1959. It saw the Los Angeles Dodgers, free of the strife produced by their move from Brooklyn the previous season, rebound to win the National League pennant after a two-game playoff against the Milwaukee Braves, who themselves had moved from Boston in 1953. The Dodgers won the World Series against a Chicago White Sox team that had not played in the "Fall Classic" since 1919 and was interrupting a Yankees' dynasty that dominated the American League between 1949 and 1964.

The season is notable as the only one between 1950 and 1981 where no pitcher pitched a no-hitter.

1960 Boston Red Sox season

The 1960 Boston Red Sox season was the 60th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished seventh in the American League (AL) with a record of 65 wins and 89 losses, 32 games behind the AL champion New York Yankees.

The Natural

The Natural is a 1952 novel about baseball by Bernard Malamud, and is his debut novel. The story follows Roy Hobbs, a baseball prodigy whose career is sidetracked when he is shot by a woman whose motivation remains mysterious. Most of the story concerns itself with his attempts to return to baseball later in life, when he plays for the fictional New York Knights with his legendary bat "Wonderboy".

Based upon the bizarre shooting incident and subsequent comeback of Philadelphia Phillies player Eddie Waitkus, the story of Roy Hobbs takes some poetic license and embellishes what was truly a strange, but memorable, account of a career lost too soon. Apart from the fact that both Waitkus and fictional Hobbs were shot by women, there are few if any other similarities. It has been alternately suggested that the shooting incident might have been inspired by Chicago Cubs shortstop Billy Jurges, who was shot by a showgirl with whom he was romantically linked, but there has been no evidence to support this claim.

A film adaptation of The Natural starring Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs was released in 1984.

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