Earle Combs

Earle Bryan Combs (May 14, 1899 – July 21, 1976) was an American professional baseball player who played his entire career for the New York Yankees (1924–35). Combs batted leadoff and played center field on the Yankees' fabled 1927 team (often referred to as Murderers' Row). He is one of six players on that team who have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame; the other five are Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock, Tony Lazzeri, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth.

Combs led the league in triples three times and was among the top ten in the category in several other seasons. He suffered a fractured skull and other injuries from a crash into an outfield wall in 1934, then retired after another injury the next season. Nicknamed "the Kentucky Colonel", Combs was known as a gentleman on and off the field. He remained in baseball as a coach for many years after his retirement as a player.

Earle Combs
Center fielder
Born: May 14, 1899
Pebworth, Kentucky
Died: July 21, 1976 (aged 77)
Richmond, Kentucky
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 16, 1924, for the New York Yankees
Last MLB appearance
September 29, 1935, for the New York Yankees
MLB statistics
Batting average.325
Home runs58
Runs batted in633
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Election MethodVeteran's Committee


Early years

Combs was born in Pebworth, Owsley County, Kentucky. As a child, he played baseball games with tree limbs as bats and with baseballs made out of string and the material of old shoes.[1]


Combs left Pebworth in 1917 to enter Eastern Kentucky State Normal School in Richmond. In those early days, Eastern prepared its students to become teachers. On completion of a two-year program, graduates were often employed in rural one-room schools. They were often responsible for forty or more students, ranging in age from six to teen-age in grades one through eight, so the work required much management skill.

In his first year at Eastern, Combs put on a stellar performance in a faculty-student baseball game and was encouraged to join the school team by Dr. Charles Keith (Dean of Men and baseball coach).[1] He hit .591 at Eastern during his last season. After graduating from Eastern, Combs went back to his native Owsley County and taught in one-room schoolhouses in both Ida May and Levi.

Early baseball career

Earle b combs
Combs with the Louisville Colonels

Combs continued to play baseball in his spare time. He played for High Splint (Harlan County coal company team) in the Pine Mountain League (summer of 1921) and hit .444. He also played semi-pro baseball for the Lexington Reos of the Bluegrass League. It was in Lexington (in 1922) that Combs drew the attention of the Louisville Colonels of the American Association. After scouting him, Louisville offered him a contract which provided a salary that exceeded the $37 per month ($554 today) he made as a teacher in Owsley County.

His Louisville debut was unsettling; he committed several outfield errors. The last one gave the opposition the two runs they needed to win the game. Distraught afterward, Combs said, "As I went after the dropped ball I was tempted to keep right on going, climb the fence and not stop running until I got to Pebworth." He had married Ruth McCollum, his high school sweetheart, the year before and was concerned about his future.

Joe McCarthy, the manager of the Colonels and later his manager with the Yankees, knew what Combs could do and told him, "Look, if I didn't think you belonged in center field on this club I wouldn't put you there, and I'm going to keep you there." Combs soon found his stride,[2] hitting .344 in 1922 and .380 in 1923 for the Colonels and also earning a reputation for speedy ball-hawking in the outfield and reckless base- stealing on offense.

Major league years

In 1924, the New York Yankees won a spirited bidding war and bought Combs' contract for $50,000 ($730,971 in current dollar terms). This was a rather large sum at that time, but it bore fruit for the Yankees as Combs proved an immediate success in New York. In his rookie season (summer of 1924), Combs played center field and hit .400 before breaking an ankle sliding into home plate at Cleveland's League Park on June 15. Except for one pinch-hitting appearance, he saw no more action that rookie season.

The following year, manager Miller Huggins made Combs the Yankees' leadoff hitter. He held this position for the remaining eleven years of his playing career. He hit .342 and scored 117 runs in 1925. In his best year (1927), he hit .356 with 231 hits, 131 runs scored, 36 doubles and a league-leading 23 triples. He led the league in triples again the next year, batting .310 and finishing sixth in Most Valuable Player voting. He hit .345 in 1929, then .344 in 1930, again leading the league in triples.[3]

Combs suffered a serious accident in July 1934. On a 100+-degree day at St. Louis' Sportsman's Park, he crashed into the outfield wall going for a fly ball, sustaining a fractured skull, a broken shoulder and a damaged knee. He was reportedly near death for several days, and was hospitalized for more than two months. The next season, he attempted a comeback but suffered another serious injury. That injury, coupled with the knowledge that the Yankees were set to bring up a rookie center fielder named Joe DiMaggio the next season, led to Combs' decision to retire at the age of 36.

For his career Combs hit .325, had an on-base average of .397 and averaged nearly 200 hits, 75 walks and only 31 strikeouts a season. He was a part of three World Series championships (in 1927, 1928 and 1932). He also set the Yankees' team record for most triples in a season (23 in 1927). He hit no lower than .282 in any of his eleven seasons, and scored no fewer than 113 runs from 1925 through 1933. In four World Series, Combs hit .350 with a .443 on-base average. He averaged 17 triples a season, and had a lifetime fielding percentage seven points better than the league average.

Earle Combs HOF Plaque
Combs' plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Miller Huggins once said, "If you had nine Combs' on your ball club, you could go to bed every night and sleep like a baby". Joe McCarthy (another longtime Yankee manager) said, "They wouldn't pay baseball managers much of a salary if they all presented as few problems as did Earle Combs." Said Babe Ruth: "Combs was more than a good ballplayer; he was always a first-class gentleman."[4] American sportswriter and baseball historian Fred Lieb wrote of Combs, "If a vote were taken of the sportswriters as to who their favorite ballplayer on the Yankees would be, Combs would have been their choice."[2]

After his retirement as a player, he remained in the game as a coach for almost two decades. He was offered a coaching job with the Yankees in 1936, and started his new position by instructing his replacement (DiMaggio) on the nuances of Yankee Stadium's outfield. He coached for the Yankees through 1944, for the St. Louis Browns in 1947 and for the Boston Red Sox (1948–1952). When he announced his retirement from the Boston coaching staff in March 1953, he said that he was going to spend more time with family and his Kentucky farm.[5] He returned to coaching for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1954.[6]

Life after baseball

After retiring from baseball in 1954, Combs returned to his 400-acre farm in Madison County. He served as the Kentucky state banking commissioner during Governor (and former Baseball Commissioner) A. B. 'Happy' Chandler's second administration (1955–1959), and on Eastern's Board of Regents from 1959 to 1975. In November 1962, he laid the foundation stone for Earle B. Combs Hall, a dormitory at Eastern. In June 1970, the Little League field at Irvine-McDowell Park in Richmond was named in his honor. In 2006, he was inducted as a charter member of Eastern's Athletics Hall of Fame, and the university provides an athletic scholarship in his honor each year.

Combs was selected for induction into the Hall of Fame in 1970 by the Veterans Committee. When he learned of the honor he said, "I thought the Hall of Fame was for superstars, not just average players like me."[7] Sabermetrician Bill James has listed Combs as one of ten examples of Hall of Fame inductees who do not deserve the honor.[8]

Combs and his wife Ruth (1901–1989) had three sons, Earle Jr, Charles and Donald. After a long illness, he died on July 21, 1976 (age 77) in Richmond, Kentucky. He is interred in the Richmond Cemetery.[2]

Career statistics

12 1455 6514 5746 1186 1866 309 154 58 633 98 670 278 .325 .397 .462 .974

In the postseason, in 4 World Series covering 16 games (1926, '27, '28 and '32), Combs batted .350 (21-for-60) with 17 runs, 3 doubles, 1 home run, 9 RBI and 10 base on balls.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Remembering Earle B. Combs". Library of Congress. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Berger, Ralph. "Earle Combs: The Baseball Biography Project". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved 2010-04-08.
  3. ^ "Earle Combs Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  4. ^ http://www.la84foundation.org/SportsLibrary/NASSH_Proceedings/NP1985/NP1985zt.pdf
  5. ^ "Earle Combs retires after 32 years as player, coach". Sarasota Journal. March 30, 1953. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  6. ^ Levy, Sam (March 18, 1954). "Combs, back as Phillies coach, recalls days under McCarthy". Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  7. ^ Cohen, Robert W. (2012). The 50 Greatest Players in New York Yankees History. Scarecrow Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-8108-8393-2. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  8. ^ "Bill James Answers All Your Baseball Questions", an April 2008 entry from the Freakonomics blog

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Larry Woodall
Boston Red Sox first-base coach
Succeeded by
Del Baker
1927 New York Yankees season

The 1927 New York Yankees season was their 25th season. The team finished with a record of 110–44, winning their fifth pennant and finishing 19 games ahead of the Philadelphia Athletics and were tied for first or better for the whole season. New York was managed by Miller Huggins. The Yankees played at Yankee Stadium. In the World Series, they swept the Pittsburgh Pirates. This Yankees team is known for their feared lineup, which was nicknamed "Murderers' Row". This team is widely considered to be the best baseball team in the history of MLB.

1928 New York Yankees season

The New York Yankees' 1928 season was their 26th season. The team finished with a record of 101–53, winning their sixth pennant, finishing 2.5 games ahead of the Philadelphia Athletics. New York was managed by Miller Huggins. The Yankees played at Yankee Stadium. In the World Series, they swept the St. Louis Cardinals. Pitcher Urban Shocker died in September due to complications from pneumonia.

1929 New York Yankees season

The 1929 New York Yankees season was the team's 27th season in New York and its 29th overall. The team finished with a record of 88–66, finishing in second place, 18 games behind the Philadelphia Athletics. This ended a streak of three straight World Series appearances for the club. New York was managed by Miller Huggins until his death on September 25. They played at Yankee Stadium.

1932 New York Yankees season

The 1932 New York Yankees season was the team's 30th season in New York, and its 32nd season overall. The team finished with a record of 107–47, winning their seventh pennant, finishing 13 games ahead of the Philadelphia Athletics. New York was managed by future Hall of Famer Joe McCarthy. A record nine future Hall of Famers played on the team (Earle Combs, Bill Dickey, Lou Gehrig, Lefty Gomez, Tony Lazzeri, Herb Pennock, Red Ruffing, Babe Ruth, Joe Sewell).

The Yankees played their home games at Yankee Stadium. In the World Series, they swept the Chicago Cubs. They are the only major-league team ever to go an entire season without being shut out.

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.

1934 New York Yankees season

The 1934 New York Yankees season was the team's 32nd season in New York and its 34th season overall. The team finished with a record of 94–60, finishing 7 games behind the Detroit Tigers. New York was managed by Joe McCarthy. The Yankees played their home games at Yankee Stadium. It would also be the final year Babe Ruth would play as a Yankee.

1935 New York Yankees season

The 1935 New York Yankees season was the team's 33rd season in New York and its 35th season overall. The team finished with a record of 89–60, finishing 3 games behind the Detroit Tigers. New York was managed by Joe McCarthy. The Yankees played at Yankee Stadium.

1970 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1970 followed the system of annual elections in place since 1968.

The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voted by mail to select from recent major league players and

elected Lou Boudreau.

The Veterans Committee met in closed sessions to consider executives, managers, umpires, and earlier major league players.

It selected three people: Earle Combs, Ford Frick, and Jesse Haines.

Ben Paschal

Benjamin Edwin Paschal (October 13, 1895 – November 10, 1974) was an American baseball outfielder who played eight seasons in Major League Baseball from 1915 to 1929, mostly for the New York Yankees. After two "cup of coffee" stints with the Cleveland Indians in 1915 and the Boston Red Sox in 1920, Paschal spent most of his career as the fourth outfielder and right-handed pinch hitter of the Yankees' Murderers' Row championship teams of the late 1920s. Paschal is best known for hitting .360 in the 1925 season while standing in for Babe Ruth, who missed the first 40 games with a stomach ailment.

During his time in baseball, Paschal was described as a five-tool player who excelled at running, throwing, fielding, hitting for average, and power. However, his playing time with the Yankees was limited because they already had future Baseball Hall of Famers Ruth and Earle Combs, and star Bob Meusel, in the outfield. Paschal was considered one of the best bench players in baseball during his time with the Yankees, and sportswriters wrote how he would have started for most other teams in the American League. He was one of the best pinch hitters in the game during the period, at a time when the term was still relatively new to baseball.

Cedric Durst

Cedric Montgomery Durst (August 23, 1896 – February 16, 1971) was an outfielder in Major League Baseball who played between 1922 and 1930 for the St. Louis Browns (1922–23, 1926), New York Yankees (1927–30) and Boston Red Sox (1930). Listed at 5' 11", 160 lb., Durst batted and threw left-handed. He was born in Austin, Texas.

Though he was always regarded as a fine defensive player, Durst was a weak hitter almost every year in his major league career. He played in parts of three seasons with the Browns before joining the Yankees. While in New York, Durst was a member of the 1927 and 1928 World Champion Yankees, playing exclusively as a reserve outfielder for Earle Combs (CF), Bob Meusel (LF) and Babe Ruth (RF). During the 1930 midseason, he was sent by New York to the Red Sox in exchange for Red Ruffing. The 1930 season proved to be Durst's last year in the majors.In a seven-season career, Durst was a .244 hitter (269-for-1103) with 15 home runs and 122 RBI in 481 games, including 146 runs, 39 doubles, 17 triples, and seven stolen bases. In five postseason games, he hit .333 (3-for-9) with one home run, two RBI and three runs.

After his major league career was over, Durst played and managed in the minor leagues for two more decades. After drawing his release from the Red Sox, he played regularly for the St. Paul Saints (American Association) in 1931 and 1932, and with the Hollywood Stars and San Diego Padres in the Pacific Coast League for six more seasons. The best of his PCL seasons was 1933, when he played 180 games for Hollywood, batting .318 with 14 home runs. During the 1936 season at San Diego, his roommate was future superstar Ted Williams. Durst managed the Padres from 1939 to 1943.After leaving baseball, Durst worked as a guard at Convair aircraft in San Diego, eventually becoming chief of Convair's police force.Cedric Durst died in San Diego, California at age 74.

Center fielder

A center fielder, abbreviated CF, is the outfielder in baseball who plays defense in center field – the baseball and softball fielding position between left field and right field. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the center fielder is assigned the number 8.

Combs (surname)

Combs is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:


Beth Combs (born 1969), American basketball coach

Earle Combs (1899–1976), American center fielder and Baseball Hall of Fame member

Glen Combs (born 1946), American basketball player

Merl Combs (1919–1981), a shortstop in Major League Baseball from 1947-1952

Pat Combs (born 1966), a Philadelphia Phillies pitcher from 1989-1992Television:

Jeffrey Combs (born 1954), American character actor

Ray Combs (1956–1996), American television game show host and stand-up comedian

Holly Marie Combs (born 1973), American actressOther:

Allan Combs (born 1942), consciousness researcher and neuropsychologist

Artur W. Combs, American psychologist

John Combs, Manitoba judge

Lewis Combs (1895–1996), United States Admiral

Rodney Combs (born 1950), American NASCAR driver

Sean Combs (born 1969), American record producer, CEO, clothing designer, actor, and rapper known as Diddy

Earle (given name)

Earle is an English given name, and may refer to:

Earle Bergey (1901–1952), American illustrator

Earle Birney (1904–1995), Canadian poet; recipient of the Governor General's Award for Literature

Earle Brown (1926–2002), American composer

Earle Bruce (born 1931), former American college football coach

Earle Childs (1893–1918), American soldier who died during World War I

Earle Combs (1899–1976), American Major League Baseball player

Earle Hagen (born 1919), American composer

Earle Hyman, American actor

Earle Labor (born 1928), American historian; biographer of Jack London

Earle Bradford Mayfield (1881–1964), American politician; United States Senator

Earle "Greasy" Neale (1891-1973), American football & baseball player & coach

Earle Ovington (1879–1936), American aeronautical engineer, aviator and inventor; "Official Air Mail Pilot #1"

Earle Page (1880–1961), Eleventh Prime Minister of Australia

Earle S. Warner (1880–1971), New York politician and judge

Irvine-McDowell Park

Irvine-McDowell Park is a 20-acre city park located in Richmond, Kentucky. The park includes a playground, picnic shelter, tennis courts, an outdoor basketball court and four softball and baseball fields. Earle Combs Field used to be located there. Located at 345 Lancaster Avenue in Richmond, the park occupies the grounds of Irvinton House. The two-story Federal brick residence was built in the 1820s for Dr. Anthony Wayne Rollins. It was purchased in 1829 by David Irvine (1796–1872). Irvine gave the property to his daughter, Elizabeth Shelby Irvine, after her marriage to her cousin William McClanahan Irvine in 1849.

Upon Elizabeth Irvine's death in 1920, the property (including antiques, family portraits, and furnishings) were willed to the Kentucky Medical Society for a hospital as a memorial to Dr. Ephraim McDowell, the famous pioneer surgeon. For many years, Irvinton served as one of four United States hospitals for the treatment of trachoma. After the hospital closed in 1950, Irvinton and its grounds were donated to the city of Richmond and became its first official recreation center. The park was named Irvine-McDowell in honor of the Irvine family and Dr. McDowell.

Irvinton House currently houses the Richmond Tourism and Main Street Department Welcome Center. The Irvinton House Museum is also located in the historic home and serves as a local history center.

List of Major League Baseball single-season triples leaders

Below is the list of 112 instances in which Major League Baseball players have hit 20 or more triples in a single season. Active players are in bold.

List of Major League Baseball triples records

There are various Major League Baseball records for triples.

Lyn Lary

Lynford Horbart Lary (January 28, 1906 – January 9, 1973), nicknamed "Broadway", was an American professional baseball shortstop. He played twelve seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Washington Senators, St. Louis Browns, Cleveland Indians, Brooklyn Dodgers, and St. Louis Cardinals.In a 12-season career, Lary posted a .269 batting average with 38 home runs and 526 RBIs in 1,302 games played.

A well-traveled shortstop, Lary played for six different teams in a span of twelve years, including two stints with the St. Louis Browns and playing for three teams in 1939. A good defensive player, he had good hands with a strong arm and was competent on the double play. Primarily a singles hitter, his hustle on the bases was shown by taking an extra base or for breaking up a double play. He ended his career with a 1.50 walk-to-strikeout ratio (705-to-470).

Lary debuted with the New York Yankees in 1929, finishing with a .309 average. The next season, he hit .289, and .280 in 1931. That season, he collected 107 RBIs, the most ever by a Yankees shortstop, and was one of six Yankees to have at least 100 runs scored. Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Ben Chapman, Earle Combs and Joe Sewell were the others. Lary also had career-numbers in home runs (10) and triples (nine).

From 1934 through 1936, Lary divided his playing time between the Yankees, Boston Red Sox, St, Louis Browns and Washington Senators. Before the 1935 season, he was traded by the Red Sox to the Washington Senators in exchange for future Hall of Famer Joe Cronin. Playing for the 1936 Browns, he hit .289 with 112 runs and led the American League with 37 stolen bases and 155 games played. In 1937 with the Cleveland Indians, he batted .290 with 110 runs and posted career-highs in hits (187) and doubles (46).

In 1939, Lary started with Cleveland, was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers in the midseason, then returned to St. Louis for the rest of the year. He retired in 1940, after a part-time season for the Browns.

Lary died in Downey, California, at age 66.

Murderers' Row

Murderers' Row were the baseball teams of the New York Yankees in the late 1920s, widely considered one of the best teams in history. The nickname is in particular describing the first six hitters in the 1927 team lineup: Earle Combs, Mark Koenig, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel, and Tony Lazzeri.

Owsley County, Kentucky

Owsley County is a county located in the Eastern Coalfield region of the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of the 2010 census, the population was 4,755, making it the second-least populous county in Kentucky. The county seat is Booneville. The county was organized on January 23, 1843, from Clay, Estill, and Breathitt counties and named for William Owsley (1782–1862), the judge of the Kentucky Court of Appeals and Governor of Kentucky (1844–48).According to the 2010 census reports, Owsley County has the second-highest level of child poverty of any county in the United States. In terms of income per household, the county is the poorest in the nation. Between 1980 and 2014, the rate of death from cancer in the county increased by 45.6 percent, the largest such increase of any county in the United States.

Inductees in Yankees cap
Inductees who played
for the Yankees
Yankees' managers
Yankees' executives
Frick Award
Veterans Committee
J. G. Taylor Spink Award
First basemen
Second basemen
Third basemen
Designated hitters
Executives /

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