John Franklin "Home Run" Baker (March 13, 1886 – June 28, 1963) was an American professional baseball player. A third baseman, Baker played in Major League Baseball from 1908 to 1922, for the Philadelphia Athletics and the New York Yankees. Baker has been called the "original home run king of the majors".
Baker was a member of the Athletics' $100,000 infield. He helped the Athletics win the 1910, 1911 and 1913 World Series. After a contract dispute, the Athletics sold Baker to the Yankees, where he and Wally Pipp helped the Yankees' offense. Baker appeared with the Yankees in the 1921 and 1922 World Series, though the Yankees lost both series, before retiring.
Baker led the American League in home runs for four consecutive years, from 1911 through 1914. He had a batting average over .300 in six seasons, had three seasons with more than 100 runs batted in, and two seasons with over 100 runs scored. Baker's legacy has grown over the years, and he is regarded by many as one of the best power hitters of the deadball era. During his 13 years as a major league player, Baker never played a single inning at any position other than third base. Baker was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1955.
|Home Run Baker|
|Born: March 13, 1886|
|Died: June 28, 1963 (aged 77)|
|September 21, 1908, for the Philadelphia Athletics|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 29, 1922, for the New York Yankees|
|Runs batted in||991|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
|Election Method||Veterans Committee|
Baker was born on March 13, 1886, to Franklin Adams Baker and Mary Catherine (née Fitzhugh) on their farm in Trappe, Maryland. The Bakers, who were of English descent, had been farmers in Trappe for six generations. His mother, of Scottish descent, was reported to be a distant relative of Robert E. Lee.
Baker enjoyed working on his father's farm, but he aspired to become a professional baseball player from the age of ten. In Trappe, most of the residents attended the local baseball team's games on Saturdays. Frank's older brother, Norman, was well known in the town for his playing ability. Norman once tried out for the Philadelphia Athletics, but he did not like that city and stopped pursuing a baseball career.
Baker pitched for the local high school baseball team and worked as a clerk at a butcher shop and grocery store owned by relatives. He signed with a local semi-professional baseball team based in Ridgely, Maryland, in 1905, at the age of 19. The team, which was managed by Buck Herzog, paid him $5 per week ($139 in current dollar terms) and covered his boarding costs. Herzog found that Baker could not pitch well, but that he could hit. Baker was unable to play the outfield well, but he was able to move into the infield as a third baseman for Ridgely.
In 1906, Baker played for Sparrows Point Club in Baltimore, earning $15 per week ($418 in current dollar terms). He received an offer to play for a team in the Class C Texas League in 1907, which he turned down. He instead signed with an independent team based in Cambridge, Maryland.
A scout for the New York Giants of the National League noticed Baker while he was playing for Sparrows Point. They arranged for Baker to receive a tryout with the Baltimore Orioles of the Class A Eastern League late in the 1907 season. Playing in five games, Baker recorded two hits, both singles, in 15 at-bats. Orioles' manager Jack Dunn decided that Baker "could not hit", and Baker was released.
In 1908, Baker began the season with the Reading Pretzels of the Class B Tri-State League. He had a .299 batting average in 119 games played, adding six home runs, 65 runs scored, and 23 stolen bases.
Connie Mack, the manager of the Philadelphia Athletics, purchased Baker's contract in September 1908. In nine games, Baker batted .290 in 31 at-bats to close the 1908 season. Mack named Baker his starting third baseman for the 1909 season. That year, Mack established his "$100,000 infield", with Baker joined by first baseman Stuffy McInnis, second baseman Eddie Collins, and shortstop Jack Barry. He hit .305 with a .447 slugging percentage and four home runs for Philadelphia in 1909, including the first home run to go over the fence in right field of Shibe Park. His slugging percentage was fourth best in the American League, while his 85 runs batted in (RBIs) were third-best, and his 19 triples led the league. The Athletics improved by 27 wins over their 1908 record in 1909, but finished in second place behind the Detroit Tigers.
In a late season series against the Tigers in 1909, Ty Cobb spiked Baker while sliding into third base, lacerating Baker's arm. Baker referred to the spiking as "deliberate" on the part of Cobb, while Mack called Cobb the dirtiest player he had seen, and asked American League president Ban Johnson to investigate. A photograph taken for The Detroit News vindicated Cobb, by showing that Baker had to reach across the base to reach Cobb. Though Baker remained in the game after wrapping his arm, he acquired a reputation for being weak and easily intimidated. Joe S. Jackson, a sportswriter for the Detroit Free Press, referred to Baker as a "soft-fleshed darling".
In the 1910 season, Baker led the American League with 11 home runs in 1911, and batted .344. Baker helped the Athletics win the 1910 World Series over the Chicago Cubs, four games to one, as he batted .409 in the five-game series.
In the 1911 World Series, the Athletics faced off against the Giants. Based on Baker's past run-in with Cobb, Giants players believed they could intimidate him. Fred Snodgrass spiked Baker while sliding into third base in Game One, knocking the ball loose and requiring Baker to bandage his arm. In Game Two, Baker hit a go-ahead home run off Rube Marquard for an Athletics win. He hit a ninth-inning game-tying home run off Christy Mathewson in Game Three. Later in the game Snodgrass again attempted to spike Baker, but he was able to hold onto the ball and the Athletics won again. A six-day delay between games as a result of rain, which turned Shibe Park into a "virtual quagmire", allowed Baker's feats to be magnified by the Philadelphia press, during which time he began to be referred to by the nickname "Home Run". The Athletics defeated the Giants in six games, as Baker led the Athletics with a .375 batting average, nine hits and five RBIs in the series.
Baker again led the American League in home runs in 1912, and led the league with 130 RBIs as well. But his Athletics finished in third place, and the Boston Red Sox defeated the Giants in an exciting eight-game World Series. In 1913, he again led the league with 12 home runs and 117 RBIs, but this time the Athletics defeated the Giants in the World Series, as Baker batted .450 with a home run and seven RBIs in the five games. He led the league in home runs for a fourth consecutive season in 1914, with nine, despite suffering from pleurisy during the season. He also batted .319 and added 89 RBIs, 10 triples and 19 stolen bases. Late in the season, Mack sent Baker, Collins and pitcher Chief Bender to scout the Boston Braves, their opponent in the 1914 World Series. Despite predictions that Philadelphia would win the series handily, the Braves defeated the Athletics four games to none, as Baker batted only .250.
After the 1914 World Series, Mack began to sell off some of his best players  not including Collins, to whom he had given a multiyear contract during the regular season to prevent him from jumping to the upstart Federal League. Baker, who had just completed the first year of a three-year contract, attempted to renegotiate his terms, but Mack refused. Baker sat out the entire 1915 season as a result of this contract dispute. He remained in baseball, playing for a team representing Upland, Pennsylvania, in the semi-professional Delaware County League.
Pressured by American League president Ban Johnson, Mack sold Baker's contract in 1916 to the New York Yankees for $35,000 ($805,856 in current dollar terms). Even though Baker reported to the Yankees with an injured finger, and he injured his knee during a game in May, he and Wally Pipp combined to form the center of the Yankees' batting order. Pipp led the American League in home runs with 12 in 1916; Baker finished second with 10, despite missing almost a third of the Yankees' games. Pipp hit nine home runs in 1917, again leading the league. Baker led the league with 141 games played in the 1919 season. The Yankees hit a league-leading 47 home runs that year, of which Baker hit ten. Sports cartoonist Robert Ripley, working for the New York Globe coined the term "Murderer's Row" to refer to the lineup of Baker, Pipp, Roger Peckinpaugh, and Ping Bodie.
Baker sat out of baseball during the 1920 season, as his wife died of scarlet fever. His two daughters were also affected, but they were able to recover. Late in the 1920 season, Baker again played for Upland, and stated his desire to return to New York. He rejoined the Yankees in 1921, as the Yankees reached the World Series for the first time in franchise history. Missing the last six weeks of the 1921 season, Yankees' manager Miller Huggins started Mike McNally in his place. In the 1921 World Series, a best-of-nine series, Huggins opted to start McNally over Baker, though he wanted to be sure to take advantage of Baker's World Series experience. The Giants defeated the Yankees five games to three; Baker played in only four of the eight games, though McNally struggled to a .200 batting average. In the 1922 season, Baker played in 66 games. Overshadowed by Ruth as a home run hitter, Baker complained about the "rabbit ball", saying that the ball being used traveled much further than the ball used for the majority of his career. The Yankees again faced the Giants in the World Series, losing four games to none. Baker received only one at bat in the 1922 World Series. He finished his career as a Yankee with a .288 batting average, 48 home runs and 379 RBIs in 676 games.
Following his retirement as a player, Baker managed the Easton Farmers of the Eastern Shore League during the 1924 and 1925 seasons. He was credited with discovering Jimmie Foxx and recommending him to Mack. After Baker sold Foxx to the Athletics, the Farmers fired Baker, because they believed Mack did not pay a high enough price for Foxx.
Baker was a modest man who never drank, smoked, or swore. He returned to his Maryland farm every offseason, where he enjoyed duck hunting. While playing in Cambridge, Baker met Ottilie Tschantre, the daughter of a Swiss jeweler. They were married on November 12, 1909.
Baker and his wife had twin babies in late January 1914. The babies were reported as doing well a couple of days later, but they died before they were two weeks old. The twins were initially reported as being a boy and a girl by The New York Times, but they were reported as twin girls by the same publication a few days later. After the 1919 season, his wife contracted scarlet fever and died. He remarried, to Margaret Mitchell, after leaving the Yankees.
In addition to working on his farm, Baker served Trappe as a member of the Trappe Town Board, a tax collector, and a volunteer firefighter. He was also a director of the State Bank of Trappe.
Though nicknamed "Home Run", Baker hit only 96 home runs in his career, and never more than 12 in a season as he played during the dead ball era . Walter Johnson referred to Baker as "the most dangerous batter I ever faced."
In 1955, the Veterans Committee elected Baker into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the baseball hall of fame for Reading, Pennsylvania. Lawrence Ritter and Donald Honig included him in their 1981 book The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time. In his 2001 book The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, Bill James ranked Baker the 70th greatest player of all time and the 5th greatest third baseman.
Home Run Baker Park in his hometown of Trappe is named for him.
| Hitting for the cycle
July 3, 1911
The $100,000 infield was the infield of the Philadelphia Athletics in the early 1910s. The $100,000 infield consisted of first baseman Stuffy McInnis, second baseman Eddie Collins, shortstop Jack Barry and third baseman Frank Baker. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, the nickname reflects "the purported combined market value of the foursome," which is equivalent to about $2.7 million in 2018.
Baseball historian Bill James rated the 1914 edition of the $100,000 infield the greatest infield of all time, and also ranked the 1912 and 1913 editions in the top five all time. The $100,000 infield helped the Athletics win four American League championships in five years—1910, 1911, 1913 and 1914—and win the World Series in 1910, 1911 and 1913. The group was broken up after losing the 1914 World Series as a result of the financial pressures resulting from the emergence of the Federal League. Two members—Collins and Baker—have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.1911 Major League Baseball season
The 1911 Major League Baseball season was the last season in which none of the current 30 MLB stadiums were in use. The oldest current ballpark is Fenway Park, opened in 1912.1911 New York Giants season
The 1911 New York Giants season was the franchise's 29th season. It involved the Giants winning their first of three consecutive National League pennants. They were beaten by the Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series.
Led by manager John McGraw, the Giants won the NL by 7½ games. On the offensive side, they finished second in total runs scored. On the defensive side, they allowed the fewest. Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson led the league in ERA, and Rube Marquard had the most strikeouts.
Taken together with the 1912 and 1913 pennant winners, this team is considered one of the greatest of all-time.1911 Philadelphia Athletics season
The 1911 Philadelphia Athletics season was a season in American baseball. The A's finished first in the American League with a record of 101 wins and 50 losses, then went on to defeat the New York Giants in the 1911 World Series, four games to two, for their second straight World Championship.
Starting in 1911, the team was known for its "$100,000 infield", consisting of John "Stuffy" McInnis (first base), Eddie Collins (second base), Jack Barry (shortstop), and Frank "Home Run" Baker (third base) as well as pitchers Eddie Plank and Charles "Chief" Bender.1911 World Series
In the 1911 World Series, the Philadelphia Athletics defeated the New York Giants four games to two.
Philadelphia third baseman Frank "Home Run" Baker earned his nickname during this Series. His home run in Game 2 off Rube Marquard was the margin of victory for the Athletics, and his blast in Game 3 off Christy Mathewson tied that game in the ninth inning, and the Athletics eventually won in the eleventh. The Giants never recovered. Ironically, Mathewson (or his ghostwriter) had criticized Marquard in his newspaper column after Game 2 for giving up the gopher ball, only to fall victim himself the very next day. Baker was swinging a hot bat in general, going 9 for 24 to lead all batters in the Series with a .375 average.
According to his New York Times obituary (July 28, 1971), Giants catcher Chief Meyers threw out 12 runners, creating a record for the most assists by a catcher during the World Series.
The six consecutive days of rain between Games 3 and 4 caused the longest delay between World Series games until the earthquake-interrupted 1989 Series (which incidentally featured the same two franchises, albeit on the West Coast). With the sixth and final game being played on October 26, this was also the latest-ending World Series by calendar date until the 1981 Series.1912 Major League Baseball season
1912 Major League Baseball season. Harper's Weekly conducted a detailed accounting of the expenses of Major League clubs, and came up with a figure of around $175,000 to $200,000.1913 Major League Baseball season
The 1913 Major League Baseball season.1913 Philadelphia Athletics season
The 1913 Philadelphia Athletics season involved the A's finishing first in the American League with a record of 96 wins and 57 losses. The team then defeated the New York Giants in the 1913 World Series, 4 games to 1.
In 2001, baseball historian Bill James ranked the 1913 incarnation of the Athletics' famous "$100,000 infield" as the best of all time in major league history (first baseman Stuffy McInnis, second baseman Eddie Collins, third baseman Frank "Home Run" Baker, shortstop Jack Barry).1913 World Series
In the 1913 World Series, the Philadelphia Athletics beat the New York Giants four games to one.
The A's pitching gave the edge to a closer-than-it-looked Series in 1913. Christy Mathewson lost his Series swan song in the final game to an old college rival and eventual fellow Baseball Hall of Fame member, Eddie Plank.
The Giants thus became the first National League team since the Chicago Cubs (1906–1908) to win three consecutive pennants. They were also the second club (following the Detroit Tigers 1907–1909) to lose three consecutive World Series; and remain the last to do so.
The Series itself was a face-off between two teams that later became crosstown rivals in Oakland and San Francisco. The Oakland A's won again in a four-game sweep in the 1989 World Series, famous for the earthquake that struck before Game 3, which is the last World Series victory for the A's.1914 Major League Baseball season
The 1914 Major League Baseball season.1916 New York Yankees season
The 1916 New York Yankees season was the 14th season for the Yankees in New York, and the 16th overall for the franchise. The team finished with a record of 80–74, finishing 11 games behind the American League champion Boston Red Sox. New York was managed by Bill Donovan. Their home games were played at the Polo Grounds.1917 New York Yankees season
The 1917 New York Yankees season was the 15th season for the Yankees in New York, and the 17th season overall for the franchise. The team finished with a record of 71–82, finishing 28½ games behind the American League champion Chicago White Sox. New York was managed by Bill Donovan. Their home games were played at the Polo Grounds.2011 Senior League World Series
The 2011 Senior League World Series took place from August 14–20 in Bangor, Maine, United States. Hilo, Hawaii defeated Tyler, Texas in the championship game.City Series (Philadelphia)
The City Series was the name of a series of baseball games played between Major League Baseball's Philadelphia Athletics of the American League and Philadelphia Phillies of the National League that ran from 1903 through 1955. After the A's move to Kansas City in 1955, the City Series rivalry came to an end. The teams have since faced each other in Interleague play (since its introduction in 1997) but the rivalry has effectively died in the intervening years since the A's left Philadelphia.
The first City Series was held in 1883 between the Phillies and American Association Philadelphia Athletics. When the Athletics first joined the American League, the two teams played each other in a spring and fall series. No City Series was held in 1901 and 1902 due to legal warring between the NL and AL.Dead-ball era
In baseball, the dead-ball era was the period between around 1900 and the emergence of Babe Ruth as a power hitter in 1919. That year, Ruth hit a then-league record 29 home runs, a spectacular feat at that time.
This era was characterized by low-scoring games and a lack of home runs. The lowest league run average in history was in 1908, when teams averaged only 3.4 runs per game.Eastern Shore League
The Eastern Shore Baseball League was a class D minor league baseball league that operated on the Delmarva Peninsula for parts of three different decades. The league's first season was in 1922 and the last was in 1949, although the years were not consecutive, and featured teams from Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia. The first incarnation lasted from 1922 to mid-1928 (disbanded in July), the second from 1937–41, and the third from 1946–49. Though the level of play was competitive and many future major leaguers gained experience in the ESBL, funding the league remained a constant problem for the rural franchises.
Future major leaguers who played in the ESBL include notables such as: Frank "Home Run" Baker, Mickey Cochrane, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Vernon, and Don Zimmer.
The Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium in Salisbury, Maryland, pays homage to ESBL players and locals who made the major leagues. Perdue Stadium is the home of the class A Delmarva Shorebirds, an Orioles farm team.Oakland Athletics
The Oakland Athletics, often referred to as the A's, are an American professional baseball team based in Oakland, California. They compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League (AL) West division. The team plays its home games at the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum. They have won nine World Series championships, tied for the third-most of all current MLB teams. The 2017 season was the club's 50th while based in Oakland.
One of the American League's eight charter franchises, the team was founded in Philadelphia in 1901 as the Philadelphia Athletics. They won three World Series championships from 1910 to 1913 and back-to-back titles in 1929 and 1930. The team's owner and manager for its first 50 years was Connie Mack and Hall of Fame players included Chief Bender, Frank "Home Run" Baker, Jimmie Foxx, and Lefty Grove. The team left Philadelphia for Kansas City in 1955 and became the Kansas City Athletics before moving to Oakland in 1968. They won three consecutive World Championships between 1972 and 1974, led by players including Vida Blue, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, ace reliever Rollie Fingers, and colorful owner Charlie O. Finley. After being sold by Finley to Walter A. Haas Jr., the team won three consecutive pennants and the 1989 World Series behind the "Bash Brothers", Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, as well as Hall of Famers Dennis Eckersley, Rickey Henderson and manager Tony La Russa.
From 1901 to 2018, the Athletics' overall win–loss record is 8,931–9,387 (.488).Oakland Athletics award winners and league leaders
This is a list of award winners and league leaders for the Oakland Athletics professional baseball franchise.
The team was first known as the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901 to 1954 and then as the Kansas City Athletics from 1955 to 1967.Wally Pipp
Walter Clement Pipp (February 17, 1893 – January 11, 1965) was an American professional baseball player. A first baseman, Pipp played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, and Cincinnati Reds between 1913 and 1928.
After appearing in 12 games for the Tigers in 1913 and playing in the minor leagues in 1914, he was purchased by the Yankees before the 1915 season. They made him their starting first baseman. He and Home Run Baker led an improved Yankee lineup that led the league in home runs. He led the American League in home runs in 1916 and 1917. With Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel, Joe Dugan, and Waite Hoyt, the Yankees won three consecutive American League pennants from 1921 through 1923, and won the 1923 World Series. In 1925, he lost his starting role to Lou Gehrig, after which he finished his major league career with Cincinnati.
Pipp is considered to be one of the best power hitters of the dead ball era. Pipp is now best remembered as the man who lost his starting role to Lou Gehrig at the beginning of Gehrig's streak of 2,130 consecutive games. According to a popular legend, Pipp asked to sit due to a headache.
|AL West Division|
|AL Wild Card (3)|
|Inductees in Yankees cap|
|Inductees who played|
for the Yankees
Italics denotes players who have been voted in but not yet inducted.
Members of the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame