Sam Crawford

Samuel Earl Crawford (April 18, 1880 – June 15, 1968), nicknamed "Wahoo Sam", was an American outfielder in Major League Baseball (MLB).

Crawford batted and threw left-handed, stood 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) tall and weighed 190 pounds (86 kg). Born in Wahoo, Nebraska, he had a short minor league baseball career before entering the majors with the Cincinnati Reds in 1899. He played for the Reds until 1902. Crawford then joined the Detroit Tigers and played for Detroit from 1903 to 1917. He was one of the greatest sluggers of his era, leading his league in home runs twice and in runs batted in three times. He still hold the MLB record for most career triples, with 309. While with the Tigers, Crawford played alongside superstar Ty Cobb, and the two had an intense rivalry while also helping Detroit win three American League championships from 1907 to 1909.

After his MLB career ended, Crawford moved to California, where he lived the rest of his life. He was a player and umpire in the Pacific Coast League and was a coach at the University of Southern California. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1957.

Sam Crawford
Crawford in 1909
Born: April 18, 1880
Wahoo, Nebraska
Died: June 15, 1968 (aged 88)
Hollywood, California
Batted: Left Threw: Left
MLB debut
September 10, 1899, for the Cincinnati Reds
Last MLB appearance
September 16, 1917, for the Detroit Tigers
MLB statistics
Batting average.309
Home runs97
Runs batted in1,525
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 MethodVeterans Committee

Early life

Crawford was born in Wahoo, Nebraska, in 1880, the son of Stephen O. Crawford (born 1842 in Vermont) and Nellie Crawford (born 1855 in Iowa).[1] In 1901, he married Ada M. Lattin, born circa 1881 in Nebraska. He was listed as a ballplayer in 1910, and had one daughter, Virginia, born circa 1905 in Michigan. Various ship records confirm his birthdate and that of wife Ada. As of the 1920 U.S. census, he was living in Los Angeles, with wife Ada and daughter Virginia, and a new addition: Samuel, born ~1918 in California (Samuel Earl Crawford, March 15, 1918 – October 18, 1996).

According to a biography from the Nebraska Hall of Fame,[2] Crawford was a star athlete at Wahoo High School, leading the team to two state football championships in 1896 and 1897 and was also noted for "foot racing" wherever he played. In 1898, he joined a traveling baseball team in Wahoo. They traveled on a lumber wagon from town to town for weeks at a time, challenging the locals to baseball games, and passing the hat to pay their expenses. Crawford was offered an opportunity in the spring of 1899 to play for the Chatham Reds of the Canadian League for $65 per month, plus board. Crawford seized the opportunity and left behind his job as a barber's apprentice. From Chatham, Crawford moved on to play for the Grand Rapids Prodigals in the Western League.

Major League Baseball career

Cincinnati Reds

In September 1899, Grand Rapids sold Crawford to the Cincinnati Reds. Crawford played in 31 games for the Reds at the end of the 1899 season. At age 19, and one year removed from his days playing for Wahoo's traveling team, Crawford was playing in the major leagues with future Hall of Famers Jake Beckley and Bid McPhee. Crawford hit .307 in 31 games with the Reds in 1899. In 1900, at age 20, he played in 101 games and was among the National League leaders in triples with 15 and home runs with seven.

Crawford was one of the best sluggers in baseball in 1901, batting .330 and hitting a major league leading 16 home runs. He was also third in the National League in triples (16), RBIs (104) and slugging percentage (.524). Crawford had another solid year in 1902, leading the National League in total bases (256) and triples (22), and placing second in batting average (.333), slugging percentage (.461) and extra base hits (43). He hit 12 inside-the-park home runs in 1901 – a major league record that has never been equaled.

Detroit Tigers

Sam Crawford, Detroit Tigers, baseball card portrait LCCN2007685676
1911 baseball card of Crawford

At the end of 1902, a bidding war for players developed between the National League and American League. Crawford signed contracts with both the Reds and the Detroit Tigers. The competing contracts led to a publicized legal dispute, with a judge ultimately awarding Crawford to the Tigers but requiring $3,000 in compensation to the Reds.

Crawford joined the Tigers for the 1903 season and remained there until the end of his major league career in 1917. In 1903, he led the American League with 25 triples, and finished second in the batting race with a .335 batting average.

With the addition of Ty Cobb at the end of the 1905 season, the Tigers had two of the best hitters in baseball. Cobb and Crawford led Detroit to three straight American League pennants in 1907, 1908 and 1909, but both of them slumped in their World Series appearances, as the Tigers lost all three. Crawford hit for a .243 average in three World Series, and Cobb hit an uncharacteristic .200 in the 1907 World Series and .231 in the 1909 World Series.

Although Crawford never got to play in another World Series, he remained one of the most feared hitters in baseball through 1915. In 1911, he hit a career-high .378 with 115 RBIs and 57 extra base hits. From 1913 to 1915, Crawford played in 472 consecutive games for the Tigers. Crawford was among the American League leaders in hits, RBIs, extra base hits, slugging percentage and total bases every year from 1905 to 1915. He led the American League in triples five times, including an American League record 26 triples in 1914. Crawford remains the all-time major league leader with 309 triples in his career.

Though his fielding suffered in his later years, Crawford was a good fielder in his prime. In 1900, his range factor was 2.68 – 55 points higher than the league average of 2.13. In 1905, he led all American League outfielders with a .988 fielding percentage – 35 points higher than the league average.

In 1916, the Tigers began transitioning the right field responsibilities from Crawford to their young hitting star, Harry Heilmann. That year, Crawford played 78 games in right field, and Heilmann played 66. Despite leading the league in both RBIs (112) and extra base hits (54) in 1915, Crawford saw his plate appearances cut almost in half in 1916 (from 694 to 368) as the Tigers made room in the lineup for Heilmann.

In 1917, Crawford lost his spot in the lineup altogether and was relegated principally to a pinch-hitting role. In his new limited role, Crawford hit .173 in 104 at bats. At the end of the 1917 season, Crawford was released and did not play in Major League Baseball again.

Career accomplishments

Crawford was one of the greatest sluggers of the dead-ball era. He still holds the major league records for triples in a career (309) and inside-the-park home runs in a season (12). He has the second most inside-the-park home runs in a career (51).

Crawford became the first player to lead both the National League and American League in home runs (1901 and 1908). He was among the AL leaders in hits, RBI, extra base hits, slugging percentage and total bases for 11 consecutive years, from 1905 to 1915.[3] Using the "Gray Ink Test", which awards points based on how often a player is among the league batting leaders, Crawford ranks as the ninth best hitter of all time.[4] He finished his career with 2,961 hits and a .309 batting average.

Ed Barrow, who managed Crawford in his first two years with Detroit, and went on to convert Babe Ruth to an outfielder as general manager of the Yankees, once said that there never was a better hitter than Crawford.[5] One of his contemporaries, Fielder Jones, said of Crawford: "None of them can hit quite as hard as Crawford. He stands up at the plate like a brick house and he hits all the pitchers, without playing favorites."[6]

Rivalry with Ty Cobb

Cobb and Crawford with a camera, circa 1914

Sam Crawford and Ty Cobb were teammates for parts of 13 seasons. They played beside each other in right and center field, and Crawford followed Cobb in the batting order year after year. Despite this, the two had a complicated relationship.

When Cobb entered the major leagues with the Tigers in 1905, Crawford was one of the Detroit veterans who bullied Cobb. Cobb, a volatile personality, took it personally. However, Cobb soon became established as the best hitter in the game and became more accepted on the Tigers team as they won AL championships in 1907, 1908, and 1909. During this time, Cobb and Crawford had a student-teacher relationship. In interviews late in life with Al Stump, Cobb told of studying Crawford's base-stealing technique and of how Crawford would teach him about pursuing fly balls and throwing out base runners. Cobb said that he would always remember Crawford's kindness.[7]

The student-teacher relationship gradually changed to one of jealous rivals. Cobb was unpopular with his teammates, and as he became the biggest star in baseball, Crawford was unhappy with the preferential treatment given Cobb. Cobb was allowed to report late for spring training and given private quarters on the road – privileges not offered to Crawford. The competition between the two was intense. Crawford recalled that, if he went three for four on a day when Cobb went hitless, Cobb would turn red and sometimes walk out of the park with the game still on. When it was initially (and erroneously) reported that Nap Lajoie had won the batting title, Crawford was alleged to have been one of several Tigers who sent a telegram to Lajoie congratulating him on beating Cobb.

In retirement, Cobb wrote a letter to a writer for The Sporting News accusing Crawford of not helping in the outfield and of intentionally fouling off balls when Cobb was stealing a base. Crawford learned about the letter in 1946 and accused Cobb of being a "cheapskate" who never helped his teammates. He said that Cobb had not been a very good fielder, "so he blamed me." Crawford denied intentionally trying to deprive Cobb of stolen bases, saying that Cobb had "dreamed that up."[8]

When asked about the feud, Cobb attributed it to jealousy. He felt that Crawford was "a hell of a good player", but he was "second best" on the Tigers and "hated to be an also ran." Cobb biographer Richard Bak noted that the two "only barely tolerated each other" and agreed with Cobb that Crawford's attitude was driven by Cobb's having stolen Crawford's thunder.[9]

Although they may not have spoken to each other, Cobb and Crawford developed an uncanny ability to communicate nonverbally with looks and nods on the base paths. They became one of the most successful double steal pairings in baseball history.

After Cobb died, a reporter found hundreds of letters in his home responding to letters Cobb had written to influential people, lobbying for Crawford's induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Crawford was reportedly unaware of Cobb's efforts until after Cobb had died.[10]

Later baseball career

After being released by the Tigers, Crawford was not ready to quit playing. He joined the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League, helping them to win league championships in 1918 and 1921. Perhaps hoping to show the Tigers were wrong in casting him aside, Crawford exploded on the scene for the Angels, as he got two hits, stole a base and threw out two runners in his first game.[11] Crawford played four seasons for the Angels (1918–1921). In 1919, he hit .360 with 239 hits, 41 doubles, 18 triples, 14 home runs and 14 stolen bases. He collected another 239 hits, 46 doubles and 21 triples in 1920, and even in 1921 managed 199 hits and 44 doubles.

Crawford decided to stay in Southern California, and in 1924, he accepted a position as the head coach of the University of Southern California baseball team. Crawford was the USC baseball coach from 1924 to 1929 and was instrumental in the development of the California Intercollegiate Baseball Association in 1927. He led USC to second-place finishes in his last two seasons. Crawford was 59–46–3 as the USC coach and 55–33 against other college teams.[12] Crawford later worked as an umpire in the Pacific Coast League from 1935 to 1938. He found it to be a thankless job and a lonely life, and quit after four years.[13]

In 1927, Crawford had a role as the baseball coach in Buster Keaton's comedy film College.

Later life

Crawford DET
Sam Crawford was honored alongside the retired numbers of the Detroit Tigers in 2000.

In retirement, Crawford became somewhat reclusive, staying away from official baseball functions. Crawford was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1957. At the time, he was living in a small cabin on the edge of the Mojave Desert near Pearblossom, California. Reporters showed up in Pearblossom with the news, shocking the locals, who were unaware that their neighbor had even played Major League Baseball. After his election, Crawford told the curator in Cooperstown that he wanted his plaque to read "Wahoo Sam." He noted: "That's my hometown, and I'm proud of it."[14]

Crawford spent much of his later years working in his garden and reading. In March 1964, in Baywood Park, California, he was interviewed by Lawrence Ritter for the 1966 book The Glory of Their Times, a series of interviews with the players of the early 20th century. Crawford's tales of teammates such as Cobb and deaf player Dummy Hoy, and opponents such as Honus Wagner, helped to make the book one of the most admired ever written about baseball. During the Ritter interviews, Crawford quoted from the works of philosopher George Santayana and abolitionist Robert Ingersoll, and discussed the works of one of his favorite writers, Honoré de Balzac. As for how he hoped to be remembered, he said: "When I kick off they'll say, 'Well, good old Sam, he wasn't such a bad guy after all. Everything considered, he was pretty fair and square. We'll miss him.'"[15]

Crawford suffered a stroke on May 26, 1968, and died two weeks later at Hollywood Community Hospital in Los Angeles at age 88. He was interred in the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood. In 1999, Crawford was ranked number 84 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players,[16] and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

See also


  1. ^ Twelfth Census of the United States, United States Census, 1900; Stocking, Saunders, Nebraska; roll T623 939, page 18B, line 98. Retrieved on 2009-08-27.
  2. ^ "Nebraska Sports High School Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on 2007-09-29.
  3. ^ "Sam Crawford Entry".
  4. ^ "Gray Ink Test Leaders All-Time Batting".
  5. ^ "The Obit for Sam Crawford". Archived from the original on 2009-02-13.
  6. ^ "Player Pages>Sam Crawford".
  7. ^ Al Stump, Cobb: The Life and Times of the Meanest Man Who Ever Played Baseball (1994), pp. 58–60
  8. ^ Stump, Cobb, pp. 190–191
  9. ^ Richard Bak, Peach (2005), p. 38
  10. ^ Richard Bak, Peach, p. 176
  11. ^ Bauer, Carlos (July 29, 2004). "PCL Memorable Seasons – 1918".
  12. ^ "The Sam Crawford Years (1924–29)". USC Trojans. Archived from the original on 2007-08-02.
  13. ^ Lawrence Ritter, The Glory of Their Times, pp. 55–56
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-02-13. Retrieved 2015-10-25.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ Lawrence Ritter, "The Glory of Their Times" p. 69
  16. ^ 100 Greatest Baseball Players by The Sporting News : A Legendary List by Baseball Almanac

External links

1903 Detroit Tigers season

1903 was the third year for the Detroit Tigers in the still-new American League. The team finished in fifth place with a record or 65–71 (.478), 25 games behind the Boston Americans. The 1903 Tigers outscored their opponents 567 to 539. The team's attendance at Bennett Park was 224,523, sixth out of the eight teams in the AL.

1905 Detroit Tigers season

1905 was the fifth year for the Detroit Tigers in the American League. The team finished in third place with a record of 79–74 (.516), 15½ games behind the Philadelphia Athletics.

1907 Detroit Tigers season

The 1907 Detroit Tigers won the American League pennant with a record of 92–58, but lost to the Chicago Cubs in the 1907 World Series, four games to none (with one tie). The season was their 7th since they entered the American League in 1901.

1909 Detroit Tigers season

The 1909 Detroit Tigers won the American League pennant with a record of 96–56, but lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1909 World Series, 4 games to 3. The season was their 9th since they were charter members of the American League in 1901. It was the third consecutive season in which they won the pennant but lost the World Series. Center fielder Ty Cobb won the Triple Crown and pitcher George Mullin led the league in wins (29) and win percentage (.784).

1910 Detroit Tigers season

The 1910 Detroit Tigers season was a season in American baseball. The Tigers finished third in the American League with a record of 86–68, 18 games behind the Philadelphia Athletics.

1911 Detroit Tigers season

The 1911 Detroit Tigers had a record of 89–65 and finished in second place in the American League, 13½ games behind the Philadelphia Athletics. They outscored their opponents 831–776, and drew 484,988 fans to Bennett Park (4th of 8 teams in attendance).

1912 Detroit Tigers season

The 1912 Detroit Tigers season was a season in American baseball. It involved the Tigers finishing sixth in the American League. It was the team's first season in Tiger Stadium.

1914 Detroit Tigers season

The 1914 Detroit Tigers season was a season in American baseball. It involved the Detroit Tigers finishing fourth in the American League.

Ty Cobb won another batting title with a .368 average. Sam Crawford led the league in RBI and was second in MVP voting.

1915 Detroit Tigers season

The 1915 Detroit Tigers won a then club-record 100 games and narrowly lost the American League pennant to the Boston Red Sox, who won 101 games. Though four other Tigers teams have won 100 games (1934, 1961, 1968, and 1984), only the 1934 Tigers had a better winning percentage. The 1915 Detroit Tigers team is remembered for its all-star outfield of Ty Cobb, Sam Crawford, and Bobby Veach—who finished #1, #2, and #3 in the American League in both runs batted in and total bases. Baseball historian Bill James ranks the Tigers' 1915 outfield as the best in major league history.

1957 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1957 followed a system established after the 1956 election.

The baseball writers would vote on recent players only in even-number years (until 1967).

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

It selected outfielder Sam Crawford, who had 2961 hits from 1899 to 1917, and Joe McCarthy, who managed the New York Yankees to eight pennants in sixteen seasons with consecutive World Series championships 1936 to 1939.

Detroit Tigers award winners and league leaders

This is a list of award winners and league leaders for the Detroit Tigers professional baseball team.

Lawrence Ritter

Lawrence Stanley Ritter (May 23, 1922 – February 15, 2004) was an American writer whose specialties were economics and baseball.

Ritter was a professor of economics and finance, and chairman of the Department of Finance at the Graduate School of Business Administration of New York University. He also edited the academic periodical Journal of Finance from 1964 to 1966. He died at age 81 in New York City. His book, Principles of Money, Banking, and Financial Markets, coauthored with William L. Silber and Gregory F. Udell, has gone through twelve editions and has been a standard college text since it was first published in 1974.

Ritter is arguably best known for writing one of the most famous sports books of all time, The Glory of Their Times (1966, updated 1984). He collaborated with another baseball historian, Donald Honig, on The Image of Their Greatness (1979) and The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time (1981, featuring several players who would later be dropped in favor of new players on several later all-time greats lists).

In researching The Glory of Their Times, Ritter travelled 75,000 miles to interview his subjects, sitting for hours listening to them tell their tales into his tape recorder. Ritter's "Existential" style of interviewing was to allow his subjects to reminisce freely, rarely prodding or probing them on anything. No questions about specific games. No questions about what it was like to face certain players. Ritter's technique was to get his interviewee comfortable around him, to turn the tape-recorder on, and shut up while his subjects spoke. Ritter's style elicited responses that other reporters never reach with questions. His most difficult "find" was Sam Crawford, who shared the outfield with Ty Cobb in Detroit. After being given only cryptic hints about where he might find Crawford, i.e., "drive between 175 and 225 miles north of Los Angeles", Crawford's wife told Ritter, "and you'll be warm" – Ritter ended up in Baywood Park, California where his inquiries yielded nothing. After several days, he sat in a laundromat watching his clothes spin beside an old man. Ritter asked him if he knew anything about Sam Crawford, the old ball player. The man replied, "Well I should hope so. Bein' as I'm him."

List of Major League Baseball annual triples leaders

In baseball, a triple is recorded when the ball is hit so that the batter is able to advance all the way to third base, scoring any runners who were already on base, with no errors by the defensive team on the play. In Major League Baseball (MLB), a player in each league is recognized for leading the league in triples. Only triples hit in a particular league count toward that league's seasonal lead.

The first triples champion in the National League was Ross Barnes; in the league's inaugural 1876 season, Barnes hit fourteen triples for the Chicago White Stockings. In 1901, the American League was established and led by two members of the Baltimore Orioles: Bill Keister and Jimmy Williams each had 21.

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.

Sam Crawford (basketball)

Sam Crawford (born April 18, 1970) is an American former professional basketball player. An agile and diminutive point guard at 5 ft 8 in tall, he attended Moorpark community college for two years before transferring to a Division I program, New Mexico State. In 1992–93 he led the NCAA in assists with a 9.1 average, was awarded the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award for the best college player under 6 ft and was an AP Honorable Mention. He is the all-time assists leader at New Mexico State with 592. After his senior year of college he went undrafted in the 1993 NBA Draft and had a short professional career in the CBA. He also appeared in two movies: Blue Chips and Forget Paris.

Sam Crawford (pitcher)

Samuel "Sam" Crawford (born April 15, 1892, date of death unknown) was an American pitcher and manager in baseball's Negro Leagues.

Born in Dallas, Texas, he played in the pre-Negro Leagues for the Chicago American Giants off and on from 1914 to 1917, and became a pitcher and eventually manager of the Kansas City Monarchs and J. L. Wilkinson's barnstorming farm-league team All Nations in 1923.Crawford left Wilkinson's teams in February 1924 to manage the Birmingham Black Barons.

Triple (baseball)

In baseball, a triple is the act of a batter safely reaching third base after hitting the ball, with neither the benefit of a fielder's misplay (see error) nor another runner being put out on a fielder's choice. A triple is sometimes called a "three-bagger" or "three-base hit". For statistical and scorekeeping purposes it is denoted by 3B.Triples have become somewhat rare in Major League Baseball. It often requires a ball hit to a distant part of the field, or the ball taking an unusual bounce in the outfield. It also usually requires that the batter hit the ball solidly, and be a speedy runner. It also often requires that the batter's team have a good strategic reason for wanting the batter on third base, as a double will already put the batter in scoring position and there will often be little strategic advantage to taking the risk of trying to stretch a double into a triple. (The inside-the-park home run is much rarer than a triple). The trend for modern ballparks is to have smaller outfields (often increasing the number of home runs); it has ensured that the career and season triples leaders mostly consist of those who played early in Major League Baseball history, generally in the dead-ball era.

A walk-off triple (one that ends a game) occurs very infrequently. For example, the 2016 MLB season saw only three walk-off triples, excluding one play that was actually a triple plus an error.

USC Trojans baseball

The USC Trojans baseball program represents the University of Southern California in college baseball. Established in 1888, the team is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Pac-12 Conference. USC home's field is Dedeaux Field, which is named in honor of former head coach and National College Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Rod Dedeaux.

The USC Trojans are one of the most successful programs in the history of college baseball. The Trojans have won more baseball national championships than any other program across all divisions of college baseball. With 12 national championships, USC is far and away the leader in that category; no other Division I school has more than six. As of June 30, 2018, USC also ranked fifth in all-time College World Series (CWS) appearances with 21, trailing only Texas (36), Miami (FL) (25), and Arizona State (22), and Florida State (22). The Trojans have won more individual CWS games (74) than any program but Texas (85). USC also ranked fourth in all-time NCAA Tournament wins with 173—trailing only Texas (240), Miami (192), and Florida State (192)—and eighth in total NCAA Tournament appearances with 37.The Trojans have compiled an all-time record of 2,884–1,685–28 (.630)—ranking fifth in all-time wins and 18th in all-time win percentage—and have captured outright or tied for 38 conference championships, as of the end of the 2018 season. USC's most notable baseball coach was Rod Dedeaux, who coached from 1942 from 1986 and led the school to 11 of its NCAA championships, including five straight from 1970 to 1974. The first Trojan national championship came in 1948. The 12th and most recent NCAA championship came in 1998.

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