Zack Wheat

Zachariah Davis "Zack" Wheat (May 23, 1888 – March 11, 1972), nicknamed "Buck",[1] was a Major League Baseball left fielder for Brooklyn in the National League. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1959.

A consistent hitter throughout his 19-year career, he still holds many Dodger franchise records. Most notably, Wheat has the most hits by any player while still a member of the team in the franchise's history, with 2,804.[2] His brother McKinley "Mack" Wheat also played in the major leagues, and the two were teammates in Brooklyn for five seasons.[3]

Zack Wheat
Zack Wheat by Conlon, 1912
Left fielder
Born: May 23, 1888
Hamilton, Missouri
Died: March 11, 1972 (aged 83)
Sedalia, Missouri
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 11, 1909, for the Brooklyn Superbas
Last MLB appearance
September 21, 1927, for the Philadelphia Athletics
MLB statistics
Batting average.317
Hits2,884
Home runs132
Runs batted in1,248
Teams
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
Induction1959
Election MethodVeteran's Committee

Career

Born in Hamilton, Missouri, he was the son of Basil and Julia Wheat. His father was of English descent, and his mother was a full-blooded Cherokee. Wheat began his professional baseball career in 1906 for Enterprise in the Kansas League, followed by Wichita in 1907, Shreveport Pirates of the Texas League in 1908, and to round out his minor league career, he played for the Mobile Sea Gulls of the Southern Association in 1909.[4] It was during that 1909 season that the Brooklyn Superbas of the National League purchased Wheat for $1200,[4] and he made his major league debut in September.[3] He batted with a corkscrew type of swing, and held his hands down near the end of the bat, unlike most hitters during his time, a time noted as the "Dead Ball Era". Even with his consistent high levels of hitting, he was also noted for his graceful and stylish defense.[5]

Wheat played his first full season in 1910. He played every game for the Superbas that season as the regular left fielder, leading the league in games played.[3] He batted .284 that season, the second-lowest average of his career, which led the team, and was among the league leaders in hits, doubles, and triples.[5] It was in 1911 that his reputation as a slugger began to take hold. Along with hitting .287, he finished eighth in the league with 13 triples, and slugged five home runs. In an era when players rarely hit double-digit home runs for a season, five was enough for people to take notice.[5]

Wheat continued his steady and consistent climb up the batting charts in 1912, hitting .305, and finished the season among the league leaders in home runs and slugging percentage.[1] Over the next four seasons, he continued to be among the leaders of many offensive categories including home runs, batting average, slugging average, hits, doubles, triples, and RBIs. It was during the 1912 season that Wheat married Daisy Kerr Forsman, and she became his default agent, encouraging him to hold out for a better contract each season. Players in his day generally signed one-year contracts before every season. Each time Wheat held out, he received more money, the club not wanting to lose one of its best hitters and the team's most popular player.[5] This tactic of threatening to hold out served him well during throughout his career, including during the World War I era, when he raised and sold mules to the United States Army as pack animals. He claimed that he did so well, that he didn't need to play during the summer. The team, fearing that they might lose a great player during the prime of his career, succumbed to his demands every year.[5]

Zack wheat
Zack Wheat baseball card, 1911 Gold Borders (T205)

In 1916, he topped off the string of seasons with a finish in the top ten in all the above categories, topping the league in total bases and slugging.[1] He also had a career-high hitting streak, which reached 29 games.[5] The Brooklyn Robins won the National League pennant that season. In the World Series, they faced the Boston Red Sox, which had the formidable pitching rotation of Ernie Shore, Dutch Leonard, Carl Mays, and Babe Ruth. The Red Sox won the series four games to one, holding the Robins to a .200 batting average, and Wheat to a paltry .211.[6]

During the 1917 and 1918 seasons, Wheat hit well, but missed many games due to injuries. He had tiny feet, size 5, and this is believed to be the cause of the many nagging ankle injuries that caused to miss many games in his career.[5] However, he led the league in batting average for the only time in his career with a .335 batting average, his highest average up to that point. For a player known as a slugger, and consistently in the top ten in most offensive categories including home runs, he hit none that season, and just one the season prior.[1]

Starting in 1919, Wheat returned to the league slugging leaders once again, as the baseball began to become livelier, proved by the offensive output by the likes of Ruth and Rogers Hornsby. The Robins made their second World Series appearance in 1920, this time facing off against the Cleveland Indians. The Robins lost this series as well, 5 games to 2, although Wheat's series average was .333.[7] Wheat's statistics climbed during this new live era of baseball, reaching double-digit home runs for the first time with 14 in 1921, and again three more times in the next four years. Wheat hit .320 or higher every season from 1920 through 1925, topping out with .375 in consecutive seasons. He failed to lead the league in hitting those two seasons, not getting enough at bats in 1923 to qualify, and Hornsby topped the league with .384,[8] and in 1924, his .375 was a distant second to Hornsby's .424.[9]

A subtle, but longstanding friction existed between Wheat and his manager, Wilbert Robinson. The friction reportedly stemmed from Robinson's belief that Wheat pursued the manager's job behind his back.[5] When owner Charles Ebbets died in 1925, new team president Ed McKeever reassigned Robinson into the front office and named Wheat as player-manager. Newspapers confirm that he managed the Dodgers for two weeks.[5] McKeever caught pneumonia at Ebbets' funeral, and died soon afterward, and Robinson quickly returned to the manager's position. As it turned out, Wheat never again managed in the majors, much to his disappointment. Moveover, Wheat's 1925 managerial stint never made it into the official records. In 1931, Steve McKeever, Ed's brother, hired Wheat as a coach, leading to widespread speculation that he was being groomed for the manager's spot, threatening Robinson's job for a second time in seven years, and he treated his former star as coldly as ever.[5]

Wheat was signed by the Philadelphia Athletics after his release from Brooklyn in 1927. After the season, he was released again; this time he signed and played for the minor league Minneapolis Millers of the American Association. He played very little that season due to a heel injury, and retired from playing following the season.[4] He still holds the Dodger franchise records for hits, doubles, triples and total bases.[10]

Post-career

After Wheat retired from baseball, he moved back to his 160-acre (0.65 km2) farm in Polo, Missouri, until the Great Depression forced him to sell it in 1932.[5] He moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he operated a bowling alley with Cotton Tierney.[5][11] He later became a police officer.[4] It was during his duties as an officer in 1936, that he was chasing a fleeing felon in his vehicle, when he crashed and nearly died. Wheat spent five months in hospital after the accident, and after he was discharged, he moved his family to Sunrise Beach, Missouri, a resort town on the Lake of the Ozarks, to recuperate. It was here that he opened a 46-acre (190,000 m2) hunting and fishing resort.[5]

Wheat was first voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1957, but could not be inducted because he had not been retired for the required 30 years. In 1959, the committee unanimously elected him.[5] In 1981, Lawrence Ritter and Donald Honig included him in their book The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time. In 2006, the stretch of Route 13 that runs through Caldwell County, Missouri was named the Zach Wheat Memorial Highway.[12] Due to his Cherokee ancestry, Wheat was featured in "Baseball's League of Nations: A Tribute to Native Americans in Baseball", a 2008 exhibit at the Iroquois Indian Museum in Howes Cave, N.Y.[13]

Wheat died of a heart attack on March 11, 1972.[4]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d "Zack Wheat's Stats". baseball-reference.com. Retrieved 2008-04-19.
  2. ^ "Los Angeles/Brooklyn Dodgers All Time Hits Leaders". dodgersnation.com. Retrieved 2017-08-02.
  3. ^ a b c "Zack Wheat's Stats". retrosheet.org. Retrieved 2008-04-19.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Zack Wheat's Obit". The New York Times, Sunday, March 12, 1972. Archived from the original on 2008-04-03. Retrieved 2008-04-19.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Zack Wheat at the SABR Bio Project, by Eric Enders, retrieved 2008-04-19
  6. ^ "The 1916 World Series Stats". baseball-reference.com. Retrieved 2008-04-19.
  7. ^ "The 1920 World Series Stats". baseball-reference.com. Retrieved 2008-04-19.
  8. ^ "1923 National League Stats". baseball-reference.com. Archived from the original on 2007-04-29. Retrieved 2008-04-19.
  9. ^ "1924 National League Stats". baseball-reference.com. Retrieved 2008-04-19.
  10. ^ "Zack Wheat's Hall of Fame profile". baseballhalloffame.org. Archived from the original on 2008-04-08. Retrieved 2008-04-19.
  11. ^ Grayson, Harry (July 5, 1943). "Black Lightning Zack Wheat Most Popular Player Brooklyn Ever Had". The Tuscaloosa News. p. 7. Retrieved June 28, 2012.
  12. ^ "Missouri Revised Statutes; Chapter 227, State Highway System, Section 227.309, August 28, 2007". moga.mo.gov. Retrieved 2008-03-26.
  13. ^ Mallozzi, Vincent M. (2008-06-08). "The American Indians of America's Pastime". The New York Times.

External links

1910 Brooklyn Superbas season

The 1910 Brooklyn Superbas hired Bill Dahlen as the new manager, but still finished in a dismal sixth place in the National League.

1912 Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers season

The 1912 Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers finished in seventh place with a 65–76 record.

1913 Brooklyn Dodgers season

The 1913 team saw the team named shortened to the Brooklyn Dodgers and the team moved into the new stadium at Ebbets Field. Jake Daubert won the Chalmers Award as the leagues Most Valuable Player but the team finished only in sixth place.

1914 Brooklyn Robins season

With Wilbert Robinson taking over as the new manager, the team name was changed to the Brooklyn Robins for the 1914 season. The Robins finished in 5th place, just missing finishing with a .500 record.

1915 Brooklyn Robins season

The 1915 Brooklyn Robins improved enough to finish in third place, just 10 games behind the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies.

1918 Brooklyn Robins season

The 1918 Brooklyn Robins finished the season in fifth place.

1920 Brooklyn Robins season

The 1920 Brooklyn Robins, also known as the Dodgers, won 16 of their final 18 games to pull away from a tight pennant race and earn a trip to their second World Series against the Cleveland Indians. They lost the series in seven games.

The team featured four Hall of Famers: manager Wilbert Robinson, pitchers Burleigh Grimes and Rube Marquard, and outfielder Zack Wheat. Grimes anchored a pitching staff that allowed the fewest runs in the majors.

1922 Brooklyn Robins season

The 1922 Brooklyn Robins struggled all season, finishing in sixth place.

1923 Brooklyn Robins season

A poor season found the 1923 Brooklyn Robins in sixth place once more.

1924 Brooklyn Robins season

The 1924 Brooklyn Robins put up a good fight with the rival New York Giants before falling just short of the pennant. Staff ace Dazzy Vance led the league in wins, ERA, strikeouts and complete games to be named the National League Most Valuable Player.

1925 Brooklyn Robins season

The 1925 season was one of tragedy for the Brooklyn Robins. Majority owner and team president Charles Ebbets fell ill after returning home from spring training and died on the morning of April 18. Ed McKeever took over as president, but he caught a cold at Ebbets' funeral and died within a week of pneumonia. Stephen McKeever became the principal owner and team manager Wilbert Robinson was additionally given the position of president. Through it all, the woeful Robins finished in sixth place.

1926 Brooklyn Robins season

The 1926 Brooklyn Robins season was the 18th and final season for long–time team star Zack Wheat.

1959 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1959 followed a system established after the 1956 election. The baseball writers were voting 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 Zack Wheat, who made 2884 hits from 1909 to 1927.

Hamilton, Missouri

Hamilton is a city in Caldwell County, Missouri, United States. The population was 1,809 at the 2010 census. It is known as the hometown of James Cash Penney, who built a large apparel-related business, J. C. Penney, and the hometown of Jenny Doan, who has built a large quilting-related business, Missouri Star Quilt Co. and Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame baseball player Zack Wheat.

Larry Cheney

Laurance Russell Cheney (May 2, 1886 – January 6, 1969) was a starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the Chicago Cubs (1911–15), Brooklyn Robins (1915–19), Boston Braves (1919) and Philadelphia Phillies (1919). Cheney batted and threw right-handed. He was born in Belleville, Kansas.

Cheney debuted with the Cubs on September 19, 1911. After two appearances as a reliever, he pitched a shutout against Brooklyn, but was hit by a line drive off the bat of Zack Wheat which Cheney deflected with his throwing hand, fracturing his thumb and nose. The following season he relied heavily on a knuckleball and spitter after his broken finger took some speed off his heavy fastball. Then he blossomed, tying with Rube Marquard for the National League lead in wins (26), leading with 28 complete games, as he finished second in winning percentage (.722).

In 1913 Cheney won 21 games (17 as a starter, four as a reliever) and led the league in saves (11) and games pitched (54). On September 14, he shut out the New York Giants while allowing 14 hits, setting a major league record for most hits given up while pitching a nine-inning shutout. He won 20 games in 1914, leading the league in starts (40) and games (50). From 1912 to 1914 he pitched 300 or more innings in each season, with a career-high 311 in 1914. Also in 1914, Cheney set a record for most wild pitches in a season opening with 4 against the Cincinnati Reds on April 14.

Traded to Brooklyn in August 1915 for Joe Schultz, after an 8–9 start, Cheney won 18 games in 1916, helping his new team reach the World Series. He pitched three innings of relief against the Boston Red Sox in Game Four of the Series, striking out five batters. Cheney then pitched for the Robins, Braves and Phillies in 1919, his last major league season, appearing in his final game on September 26.

Over nine seasons, Cheney posted a 116–100 record with 926 strikeouts and a 2.70 ERA in 1881-1/3 innings.

Cheney died in Daytona Beach, Florida at age of 82.

List of Los Angeles Dodgers seasons

The Los Angeles Dodgers are the second most successful franchise in the National League and the third-most successful and second-most wealthy in Major League Baseball after the New York Yankees. The franchise was formerly based in Brooklyn and known originally as the "Grays" or "Trolley Dodgers" after the trams which supporters had to avoid to enter games. Later it became known successively as the "Bridegrooms", "Superbas", "Dodgers" and "Robins"; the present "Dodgers" was firmly established in 1932.

The franchise has won the World Series six times and lost a further 13, and like the Yankees and Cardinals have never lost 100 games in a season since World War I, with their worst record since then being in 1992 with 63 wins and their best records ever being in 1953 with 105 wins and both 1942 and 2017 with 104. Their most successful period, between 1947 and 1966 with ten World Series appearances and only two seasons with 71 or more losses (one of them the year they moved to Los Angeles after a dispute over stadium funding), was famous for the Dodgers becoming the first Major League Baseball team to incorporate African American players, led by Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella.

List of Los Angeles Dodgers team records

This is a list of team records for the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team.

List of Major League Baseball career fielding errors as a left fielder leaders

In baseball statistics, an error is an act, in the judgment of the official scorer, of a fielder misplaying a ball in a manner that allows a batter or baserunner to advance one or more bases or allows an at bat to continue after the batter should have been put out.

In baseball, a left fielder (LF) is an outfielder who plays defense in left field. Left field is the area of the outfield to the left of a person standing at home plate and facing towards the pitcher's mound. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the left fielder is assigned the number 7.

Goose Goslin and Zack Wheat are the all-time leaders in errors committed by a left fielder with 183 career. Lou Brock (168), Bobby Veach (146), Duffy Lewis (123), Bob Johnson (121), Jack Graney (114), Rickey Henderson (113), Ken Williams (109), and Charlie Jamieson (104) are the only other left fielders to commit over 100 career errors.

Mack Wheat

McKinley Davis Wheat (June 9, 1893 – August 14, 1979), was a Major League Baseball catcher from 1915 to 1921.

From 1915 to 1919, he was a teammate of his brother, Zack Wheat, on the Brooklyn Robins. The Philadelphia Phillies bought Mack in 1920. He finished out his professional career in 1922 in the Pacific Coast League.

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