Once described by Frankie Frisch as "the best clutch hitter I ever saw," Bottomley was a graceful first baseman with a sunny disposition, and the key RBI man for the St. Louis Cardinals in the late 1920s. He was a product of the Cardinals farm system - in fact, he was the first MVP who could make that claim - arriving in 1922 to replace Jack Fournier and leaving in 1932 for the Cincinnati Reds to make room for another farmhand, Ripper Collins.
From 1924 to 1929, he averaged 126 RBI a season, and hit .321. He was a key member of the championship Cardinals who won the World Series in 1926 and 1931, and NL pennants in 1928 and 1930, though he departed before the 1934 "Gashouse Gang" emerged in 1934. He won the NL MVP Award in 1928.
A lefty cleanup man with a career slugging average of .500, Bottomley had a pleasant nature and smiling face, and the habit of wearing his cap tilted over his left eye. He batted his career-high .371 in his first full season (1923). He set a major league record with 12 RBI in a single game, when he went 6-for-6 on September 16, 1924, with two homers and a double against Brooklyn. He was the National League MVP in 1928, when he led the league in triples (20) and RBI (136).
After the 1932 season, the Cardinals traded the 32-year-old veteran to the Reds for pitcher Ownie Carroll and outfielder Estel Crabtree - a trade of washed-up players. Bottomley hit .250 that year - he had never before dipped below .296 - and after three mediocre seasons he was sent to the hapless St. Louis Browns, where he succeeded his old friend and teammate Rogers Hornsby as player-manager. He had one more good year left in him: he hit .298 and drove in 95 runs. After one more year of doing mostly pinch-hitting, he retired after the 1937 season.
With savings from his salary ($15,000 tops) and World Series winnings (another $22,000), he bought a Missouri cattle farm. Shortly before his death, he returned as a scout for the Cubs and manager in the Appalachian League.
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