Collins also played for the Philadelphia Athletics. Though his Hall of Fame picture and plaque do not identify a team, I have assigned him to the White Sox, where he had most of his success.
Eddie Collins was a splendid second basemen, leading the American League in fielding percentage 9 times between 1909 and 1924. His longevity at a demanding position was remarkable - his 25 seasons in the major leagues is a 20th century record for position players.
Signed in 1906 at the age of 19 by the legendary Connie Mack, he used a choke-grip batting style to spray the ball to all fields. This technique resulted in 10 seasons in which he batted over .340 and membership in the exclusive 3,000-hit club. He had a terrific, discerning batting eye, so that his career on-base average of .424 exceeds all of his contemporaries except Ty Cobb (.433). An aggressive, confident and cocky second baseman, he was also an outstanding baserunner, bagging 744 steals over his career.
Along with third baseman Frank "Home Run" Baker, shortstop Jack Barry and first baseman Stuffy McInnis, he was a part of the Mack's "Million Dollar Infield," which sparked the Athletics to 4 pennants and 3 world championships between 1910 and 1914. He was a superb clutch performer and saved his best moments for the post-season.
At the tender age of 23, he led his team with a .429 batting average in the 1910 Series, and he and Home Run Baker led the team to a 4-1 victory over the Cubs. In 1911, he hit .286 and performed well in the field, but was overshadowed by Baker's heroic game-winning home runs and .375 average. In 1913 the Athletics returned to the Series, beating the Giants in 5, with Baker and Collins leading the way again (Baker hit .450, Collins .421). The A's had one more appearance in the Baker-Collins years, in 1914, but were swept by the lightly regarded Boston Braves - Bill James and Dick Rudolph pitched 29 innings combined and allowed just one earned run to shut down the mighty A's.
Collins returned to the Series in 1917 and 1919, with the White Sox - in 1917 the Sox won in 6, with Collins hitting .409. Collins struggled in the scandal-soaked 1919 Series, batting just .226, though he was never accused of taking money - in fact, he was one of three members of that team who were absolved and who later went into the Hall of Fame (the others were catcher Ray Schalk and pitcher Red Faber).
Collins, like many ballplayers, was superstitious. He had a particular habit that was quite unique - he kept a wad of chewing gum on the button of hi cap. When a pitcher had two strikes on him, he would step out of the batter's box, take the gum from his cap and pop it in his mouth. This was the only time he would chew gum. He would then resume batting, and whether he got a hit or was put out he would then put the gum back on his hat, where it would stay until the next time he had two strikes on him.
"If he'd (Ted Williams) just tip his cap once he could be elected Mayor of Boston in five minutes."
Picture from National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc.
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