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George Sisler
First Baseman | St. Louis Browns/Baltimore Orioles


George Harold Sisler: "Gorgeous George"

 

     Through the first third of the century, Sisler was almost unanimously considered the finest first baseman of all time - in fact, in the late 1930s, Babe Ruth put Sisler at first on his all time team rather than teammate Lou Gehrig, or sluggers Jimmie Foxx and Hank Greenberg.  His sharp batting eye and extraordinary fielding ability at first base led Ty Cobb himself to call George Sisler "the nearest thing to a perfect ballplayer."

 

     Sisler had promise as a pitcher, but it was unthinkable not to have his bat in the lineup every day and his glove at first base - a chronic Brown weak spot where seven players had been tried in the previous six years.  In the field Sisler was fast, adroit, and graceful, a combination that gave elegance to his execution of plays.  He led the AL seven times in assists and his career total of 1,528 heads the all-time list.

     In double plays he topped the league three times, starting 13 deft 3-6-3 double plays in 1920.

 

     Sisler was the greatest St. Louis Brown of them all and one of the half-dozen finest first basemen in baseball history.  Like Babe Ruth, he came to the majors as a lefthanded pitcher. Like Ruth, his hitting was too phenomenal to be restricted to a pitcher's schedule. He arrived in St. Louis in 1915, the same year as Rogers Hornsby, and for 11 seasons they were rivals in excellence.  His 1920 season remains one of the most prodigious ever posted - 399 total bases, a still-standing AL record of 257 base hits, and he went hitless in only 23 games.  He climaxed the season with averages of .442 and .448 in August and September.  He drove in 122 runs, his high mark, and stole 42 bases.

 

     The owner of an engineering degree, Sisler was one of baseball's most intelligent and graceful players.  He won two batting titles, topping .400 both times, and his 257 hits in 1920 remain a modern major league record.  He had a 41-game hitting streak in 1922, hit .300 or better 13 times and had a sizzling .340 lifetime batting average.

 

Picture from National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc.

 


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