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 Spotlight: "Honus" Wagner

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ymichael



Posts : 178
Join date : 2009-11-27
Location : North Carolina

PostSubject: Spotlight: "Honus" Wagner   Wed Jan 27, 2010 11:15 pm

Johannes Peter "Honus" Wagner was said to be the greatest player of the early 1900's...but he spent much of his career in the shadow of Ty Cobb.

A coal miner from Pennsylvania, Honus Wagner was a star in the Iron and Oil League and in 1900 joined the Pittsburgh Pirates where he played short stop for 18 years. He hit better than .300 15 seasons in a row, stealing 722 bases, setting league records for at bats and number of games played that stood for four decades.

He had a powerful build. His five-foot, 11-inch, 200-pound frame featured a chest that might have come from a barrel maker's shop. His teammates said his shoulders were broad enough to serve dinner on. His legs were badly bowed. He had huge hands and arms so long that opposing players swore he could tie his shoes without bending over. Nothing seemed to get past him, and he threw so hard that peddles he scooped up while fielding grounders seemed to arrive at first base with the ball.

But it was antics of Ty Cobb both on and off the field that grabbed the headlines. Wagner and Cobb were opposites in every way. Cobb was mean, angry, and a dirty player. Controversy followed him. Wagner. however, played quietly and efficiently winning seven National League batting titles yet staying out of the limelight.

In 1909 the two greatest players of their day finally met when Cobb's Detroit Tigers and Wagner's Pirates squared off in the World Series. Initially, the two rivals were friendly to each other, but when game one started, the pleasantries ended.

Once when Cobb reached first base and got ready to steal second, he yelled to Wagner, "Watch out crout head! I'm coming down! I'lll cut you to pieces!."

"Come ahead," Wagner yelled back, and when Cobb did come, Wagner tagged him hard in the mouth, splitting his lip.

The series took the full seven games. When it was all over, Pittsburgh had won and Wagner had completely outplayed Ty Cobb. Wagner hit .333, Cobb just .231. Cobb stole two bases, Wagner stole six, including home.



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