St. Louis Cardinals 1922-32
Cincinnati Reds 1933-35
St. Louis Browns 1936-37
It's trivia time: Who holds the single game RBI record? Babe
Ruth? Nope. Willie Mays? Wrong. Hank Aaron? Nice try. Lou Gehrig? Wrong again. Give up? It's former Cardinals first baseman,
Jim Bottomley. On September 16, 1924 the easy going slugger drove in 12 runs against the Brooklyn Dodgers. (Another Cardinal,
Mark Whitten, equaled the mark in 1993.) Never heard of Jim Bottomley? Well, you might be surprised to find out that he is
a MVP winner and a Hall of Famer.
Jim Bottomley, a product of Branch Rickey's revolutionary farm system, broke into
the big leagues in 1922, hitting .325 in 151 at bats. In 1923 he became the Cards' regular first baseman and never looked
back hitting .371 (second in the NL) with 94 RBI and 14 triples.
Known as "Sunny Jim" because of his happy-go-lucky
demeanor, Bottomley quickly established himself as one of the games best hitters, posting averages of .316 and .367 in 1924
and '25 respectively. In 1926 Bottomley's Cardinals faced the New York Yankees in the World Series. Behind the pitching of
the Dean brothers (Dizzy and Daffy) the Cards defeated the mighty Yankees in 7 games for their first world title. Bottomley
hit .345 in his first Fall Classic.
After another strong season in 1927 (.303, 19 HR, 124 RBI), Bottomley was at his
best in 1928. The slick fielding first baseman hit .325, led the NL in triples with 20, RBI with 136, and tied Hack Wilson
with 31 home runs. His stellar season was rewarded with a MVP. The Cardinals won the pennant, but were swept by the revenge-minded
Yankees in the World Series.
The steady Bottomley remained an offensive force, hitting .314 and .304 the next two
seasons. In 1931, he finished third in one of the tightest batting races in history: Chick Hafey, .3489; Bill Terry, .3486;
Bottomley, .3482. The Cardinals captured the NL pennant in 1930 and '31, and faced the Philadelphia Athletics in the World
Series each time. The Athletics triumphed in 6 games in 1930, and the Cards won the rematch in 7 games in 1931.
1932, injuries limited the 32 year old Bottomley to 91 games and his average dipped below .300 (.296) for the first time in
six years. With his best days behind him, Bottomley was dealt to Cincinnati in a three player deal following the 1933 season.
Bottomley spent the next three seasons as Red, and his production continued to dip (.250, .284, .258). The Reds dealt the
veteran to the lowly St. Louis Browns prior to the 1936 season.
The change in scenery seemed to rejuvenate Bottomley,
as he posted solid numbers in 1936 - .298 and 95 RBI. It didn't last long, however, as the 37 year old was relegated to a
pinch hitting role. When the last place Browns fired manager Rogers Hornsby during the 1937 season, Bottomley was named as
his replacement. Unable to get the Browns out of the cellar, Bottomley was let go after the season and retired.
his playing days, Bottomley did some managing in the minor leagues before retiring to his Missouri cattle ranch. Althlough
he was set up well financially, Bottomley couldn't get baseball out of his blood, however, before his death in 1959 he served
briefly as a scout for the Cubs.
Jim Bottomley finished his career with a .310 average, 2,313 hits, 219 home runs,
and a .500 slugging percentage. He was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans' Committee posthumously in 1974.
Zingler, December 2002
Bottomley @ Baseball-Reference.com
Simply Baseball Notebook
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