Known as "the right-handed Babe Ruth" Jimmie Foxx still ranks among the
most feared hitters in baseball history. Known mostly for his power, Foxx also won a batting title and finished in the top
five in batting average six times. A three time MVP, Triple Crown winner, and a two time World Champion, Foxx's
resume ranks among the game's elite.
Born James Emory Foxx on October 22, 1907 in Sudlersville, MD, Foxx caught
the eye of Hall of Famer Frank "Home Run" Baker as high schooler. Baker, who was managing the Easton club of the Eastern
Shore League, took the young prodigy under his wing.
Thanks in part to a recommendation by Baker, Foxx signed a big league contract
with Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics in 1925 at the age of 17. He would make his major league debut on May 1 of that
year, just two weeks after fellow future Hall of Famers Mickey Cochrane and Lefty Grove debuted. Mack must have known that
this group of Athletics was destined for greatness.
Signed as a catcher, Mack brought Foxx along slowly. The youngster appeared
in just 97 games from 1925-27, during which time he made the transition to first base. In 1928, at age 21, Foxx finally received
regular playing time. He responded by hitting .328 with 13 homeruns and 79 RBI in 118 games.
1929 would be a breakout season for both Foxx and the Athletics. The young
slugger hit .354 with 33 home runs that season. The A's captured the AL pennant and won the World Series. In the
five game triumph over the Cubs, Foxx hit .350 with two homers.
Led by Foxx, Grove and Cochrane, Philadelphia took home the next two American
League flags. In 1930 they repeated as World Champions, defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in six games. Foxx again performed
well in the Fall Classic, hitting .333. The Cardinals however, gained a measure of revenge in the 1931 World Series, upending
the Athletics in seven games. Foxx hit .348 with a homerun in what would be his final Fall Classic. Although the Athletics
days as champions were over, Foxx was set to begin one of the most dominating stretches of individual brilliance in history.
In 1932 "The Beast" became the first to challenge Ruth's single season
mark of 60 homeruns, finishing with 58. Historians point out that several teams had made adaptations to their parks since
1927 (when Ruth hit 60) to make hitting homeruns more difficult. For example, the St. Louis Browns added a screen in right
field of Sportman's Park which Foxx reportedly hit five times that season.
Regardless, Foxx's 1932 season was impressive by any standard. He paced
the league in home runs, RBI (169), runs (151), slugging percentage (.749), and finished second in the batting race with a
.364 mark. Thanks to that showing, "Double X" won his first MVP award.
In 1933 Foxx proved that the previous season was no fluke. This time he
won the Triple Crown (.356, 48 HR, 163 RBI) and took home another MVP award. Foxx continued his stellar play for the next
two seasons, and it soon became apparent that the cash-strapped Athletics would not be able to afford his services much longer.
On December 10, 1935, Philadelphia shipped the 28-year-old, along with Johnny Marcum, to the Boston Red Sox for Gordon Rhodes,
George Savino, and $150,000 cash.
Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey, who acquired Lefty Grove the previous season,
got exactly what he paid for. After two typical Foxx seasons in 1936 and 1937, the slugger had another monumental campaign
in 1938. He just missed another Triple Crown that season, leading the league with a .349 average and 175 RBI, but finished
second in homeruns with 50 (Detroit's Hank Greenberg hit 58 that season). Following the season, Foxx received his third MVP
In 1939 Boston added a skinny youngster named Ted Williams to it's lineup,
and Foxx took him under his wing. Many years later Williams would credit Foxx for his rapid development. However, despite
a star studded roster, Boston was unable to wrestle the pennant away from the Yankees.
After hitting 36 homeruns in 1940, Foxx dipped to 19 the following season.
Early in the 1942 season he was replaced in the lineup by Tony Lupien and was released in June. The Chicago Cubs quickly picked
him up, but the magic was gone. Foxx finished out the season and retired.
Because of the war-depleted rosters, Foxx was briefly coaxed out of retirement
by the Cubs in 1944. In 1945 he signed with the Phillies and appeared in 89 games, including nine as pitcher. In 22 2/3 innings
on the mound, including two starts, Foxx posted a 1-0 record and 1.59 ERA. Following the season, he retired for good.
Foxx finished with a .325 career average, 534 homeruns (2nd all time at
the time of his retirement), 1,922 RBI, and 2,646 hits. In three World Series (18 games), he hit .344 with 4 homeruns and
11 RBI. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1951.
With his playing days over, Foxx began to drink heavily. He tried several
business ventures, but all failed. He also had a stint as manager of the Minneapolis Millers of the American Association and
in the Red Sox radio booth. On July 21, 1967, while dining with his brother in Miami, FL, Jimmie Foxx choked to death on piece
of meat. He was 59 years old.
-David Zingler, May 2004