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Yankee deaths.

In the book "New York Yankees--The Greatest of Them All," it states pitcher Urban Shocker had heart failure and in another it says he had chronic kidney disease, known as "dropsy" in the old days. Shocker died in 1928 at the age of 37.

Yankee manager Miller Huggins, as stated in writer Frank Graham's book, "The New York Yankees An Informal History," had blood poisoning from an infected toe in 1929. The book mentioned Huggins had a boil beneath his eye, which led to his death.

Do you have any further information on the death of these two men?

Urban Shocker, who had four 20-win seasons and won 187 career games, suffered from a heart condition or heart valve disease that did not allow him to sleep lying down. As Shocker's illness began to rob him of his physical skills, the Yankees released him in 1928 at age 37

After his release, Shocker appeared in an exhibition tournament in Denver, Colo., but pitched poorly. Following that outing, he contracted pneumonia and was hospitalized. He died on Sept. 9 due to a weakened heart exacerbated by the disease. Shocker was 38 at the time of his death.

Miller Huggins was a small man (5-foot-6,140 lbs.) who suffered from constant insomnia, worrying and headaches during his time as Yankees manager 0918-1929). In September 1929, Huggins suffered from these symptoms and was battling a persistent cold, causing him to look older than his 51 years. He also developed a boil under his left eye while his illnesses continued, which forced him to miss three games in early September. Near the end of the month, the boil under Huggins' eye worsened, swelling his eye shut after he tried to lance it. When he also developed a fever, Huggins was hospitalized on Sept. 20. Doctors found he was suffering from the effects of influenza and erysipelas, a skin disease that is a bacterial infection in the upper layer of the skin.

With Huggins' temperature rising and no antibiotics available at that time, the infection spread. Despite numerous blood transfusions, Huggins fell in and out of consciousness before he died on Sept. 25.


As you know, the sacrifice fly rule had some changes through the years. When Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941, the sacrifice fly rule was not in effect. If it were, would Williams' batting average have been higher?

What was the rule from 1940 through 1953--did hitters get an at-bat and an RBI when a runner scored from third on a long fly with less than two out? How did the rule work?

Norm Becker

New York, NY

Ted Williams is the only player to hit .400 in a season and not have the sacrifice fly rule in effect to his advantage.

The rule was dropped in 1940 and reinstated for the 1954 season. During the years 1940 through 1953, a batter was charged with an at-bat if he hit a flyball that was caught and a runner tagged up and scored, and he did not receive credit for an RBI.

If the sacrifice fly rule were in effect in 1941, when Ted Williams finished with a .406 batting average, he would have ended the campaign with a .412 average. He would have been credited with six sacrifice flies, according to baseball statistician Pete Palmer in John Holway's book, "Ted Williams, The Last .400 Hitter."

The sacrifice fly rule in 1930 also deducted an at-bat when a batter hit a flyball that advanced a runner from second to third, as well as from third to home.

According to Palmer, the average player collected about seven sacrifice flies per year from 1908-1925. The average from 1926-1930 was about 12. If these numbers were added to all the at-bats of the other .400 hitters (except Nap Lafoie, for whom there are no estimates for his totals), Ty Cobb, Harry Hellmann and Bill Terry would have lost .400 seasons, and Rogers Hornsby would have lost two.


Joseph S. Gordon, M.D.

Drexel Hill, PA
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Title Annotation:FANS SPEAK OUT; New York Yankees' Urban Shocker and Miller Huggins and sacrifice fly rule
Author:Gordon, Joseph S.
Publication:Baseball Digest
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2014
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