Thursday, July 14, 2005

Hornsby Tale:

While in Cooperstown this week working on my latest research project, I stumbled across a very interesting Rogers Hornsby story, which I thought I would share.

The Rajah made his debut in September of 1915, at the ripe old age of 19, while tipping the scales at a whopping 135 lbs. He appeared in 18 games that September playing his natural SS position. While at the plate, he was swinging a Fred Clarke (a prodigious slugger from the turn of the centaury who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1945) model bat, which was notorious at the time for both its size and weight. At manager Miller Huggins suggestion, Rajah choked up “almost to the trade mark”, to help him get the club around on “the hard ones”, compensating for his slight build.

As the season wrapped up the Huggins took Hornsby aside, and expressed his concern about Hornsby slight build, informing him that he would have to “farm him out next year on account of your size.”

According to Rajah, he really though that Huggins was going to send him to an actual farm next season. No one ever accused Rajah of being the brightest build in the plant, but he certainly was determined to make his mark. Trying to beat the manager to the punch he spent the off-season at an aunt and uncles farm where he “just about ate them out of house and home”. He worked hard around the farm, and when he reported for camp the next year, he weighted in 35 pounds heavier, a solid 160 lbs.

You heard it hear first, the steroids of the day where fried chicken, biscuits and milk.

On a serious note, I did find independent confirmation that Horsnby was 35 pounds heavier in 1916, compared with 1915.