Bobby Veach

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Bobby Veach
Bobby Veach 1925 ORIGINAL.jpg
Veach in 1925
Left fielder
Born:(1888-06-29)June 29, 1888
St. Charles, Kentucky
Died: August 7, 1945(1945-08-07) (aged 57)
Detroit, Michigan
Batted: LeftThrew: Right
MLB debut
August 6, 1912, for the Detroit Tigers
Last MLB appearance
October 2, 1925, for the Washington Senators
MLB statistics
Batting average .310
Hits 2,063
Home runs 64
Runs batted in 1,166
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Robert Hayes "Bobby" Veach (June 29, 1888 – August 7, 1945) was an American baseball player from 1910 to 1930 including 14 seasons in the major leagues. He was the starting left fielder for the Detroit Tigers from 1912 to 1923 and also played for the Boston Red Sox (1924–1925), New York Yankees (1925) and Washington Senators (1925).

Baseball Sport

Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting and fielding. The game proceeds when a player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball which a player on the batting team tries to hit with a bat. The objectives of the offensive team are to hit the ball into the field of play, and to run the bases—having its runners advance counter-clockwise around four bases to score what are called "runs". The objective of the defensive team is to prevent batters from becoming runners, and to prevent runners' advance around the bases. A run is scored when a runner legally advances around the bases in order and touches home plate. The team that scores the most runs by the end of the game is the winner.

Left fielder outfielder who plays defense in left field

In baseball, a left fielder (LF) is an outfielder who plays defense in left field. Left field is the area of the outfield to the left of a person standing at home plate and facing towards the pitcher's mound. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the left fielder is assigned the number 7.

Detroit Tigers Baseball team and Major League Baseball franchise in Detroit, Michigan, United States of America

The Detroit Tigers are an American professional baseball team based in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member of the American League (AL) Central division. One of the AL's eight charter franchises, the club was founded in Detroit as a member of the minor league Western League in 1894 and is the only Western League team still in its original city. They are the oldest continuous one name, one city franchise in the AL. The Tigers have won four World Series championships, 11 AL pennants, and four AL Central division championships. The Tigers also won division titles in 1972, 1984, and 1987 as a member of the AL East. The team currently plays its home games at Comerica Park in Downtown Detroit.

Contents

Veach hit for both power and average. He compiled a .310 career batting average and finished second to Ty Cobb for the 1919 American League batting title with a .355 average. He also led the American League in runs batted in (RBIs) three times (1915, 1917, and 1918) and was among the league leaders 10 times. Nobody in baseball had as many RBIs or extra base hits as Veach from 1915 to 1922.

Batting average (baseball)

In baseball, the batting average (BA) is defined by the number of hits divided by at bats. It is usually reported to three decimal places and read without the decimal: A player with a batting average of .300 is "batting three-hundred." If necessary to break ties, batting averages could be taken beyond the .001 measurement. In this context, a .001 is considered a "point," such that a .235 batter is 5 points higher than a .230 batter.

Ty Cobb American baseball player

Tyrus Raymond Cobb, nicknamed The Georgia Peach, was an American Major League Baseball (MLB) outfielder. He was born in rural Narrows, Georgia. Cobb spent 22 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, the last six as the team's player-manager, and finished his career with the Philadelphia Athletics. In 1936 Cobb received the most votes of any player on the inaugural Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, receiving 222 out of a possible 226 votes (98.2%); no other player received a higher percentage of votes until Tom Seaver in 1992. In 1999, editors at the Sporting News ranked Ty Cobb third on their list of "Baseball's 100 Greatest Players".

American League Baseball league, part of Major League Baseball

The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League (AL), is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States and Canada. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, which eventually aspired to major league status. It is sometimes called the Junior Circuit because it claimed Major League status for the 1901 season, 25 years after the formation of the National League.

Veach was also among the best defensive outfielders of his era, regularly ranking among the league leaders in putouts, range factor, and fielding percentage. Despite being one of the most productive hitters in baseball during his years in Detroit, Veach played in the shadows of three Detroit outfielders who won 16 batting titles and were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame: Cobb in center field and Sam Crawford followed by Harry Heilmann in right field. Detroit's 1915 outfield consisting of Veach, Cobb, and Crawford has been ranked by baseball historian and statistician Bill James as the greatest outfield in history.

Putout baseball term

In baseball statistics, a putout is given to a defensive player who records an out by one of the following methods:

Range Factor is a baseball statistic developed by Bill James. It is calculated by dividing putouts and assists by the number of innings or games played at a given defense position. The statistic is premised on the notion that the total number of outs in which a player participates is more relevant in evaluating that player's defensive play than the percentage of cleanly handled chances as calculated by the conventional statistic fielding percentage.

In baseball statistics, fielding percentage, also known as fielding average, is a measure that reflects the percentage of times a defensive player properly handles a batted or thrown ball. It is calculated by the sum of putouts and assists, divided by the number of total chances.

Early years

Veach was born in Island, Kentucky, in 1888. His family moved to Madisonville, Kentucky, when he was 12 years old. His father was a coal miner, and Veach also began working in the coal mine as a boy. In 1915, Veach recalled: "I started in as a miner when I was fourteen years old and worked at it in the winters until a couple years ago, long after I was earning money as a player." [1] At age 17, Veach moved to Herrin, Illinois, where he began playing semi-pro baseball. [1]

Island, Kentucky City in Kentucky, United States

Island is a home rule-class city in McLean County, Kentucky, in the United States. The population was 435 at the 2000 census. It is included in the Owensboro metropolitan area.

Madisonville, Kentucky City in Kentucky, United States

Madisonville is a home rule-class city in and the county seat of Hopkins County, Kentucky, United States, located along Interstate 69 in the state's Western Coal Fields region. The population was 19,591 at the 2010 census. Madisonville is a commercial center of the region and is home to Madisonville Community College.

Herrin, Illinois Place in Illinois, United States

Herrin is a city in Williamson County, Illinois, United States. The population was 12,501 at the 2010 census.

Professional baseball career

Minor leagues

Kankakee

Veach began his professional baseball career in 1910 as a pitcher with the Peoria Distillers of the Illinois–Indiana–Iowa League. At the start of the season, he was sent to the Kankakee Kays of the Northern Association. [1] He compiled a 10-5 record at Kankakee and was recalled to Peoria. [1]

Peoria Distillers minor league baseball team in Peoria, Illinois

The Peoria Distillers were a minor league baseball team that existed on-and-off from 1894 to 1917. They played in the Western Association from 1894 to 1896; the Central League in 1900, 1904 and 1917; the Western League from 1902 to 1903; and the Three-I League from 1905 to 1917.

The Illinois–Indiana–Iowa League was a minor league baseball organization that operated for the better part of 60 years, mostly in those three states. The league began play in 1901 and disbanded after the 1961 season. It was popularly known as the Three–I League and also sometimes jokingly as the Three-Eye League.

Kankakee, Illinois City in the United States

Kankakee is a city in and the county seat of Kankakee County, Illinois, United States. The city's name is probably derived from the Miami-Illinois word teeyaahkiki, meaning: "Open country/exposed land/land in open/land exposed to view", in reference to the area's prior status as a marsh. As of 2017, the city's population was 26,216. Kankakee is a principal city of the Kankakee-Bourbonnais-Bradley Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Peoria

In 1911, Veach was converted from a pitcher into an outfielder. [1] He appeared in 132 games for Peoria, compiling a .297 batting average with 40 extra base hits. [2]

Indianapolis

Veach began the 1912 season with Peoria, batting .325 with 24 extra base hits in the first 56 games of the season. [2] In July 1912, he was promoted to the Indianapolis Indians of the American Association. He remained in Indianapolis for only two months and two days before being purchased by the Detroit Tigers. [1]

Detroit

1912 to 1914 seasons

In early September, Veach was purchased by Detroit from Indianapolis. [1] He was promptly inserted into the Tigers' lineup, replacing Davy Jones as the left fielder in an outfield that included future Baseball Hall of Famers Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford. Veach made his major league debut on September 6, 1912, at age 24. He appeared in 23 games for Detroit in 1912, compiling a .342 batting average in 79 at bats. [3] Veach remained the Tigers' starting left fielder for 12 years. [3]

In 1913, as Veach adjusted to playing in the major leagues, his batting average declined to .269, but he continued to show power and speed with 22 doubles, 10 triples and 22 stolen bases. He also showed patience at the plate, drawing 53 bases on balls to boost his on-base percentage to .346. [2]

Veach improved steadily in 1914, raising his batting average to .275. [3] He also had 14 triples, which was the fifth best total in the American League that season, trailing teammate Sam Crawford's total of 26 triples, which remains the American League record. His 74 RBIs in 1914 also ranked ninth in the league. [4] Veach also continued to show patience at the plate, drawing 50 bases on balls and ranking fifth in the league with an at bat to strikeout ratio of 18.1. [4] He also showed great range in the outfield, ranking fourth among the league's outfielders with 282 putouts. [3]

1915 season

In 1915, Veach has a breakout season, becoming one of the most dominant batters in the American League. His batting average increased by 38 points to .313, and he led the American League with 40 doubles (nine more than any other player) and 112 RBIs (tied with teammate Sam Crawford). He was also among the league leaders with 53 extra base hits (2nd), 178 hits (3rd), 247 total bases (3rd), .313 batting average (6th), .390 on-base percentage (6th), .434 slugging percentage (7th), and 68 bases on balls (10th). [5]

Veach also performed well defensively. His 297 putouts ranked fifth among the league's outfielders, and his .975 fielding percentage also ranked fifth. [3]

Veach with the Detroit Tigers in 1917. Bobby Veach (crop).JPG
Veach with the Detroit Tigers in 1917.

The Tigers' 1915 outfield, with Veach in left, Cobb in center, and Crawford in right has been ranked by baseball historian Bill James as the greatest outfield of all time. [6] During the 1915 season, Baseball Magazine published a five-page feature story on Veach, concluding that "with his advent the Detroit outfield is one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, ever assembled on a diamond." [1] Though the league average batting average in 1915 was .248, Cobb hit .369 with 99 RBIs, Crawford hit .299 and drove in 112 runs, and Veach hit .313 with 112 RBIs. The three Detroit outfielders ranked #1, #2, and #3 in total bases and RBIs. [5] The 1915 Tigers won 100 games, but finished in second place, one game behind the Boston Red Sox. [7]

1916 to 1923

Veach continued his solid hitting from 1915 to 1923, batting over .306 in eight of those nine years. Veach finished among the American League leaders in hits (8 times), batting average (6 times), doubles (8 times), triples (8 times), RBIs (10 times), extra base hits (7 times), and total bases (8 times).

On June 9, 1916, Veach scored a run to end Babe Ruth's scoreless innings streak at 25. Ruth then evened the score with one of the longest home runs ever at Navin Field, deep into the right field bleachers.

Veach had his best year as a batter in 1919 when he led the American League in hits (191), doubles (41), and triples (17). Only Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb topped him in other offensive categories. His .355 batting average was second to Cobb, and his 65 extra base hits, 101 RBIs and 279 total bases were second behind Ruth.

On September 17, 1920, he became the first Detroit Tiger to hit for the cycle with six hits in a 12-inning game.

In 1921, Veach was the subject of a motivational tactic by new player-manager Cobb. Cobb believed that Veach, who came to bat with a smile and engaged in friendly conversation with umpires and opposing pitchers, was too easygoing. Tigers historian Fred Lieb described Veach as a "happy-go-lucky guy, not too brilliant above the ears", who "was as friendly as a Newfoundland pup with opponents as well as teammates". (Fred Lieb, "The Detroit Tigers") Hoping to light a fire in Veach, Cobb persuaded Harry Heilmann, who followed Veach in the batting order, to taunt Veach from the on-deck circle. "I want you to make him mad. Real mad. . . . [W]hile you're waiting, call him a yellow belly, a quitter and a dog. … Take that smile off his face". The tactic may have worked, as Veach had career-highs in RBIs (126) and home runs (16), and his batting average jumped from .308 to .338. Cobb had promised to tell Veach about the scheme when the season was over, but never did. When Heilmann tried to explain, Veach reportedly snarled, "Don't come sucking around me with that phony line". Veach never forgave Heilmann. (Al Stump, Cobb: The Life and Times of the Meanest Man Who Ever Played Baseball (1994), pp. 327–328.)

In the eight years from 1915 to 1922, Veach had 852 RBIs and 450 extra base hits, more than any other player. The top five in RBI during these eight years:

  1. Bobby Veach – 852
  2. Ty Cobb – 723
  3. Babe Ruth – 635
  4. George Sisler – 612
  5. Tris Speaker – 585

The top five in extra base hits:

  1. Bobby Veach – 450
  2. Ruth – 445
  3. Speaker – 444
  4. Cobb – 418
  5. Sisler – 402

Career statistics:

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG TB SH HBP FLD%
18216656953 (a)2063393147641166 (b)19584571367.310.370.442294227159.964
  • Note:(a) Baseball Reference and Retrosheet list his runs at 957. Baseball Almanac, The Baseball Cube and Fangraphs list his runs at 953. MLB.com list his runs at 952.
  • (b) Baseball Reference and Retrosheet list his RBI total at 1174. Baseball Almanac, The Baseball Cube, Fangraphs, and MLB.com list his RBI total at 1166.

Veach as a left fielder

In addition to his batting skills, Veach's speed and strong arm made him a fine left fielder. He led the American League in games played in left field seven times (1914–1915, 1917–1918, and 1920–1922). He led the American League in putouts by an outfielder in 1921 with 384. He also led the league in assists with 26 in 1920.

Veach's 206 career assists and 2.28 range factor are among the top 10 in Major League history for left fielders. Though left fielders generally receive fewer fielding chances than other outfielders, Veach regularly covered more ground and accepted more chances than the league average for all outfielders. His 1921 range factor of 2.72 is one of the highest season totals for a left fielder in Major League history. His 384 putouts in 1921 and 26 assists in 1920 are also among the highest by a left fielder since 1900.

Veach's range as an outfielder is also shown by a comparison with Ty Cobb, the center fielder he played beside for most of his career. In 1914, Veach had 282 putouts and 22 assists, compared to 177 and 8 for Cobb. [8] Though center fielders typically receive more chances, and Cobb had a reputation as a fine center fielder, Veach bested Cobb in chances in seven of the nine years they played side by side in the Detroit outfield: 1914 (304–185), 1916 (356–343), 1918 (291–237), 1919 (352–291), 1920 (383–254), 1921 (405–328), and 1922 (391–344).

Boston and New York

In 1923, Veach continued to hit for average at .321, but his RBI production dropped to 39. In January 1924, the Tigers sold Veach to the Boston Red Sox. That year, Veach regained his power, hitting 99 RBIs and 49 extra base hits.

In May 1925, the Red Sox traded Veach to the New York Yankees. Veach played 56 games for the Yankees, batting .353 with a .474 slugging percentage. On August 9, 1925, in his final season, Veach became the only player to pinch hit for Babe Ruth in the years after Babe switched from a pitcher to an outfielder. The Chicago Tribune reported the next day: "The fans were treated to the unusual spectacle of His Royal Highness being yanked for a pinch hitter." [9]

Washington

The Yankees released Veach less than two weeks later, and Veach was picked up by the Washington Senators. This proved to be good luck for Veach, as the Senators won the 1925 pennant. On September 19, 1925, Veach broke up Ted Lyons's bid for a no-hitter with a two-out ninth-inning single. The young Goose Goslin got the start for the Senators at left field, but Veach got one at bat in the World Series pinch-hitting for Muddy Ruel in Game 2. Fittingly, Veach collected an RBI on a sacrifice fly in his final Major League at bat. [10]

Toledo

After ending his Major League career in 1925, Veach played four seasons with the Toledo Mud Hens of the American Association from 1926 to 1929. In 1927, a 39-year-old Veach led the Mud Hens (with manager Casey Stengel) to their first American Association crown with a 101–67 record. Veach had a .363 batting average and drove in a league-leading 145 RBIs. The next year, at age 40, Veach hit .382 to capture the 1928 American Association batting crown. [11]

Later years

In December 1943, Veach underwent an abdominal operation at Grace Hospital in Detroit. Veach died in 1945 at his home in Detroit after a long illness at the age of 57. Veach was survived by his wife and three sons. Veach was buried at White Chapel Memorial Park Cemetery in Troy, Michigan.

See also

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1915 Detroit Tigers season

The 1915 Detroit Tigers won a then club-record 100 games and narrowly lost the American League pennant to the Boston Red Sox, who won 101 games. Though four other Tigers teams have won 100 games, only the 1934 Tigers had a better winning percentage. The 1915 Detroit Tigers team is remembered for its all-star outfield of Ty Cobb, Sam Crawford, and Bobby Veach—who finished #1, #2, and #3 in the American League in both runs batted in and total bases. Baseball historian Bill James ranks the Tigers' 1915 outfield as the best in major league history.

The 1909 Detroit Tigers won the American League pennant with a record of 96–56, but lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1909 World Series, 4 games to 3. The season was their 9th since they were charter members of the American League in 1901. It was the third consecutive season in which they won the pennant but lost the World Series. Center fielder Ty Cobb won the Triple Crown and pitcher George Mullin led the league in wins (29) and win percentage (.784).

1921 Detroit Tigers season

The 1921 Detroit Tigers finished in sixth place in the American League, 27 games behind the Yankees, with a record of 71–82. Despite their sixth-place finish, the 1921 Tigers amassed 1,724 hits and a team batting average of .316—the highest team hit total and batting average in American League history. Detroit outfielders Harry Heilmann and Ty Cobb finished No. 1 and No. 2 in the American League batting race with batting averages of .394 and .389, and all three Detroit outfielders ranked among the league leaders in batting average and RBIs. As early proof of the baseball adage that "Good Pitching Beats Good Hitting", the downfall of the 1921 Tigers was the absence of good pitching. The team ERA was 4.40, they allowed nine or more runs 28 times, and only one pitcher had an ERA below 4.24.

1907 Detroit Tigers season

The 1907 Detroit Tigers won the American League pennant with a record of 92–58, but lost to the Chicago Cubs in the 1907 World Series, four games to none. The season was their 7th since they entered the American League in 1901.

The 1911 Detroit Tigers had a record of 89–65 and finished in second place in the American League, 13½ games behind the Philadelphia Athletics. They outscored their opponents 831–776, and drew 484,988 fans to Bennett Park.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 John Ward (1915). "Robert Veach and the $100,000 Outfield: The Sensational Rise of a Young Coal Miner and How He Became a Member of the Greatest Outfield of History" (PDF). The Baseball Magazine.
  2. 1 2 3 "Bobby Veach Minor League Statistics". baseball-reference.com.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "Bobby Veach". baseball-reference.com.
  4. 1 2 "1914 American League Batting Leaders". baseball-reference.com.
  5. 1 2 "1915 American League Batting Leaders". baseball-reference.com.
  6. Bill James (2001). The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. pp. 673–674.
  7. "1915 Detroit Tigers". baseball-reference.com.
  8. 1914 Detroit Tigers Statistics and Roster – Baseball-Reference.com at www.baseball-reference.com
  9. Condon, David (29 December 1961). "In the Wake of the News..." The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  10. "Pittsburgh Pirates 3, Washington Senators 2". Retrosheet . October 8, 1925.
  11. American Association Almanac Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine at www.americanassociationalmanac.com

Further reading

Achievements
Preceded by
George Burns
Hitting for the cycle
September 17, 1920
Succeeded by
Bob Meusel