Jim Bottomley

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Jim Bottomley
JimBottomleyGoudeycard.jpg
First baseman / Manager
Born:(1900-04-23)April 23, 1900
Oglesby, Illinois
Died: December 11, 1959(1959-12-11) (aged 59)
St. Louis, Missouri
Batted: LeftThrew: Left
MLB debut
August 18, 1922, for the St. Louis Cardinals
Last MLB appearance
September 16, 1937, for the St. Louis Browns
MLB statistics
Batting average .310
Hits 2,313
Home runs 219
Runs batted in 1,422
Teams
As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svgEmpty Star.svgEmpty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svgEmpty Star.svgEmpty Star.svg
Induction 1974
Election MethodVeterans Committee

James Leroy Bottomley (April 23, 1900 – December 11, 1959) was an American professional baseball player. A first baseman, Bottomley played in Major League Baseball from 1922 through 1937 for the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, and St. Louis Browns. He also served as player-manager for the Browns in 1937. Playing for the Cardinals against Brooklyn at Ebbets Field on September 16, 1924, Bottomley set the all-time single game RBI record with 12. [1]

Professional baseball is played in leagues throughout the world. In these leagues and associated farm teams, baseball players are selected for their talents and are paid to play for a specific team or club system.

First baseman defensive position in baseball and softball, played on the far right side of the infield at or near first base

First base, or 1B, is the first of four stations on a baseball diamond which must be touched in succession by a baserunner to score a run for that player's team. A first baseman is the player on the team playing defense who fields the area nearest first base, and is responsible for the majority of plays made at that base. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the first baseman is assigned the number 3.

Major League Baseball Professional baseball league

Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization, the oldest of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. A total of 30 teams play in the National League (NL) and American League (AL), with 15 teams in each league. The NL and AL were formed as separate legal entities in 1876 and 1901 respectively. After cooperating but remaining legally separate entities beginning in 1903, the leagues merged into a single organization led by the Commissioner of Baseball in 2000. The organization also oversees Minor League Baseball, which comprises 256 teams affiliated with the Major League clubs. With the World Baseball Softball Confederation, MLB manages the international World Baseball Classic tournament.

Contents

Born in Oglesby, Illinois, Bottomley grew up in Nokomis, Illinois. He dropped out of high school at the age of 16 to raise money for his family. While he was playing semi-professional baseball, the Cardinals scouted and signed Bottomley. He won the League Award, given to the most valuable player, in 1928, and was a part of World Series championship teams in 1926 and 1931. Bottomley played for the Cardinals through the 1932 season, after which he was traded to the Reds. After playing for Cincinnati for three years, he played two more seasons with the Browns.

Oglesby, Illinois City in Illinois, United States

Oglesby is a city in LaSalle County, Illinois, United States. The population was 3,791 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Ottawa–Streator Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Nokomis, Illinois City in Illinois, United States

Nokomis is a city in Montgomery County, Illinois, United States. The population was 2,389 at the 2000 census, and 2,256 as of 2010.

Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player Award baseball award given to the most important player in each of the Major Leagues

The Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) is an annual Major League Baseball (MLB) award given to one outstanding player in the American League and one in the National League. Since 1931, it has been awarded by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA). The winners receive the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Memorial Baseball Award, which became the official name of the award in 1944, in honor of the first MLB commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who served from 1920 until his death on November 25, 1944.

After finishing his playing career with the Browns, Bottomley joined the Chicago Cubs organization as a scout and minor league baseball manager. After suffering a heart attack, Bottomley and his wife retired to raise cattle in Missouri. Bottomley was nicknamed "Sunny Jim" because of his cheerful disposition. Bottomley was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974 by the Veterans Committee and to the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014.

Chicago Cubs Baseball team and Major League Baseball franchise in Chicago, Illinois, United States

The Chicago Cubs are an American professional baseball team based in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) Central division. The team plays its home games at Wrigley Field, located on the city's North Side. The Cubs are one of two major league teams in Chicago; the other, the Chicago White Sox, is a member of the American League (AL) Central division. The Cubs, first known as the White Stockings, were a founding member of the NL in 1876, becoming the Chicago Cubs in 1903.

In professional sports, scouts are experienced talent evaluators who travel extensively for the purposes of watching athletes play their chosen sports and determining whether their set of skills and talents represent what is needed by the scout's organization. Some scouts are interested primarily in the selection of prospects, younger players who may require further development by the acquiring team but who are judged to be worthy of that effort and expense for the potential future payoff that it could bring, while others concentrate on players who are already polished professionals whose rights may be available soon, either through free agency or trading, and who are seen as filling a team's specific need at a certain position. Advance scouts watch the teams that their teams are going to play in order to help determine strategy.

Myocardial infarction Interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart

Myocardial infarction (MI), commonly known as a heart attack, occurs when blood flow decreases or stops to a part of the heart, causing damage to the heart muscle. The most common symptom is chest pain or discomfort which may travel into the shoulder, arm, back, neck, or jaw. Often it occurs in the center or left side of the chest and lasts for more than a few minutes. The discomfort may occasionally feel like heartburn. Other symptoms may include shortness of breath, nausea, feeling faint, a cold sweat, or feeling tired. About 30% of people have atypical symptoms. Women more often present without chest pain and instead have neck pain, arm pain, or feel tired. Among those over 75 years old, about 5% have had an MI with little or no history of symptoms. An MI may cause heart failure, an irregular heartbeat, cardiogenic shock, or cardiac arrest.

Early life

Bottomley was born on April 23, 1900, to Elizabeth (née Carter) and John Bottomley in Oglesby, Illinois. His family later moved to Nokomis, Illinois, where Bottomley enrolled in grade school and Nokomis High School. [2] He dropped out when he was 16 years old in order to help support his family financially. Bottomley worked as a coal miner, truck driver, grocery clerk, and railroad clerk. His younger brother, Ralph, died in a mining accident in 1920. [3]

Nokomis High School is a coed public high school located in Nokomis, Illinois in Montgomery County serving Community Unit School District 22.

Truck driver person who earns a living as the driver of a truck

A truck driver is a person who earns a living as the driver of a truck.

Bottomley also played semi-professional baseball for several local teams to make additional money, earning $5 a game ($83 in current dollar terms). [3] [4] A police officer who knew Branch Rickey, the general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, saw Bottomley play, and recommended Bottomley to Rickey. [3]

Police officer warranted employee of a police force

A police officer, also known as an officer, policeman, policewoman, cop/copper, garda, police agent, or a police employee is a warranted law employee of a police force. In most countries, "police officer" is a generic term not specifying a particular rank. In some, the use of the rank "officer" is legally reserved for military personnel.

Branch Rickey American baseball player and coach

Wesley Branch Rickey was an American baseball player and sports executive. He was perhaps best known for breaking Major League Baseball's color barriers by signing black player Jackie Robinson, as well as for creating the framework for the modern minor league farm system, for encouraging the Major Leagues to add new teams through his involvement in the proposed Continental League, and for introducing the batting helmet. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967, two years after his death.

In Major League Baseball, the general manager (GM) of a team typically controls player transactions and bears the primary responsibility on behalf of the ballclub during contract discussions with players.

Professional career

St. Louis Cardinals

Rickey dispatched scout Charley Barrett to investigate Bottomley. The Cardinals decided to invite Bottomley to a tryout in late 1919, and signed him to a $150-a-month ($2,168 in current dollar terms) contract. [3] Bottomley began his professional career in minor league baseball in 1920. That year, Bottomley played for the Mitchell Kernels of the Class-D South Dakota League, posting a .312 batting average in 97 games, as Barrett continued to scout him. [5] He also played six games for the Sioux City Packers of the Class-A Western League. During his time in the minor leagues, the media began to call Bottomley "Sunny Jim", due to his pleasant disposition. [3]

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.

Sioux City Packers Minor League Baseball team

The Sioux City Packers was the primary name of the minor league baseball team based in Sioux City, Iowa playing in various seasons between 1888 and 1960.

The Western League was the name of several leagues in American minor league baseball. First, its earliest progenitor, which existed from 1885 to 1899, was the predecessor of the American League. Later, during the 20th century, there were four incarnations of the Western League, including a Class D loop that played from 1939–41 and an independent loop that began play in 1995. This article, however, concentrates on the two Class A leagues that played from 1900–37 and from 1947–58.

The next season, Bottomley played for the Houston Buffaloes of the Class-A Texas League. [3] Bottomley suffered a leg injury early in the season which became infected, and impeded his performance during the season. Bottomley managed only a .227 batting average in 130 games and struggled with his fielding. Unable to sell Bottomley to Houston for $1,200 after the season ($16,856 in current dollar terms), Rickey sold Bottomley to the Syracuse Chiefs of the Class-AA International League for $1,000 ($14,047 in current dollar terms). [6] Fully recovered from his leg injury in 1922, Bottomley batted .348 with 14 home runs, 15 triples, and a .567 slugging percentage for the Chiefs. After the season, the Cardinals purchased Bottomley from the Chiefs for $15,000 ($224,523 in current dollar terms). [3]

Bottomley made his Major League Baseball debut for the St. Louis Cardinals on August 18, 1922. Replacing Jack Fournier, Bottomley batted .325 in 37 games. The Cardinals named Bottomley their starting first baseman in 1923. As a rookie, Bottomley batted .371, finishing second in the National League (NL) behind teammate Rogers Hornsby, who batted .384. His .425 on-base percentage also finished second in the NL behind Hornsby, while he finished sixth in slugging percentage, with a .535 mark. His 94 runs batted in (RBIs) were tenth-best in the league. [7]

Bottomley posted a .316 batting average in 1924. [3] In a game against the Brooklyn Dodgers on September 16, 1924, Bottomley set the major league record for RBIs in a single game, with 12, breaking Wilbert Robinson's record of 11, set in 1892. Robinson was serving as the manager of the Dodgers at the time. [3] [8] This mark has since been tied by Mark Whiten in 1993. [9] Finishing the season with 111 RBIs, placing third in the NL, Bottomley's 14 home runs were seventh-best in the NL, while his .500 slugging percentage was good for tenth. [10] On the 29th of August, Bottomley became the last left-handed player to record an assist while playing second base. [11]

Bottomley hit .367 in 1925, finishing second in the NL to Hornsby. He led the NL with 227 hits, while his 128 RBIs were third-best, and his .413 on-base percentage was seventh-best in the league. [12] Bottomley batted .298 during the 1926 season, with an NL-leading 120 RBIs. His 19 home runs placed second in the NL, behind Hack Wilson's 21, while his .506 slugging percentage was sixth-best. [13] He batted .345 in the 1926 World Series, as the Cardinals defeated the New York Yankees. [3]

In 1927, Bottomley finished the season with 124 RBIs, fourth best in the league, and a .509 slugging percentage, finishing sixth in the NL. [14] Bottomley hit .325 with 31 home runs and 136 RBIs in 1928, leading the league in home runs and RBIs. [15] He also became the second Major League player in history to join the 20–20–20 club. That year, he won the League Award, given to the most valuable player of the NL. [16] The Cardinals reached the 1928 World Series, and Bottomley batted .214 as they lost to the New York Yankees. [17]

In 1929, Bottomley hit 29 home runs, finishing seventh in the NL, while his 137 RBIs were fifth-best, and his .568 slugging percentage placed him in eighth. [18] After having what manager Gabby Street considered a "poor year" in 1930, [19] Bottomley struggled in the 1930 World Series, batting .045 in 22 at-bats, as the Cardinals lost to the Philadelphia Athletics. Following the series, Bottomley described his World Series performance as "a bust as far as hitting goes". [20] [21] [22]

Amid questions about Bottomley's status with the Cardinals heading into the 1931 season, he demonstrated renewed hitting ability during spring training. [23] Despite the presence of Ripper Collins, a superior fielder who transferred to the Cardinals from the Rochester Red Wings of the International League, Street announced that Bottomley would remain the starting first baseman. [24] However, Bottomley suffered an injury and struggled early in the 1931 season after returning to the game, and it appeared that he might lose his job to Collins, who filled in for Bottomley during his injury. [25] Bottomley returned to form after his return, and he finished the season with a .3482 batting average, placing third behind teammate Chick Hafey's .3489 and Bill Terry's .3486, the closest batting average finish in MLB history. [3] His .534 slugging percentage was the sixth best in the league. [26] The Cardinals reached the 1931 World Series, with Bottomley batting .160, as the Cardinals defeated the Athletics. [27] That offseason, other teams began to attempt to trade for either Bottomley or Collins. [28] Bottomley batted .296 in 1932, though he only played in 91 games. [3]

Cincinnati Reds

After the 1932 season, the Cardinals traded Bottomley to the Cincinnati Reds for Ownie Carroll and Estel Crabtree, in an attempt to partner Bottomley with Chick Hafey in developing a more potent offensive attack. Bottomley had also sought Cincinnati's managerial position that offseason, which instead went to Donie Bush. [29] [30]

Bottomley threatened to quit baseball in a salary dispute with the Reds, as he attempted to negotiate a raise from his $8,000 salary ($154,838 in current dollar terms), a reduction from the $13,000 salary ($238,724 in current dollar terms) he earned with the Cardinals the previous year. [31] He and the Reds eventually came to terms on a one-year contract believed to be worth between $10,000 and $13,000. [32] Bottomley finished eighth in the NL with 83 RBIs in 1933, and ninth with 13 home runs. [33] In three seasons with the Reds, Bottomley failed to hit higher than .283 or record more than 83 RBIs in a season. Bottomley left the Reds during spring training in 1935 due to a salary dispute, [34] deciding to return to the team in April. [35]

St. Louis Browns

Before the 1936 season, the Reds traded Bottomley to the St. Louis Browns of the American League (AL), who were managed by Hornsby, for Johnny Burnett. [36] During a July road trip, Bottomley announced his retirement as a result of an injured back; [37] [38] however, he changed his mind and decided to remain with the team. [39] Bottomley batted .298 for the 1936 season. [3]

Bottomley decided to return to baseball in 1937. [40] When the Browns struggled during the 1937 season, beginning the season with a 25–52 win-loss record, the Browns fired Hornsby and named Bottomley their player-manager. [3] [41] Bottomley led the Browns to 21 more victories, as the team finished the season in eighth place, with a 46–108 record. The Browns trailed the seventh place Athletics by 9 12 games, and were 56 games out of first place. As a player, Bottomley batted .239 in 65 games during the 1937 season. [3] Bottomley was among the ten oldest players in the AL that year. [42]

The Browns did not retain Bottomley after the 1937 season, [43] replacing him with Street, who served as his first assistant during the 1937 season. [44] In 1938, Bottomley served as the player-manager of Syracuse. After a bad start to the season, and with team president Jack Corbett not adding capable players, Bottomley resigned and was replaced with Dick Porter. [45] Bottomley also indicated that he did not want to continue playing. [46]

Personal

Bottomley married Elizabeth "Betty" Browner, who operated a St. Louis beauty parlor, on February 4, 1933. [47] The couple had no children. [3] After he retired from baseball in 1938, Bottomley and his wife moved to the Bourbon, Missouri, area, where he raised Hereford cattle. [3] In 1939, Bottomley became a radio broadcaster, signing a deal with KWK, an AM broadcasting station, to broadcast Cardinals and Browns games. [48] [49]

Bottomley returned to baseball as a scout for the Cardinals in 1955. [50] In 1957, he joined the Chicago Cubs as a scout [51] and managed the Pulaski Cubs of the Class D Appalachian League. While managing in Pulaski, Bottomley suffered a heart attack. The Bottomleys moved to nearby Sullivan, Missouri. [3] Bottomley died of a heart ailment in December 1959. [52] He and his wife Betty were interred in the International Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery, Sullivan, Missouri. [3]

Honors

Bottomley holds the single-season record for most unassisted double plays by a first baseman, with eight. Bottomley is also known as the only man to be sued for hitting a home run when a fan was hit by the ball when he was not looking. He had over 100 RBIs in each season from 1924 to 1929. Bottomley was the second player in baseball history to hit 20 or more doubles, triples, and home runs in one season (Frank Schulte being the first) [53] and the first of two players (Lou Gehrig being the other) to collect 150 or more doubles, triples, and home runs in a career. [54]

Bottomley was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame posthumously in 1974 by the Veterans Committee. The Baseball Writers' Association of America charged that the Veterans Committee was not selective enough in choosing members. [55] Charges of cronyism were levied against the Veterans Committee. [56] When Bottomley was elected, the Veterans Committee included Frankie Frisch, a teammate of Bottomley's with the Cardinals. Frisch and Bill Terry, also a member of the Veterans Committee at the time, shepherded the selections of teammates Jesse Haines in 1970, Dave Bancroft and Chick Hafey in 1971, Ross Youngs in 1972, George Kelly in 1973, and Freddie Lindstrom in 1976. [57] This led to the Veterans Committee having its powers reduced in subsequent years. [58]

In 2014, the Cardinals announced Bottomley was among 22 former players and personnel to be inducted into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum for its inaugural class of 2014. [59]

The city park in his adopted home town of Sullivan, Missouri is named for Bottomley. [3] A museum in Nokomis, Illinois, the Bottomley-Ruffing-Schalk Baseball Museum, is dedicated to Bottomley and fellow Hall of Famers Ray Schalk and Red Ruffing, who were also Nokomis residents. [3] [60]

See also

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References

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  2. Bases loaded: Nokomis second to none in baseball history
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Further reading

Preceded by
Bob Fothergill
Hitting for the cycle
July 15, 1927
Succeeded by
Cy Williams