Benny Kauff

  • Card series: Diamond Heads '15
  • City: Indianapolis
  • Team: Hoosiers (FL)
  • League: Federal League

Benjamin Michael Kauff (1890-1961) came oh so close to owning the Big Apple. The brash, dapper young outfielder had all the tools, all five to be exact. And he had attitude. And style. For unknown reasons, the Highlanders gave up on the rookie in 1912 after a mere five games and consigned him to the minors. Kauff then detoured to the Federal League in ‘14-15, tearing up the league in all offensive categories. John McGraw had tried to get Benny before losing out to the upstart Feds and finally succeeded when the circuit folded. Sadly for Kauff, his press notices as the “Ty Cobb of the Federal League” rang hollow when he could only muster a .264 average in 1916 for the Giants. He raised that average over .300 until the war intervened but never set the world on fire. Caught up in the maelstrom of 1919 shadiness, Kauff gained a reputation for dishonesty that would haunt him when he faced felony theft charges the next year.

  • Despite being exonerated with McGraw’s help, Ban Johnson and Kenesaw Landis didn’t buy it. The Black Sox affair had created a climate where the Judge would brook no hint of scandal and Kauff was banned from the game

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