Harry Heilmann

  • Card series: Diamond Heads '15
  • City: Detroit
  • Team: Tigers
  • League: American League
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Harry Edwin Heilmann (1894-1951) won the AL batting title four times. Had he scratched out a handful of singles in 1921 and ‘25, he would have been the only player to hit .400 four times. Teammate Ty Cobb considered him second only to Hornsby among right-handers. He was the last right-hander to hit .400 (1923). Harry came out of the PCL to sign with Detroit in 1914 as an outfielder, vying for playing time amongst stalwarts Ty Cobb, Sam Crawford and Bobby Veach. Following a stint in the wartime Navy, Harry returned in 1919 as a first baseman (he would move back to the outfield in 1921) and launched an extraordinary run as one of the most dominant hitters of any era. “Slug” (being slow afoot) was indeed a slugger, but of the line-drive variety, compiling a career average of .342, twelfth best in baseball. Yet, his induction to Cooperstown was delayed until the year after he died based on a bias against 20’s hitters who were seen as feasting on the “live-ball.” Heilmann’s lifelong friend Cobb lied to him on his deathbed that he had made it into the Hall, a fib that became truth the following year.

  • Arthritis took a toll in his later years. Heilmann was traded to the Reds in 1930 where he still hit .333 that year
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1952

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