A Biography in 1,000 Players No. 84 Gabby Hartnett (Number 9 Catcher)

As compared to Joe Torre Gabby Hatnett played 90 percent of his games at catcher. He had a 117-point catcher bonus. Not coincidently Gabby has a better defensive record at catcher than Torre.

Hartnett is famous for hitting the home run in the glooming against Pittsburgh in 1938. Chicago was a game and a half behind Pittsburgh coming into the series. The Cubs won the first game. After 8 innings the umpires told the teams the ninth would be the last inning due to darkness. If the game was still tied a whole game would be played the next day. Not exactly what Gabby Hartnett wanted to hear. Who would want to catch a double header after a long season of squatting behind the plate? Of course, Harnett came up to bat with two outs and no one on base. Hartnett he the ball hard and it barely cleared the fence. A lot of fans couldn’t see the ball go over because it was so dark. However, the Cubs now have a half game lead. The won the next day to stretch the lead to 1 and half games and each with a series left. The Cubs held on to win the pennant.

It was funny from 1929 to 1938 the Cubs were on a 3-year schedule. They won the pennant to play in the World Series in 1929, 1932, 1935 and 1938 with Hartnett. The Cubs won only one more pennant until 2016 and that was at the end of World War II.

On Bill James Online we had been discussing how players can increase production without steroids. Looking at Hartnett his 1930 season is an example. He his 37 homeruns in 1930 at age 29. That is 13 more than his second-best season of 24 at age 24. He hit 20 or more homeruns only 3 times in his career.

In 1930 he might have been helped by two factors. The year 1930 was one of the highest scoring seasons of that time, especially in the National League. Hartnett benefited from the timing in 1930.  The other was he started the season well rested. His arm went dead in 1929 and caught one game. He pinch hit in 24 others. His legs were probably in great shape compared to normal, which helped him hit for more power. I don’t know but it was a great fluke homerun system.

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Author: Douglas Byzewski

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