Hall of Fame: Harry Heilmann (1952)

Manny Ramirez?

 Year Ag Tm  Lg  G   AB    R    H   2B 3B  HR  RBI  SB CS  BB  SO   BA   OBP   SLG *OPS+  TB   SH
+--------------+---+----+----+----+---+--+---+----+---+--+---+---+-----+-----+-----+----+----+---+
1914 19 DET AL 69 182 25 41 8 1 2 18 1 8 22 29 .225 .316 .313 87 57 12
1916 21 DET AL 136 451 57 127 30 11 2 73 9 42 40 .282 .349 .410 124 185 15
1917 22 DET AL 150 556 57 156 22 11 5 86 11 41 54 .281 .333 .387 120 215 19
1918 23 DET AL 79 286 34 79 10 6 5 39 13 35 10 .276 .359 .406 134 116 8
1919 24 DET AL 140 537 74 172 30 15 8 93 7 37 41 .320 .366 .477 137 256 18
1920 25 DET AL 145 543 66 168 28 5 9 89 3 7 39 32 .309 .358 .429 110 233 18
1921 26 DET AL 149 602 114 237 43 14 19 139 2 6 53 37 .394 .444 .606 167 365 15
1922 27 DET AL 118 455 92 162 27 10 21 92 8 4 58 28 .356 .432 .598 169 272 11
1923 28 DET AL 144 524 121 211 44 11 18 115 9 7 74 40 .403 .481 .632 194 331 23
1924 29 DET AL 153 570 107 197 45 16 10 114 13 5 78 41 .346 .428 .533 148 304 26
1925 30 DET AL 150 573 97 225 40 11 13 134 6 6 67 27 .393 .457 .569 160 326 23
1926 31 DET AL 141 502 90 184 41 8 9 103 6 7 67 19 .367 .445 .534 153 268 25
1927 32 DET AL 141 505 106 201 50 9 14 120 11 5 72 16 .398 .475 .616 180 311 17
1928 33 DET AL 151 558 83 183 38 10 14 107 7 3 57 45 .328 .390 .507 133 283 18
1929 34 DET AL 125 453 86 156 41 7 15 120 5 6 50 39 .344 .412 .565 149 256 14
1930 35 CIN NL 142 459 79 153 43 6 19 91 2 64 50 .333 .416 .577 142 265 15
1932 37 CIN NL 15 31 3 8 2 0 0 6 0 0 2 .258 .258 .323 57 10 0
+--------------+---+----+----+----+---+--+---+----+---+--+---+---+-----+-----+-----+----+----+---+
17 Seasons 7787 2660 151 1539 64 550 .342 .410 .520 148 2770
2148 1291 542 183 113 856 4053

Harry Edwin Heilmann was born on August 3, 1894 in San Francisco, California. As a 19-year old bookkeeper for a biscuit maker, a friend called and asked him to fill an opening for semi-pro team in California. A scout saw him rope the game-winning double, and he signed him to play for the Portland Beavers. His signing bonus was a spaghetti dinner. He received more than that from the Detroit Tigers when he hit .305 for the Beavers.

In 1914 as a 19-year old, he played 69 games, but his performance was poor both at the plate and in the outfield. He spent the next season in the minors. When he returned in 1916, he was much better but not quite as good as the standards he would set in his career, but it was still good enough to be among the league leaders in doubles, RBI’s, and extra-base hits. Even more impressive that season, Heilman jumped into the river to save a drowning woman. For the next several years, the team tried to find a place for him, made more difficut by his stint on a submarine in 1918, but he was a terrible defender. He came back in 1920 to have a great season, but his best was yet to come.

For the next 10 years, he would be an offensive force. His lowest OPS+ was 133, but he was routinely in the 160-190 range. He hit .400 once and was within 10 points three other times, winning four batting titles. Most of his improvement could be credited to the legendary Ty Cobb, who even lost a batting title or two to Heilmann. Heilmann had power and even 22 home runs in 1922 while dealing with a collarbone, for which he had to miss a month that season, but he was a notoriously slow runner. Defensively, they continued to move him around, but he was atrocious wherever he played. In 1930, he was sold to the Cincinnati Reds, and he hit .333 despite arthritis in his wrists. While in Cincinnati, he would become the first player in major-league history to hit a home run in every park in which he played. However, by 1931, his arthritis was terrible, and he opted to not play in 1931. He attempted a brief comeback in 1932, but he was done at the age of 37.

From 1934 to 1950, he would be a very popular broadcaster, but he came down with lung cancer and died in 1951. At that time, Cobb campaigned heavily, including a letter published by Time, to have Heilmann elected to the Hall of Fame. The voters agreed and voted him in with 86.8% (203 of 234) of the votes.

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