Hall of Fame: Bill Terry (1954)

Go ahead, ask him for his number. What’s the worst that could happen?

 Year Ag Tm  Lg  G   AB    R    H   2B 3B  HR  RBI  SB CS  BB  SO   BA   OBP   SLG *OPS+  TB   SH
+--------------+---+----+----+----+---+--+---+----+---+--+---+---+-----+-----+-----+----+----+---+
1923 24 NYG NL 3 7 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 .143 .333 .143 30 1 0
1924 25 NYG NL 77 163 26 39 7 2 5 24 1 1 17 18 .239 .311 .399 91 65 0
1925 26 NYG NL 133 489 75 156 31 6 11 70 4 5 42 52 .319 .374 .474 119 232 4
1926 27 NYG NL 98 225 26 65 12 5 5 43 3 22 17 .289 .352 .453 116 102 8
1927 28 NYG NL 150 580 101 189 32 13 20 121 1 46 53 .326 .377 .529 141 307 19
1928 29 NYG NL 149 568 100 185 36 11 17 101 7 64 36 .326 .394 .518 135 294 17
1929 30 NYG NL 150 607 103 226 39 5 14 117 10 48 35 .372 .418 .522 131 317 18
1930 31 NYG NL 154 633 139 254 39 15 23 129 8 57 33 .401 .452 .619 158 392 19
1931 32 NYG NL 153 611 121 213 43 20 9 112 8 47 36 .349 .397 .529 149 323 2
1932 33 NYG NL 154 643 124 225 42 11 28 117 4 32 23 .350 .382 .580 156 373 1
1933 34 NYG NL 123 475 68 153 20 5 6 58 3 40 23 .322 .375 .423 128 201 9
1934 35 NYG NL 153 602 109 213 30 6 8 83 0 60 47 .354 .414 .463 137 279 19
1935 36 NYG NL 145 596 91 203 32 8 6 64 7 41 55 .341 .383 .451 125 269 16
1936 37 NYG NL 79 229 36 71 10 5 2 39 0 19 19 .310 .363 .424 112 97 5
+--------------+---+----+----+----+---+--+---+----+---+--+---+---+-----+-----+-----+----+----+---+
14 Seasons 6428 2193 112 1078 6 449 .341 .393 .506 136 137
1721 1120 373 154 56 537 3252

3 All-Star Games (1933-1935)

Born on October 30, 1898 in Atlanta, Georgia, William Harold Terry would become one of the best first basemen ever. Unlike so many of the previous Hall of Famers in this series, Terry was relatively old, 25, when he began to play regularly, but he would make his 14 seasons in the major leagues count.

His first season in 1924 wasn’t his best work, but he quickly started turning things around the following season. From 1927 to 1933, Terry was an exceptional first baseman, both offensively and defensively. Playing at the Polo Grounds for the New York Giants, the field was big and kept him from hitting as many home runs, but he instead rattled off a bunch of doubles and triples. Terry also hit for a very high average, and his .341 career mark is the best for a National League left-handed hitter. He hit his peak in a spectacular 1930 season. In that season, he became the last National Leaguer to hit .401 (Ted Williams is the last major leaguer and American Leaguer eleven years later). He smacked 23 home runs and 123 RBI’s while scoring himself 139 times. Oddly enough, he was sixth in the league in runs (Chuck Klein had 158).

Defensively, he was really good. Part of the reason that it took a while for Terry to get to the majors, Terry had to oust future Hall of Famer George Kelly. After he took the reigns, he was constantly a league-leader in putouts, assists, and fielding average (yeah, I know fielding percentage isn’t the greatest measurement, but all of these indicate he was pretty good).

But it took a while to get into the Hall of Fame. Terry, who had a career OPS+ of 136 and a reputation as a great defender, wouldn’t be elected until 1954 although his career ended after the 1936 season. Why? He didn’t get along with the writers. Known for wanting to keep his life private, Terry was often blunt and difficult to approach. He didn’t think anyone needed to know his business, and when he was asked for his personal phone number, Terry declined, saying he was already available for 16 hours a day and was done when he got home. Regardless, the writers eventually elected him in 1954 with 77.4% (195 of 252) of the vote. Not holding a grudge, Terry was a popular and constant sight during induction ceremonies for numerous years.

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