1B-C 1934, 37-48 Tigers ,
Manager in 1959 Red Sox
- Led League in hr 43
- Led League in rbi 43
Always threatening at the plate, the 6'1" 210-lb York overcame defensive troubles
and jibes at his ancestry (he was half American Indian) to become a productive ML
first baseman. As MVP of the Texas League in 1935 and the American Association in
1936, York was trapped behind the Tigers' first baseman Hank Greenberg, who was AL
MVP himself in '35. As a rookie in 1937, York put together one of the greatest months
in baseball history, breaking Babe Ruth's record for home runs in one month with
18 in August, while driving in 49 runs, another ML one-month record. He finished
at .307 with 35 HR and 103 RBI in only 375 at-bats while splitting time between catcher
and third base. When Mickey Cochrane suffered a career-ending skull fracture, York
became Detroit's everyday catcher, but by 1940 Tiger management realized York belonged
at first base. They paid Greenberg a bonus to move to left field, and he hit 41 home
runs that year. York added 33, and the Tigers won the pennant.
Greenberg left for
WWII in 1941, leaving York to supply the Tigers' power, but he slipped to 27 and
21 HR in 1941-42, although he hit three in one game on September 1, 1941. York rebounded
in 1943 to lead the AL in both HR and RBI, but fell below 20 the next two years.
When the Tigers switched Greenberg back to 1B at the end of his career, York was
traded to the Red Sox. He hit only 17 HR for Boston in 1946, but added two in the
WS, including a game-winner in the tenth inning of Game One.
York was never a defensive
whiz, leading AL first basemen in errors three times and prompting one sportswriter
to quip, "Rudy York is part Indian and part first baseman." He was, however, extremely
dangerous with the bases loaded, belting 12 career grand slams, including two in
one game July 27, 1946, a game in which he drove in ten runs.