Third in Career Home Runs Behind Ruth and Mays
MIAMI, July 21 (AP) – Jimmy Foxx, the Hall of Fame baseball player who ranked third on the list of career home runs, died today at the age of 59. He became ill while visiting his brother, Sam, and died on the way to Baptist Hospital.
Foxx, who helped the old Philadelphia Athletics achieve baseball dominance in the early Nineteen-Thirties, retired in 1945 with 534 major league home runs – second only to Babe Ruth until Willie Mays passed him last year.
Trial in Majors at 17
Jimmy Foxx was born in Sudlersville, Md., on Oct. 22, 1907. He was discovered by Franklin (Home Run) Baker, who urged the late Connie Mack, manager of the Philadelphia Athletics, to give him a trial. He was 17.
The big boy came to the A’s as a catcher and batted .667 in 10 games during the 1925 season. He was sent to the minors for more training and came back to the parent club in 1926 and 1927 for a few games each year.
Then in 1928 Foxx came up to stay.
He was one of the strongest right-handed batters who ever played baseball. Double-X, as sportswriters called him, once hit a ball thrown by Vernon (Lefty) Gomez of the Yankees into the upper left-field stands of the Yankee stadium. The ball broke a seat in the next to last row just to the left of the bullpen area.
His greatest year of home run production was 1932. The 225-pound, mild-mannered player cracked 58 round trippers, just two short of Ruth’s record of 60 set in 1927. Foxx hit 50 in 1938, after he had joined the Boston Red Sox.
Soon after he joined the A’s, Manager Mack moved him to first base and then to third. He played most of his major league games at those positions.
Near the end of his playing days, on Aug. 20, 1945, Foxx got permission to pitch one game. At the time he was playing with the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League. He pitched six and two-thirds innings to beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-2.
In December 1935, he was sold by the Athletics to the Boston Red Sox in one of the biggest major league transactions. To get him, the Red Sox gave up a number of lesser players and $150,000. He was the last of Mack’s great stars to be sold when the manager of the A’s broke up his fine team of the early nineteen-thirties.
Foxx was one of the main reasons the A’s won the pennants in 1929, 1930 and 1931 and he contributed to World Series victories in 1929 and 1930.
In the 1929 series against the St. Louis Cardinals, he turned the tide in favor of the Athletics in the fifth game. With the series tied, he slammed a two-run homer off Burleigh Grimes in the top of the ninth for a 2-0 Philadelphia triumph. The A’s easily won the next game, 7-1.
Famed Strike-Out Victim
One of Foxx’s claims to fame was as a strike-out victim. He was the middle man when Carl Hubbell of the New York Giants fanned five successive sluggers in the 1934 All-Star game. Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin went down before the screwball hurler. Foxx had some consolation out of the incident. He was the only one of the five batters to hit a foul ball.
When Mays hit his 535th home run, breaking Foxx’s record as the most proficient right-handed power hitter in baseball, Foxx said:
“I hope Mays hits 600. For 25 years, they thought only left-handers could hit the long ones. They even teach right-handed youngsters to hit left.”
When he requested his release from the Phillies in the fall of 1945, he had a lifetime total of 534 home runs. This stood second to Ruth’s total of 714. Mays now has 555.
Foxx turned to radio sports announcing after his major league career and briefly to managing the Bridgeport, Conn., Bees in the Colonial League.
In January, 1951, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame along with Mel Ott, the former New York Giants star.
In 1958, Foxx, who had earned more than $250,000 as a player, was without a job and unable to pay his rent. After this was revealed by the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association he was offered jobs throughout the country.
Foxx always said that he had never gone after the homers.
“But if I had broken Ruth’s record,” he said, “It wouldn’t have made any difference. Oh, it might have put a few more dollars in my pocket, but there was only one Ruth.”
Besides his brother and son, Foxx is survived by a daughter, Nancy.