BALTIMORE, Dec. 1 (AP) — Nellie Fox, former second baseman for the Chicago White Sox, who was the American League's most valuable player in 1959, died today at University Hospital. He was 47 years old and lived in St. Thomas, Pa.
Mr. Fox entered the hospital in mid-October suffering from widespread skin cancer.
Epitome of Hustle
by DEANE McGOWEN
He was christened Jacob Nelson Fox, but to his major-league teammates and to thousands of baseball fans he was Nellie, a strange nickname for one of baseball's tough guys.
Like Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds, Nellie Fox was the epitome of "hustle." Hustle was the chief reason Nellie Fox became a successful ballplayer.
He was irreverent, too. The late Casey Stengel, then managing the New York Yankees, said of Fox: "That little feller, he ain't so big, but he's all fire. He's caused me more grief than any other player on the White Sox."
Stengel related one story as a case in point. In a game between the Yankees and Chicago, a close play at second base brought Stengel running from the dugout. As Stengel arrived to give the umpire a piece of his mind, Fox snapped, "What're you doing out here? Gonna tell us a couple of your funny jokes?" The ebullient Stengel was silenced.
Some Distinguishing Things
Fox's trademarks in baseball were a giant-sized chew of tobacco jutting from his jaw, and his bottle-sized bat and his ability to get a piece of the ball at the plate.
The late Connie Mack discovered Fox as a 16-year-old in spring training in Frederick, Md., at a World War II baseball camp of the old Philadelphia Athletics.
But Fox did not really arrive as a major league second baseman until he was traded to Chicago in 1950. He played 14 seasons for the Chicago club before being traded to the then Houston Colt .45s of the National League. Fox had a lifetime Major League average of .288, and teamed with Luis Aparicio, at shortstop, to form one of the best double-play combinations in baseball.
In 1959, they combined to lead the White Sox to the American League pennant. Chicago lost the World Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games. But Fox batted .375 against the Dodgers.
Though only 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighing 160 pounds, Fox was a solid performer. He hit only 35 home runs during his career, but he set a variety of records.
He led the league in singles the most consecutive seasons, seven, the most seasons overall, eight, and had the most seasons with 600 or more at bats, 12.
Fox, who batted lefthanded but threw righthanded, also led the league 13 times with lowest (fewest) strikeouts. He also held the record for the most consecutive games played at second base, 798. Fox retired as a player in 1965, having played in 2,367 games, with 2,663 hits.
In 1973, he retired as a coach for the Texas Rangers.
He was born on Christmas Day, 1927, in St. Thomas, Pa. During Christmas 1943, he had his first date with Joanne Statler, a girl from St. Thomas. They became engaged on Christmas Day, 1946, and were married in June, 1948.
He is survived by his wife and two daughters, Tracy and Bonnie.