The Expendable Rogers Hornsby
Did You Know 1929
The Cubs had not won a pennant in eleven years and went searching through the not wanted list of other teams. Surprisingly, they found all time great 2B Rogers “Rajah” Hornsby who was playing for the Boston Braves. Why was one of the greatest hitters of this era so expendable? The Cubs would be his fourth team in four seasons. At 33, he was still in the prime of his career when he came to the Cubs in 1929 from the lowly Braves as evidenced by his 1928 .387 batting average. But, in addition to being a great ballplayer, Hornsby was also a known gambler at the racetrack. The problem came to light in 1926 when Cardinal owner Sam Bearden traded him to the New York Giants after he had led the Redbirds to the World Series Championship as a player/manage. Cardinal fans were incensed as “Rajah” was their hero. In his 5 years with the Cardinals, he was considered the best hitter in the National League. Cardinal owner, Bearden. became the target of fan protest at his home and at the stadium. Bearden was fed up with Hornsby’s gambling problems and constant contract disputes and the Giants were looking for that magic piece to take them to the World Series. However, Hornsby brought his gambling problems with him after having signed him to a contract that stated he could not engage in horse racing gambling. So off he went in 1928 to the lowly Boston Braves for five players of no significance. Hornsby quickly became a problem for Braves manager, Jack Slattery, that hit a point that one of them had to go and Slattery was fired. Hornsby took over as player/manager, but by the end of the season Braves owner Judge Fuchs had tired of Hornsby and his demands for more money and decided that he would take over as manager in 1929. He sold off Hornsby for $200,000 and five players who would never develop into contributors. Hornsby hit .380 and led the Cubs to their first pennant in 11 years. Hebecame the Cubs player/manager in 1930 and stayed with the Cubs through 1932.
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