Sunday, January 19, 2014

1961 Fleer Baseball Greats #87 Hack Wilson

Card #87 in the 1961 Fleer Baseball Greats set is another Cub – Hack Wilson. Wilson is known for his combative style and for his heavy drinking. But even with these faults, Wilson (for a short period) was one of the greatest hitters that baseball has ever known. If not for his life style, he might have been an equal to Babe Ruth.

Wilson’s 1930 season for the Cubs still ranks as one of baseball’s greatest hitting seasons. Hack Wilson hit 56 HRs with 191 RBI and a batting average of .356. The 56 home runs stood as the NL record for many years and the 191 RBI is still the record.

In 6 seasons as a Cub, Wilson hit 190 HRs with 769 RBIs and a batting average of .322. If he could have maintained that pace for 18 seasons, Wilson would have career numbers of 570 HRs, 2,300 RBIs and 3,000 hits. But, the great 1930 season seemed to intensify his drinking and led to a rapid decline in his statistics.

Wilson’s MLB career ended in 1934 at the age of 34. After a number of business failures, Wilson who was once the highest paid player in baseball, died penniless. Ford Frick, sent money to cover his funeral and the gray suit that he was buried in was donated by the funeral director. Hack Wilson died in 1948 only a few months after Babe Ruth.

Wilson was named to the Hall of Fame in 1979 by the Veteran’s Committee.

For anyone interested in learning more about Hack Wilson and his great 1930 season, there is a book titled Hack’s 191 by Bill Chastain that covers the season in detail. This book is well worth your time if you have an interest in the history of baseball.

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