Collins with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1911
|Second baseman / Manager|
|Born: May 2, 1887|
Millerton, New York
|Died: March 25, 1951 (aged 63)|
|September 17, 1906, for the Philadelphia Athletics|
|Last MLB appearance|
|August 2, 1930, for the Philadelphia Athletics|
|Runs batted in||1,300|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
|Vote||77.74% (fourth ballot)|
Edward Trowbridge Collins Sr. (May 2, 1887 - March 25, 1951), nicknamed "Cocky", was an American professional baseball player, manager and executive. He played as a second baseman in Major League Baseball from 1906 to 1930 for the Philadelphia Athletics and Chicago White Sox. A graduate of Columbia University, Collins holds major league career records in several categories and is among the top few players in several other categories. In 1925, Collins became just the sixth person to join the 3,000 hit club - and the last for the next 17 seasons. His 47 career home runs are the fewest of anyone in it.
Born in Millerton, a 384-acre village in Dutchess County, New York, Collins was unique in his time in that he was focused on both his athletic skills and his education and intelligence. He graduated from Columbia University (where he was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity) at a time when few major league players had attended college.
He started his American professional baseball career on September 17, 1906, when he signed with the Philadelphia Athletics at the age of 19. When he signed with the Philadelphia organization, Collins was still a student at Columbia. He played some of his initial minor league games under the last name of Sullivan so that he could protect his collegiate status.
After spending all but 14 games of the 1907 season in the minor leagues, he played in 102 games in 1908 and by 1909 was a full-time player. That season, he registered a .347 batting average and 67 steals. He would also be named the A's starting second baseman in 1909, a position he would play for the rest of his career, after seeing time at second, third, short, and the outfield the previous two seasons. In 1910, Collins stole a career-high 81 bases, the first American League player to steal 80+ bases in a season, and played on the first of his six World Series championship teams.
Collins was renowned for his intelligence, confidence, batting prowess and speed. He is one of only five players to steal six bases in a game, and the only person to do so twice, with both occurrences happening within eleven days, on September 11 and September 22, 1912 respectively. He was part of the Athletics' "$100,000 infield" (and the highest-paid of the quartet) which propelled the team to four American League (AL) pennants and three World Series titles between 1910 and 1914. He earned the league's Chalmers Award (early Most Valuable Player recognition) in 1914.
In 1914, the newly formed Federal League disrupted major league contract stability by luring away established stars from the AL and NL with inflated salaries. To retain Collins, Athletics manager Connie Mack offered his second baseman the longest guaranteed contract (five years) that had ever been offered to a player. Collins declined, and after the 1914 season Mack sold Collins to the White Sox for $50,000, the highest price ever paid for a player up to that point and the first of only three times that a reigning MVP was sold or traded (the others being Alex Rodriguez in 2003 and Giancarlo Stanton in 2017, both to the New York Yankees). The Sox paid Collins $15,000 for 1915, making him the third highest paid player in the league, behind Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker.
In Chicago, Collins continued to post top-ten batting and stolen base numbers, and he helped the Sox capture pennants in 1917 and 1919. He was part of the notorious "Black Sox" team that threw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. However Collins was not accused of being part of the conspiracy and was considered to have played honestly, his low .226 batting average notwithstanding.
Collins returned to Philadelphia to rejoin the Athletics in 1927 as a player-coach. He recorded only 143 plate appearances in his last four years, mostly as a pinch hitter. He did not play in any World Series games for the 1929 or 1930 World Series champion A's and his last appearance as a player was on August 2, 1930.
Collins finished his career with 1,300 runs batted in. To date, Collins is the only MLB player to play for two teams for at least 12 seasons each. Upon his retirement, he ranked second in major league history in career games (2,826), walks (1,499) and stolen bases (744), third in runs scored (1,821), fourth in hits (3,315) and at bats (9,949), sixth in on-base percentage (.424), and eighth in total bases (4,268); he was also fourth in AL history in triples (187).
He still holds the major league record of 512 career sacrifice bunts, over 100 more than any other player. He was the first major leaguer in modern history to steal 80 bases in a season, and still shares the major league record of six steals in a game, which he accomplished twice in September 1912. He regularly batted over .320, retiring with a career average of .333. He also holds major league records for career games (2,650), assists (7,630) and total chances (14,591) at second base, and ranks second in putouts (6,526). Collins is one of only 29 players in baseball history to have appeared in major league games in four decades.
Following the A's 1930 World Series victory, Collins retired as a player and immediately stepped into a full-time position as coach for the A's. After two seasons as a coach, Collins was hired as the general manager of the Boston Red Sox. The new owner, Tom Yawkey, was a close friend and had bought the Red Sox at Collins' suggestion. He took over a team that had bottomed out from a long decline dating from their sale of Babe Ruth; the 1932 Red Sox had just finished with the worst record in franchise history, 43-111.
Collins remained GM through the 1947 season, retiring at age 60 after a period of declining health. During his 15 years as general manager, Collins helped turn a dreadful team into a contender once again. After two years rebuilding the awful team he'd inherited, Collins managed winning seasons in seven of his final 12 years as general manager. His 1946 team won the Red Sox' first pennant since 1918. On the debit side, he instituted an unofficial policy of not signing black players -- an unofficial league-wide policy that stayed in place until Jackie Robinson's signing by Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey, and Robinson's debut with the Triple-A Montreal Royals in 1946 -- and ultimately the Red Sox were the last major league team to hire black players. Author Howard Bryant wrote that Collins' prejudice also extended to Jews and Catholics. In May 2018, shortly after the City of Boston reverted the name of Yawkey Way to its original name of Jersey Street at the Red Sox' request, plaques honoring Yawkey and Collins were removed from outside of Fenway Park; Collins' plaque had been in place since 1951.
Collins was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. He struggled with heart problems for several years at the end of his life. He was admitted to a hospital in Boston on March 10, 1951, and he died there of the heart condition on March 25.
In 1999, he was ranked number 24 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. He played on a total of six World Series-winning teams (1910, 1911, 1913, 1917, 1929, and 1930), though he did not participate in any of the final two series' games.
His son, Eddie Jr., was an outfielder who played for Yale University. He briefly saw major league action (in 1939 and 1941-42, all with the A's) and later worked in the Philadelphia Phillies' front office.