Medwick with the St. Louis Cardinals
|Born: November 24, 1911|
Carteret, New Jersey
|Died: March 21, 1975 (aged 63)|
St. Petersburg, Florida
|September 2, 1932, for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 25, 1948, for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Runs batted in||1,383|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
|Vote||84.81% (eighth ballot)|
Joseph Michael Medwick (November 24, 1911 - March 21, 1975), nicknamed "Ducky", was an American Major League Baseball player. A left fielder with the St. Louis Cardinals during the "Gashouse Gang" era of the 1930s, he also played with the Brooklyn Dodgers (1940-1943, 1946), New York Giants (1943-1945), and Boston Braves (1945). Medwick is the last National League player to win the Batting Triple Crown Award (1937).
Medwick was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers' Association of America in 1968, receiving 84.81% of the votes. In 2014, he became a member of the inaugural class of the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame.
The son of Hungarian immigrants, Medwick was born and raised in Carteret, New Jersey. He excelled in baseball, basketball, football, and track at Carteret High School.University of Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne made arrangements for Medwick to play football there, however Medwick decided to forgo college and enter professional baseball.
Medwick entered professional baseball with the Scottdale Scotties of the Middle Atlantic League in 1930. In 75 games with the Scotties, he had a .419 batting average and 22 home runs. He spent most of the next two seasons with the Houston Buffaloes of the Texas League. He played 161 games for Houston in 1931, hitting .305 with 19 home runs. He played in 139 games for the team the next year, hitting .354 with 26 home runs before being called up to the major leagues.
He made his MLB debut with the Cardinals in 1932. By 1934, he hit .319 with 18 home runs and 106 runs batted in (RBIs). Though Medwick swung at any pitch near the strike zone, he was difficult to strike out. He became known as one of baseball's rising stars, but it was also noted that Medwick had a self-centered nature.
Medwick's hard-charging style of play got him pulled out of the seventh game of the 1934 World Series by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis after a hard slide into third baseman Marv Owen on a triple which caused Detroit Tigers fans to pelt Medwick with fruits and vegetables. Landis also ordered Owen benched. Medwick remains the only known player to be thrown out of a game for his own personal safety. When asked about the incident after the game, Medwick replied, "I knew why they threw them. What I don't understand is why they brought them to the ballpark in the first place."
Medwick won the National League Triple Crown and the NL Most Valuable Player in 1937, remaining the last NL player to win a Triple Crown. In one of the Triple Crown categories, home runs, Medwick finished the season tied with Mel Ott. On June 6 of that season, Medwick hit a home run that was later wiped out due to a forfeit, costing him the outright home run title.
Medwick's 64 doubles in 1936 remains the National League record. He also held the National League record with seven consecutive seasons with 40 or more doubles until Stan Musial had nine consecutive seasons with 40 or more doubles. In 1940, the Cardinals traded Medwick and Curt Davis to the Dodgers for $125,000 and four lesser-known players[who?]. While still a solid hitter, Medwick never excelled defensively, where the Cardinals felt he was losing some of the skills he displayed in his 1937 Triple Crown season.
Six days after the trade, Medwick was nearly killed by a pitch thrown at him by former Cardinals teammate Bob Bowman. Bowman blamed the incident on sign stealing by Dodgers coach Chuck Dressen. He said that Dressen would whistle each time he saw the sign for a curveball. Hearing the whistle, Medwick stepped toward what he thought was a curveball, but Bowman had decided to throw a high, inside fastball to confuse them. When Medwick strode forward, the ball hit him in the temple and rendered him unconscious.
Medwick helped lead the Dodgers to a pennant in 1941, but had lost much of his dominance. He was traded to the New York Giants in 1943. During a USO tour by a number of players in 1944, Medwick was among several individuals given an audience by Pope Pius XII, who had been Cardinal Secretary of State before his elevation to the papacy. Upon being asked by the Pope what his vocation was, Medwick replied, "Your Holiness, I'm Joe Medwick. I, too, used to be a Cardinal."
Late in his career, Medwick said that golf was helping him to stay in good physical condition; 36 holes per day allowed him to walk more than 10 miles "without heavy strain".
In 1946, he was signed as a free agent by the St. Louis Browns. However, after attending 1946 spring training with the Browns, he was not able to secure a spot on the regular-season roster and was seemingly out of baseball at age 34. He eventually returned to St. Louis to finish his career with the Cardinals in 1947 and 1948. In 1949, at the age of 37, Medwick was player-coach of the Miami Beach Flamingos, a Class 'B' team in the Florida International League. He had 375 at-bats in 106 games, with 121 hits for a .323 batting average. He continued playing minor-league baseball through 1952 with Class 'B' Raleigh and Tampa, but his numbers declined substantially. Medwick retired with 10 appearances in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game over 17 seasons. He finished with a lifetime .324 batting average.
In 1984 games played over 17 seasons, Medwick compiled a .324 batting average (2471-7635) with 1198 runs, 540 doubles, 113 triples, 205 home runs, 1383 RBI, 437 bases on balls, .362 on-base percentage and .505 slugging percentage. He recorded a career .980 fielding percentage. In 12 World Series games (1934,1941), he hit .326 (15-46) with five runs, five RBI, and one home run.
In later years, Medwick worked as a hitting coach in the Cardinals spring training camps and minor league system, his role with the team at the time of his death. He had fallen short of the required Hall of Fame vote threshold on numerous ballots, and received no votes for the first seven years after his retirement, which is sometimes attributed to his strained relationship with teammates and the press.
Medwick was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers' Association of America in 1968. After his election, he said, "This was the longest slump of my career. I had gone 0 for 20 before, but never 0 for 20 years." Medwick died in 1975 of a heart attack in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was buried at St. Lucas Cemetery in Sunset Hills, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.