By Jason Bryden
Assistant Sports Info Director
Did you know that a Hall of Fame baseball player was born just 15 miles from the Washington College campus? This is a story about one of the all-time great first baseman to ever play the game of baseball, Jimmie Foxx.
Foxx was born in Sudlersville, Maryland on Oct. 22, 1907. Sudlersville is located in Queen Anne’s County, 15 miles southeast of Chestertown. Foxx grew up on the family farm before pursuing a career in baseball. He would join Easton of the Eastern Shore League, which was managed by Frank “Home Run” Baker who was part of the great Philadelphia Athletics teams of 1910-14. Baker recommended Foxx to Athletics owner/manager Connie Mack who signed Foxx in 1924. The young Foxx would make his debut with Philadelphia on May 1, 1925 at the age of 17.
Foxx was six feet tall and weighed 195 pounds, but he was a built athlete. Pitcher Lefty Gomez of the New York Yankees said that “he had muscles in his hair.” Foxx once hit a home run at Yankee Stadium that shattered a seat in the upper deck. He had two nicknames, “Double X” and “Beast.”
Foxx played catcher, first base, third base and outfield from 1925-28 before settling at first base for the 1929 season.
Entering the 1929 season, the Athletics (A’s) were looking to end the New York Yankees run of three consecutive American League pennants and two straight World Series wins. The A’s would win the American League flag in 1929 by 18 games over the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig led Yankees. Philadelphia went 104-46, while New York went 88-66. Foxx had the first of his 13 straight 100 RBI and 12 consecutive 30 or more home run seasons, as he hit 33 home runs and drove in 118 runs while hitting .354. In addition to Foxx, the ’29 A’s had three other future Hall of Famers in outfielder: Al Simmons, catcher Mickey Cochrane and pitcher Lefty Grove.
In the 1929 World Series, the A’s took on the Chicago Cubs and Foxx pulled off a first in the fall classic when he became the first player to ever homer in his first two World Series games, as Philadelphia downed Chicago in five games for its first world championship since 1913. In three World Series, Foxx hit .344 with four home runs and 11 RBI in 18 games.
The A’s would win the American League flag in 1930 and downed the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series in six games to win their second straight crown. Foxx hit .335 with 37 home runs and 156 RBI in helping Philadelphia go 102-52.
In 1931, Philadelphia went 107-45 to give the A’s a three-year total of 313-143. Foxx had a down year as he hit just .291 with 30 homers and 120 RBI. The A’s quest for a three-peat came up short as St. Louis avenged the 1930 World Series loss in seven games. It would be the last flag for the A’s until 1972 when they were in Oakland, as the A’s left Philadelphia after the 1954 season for Kansas City before settling in Oakland for the 1968 campaign. Many baseball experts considered the 1929-31 A’s as one of the greatest teams in the history of baseball.
Foxx would win back-to-back Most Valuable Player awards in 1932 and 1933. In 1932 he led the AL in home runs (58) and RBI (169), while second in hitting at .364. Foxx fell just .003 short of winning the batting crown and the AL Triple Crown, but led the AL in runs scored with 151. He would win the Triple Crown in 1933 when he hit .356 with 48 homers and 163 knocked in.
With Mack having financial problems due to the Great Depression, he had to break up the team; and Foxx was traded to the Boston Red Sox in December 1935. He joined Grove in Boston for the 1936 season.
Foxx’s finest year in Boston was 1938, as he hit .349 with 175 RBI to lead the league and was second in the junior circuit in longballs as he slammed 50 of them. He would win his third and final MVP Award. Foxx was the first player to win three MVP awards.
Foxx’s last 30-home run season was in 1940 and his last 100-RBI campaign was in 1941. In the middle of the 1942 season he would join the Chicago Cubs where he played for the 1944 season after not playing in 1943. He returned to Philadelphia and joined the Phillies for the 1945 season where he did some pitching in addition to hitting. He went 1-0 with a 1.59 earned run average in nine outings, two of which were starts in 22.2 innings. He retired following the season with 534 home runs, 1,922 RBI and a .325 average at the plate. His 534 home runs were second all-time behind Babe Ruth until 1966 when Willie Mays passed him.
The slugger was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1951. He was a well liked player by his teammates. Fellow Hall of Famer Ted Williams, who was teammates with Foxx from 1939-42 in Boston, said “I truly loved Foxxie.”
Foxx’s post-baseball career was not as successful as his playing days due to bad business investments and poor health. He died on July 21, 1967 in Miami when he choked on a piece of meat. Today, if you drive through Sudlersville, there is a statue of him and a tablet of his accomplishments at the main light in town.