Honus Wagner in the 1940’s

Honus Wagner in the 1940’s

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Honus Wagner Photo Gallery
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 Honus Wagner in the 1940’s

“Bowlegged, barrel-chested, long-limbed… he was often likened to an octopus. When he fielded grounders, his huge hands also collected large scoops of infield dirt, which accompanied his throws to first like the tail of a comet.” –From the Honus Wagner biography on BaseballLibrary.com

Recognize the “Old-Timer” on the right? I’m sure you do…it’s none other than the great Honus Wagner in one of his many seasons as a Pirates’ coach. Not sure of the exact year,but it’s probably from about 1942-46. He’s giving batting tips to a couple of young Pirate “whippersnappers.” On the left is Jim Russell, who played for the Bucs from 1942-51; and on the right is Frank Colman, a Pirate from 1942-46.(Be sure to click on the photo for a much better look).

The famous Honus Wagner baseball card.

The famous Honus Wagner baseball card.

Here’s a few words about the career of the great Honus Wagner:

“The Flying Dutchman” played 21 seasons in the major leagues (1897 to 1917). He started with Louisville (1897-1899) and then the rest of his career was with the Pirates (1900-1917). Wagner managed the Pirates in 1917, and then became a coach for 39 years. He was the hitting coach from 1933-1951. Arky Vaughan, Ralph Kiner, Pie Traynor (player-manager from 1934–1939), all future Hall of Famers, were some of the notable “pupils” of Wagner.

Over his Hall-of-Fame career, Wagner hit .329, with 3400 hits (7th all-time), 101 home runs, 1732 RBIs (21st all-time), 722 stolen bases (10th all-time), .391 on-base percentage, and .467 slugging average. He won eight batting titles (tied for the most in National League history with Tony Gwynn). He was a five-time National League RBI leader, five-time stolen base leader, a six-time slugging leader, and was the star of four Pirates pennant winning teams (1901, ’02, ’03, ’09) and the 1909 World Series champions. His number 33 has been retired by the Pirates. He was selected to both the major league All-Century team and the All-Time team. In 1936, the Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Wagner as one of the first five members. He received the second-highest vote total, behind Ty Cobb and tied with Babe Ruth.

There has always been much debate as to who was the better player, Cobb or Wagner. Cobb is frequently cited as the greatest player of the Dead Ball Era, but many of their contemporaries regarded Wagner as the better all-around player, and many baseball historians consider Wagner to be the greatest shortstop ever. Cobb himself called Wagner “maybe the greatest star ever to take the diamond.”

Gary Livacari

Photo Credits: All from Google search

Information: Excerpts edited from the Honus Wagner Wikipedia page.

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I'm a baseball historian who also loves to write. My forte is identifying ballplayers in old photos, and my specail interest is the Dead Ball Era.

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