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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bob O'Farrell
Catcher / Manager
Born: (1896-10-19)October 19, 1896
Waukegan, Illinois, U.S.
Died: February 20, 1988(1988-02-20) (aged 91)
Waukegan, Illinois, U.S.
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 5, 1915, for the Chicago Cubs
Last MLB appearance
September 23, 1935, for the St. Louis Cardinals
MLB statistics
Batting average.273
Home runs51
Runs batted in549
Managerial record122–121
Winning %.502
As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards

Robert Arthur O'Farrell (October 19, 1896 – February 20, 1988) was an American professional baseball player and manager.[1] He played in Major League Baseball as a catcher for 21 seasons with the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Giants.[1] O'Farrell also played for the Cincinnati Reds, albeit briefly. He was considered one of the greatest defensive catchers of his generation.[2]

Baseball career

O'Farrell was born in Waukegan, Illinois where he grew up a Chicago White Sox fan. He signed with the Cubs in 1915 after playing an exhibition game for his local semi-professional team.[3] His first manager was former catcher, Roger Bresnahan, who helped O'Farrell develop his catching skills.[4] After a season on the bench, O'Farrell was sent to Three-I League where he spent two years before returning to the Cubs for the 1918 season.[5] He served as backup catcher working behind Bill Killefer as the Cubs went on to claim the 1918 National League pennant before losing to the Boston Red Sox in the 1918 World Series.[6] O'Farrell went hitless in three at bats during the series.[7]

In 1920 O'Farrell caught the majority of the Cubs' games and posting a .248 batting average as, Killefer was injured during the season.[1] He began the 1921 season as backup catcher until August when, Killefer was named the Cubs new manager.[8][9]

O'Farrell had a breakout season in 1922 when he hit for a .322 average along with 4 home runs, 60 runs batted in and a .439 on-base percentage.[1] He became one of the best defensive catchers in baseball, leading National League catchers in games caught, putouts, assists, baserunners caught stealing and in caught stealing percentage.[10] He became skillful at framing pitches by moving his catcher's mitt towards the strike zone after having caught a pitch, in an effort to influence the umpire to call a strike.[11] He had an even better year offensively in 1923, producing career-highs in home runs (12), runs batted in (80), stolen bases (10) along with a .319 batting average.[1]

In July 1924, O'Farrell suffered a fractured skull when a foul ball broke his catcher's mask.[12] He had asked a club house attendant to bring him a newer mask however, not wanting to delay the game, decided to continue to play with the older mask when he was struck in the head.[12]

He missed most of the season, and lost his job when future Baseball Hall of Fame member, Gabby Hartnett, played well in his absence.[13] The Cubs decided to keep Hartnett as their starting catcher and traded O'Farrell to the St. Louis Cardinals at the start of the 1925 season for Mike González and Howard Freigau. O'Farrell experienced the highlight of his career in 1926 when he hit for a .293 average with a career-high 30 doubles, 7 home runs and 68 runs batted in as he helped the Cardinals clinch the National League pennant.[1][14] He also led National League catchers in games caught and in putouts.[15]

In the 1926 World Series against the New York Yankees, O'Farrell produced a .301 batting average but, is remembered for throwing out Babe Ruth trying to steal second base for the last out of the seven-game series as the Cardinals claimed their first-ever world championship.[16][17]

In November, he was voted the winner of the 1926 National League Most Valuable Player Award with 79 out of the possible 80 votes.[18][19] He was the first catcher to win a Most Valuable Player Award.[19]

In December 1926, the Cardinals traded their manager Rogers Hornsby to the New York Giants for Frankie Frisch and Jimmy Ring while O'Farrell was named player-manager.[20] He led the Cardinals to a second-place finish, behind the Pittsburgh Pirates even though the Cardinals won three more games than the previous season.[21] He only played in 61 games that season because of a sore arm.[21]

The owner of the Cardinals at that time, Sam Breadon was unhappy that the Cardinals did not win the pennant, and that O'Farrell was leaving his pitchers in too long during games.[22] He was given a $5,000 bonus to step down and replaced by Bill McKechnie.[23] O'Farrell was traded to the New York Giants for George Harper in May 1928.[24] The trade caught many observers by surprise as, it left the Cardinals without an experienced catcher while the Giants had a surplus of catchers.[25]

O'Farrell played as a part-time catcher for the Giants, sharing catching duties with Shanty Hogan during John McGraw's final four years as manager of the club.[26] He hit for a .306 batting average in 1929 and followed that with a .301 average in 1930. By the 1931 season, the 34-year-old O'Farrell was past his prime as his batting average dipped to .224.[1]

In October 1932, O'Farrell was traded back to the St. Louis Cardinals for catcher Gus Mancuso as part of new Giants manager Bill Terry's rebuilding campaign.[27] He spent one season serving as backup catcher to Jimmie Wilson before being traded to the Cincinnati Reds in January 1934.[1]

O'Farrell during the 1918 season

The General Manager of the Reds, Larry MacPhail, named O'Farrell as the team's player-manager.[28] By July, the Reds had fallen to last place in the National League standings and, on July 27, O'Farrell requested his unconditional release from the team.[29]

It was later reported that after the Reds had lost nine consecutive games, O'Farrell was engaged in a conversation with MacPhail when he quipped, "Well, you can't win 'em all." A supposedly infuriated MacPhail hired Charlie Dressen as the new Reds manager the following day.[30] In August, he returned to the Chicago Cubs where he worked as a backup catcher to Gabby Hartnett.[31] O'Farrell was released by the Cubs at the end of the year and signed to play with the Cardinals for the 1935 season. He appeared in only 14 games for the Cardinals, playing his final major league game on September 23 at the age of 38, and was released by the Cardinals in December 1935.[1][32] O'Farrell played two more seasons in the minor leagues with the Rochester Red Wings. In 1938 he managed the Bloomington Bloomers before retiring from professional baseball at the age of 41.[1]

Career statistics

In a 21-year major league career, O'Farrell played in 1,492 games, accumulating 1,120 hits in 4,101 at bats for a .273 career batting average along with 51 home runs, 549 runs batted in and a .360 on-base percentage. He finished his career with a .976 fielding percentage. He led the National League three times in putouts and twice in assists.[1]

While with the Giants, O'Farrell caught Carl Hubbell's no-hitter on May 8, 1929.[33] He caught for six pitchers who would eventually be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.[34]

After retirement he ran a bowling alley in Waukegan which was open for over 30 years. O'Farrell died in Waukegan at the age of 91.[35]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Bob O'Farrell statistics". Baseball Reference. Retrieved February 21, 2011.
  2. ^ Mike Eisenbath (1999). The Cardinals Encyclopedia. Temple University Press. p. 253. ISBN 1-56639-703-0.
  3. ^ Lawrence Ritter (19 March 1992). The Glory of Their Times. Collier Books. p. 240. ISBN 0-688-11273-0.
  4. ^ Ritter: p. 241.
  5. ^ "Bob O'Farrell minor league statistics". Baseball Reference. Retrieved February 21, 2011.
  6. ^ "1918 Chicago Cubs". Baseball Reference. Retrieved February 21, 2011.
  7. ^ "Bob O'Farrell post-season statistics". Baseball Reference. Retrieved February 21, 2011.
  8. ^ "Cubs Under Evers Show New Life". The Saskatoon Phoenix. April 12, 1921. p. 9. Retrieved February 21, 2011.
  9. ^ "Evers Is Deposed As Leader Of Cubs". The New York Times. August 4, 1921. Retrieved February 21, 2011.
  10. ^ "1922 National League Fielding Leaders". Baseball Reference. Retrieved February 21, 2011.
  11. ^ Broeg, Bob (October 1946). Strikes Behind The Plate. Retrieved February 22, 2011. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  12. ^ a b James, Bill (2001). The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. New York: Free Press. p. 401. ISBN 0-684-80697-5.
  13. ^ Ritter: p. 235.
  14. ^ "Hornsby Likes Bob O'Farrell". The Meriden Journal. Associated Press. September 28, 1926. p. 4. Retrieved February 21, 2011.
  15. ^ "1926 National League Fielding Leaders". Baseball Reference. Retrieved February 21, 2011.
  16. ^ Ahrens, Arthur (April 1975). Bob O'Farrell Recalls the 'Good Old Days'. Retrieved February 21, 2011. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  17. ^ "1926 World Series". Baseball Reference. Retrieved February 21, 2011.
  18. ^ "1926 National League Most Valuable Player Award". Baseball Reference. Retrieved February 21, 2011.
  19. ^ a b "Bob O'Farrell Nat. League's Most Valuable". The Grape Belt. December 7, 1926. p. 29. Retrieved February 21, 2011.
  20. ^ "Bob O'Farrell Assumes Duties With Cards". The Miami News. Associated Press. December 28, 1926. p. 29. Retrieved February 21, 2011.
  21. ^ a b Eisenbath: p. 254.
  22. ^ Leonard Koppett (2000). The Man in the Dugout. Temple University Press. p. 105. ISBN 1-56639-745-6.
  23. ^ "M'Kechnie Made Manager Of Cardinals". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. November 7, 1927. p. 14. Retrieved February 21, 2011.
  24. ^ "Bob O'Farrell Goes To Giants". The Miami News. Associated Press. May 11, 1928. p. 12. Retrieved February 22, 2011.
  25. ^ "Harper Goes To Cardinals". The Border Cities Star. United Press International. May 11, 1928. p. 3. Retrieved February 22, 2011.
  26. ^ Ritter: p. 239.
  27. ^ "First Trade Sends Four To Cardinals". The Pittsburgh Press. United Press International. October 11, 1932. p. 27. Retrieved February 22, 2011.
  28. ^ "O'Farrell Of Cards To Manage Cincinnati Reds". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. January 12, 1934. p. 7. Retrieved February 22, 2011.
  29. ^ "O'Farrell Requested His Release By Reds". Reading Eagle. Associated Press. August 2, 1934. p. 19. Retrieved February 22, 2011.
  30. ^ Robinson, Murray (August 1961). Murray Robinson Says. Retrieved February 22, 2011. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  31. ^ "Bob O'Farrell Signs With Cubs". The Day. Associated Press. August 7, 1934. p. 14. Retrieved February 22, 2011.
  32. ^ "Bob O'Farrell Given Release". Herald-Journal. December 15, 1935. p. 14. Retrieved February 22, 2011.
  33. ^ "Retrosheet Boxscore: New York Giants 11, Pittsburgh Pirates 0".
  34. ^ "Catchers Who Caught The Most Hall Of Fame Pitchers". Retrieved June 28, 2012.
  35. ^ "Former Catcher O'Farrell Dies". The Telegraph-Herald. February 24, 1988. p. 3. Retrieved February 21, 2011.

External links

This page was last edited on 11 July 2023, at 23:10
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