Jimmie Foxx Biography
Jimmie Foxx was arguably major league baseball's best player of the 1930's. A devastating hitter with legendary power, Foxx didn't let a single year pass during that decade without at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI. In 1932 he hit 58 home runs and the following season achieved a batting triple crown. His 175 RBI in 1938 still ranks fourth all-time for a single-season mark. A two-time World Series champion and a three-time MVP, Foxx ranked No. 2 on the career home run list with 534 when he retired.
James Emory Foxx was born in Sudlersville, Mad., on Oct. 22, 1907. His father, Dell, was a tenant farmer and a star catcher on various county teams. Growing up and working intensely on a farm sculpted Foxx's physique into that of a grown adult, and by age 12 he was already playing with his father on a county team.
In high school he was named the outstanding high school athlete in Maryland as he played soccer, was a track star and captained the basketball team. As a junior he hit .552 and even struck out 18 batters in a game as the team's pitcher.
In 1923 he was offered a contract by a team in Delaware but was forced to decline because of his age. Former major league star Frank "Home Run" Baker recruited the 16-year old in 1924 to join the nearby Easton team he was a player-manager for in the Eastern Shore League. Foxx slugged a home run in the opening game, and Baker soon became so enthralled with the youngster that he informed Philadelphia Athletics manager and owner Connie Mack of the young prospect. Before the end of July, Foxx had been signed by the Athletics. Foxx dropped out of high school during his senior year to join the club in spring training.
As a 17-year old in 1925, Foxx made his major league debut. He only made nine plate appearances that season but netted six hits in his limited opportunity. Foxx was predominantly a catcher, but the Athletics wouldn't need him at that position, as future Hall-of-Famer Mickey Cochrane was starting behind the plate.
In July 1928, Foxx hit a fastball from St. Louis Browns' Jack Ogden over 460 feet, clear out of Shibe Park. That season Foxx became a full-time member of the team and, in 400 at-bats, hit .328 with 13 home runs, 10 triples and 79 RBI. His versatility was evident when he logged 60 games at third base, 30 games at first base and 19 at catcher.
The Athletics won the pennant by 18 games over the New York Yankees in 1929, and Foxx led the league with a .463 OBP to go along with 33 home runs and a .354 batting average. Against the Cubs in the World Series, Foxx hit .350 and belted home runs in the first two games, and the Athletics won the series, 4-1. Notably in Game 4, the Athletics were trailing 8-0 in the 7th inning before staging a 10-run inning (an inning which Foxx contributed two hits) in a phenomenal comeback.
The following season Foxx knocked in 156 runs, 37 home runs and 13 triples to help lead the Athletics to another pennant. Against the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, the teams were tied 2-2. In Game 5, the score stood at 0-0 in the ninth inning before Foxx belted a two-run home run off Burleigh Grimes. The shot ultimately gave the Athletics the edge in the series, and, in the following game, they sealed back-to-back championships with a 7-1 victory.
The Athletics again won the pennant in 1931 with a 107-win season to set up a repeat championship matchup against the Cardinals. Despite Foxx's .348 average and Game 4 home run that cleared Shibe Park, the Cardinals had their revenge when they won the series 4-3.
Foxx responded with a 'Ruthian' season in 1932. As MVP of the league he was tops with 151 runs and 169 RBI. He also belted an astonishing 58 home runs -- a mark that might have even been more monumental had two of his home runs not been washed away by rainouts. Foxx's MVP season also included a .364 batting average and a slugging percentage of .749.
In 1933 Foxx might have outdone his previous season's achievements when he recorded the batting triple crown. Hitting .356 with 48 home runs and 163 RBI, Foxx again was crowned league MVP and was selected to major league baseball's first All-Star game. Foxx's numbers also were produced without the aid of future Hall-of-Famer Al Simmons (who had become a casualty to the financial strains of the Great Depression) in the lineup.
Foxx slugged 80 home runs and 245 RBI over the next two seasons with the support of a depleted lineup. The Athletics were in dead last with 58 wins in 1935 as Connie Mack continually cut costs. After that season, Foxx himself became a commodity that Connie Mack could no longer afford, and he was sold off to the Boston Red Sox.
In his first year with the club, Foxx hit .338 with 41 home runs and 143 RBI. On June 16 of that year, he hit a home run over the roof of the left field pavilion of Comiskey Park.
In 1938, Foxx led the league with a .349 batting average and 175 RBI. He also hit 50 home runs and would have notched his second triple crown had Hank Greenberg not belted 58 homers. Foxx was awarded with his third and final MVP honor. His 50 home runs stood as the single-season Red Sox record until David Ortiz hit 54 in 2006.
Foxx led the league in OBP in 1939, with .464, and in home runs, with 35, to go along with a .360 average. He finished second in MVP voting behind Joe Dimmagio. In 1940, he hit 36 home runs. It was the 12th straight season that Foxx hit at least 30.
A broken rib incurred during a batting practice injury during the 1942 season led the Red Sox to place Foxx on waivers. He was sold for $10,000 to the Cubs.
With the Cubs, Foxx was no longer the same player. For the remainder of the 1942 season, he hit .205 with three home runs in 205 at-bats. At the end of the year, he announced that he would sit out the 1943 season.
He played in 15 games for the Cubs in 1944 but only saw 20 at-bats and only connected on one hit.
In 224 at-bats with the Phillies, Foxx hit seven home runs and batted .268. He also showed off his arm by pitching 22.2 innings with a 1.59 ERA.
After the season Foxx retired for good. For his career he hit .325, 1,922 RBI, 2,646 hits and 534 home runs. When he retired, he stood second on the all-time home run list behind Babe Ruth.
The divorce from his first wife and a failed golf course venture ravaged Foxx's finances. In 1946, he had a brief stint in the Red Sox radio booth and, from there, lurched from lower-level managing jobs to blue-collar gigs.
In 1952, he took a job managing the Fort Wayne Daisies, of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. For one season Foxx helped improve attendance as well as the club's performance. After his stint with the Daisies, he continued to fail to secure a long-term job, potentially due to his abuse of alcohol. He spent two seasons as coach of the University of Miami baseball team but, after being let go of the position in 1957, he was left bankrupt.
For one season he was a hitting instructor for the Red Sox's Triple-A farm team, but spent the rest of his days working part-time jobs.
On July 21, 1967, Foxx died after choking on a piece of meat. Foxx originally was thought to have died from a heart attack, but the autopsy showed that it was asphyxiation.