HORNSBY, ROGERS (1896-1963)
Many baseball experts consider Rogers Hornsby to be the greatest right-handed hitter in the game's history. He was born on April 27, 1896, in Winters, Texas, and later moved to Fort Worth, where he developed his baseball skills on city league and high school teams. In 1914 Hornsby joined a Class D minor-league team in Hugo, Oklahoma. After that franchise folded, he returned to Texas when a team in Denison purchased his contract. While playing for Denison, the infielder impressed a scout for the St. Louis Cardinals, who then bought his contract in September 1915.
Over the next decade Hornsby established himself as one of the most feared hitters in the major leagues. From 1920 to 1925 he won a phenomenal six straight batting titles and two Triple Crowns. Hornsby's .424 batting average in 1924 is still a modern record. Hornsby was an aggressive player with a controversial gambling addiction, and his abrasiveness led to frequent difficulties with his team's front office. As a result, St. Louis traded Hornsby following the 1926 season. He played for five different teams until his retirement in 1937.
During and following his playing days, Hornsby managed several teams, including minor-league franchises in Fort Worth and Beaumont, Texas. Despite his gruff personality, Hornsby's baseball accomplishments made him a hero to thousands of Texans. He finished his Hall of Fame career with 301 home runs and a .358 lifetime batting average, the highest ever for a right-handed hitter. Hornsby died on January 5, 1963, in Chicago.
Kent M. Krause University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Alexander, Charles C. Rogers Hornsby: A Biography. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1995.
Dewey, Donald, and Nicholas Acocella. The Biographical History of Baseball. New York: Carroll and Graf Publishers, Inc., 1995.