Tuesday, December 23, 2014

HALL OF FAME #2: EARLE COMBS: CLASS OF 1970

Moving along alphabetically, the second player elected to the Hall of Fame in 1970 was former New York Yankees center fielder Earle Combs, the "Kentucky Colonel".
Here's my card design, following the first card in this series, Lou Boudreau:


Though he only played nine full seasons in the Majors, and twelve overall, Combs played all of them in the Bronx, and put together some monster years.
While playing in the same lineup with guys named Ruth, Gehrig, Lazzeri and Meusel, Combs more than held his own, hitting over .300 in ten of his twelve seasons, topping out at .356 in 1927, year of the "Murderer's Row" all-time team.
He led the American League in hits with 231 that same season, and represented the high-water mark for Yankee batters until my childhood idol Don Mattingly topped it with 238 in 1986.
He also paced the league in triples three times, each with over 20, and topped 100 runs scored eight straight years between 1925 and 1932.
However, in 1934 he suffered a serious injury when he crashed into the outfield wall in St. Louis' Sportsman Park, and reportedly nearly died from a fractured skull.
He tried to make a comeback in 1935 but suffered yet another injury, and coupled with the fact that the team was about to bring up the heir-apparent center-fielder in Joe DiMaggio, he decided to retire at 36, becoming a longtime coach for about another 20 years.
By the time he hung up his cleats as a player, Combs had a .325 average, 1866 hits, 309 doubles, 154 triples and a .397 on-base-percentage.
Though he never got more than 16% support for induction by the BBWA (in 1960), he was finally voted in by the Veteran's Committee in 1970, closing out a fantastic career.

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