Seven Native Iowans are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame [PHOTOS]
Over the last 86 years, 340 people have been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Just two percent of them were born in Iowa. Here's a look at the seven men who've defied the odds and been enshrined in Cooperstown.
We begin more than a century ago with Marshalltown, Iowa native Adrian Constantine "Cap" Anson. He played for 27 seasons, including 22 with the Chicago Cubs. Anson also managed for 21 of those years, including 19 of the seasons he played with the Cubs... many of those years they were still known as the Chicago White Stockings.
A right-handed throwing first baseman, Anson played in 2,524 games, batted 10,281 times, hit .334 for his career, collected 3,435 hits including 582 doubles, and scored 1,999 runs. He retired at the age of 45, at the end of the 1897 season. *All of the statistics in bold were big league records when Anson retired.
"Cap" Anson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1939. His plaque in Cooperstown reads,
"Greatest Hitter and Greatest National League Player-Manager Of 19th Century. Started with Chicago in National League's First Year 1876, Chicago Manager from 1879 to 1897, Winning 5 Pennants. Was .300 Class Hitter 20 Years, Batting Champion 4 Times."
Fred Clarke was born in Winterset, Iowa. He played for 22 seasons, including 15 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Clarke also managed for 19 years, most of them with Pittsburgh. As a player-manager in 1901, the 29-year-old Clarke led Pittsburgh to the first of four National League pennants under his tutelage. In 1909, he managed the Pirates to a World Series title.
On the field, Clarke hit over .300 11 times and led National League left fielders in fielding percentage on two occasions.
Clarke was inducted in 1945. His Hall of Fame plaque says,
"The First of the Successful "Boy Managers," At Twenty-Four He Piloted Louisville's Colonels in the National League. Won 4 Pennants For Pittsburgh And a World Series Championship in 1909. Starred As An Outfielder For 22 Seasons."
Arthur Charles "Dazzy" Vance was born in Orient, Iowa. He didn't stick in the big leagues until 1922. Thirty-one at the time, Vance was one of baseball's early strikeout kings, leading the league in striking out opposing hitters for seven straight seasons in the 1920s. Vance enjoyed most of his success with the Brooklyn Dodgers but won a World Series as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals' Gashouse Gang, in 1934.
Vance was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955. His plaque in Cooperstown reads,
"First Pitcher In N.L. To Lead In Strikeouts For 7 Straight Years, 1922 to 1928, Led League With 28 Victories In 1924; 22 In 1925; Won 15 Straight In 1924, Pitched No-Hit Game Against Phillies, 1925, Most Valuable Player N.L. 1924."
Undoubtedly Iowa's most well-known member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame is Robert William Andrew Feller. Bob Feller was born in Van Meter, Iowa. At 17, Feller he left the farm and went straight to the major leagues. That first year, Feller's eye-popping fastball would get him the nickname "Rapid Robert." A member of the Cleveland Indians throughout his career, Feller spent 18 years accumulating a legendary career.
During his big league debut, at age 17, Feller struck out 15. A month later, he set the American League rookie record by striking out 17. When the 1936 season ended, Feller returned to Van Meter to finish his senior year of high school.
Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Feller joined the U.S. Navy. Love of country resulted in Feller missing nearly four seasons of baseball but he never regretted the move.
Feller pitched in 570 games and won 266 of them while losing only 162, a .621 win percentage. He pitched 279 complete games, 44 of them shutouts.
Bob Feller was inducted in 1962. His plaque reads,
"Pitched 3 No-Hit Games in A.L., 12 One Hit Games. Set Modern Strikeout Record With 18 In Game, 348 For Season. Led A.L. In Victories 6 (One Tie) Seasons, Lifetime Record: Won 266, Lost 162, P.C. (percentage) .621, E.R. Average 3.25, Struck Out 2,581."
A 9-foot statue of Bob Feller was unveiled in Cleveland, Ohio in 1994.
Urban Clarence "Red" Faber was born in Cascade, Iowa. The right-handed pitcher, who featured a good fastball and spitball, spent his entire 20-year career with the Chicago White Sox. Faber helped lead the Sox to the 1917 World Championship, winning three games in the series versus the New York Giants.
Faber was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1964. His plaque says,
"Durable Righthander Who Won 253, Lost 211, E.R.A. 3.13 Games In Two Decades With White Sox. Victor in 3 Games of 1917 World's Series Against Giants. Won 20 Or More Games In Season Four Times, Three In Succession."
David James Bancroft was born in Sioux City, Iowa. The shortstop helped the Philadelphia Phillies to the National League pennant as a rookie in 1915. He reportedly hollered "Beauty" every time a Phillies pitcher threw a good pitch, earning Bancroft that same nickname. In his first year with Philadelphia, Bancroft had a remarkable 892 chances at his shortstop position, an average of nearly six per game. Seven seasons later, he would have nearly 1,000 chances at short.
Bancroft spent 19 seasons in the majors with the Phillies, Giants, Braves, and Dodgers. He also managed the Braves during his four years in Boston, from 1924 through 1927.
Bancroft was inducted into the Hall in 1971. His plaque reads,
"Set Major League Record For Chances Handled By A Shortstop In A Season--984 in 1922. Led League In Putouts For Shortstops In 1918-1920-1921-1922. Hit .319 in 1921, .321 in 1922, And .304 In 1923 With New York Giants. Hit .319 In 1925 And .311 In 1926 With Boston. Player-Manager Of Braves, 1924-1927."
J. Leslie (J.L.) Wilkinson was born in Algona, Iowa. According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, he was "the principal owner of the Kansas City Monarchs from 1920-48, one of the most dominant Negro Leagues teams ever assembled." Wilkinson's players included an impressive list of future Hall of Famers including Cool Papa Bell, Satchel Paige, Jackie Robinson, and Ernie Banks."
Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006, Wilkinson's plaque says,
"An Innovative And Generous Owner Who Founded And Operated The Kansas City Monarchs From 1920-1948. Respected For Honesty And Fairness With His Players. His Monarchs Dominated Black Baseball, Winning The Most League Titles, Plus Two Negro Leagues World Series Championships. Created Multi-Racial All-Nations Brainstorming Team That Flourished From 1912-18, Then Help Found Negro National League In 1920. Devised Portable Lighting System Which Allowed Teams To Play Night Games And Help Survive The Great Depression. Sent More Players, Including Jackie Robinson, To Major Leagues Than Any Other Negro Leagues Owner."
Amazingly, no one born in Iowa has had a career fitting of the National Baseball Hall of Fame since Bob Feller left the field for the final time in 1956. That's not likely to change any time soon.
A total of 225 Iowa-born players have appeared in Major League Baseball through the years. The longest-tenured current player is Michael Wacha of the Boston Red Sox. The Iowa City, Iowa native just completed his 10th season. He's won 74 games.