Jimmie Foxx was perhaps the most powerful hitter of his time. You might be thinking, "Didn't he play during the same era as Babe Ruth, that's impossible?" The answer is yes, but if you ask people who saw both men at bat, many will tell you that it was Foxx who had more raw power.
He had a few nicknames in his day: "The Beast" and "Double X", because of his imposing presence and lethal power. Foxx would cut his sleeves so the opposing pitcher could see his muscular arms flexing at the plate. It was as if he was daring the pitcher to give him one to hit.
Lefty Grove, a teammate and Hall of Fame pitcher, once said of Foxx, "He wasn't scouted, he was trapped."
Despite Foxx's menacing presence, people who knew Foxx would tell you he was an even better person than he was a player. When you take into consideration what Foxx has accomplished as a player, that is quite a compliment.
His stats were impressive, hitting 30 home runs for 12 consecutive seasons. Foxx had 13 seasons in which he drove in 100 runs, hit over .300 14 times including 2 batting titles and won 3 MVP's. His phenomenal statistics don't tell the whole story, however, because his career was cut short by his personal battle with alcoholism.
In 1932, Foxx enjoyed his best season when he hit 58 home runs. That was a record for right handed hitters at the time although Ruth had the overall record with 60 homers in 1927. The most interesting statistic for Foxx's 1932 season, wasn't how many homers he hit, but how many he lost. Two home runs were taken away because of rain, and approximately 10 home runs taken away because of newly constructed outfield screens in Cleveland, St. Louis and Philadelphia, that were not erected until after Ruth hit 60. All in all, poor Jimmie lost 12 home runs, which would have givin him a total of 70. Does the number 70 sound familiar?
Many observers claim that Foxx hit more tape-measure homers than anyone in history including Ruth and Mantle. In fact, Foxx may have hit the longest home run in Yankee Stadium history, despite the fact that Mantle has received the accolades for the same feat. Mantle's blast, which is recognized as the furthest ball hit at Yankee Stadium, hit the facade at the top of the third deck in right field. Foxx hit his blast only three feet from the top of the third deck facade in left field which is considerably deeper than right field. No IBM "Tale of the Tape" existed when he needed it. Foxx was also the most versatile of the 500 home run club. He played every position except second base, and even pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies at the end of his career. Mr. Versatile pitched a total of 23 innings with an earned run average of only 1.57.
In the end, it was "The Beast's" generous nature that so many friends and teammates loved, and unfortunately was a leading factor in the series of events that destroyed his life. A combination of failed business ventures and constant giving to others, led to eventual bankruptcy and elevated alcoholism.
While having dinner with his brother, Foxx choked on a piece of meat and could not be saved. Despite the tragedies that colored Foxx's life, he will always be admired for his awesome baseball feats and gentle nature.
Collecting Foxx Cards
Foxx enjoys a "cult-like" following in the collecting world. The demand for his cards may not be as strong as Ruth or Gehrig, but his fans are as loyal as any they are for any other player. The wonderful thing about collecting Foxx cards, is that he only appears in a select number of sets. Most of those sets are extremely popular and interesting. The down side for collectors who prefer high-grade examples, is that many of the cards bearing his likeness are major condition rarities. Your wallet might take a beating if you want to collect top quality examples, but they're worth it.
The rarity dilemma can also work in your favor. If you already have, or can find some of Foxx's more difficult issues, you know what you have is rare and highly desirable. Here's a list of Double X's trading cards you should look for:
- 1932 U.S. Caramel #23
A small number of '32 Caramels were found in recent years, otherwise very rare, usually in poor condition, Ruth and Gehrig included in set.
- 1933 Delongs #21
- 1933 Goudey #29 and #1540
Beautiful, rarely seen set, includes Gehrig and many Hall of Famers. A Benny Bengough (#1) in this set currently sells for $40-50K.
- 1933 Tattoo Orbit
Few assembled sets, Ruth and Gehrig are not included in the set.
- 1934-36 Batter-Up
No Ruth, No Gehrig in set...
- 1934 Goudey #1
- 1935 Goudey
Not very popular among collectors because multiple players are included on every card in the set.
- 1934-1936 Diamond Star #64
Foxx as a catcher, set does not include Ruth and Gehrig
- 1938 Goudey #249 and #2'73
set includes the coveted Joe DiMaggio rookie card.
- 1940 Play Ball #133
Foxx in Red Sox uniform near the end of his career, B&W
- 1941 Play Ball #13
Similar to the 1940 Play Ball, but in color.
- 1941 Double Play #59 and 60
Each issue listed above is extremely difficult to find in high-grade, and with most of the sets being very popular, the demand is strong. Foxx's most intriguing card is clearly the #1 card of the 1934 Goudey set. No matter who the player is, the #1 card of any vintage set often gets a lot of attention. Collectors would often place rubber bands around their cards so the first card would take an extra beating.
The toughest card, the 1933 Delongs Foxx, is both beautiful and rare -- so rare that most collectors have never seen one. The 1933 Delongs set is small, with many Hall of Famers, including Lou Gehrig. This card has a lot of potential.
The two most important #1 cards are probably the 1933 Goudey Benny Bengough and the 1952 Topps Andy Pafko. The Gem Mint 10 PSA Pafko sold for $83,870 over a year ago and PSA 8 copies of this card and the Bengough have been sold in the $40,000-$50,000 range. Granted they are #1 cards of very important sets but as individual players, there is little demand for them in other sets.
Next in value after the 1934 Goudey Foxx, would be the two 1933 Goudey versions of Foxx. The #29 Foxx is a bit tougher than the #154, and will have a slight premium attached. Both cards are part of, what many would consider; the most beautiful set ever produced. The bright colors of the cards and the extreme difficulty in obtaining them in high-grade, make this set even more attractive to collectors.
Two other great sets that include Foxx, are the 1938 Goudey set and the 1934-36 Diamond Star set. The Goudey set includes the coveted Joe Dimaggio's rookie card. The '38 Goudey #273 includes cartoons of Foxx on the front, and is slightly tougher than the low number version to find in mint condition.
The Diamond Star Foxx offers a great alternative for those who do not want to pay the elite Goudey prices. It's a great looking card showing Foxx as a catcher. The reason the Diamond Star set is much cheaper than the Goudeys, is of course because two guys named Ruth and Gehrig weren't included in it.
Another pair of tough but less mainstream Foxx cards, are the 1933 Tattoo Orbit issue and the 1932 U.S. Caramel #23. The Tattoo Orbit is so tough, that collectors will rarely see one, especially in high-grade. Many collectors don't even try to assemble the set.