Napoleon “Nap” "Larry" Lajoie
Born: September 5, 1874 - Woonsocket, RI
Died: February 7, 1959 - Daytona Beach, FL
Career BA: .338
Managerial Record: 377–309
Philadelphia Phillies NL (September 5, 1874 - February 7, 1959)
Philadelphia Athletics AL (1901–1902, 1915–1916)
Cleveland Bronchos/Naps AL (1902–1914; player-manager: 1905–1909)
Leaving Nap “Larry” Lajoie off the Cracker Jack All-Star Team may seem ludicrous. After all, how many players get teams named after them? Nap Lajoie was a truly great ballplayer. There is no debate there. As a matter of fact, he was once walked intentionally—with the bases loaded. It is said that he could hit so hard that it actually tore the cover right off the ball on a few occasions. In 1901, Nap batted an amazing .426 with 232 hits. During his 21 seasons in the majors, he batted over .300 sixteen times.
Probably the greatest and most controversial batting race in history took place in 1910 between Nap Lajoie and Ty Cobb. The race was tight, but Cobb had the advantage. Lajoie would need a hit in every at-bat in his final game of the season to win. The Naps faced the St. Louis Browns that historic day. The Browns disliked Cobb so much that they helped Lajoie by playing their third baseman in shallow left field, even though Lajoie was laying down bunts. Lajoie went 8-for-8, securing the title with the aid of the opposing team. A week later, Ban Johnson, the American League president, declared Cobb the winner by a .000860 margin. By his figures, Lajoie finished at .384 to Cobb’s .385 BA. However, both Cobb and Lajoie were awarded a new Chalmers automobile as they were essentially tied. The 1910 contest is still controversial to this day, with some sources showing Cobb the winner, and some showing Lajoie as batting champ.
Defensively Lajoie was stellar at second base, leading the lead in assists three times, putouts five times, and fielding percentage seven times. When he was traded to the Cleveland Bronchos in 1902, the team was so ecstatic that they renamed themselves the Naps at the end of the season. Lajoie was part of the second class elected to the Hall of Fame and lived to the ripe old age of 89. With a .338 lifetime batting average, over 3,200 hits, three uncontested batting titles, a Triple Crown, as well as solid defensive play, Nap Lajoie could be considered one of the three or four greatest second basemen of all time.
– Tom and Ellen Zappala, The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players. For more information on their book and/or to order a copy at a special PSA discount, visit http://crackerjackplayers.com/PSA_order.html