Robert Henry “Bob” Bescher
Born: February 25, 1884 - London, OH
Died: November 29, 1942 - London, OH
Career BA: .258
Cincinnati Reds NL (February 25, 1884 - November 29, 1942)
New York Giants NL (1914)
St. Louis Cardinals NL (1915–1917)
Cleveland Indians AL (1918)
As a big-league base stealer, Bob Bescher was simply the best for several years. Known as the “Master of the Hook Slide” by some and “The London Flash” by others, Bescher led the National League in swipes four years in a row from 1909 through 1912. His 81 steals in 1911 stood as the National League record until 1962 and is still the single-season record for the Cincinnati Reds.
By way of the University of Notre Dame and Wittenberg College, Bescher developed his tremendous athletic skills more as a football player than as a baseball player. Actually, as a football player, Bescher was considered one of the greatest to ever come out of Wittenberg. He was so good that, during the baseball offseason, he played halfback under an assumed name for the professional football Dayton Oakwoods. As a baseball player, he maneuvered through the minors fairly quickly to make his debut with the Cincinnati Reds in 1908. Offensively, Bescher’s best year was in 1912 when he batted .281 and had a league-leading 120 runs scored. With a keen eye for the ball, Bescher also led the league in walks in 1913. As an outfielder, Bob Bescher could effortlessly track down fly balls and had a strong arm.
Once referred to as the “King of the Base Stealers” by Baseball Magazine, Bescher was traded down to the minors as his career declined, but he came back up to finish his Major League career in 1918 with Cleveland. He then competed in the minors for seven more years until he was well into his forties. After retirement, Bescher worked as an oil inspector, but also gained the reputation as a proficient brewmaster during prohibition. Tragically “The London Flash” lost his life in a flash when his car was hit head-on by an oncoming train in 1942.
– 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