Robert Hayes “Bobby” Veach
Born: June 29, 1888 - St. Charles, KY
Died: August 7, 1945 - Detroit, MI
Career BA: .310
Detroit Tigers AL (June 29, 1888 - August 7, 1945)
Boston Red Sox AL (1924–1925)
New York Yankees AL (1925)
Washington Senators AL (1925)
Bobby Veach is probably the most glaring example of a player who, for some reason, has been shortchanged when it comes to entry into the hallowed Halls of Cooperstown. With a .310 lifetime batting average and over 2,000 career hits, Veach batted over .300 ten times, had 3,754 putouts, led the American League in RBI on three different occasions (1915, 1917, 1918), and was the first Tiger to hit for the cycle. Veach stole 195 bases over his 14 years in the majors and was an outstanding outfielder. Why isn’t he in the Hall? Perhaps it’s because he was overshadowed by three outfielders he played alongside with at one time or another. Yes, future Hall of Famers Ty Cobb, Sam Crawford and Harry Heilmann were all Veach’s stable mates in the outfield.
Although an integral part of the Tiger’s juggernaut, he suffered once Cobb took the helm and decided to take Veach down a peg or two. Cobb could never understand Veach’s cordial attitude toward the opposing teams, and thought he did not take the game seriously. As manager, Cobb made life miserable for Veach, who in turn put up great numbers to prove Cobb wrong. In 1924, Cobb was finally able to get Veach out of the picture by selling him to the Red Sox. Looking back though, as a Tiger, Veach had some marvelous years. Noted baseball historian Bill James ranked the 1915 Tigers’ outfield of Cobb, Veach and Sam Crawford as the greatest of all time.
By the way, Veach is the only player to ever pinch hit for Babe Ruth. He did some mop up work for the Yanks and Senators at the end of his campaign and then went back to the minors where he had some outstanding seasons. He finally left baseball behind in 1930 to buy into the coal business. Interestingly, Veach started out working in the Kentucky coal mines as a high school kid, so his retirement career brought him full circle. He died at the age of 57 in 1945 of what some suspect was lung cancer. Although overshadowed by his contemporaries, Veach was an outstanding player who belongs in the Hall.
– 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