Frederick William “Fred” Luderus
Born: September 12, 1885 - Milwaukee, WI
Died: January 5, 1961 - Three Lakes, WI
Career BA: .277
Chicago Cubs NL (September 12, 1885 - January 5, 1961)
Philadelphia Phillies NL (1910–1920)
Fred Luderus had no fancy or folksy nickname. His lifetime batting average was .277. In 1911, he finished 27th in MVP voting while batting .301 with 16 homers and 99 RBI for the Philadelphia Phillies. Over his 12-year big-league career he led the National League in a grand total of one category: games played, with 155 in 1913. All in all, Luderus was a pretty good ballplayer, nothing spectacular or remarkable about him, except that is, for one glorious run in the 1915 World Series against the Boston Red Sox. In those five games, Luderus went from just plain Fred to just plain fantastic. He batted .438 with seven hits in 16 at-bats, and knocked in six runs with one homer and two doubles to boot. He was nearly unstoppable. Unfortunately for Fred, the Phillies were not. The Sons of Brotherly Love lost to the BoSox in five games, and his .500 OBP, .750 slugging and 1.250 OPS went for naught.
Still, that Series was the highlight of an astonishingly consistent career. Between 1911 and 1919, the Philadelphia faithful could pretty much pencil Luderus in for 30 doubles, 60 to 80 RBI and a .270 plus average. While Luderus sometimes showed the sweet swing of a sublime slugger, his glove often hit a sour note. On four occasions, he led all National League first basemen in errors. Luderus was born in Milwaukee, and his fielding made some wonder if he sampled the many beers of his native city between innings. As a Cub in 1909 and 1910, Luderus hit but one round-tripper, an inside the park job against his future team, the Phillies. He would hit 83 more Major League homers benefitting from the baby band box Baker Bowl, the Phillies’ slugger-friendly home stadium. Outside of playing first base and being of German descent, Luderus could never be confused with Lou Gehrig, however, he did set the Major League record for consecutive games played in 1919, appearing in his 479th straight game on August 3. His Iron Man string would run until Opening Day of the 1920 season stretching 533 games. Luderus retired in 1920 to dabble in home building, not a bad choice for a guy who constructed a fairly solid big-league career.
– 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