John Franklin “Home Run” Baker
Born: March 13, 1886 - Trappe, MD
Died: June 28, 1963 - Trappe, MD
Career BA: .307
Philadelphia Athletics AL (March 13, 1886 - June 28, 1963)
New York Yankees AL (1916–1919, 1921–1922)
As part of the A’s $100,000 infield along with Stuffy McInnis, Eddie Collins and Black Jack Barry, Frank “Home Run” Baker was an exceptional third baseman and an outstanding hitter whose place in the Hall of Fame is well deserved. Initially, it was thought that the young Baker would not make the grade in Major League baseball. However, Buck Herzog, a friend who was already playing in the majors, convinced a few people to take a shot on the gifted third baseman.
Baker did not disappoint, as he batted .305 in 1909, his rookie season with the A’s and set a record for triples by a rookie, which still stands. That season, Baker was the first to hit the ball over the right field fence at the new Shibe Park, but he earned the nickname “Home Run” by going deep on two occasions during the 1911 World Series. Baker played in four World Series with the A’s and led the league in round-trippers over four consecutive seasons from 1911 to 1914. He credited his power-hitting ability to his work on the family farm, and kept in shape by chopping wood in the offseason.
Considered the best third baseman of the pre-war era, Baker went on to bat over .300 six times, and twice led the league in RBI. As a third baseman, he led the league in putouts seven times. Due to a salary dispute, Baker returned to his farm for the 1915 season. He was traded to the Yankees in 1916 where he had several good seasons before tragedy struck in 1920. Baker lost his wife to scarlet fever. Grief stricken, he took time off to care for his family, but returned to the Yankees in 1921 in time to play in two more World Series. Later, while managing in the Eastern Shore Baseball League, Baker discovered a pretty good ballplayer and recommended him to Connie Mack. That player was the great Jimmy Foxx. Frank “Home Run” Baker was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1955. He remains one of the greatest third basemen of all time, and is definitely our choice at the hot corner.
– 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