Zachariah Davis “Zack” Wheat
Born: May 23, 1888 - Hamilton, MO
Died: March 11, 1972 - Sedalia, MO
Career BA: .317
Brooklyn Superbas/Dodgers/Robins NL (May 23, 1888 - March 11, 1972)
Philadelphia Athletics AL (1927)
One of the premier hitters of his generation, Zack Wheat’s statistics still dominate the record books of the Dodgers’ organization. He played 18 seasons (1909–1926) for the Brooklyn Superbas, Robins, and Dodgers before finishing his career with the Philadelphia A’s in 1927. Statistically, the latter part of Wheat’s career is even more impressive than his prime. He reached double figures in home runs four times after the age of 30. In 1922, at age 34, Wheat set career highs in home runs (16) and RBI (112), while batting .335. Three years later, he was still raking the ball slugging .541 and batting .359 with 14 roundtrippers and 103 RBI.
Between 1915 and 1919, Brooklyn featured the Zack and Mack attack as Wheat’s brother Mack joined the team. Truth be told, the attack was pretty one-sided. Mack Wheat’s best year for the Robins was in 1919 when he hit .205 with eight RBI. Zack Wheat’s mother was full-blooded Cherokee, and his father was a direct descendant of the Puritans who founded Concord, MA. Wheat himself forged a unique family history, marrying his second cousin Daisy in 1912. She eventually became his agent and negotiated yearly raises for Wheat with a hard-line style that included regular holdouts.
While he had a subpar 1916 World Series in Brooklyn’s loss to the Red Sox, Wheat rebounded in the 1920 Fall Classic batting .333, but the Robins were defeated in seven games by Cleveland. Wheat’s lifetime .317 batting average was highlighted by two consecutive seasons of hitting .375 (1923 and 1924). As the Deadball Era came to a close, the man they called “Buck” saw his bat come alive with four consecutive seasons of plus-.500 slugging from 1922 to 1925. He won his only batting title in 1918, but registered three seasons of 200 hits or more.
After his final season in Philly, Wheat retired to a life of farming in his home state of Missouri, and later owned a hunting and fishing resort on the Lake of the Ozarks. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1959 by the Veterans Committee, Wheat will forever be remembered as one of the all-time great Dodgers.
– 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