James Emory “Jimmie” Foxx (October 22, 1907 - July 21, 1967) was not only one of the most imposing figures in baseball, but he backed it up with versatility, durability and strength. Jimmie grew up on a farm in Sudlersville, Maryland, where his extensive and often grueling chores helped to define and build his tremendously powerful physique. After his grandfather regaled 10-year old Jimmie with tales of his exploits during the Civil War, Foxx attempted to run away and join the Army, but was turned away. He had to settle for school, where he proved to be a good student and in athletics where he excelled in track and field and soccer as well as baseball. Expansion of the Eastern Shore League to nearby Easton brought manager and Hall of Famer Frank “Home Run” Baker to Foxx’s neck of the woods and Baker took notice of the strapping farm boy’s power, signing the high school junior immediately. Though Foxx returned to finish his senior year, he dropped out to attend the Philadelphia Athletics spring training, but was eventually sent to the Providence Grays of the Eastern League for seasoning, considering he was only 17. Jimmie returned to Philadelphia in 1926, but road the bench for much of the 1926 and 1927 seasons. The 1928 season offered more opportunity for Foxx as he played regularly either at first or third.
By 1929, Double-X, as dubbed by the press, settled in at first and Connie Mack surrounded the powerful slugger with Hall of Fame talent including Al Simmons, Lefty Grove, Eddie Collins and Mickey Cochrane while also acquiring Ty Cobb from Detroit. Foxx finished fourth batting average hitting .354, but added 33 home runs and 118 RBI as he helped lead the A’s to the American League pennant, winning by 18 games over the New York Yankees. Philadelphia then dispatched the Chicago Cubs in five games to win their first title since 1913. Foxx hit .335 with 37 home runs and 156 RBI as the A’s repeated as AL champs before beating the St. Louis Cardinals for back-to-back World Series titles. Though Philadelphia returned to the World Series for a third straight year in 1931, the Gas House Gang-led Cardinals avenged them winning in seven games. 1932 proved to be Jimmie’s best year to date as he led the AL in runs (151), home runs (58), RBI (169) and slugging percentage (.749) – still among the highest in the history of the Major Leagues, while missing the Triple Crown by only three points as he batted .364. Jimmie launched an assault Babe Ruth’s incredible record of 60 home runs as he tagged 58, despite playing through a thumb a wrist injury. He won his first of back-to-back AL MVP awards that season, but could not eclipse Ruth’s number. He was voted to the first Major League All-Star Game in 1933 and won his second MVP award the following year upon completing the rare Triple Crown with a .356 average, 48 home runs and 163 RBI.
Unfortunately, in 1935, the cashed strapped Athletics and owner/manager traded Foxx, the last of his corps of veterans, to the Boston Red Sox, after 11 years in the City of Brotherly Love (1925-1935). Once again, The Beast unleashed his power, drilling 41 home runs in 1936, but he was beaned in an exhibition game and suffered a severe sinus injury that would nag him for the remainder of his career. In 1938, as critics and fans feared that his best years were behind him, Jimmie burst out of the gate with 10 home runs and 35 RBI in May and finished with 50 for the season, 35 or which were clouted at his home field of Fenway Park. To go along with his 50 dingers, Foxx led the league in average at .349 and with 175 runs batted in, and was once again named the AL's Most Valuable Player. He edged out Detroit’s Hank Greenberg who hit 58 home runs trying to make him own run at Ruth’s elusive mark. Despite this career year, Jimmie's health was failing as his eyesight was considerably weakened due to the beaning. Being away from family and friends in Philadelphia didn't help the situation as he was often down on himself due to the fading skills and tended to visit every watering hole from Fenway back to his home after each game.
The player, who was once described as "having muscles in his hair," for his muscular physique and tremendous power, was still an excellent RBI man, but the power numbers fell with each passing year. After seven years in Boston (1936-1942) in 1942, The Beast was sent to the Chicago Cubs where he played parts of two seasons (1942, 1944) before finishing his career in Philadelphia, this time with the Phillies (1945). Jimmie Foxx was a 9-time All-Star selection, was a two-time World Series champion with the Athletics (1929, 1930) and was a three-time American League Most Valuable Player (1932, 1933, 1938). Jimmie Foxx retired with 2,646 hits, 1,922 RBI, 534 home runs and a .325 career batting average. Jimmie Foxx was the second player in history, behind Babe Ruth, to hit over 500 home runs. From 1929-1940, Foxx blasted 30 or more home runs in each of the twelve consecutive seasons. James Emory “Jimmie” Foxx was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1951. Sadly, Jimmie’s heavy drinking affected him for the duration of his life and died virtually bankrupt. In 1992, Tom Hanks portrayed Jimmy Dugan, a retired ballplayer turned manager of a women’s baseball team of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which was loosely based on Jimmie Foxx, in A League of Their Own.