Born in Sudlersville, Maryland, Foxx played baseball in high school and dropped out to join a minor league team managed by former Philadelphia Athletics great Frank "Home Run" Baker. Foxx had hoped to pitch or play third base, but since the team was short on catchers, Foxx moved behind the plate. He immediately drew interest from the Athletics and the New York Yankees. Foxx signed with the A's and made his major league debut in 1925 at age 17.
Major League CareerEdit
The A's catching duties were already filled by future Hall of Famer Mickey Cochrane, so by 1927, Foxx was splitting time between catching, first base, and the outfield. In 1929, installed as the A's regular first baseman, Foxx had a breakthrough year, batting .354 and hitting 33 home runs.
In 1932, Foxx hit .364, with 58 home runs with 169 RBIs, missing the Triple Crown by just three points in batting average. Boston Red Sox first baseman Dale Alexander hit .367, but in just 454 plate appearances; he would not have won the batting title under current rules, which are based upon 3.1 plate appearances per team games played. Foxx did win the Triple Crown the following season, with a batting average of .356, 163 RBIs, and 48 home runs. He won back-to-back MVP honors in 1932 and 1933.
Foxx was one of the three or four most feared sluggers of his era. The great Yankee pitcher Lefty Gomez once said of him, "He has muscles in his hair." In 1937, Foxx hit a ball into the third deck of the left-field stands at Yankee Stadium in New York, a very rare feat because of the distance and the angle of the stands. Gomez was the pitcher who gave it up, and when asked how far it went, he said, "I don't know, but I do know it took somebody 45 minutes to go up there and get it back."
When the Great Depression fully hit in the early 1930s, A's owner Connie Mack was unable to pay the salaries of his highly paid stars and was obliged to sell off a number of them. In 1936, Mack sold Foxx's contract to the Boston Red Sox for $150,000 following a contract dispute.
Boston Red SoxEdit
Foxx played six years for Boston, including a spectacular 1938 season in which he hit 50 home runs, drove in 175 runs, batted .349, won his third MVP award, and again narrowly missed winning the Triple Crown. Foxx is one of nine players to have won three MVPs; only Barry Bonds (the cheater) with 7 has more.
On June 16, 1938, he set an American League record when he walked six times in a game. In 1939 he hit .360, his second best all-time season batting average. His 50 home runs would remain the single-season record for the Red Sox until David Ortiz hit 54 in 2006.
Chicago Cubs & Philadelphia PhilliesEdit
Foxx's skills diminished significantly after 1941. Some sources attribute this to a drinking problem, while others attribute it to a sinus condition. He split the 1942 season between the Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, playing mostly a reserve role. He sat out the 1943 season and appeared only in 15 games in 1944, mostly as a pinch hitter.
He finished up his career with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1945, filling in at first and third, pinch hitting, and even pitching nine games, compiling a surprising 1-0 record and 1.59 ERA over 22.2 innings. Interestingly, the man who was so often called the right-handed Babe Ruth throughout his career was the opposite of Ruth in this regard. Ruth began his big-league career as a pitcher; Foxx ended his big-league career as one.
Foxx finished his twenty-year career with 534 home runs, 1922 runs batted in, and a .325 batting average. His twelve consecutive seasons with 30 or more home runs was a major league record until it was broken by Barry Bonds (the cheater) in 2004. At the end of his career, his 534 home runs placed him second only to Ruth on the all-time list, and first among right-handed hitters. He retained these positions until Willie Mays passed Foxx for second place in 1966.
Jimmy Foxx was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1951 with 79.2% of the votes. He died at age 59 in 1967.