George Harold Sisler (March 24, 1893 – March 26, 1973), nicknamed "Gentleman George" and "Gorgeous George," was an Americanprofessional baseball player for 15 seasons, primarily as first baseman with the St. Louis Browns). From 1920 until 2004, Sisler held theMajor League Baseball (MLB) record for most hits in a single season, a mark which still stands for the 154-game season in which he played.
His 1922 season — during which he batted .420, hit safely in a then-record 41 consecutive games, led the American League in hits (246), stolen bases (51), and triples (18), and was, by general consensus, the best fielding first baseman in the game — is considered by many historians to be among the best individual all-around single-season performances in baseball history.
Sisler was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. In 1999, he received the eighth-largest number of first base-category votes in fan balloting for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, and editors at The Sporting News named him 33rd on their list of "Baseball's 100 Greatest Players."
Sisler was born in the unincorporated hamlet of Manchester (now part of the city of New Franklin, a suburb of Akron, Ohio). His paternal side ancestors were immigrants from Northern Germany in the middle of 19th century. He played college ball for coach Branch Rickey at theUniversity of Michigan, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering. While at Michigan he was a member of Delta Tau DeltaInternational Fraternity. Sisler entered the major leagues as a pitcher for the Browns in 1915. He signed as a free agent after the minor league contract he had signed as a minor four years earlier, and which the Pittsburgh Pirates had purchased, was declared void. The following year he switched to first base, to fully utilize his hitting skills. He posted a record of 5–6 with a 2.35 earned run average in 24 career mound appearances, twice defeating Walter Johnson in complete-game victories.
In 1920, Sisler played every inning of each game, stole 42 bases (second in the American League), collected a Major League-leading 257hits for an average of .407 (the latter stat being the highest ever for a 600+ at-bat performance in MLB history), and ended the season by hitting .442 in August and .448 in September. In breaking Ty Cobb's 1911 record for hits in a single season, Sisler established a mark which stood until Ichiro Suzuki broke the record with 262 hits in 2004. Suzuki, however, collected his hits over 161 games during the modern 162-game season (as opposed to 154 in Sisler's era). Also in 1920, Sisler finished second in the AL in doubles and triples, as well as second to Babe Ruth in RBIs and home runs.1916 D350 Georg Sisler
In 1922, Sisler hit safely in 41 consecutive games - an American League record that stood until Joe DiMaggio broke it in 1941. His .420 batting average is the third-highest of the 20th century, surpassed only by Rogers Hornsby's .424 in 1924 and Nap Lajoie's .426 in 1901. He was chosen as the AL's Most Valuable Player that year, the first year an official league award was given, as the Browns finished second to the New York Yankees. Sisler stole over 25 bases in every year from 1916 through 1922, peaking with 51 the last year and leading the league three times; he also scored an AL-best 134 runs, and hit 18 triples for the third year in a row.
In 1923, however, a severe attack of sinusitis caused him double vision, forcing him to miss the entire season. While Sisler continued to hit over .300 after he returned in 1924, he never regained his previous level of play. Even so, he continued to hit over .300 in six of his last seven seasons, and led the AL in stolen bases for a fourth time in 1927.
In 1928, the Browns sold Sisler's contract to the Washington Senators, who in turn sold the contract to theBoston Braves in May. After batting .340, .326 and .309 in his three years in Boston, he ended his major league career with the Braves in 1930, then played in the minor leagues. He accumulated a .340 lifetime batting average over his 16 years in the majors. Sisler stole 375 bases during his career. He became one of the early entrants elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame when he was selected in 1939. Outside of St. Louis' Busch Stadium, there is a statue honoring Sisler. He is also honored with a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.After his playing career, Sisler reunited with Rickey as a special assignment scout and front-office aide with the St. Louis Cardinals,Brooklyn Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates. Sisler's sons Dick and Dave were also major league players in the 1950s. Sisler was a Dodgers scout in 1950 when his son Dick hit a game-winning home run against Brooklyn to clinch the pennant for the Phillies and eliminate the second-place Dodgers. When asked after the pennant winning game how he felt when his son beat his current team, the Dodgers, George replied, "I felt awful and terrific at the same time."
Sisler died in Richmond Heights, Missouri, in 1973, while still employed as a scout for the Pirates.
In October 2004, Ichiro Suzuki broke Sisler's 84 years old hit record, collecting his 258th hit off of former Texas Rangers pitcher Ryan Drese. Sisler's daughter Frances Sisler Drochelman and other of his family members were in attendance when the record was broken.
While in St. Louis for the 2009 All-Star game, Ichiro Suzuki visited Sisler's grave site.