John Baker

John Baker

Stories about John Baker

Home Run Baker

    In the dead ball era Frank Baker carved out his place in baseball history as the game's first known slugger by becoming synonymous with the facet of the game that has become baseball's most identifiable feat: the homerun. Baker tied or led the league in round trippers four consecutive seasons, and in the 1911 World Series connected for two of the fall classic's most memorable homeruns.

    After spending a brief time with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1908Frank Baker became the starting third baseman forConnie Mack's A's the following season, batting .305 with eighty-five runs batted in and a league leading nineteen triples. In the Athletics American League pennant winning year of 1910 he batted .409 in the World Series as the A's defeated the Cubs in five games to bring Philadelphia its first Championship. The next season, as part of Mack's "$100,000 Infield",Baker won his first of four consecutive home run titles by clouting eleven. He drove in one-hundred runs for the first time (115) and batted .334 as the A's won a second straight American League pennant and this time squared off in the World Series against the New York Giants. It was in the 1911 Series that Baker earned his nickname "Homerun". He connected for dingers off Giants aces and future Hall of Famers Christy Mathewson and Rube Marquard to win successive games and lead the Athletics to a six game series win.

    In 1912 he again lead the league in home runs with ten (tying with Tris Speaker), topped the loop with one-hundred thirty RBI, achieved his only two-hundred hit season (200), batted a career best .347 and achieved a personal high of forty stolen bases. The next season Baker connected for career high twelve homers, drove in one-hundred seventeen runs and helped lead the A's to another pennant. Philadelphia once again defeated the Giants, this time in five games, and Baker remained a thorn in New York's side by belting another homerun and batting .450. "Frank Baker is the greatest climax player of baseball", said Christy Mathewson. In 1914, Baker won his fourth straight and last American League home run crown with nine and the A's won another pennant but this time fell to the "Miracle" Boston Braves in a World Series sweep.

    1915 marked the end of the Athletics American League dominance as Connie Mack broke up the team rather then pay the high salaries the players demanded brought on by excessive bidding by the new Federal League. Baker sat out the 1915 season in protest of Mack's decision to rebuild and was ultimately sold by Philadelphia to the Yankees in 1916.Baker had four solid years with the Yanks but chose to sit out another season in 1920 to deal with the illness and eventual death of his first wife. He came back to the Yankees in 1921 and for two seasons was a part-time player on New York's first two pennant winning teams in their history, becoming a teammate of the player who would take the homerun to even greater heights, Babe Ruth.

    Following his retirement as an active player Baker managed for two seasons (1924-25) in the Eastern Shore League, and was credited with discovering Jimmie Foxx sending him to the A's following the 1924 season. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1955 by the Veteran's Committee, and made Old Timer's Games appearances on the east coast until his passing in 1963.

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