Arts and Leisure

Flashback Photo: Jimmie Foxx Hits Another Home Run

Jimmie Foxx hits a home run at Fenway. Photo courtesy Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Jimmie Foxx hits a home run at Fenway. Photo courtesy Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

According to baseball lore, during Red Sox spring training in 1938 someone said to rookie Ted Williams, “Wait until you see Jimmie Foxx hit.” The cocky Williams replied, “Wait  ’til Foxx sees me hit.”

Williams strenuously denied ever saying it. He revered Jimmie Foxx, who hit 50 home runs and was named MVP that year. What Ted Williams really said about him was this:

Next to DiMaggio, Jimmie Foxx was the best hitter I ever saw. With all those muscles, he hit drives that sounded like gun fire.

Jimmie Foxx hit 534 home runs, won three MVP awards, and was elected to the Hall of Fame after a 20-year career in baseball. He still holds the Red Sox team record for RBIs, and no Red Sox hit more home runs than he did until David Ortiz in 2006. He was also known as a gentle giant who mediated fights over card games, accommodated his fans and made sure his roommate Dom DiMaggio got to bed on time.

Jimmie Foxx was born October 22, 1907, in Sudlersville, Md., to tenant farmers. An Eastern Shore League team came to nearby Easton, and manager Home Run Baker invited him for a tryout. Foxx, then a high school junior, showed up in overalls. 

Baker signed him, and he played all summer until the Philadelphia Athletics called him up to finish out the season on the bench. He dropped out of high school during his senior year to play for the A’s; he was 17.

He became one of the most feared sluggers of his era, along with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Pitcher Lefty Gomez said, “He has muscles in his hair.” The press called him Double X, The Maryland Strong Boy or The Beast. He was often depicted as a simple hayseed, but he had a taste for expensive clothes, manicures and — later — scotch whiskey.

Jimmie Foxx played for the Athletics for a decade. In 1932, he chased Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record and would have tied it but for the weather. He hit two home runs in a game that didn’t count because it was rained out, ending the season with 58.

In 1934 he was hit in the head by a pitch, which sent him to the hospital for four days and caused lifelong sinus problems. He suffered acute pain and severe nosebleeds. His marriage was floundering, and he began to drink heavily.

The Athletics sold his contract to the Boston Red Sox in 1936. He had some All-Star years for Boston, including 1940 and 1941 when he drove in more than 100 runs each year. On May 14, 1940, he hit a home run out of Comiskey Park — over a 65-foot-high wall 425 feet from the plate. It was the second time he did it. Ted Williams also said“You just can’t imagine how far he could hit a baseball.”

His skills began to falter in 1942, and he was traded to the Chicago Cubs. He ended his career with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1945. During his final season he played as a pitcher, compiling a 1–0 record and 1.59 ERA.

He returned to baseball in 1952 when he managed the Fort Wayne Daisies in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The Tom Hanks character in the film A League of Their Own is loosely based on Jimmie Foxx. 

Jimmie Foxx held a series of jobs after that and died July 21, 1967.

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