Hargrave wasn't the only .350 hitter on the 1926 Reds. In fact, two of
his teammates hit higher than Hargrave's .353.
"Rube" Bressler and Walter "Cookoo" Christensen had good seasons, too.
Bressler hit four points higher than Hargrave's league-leading .353
mark, but couldn't win the batting title because he appeared in only 86
games. League rules at that time stated a player had to play in at least
100 games to be eligible for the batting championship. Christensen
batted an even .350, missing the batting title by only three points.
players are interesting characters.
grew up in Pennsylvania, moving from town to town with his family. His
father was a lumberjack, and when the trees were stripped, they'd move
elsewhere. In fact, Bressler's birthplace - Coder, Pennsylvania - no
longer exists. It was only a temporary village constructed by the
eventually wound up in Renova, Pennsylvania, where he was
discovered as a baseball player. The Philadelphia Athletics signed him.
At the age of 20, he was playing in a World Series, not as a hitter but
as a pitcher. Bressler had played a great role in Philadelphia's drive
to the American League title. He won 10 games, lost only three and
posted a glittering 1.77 earned run average.
league career as a pitcher, however, was relatively short-lived. He lost
17 games in his second season in Philadelphia and was shuffled off to
Atlanta in the minor leagues. He regained his touch there, winning 25
games, and the Reds purchased him in 1917. Rube won eight games in 1918
and pitched some in 1919, but his greatest contribution to the World
Champion Reds came when he was switched to the outfield.
baseman Jake Daubert had an idea and advanced it to manager Pat
Moran. It was Daubert's notion that Bressler swung the bat well enough
to be a regular outfielder. The Reds, needing a left fielder, decided to
take a shot. The results were magnificent.
wound up playing 61 games in the outfield in 1919 and batted .306.
Except for a few games on the mound the next year, Bressler remained an
outfielder. No telling how good he might have become had he not broken
his ankle in 1920. That slowed him down.
hitters batted like Bressler. First, he was a left-handed thrower and a
right-handed batter. That is highly unusual. Second, he hit from a deep
crouch, uncoiling as the pitch sped plateward. Bressler was a line-drive
hitter with little power. His 19-year career produced only 32 home runs,
but he did finish with a .301 average.
teammate for two years in Cincinnati was Cookoo Christensen. He played
for Cincinnati in 1926 and 1927, the only two years he was in the major
purchased him from St. Paul of the American Association and it seemed
that everything Christensen connected with in his first year was a hit.
Bloops fell just between the infielders and outfielders. Line drives
just managed to elude the outstretched arms of the shortstop and second
baseman. Slowly hit balls on the infield became "leg" hits. It was
certainly Christensen's year. Had there been a Rookie of the Year Award
in those days, he would have won hands down.
was a left-handed hitter and was platooned in left field with Bressler.
He delighted the crowds with his clowning. When he would
make a catch that was a bit tougher than normal, Christensen would often
flip as the
crowd cheered. He was a bench jockey, too, always baiting the umpires
and opposing players. He was a hot-dog in the purest sense.
Christensen didn't last long.
in only 57 games in 1927 and then faded into oblivion, drifting off like
so many of those one-season hotshots whom baseball has seen through the