Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Red Sox in Cooperstown Pt. 6: Harry Hooper

Years with Boston:  1909-1920 (.272/.362/.367, 30 home runs, 497 RBIs, 300 stolen bases)
Best Year in Boston:  1920 (.312/.411/.470, 7 home runs, 53 RBIs, 17 triples)
Harry Hooper is one of the more obscure players inducted into Cooperstown.  If you asked the casual baseball fan, they would probably not be able to name Hooper or provide much information about him at all.  Hooper was often overshadowed on his own team by the bigger stars of his era.  Players like Tris Speaker, Smokey Joe Wood, and Babe Ruth gathered most of the headlines during his tenure but Hooper was a very consistent performer.

Hooper made his Major League debut for the Red Sox in 1909, two years after Tris Speaker.  He was the second member of the Red Sox famed outfield trio of Hooper/Speaker/Lewis to come to the Red Sox.  Hooper was largely considered one of the greatest defensive rightfielders in the game's history and that is by and large the reason for his induction into Cooperstown.

Hooper was a consistent performer for the Red Sox at the plate but did not really do anything outstandingly well.  He hit over .300 just twice and never hit more than seven home runs in a season with the Red Sox.  This was during the Dead Ball Era so that was not unusual.  He never drove in more than 53 runs nor scored more than 100.  He did steal a lot of bases and still holds the team record for career stolen bases, which could be in jeopardy if Boston retains Jacoby Ellsbury beyond this season.  As mentioned before, it is Hooper's defense that got him into Cooperstown.

Hooper played on four World Champion Red Sox teams in 1912, 1915, 1916, and 1918.  He performed particularly well in the 1915 Series, hitting .350/.435/.650 with two home runs and three RBIs.

Unlike a lot of Red Sox stars in the late 1910's, Hooper was not traded to the Yankees.  He was traded to the White Sox for Shano Collins and Nemo Leibold.  Hooper continued to play well for the White Sox and actually produced more home runs in his five years with the White Sox than he did in his 12 for the Red Sox.  This is largely due to the more juiced-up balls than those used in the Dead Ball Era.

Hooper was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971 by the Veterans Committee.  He died three years later.  Hooper is in the Hall of Fame due mostly to his time with the Red Sox.

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