By Glen Sparks
Born April 27, 1896, in Winters, Texas, Rogers Hornsby grew up in Forth Worth. He began playing baseball as a youngster on the local sandlots. The second baseman ripped line drives for more than two decades in the major leagues. He led the National League in hitting categories dozens of times. Nicknamed “the Rajah (an east Indian king or prince),” Hornsby was almost as famous for his prickly personality as for his powerful bat. He admitted, “I’ve never been a ‘yes’ man.” Even so, Frankie Frisch, his teammate with the St. Louis Cardinals, said, “He’s the only guy I know who could .350 in the dark.” Hornsby died of a heart ailment on Jan. 5, 1963, at age 66.
- Hornsby weighed in at 135 pounds when he made his debut with the Cardinals as a 19-year-old in 1915.
- Hornsby batted .358 over his 23-year career. Only Ty Cobb retired with a higher lifetime batting average (.367).
- A St. Louis Cardinal for 13 seasons, Hornsby played five years with the St. Louis Browns, four years with the Chicago Cubs and once season apiece for the New York Giants and Boston Braves. (He played for both the Cardinals and Browns in 1933.)
- In 1924, Hornsby batted .424, the highest single-season average of the entire 1900s.
- He, along with Ty Cobb, is the only player to finish the season with a .400 average three times. Besides that 124 campaign, the Rajah also reached the .400 plateau in 1922 (.401) and 1925 (.403).
- He, along with Ted Williams, is the only player to win multiple Triple Crowns. Hornsby did it in 1922 and 1925.
- Hornsby slugged .756 in 1925, a mark that stood until 2001 when Barry Bonds posted an .863 mark.
- The Rajah won seven batting crowns. He first led the N.L. in 1920 (.370), topped the league every year through 1925 and won another title in 1928 (.387).
- Hornsby led the N.L. in at least 11 offensive categories in 1922, many by a wide margin. He finished with 16 more home runs than runner-up Cy Williams (42 to 26) and 136 more total bases than No. 2 man Irish Meusel (450 to 314).
- Hornsby won the Triple Crown for the 1920s. No one hit more home runs (250), drove in more runs (1,153) or hit for a higher average (.382) than the Rajah.
- Amazingly, Hornsby led the N.L. in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS and OPS+ every season from 1920 through 1925.
- Hornsby was the first National Leaguer to belt 300 home runs. He retired with 301.
- In 1942, Hornsby was inducted into the Hall of Fame with 78.1 percent of the vote.
- The Sporting News in 1999 ranked Hornsby as the nine greatest player of all-time.
- According to Baseball Reference WAR (wins above replacement), Hornsby is the 12th greatest player of all-time with 127.0 points. Babe Ruth is first with 183.6 points.