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Harry Heilmann Photo   Harry Heilmann
OF for the Detroit Tigers.
Below are photos during his prime playing days of 1916-1930

Full Name: Harry Edwin Heilmann
Nickname: Slug
 
Physique: 6' 1", 127 lbs
Right-Handed Hitter
 
Born: Aug 3, 1894, San Francisco
Died: Jul 9, 1951  (57 years old)
 
Ranking: #8 All-time ( #7    All    #9 )
.342
career average

2,660 hits

Detroit Tigers
1916 - 1930

Hall of Fame: 1952



Heilmann was 25 years old before he hit .300 in a season, but he retired at the age of 38 with a .342 lifetime mark. He listened closely to the advice Cobb gave him and became a line-drive hitting menace who rarely struck out. Joining Cobb and Bobby Veach, he formed an impressive outfield from 1921 to 1923. In 1924 Heinie Manush (also a Hall of Famer) joined Cobb and Heilmann in the Detroit outfield.

A four-time AL batting champion, Heilmann was a 6-foot-1, 195-pounder who specialized in line drives. Although he could hit the ball a long way, he was more likely to hit the fence than to drive the ball over it. As a result, he had three times as many doubles as home runs during his major league career.

Heilmann joined the Detroit Tigers of the AL as an outfielder during the 1914 season, but spent 1915 in the minor leagues. He returned to the Tigers in 1916 and was a good hitter, but not a great one, until Ty Cobb became the team's manager in 1921. Cobb had Heilmann move his feet closer together and, with the new stance, Heilmann responded with a league-leading .394 average and 237 hits that season.

During the next 9 seasons, Heilmann batted .356, .403, .346, .393, .367, .398, .328, .344, and .333, winning batting titles in 1923, 1925, and 1927.

In the 1920's Heilmann led all AL batters with a .364 average. His .558 slugging percentage was topped only by Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Al Simmons. For that decade "Slug" averaged 220 hits, 110 runs, 45 doubles, 12 triples, 16 homers, and 130 RBI per 154 games. He won the batting title in 1921, 1923, 1925, and 1927. He was consistent - his average in his batting title seasons ranged from .393 to .403.

He had dramatic finishes in two of those seasons. Tris Speaker was the league leader going into September of 1925, about 15 points ahead, but Heilmann caught fire in the last month, while Speaker was on the bench with an injury. He finished by getting 6 hits in 9 at-bats in a doubleheader to beat Speaker, .393 to .389.

Heilmann's batting titles all came over famous adversaries: in 1921 he beat out Cobb by five points; in 1923 Heilmann's career-high .403 bested Ruth by ten points; in 1925 Heilmann used a September push to overtake Tris Speaker on the final day; and in 1927, Heilmann could have won the batting championship by sitting out a doubleheader on the last day of the season. Instead, he got 7 hits in 9 at bats to beat out Al Simmons, .398 to .392. Thus, Heilmann topped four Hall of Famers for his batting crowns.

Despite arthritis in his hands, Heilmann drove in 120 runs for the 1929 Tigers in just 125 games, batting .344 with 41 doubles. In an astounding slap in the face, Detroit released him after the season and he finished his career with the Reds in 1932. He returned to the Tiger organization in 1933 to broadcast their games on radio, a post he held for 18 years. He died in Detroit in 1951, one year before his induction into the Hall of Fame. A few days after his death, Detroit hosted the All-Star Game, and they had a moment of silence in honor of Heilmann.

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