Billy Herman 1909

Herman was the finest National League second baseman of the 1930s and early 1940s. He batted more than .300 eight times in his 15-year career, and scored at least 100 runs five times. His top years came as a Cub. In 1935 he led the NL with 227 hits and 57 doubles, and reached career highs with a .341 average and 113 runs scored. His 18 triples in 1939 led the league.

A starter at 2B from 1932 to 1943, in several seasons he played in every one of his team’s games. He tied the NL record at 2B for most years leading in putouts (seven). He led the NL in 2B assists three times, errors four times, and fielding average three times. On June 28, 1933 he tied the ML record for most 2B putouts in a doubleheader (16), and tied the NL record for most 2B putouts in a game (11); an acknowledged master at playing the hitters, that season he set the NL season record for putouts (466). He appeared in 10 All-Star games, batting .433 (13-for-30). A member of three Cubs pennant-winners, he led all participants in the 1935 World Series with six RBI. After a slow start in 1941, he was traded to the Dodgers for two mediocrities and $65,000, supposedly because Cub manager Jimmie Wilson saw Herman as a threat to his job.

Kirby Higbe, a teammate in Chicago and Brooklyn, said that Herman “stood out at second base over any other second baseman I ever saw… he was the greatest hit-and-run man in baseball then or now.” Leo Durocher agreed, saying Herman was “… universally accepted as the classic number-two hitter…an absolute master at hitting behind the runner.

Herman managed extensively in the minors, coached for the Dodgers, Braves, Red Sox, Angels, and Padres, and also scouted. He managed the 1947 Pirates for all but the last game of the season; winning the season finale under replacement Bill Burwell, they moved into a tie for seventh place. Herman took over the Red Sox in October 1964 and lasted through 146 games of 1966, never finishing higher than eighth.