Billy Southworth

A boyish Nebraskan, Southworth entered professional baseball against his father’s wishes and spent four decades in the game as a player and manager. As a lefthanded-hitting outfielder, he displayed consistency at the plate, speed on the bases, and sure-handedness afield. He tied for the NL lead with 14 triples for Pittsburgh in 1919 and had his best all-around season with the Giants and World Champion Cardinals in 1926, batting .320 with 16 HR and 99 RBI. His three-run homer in Game Two of the ’26 Series secured the victory for Grover Cleveland Alexander.

Southworth managed Rochester to the 1928 International League pennant and was promoted to the Cardinals the following year. Attempts to force his methods on former teammates led to dissension, and he was dismissed in July. Returning to Rochester, he won three successive pennants from 1929 to 1931, but because of bitterness and personal difficulties, he continued to incur the disfavor of the Cardinals organization. He coached the Giants in 1933, but was soon out of baseball.

Offered another chance by the Cardinals in 1935, Southworth worked his way back to the majors. Taking over in July of 1940 with St. Louis in sixth place, he guided the club to third. Under his direction, the Cardinals finished second in 1941 and then captured three successive NL pennants (1942-44) and two World Championships. He was a strict taskmaster, but displayed great skill with young players. A $50,000 offer lured him to the Braves in 1946, and two years later he led them to their first pennant since 1914.

In 13 years as a ML manager, Southworth only once finished in the second division. TSN named him Manager of the Year in 1941 and 1942. His .593 won-lost percentage places him sixth among ML pilots.