A husky six-footer, the quiet leadoff man of the powerful 1927 Yankees covered Yankee Stadium’s spacious center field, leading the league’s centerfielders in putouts. Combs’s specialty was the three-base hit; he had three in a 1927 game, led the AL in triples three times, and collected 154 in his career.
A cool, determined player, Combs was often overshadowed by his superstar teammates, but in nine seasons, he batted well over .300. In 1927 he hit .356, leading the AL with 231 hits (a team record until Don Mattingly broke it in 1986). He had a 29-game hitting streak in 1931.
The Kentucky Colonel’s career came to an end in 1934 when, before the advent of warning tracks, he smashed into the wall at Sportsman’s Park chasing a fly ball. His skull was fractured and his career virtually ended. After trying a comeback in 1935, and knowing that the Yankees would bring Joe DiMaggio up the next season, he accepted a coaching job. When DiMaggio arrived, Combs instructed him on the nuances of Yankee Stadium’s outfield.
Combs left the Yankees during WWII. A good teacher, he returned to coach the Browns, Red Sox, and Phillies. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1970 by the Veterans Committee.