Freddy Leach

Leach was a railroad telegrapher playing for town baseball teams in the Ozarks in 1922 when he decided to try professional baseball. After leading the Missouri Valley League in hitting (.383) in his first year, he finished the season with George Stallings‘s independent Rochester team in the International League, and by 1923 he was with the Phillies. The stocky, thick-eyebrowed Leach bounced up and down between the majors and minors for several years before establishing himself as a steady-hitting, strong-armed outfielder with the Phillies. In 1927 he led NL outfielders in assists. The Giants traded Lefty O’Doul and cash for Leach’s contract in October 1928. The deal was widely regarded as a mistake by Giants manager John McGraw when O’Doul hit .398, 108 points higher than Leach, to win the 1929 NL batting title, but McGraw announced he was satisfied that Leach was more versatile and far better defensively. Leach contributed two .300-plus seasons before retiring.