Morrie Rath

When Morrie Rath was hit by Eddie Cicotte’s pitch to lead off the 1919 World Series, it was a prearranged signal to the gamblers that the Black Sox fix was on. The 5’8″ 160-lb Rath had been the White Sox’ second baseman in 1912 and led AL second basemen in assists and fielding average. The lefthanded batter reached career highs of 104 runs, 95 walks (third in the league, giving him a .380 on-base percentage), a .272 BA, and 30 steals that year, but, amazingly, had only 19 RBI in 157 games (he was Chicago’s leadoff batter). His average dropped to .200 the following season, and he lost the second base job.

Rath reappeared with the Reds for their World Championship 1919 season after spending 1918 in the Navy. He led NL second basemen in putouts, assists, double plays, and total chances per game while batting .264 with 64 walks, 77 runs, and a career-high 29 RBI. On August 26, in a 15-inning game, he had 13 assists, the second-highest total ever and the modern (post-1900) NL mark. He hit only .226 in the World Series, but scored five runs in the eight-game Series.

Rath finished his ML career by leading NL second basemen in fielding in 1920, but had only 36 walks to supplement his .267 BA, ending his usefulness as a leadoff batter.