Ripper Collins

Though the 5’9″ 165-lb Collins was small for a first baseman, he was the most dangerous slugger on the Cardinal Gas House Gang, hammering 35 HR for the NL title in 1934. He was a fun-maker off the field, but he was relentlessly serious on it. He broke up four no-hitters in late innings. A one-time coal miner from Altoona, PA, a strike freed Collins to try pro ball. He spent 30 years as a player, coach, minor league manager, and sporting goods rep. A facile talker, he became a broadcaster. He said he got his nickname when, as a boy, he once hit the team’s only ball and snagged it on a fence nail, ripping its cover.