Wally Berger

Had there been an award for Rookie of the Year in 1930, Wally Berger would have won it. He hit .310 that year for the Braves and established National League rookie records with 38 homers and 119 RBI. The powerfully built centerfielder was the heart of the Boston offense for seven seasons. Berger had torn up the Pacific Coast League with Los Angeles in 1929, establishing a club record with 40 HR, but he was the property of the Cubs, who in 1930 had the only all-100 RBI outfield ever, with Riggs Stephenson, Hack Wilson, and Kiki Cuyler. Berger was traded to Boston, where he batted over .300 in each of his first four seasons. In 1933 he led the Braves into the first division for the first time in 12 years. He hit .313, and though he missed nearly three weeks with illness, had 27 HR, exactly half his team’s total, and second in the league to Chuck Klein. He was the NL’s starting centerfielder in the 1933 and 1934 All-Star games. Berger’s power statistics were not helped by his home ballpark. Still, he hit 105 home runs in Braves Field, more than any player in history. He had success with curveball pitchers, but his nemesis was Carl Hubbell, whose screwball would upset Berger’s timing for several games. After his league-leading performances of 1935 (34 HR, 130 RBI), Berger suffered a shoulder injury in 1936. It worsened in 1937, when he was traded to the Giants, and he saw limited duty before being sent to the Reds, for whom he batted .307, in May 1938. Relegated to part-time play again in 1939, he was released to the Phillies in May 1940. Despite hitting .302 in 22 games, he was let go a month later.

Bergman was a batting champ and league MVP in each of his first two minor league seasons, but with little power has never been an everyday starter in the ML. He hit a career-high .294 for the Tigers in 1988, and his lefthanded bat and steady glove are assets on the bench. On March 24, 1984, he was traded twice; from the Giants to the Phillies, and then from the Phillies to the Tigers.