Some time ago I received a letter in reference to an article I wrote regarding the local athletes in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The writer indicated that I neglected to mention the great Billy Herman, surprising to me because I thought I had included the New Albany second base legend.
Well, I went back to the article re-reading it and for whatever reason Herman wasn’t mentioned, this concerned me because I do respect the man so much so I quickly made an addendum citing Herman’s induction in 1975 by the Veteran’s committee.
To try to make it up to the great Billy Herman though, I thought I’d take a moment to highlight the man himself in today’s sports legends of the ville story.
A graduate of New Albany High School, Herman came to the game when Baseball was, in no uncertain terms, the national pastime. It was 1931, when the young infielder first became a big leaguer with the Chicago Cubs.
Seemingly instantly the young man became a crowd favorite in the Windy City, steadily hitting above .300 during his ten year tenure with the team, in addition people took note of the glove and defense that Herman provided. Because of this it wasn’t long before Herman was viewed as a talented and steady athlete, who managers and fans alike could trust to deliver quality performances.
After ten years with Chicago the Cubs decided to make a trade and the now veteran Herman went to the Brooklyn Dodgers. A three year tenure culminating with Herman’s most successful offensive year in 1943 when he produced a .330 batting average.
But, as the United States went deeper into World War II, famously many professional athletes joined the military showing their solidarity with the cause. And, it was in 1944 that Herman found a new job with the Navy.
During his two year stint Herman became a Naval baseball player-manager, concluding with a championship win in the Navy World Series in 1945.
After his discharge Herman went back to the Dodgers, who went on to trade him mid-season to the Boston Braves. However, he couldn’t shake the idea of the player-manager position, that same title he held in the Navy.
So, with their sights on Herman with his now managerial experience the Pittsburgh Pirates picked the second baseman up to lead and play for the team in the 1947 season. However, due to administrative confusion the team didn’t fare as well as Herman would have liked and he resigned from the team at the end of the season.
Still wanting to manage, Herman went to the minor leagues managing up and coming ball-players, before making his move to the Dodgers and Braves coaching staffs. During his time coaching in the national league he led five teams to national league pennants.
What followed for the now manager was a stint with the Boston Red Sox, which began with him as a third base coach and eventual manager. After the Sox, Herman held positions with the California Angels, San Diego Padres, and Oakland Athletics.
Throughout his career the athlete was a ten time All-Star selection and remained a force to be reckoned with whenever he was on or near the diamond.
Image courtesy of MD Sports Connection