Appling is the answer to two trivia questions:
Who was the first shortstop to win a batting title in the American League?
Who was the first White Sox player to win a batting title?
Even though the White Sox had great hitters prior to Appling, such as Shoeless Joe Jackson and Eddie Collins, no Chicago player had won a batting crown in the junior circuit until he batted an eye-popping .388 in 1936. Appling was only 25 when he won the batting title.
Appling was modest about his success. In ’36 after winning the batting title, he told The Sporting News: “I don’t know how to explain my improved batting. I’ve just been lucky, I guess. But it was about time I did something, because there were a couple of years I put in with the Sox when I wouldn’t have been surprised if they fired me.”
Appling was never in jeopardy of being fired. He hit .310 for his career in two decades spent entirely in Chicago’s south side with the White Sox.
Teammates nicknamed Appling “Libby” after the famous blues singer Libby Holman. Why? Because Appling always seemed to be “singing the blues” and worrying about something. For the same reason, Luke was also dubbed “Ol’ Aches and Pains.”
Former major league pitcher Nap Rucker, scouting for the Brooklyn Dodgers, wanted to sign Appling when he was a high school standout in Atlanta, but Appling declined.
On opening day of the 1931 season, Appling’s first full year in the major leagues, Cleveland righthander Wes Ferrell struck him out four times.