In a game played at Yankee Stadium on May 25, 1937, Tigers catcher/manager Mickey Cochrane hit a home run in his second at-bat against Bump Hadley. The next time Hadley faced him, the right-hander threw a pitch inside that struck Cochrane in the head. It struck Cochrane so hard that one spectator said, “The thud was sickening to my stomach.” Cochrane crumpled to the ground and lay motionless while Hadley clawed at the mound with his cleats. There was no question that the veteran Yankee pitcher had thrown at Cochrane. The Detroit star was taken from the field, spent days in the hospital, nearly died, and never played another game in the major leagues.
Hadley was a wild, hard thrower who was known for dusting batters off, especially after they hit a home run against him. But in that era it was a common tactic of intimidation. Later in that game at Yankee Stadium, Detroit pitcher Schoolboy Rowe hit Hadley with a pitch, earning some measure of revenge. But Hadley was fortunate that his pitch to Cochrane didn’t become the second in big league history to kill a man. In 1920, Cleveland’s Ray Chapman was killed when a pitch struck him in the temple. That pitch was also thrown by a Yankee – Carl Mays.
Hadley was an average pitcher who had the misfortune of playing for mediocre teams early in his career (Washington Senators and St. Louis Browns). Then he was traded to the Yankees in 1936 and pitched for the first team to win four consecutive World Series titles. In his first year with the Bronx Bombers he went 14-4 and led the AL in winning percentage. Manager Joe McCarthy liked to use Hadley as a swingman – starting him against teams he matched well with and using him out of the bullpen as needed. He only got two starts in the World Series for McCarthy’s Yanks, but in 1936 he pitched a masterful Game Three against the Giants, defeating Fat Freddie Fitzsimmons, 2-1 when he tossed eight innings.
Hadley was one of the worst hitting pitchers in baseball history. In more than 1,000 at-bats he had just 33 extra-base hits and never hit a homer while batting .189 over his 16 seasons. After retiring as a player, Bump was a popular broadcaster for the Boston Braves and Boston Red Sox.
Hadley’s best season was in 1933 with the Browns when he led the American League with more than 316 innings and won a career-high 15 games. For his career, the righty posted a 161-165 record. He was 84-72 against teams with a losing record, and 77-93 against teams with a record over .500.
Hated to Face: Slugger Jimmie Foxx clubbed 13 homers off Hadley, the most of any batter.
Most Strikeouts, 1930-1939
Lefty Gomez … 1337
Lefty Grove … 1313
Carl Hubbell … 1281
Red Ruffing … 1260
Tommy Bridges … 1207
Dizzy Dean … 1144
Van Lingle Mungo … 1022
Paul Derringer … 1018
Bump Hadley … 1008
Bobo Newsom … 963