Remembering Nimble, Talented First Baseman Stuffy McInnis

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Stuffy McInnis was the best fielding first baseman in the American League for nearly a decade, and he was employed by two of baseball’s greatest dynasties. He helped the Philadelphia A’s and Boston Red Sox win five pennants in the years between 1910 and 1918. 

McInnis was superb at fielding bunts, which was an important skill in the deadball era when batters usually dropped down five or six bunts every game. A right-handed thrower, Stuffy was skilled at charging in to field the bunt, spinning to his left so his back faced away from second or third and firing the ball to get a lead runner. He and shortstop Jack Barry crafted the play through diligent repetition while they were teammates in Philadelphia. McInnis had been a shortstop as an amateur and early in his pro career, and he never lost that range and agility. He and Barry were lifelong friends, but the competitive McInnis bristled when his teammate gave him a low throw that resulted in an error, ending Stuffy’s errorless streak. McInnis would remind Barry of the errant toss for years. 

Stuffy was no slouch with the bat, hitting enough singles to top .300 twelve times. He came out of retirement to sign with the Pirates in June of 1925, and proceeded to hit .368 in 59 games to help the Bucs to the pennant. He was inserted into the lineup after the Pirates fell into a 3-games-to-1 hole and helped spark the team to a comeback to win the World Series. It was the fourth world championship for Stuffy.

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is the author of three books about baseball, including Ty Cobb: A Biography. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and Major League Baseball Advanced Media. He lives in Michigan where he writes, runs, and enjoys a good orange soda now and again.
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