Nellie Fox
Nellie Fox

Fox in about 1953.
Second Baseman
Born: December 25, 1927(1927-12-25)
St. Thomas Township, Pennsylvania
Died: December 1, 1975(1975-12-01) (aged 47)
Baltimore, Maryland
Batted: Left Threw: Right 
MLB debut
June 8, 1947 for the Philadelphia Athletics
Last MLB appearance
July 24, 1965 for the Houston Astros
Career statistics
Batting average     .288
Hits     2,663
Runs batted in     790
Teams
Career highlights and awards
  • 15× All-Star selection (1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1959², 1960, 1960², 1961, 1961², 1963)
  • 3× Gold Glove Award winner (1957, 1959, 1960)
  • 1959 AL MVP
  • Chicago White Sox #2 retired
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction     1997
Vote     Veterans Committee

Jacob Nelson Fox (December 25, 1927 – December 1, 1975) was a Major League Baseball second baseman for the Chicago White Sox. Fox was born in St. Thomas Township, Pennsylvania. He was selected as the MVP of the American League in 1959. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997.

Contents

Career

Fox began his career with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1947, though he was never a full-time starter during his three seasons with the team. Traded to the White Sox October 29, 1949, Fox's career took off. He spent 14 seasons with Chicago, making 10 All-Star teams. He played his final two seasons (1964–65) with the Houston Colt .45s and Astros.

With the White Sox, Fox played next to a pair of slick-fielding shortstops, Venezuelans Chico Carrasquel (1950–55) and Luis Aparicio (1956–62), and was, year after year, a member of the best defensive infield in the League. Fox won Gold Gloves in 1957, 1959 and 1960.

Only 5-foot-9, he made up for his modest size and minimal power — he hit only 35 home runs in his career, and never more than six in a single season — with his good batting eye, excellent fielding, and baserunning speed. Fox was perennially one of the toughest batters to strike out, fanning just 216 times in his career, an average of once every 42.7 at-bats which ranks him 3rd all-time. He led the league in most at-bats per strikeouts a phenomenal 13 times in his career. Although not known as a great hitter (lifetime .288 batting average), he batted over .300 six times, with 2,663 hits, 355 doubles, and 112 triples. He also led the league in singles for seven straight years, in triples once, and in hits four times.

After his playing career, Fox was a coach for the Astros (1965–67) and the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers (1968–72).

Fox died of skin cancer in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1975. He was not selected to the Hall of Fame in his initial period of eligibility. In his final opportunity, 1985, he gained 74.7 percent of the vote, just shy of the 75 percent required for election by the Baseball Writers Association of America. However, in 1997, the Veterans Committee elected him to membership in the Hall.

1959

Fox's best season came in 1959, when the White Sox won their first pennant in 40 years. He batted .306, had an on base percentage of .380 and won his second Gold Glove. The Al Lopez-managed White Sox had the best record in baseball, going 94-60 to finish five games ahead of the Cleveland Indians and a surprising 15 ahead of the New York Yankees. It was one of just two seasons the Yankees would not win the pennant between 1949-1964 (the Indians won it in 1954).

In the World Series, Fox batted a team-high .375 with 3 doubles, but the Sox lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games. In Game 5 Fox scored the only run when Sherm Lollar hit into a double play in the fourth inning. (This was only the second time that a World Series game did not have an RBI.) It was Fox's only postseason experience, and the White Sox would not make it back to the World Series until 2005.

Achievements

SoxRetired02.PNG
Nellie Fox's number 2 was retired by the Chicago White Sox in 1976.
In bronze, Nellie Fox flips a baseball to his teammate Luis Aparicio (wearing number 11) for a force out at second base.
  • He was the first White Sox player to be elected MVP of the American League.
  • He had only 216 career strikeouts in more than 9,200 at-bats: the 4th best percentage in MLB history.
  • Fox set the record for consecutive games played at second base, with 798 (August 7, 1956, through September 3, 1960).
  • He was a 12–time All-Star.
  • Nellie Fox collected 3 Gold Glove Awards for excellent defensive play at second base.
  • Upon his retirement, he held the American League record for being involved in the most double plays by a second baseman; the second highest Major League total after Bill Mazeroski.
  • Between 1959 and 1960 the Aparicio-Fox middle infield duo each won the Gold Glove Award for their respective position, starting a select list of eight shortstop-second baseman combinations who have won the honor in the same season while playing together.
  • His uniform number 2 was retired by the White Sox.
  • In 2006, two bronze statues, one depicting him, the other depicting his teammate and fellow infielder Luis Aparicio, were unveiled on the outfield concourse of U.S. Cellular Field. Fox's statue depicts him flipping a baseball toward Aparicio, while Aparicio is depicted as preparing to receive the ball from Fox.

Trivia

  • Nellie Fox was well-known for using a thick-handled bat for more control at the plate, giving him an edge in spraying hits to all areas of the field. An entire generation of Little Leaguers and older youth-league players in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s were familiar with the thick-handled wooden Louisville Slugger bat bearing the Nellie Fox facsimile signature.
  • Fox also continued to use the smallest fielder's gloves available throughout his career, during the era when gloves were increasing in size and complexity. He modified his gloves by removing excessive or ill-placed padding, to better 'feel' the ball. This served to facilitate smoother transitions to throwing for the completion of double plays at second base. Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, who was mentored as a rookie by Fox during their concurrent stints with the Astros, details Fox' approach to fielding in his various autobiographies.

See also

Quotation

Fox is what you'd call a manager's ballplayer. He does his job expertly and he does it every day. He's the type of player you can count on. He's an old pro. A great many times, he is hurting pretty badly from the dumpings he's taken on the field, but he's always ready to play. - manager Al Lopez.

Nellie was the toughest out for me. In 12 years I struck him out once, and I think the umpire blew the call. - New York Yankees pitcher Whitey Ford

External links

Preceded by
Jackie Jensen
American League Most Valuable Player
1959
Succeeded by
Roger Maris

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