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Bill Killefer

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William Killefer (Reindeer Bill)

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[edit] Biographical Information

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Bill Killefer spent more than fifty years in baseball as a player, coach, manager and scout.

The brother of Red Killefer, Killefer attended college at Sacred Heart College in Watertown, Wisconsin and St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas before embarking on a baseball career. A catcher, he reached the majors late in 1909 with the St. Louis Browns. After hitting just .126 in parts of two seasons with the Browns, he moved on to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1911. He soon became the Phillies regular backstop and batterymate of Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander. Led by Alexander's 31 wins in 1915, the team won the National League pennant that summer, before losing to the Boston Red Sox in the World Series.

Following the 1917 season, the Phillies traded Killefer to the Chicago Cubs along with Alexander, and the club won the NL crown the next summer. He then enlisted in the U.S. Army infantry for World War I after playing in the World Series (which the Cubs lost to the Red Sox) but was mustered out in time for the 1919 season. He remained the Cubs regular catcher until 1920, when he suffered a broken finger and was replaced by Bob O'Farrell.

Killefer succeeded Johnny Evers as the Cubs manager on August 4th, 1921 and was a player/manager for the remainder of the year before ending his playing career. In about four years at the helm of the club, he posted a slightly better than .500 record, with a best finish of fourth in 1923. He resigned in the middle of the 1925 campaign with the Cubs in seventh place and joined the St. Louis Cardinals coaching staff the following year. After one season with the Cards, team owner Sam Breadon offered him the team's manager job (replacing Rogers Hornsby), but he declined and instead moved across town as a St. Louis Browns coach. He took over as the Browns skipper in 1930. In three in a half years at the helm, he never won more than 64 games, and he was replaced as manager by Hornsby in July 1933.

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After spending two years away from baseball, Killefer was manager of the Sacramento Solons from 1936 to 1938, capturing a Pacific Coast League championship in his last season there. He then was a Brooklyn Dodgers coach in 1939 and skipper of the Elmira Pioneers of the Eastern League in 1940. After serving on the Philadelphia Phillies staff in 1942, he spent the rest of his life as a scout for the Dodgers and Cleveland Indians.

Killefer died at age 72 at the VA Hospital in Elsmere, Delaware, and is buried at Prospect Hill Cemetery in Paw Paw, Michigan.

His father, William Killefer, fought in the Civil War and his son, also William Killefer (1922-1996), had a long career as a commander in the U.S. Navy.


Preceded by
Johnny Evers
Chicago Cubs Manager
1921-1925
Succeeded by
Rabbit Maranville
Preceded by
Dan Howley
St. Louis Browns Manager
1930-1933
Succeeded by
Rogers Hornsby

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