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Billy Cox

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1952 Topps #232 Billy Cox

William Richard Cox

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[edit] Biographical Information

Before the 1940 season, Billy Cox signed as an amateur free agent with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Billy came up as a shortstop with Pittsburgh in 1941 for a 10-day trial after hitting .363 for Harrisburg to win the Inter-State League batting title.

Cox then spent four years in the United States Army during World War II including 18 months at Guadalcanal. He returned from the war a nervous wreck, having dropped from 167 pounds to 132. His frail condition unfairly labeled him as a player who was indifferent to the game.

In 1946 he hit .290 to lead the Pirates during his rookie season. But after the 1947 season he was traded with Preacher Roe and Gene Mauch to the Brooklyn Dodgers for 37-year-old Dixie Walker and pitchers Hal Gregg and Vic Lombardi.

Cox moved over to third for Brooklyn and was a standout for seven seasons that included three National League pennants. In the 1952 World Series against the New York Yankees he was outstanding. "I never dreamed third base could be played with such artistry until I saw Cox in that Series," said Hall of Fame third baseman George Kell. Yankee manager Casey Stengel remarked, "That ain't no third baseman. That's an acrobat."

Cox, who led National League third sackers in fielding in 1950 and 1952, held his own at the plate, hitting a career high .291 in 1953. In 15 World Series games against the Yankees in 1949, 1952 and 1953, he hit .302 overall.

Billy, a .262 hitter, missed out on the Dodgers' 1955 championship when he was traded along with Preacher Roe again, this time to the Baltimore Orioles in 1955, as the Birds were bringing along Brooks Robinson. This signaled an end to Cox's eleven-year major league tenure, where he appeared in 1,058 games, went to bat 3,712 times, had 974 base hits, including 66 home runs for his career .262 batting average. Cox also finished with a fine .962 fielding percentage. Billy was considered by many as the best fielding third baseman of his generation.

Cox who tended bar back in his hometown of Newport, PA, died March 30, 1978, at age 58 in Harrisburg, PA.

[edit] Sources

Baseball-Reference.com
Baseball Players of the 1950s
SABR MILB Database:page

[edit] Further Reading

  • Roger Kahn: "Billy Alone", in The Boys of Summer, Perennial Classics, Harper and Collins Publishers, New York, NY, 2000, pp. 412-421 (originally published in 1972).

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