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Birdie Cree

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William Franklin Cree

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Birdie Cree is a former outfielder who spent his entire eight-year career with the New York Yankees.

Prior to the Major Leagues, Cree went to Pennsylvania State University at the same time as Irish McIlveen, with whom he later played in the majors. He qualified as a schoolteacher and taught eighth grade while playing in the minors. He played in the High Hat League, then went to play ball in Burlington, VT and the Williamsport Millionaires in the Tri-State League.

Cree made his Major League debut on September 17, 1908 at the age of 25 with the New York Highlanders. Although he was solid in the beginning of his career, his 1911 season was extraordinary. He had or tied career highs in every major category, with the highlights being 22 triples (which tied him for 32nd all-time in a season and the most in a season for a right-hander in the American League), 48 stolen bases and a .348 batting average. He was third in the league in stolen bases and because of his great performance, he was tied with Hall of Famer Tris Speaker for 6th highest in the voting for the American League Most Valuable Player Award. On September 28th of that year he stole four bases in one game.

Cree was on pace for another amazing season in 1912, but his year was cut short by a leg injury and he only played a total of 50 games. He hit .332 in that time.

Cree never again lived up to his amazing 1911 season, playing over 100 games only once in the remaining four years of his career. He was sold to the Batimore Orioles after a mediocre 1913 season with the team now generally known as the Yankees. However, on July 6, 1914, the Yankees sent Bill Holden and cash to the club to get him back. Rejecting baseball disdainfully, he ended his career in 1915 with a .292 career batting average, 132 stolen bases and 62 triples and a career .962 fielding percentage. Cree retired from baseball because he "...had no intention of going to the bush leagues". [citation needed]

During his major league career he was twice the victim of the hidden ball trick, in 1910 (by George Moriarty and Jim Delahanty) and in 1913 (by Ivy Olson).

After baseball, he entered the world of banking. On November 8, 1942 at the age of 60, Cree died in Sunbury, PA after fighting a long illness. At the time of his death, he was a cashier at the First National Bank of Sunbury. He was laid to rest in Pomfret Manor Cemetery in Sunbury.

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