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Hank Leiber

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Henry Edward Leiber

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[edit] Biographical Information

Centerfielder Hank Leiber played 10 seasons in the majors and appeared in the 1936 and 1937 World Series with the New York Giants. He and Hack Wilson are the only two National Leaguers to hit two home runs in an inning between 1900 and 1940.

Hank was born in Phoenix, AZ, and was the first Arizona-born player to get over 50 at-bats in the majors. His 2,805 major-league at-bats would not be surpassed by a player from the state until Ron Hassey surpassed it in the late 1980s.

Leiber played in the minors in 1932 with the Winston-Salem Twins/High Point Pointers in the Piedmont League (the team was relocated mid-season) and then with two other minor league teams (the Jersey City Skeeters and Memphis Chickashaws) in 1933. He made his major league debut in April of that year with the New York Giants but only played six games at the major league level that year before rosters had to be trimmed.

His first major league manager was Bill Terry, and Mel Ott, who was 24 at the time, was also a teammate.

Hank spent part of 1934 playing for the Nashville Volunteers and hitting .424 in 45 games. However, he hit only .241 at the majors that year.

In 1935 Leiber came into his own, hitting .331 with 37 doubles and 22 home runs. He was among the National League leaders in most offensive categories. His next three seasons were not as impressive offensively, though, although he did hit .364 in the 1937 World Series and he was named to the All-Star team in 1938.

He was a celebrated hold-out in early 1936 (he again held out in early 1941).

After the 1938 season he and Dick Bartell were among the players traded to the Chicago Cubs in a multi-player trade. The Cubs had won the pennant in 1938, while the Giants had finished third with 83 wins. Hank responded with a great season in 1939, putting up a batting line of .310/.411/.556 in 112 games. He was third in the league in both OBP and SLG. His 1946 season was also good, as he hit .302 with 17 home runs in 117 games.

In 1941 he fell off sharply to a .216 batting average at age 30. He was then traded after the season back to the Giants, for whom he hit .218 in 1942. He was also handed the ball to pitch one game, and went 9 innings, giving up 6 earned runs.

An article in the New York Daily News says that Leiber was a thickly-muscled player who was famous for "standing on top of the plate", and was beaned by Bob Feller in 1936. An article from the St. Petersburg Times stated, perhaps too harshly, that: "Joe Medwick . . . and Hank Lieber, one of the most promising of New York Giants yet one who never quite came through, have not lost the plate shyness resulting from their beanings . . .", mentioning that Leiber was not only beaned by Feller in the spring of 1936 but also by Cliff Melton in 1941. Source: St. Petersburg Times, April 2, 1942.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 3-time NL All-Star (1938, 1940 & 1941)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 2 (1935 & 1939)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (1935)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (1935)
  • 200 hits Seasons: 1 (1935)

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