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Tommy Holmes

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Thomas Francis Holmes
(Kelly)

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[edit] Biographical Information

"Look, there are three men in the outfield. Why should we hit it where they are?" - Paul Waner to the rookie Tommy Holmes, teaching him how to hit doubles, something Holmes later did successfully enough to lead the league in 1945 and finish in the top five on five other occasions

A Brooklyn native, outfielder Tommy Holmes was the son of a boxer and boxed himself as a youngster. Following high school, he played semipro ball until he was signed by New York Yankees scout Paul Krichell in 1937.

Holmes began his pro career in 1937 with the Norfolk Tars, hitting .320 with 25 homers and 111 RBIs. The next summer, he hit .368 with the Binghamton Triplets to win the Eastern League batting crown. He then spent the next three seasons with the Newark Bears, hitting over .300 each year, but found his path to the majors blocked by a talent-laden Yankees outfield that included Joe DiMaggio, Tommy Henrich, Charlie Keller, and George Selkirk.

Following the 1941 season, Holmes was traded to the Boston Braves for Buddy Hassett and Gene Moore. He soon became a regular in the outfield and spent the next decade playing for Boston.

In 1945, Holmes had his finest year in the majors, leading the National League with 28 homers, 224 hits, and 47 doubles and finishing second in the circuit with a .352 average and 117 RBIs. Also, that summer, he put together a 37-game hitting streak which, at the time, was an NL record (later broken by Pete Rose in 1978). As of 2008, it is the ninth longest hitting streak in major league history. That season, Holmes was named NL Player of the Year by The Sporting News and was selected for the All-Star Game but finished second in Most Valuable Player voting to Phil Cavarretta of the Chicago Cubs.

Holmes hit .300 the next three seasons and had a 20-game hitting streak in 1946. In 1948, he was one of three Braves outfielders (along with Jeff Heath and Mike McCormick) to hit over .300, and he made the All-Star team again that summer. That year, Boston reached the World Series, but he struggled at the plate in the postseason, hitting just .192 in 6 games as the Braves lost to the Cleveland Indians.

For 1951, Holmes was offered a player/manager position with the minor league Hartford Chiefs. Midway through the season, after the Braves fired Billy Southworth, Holmes was brought up to manage the big league club. However, after a slow start in 1952, he was fired and replaced by Charlie Grimm.

Holmes finished his big league playing career that year with the Brooklyn Dodgers, primarily appearing as a pinch-hitter and playing in the 1952 World Series.

In more than a decade in the majors, Holmes struck out only 122 times, and as of 2008, has the fifth best ratio of at-bats to strikeouts in history. On three separate times in his big league career, he broke up no-hitters: against Bill Fleming of the Chicago Cubs on June 13, 1942; Rip Sewell of the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 25th that same year; and Van Lingle Mungo of the New York Giants on August 28, 1943.

After appearing in a few games as a player for the Elmira Pioneers in 1954, Holmes went on to manage in the minors for several years. Beginning in 1958, he was a Los Angeles Dodgers scout, and he later was director of amateur baseball relations for the New York Mets for thirty years.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 2-time NL All-Star (1945 & 1948)
  • NL Slugging Percentage Leader (1945)
  • NL OPS Leader (1945)
  • NL At Bats Leader (1943)
  • 2-time NL Hits Leader (1945 & 1947)
  • NL Total Bases Leader (1945)
  • NL Singles Leader (1947)
  • NL Doubles Leader (1945)
  • NL Home Runs Leader (1945)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1945)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (1945)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (1945)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (1945)


Preceded by
Billy Southworth
Boston Braves Manager
1951-1952
Succeeded by
Charlie Grimm

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