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Tuck Turner

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George A. Turner

  • Bats Both, Throws Left
  • Weight 155 lb.

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[edit] Biographical Information

Tuck Turner played 6 seasons in the big leagues at the peak of a lively ball era, from 1893 to 1898. His career batting average was .320 and he hit .416 for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1894, the highest batting average of all time by a batter who did not win the batting title (the batting crown went to Hall of Famer Hugh Duffy who hit .440 for the Boston Beaneaters that year, the highest batting average of all time).

Born in West New Brighton, NY, on Staten Island, he grew up with neighbors Jack Taylor, Jack Cronin, Jack Sharrott, and George Sharrott. He played with Taylor on the 1890 Staten Island Corinthians, an amateur team. It was Sharrott who recommended him to Phillies manager Harry Wright in 1893; it turned out to be a poor move for Sharrott, since he was cut from the team the next season to make room for Turner.

Turner broke in during the 1893 season at what was then thought to be age 20. He had shaved 6 years off his true age, claiming an 1873 birthdate that made its way into various publications, but which is disproved by Census records. As a rookie, he hit .323 in 36 games on a team that hit .301. The next season, his .416 average was highest on the team, but it barely beat the regular outfielders Ed Delahanty who hit .407, Sam Thompson who hit .407, and Billy Hamilton who hit .404. The team hit .349, the highest team batting average of all time. The three other outfielders were all future Hall of Famers in the prime of their careers, so Tucker would not have received enough playing time to qualify for the batting title, for all his hitting prowess, were it not for a couple of injuries. As it turned out, he finished second to Duffy in the National League batting race, incidentally posting the highest average ever by a switch-hitter and the highest road batting average in history (.443).

In 1895, Turner hit .386 on a team that hit .330. All the outfielders hit higher than him, with Delahanty hitting .404, Thompson at .392, and Hamilton at .389. He dropped substantially in 1896, and was traded in mid-season to the St. Louis Browns, where erratic owner Chris von der Ahe immediately dispatched him to the minor league St. Paul Saints. In 1897, as a regular outfielder, he hit .291 on a team that hit .275. He led the team in triples. He finished out his major league career in 1898 hitting .199 in 35 games at age 31.

He played for the Hartford Indians in 1899-1900 and the Toledo Mud Hens from 1900 to 1903. He then moved back to New York City, including a few years spent on a houseboat off Staten Island, before moving in wth his son after his wife Louise passed away in 1942. He died there in 1945.

[edit] Records Held

[edit] Further Reading

  • Peter Mancuso: "Tuck Turner’s Magical 1894 Phillies Season Or, Whatever Happen to Tuck?", in Morris Levin, ed.: From Swampoodle to South Philly: Baseball in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley, The National Pastime, SABR, 2013, pp. 32-35.

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