Ben Chapman

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William Benjamin Chapman

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Biographical Information[edit]

Speedy outfielder Ben Chapman was one of the best base stealers of the 1930s. He posted a .302 career batting average and stole 287 bases during a fifteen year career and later was a big league manager.

Chapman began his pro career in 1928 and joined the New York Yankees in 1930, hitting .316 with 10 home runs as a rookie. Originally an infielder, he was moved to the outfield alongside Earle Combs and Babe Ruth in 1931. From 1931 to 1933, he led the American League in stolen bases each year. In 1933, he was the first AL batter in the inaugural All-Star Game.

Early in the 1936 season, Chapman was traded to the Washington Senators for Jake Powell to make room in the Yankees outfield for rookie Joe DiMaggio. About a year later, he was dealt to the Boston Red Sox, and he led the American League with 35 stolen bases in 1937. Over the next four years, he played for the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox as well as a second stint with the Senators.

Chapman spent the next several years away from the majors, but not in the service as one might assume by looking at his big league stats. In 1942, he was a player-manager in the minors for the Richmond Colts of the Piedmont League. He was suspended from baseball the following year for assaulting an umpire. He was back with Richmond in 1944, now primarily as a pitcher, and made it back to the big leagues late in the season with the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 11 games for Brooklyn, he went 5-3 with a 3.40 ERA. Midway through the next year, he was dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies for Johnny Peacock, and he became the Phillies player-manager. He made his last pitching appearance for Philadelphia on May 12, 1946 against the Dodgers at Ebbets Field; this qualified him as the last player-manager in Phillies history.

Chapman is infamous for being the loudest and nastiest heckler of Jackie Robinson during his rookie season in 1947. Early in the year the Dodgers went to Philadelphia, where the Tennessee-born Chapman managed the Phillies, and he led his team in some rather vicious hazing of the league's first black player. It backfired, and he was chastised by Commissioner Happy Chandler for his racist conduct. Eventually league and team officials arranged a photo-op handshake between him and Robinson. Chapman's managerial career in the major leagues ended the following season when he was fired as skipper of the Phillies. He later served on the coaching staff of the Cincinnati Reds in 1952.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 4-time AL All-Star (1933-1936)
  • AL Triples Leader (1934)
  • 4-time AL Stolen Bases Leader (1931-1933 & 1937)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 2 (1931 & 1932)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 6 (1931-1933, 1935, 1936 & 1939)
  • 50 Stolen Bases Seasons: 1 (1931)
  • Won a World Series with the New York Yankees in 1932

Preceded by
Freddie Fitzsimmons
Philadelphia Phillies Manager
Succeeded by
Eddie Sawyer

Year-By-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1942 Richmond Colts Piedmont League 74-60 3rd none Lost in 1st round
1944 Richmond Colts Piedmont League -- none replaced by Taylor Sanford
1945 Philadelphia Phillies National League 28-57 8th Philadelphia Phillies replaced Freddie Fitzsimmons (18-51) on June 30
1946 Philadelphia Phillies National League 69-85 5th Philadelphia Phillies
1947 Philadelphia Phillies National League 62-92 8th Philadelphia Phillies
1948 Philadelphia Phillies National League 37-42 -- Philadelphia Phillies replaced by Dusty Cooke on July 16
1949 Gadsden Chiefs Southeastern League 39-95 8th none
1950 Danville Leafs Carolina League 87-66 2nd none Lost in 1st round
1951 Tampa Smokers Florida International League 90-50 1st none Lost in 1st round
1953 Tampa Smokers Florida International League -- none -- replaced by Art Rebel on July 27

Related Sites[edit]