Bill Terry

From BR Bullpen


William Harold Terry
(Memphis Bill)

  • Bats Left, Throws Left
  • Height 6' 1", Weight 200 lb.

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1954

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]


"Bill Terry was the finest playing manager I ever saw, He was always thinking ahead." - New York Giants second baseman Burgess Whitehead, quoted at Terry's Hall of Fame page

Hall of Famer Bill Terry played 14 years in the major leagues, all with the New York Giants, and hit .341 lifetime. He also managed the Giants for 10 years with a winning percentage of .555, winning the 1933 World Series as a player-manager. He is most famous for hitting .401 in 1930.

Terry never won an MVP award and was only in the All-Star game three times (he was already 34 when the first All-Star Game was played, though), but he was known for his high batting averages. His lifetime .341 average is 15th on the all-time list, and if one looks only at "modern" players, he is in the top 10.

Although he is not remembered for his power, he was in the top 10 in slugging percentage five times. He led the league in triples in 1931, and was among the league leaders in doubles five times, the league leaders in triples five times, and the league leaders in home runs four times. His 28 home runs in 1932 put him third in the league.

Although he didn't hit well in his first chances in the majors in 1923 and 1924, he made an impression in the 1924 World Series when he hit .429. It was the fourth season in a row that the New York Giants had gone to the World Series under manager John McGraw, and the players achieved high visibility as result, with many of them eventually elected to the Hall of Fame.

According to similarity scores, the most similar player is Don Mattingly. Another player on the list who seems quite similar is Keith Hernandez. There are six players in the list of the ten most similar players who are in the Hall of Fame, with Kirby Puckett being the most similar of the six.

Terry's teammate Mel Ott also spent his entire major league career with the New York Giants, and the two played together for over a decade.

Terry played before the Gold Glove award was initiated, but he would have won the award many times. He was frequently the leader in defensive categories.

Terry was not popular with the sportwriters, and it took many years before he was elected to the Hall of Fame. He retired in 1936, but did not get elected until 1954. In the first year he was voted on, he got only 4% of the vote, and the next time he was voted on, he received less than 3%. He didn't start to receive a lot of Hall of Fame votes until after World War II.

Terry began his career as a pitcher in the Florida-Alabama-Georgia League in 1915 and Texas League in 1916. He threw a no-hitter for Newnan on June 30, 1916. In 1917 he pitched 40 games (246 IP) and played 55 other games in the outfield or pinch-hitting. From 1918 to 1921, Terry played semi-pro ball while working for Standard Oil in Memphis, TN; he was disappointed at not earning a shot at the major leagues after his first few years as a pitcher, and decided to get married and settle down in business. While playing semi-pro ball, he was noticed by former major league player Kid Elberfeld, who recommended him to John McGraw. By that point, Terry was only interested in accepting an offer if it paid as well as his current job. Upon returning to organized baseball in 1922, Terry pitched in 26 games (127 IP) and played in 62 other games in the field. In 1923 he hit .377 for the Toledo Mud Hens and made his debut with the Giants that season.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 3-time NL All-Star (1933-1935)
  • NL Batting Average Leader (1930)
  • NL Runs Scored Leader (1931)
  • NL Hits Leader (1930)
  • 2-time NL Singles Leader (1930 & 1934)
  • NL Triples Leader (1931)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 3 (1927, 1930 & 1932)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 6 (1927-1932)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 7 (1927-1932 & 1934)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 6 (1929-1932, 1934 & 1935)
  • Won a World Series with the New York Giants in 1933
  • NL Pennants: 3 (1933, 1936 & 1937)
  • Managed one World Champion with the New York Giants in 1933
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1954
Preceded by
John McGraw
New York Giants Manager
Succeeded by
Mel Ott

Year-By-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1923 Toledo Mud Hens American Association 12-51 8th none replaced Possum Whitted (33-63) on July 31
1932 New York Giants National League 55-59 6th New York Giants replaced John McGraw (17-23) on June 4
1933 New York Giants National League 91-61 1st New York Giants World Series Champs
1934 New York Giants National League 93-60 2nd New York Giants
1935 New York Giants National League 91-62 3rd New York Giants
1936 New York Giants National League 92-62 1st New York Giants Lost World Series
1937 New York Giants National League 95-57 1st New York Giants Lost World Series
1938 New York Giants National League 83-67 3rd New York Giants
1939 New York Giants National League 77-74 5th New York Giants
1940 New York Giants National League 72-80 6th New York Giants
1941 New York Giants National League 74-79 5th New York Giants

Records Held[edit]

  • Hits, doubleheader, 9, 6/18/29 (tied)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Lou Hernández: The 1933 New York Giants: Bill Terry’s Unexpected World Champions, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2017. ISBN 978-1-4766-6403-3
  • Scott McClellan: "Memphis Bill in Newnan", in Ken Fenster and Wynn Montgomery, eds: Baseball in the Peach State, The National Pastime, SABR, Volume 40 (2010), pp. 53-55.

Related Sites[edit]