Clarence Otto Kraft
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 190 lb.
- Debut May 1, 1914
- Final Game May 15, 1914
- Born June 9, 1887 in Evansville, IN USA
- Died March 25, 1958 in Fort Worth, TX USA
Kraft made his pro debut in 1910 for his hometown Evansville River Rats of the class C Central League. He then joined the McLeansboro Merchants of the class D Southern Illinois League. After that league folded, the team joined the Kitty League for league's second half, which they won. At the time, Kraft was a pitcher. He went 6-0 in the Southern Illinois League, and then led the Kitty League with a 13-2 record, for a 19-2 record in 1910. In the KITTY League he also hit .292 (fifth in the league) with 11 doubles, 4 triples, and 4 home runs (tied for the league lead) with a .459 slugging percentage.
Kraft moved north in 1911 to the Flint Vehicles of the class C Southern Michigan League and became a full-time first baseman. There he hit .316 had 19 doubles, 8 triples and led the loop in home runs with 19. He was with Flint again in 1912 and started 1913 with the Clarksdale Swamp Angels of the Cotton States League). Later that year he hit .381 for New Orleans in the class A Southern League.
In September 1913, he was selected by the Brooklyn Superbas in the minor league draft. Under an existing rule, the Southern League's Nashville Volunteers entered a claim for Kraft in the event he was not retained by Brooklyn and was sent back to the minors. This caused a dispute when Brooklyn sent him to class AA Newark of the International League. It was resolved after Brooklyn purchased Kraft outright from the Nashville club on behalf of Newark.
In April, 1914 Kraft was claimed on waivers by the Boston Braves. He was called up to the majors in May of that year. He appeared in three games for the Braves going 1-for-3 with a single, in three games. This was Kraft's only major league playing time.
Kraft spent the rest of the 1914 season with with Newark, hitting .278 with 9 homers and 15 triples in 96 games. In 1915, the franchise moved to Harrisburg, PA becoming the Senators due to the Federal League's relocation to the city. Kraft hit .307, and led league in triples with 2. He played for the American Association's Louisville Colonels and Milwaukee Brewers in 1916 and then for the Wilkes-Barre Barons of the New York State League in 1917.
In 1918, Kraft moved to the Fort Worth Panthers of the Texas League. They would be his last team. He hit .286 with 6 home runs and 86 RBI in 1920. The following year the league introduced a livelier ball and Kraft had the best five years of his career. That year (1921) he hit .352 with 31 and 141 RBI. He led the league in batting average, runs batted in, runs (132), hits (212), and total bases (376). In 1922, Kraft hit .339 with 32 home runs and 131 RBI both leading the league, despite missing two weeks due to a knee injury. He led the league again in home runs in 1923 with 32 and batted .324 with 125 RBI. In what would be his final year, Kraft hit a Texas League record 55 home runs. He had a line of 349/448/721 with 203 hits,36 doubles, 18 stolen bases,and set the all-time league RBI mark with 196. His team, the 1924 Panthers, won 109 games.
At the end of the 1924 season, the 36-year old Kraft announced his retirement from baseball to open an auto dealership in Fort Worth. It was reported by The Sporting News that the Panthers offered him a two-year contract at $10,000 a year (more than what most major league players were paid), but it was turned down. In 1932, Kraft served as the Panthers' temporary president after the team had financial problems during that Depression year. Before his death in 1958, he would serve as a judge for Tarrant County, which contains Fort Worth.
During his six years in the Texas League, Kraft owned the league record for most home runs (167) and most RBI (759) for one club. Kraft ended his career with a batting average of .307, 2134 hits, 255 home runs, and 283 stolen bases in 1907 games.
- HR Titles
- 1910 KITTY League 4
- 1911 Southern Michigan League 19
- 1922 Texas League 32, also led league in RBI 131
- 1923 Texas League 32
- 1924 Texas League 55, also led league in RBI 196
- Jon Dunkle: "Clarence Kraft", in Bill Nowlin, ed.: The Miracle Braves of 1914: Boston's Original Worst-to-First World Series Champions, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2014, pp. 98-101. ISBN 978-1-933599-69-4