Owen Joseph Bush
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 5' 6", Weight 140 lb.
- Debut September 18, 1908
- Final Game September 15, 1923
- Born October 8, 1887 in Indianapolis, IN USA
- Died March 28, 1972 in Indianapolis, IN USA
"One day after I had struck out, I asked Eddie Killian what kind of ball I swung at and missed. Killian said it was a donie ball. I never learned what a donie ball was, but the Tigers started calling me Donie and the name just stuck." - from Donie Bush's obituary, The Sporting News, April 15, 1972
Owen "Donie" Bush was the long-time shortstop for the Detroit Tigers whose career was overlapped by the Ty Cobb years. He was an outstanding defensive player and an excellent leadoff hitter but his talents were not fully recognized while he was playing.
Bush was born and grew up in Indianapolis but left his family while still a teenager to play professional baseball. His first job was in the baseball boondocks, with Sault Ste. Marie in the Copper Country Soo League in 1905. By 1907, he was closer to home and starring at shortstop for the South Bend Greens of the Central League, batting .279 and drawing raves for his defensive play. After the season, Frank Navin, minority owner at South Bend and principal owner of the American League's Detroit Tigers sold Bush's contract to the Indianapolis Indians while retaining first option for his services for the Tigers. This provision came in handy when the Bengals' regular shortstop, Charley O'Leary went down with an injury late in the 1908 season with the Tigers smack in the middle of a pennant race.
Donie made his debut as a 20-year-old and was the regular at short for the Tigers for a dozen seasons. He hit .294 during the last days of the 1908 pennant race as the Tigers finished in first place, but he was called up too late to be eligible to play in the World Series and could only watch the Tigers lose to the Chicago Cubs from the sidelines. In 1909, he led the AL in assists, with 567, and runs scored, with 115, drew 88 walks and hit 52 sacrifices, the fourth highest total in major league history. He hit .273 with an OBP of .380. The Tigers repeated as champions and, this time, Bush got to play in the World Series, batting .318 as Detroit lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He drew copious walks, leading the junior circuit five times between 1909 and 1914 with a personal best of 117 in 1912. He also stole lots of bases, swiping more than 30 eight times in his career. Additionally he scored at least 90 runs eight times, leading the AL a second time with 112 in 1917. In 1914, he tied a major league record that still stands with 425 putouts at shortstop. He was consistently among the league leaders in all fielding categories, showing tremendous range. Still, he was under appreciated because, for all his times on base and runs scored, his best weapon was drawing walks, a skill that was not held in high regard, and his forte was scoring and not driving in runs.
After the 1921 season, Bush moved to the Washington Senators and became player/manager of the club in 1923. The team improved from 6th to 4th under his guidance, but he was not retained as skipper for 1924 as the team went on to win its only World Championship under player-manager Bucky Harris. In sixteen seasons, Donie racked up 1,804 hits with 1,158 walks, good for a .356 OBP playing predominantly in a deadball era. Based on the similarity scores method, there are three Hall of Fame players on the list of the ten most similar players to Bush (Johnny Evers, Dave Bancroft and Miller Huggins), all of whom were infield contemporaries.
After his big league playing days ended, he returned to his hometown and managed the Indianapolis Indians of the American Association from 1924 to 1926. He returned to the majors as skipper of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1927 to 1929, reaching the World Series that first season, when the team was swept by the New York Yankees, considered by many to be the greatest team in baseball history. In Pittsburgh he got into a famous feud with star outfielder Kiki Cuyler, benching him for the last part of the 1927 season for failing to play hard, the benching extending to the World Series. Cuyler was traded to the Chicago Cubs after the season and Bush remained at the helm for two more years, but the Pirates regressed and he was fired partway through the 1929 season.
Bush managed the Chicago White Sox in 1930 and 1931 with little success. After leading the minor league Minneapolis Millers to a championship in 1932, he became manager of the talent-starved 1933 Cincinnati Reds. Bush returned to the Millers from 1934 to 1938 and, during that time, managed a young Ted Williams, who would later state that Bush was one of the most positive influences on his young career. He also led the Louisville Colonels in 1939.
Bush returned to his hometown in 1941 and became co-owner of the Indianapolis Indians. He ran the team until it was sold to the Cleveland Indians in 1952 and also managed the club again in 1943. The team's ballpark was renamed Bush Stadium in his honor in 1967 and he was known in town as "Mr. Baseball". He scouted for a spell for the Boston Red Sox from 1953 to 1955 and the White Sox from 1969 until his death in 1972. He was inducted into the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979.
- AL Runs Scored Leader (1917)
- 5-time AL Bases on Balls Leader (1909-1912 & 1914)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 4 (1909, 1911, 1912 & 1917)
- 50 Stolen Bases Seasons: 1 (1909)
- NL Pennants: 1 (1927)
|Washington Senators Manager
|Pittsburgh Pirates Manager
|Chicago White Sox Manager
|Cincinnati Reds Manager
Year-By-Year Managerial Record
- Sacrifice hits, switch hitter, career, 337
- Triple plays, career, 9 (tied)
- Triple plays, shortstop, career, 9
- Putouts, shortstop, season, 425, 1914 (tied)
- Jim Moyes: "Owen Joseph 'Donie' Bush", in David Jones, ed.: Deadball Stars of the American League, SABR, Potomac Books, Inc., Dulles, VA, 2006, pp. 559-560.