Note: This page links to Hall of Fame outfielder Earl Averill. For his son who played from 1956 to 1963, click here.
Howard Earl Averill
(Rock, the Earl of Snohomish)
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 5' 9½", Weight 172 lb.
- Debut April 16, 1929
- Final Game April 25, 1941
- Born May 21, 1902 in Snohomish, WA USA
- Died August 16, 1983 in Everett, WA USA
A native of Washington, Averill began his pro career with the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League from 1926 to 1928. After hitting .354 with 36 home runs in 1928, his contract was purchased by the Indians for $50,000. Breaking into the majors a month before his 27th birthday, he homered in his first big league at-bat on April 16th, 1929, facing Earl Whitehill of the Detroit Tigers. As Cleveland's regular centerfielder that year, he hit .332 with 18 homers in his rookie campaign.
In his sophomore season, Averill raised his average to .339 and hit 19 home runs, including 4 in a doubleheader against the Washington Senators on September 17th. In each of the next two season, he clubbed 32 homers and finished fourth in American League Most Valuable Player voting. He went on to be the only outfielder selected to the first six All-Star Games, from 1933 to 1938, and put together perhaps his finest season in 1936, hitting .378 with 28 home runs and 126 RBIs while leading the AL with 232 hits and 15 triples.
In 1937, Averill began to be slowed by a back injury, and he was traded to the Detroit Tigers for Harry Eisenstat in the middle of the 1939 season. He saw limited time playing time with the Tigers but saw the only postseason action of his career in 1940. In the World Series that fall, the 38-year-old Averill went 0-for-3 in three pinch-hit attempts as Detroit fell to the Cincinnati Reds in seven games. He moved on to the Boston Braves in 1941 but was released in late April after going just 2-for-17. He finished his pro career that summer with the Seattle Rainiers of the PCL.
Despite having a relatively short career, Averill still finished his career with over 2,000 base hits. He remains the all-time Indians leader in total bases, runs batted in, runs, and triples. He also remains 3rd in all-time Indian hits and doubles, and 4th in all-time Indian home runs and walks. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on February 3, 1975 by the Committee on Baseball Veterans.
As a centerfielder, Averill ranks around #30 all-time in both WAR and WAR7 as of June 2019 [], higher than fellow center field Hall of Famers Edd Roush, Earle Combs and Hack Wilson, and close to Kirby Puckett.
Following his baseball days, Averill returned to his Washington hometown where he owned and operated a motel for twenty years. He died of pneumonia at age 81. His son, Earl Douglas Averill, played in the majors from 1956 until 1963. Earl Jr. was mainly a catcher but also played left field and a few games at third, second, and first. Bob Feller played with both Earl Averills with the Indians. Another son, Bernie, played baseball for the University of Oregon Ducks in the mid 1950s.
- 6-time AL All-Star (1933-1938)
- AL At-Bats Leader (1931)
- AL Hits Leader (1936)
- AL Triples Leader (1936)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 5 (1931, 1932, 1934, 1936 & 1937)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 3 (1931, 1932 & 1934)
- 100 RBI Seasons: 5 (1930-1932, 1934 & 1936)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 9 (1929-1932 & 1934-1938)
- 200 Hits Seasons: 2 (1931 & 1936)
- Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1975