Earle Bryan Combs
(The Kentucky Colonel)
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 185 lb.
- School Eastern Kentucky University
- Debut April 16, 1924
- Final Game September 29, 1935
- Born May 14, 1899 in Pebworth, KY USA
- Died July 21, 1976 in Richmond, KY USA
Known for his speed, outfielder Earle Combs (whose last name rhymes with "tombs") was the New York Yankees leadoff man in the days of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and hit .325 over the course of his career. He played a dozen years in the majors, all with the Yankees.
Combs hit .380 for the Louisville Colonels of the American Association in 1923 and had his contract purchased by the Yankees prior to the following season for $50,000, a huge sum at the time. He quickly became the Yankees' regular centerfielder, but a broken ankle caused him to miss most of his rookie year. He came back in 1925 and scored over 100 runs in each season from 1925 to 1932, also leading the league in triples three times during that span. At the same time, he managed to hit under .300 in just once while playing full time in the big leagues (and at that, he was just under, hitting .299 in 1926).
Combs' best season came in 1927, when he hit .356, scored 137 runs, and led the American League with 231 hits. He also starred in the postseason, hitting .350 over the course of four World Series from 1926 to 1932 (with the Yankees winning three crowns). A broken finger limited him to one plate appearance in the 1928 Series, but he made the most of it, hitting a sacrifice fly that drove in a run.
Combs suffered a serious injury in 1934 that could have cost him his life, fracturing his skull after running into the wall at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. He was carried unconscious from the field and remained in the hospital for two months afterwards, but miraculously returned to the field in 1935. However, his career was shortly thereafter ended by another injury, a broken collarbone. He was replaced the next season as the Yankees centerfielder by another future Hall of Famer, Joe DiMaggio.
Although he was a very good player, Combs was famous for his weak throwing arm. In addition, although he had a .325 career batting average, it has been pointed out that he never was in the top five in batting during any one season.
After his playing days were over, Combs was a Yankees coach from 1935 to 1944 and a member of the St. Louis Browns staff in 1947. He later coached for the Boston Red Sox from 1948 to 1952 and spent 1954 with the Philadelphia Phillies.
- AL At Bats Leader (1927)
- AL Hits Leader (1927)
- 2-time AL Singles Leader (1927 & 1929)
- 3-time AL Triples Leader (1927, 1928 & 1930)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 8 (1925-1932)
- 200 Hits Seasons: 3 (1925, 1927 & 1929)
- Won three World Series with the New York Yankees (1927, 1928 & 1932)
- Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1970