Joe Medwick

From BR Bullpen

1934-36 Diamond Stars

Joseph Michael Medwick
(Ducky Wucky or Ducky or Muscles)

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1968

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Biographical Information[edit]

"(Medwick) was the meanest, roughest guy you could imagine. He just stood up there and whaled everything within reach. Doubles, triples, home runs - he sprayed 'em all over every park." - Leo Durocher, his teammate on the Gas House Gang

Joe Medwick played seventeen seasons in the major leagues, hitting a sterling .324. A Hall of Fame outfielder primarily with the St. Louis Cardinals, he won the 1937 National League Most Valuable Player Award on the strength of the senior circuit's last Triple Crown.

Medwick began his pro career in 1930. As a 19-year-old with the Houston Buffaloes in 1931 he hit .305 with 126 RBIs and led the Texas League with 19 home runs. Back with Houston the next year, he put up even better numbers, hitting .354 with 26 homers. By September he was a 20-year-old major leaguer with the Cards. He quickly became a key part of the Gas House Gang, adding a .319 batting average in 1932 to the .306 and .349 which had preceded it. He sizzled at .379 in the 1934 World Series and nearly triggered a riot with a hard slide into Tiger third baseman Marv Owen.

In 1936, Medwick led the National League with 64 doubles, a NL record that stands to this day. He dominated the league the next year, when he was named MVP. He led the NL in a dozen offensive categories, including batting (.374) and RBI (154), and tied for the lead in home runs (31).

Traded in 1940 to Brooklyn, Medwick helped the Dodgers to their first pennant in 21 years in 1941. After spending a few years with the wartime New York Giants and Boston Braves he came back to Brooklyn for one year before returning to the Cardinals in 1947. He finished up his big league career the next year alongside a rampaging Stan Musial, who fell just a home run short of his own Triple Crown in 1948.

A highly productive all-around hitter, Medwick was a doubles machine. His 540 career two-baggers stand tied for 38th on the all-time list (going into 2022). He was the only major leaguer with 300 doubles before his 28th birthday until Miguel Cabrera matched that feat in 2011. Nine of Medwick's ten most similar players are in Cooperstown, the lone exception being AL batting champ and 7-time All-Star Al Oliver. The most similar player according to similarity scores is Hall of Fame Cardinal Jim Bottomley, a veteran with the 1932 Redbirds when Medwick arrived.

Medwick earned his nickname when a woman who had seen him swim said he swam like a duck. While teammates stopped calling him that (or "Ducky-Wucky") and preferred to call him "Muscles" for his move obvious attribute, fans held onto the more colorful moniker.

Medwick was serving as a guest instructor at the Cardinals spring training camp in St. Petersburg, FL when he suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 63. Medwick's obituary says that he was controversial as a ballplayer and might have been elected to the Hall earlier had he not antagonized sportswriters. The obituary also claims his career declined after a 1940 beaning he never fully recovered from. Indeed, the numbers on either side of that season vary greatly.

One source: Joe Medwick obituary.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 10-time NL All-Star (1934-1942 & 1944)
  • NL MVP (1937)
  • NL Triple Crown (1937)
  • NL Batting Average Leader (1937)
  • NL Slugging Percentage Leader (1937)
  • NL OPS Leader (1937)
  • NL At Bats Leader (1937)
  • NL Runs Scored Leader (1937)
  • 2-time NL Hits Leader (1936 & 1937)
  • 3-time NL Total Bases Leader (1935-1937)
  • 3-time NL Doubles Leader (1936-1938)
  • NL Triples Leader (1934)
  • NL Home Runs Leader (1937)
  • 3-time NL RBI Leader (1936-1938)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 3 (1935, 1937 & 1938)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1937)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 6 (1934-1939)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 6 (1934-1938 & 1941)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 4 (1935-1937 & 1939)
  • Won a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1934
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1968

1936 1937 1938
Carl Hubbell Joe Medwick Ernie Lombardi

Records Held[edit]

  • Doubles, right handed batter, season, 64, 1936 (tied)
  • Tied MLB record by hitting four doubles in a game, August 4, 1937

Further Reading[edit]

  • Thomas Barthel: The Fierce Fun of Ducky Medwick, American Sports History Series, Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Lanham, MD, 2003. ISBN 978-0-8108-4668-5
  • Charles F. Faber: "Joe Medwick", in Charles F. Faber, ed.: The 1934 St. Louis Cardinals: The World Champion Gas House Gang, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2014, pp. 166-169. ISBN 978-1-933599-731

Related Sites[edit]