James Anthony Collins
- Bats Both, Throws Left
- Height 5' 9", Weight 165 lb.
- Debut April 18, 1931
- Final Game September 28, 1941
- Born March 30, 1904 in Altoona, PA USA
- Died April 15, 1970 in New Haven, NY USA
Ripper Collins was a member of the "Gas House Gang" who led the National League in slugging percentage and home runs in 1934 when the St. Louis Cardinals won the 1934 World Series. He also appeared on the Chicago Cubs in 1938, when they won the pennant. Lifetime, in his nine-year major league career, he hit .296 with a .492 slugging percentage.
In the minors prior to his major league career, Collins won a Triple Crown in the Three-I League in 1928 with a .388 average, 19 homers and 101 RBI. In 1929, he led the International League with 38 home runs and 134 RBI, helping lead the Rochester Red Wings to a 103-win season and the pennant. In the prior couple of seasons, he had played briefly with Rochester after spending the bulk of the year in lower-level clubs. In 1930, Collins set the IL RBI record with 180 - this still remains the all-time league record. He also hit .376 (leading the league), slugged .684, scored 165, banged out a league-best 234 hits, delivered 40 homers and a league-high 19 triples.
In 1934, Collins had 369 total bases, the record for a switch-hitter in the National League. That season he led the NL in slugging, OPS and tied for the homer lead with Mel Ott. Collins was also a ringleader in the antics of the Gas House Gang.
Collins played in the Pacific Coast League and Eastern League after his career in the majors ended. In 1944, he was named Minor League Player of the Year while with the Albany Senators of the Eastern League. At the age of 40, he might have been the oldest player ever to win this honor. He hit .396/~.485/.598 that year and led the league in doubles (40), average, slugging and OBP. He even stole 14 bases!
Collins managed in the minors for a decade. He piloted the 1942-1946 Albany Senators, 1947-1948 San Diego Padres, 1949 Pawtucket Slaters, 1949-1950 Hartford Chiefs and 1961 San Antonio Missions. In 1951 he was elected to the International League Hall of Fame. Collins did eventually get back to the majors as a Chicago Cubs coach from 1961 to 1963. This was during the College of Coaches experiment, and while he did not get to manage the major league club, he did shuttle between assignments managing various Cubs minor league affiliates and a coaching position in the big leagues.
Sources: The International League: Year-by-Year Statistics by Marshall Wright, 1946 Baseball Guide, 1989 Sporting News Baseball Guide (though any Guide lists past MLPOTY award winners), Great Baseball Feats, Facts & Firsts by David Nemec and Baseball's 25 Greatest Teams by Lowell Reidenbaugh
- 1944 Minor League Player of the Year (Albany Senators, Eastern League)
- 3-time NL All-Star (1935-1937)
- NL Slugging Percentage Leader (1934)
- NL OPS Leader (1934)
- NL Total Bases Leader (1934)
- NL Home Runs Leader (1934)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 3 (1932, 1934 & 1935)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1934)
- 100 RBI Seasons: 2 (1934 & 1935)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 2 (1934 & 1935)
- 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (1934)
- Won two World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals (1931 & 1934)
Year-by-Year Managerial Record
- Cort Vitty: "(The Ripper) James Anthony Collins", in Charles F. Faber, ed.: The 1934 St. Louis Cardinals: The World Champion Gas House Gang, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2014, pp. 57-61. ISBN 978-1-933599-731