Cards All-Time Top 40 – Chick Hafey #39


Posted Jan 16, 2007


Next up in our Top 40 countdown of the greatest St. Louis Cardinals players of all-time is a standout outfielder from the 1920’s and early 1930’s, Chick Hafey.

Charles James “Chick” Hafey

The Basics

Position

Bat

Throw

Total Yrs

Yrs in StL

HR

RBI

SB

Average

Outfield

Right

Right

1924-1935, 1937

1924-1931

127

618

56

0.326

The Awards

Hall of Fame

Retired #

World Champ

All-Star

MVP

Cy Young

Gold Glove

1971

2

NA

NA

NA

Note: All stats and awards listed are for years as a Cardinal only.
Hafey’s career stats available from baseball-reference.com.

Voter Comments

Rob Rains (38): If I said name the top six Cardinals all-time in career batting average, most of the same names would be on the list. One who most people would likely overlook is Hafey, who still ranks as the sixth-best Cardinal of all-time on that list with a .326 career average, 76 years after he last wore a Cardinal uniform in 1931. That season he set his career high with a .349 mark, leading the National League.

No less of an expert than Branch Rickey said that with normal eyesight -- Hafey wore glasses -- Hafey might have been the best right-handed hitter in the history of the game.

Jerry Modene (NR): Hafey is another of those borderline Hall of Famers whose reputation, in my opinion, is heightened by all the stories about how bad his eyesight was and how he still managed to hit .326 in 7 full seasons with the Cardinals – but this is also a guy who was benched during the 1931 World Series, despite having won a batting championship that year (he had gone just 4-for-24 with no extra base hits or RBI in the first six games), and who was traded to the Reds just before the start of the 1932 season.

Not to denigrate his accomplishments, but Hafey is the epitome of the guy whose stats were inflated by the era in which he played, and while it may be true that he would have been even greater “if he could only see”, we have to judge him on what he did, not what he might have done. After all, Mike Piazza would be the greatest catcher of all-time, if he could only catch.

Ray Mileur (NR): A lifetime .317 hitter, Hafey put together three seasons where he hit more than 20 home runs and drove in over 100 runs. His contemporaries thought that he hit the ball harder than anyone and that if Hafey didn’t suffer from a chronic sinus condition and poor eyesight that required him to be one of the first players to wear glasses in baseball history, he would have been one of the greatest hitters of all time.

An all-around player, he was considered one of the best defensive players of his time, possessing a very strong arm and excellent range and speed in the outfield. In 1926, he was a reserve outfielder on the St. Louis Cardinals’ first pennant ever, starting all seven games of the World Series for the injured outfielder Ray Blades.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971, Hafey patrolled left field as the Cardinals won four National League pennants in his six years and deserves our recognition here.

Brian Walton (32): As you read, at least one voter questions the worthiness of stats from another era. Well, Hafey was consistently excellent through his six years wearing the Cardinals uniform. He won the batting title, came in second in on-base percentage and placed fifth in the National League Most Valuable Player voting in 1931.

In 1928 and 1929, Hafey’s line drive power was exhibited as he was second in the league in doubles and he placed third in home runs and fourth in RBI in 1928. For five years running, Hafey placed in the top four in the League in slugging percentage.

I could go on and on, but I hope you get the idea. Hafey was a top slugger in the game during the era of the Cardinals’ first two World Championships. Considered the second-best player on his team, Hafey’s many accomplishments were overshadowed by the great Rogers Hornsby. I can’t help but wonder if Hafey wasn’t a bit like the Jim Edmonds of his day.

At the end of his career, after he had left the Cardinals following a series of salary disputes, Hafey was selected to the first-ever All-Star team in 1933 and later named to the Hall-of-Fame by the Veterans Committee.

Voter Comments Key: Voter (Individual Ranking); NR = Not Rated

Master List: To see our entire list of the greatest 40 Cardinals players of all-time as they are unveiled daily, click here.

© 2007 stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.


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