Harry Hooper and Duffy Lewis




The Boston Red Sox of the 1910's were historically great with players such as Tris Speaker and Babe Ruth dominating the competition. In total, the club won four World Series in the decade. Duffy Lewis and Harry Hooper were two of their most accomplished defensive stars and along with Speaker formed the Golden Outfield. The natives of Bell Station and San Francsico, California had nearly identical baseball career and yet their lives ended so very differently. This is their story.


Early Years

Harry Hooper was born on August 24, 1887 in Bell Station, California to a family that had migrated to the state from Canada during the Gold Rush. Though his two older brothers had quit school early, Hooper did well in school and became a star on the baseball diamond at Saint Mary's High School in Oakland. After high school, he went to the collegiate affiliate of Saint Mary's where he graduated with an engineering degree. After graduation in 1907, he signed with the Oakland Commuters of the Pacific Coast League.



George Edward "Duffy" Lewis was born on April 18, 1888 in San Francisco, California. Acquiring his nickname from his mother's maiden name, Duffy Lewis quickly became a sensation on baseball diamonds around the city. Life literally shook him on his 18th birthday when the Great Earthquake shook his hometown. Later claiming that he though the whole world was going to end, Duffy Lewis set out to grasp all that life had to offer and to find a purpose for living. That purpose soon became baseball. His baseball career took off soon after as he spent the following school year at Saint Mary's College before signing with the Alameda Grays of the California League in 1907, leaving his education behind for future endeavors.


Boston


Though he was a pitcher to begin his professional career, Harry Hooper was quickly moved to a position player where he proved to be a natural, batting .301 in his rookie year. He moved to the Sacramento Senators the following year where he increased his batting average to .344. Unbeknownst to him, the Senators manager, Charles Graham, was also a scout for the Boston Red Sox and was impressed with his young pupil. At the end of the year. Graham arranged a meeting with Boston owner John T. Taylor where Hooper emerged with a $2,800 contract in hand. Ironically, the gold that his ancestors had set out to find in California would prove to be on the other side of America.


Harry Hooper immediately contributed to his new team after arriving in Boston in the middle of the 1909 season. In 81 games, he batted .282, recorded an OBP (on base percentage) of .337 and stole 15 bases. He played well the next two years, hitting six home runs and batting .289 between those two years.



Meanwhile, Duffy Lewis was proving to be a natural power hitter. Beginning in 1910, his first year in the major leagues, he hit eight, seven and six home runs. Terrific numbers for that era.


The Red Sox began their decade of dominance in 1912 when they defeated the New York Giants in the World Series in seven games. Hooper played well, recording an OBP of .371, collecting nine hits and scoring three runs. Lewis was not as effective at the plate, hitting just .188 for the series. Though Red Sox failed to reach the World Series the next two years, Harry Hooper continued to develop as a player, hitting five home runs and stealing 47 bases between those two years.



The Red Sox returned to the Fall Classic in 1915 and defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in five games. Lewis made up for his ineffectiveness three years earlier by averaging .444. Harry Hooper also came up big in that series, recording a .350 batting average and slamming two home runs. Boston repeated as world champions the following year after defeating the Brooklyn Robins in five games.


Though Red Sox failed to return to the World Series for a third consecutive year in 1917, they came fully prepared to return to their championship winning ways in 1918. However, they were missing a part of their Golden Outfield that year as Duffy Lewis was serving in the US Navy at that time, helping the United States in their efforts overseas during the first World War. Two years later, the Red Sox returned to the World Series where they defeated the Chicago Cubs. It would be their last world championship for 86 years. Harry Hooper made an impact beyond the field of play in that series. Due to World War I, the financial rewards were the smallest for both teams. Neither team was satisfied and ultimately held a brief strike before the fifth game. Though Hooper was able to convince Ban Johnson, the president of the American League, to raise the money and not punish the players for the strike, he failed to get the promise in writing. Johnson failed to keep his promise and the money was the smallest in World Series history.


To make matters worse, the following year the players received a letter from John A Heydler, the National League president and a member of the National Commission, informing them that due to their strike they would not be awarded the emblems typically given to the winners of the World Series in that era. Despite his failure as a voice for the players, Harry Hooper gained a measure of respect from his peers. Hooper spent two more years in Boston and hit ten more home runs for the club before moving on to Chicago where he would play for the White Sox for the rest of his playing career.


Chicago, New York and Later Life



Duffy Lewis was traded to the New York Yankees after the 1918 season. Lewis was distraught and initially considered retiring from the game that had given him so much. However, he reconsidered and hit .272 and seven home runs for New York while leading the team with 89 RBI. His good fortune quickly evaporated in 1920 when Babe Ruth and Bob Meusel joined the Yankees. Lewis soon found himself fighting for playing time.


Duffy Lewis's time in the major leagues came to an end in June of 1921 when his new team, the Washington Senators, released him. Following his release, Lewis joined the Salt Lake City team of the PCL as a player where he impressed his first year with a .403 batting average in his first half-year with the squad. Following his initial success, he expanded his role and served as a player-manager for his remaining three years with the team. In that time span, he batted .362, 358 and .392. He left the team for the same position with the Portland Beavers of the PCL and hit .294 in his lone season with the team. He spent the 1926 and 1927 seasons with teams in Mobile, Jersey City and Portland, Maine.



While in Boston, Harry Hooper was never known as a great slugger. But that changed when he went to the White Sox in 1921. After hitting eight home runs in his first year with the team, he began a three-year streak of at least 10 home runs a season, topping off with 11 in 1922. In a time just past the Dead Ball Era, this was a truly phenomenal feat. He retired after the 1925 season with 75 home runs, 817 RBI and a lifetime average of .281.


After baseball, Harry Hooper bounced around the work force, working in real estate and playing-managing the San Francisco Mission Bells of the PCL as well as managing various other teams in Marysville and Santa Cruz before coaching Princeton's baseball team in the final two years before the Great Depression. Due to the Depression, the university was forced to cut back on Hooper's salary, causing him to resign. Following his resignation from Princeton, Harry Hooper returned to California where he prospered in real estate and served as the postmaster of Capitola for 20 years. Harry Hooper was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971 and passed away on December 18, 1974 following a stroke.


While Harry Hooper's life ended in luxury, Duffy Lewis's ended much, much differently. After his finances were wiped out due to the Great Depression, Lewis first became a coach and then was the traveling secretary for the Braves, a position he held for 26 years. He was famously a big tipper and was always willing to spend a little extra to live a more comfortable life, despite his dwindling finances. By the time he died on June 17, 1979, he was penniless and with no known relatives. In 2001, a collection was taken up to provide his body a headstone; his grave had been unmarked until then. He was inducted into the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame in 2012.

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