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Zack Wheat

Zack Wheat
Left fielder
Born: (1888-05-23)May 23, 1888
Hamilton, Missouri
Died: May 11, 1972(1972-05-11) (aged 83)
Sedalia, Missouri
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 11, 1909 for the Brooklyn Superbas
Last MLB appearance
September 21, 1927 for the Philadelphia Athletics
Career statistics
Batting average .317
Hits 2,884
Home runs 132
Runs Batted In 1,248
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Career highlights and awards
Induction 1959
Election Method Veteran's Committee

Zachariah Davis "Zack" Wheat (May 23, 1888 – March 11, 1972), nicknamed "Buck",[1] was a Major League Baseball left fielder for Brooklyn in the National League. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1959.

A consistent hitter throughout his 19-year career, he still holds many Dodger franchise records. His brother McKinley "Mack" Wheat also played in the major leagues, and the two were teammates in Brooklyn for five seasons.[2]


Born in Hamilton, Missouri, the son of Basil and Julia Wheat. His father was of English descent and his mother was full-blooded Cherokee. Wheat began his professional baseball career in

  1. REDIRECT Template:Baseball year for Enterprise in the Kansas League, followed by Wichita in
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  3. REDIRECT Template:Baseball year, and finally, to round out his minor league career, he played for the Mobile Seas Gulls of the Southern Association in
  4. REDIRECT Template:Baseball year.[3] It was during that 1909 season that the Brooklyn Superbas of the National League purchased Wheat for $1200,[3] and he made his Major League debut in September.[2] He batted with a corkscrew type of swing, and held his hands down near the end of the bat, unlike most hitters during his time, a time noted as the "Dead Ball Era". Even with his consistent high levels of hitting, he was also noted for his graceful and stylish defense.[4]

What Lajoie was to infielders, Zach Wheat is to outfielders, the finest mechanical craftsman of them all... Wheat is the easiest, most graceful of outfielders with no close rivals.

Baseball Magazine, 1917[4]

Wheat played his first full season in

  1. REDIRECT Template:Baseball year. He played every game for the Superbas that season as the regular left fielder, leading the league in games played.[2] He batted .284 that season, the second-lowest average of his career, which led the team, and was among the league leaders in hits, doubles, and triples.[4] It was in
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Wheat continued his steady and consistent climb up the batting charts in

  1. REDIRECT Template:Baseball year, hitting .305, and finished the season among the league leaders in home runs and slugging percentage.[1] Over the next four seasons, he continued to be among the leaders of many offensive categories; such as home runs, batting average, slugging, hits, doubles, triples, and RBIs. It was during the 1912 season that Wheat married Daisy Kerr Forsman, and she became his default agent, encouraging him to hold out for a better contract each season. Players in his day signed one-year contracts before every season. Each time he held out, he received more money, the club not wanting to lose one of its best players and the team's most popular player.[4] This tactic of threatening to hold out served him well during throughout his career, including during the World War I era, when he raised and sold mules to the United States Army as pack animals. He claimed that he did so well, that he didn't need to play during the summer. The team, fearing that they might lose a great player during the prime of his career, would succumb to his demands every year.[4]
File:Zack wheat.jpg
Zack Wheat baseball card, 1911 Gold Borders (T205)


  1. REDIRECT Template:Baseball year, he topped off the string of seasons with a finish in the top ten in all the above categories, topping the league in total bases and slugging.[1] He also had a career-high hitting streak, which reached 29 games.[4] The Brooklyn Robins won the National League pennant that season. In the World Series, they faced the Boston Red Sox, which had the formidable pitching rotation of Ernie Shore, Dutch Leonard, Carl Mays, and Babe Ruth. The Red Sox won the series four games to one, holding the Robins to a .200 batting average, and Wheat to a paltry .211.[5]

During the

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Starting in

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  6. REDIRECT Template:Baseball year, his .375 finished a distant second to Hornsby's .424.[8]

A subtle, but longstanding friction existed between Wheat and his manager, future Hall of Famer Wilbert Robinson. The friction reportedly stemmed from Robinson's belief that Wheat seemed to pursue the manager's job behind his back.[4] When owner Charles Ebbets died in

  1. REDIRECT Template:Baseball year, new team president Ed McKeever reassigned Robinson into the front office and named Wheat as player-manager. Newspapers confirm that he managed the Dodgers for two weeks.[4] McKeever caught pneumonia at Ebbets' funeral, and died soon afterward, and Robinson quickly returned to the managers position. As it turned out, Wheat never again managed in the majors, much to his disappointment. To add insult to injury, Wheat's 1925 managerial stint never made it into the official records. In
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Wheat was signed by the Philadelphia Athletics after his release from Brooklyn in

  1. REDIRECT Template:Baseball year. After the season, he was released again; this time he signed and played for the minor league Minneapolis Millers of the American Association. He played very little that season due to a heel injury, and retired from playing for good following the season.[3] He still holds the Dodger franchise records for hits, doubles, triples and total bases.[9]


After Wheat retired from baseball, he moved back to his Script error: No such module "convert". farm in Polo, Missouri, until the Great Depression forced him to sell it in 1932.[4] He moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he operated a bowling alley with Cotton Tierney.[4][10] He later became a police officer.[3] It was during his duties as an officer in 1936, that he was chasing a fleeing felon in his vehicle, when he crashed and nearly died. Wheat spent five months in hospital after the accident, and after he was discharged, he moved his family to Sunrise Beach, Missouri, a resort town on the Lake of the Ozarks, to recuperate. It was here that he opened a Script error: No such module "convert". hunting and fishing resort.[4]

One of the grandest guys ever to wear a baseball uniform, one of the greatest batting teachers I have seen, one of the truest pals a man ever (had) and one of the kindliest men God ever created.

Wheat was first voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in

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See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Zack Wheat's Stats". Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Zack Wheat's Stats". Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "Zack Wheat's Obit". The New York Times, Sunday, March 12th, 1972. Archived from the original on 2008-04-03. Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 Zack Wheat at the SABR Bio Project, by Eric Enders, retrieved 2008-04-19
  5. "The 1916 World Series Stats". Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  6. "The 1920 World Series Stats". Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  7. "1923 National League Stats". Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  8. "1924 National League Stats". Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  9. "Zack Wheat's Hall of Fame profile". Archived from the original on 2008-04-08. Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  10. Grayson, Harry (July 5, 1943). "Black Lightning Zack Wheat Most Popular Player Brooklyn Ever Had". The Tuscaloosa News. p. 7. Retrieved June 28, 2012. 
  11. "Missouri Revised Statutes; Chapter 227, State Highway System, Section 227.309, August 28, 2007". Retrieved 2008-03-26. 
  12. Mallozzi, Vincent M. (2008-06-08). "The American Indians of America's Pastime". The New York Times. 

External links