He was a line-drive machine for 20 seasons, a man who had more career extra-base hits (587) than strikeouts (528).
Luke Appling had a reputation for nagging injuries, but his career numbers illustrate a player who was remarkably durable and consistent.
Appling broke into the big leagues with the Chicago White Sox in 1930 and became entrenched at shortstop the following season. By 1936, Appling won his first All-Star Game selection en route to a .388 batting average – the top single-season mark ever by a modern-era shortstop. That same season, Appling drove in 128 runs while hitting just six homers – the second-best RBI total ever for anyone with less than 10 home runs in a season.
Appling also had one of the best batting eyes in the game, averaging about 87 walks and just 35 strikeouts per season en route to a career on-base percentage of .399. All this came despite a variety of maladies that earned Appling the nickname "Old Aches and Pains."
"Few were better or more deadly with two strikes than Appling," wrote Arthur Daley of The New York Times. "He just waited for the pitch he wanted and lashed into it. If there was a good pitch he didn’t want, he artistically spoiled it by fouling it off."
Appling finished his career in 1950 with a .310 career batting average, two batting titles, seven All-Star Game selections and 2,749 hits. He played each of his 20 big league seasons with the White Sox and was named the Sox's greatest player by Chicago fans in 1969.
Appling was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1964. He passed away on Jan. 3, 1991.