Earl Averill burst onto the big league scene with a rookie season many would consider their best. However, Averill was just getting started, and by the time he was finished, the Washington State native dubbed the Earl of Snohomish had crafted a Hall of Fame career.
Born May 21, 1902, in Snohomish, Washington, Averill broke into the majors in 1929 at the relatively late age of 26. He made up for lost time during his rookie year, starting the season as the center fielder and number three batter for the Cleveland Indians.
The compact 5-foot-9, 172-pound Averill quickly proved to be a line-drive machine, pounding out 198 hits that season en route to a .332 batting average, 18 homers, 96 RBI and 110 runs scored.
Averill posted similar numbers in 1930 with 19 homers, 119 RBI and a .339 average, then found his power stroke in 1931 with 32 homers, 143 RBI and 140 runs scored. During his first 10 big league seasons, he averaged 22 home runs, 107 RBI and 114 runs scored a season and hit .323.
“I thank the good Lord he wasn’t twins,” said Hall of Fame pitcher Lefty Gomez, whose Yankees battled the Indians in the American League throughout the 1930s. “One more like him probably would have kept me out of the Hall of Fame.”
Averill was traded to the Tigers on June 14, 1939, and the next year as a bench player he helped Detroit win the American League pennant. He retired after spending part of the 1941 season with the Boston Braves.
For his 13-year career, Averill hit .318 with 238 home runs, 2,019 hits and 1,224 runs scored. He hit over .300 in eight of his 12 full big league seasons, topping out at .378 in 1936 when he led the American League with 232 hits and 15 triples. Averill finished in the top four of the American League Most Valuable Player voting in three seasons and was named to six All-Star teams.
He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1975, and he passed away Aug. 16, 1983.