“Eddie Collins is the best ballplayer I have seen during my career on the diamond.” – John McGraw
In the second decade of the 20th Century, Eddie Collins thrived in the “small ball” environment the game demanded.
In the third decade of the 20th Century, Collins starred in a “go for broke” hitters’ era as one of the game’s most productive catalysts.
In any baseball environment, Collins’ skills and savvy were nearly without peer.
Born May 2, 1887 in Millerton, N.Y., Collins graduated from Columbia University before establishing himself in the majors with manager Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s in 1908. The next year, Collins became the A’s regular second baseman – hitting .347 with 104 runs scored, 198 hits and 63 stolen bases. It would mark the first of 10 full seasons where Collins hit better than .340.
From 1911-14, Collins finished third, sixth, third and first in the Chalmers Award voting – the de facto Most Valuable Player Award – helping the Athletics win World Series titles in 1911 and 1913 and another American League pennant in 1914.
But following his team’s shocking 1914 Fall Classic loss to the Braves and in the face of a national recession, Mack broke up his A’s and their legendary “$100,000 infield.” Mack sold the 27-year-old Collins to the Chicago White Sox for a record $50,000.
Collins continued his outstanding all-around play in Chicago, leading the White Sox to the 1917 World Series title despite batting under .300 for a full season (at .289) for the first time in his career. In 1919, Collins hit .319 and stole a league-best 33 bases in leading the White Sox back to the World Series – a team known forever as the Black Sox after eight players were accused of throwing the Fall Classic. Collins was never implicated in the scandal.
Collins thrived with the introduction of the lively ball in 1920, recording career-bests of 228 hits and a .372 batting average. He continued to post batting averages well over .300 and managed the White Sox from the end of the 1924 season through the 1926 season – finishing with records better than .500 in each season. In 1923 and 1924, Collins finished second in the AL MVP voting.
In 1925, Collins became just the sixth person to join the 3,000-hit club – and the last for the next 17 seasons.
Collins is one of only five players in history with more than 500 steals and a .400 on-base percentage.
Collins was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1939. He passed away March 25, 1951.