“I always thought that if Hafey had been blessed with normal eyesight and good health, he might have been the best right-handed hitter baseball had ever known.” – Branch Rickey
Hampered by poor eyesight and severe sinus problems, Charles James “Chick” Hafey played just 1,283 games but still managed to amass 1,466 hits and a career batting average of .317. Hafey won one batting title and was named to the inaugural All-Star Game, where he collected the first ever hit in All-Star Game history.
Hafey was one of the first products of Rickey’s farm system, arriving in St. Louis as a rookie in 1924. He was a part of the 1926 Cardinals team that won the World Series, but was limited after suffering several beanings that season. It is believed his health problems were a result of the beanings, and he would become the most prominent player of his era to wear eye glasses. Hafey continued to wear glasses throughout his career.
Hafey bounced back to play more than 100 games in the season for the first time in 1927. That year, Hafey led the National League in slugging percentage with a .590 mark and received MVP votes for the first time in his career.
From 1927 until his time with the Cardinals came to an end after the 1931 season, Hafey played the best baseball of his career. From 1928-1930, Hafey hit at least 26 home runs and drove in more than 100 runs in each season.
Then in 1931, Hafey won one of the closest batting titles ever, edging Bill Terry and Jim Bottomley with a hit in his final game of the season. Hafey then faced Al Simmons, the AL batting champion, in the World Series. The Cardinals beat the Athletics in seven games for Hafey’s second World Series title in four appearances.
Hafey played his final five seasons in Cincinnati, his career came to a close in 1937 at age 34.
Hafey was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1971. He passed away on July 2, 1973.