Johnny Mize

John Robert Mize
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 1981
Primary team: St. Louis Cardinals
Primary position: 1st Baseman

Johnny Mize entered major league baseball in 1936, and soon took on the nickname “The Big Cat” because of the poise in his stance when he was at bat and his ease in the field.

“Did you ever see a pitcher knock him down at the plate?” Mize’s Cardinals teammate Stan Musial said. “Remember how he reacted when brushed back? He’d just lean back and on his left foot, bend his body back and let the pitch go by. Then he’d lean back into the batter’s box and resume his stance, as graceful as a big cat.”

The first baseman really came into his own in 1938, the first of a triad of spectacular years. He led the National League in slugging percentage with a .614 mark that season, to go with a .422 on-base percentage. Mize followed it up in 1939 by winning the batting title, with a .349 average. He also led the NL in home runs with 28 and had a .444 on-base mark. In 1940, he was once again the home run leader, this time with 43, and he led the league in RBI, leaving him just one category short of a Triple Crown. He led in RBI twice more, in 1942 and 1947.

The left-handed batter was the runner-up for the NL MVP Award in both 1939 and 1940.

After a leave of absence to defend his country in World War II and a string of injuries, Mize came back to the game in a big way in 1947. He launched 51 long balls and tied Ralph Kiner of the Pirates for the league lead. Mize also led the NL in RBI and runs scored, and became the first player to strike out less than 50 times while hitting more than 50 home runs.

He again tied Kiner for the home run title the following year, this time with 40 homers.

Mize joined the Yankees in 1949, winning five consecutive World Series titles with his new team. In the 1952 Fall Classic against the Brooklyn Dodgers he hit three home runs.

Mize set the career record for hitting three homers in a game, at six, a mark Sammy Sosa later tied. When Mize’s playing career ended, he became part of the Kansas City Athletics coaching staff in 1961.

"Taking a pitch, Mize actually followed the ball with his eyes right into the catcher's mitt, and he maintained he could see the bat hit the ball. "
sportswriter Tom Meany

Career stats

Year Inducted: 1981
Primary Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Position Played: 1st Baseman
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Birth place: Demorest, Georgia
Birth year: 1913
Died: 1993, Demorest, Georgia
Played for:
St. Louis Cardinals (1936-1941)
New York Giants (1942)
New York Giants (1946-1949)
New York Yankees (1949-1953)
At BatsAB
Home RunsHR
Stolen BasesSB
Batting AverageBA
On Base %OBP
Slugging %SLG