Bill Terry

William Harold Terry
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 1954
Primary team: New York Giants
Primary position: 1st Baseman

"He once hit a ball between my legs so hard," Dizzy Dean said, "that my center fielder caught it on the fly backing up against the wall."

Bill Terry's big league career almost ended before it began. Once he got his chance though, Terry became one of the National League's best first baseman of the 1920s and '30s, followed by a highly successful managerial career.

Terry originally tried to make it as a pitcher in the mid-1910s. He had some fine seasons in the minor leagues, but was never signed by a big league club. He actually got out of professional ball for a time, taking a job with Standard Oil in Memphis. He continued playing for his plant's team though, and in 1922 he was brought to the attention of New York Giants manager John McGraw.

Much to McGraw's surprise, Terry wouldn't join the Giants unless McGraw made it worth his while, and the two would always have a frosty relationship. McGraw eventually relented, and Terry cemented himself as the Giants' everyday first baseman in 1925 when he hit .319, the second best average on the team, in his first season as a regular.

Terry never batted under .320 in the nine seasons in which he received over 500 at-bats. He finished second in the National League in batting three times but only captured a batting title once, when he hit .401 in 1930. He led the Giants in average every year from 1929-35.

The left-handed hitting Terry concentrated on hitting balls up the middle and to left-center. While he did have three 20-home run seasons and hit 154 for his career, some observers felt he could've hit more if he'd taken advantage of the short porches down the lines at the Polo Grounds.

Terry succeeded McGraw as the Giants' manager in the middle of the 1932 season. A year later, the 34-year-old Terry managed the Giants to the 1933 World Series title while continuing to be their leading hitter with a .322 average. Terry intended to end his playing career after the 1935 season, but he reversed course in the middle of 1936 and played through severe knee problems, continuing to hit while leading the Giants back to the World Series, though they lost to the Yankees.

Terry did retire as a player after 1936, but he continued managing the Giants for another five seasons, including another NL pennant in 1937. He had over 800 wins as a manager when his career ended in 1941.

"Bill Terry was the finest playing manager I ever saw," Giants second baseman Burgess Whitehead said. "He was always thinking ahead. He was a great fielder and when he was on first, I did not have to worry about my left."

"He has often been misunderstood, and what passed for coldness has merely been an impatience with stupid questions. "
Lee Allen

Career stats

Year Inducted: 1954
Primary Team: New York Giants
Position Played: 1st Baseman
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Birth place: Atlanta, Georgia
Birth year: 1898
Died: 1989, Jacksonville, Florida
Played for:
New York Giants (1923-1936)
New York Giants (1932-1941)
At BatsAB
Home RunsHR
Stolen BasesSB
Batting AverageBA
On Base %OBP
Slugging %SLG