Lewis R. "Hack" Wilson played in major league baseball for 12 seasons, finishing his career with a lifetime .307 average, 244 home runs and 1,063 RBI.
Though his tenure in baseball was relatively short, his impact of the game resonates to this day.
After stellar seasons in the minors from 1921-23, Wilson's contract was purchased by the New York Giants in September of 1923 for a reported $11,000. Wilson hit .295 in 107 games in 1924, helping the Giants win the National League pennant. But he struggled in 1925, prompting Giants manager John McGraw to send Wilson to Double-A Toledo of the American Association. Following that season, the Cubs took Wilson in the Rule 5 Draft.
From there, Wilson began a five-year stretch that saw him lead in the NL in home runs four times and RBI twice. At 5-foot-6 and 190 pounds, Wilson was also a capable defender in center field – leading the league in fielding percentage in 1926 (.972) and putouts in 1927 (400).
But it was at the plate where Wilson established his legend. After leading the NL with 159 RBI in 1929 while powering the Cubs to the NL pennant, Wilson had one of the greatest seasons in big league history in 1930. He he launched 56 long balls, a National League record that stood for 68 years, and totaled 191 RBI – still the all-time major league single-season record – with a .356 batting average. In his season of highlights, he also had a .723 slugging percentage, walked 105 times and compiled 423 total bases.
Wilson’s RBI total puts him ahead of fellow Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig (who had 185 in 1931), Hank Greenberg (with 184 in 1937) and Jimmie Foxx (who had 175 in 1938). No player has gotten within 15 RBI of his mark since Foxx in 1938.
Wilson drove in more than 100 runs in six of his 12 seasons. He also led the league in walks twice and retired with a .395 on-base percentage and a .940 OPS.
Wilson passed away on Nov. 23, 1948. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1979.