Jimmie Foxx: Baseball’s ‘Forgotten’ Super Slugger

This article was written by Tom Ferraro

This article was published in Spring 2024 Baseball Research Journal

Earl Averill and Jimmie Foxx (SABR-Rucker Archive)


Long before Aaron Judge broke the single-season American League home-run records formerly held by fellow New York Yankees Babe Ruth and Roger Maris, a young man from a small farm on the Maryland Eastern Shore was on pace to hit more dingers than any of them.1 His name was Jimmie Foxx, nicknamed “the Beast” for superhuman strength and monstrous homers, many of them among the longest in the history of the game, reportedly soaring upwards of 450 and even 500 feet, high over outfield walls, grandstands, and out of sight.2

On April 12, 1932, Opening Day, Foxx, first baseman for the Philadelphia Athletics, blasted a solo shot to begin a six-month assault on what eventually became one of the most coveted records in sports: Ruth’s 60 homers hit five years earlier. By late July, Foxx was on track to club 64, more than enough to top Ruth’s mark, and a record that would have survived Maris’s 61 in 1961 and Judge’s 62 in 2022.

If Foxx had kept hammering round-trippers at that clip, he would have been crowned the new home-run king and likely still reign as one of America’s most famous athletes. Instead, he slowed down in August, supposedly lost two homers to rainouts at some point in the season, and finished strong in September, with five homers in the last five games to end up with 58 that counted.3 Following a bittersweet 20-year career that did put him in the Baseball Hall of Fame, this gentle Beast quietly faded away as arguably the game’s least-remembered phenom.

“If you asked the average American baseball fan if they ever heard of him, you’d get a lot more noes than yeses,” said John Bennett, a SABR member who has researched and written extensively about Foxx.4

“He was one of the all-time greats,” said John Odell, curator of history and research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “You would think more people would know him. People just don’t.”5

“Foxx is the forgotten man among baseball’s all-time super sluggers. ‘Double X’ was poison to pitchers, the first man to challenge Ruth as the home run king,” John Thorn, Major League Baseball’s official historian since 2011, wrote in his 1998 book Treasures of the Baseball Hall of Fame.6

Though forgotten, Foxx remains a historical trailblazer—the first three-time winner of the Most Valuable Player award, the first to hit 30 or more homers in 12 straight seasons, and the first after Ruth to hit 500 career homers. Along the way, Foxx banged out a lifetime batting average of .325, with the seventh-highest slugging average, .609, and the 10th-most runs batted in, 1,922.


When it came to winning public admiration, however, particularly in the long term, Foxx repeatedly struck out—a victim of bad timing, a less-than-ideal location, and his low-key personality. Foxx also had the misfortune of playing in the smothering shadow of the highly charismatic Ruth, “the Great Bambino.” Ruth performed on center stage in New York City, the media capital of the world, which helped make him an international icon and still the biggest name in the game. With a talented supporting cast, Ruth showcased himself in seven World Series with the Yankees, drawing even more national and global acclaim.7

Foxx starred off-Broadway, in Philadelphia and later in Boston with the Red Sox. He played in three World Series, all with the A’s.8 In both cities, Foxx drew cheers. But he didn’t get the national recognition bestowed on Ruth and other legendary Yankees, particularly Lou Gehrig. In the inaugural All-Star game in 1933, Gehrig played the entire game at first base while Foxx, who would win the Triple Crown and his second straight MVP award at the end of that season, remained on the bench.9

Foxx’s best years were during the Great Depression, in the 1930s, when attendance and salaries were down, and fans were more interested in finding a job than attending a game. Foxx retired in 1945, not long before baseball began being televised regularly, which helped make many of Foxx’s successors become well-paid household names while he quietly filed for bankruptcy.10 If he had played two more seasons, he would have qualified for baseball’s new player pension program.

“You made only one mistake, Jimmie,” Joe DiMaggio told Foxx. “You were born 25 years too soon.” Said Foxx, “I guess, I was born to be broke.”11

Foxx was born in Sudlersville, Maryland, on October 22, 1907. Ruth, 12 years older than Foxx, was born and raised in Baltimore, across Chesapeake Bay from the Eastern Shore, where the Beast grew up and worked on his parents’ farm. Swinging from opposite sides of the plate, the Beast and the Sultan of Swat hit many of the game’s longest homers, prompting sportswriters to call Foxx “the right-handed Babe Ruth”

He was 16 when he signed his first pro baseball contract, with the Easton (Maryland) Farmers of the Class D Eastern Shore League, where he impressed fellow players with his big bat.12 After a year in the minors, Foxx took that big bat to the big leagues as a member of Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics. On May 1, 1925, he debuted with a pinch-hit single.13 Foxx was then 17 years, six months, and nine days old, easily placing him among the youngest 1% of the 20,000-plus players in major-league history at the time of their respective debuts.14

In 1932, at just 24, Foxx won the first of his two consecutive MVP awards. Yet The Sporting News, the weekly “Bible of Baseball,” gave him relatively scant notice, particularly compared to Ruth. According to the publication’s online reporting system, Foxx had six mentions by name in the magazine during the 1932 season; Ruth got 91. During the 1933 season, Foxx, en route to another MVP, was mentioned by name a few dozen times; Ruth’s name appeared more than 250 times.15

“When you study the man’s factual record and know what he did, it is actually hard for me to wrap my arms around the disproportionately low amount of recognition that he gets,” said baseball historian and author Bill Jenkinson. “He, to me, is clearly baseball’s most underrated player ever.”16

While the average baseball fan today may have never heard of Foxx, those who have studied the game place him near the top of just about any list of all-time greats. In 1998, The Sporting News ranked Foxx as the 15th greatest player ever, with Gehrig No. 6 and Ruth No. 1.17 A generation later, in 2022, Foxx’s stock had slipped a bit, at least at ESPN. In its Top 100 all-time players, the global sports station put Foxx at No. 40. Fourteen players whose careers had been over by 1998 and who had been behind Foxx in The Sporting News list—and whose profiles were boosted by TV—leapfrogged over the Beast on ESPN’s ranking. They included Mickey Mantle, Roberto Clemente, Pete Rose, Yogi Berra, and Jackie Robinson. Ruth and Gehrig remained No. 1 and No. 6.18

In terms of wins above replacement, or WAR, which measures a player’s value in all aspects of the game, Foxx ranks at number 41 in career WAR among the more than 20,000 players in major-league history. He is ahead of a long line of far more famous players who profited from TV exposure, including Ken Griffey Jr. (58), Pete Rose (67), Joe DiMaggio (69), Derek Jeter (95), and Johnny Bench (83).

On January 26, 1951, it was announced that Foxx got the required 75 percent vote of the Baseball Writers Association of America to win admittance into the Hall of Fame. Mel Ott also received the required votes. Foxx had more lifetime homers and RBIs, and a higher lifetime batting average than Ott. Yet Ott, like Ruth a beneficiary of the New York stage, drew 87.2 percent of the vote compared to 79.2 percent for Foxx. Foxx made it into the Hall in his sixth year of eligibility. Ott made it in his fourth.19

Days after being elected to the Hall, Foxx downplayed his success. “All the years I played, all the great players I saw, played against, read about and watched—I never expected this honor,” Foxx told the Associated Press. “I’ll never forget it.”20


At the 1934 All-Star Game, Jimmie Foxx (far right) is photographed with three other slugging greats, Al Simmons, Lou Gehrig, and Babe Ruth. (SABR-Rucker Archive)



In that AP interview, Foxx said he actually hit 60 homers in 1932, but two got erased in rainouts, preventing him from tying Ruth’s record. Widespread reports of those washed-out dingers persist online and in books and other publications. Yet a review of the record in researching this paper on Foxx found no confirmed word on when or where he supposedly clubbed those four-baggers, raising the question of whether they ever happened. “It’s become one of those baseball legends,” Cassidy Lent, library director at the Hall of Fame, said when asked about the lack of evidence. “I guess it persists the way all legends persist. …It makes for a good story.”21

In addition to the rained-out homers, Foxx’s “good story” includes reports that he hit upwards of a dozen or so long drives in 1932 that would have been homers but bounced off, rather than cleared, newly raised outfield barriers in St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Cleveland.22

“That story of Foxx’s ‘missing’ home runs may never sustain a fact check,” MLB historian Thorn wrote in a 2022 email exchange.23 There may never be a definitive fact-check. Neither the Hall of Fame, MLB, nor Baseball Reference maintains records of players’ performance in rained-out games or how high the balls they hit bounced off outfield walls.24

Newspapers routinely report rained-out contests. But there’s no guarantee that they always did. And even if newspapers reported a rainout, they may not have always provided much, if any, detail. Furthermore, even if a newspaper included details—like any homers hit that day—there is no certainty that the newspaper could now be found on some bookshelf, online, or on microfilm, said David Smith, a baseball historian and researcher. “You can’t prove it didn’t happen.”25

In his 1951 AP interview, Foxx said he hit five long balls in 1932 that should have been homers—the two that got erased by rainouts, and three others stopped by an outfield design change, namely the placing of strands of wire atop a right field fence to prevent kids from sneaking in. “I hit three drives in 1932 that struck the wires and bounced back,” he is quoted as saying. “When the Babe hit his 60, those drives would have gone over. But they called the ball in play when I hit ’em and I was cheated out of three homers. That would have made 61.” The AP story didn’t identify which park this took place in, but Foxx was likely referring to Philadelphia’s Shibe Park where such wire had been placed.26

Researcher Robert Schaefer reviewed Foxx’s 1932 play-by-play record in St. Louis’s Sportsman Park, where sportswriters said he lost a dozen home runs in 1932 to a new outfield screen. In the spring 2013 issue of the Baseball Research Journal, Schaefer wrote that he found just one instance, on June 15, when a ball struck by Foxx hit the screen.27

Jenkinson had also examined this decades earlier, and said he had also shown that a batted ball by Foxx hit the screen in St. Louis that day. In addition, Jenkinson found that Foxx belted a ball on July 1 of that year that bounced off the wire contraption atop the fence in Shibe Park for a triple.28 The next day’s Philadelphia Inquirer wrote: “The triple just missed clearing the wall. It hit the very top, but bounded the wrong way after hanging momentarily.”29

Jenkinson also reviewed Foxx’s 1932 game-by-game record as part of his decades-long examination of the careers of Foxx and other players. He checked records primarily by visiting libraries, including the Library of Congress in Washington, where he searched through microfilm of old newspapers, reading game stories and box scores. Jenkinson said he found 10 of Foxx’s games rained out in 1932, most before the first pitch: “My research found that he didn’t hit a homer in any of them.”

Jenkinson is confident that the Beast, who had a reputation for being modest, didn’t deliberately fabricate the rained-out homers: “What I think is that after he retired, somebody told him he had two homers rained out in 1932, and by the 1950s, he believed it.”34 Schaefer offered another possibility: “Some old players, in talking about the old days, simply misremember some things.”30

At the Hall of Fame, curator Odell cited “an old story that Foxx kept a newspaper clipping in his wallet that he would pull out to show he had two homers rained out in 1932.” He continued, “Baseball is full of these second-hand and third-hand stories that somebody told somebody something.”31 One of these is in Ted Taylor’s 2010 book The Ultimate Philadelphia Athletic Reference Book, 1901–1954: “According to [Foxx’s] daughter, Nanci Foxx Canaday, he carried a newspaper clipping with him in his wallet until the day he died that told of additional home runs lost to rainouts that season.”32

In a 2023 telephone interview, Canaday said she didn’t recall saying such a thing. She also said her father wouldn’t have made up two rained-out homers as an excuse for failing to tie Ruth’s record. “No way,” Canaday said. “He didn’t even care about records. When Willie Mays broke Daddy’s home run record, Daddy sent him a telegram of congratulations.” Mays topped Foxx’s record for most home runs by a right-handed hitter when he hit his 535th career homer on August 17, 1966.33


Ruth was impressed regardless of how many more homers Foxx may have had in 1932. After the season, Ruth, then 37 and near the end of his career, said, “Foxx is the greatest batsman in major league baseball today. There’s no question about that. He’s a swell fellow—well-liked by the players and the fans. In fact, he’s such a nice kid, I was kind of sorry for him when he came so close to the record and missed.”34

An equally respectful Foxx said, “If I had broken Ruth’s record, it wouldn’t have made any difference. Oh, it might have put a few more dollars in my pocket, but there was only one Ruth.”35

While there will always be only one Ruth, a few more homers by the Beast would have forever changed the narrative. “If Foxx had busted Ruth’s record in ’32, his career and place in history would be a whole other story,” Schaefer said. “Foxx would have owned the new home-run gold standard for decades, one that future sluggers would have all chased.”36

After the 1932 season, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle asked players and managers: Who hit the ball harder, Foxx or Ruth? With strong arguments on behalf of each slugger, Cleveland Indians Manager Roger Peckinpaugh asked, “Why make a choice between the two? Just give the crown of the left-handed hitters to Ruth and concede that Foxx hits the ball harder than any other right-handed batsman.”37 While Foxx led the major leagues in homers in 1932, Ruth was a distant second with 41.

Ruth remained center stage in his final years. Yet Foxx, his apparent successor, began winning more ink and plaudits, as he did on August 15, 1933, after the 25-year-old slugger had a day like none other. “Foxx, New Ruler of Swat, Far Shy of Ruth in Personality, But a Greater Terror at Bat,” read the headline atop a story in the Washington Evening Star. The story, by the AP’s Edward J. Neil reads: “There’s a new brilliant shining today in the bonnet of pink-cheeked Jimmie Foxx, a new American League record of nine runs batted in in one game added to the walloping achievements of the new king of baseball’s sluggers. As the old dynasty of Babe Ruth fades slowly…the wonder of Foxx, the easy-going farmer boy from Maryland’s somnolent Eastern Sho’ steadily rises.” Neil added that while the younger “barrel-chested horsehide buster” lacked the “flair” and “booming personality” of Ruth, “never in all of the Babe’s 20 years of big-league play has he loosed more devastation at the plate than Foxx unleashed yesterday as the Athletics slaughtered Walter Johnson’s Cleveland Indians, 11 to 5.”38

On September 24, 1940, Foxx, 32, then with the Red Sox, hit his 500th career homer, putting him on pace to top the Babe’s record of 714. “What a man,” teammate Ted Williams was quoted in the next day’s Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. “And I’ll bet he does it, too.”39

But Foxx, battling alcohol and other health issues, including a nagging sinus problem apparently stemming from getting hit in the head with a pitched ball six years earlier, was soon reduced to a part-time player.40 He hit only 34 more home runs before retiring in 1945—after bouncing from the Red Sox to the Chicago Cubs to the Philadelphia Phillies. Historian Jenkinson quoted Williams as telling him in a 1986 interview, “Jimmie felt obligated to emulate the Bambino in every way. And that was not good. Ruth liked to party, but not as much as Foxx seemed to think.”41

Jenkinson, in his 2010 book, Baseball’s Ultimate Power: Ranking the All-Time Greatest Distance Home Run Hitters, put Ruth and Foxx first and second among the “Top 100 Tape-Measure Sluggers.” Jenkinson used his own ranking formula: a player’s longest homer, 10 longest homers, and career home-run total. Jenkinson’s findings included that in 1932 alone, 24 of Foxx’s homers went 450 feet or more, including a 500-footer over the left-center field bleachers in St. Louis. “It was,” Jenkinson wrote, “a season for the ages.”42


The stock market crashed in 1929, a few months after Foxx appeared on the July 29 cover of TIME magazine as the young face of the powerhouse A’s, then headed to the first of three straight World Series. They won the first two. “I worked on a farm and I’m glad of it,” Foxx told TIME. “Farmer boys are stronger than city boys….Never realized then it was helping me train for the Big Leagues.”43

Foxx was considered the best player on perhaps the most overlooked great team, the 1929–31 Athletics, who, including Foxx, had four future Hall of Famers. “The Team that History Forgot,” read the headline on the cover of Sports Illustrated on August 19, 1996. The A’s, like Foxx, were overshadowed by Ruth and the Yankees, particularly the 1927 World Series champions, widely considered the greatest baseball team of all time. “Those A’s never got the credit they deserved,” SI quoted the Washington Post’s Shirley Povich as saying. “The A’s were victims of the Yankee mystique. Perhaps the 1927 Yankees were the greatest team of all time. But if there was a close second, perhaps an equal, it was those A’s.”44

The Babe’s 60 homers were a big part of the 1927 Yankees’ mystique. His record was long seen as unbreakable by anyone other than the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Ruth himself, since he alone hit more home runs that year than most teams. But five years later, the 6-foot, 195-pound Foxx—with a sculpted body likened to that of a Greek god and sleeves cut to expose bulging biceps—rose to the challenge. He slugged four homers in the first five games of the 1932 season. After a nine-game lull, he hit 25 dingers in May and June combined, and then walloped another 12 in July.45

“I think I had about 41 homers by the first week in August,” Foxx said in September 1961 as Maris closed in on Ruth’s record. “Then I hurt my wrist sliding into second base to break up a double play. I stayed in the lineup but later learned I had a chipped bone. I was able to get base hits, but for three weeks, I didn’t have the power to hit for distance.”46

Once Foxx regained his power, he went on another long-ball rampage. He smacked 10 homers in September, five in the last five games of the season, including one on the final day, September 25. He ended up two homers short of Ruth’s 60.47 “Well, I gave her a ride to the finish boys,” Foxx’s nephew, Dell Foxx, quoted him as telling reporters after the game. Dell Foxx said, “He was disappointed but not depressed.”48

It’s difficult to compare players from different eras, given that—thanks to better diet and improved exercise—they, along with the rest of humanity, have gotten bigger and stronger. Yet Foxx appears to have been among the best of the best. “I never saw a player with more natural ability than Double X,” said Hall of Fame shortstop Joe Cronin, who spent nearly a half-century in the big leagues as a player, manager, general manager, and president of the American League. “He had everything you could ask for in a player.”49


Foxx left high school to play baseball and after retiring, had a series of short-term jobs, including stints in public relations and as a paint salesman, a restaurant greeter, a sports announcer, a college coach, and as manager of the 1952 Fort Wayne Daisies of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, immortalized in the 1992 movie, A League of Their Own.50

Tom Hanks played Jimmy Dugan, portrayed as a former baseball player turned loud, profane, and falling down–drunk manager. The character was said to be based largely on Foxx, but former Daisies disputed the movie’s depiction of him. They said Foxx drank, but was no Jimmy Dugan. “He was always a gentleman,” said Katie Horstman. She said Foxx shared with her the key to his powerful swing after he learned that she grew up on a farm, milking cows, just as he had, and he saw her belt a towering home run. “I knew you could hit,” Horstman said Foxx told her. “That’s how I got my strong wrist action, too, from years of milking cows.”51

Several years later, on January 23, 1958, United Press quoted Foxx as saying. “I earned about $270,000 in my 20 years in the Major Leagues,” equivalent to several million dollars today. “I don’t have anything now.”52

In 1962, Foxx worked as a sporting goods salesman in a Cleveland department store, after having filed for bankruptcy. “I didn’t want to do it, but a food company I had been associated with collapsed, and all of a sudden I got a big bill that wasn’t mine. I had no choice,” he told The Associated Press. In the article, dated January 20, 1962, he was described as unable to afford a telephone but in good spirits. Asked why he was smiling, Foxx said, “Why not? I’m alive.”53

Sudlersville cheered Foxx when he played the game, but after he retired and did not move back to town, it began to see him as a divorced, broken-down has-been with a drinking problem and difficulty holding a job. “Sudlersville had pretty much disowned Daddy,” said his stepdaughter, Nanci Foxx Canaday. “I really don’t know why. But I knew Daddy could handle it. Daddy taught us if someone is mean to us, kill them with kindness. That’s what Daddy always did.”54

Baltimore native Gil Dunn moved to the Eastern Shore in 1953 and opened a pharmacy. He was surprised and saddened to see the lack of local interest in Foxx, a boyhood idol. Dunn erected a Foxx museum in his store in the 1960s and wrote the Beast, asking if he had anything he would like to contribute. Not long after, Foxx, unannounced, drove to the pharmacy with a donation: a trunk full of memorabilia. “You might as well have this all,” Dunn quoted Foxx. “No one else seems to want it.”55


Years after Foxx died in 1967 at 59—he choked on food while having dinner with his younger brother, Sam—his nephew Dell delivered a speech about “Uncle Jim” to the Sudlersville Lions Club. Dell Foxx does not recall the date of his speech, but he kept a copy of it. “This man never attracted the attention or the salary of Babe Ruth,” he wrote. “He was an amazing hitter, but he was no showman on or off the field. When others complained that he didn’t receive his share of attention, he would smile and say, ‘It’s all right. It’s a lot of fun anyway.’”56

“But it’s sad, really,” Dell Foxx added, “because of all the super sluggers in baseball, Jimmie Foxx is still the least known and remembered. There have been no books written about him, and many fans who still marvel at Babe Ruth have never heard of old ‘Double X.’”57

Since then, a half dozen books have been written about Foxx, but none made him anything near a household name. By comparison, dozens of biographies of Hall of Famers such as Ruth, Gehrig, and Mays have burnished their already robust legends.58

In 1981, following Dunn’s lead, Sudlersville reembraced Jimmie Foxx posthumously. It dedicated a small park in his honor and posted a sign reading, “Welcome to Sudlersville, Birthplace of Jimmy Foxx.” (Foxx changed the spelling of his first name from Jimmy to Jimmie after he entered the big leagues, but town folks still remember him as Jimmy.) On October 24, 1987, the Sudlersville Community Betterment Club dedicated a stone memorial in Foxx’s honor in the park at the corner of Church and Main Streets. Hundreds of people attended, including family, friends, elected officials, sportswriters, and former players.59

“It was overdue,” said Betterment Club member Loretta Walls. “He deserved it.”60

Unable to attend, Ted Williams mailed a hand-written tribute: “I’ll never forget my old teammate and how nicely he treated me as a young brash rookie and what an impression he made on me when I first saw him hit. I really don’t believe anyone ever made the impact of the ball and bat sound like it did when he really got a hold of it… Born in farm country, I really don’t think he ever left it. He was as down to earth as anyone I ever met.”61

Over the years, relatives, sportswriters, and fans have suggested Foxx may have been an even better player and better remembered if he’d been more aggressive, more of a showman, and more selfish. At the memorial dedication, Hurtt Deringer of the nearby Kent County News rejected such talk. “I think he was best as he was,” Deringer said, “a man genuinely liked by everyone in baseball. His niceness just shone through.”62

In 1992, Chestertown, another Eastern Shore town, dedicated a statue to its hometown baseball hero, Bill “Swish” Nicholson. Nicholson, like Foxx, was a former farm boy. He led the Cubs in homers in eight straight seasons and also led the National League in homers and RBIs in 1943 and 1944. But he was no Hall of Famer.63 “If Chestertown had a statue for Swish, Sudlersville should have one for its Hall of Famer, Jimmie Foxx,” said Walls. She helped rally community support to build one.64

On October 25, 1997, a life-size bronze statue of the Beast was dedicated in Sudlersville, near his memorial. At the dedication, former Maryland Governor Harry Hughes said, “We recall Jimmie Foxx as an example for all youth who would play the game.”65 A natural athlete, Foxx had been a state sprint champ in high school.66 In the majors, he was primarily a first baseman but early on he’d been a standout catcher. Foxx ended up playing every position except second base and center field in the big leagues. Late in his career, he pitched 232⁄3 innings over 10 games. He had a 1–0 record with an earned run average of 1.52.

Nephew Dell Foxx looked much like his uncle and was a model for the statue. Now a retired banker, he recalls playing high school baseball on the Maryland Eastern Shore in the 1950s, where fans in the stands compared him unfavorably to the Beast. Speaking from his home in North East, Maryland, a 45-minute car ride from Sudlersville, Foxx said: “I’d be at bat while a bunch of old men sat behind the screen, mumbling, ‘He sure doesn’t hit like his uncle.’” With a chuckle, Foxx added: “I remember thinking, ‘Not many people hit like my Uncle Jim.’”67

On October 20, 2007, baseball historian Jenkinson helped Sudlersville celebrate the 100th anniversary of Foxx’s birth. In doing so, he advised the town how to treat the memory of “The Gentle Beast.” Said Jenkinson, “History has not been fair to Jimmie. As the years pass, his legacy and memory continue to diminish in the minds of most Americans. Despite his imperfections, he was an amazing man who should endure as one of the nation’s true athletic icons.”

“So, what do we do?” Jenkinson remarked “Tell the truth…. Foxx was a marvel.”68

The Sudlersville Community Betterment Club helped spread the word. It printed a pamphlet, Jimmy Foxx: Honoring Our Hometown Hero. The club quoted what Double X had said decades earlier when asked to name his “greatest day in baseball.” Foxx picked Game 5 of the 1930 World Series, on October 6, when he squared off in the ninth inning of a scoreless contest against fellow future Hall of Famer Burleigh Grimes of the St. Louis Cardinals. “I was nervous. But Grimes was cool as ice,” Foxx said. “He was deliberately slow in getting ready to pitch, so I stepped out of the box. I got some dirt in my hands and stepped in again. He raised his hand to his mouth in his spitter motion. Then he threw the first pitch. I knew in a flash second it wasn’t a spitter. For it was coming in close. It was a curve, and I swung.”69

He went on: “Well, that was it—the big thrill. I heard the Athletic bench yell all at once, and there it went. Some fan reached up and pulled it down when it hit the left field bleachers for a home run” that won the game and successfully positioned the A’s, two days later, to capture their second consecutive World Series championship, four games to two.70

According to the next day’s Philadelphia Inquirer, Foxx called the winning shot, telling teammates as he picked up his big bat and headed to the plate, “I’ll just bust up this ball game right now.”71

In 1997, the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame Museum opened at the Arthur W. Perdue Stadium in Salisbury, home of the Class A Delmarva Shorebirds. With old bats, balls, uniforms, photos, and displays, the shrine honors hundreds of pro and amateur players from the Eastern Shore, including a former farm boy unknown to most of America. However, says Newt Weaver, a member of the museum’s board of directors, that former farm boy, Jimmie Foxx, “is our biggest draw—him and his 534 home runs,” including the 58 in 1932.72 

TOM FERRARO got a Joe DiMaggio bat at age 5, making him a lifelong Yankee and baseball fan. Another passion, dating back to childhood, was being a reporter, at his high school and college newspapers and then The Hagerstown (MD) Morning Herald, United Press International, New York Post, Bloomberg News, and Reuters. He spent most of his half-century career covering a subject that doesn’t come close to the beauty of the national pastime: national politics.



All stats are from Baseball Reference except as noted.



1 “Jimmie Foxx 1932 Game by Game Batting Logs,” Baseball Almanac, https://www.baseball-almanac.com/players/hittinglogs.php?p=foxxji01&y=1932 Foxx hit 40th homer on July 23, 1932, the 96th game of the season, to put him on pace to finish with 64.

2 Bill Jenkinson, Baseball’s Ultimate Power: Ranking the All-Time Greatest Distance Home Run Hitters (Guilford, CT: Lyons Press), 237.

3 “Jimmie Foxx 1932 Game by Game Batting Logs.”

4 John Bennett, telephone interview, January 2023.

5 John Odell, telephone interview, March 14, 2022.

6 John Thorn, Treasures of the Baseball Hall of Fame (New York: Random House, 1980), 61.

7 “Babe Ruth World Series Stats,” Baseball Almanac, https://www.baseball-almanac.com/players/playerpost.php?p=ruthba01&ps=ws

8 “Jimmie Foxx World Series Stats,” Baseball Almanac, https://www.baseball-almanac.com/players/playerpost.php?p=foxxji01&ps=ws

9 “1933 All-Star Game Box Score, July 6,” Baseball Reference, https://www.baseball-reference.com/allstar/1933-allstar-game.shtml.

10 Curt Smith, “TV brought baseball to fans who had never seen a game,” National Baseball Hall of Fame, https://baseballhall.org/discover/television-brought-baseball-to-millions; Andrew Martin, “MLB Legend Jimmie Foxx Had To Become A Working Man Years After HOF Induction,” Medium, May 14, 2022, https://historianandrew.medium.com/mlb-legend-jimmie-foxx-had-to-become-a-working-man-years-after-hof-induction-d9223bd64326

11 Bob Broeg, Super Stars of Baseball (St. Louis: The Sporting News, 1971), 85–86.

12 Franklin Snyder, interview in Annapolis, Maryland, July 26, 2023. Snyder, a retired Maryland homebuilder, remembers Jimmie Foxx. “He and my father [Frank] played together,” Snyder said, pointing at an old black-and-white photo of their team, the Easton Farmers. “That’s my father, in front of Jimmie Foxx. My father was the catcher. Jimmie Foxx played first base. My father told me Jimmie Foxx was a heck of a player. Big bat”; “About Jimmie Foxx,” National Baseball Hall of Fame, https://baseballhall.org/hall-of-famers/foxx-jimmie

13 “Jimmie Foxx,” Baseball Reference BR Bullpen, https://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Jimmie_Foxx.

14 “Jimmie Foxx Debuts May 1, 1925,” Baseball Sisco Kid Style, May 1, 2015, https://baseballsiscokidstyle.blogspot.com/2015/05/jimmie-foxx-debuts-may-1-1925.html; “Player Batting Season & Career Stats Finder,” Stathead Baseball, https://stathead.com/tiny/biDjg Note that there are duplicate entries in those results because of players such as Roy Campanella debuting in different major leagues; Red Bradley, who was 18 at his debut, appears in error.

15 Online search of The Sporting News Archives.

16 Bill Jenkinson interview, March 2023.

17 “Baseball’s 100 Greatest Players by The Sporting News (1998),” Baseball Almanac, https://www.baseball-almanac.com/legendary/lisn100.shtml.

18 “Top 100 MLB players of all time,” ESPN.com, February 1, 2022, https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/33145121/top-100-mlb-players-all Players whose career was over in 1998 who had leapfrogged Foxx were, in ascending order: Yogi Berra, Jackie Robinson, Joe Morgan, Tris Speaker, Josh Gibson, Pete Rose, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Johnny Bench, Roberto Clemente, Tom Seaver, Frank Robinson, Mike Schmidt and Mickey Mantle. One player who had been ahead of Foxx in 1998 fell behind him on the 2022 list: Pete Alexander.

19 “Foxx, Ott enter Hall of Fame together,” National Baseball Hall of Fame, https://baseballhall.org/discover/inside-pitch/ott-foxx-enter-hall-of-fame-together

20 Associated Press, “Foxx Figures Breaking of Ruth Record Would Help,” Hagerstown (Maryland) Morning Herald, January 29, 1951.

21 Cassidy Lent, telephone interview and follow up email exchange, 2023.

22 Broeg, Super Stars of Baseball, 84. Robert H. Schaefer, “Double X and His Lost Dingers,” Baseball Research Journal: Spring Vol. 42, No. 1, 2013 (Phoenix: Society for American Baseball Research, 2013), https://sabr.org/journal/article/double-x-and-his-lost-dingers/; Norman Macht, The Grand Old Man of Baseball, Connie Mack (University of Nebraska Press, 2015), 16.

23 John Thorn, email exchanges, 2023 and 2024.

24 David Smith, telephone interviews, 2022 and 2023.

25 Smith.

26 Associated Press, “Old Double X Says New Home Run Champ Needed,” Springfield (Missouri) News-Leader, January 29, 1951. Foxx told the AP: “Sure. I would have liked to break the Babe’s record. I think it would be a good thing if someone broke it now.” Details about Shibe Park from Macht, The Grand Old Man of Baseball.

27 Robert Schaefer, email exchange, 2022. See also Schaefer, “Double X and His Lost Dingers.”

28 Jenkinson, telephone interview.

29 James C. Isaminger, “Mackian,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July, 2, 1932, 12.

30 Jenkinson.

31 John Odell, telephone interview, March 14, 2022.

32 Ted Taylor, The Ultimate Philadelphia Athletic Reference Book, 1901–1954 (Bloomington, IN: Xlibris, 2010), 126.

33 Nanci Foxx Canaday, telephone interview, 2023.

34 Jack Cuddy, “Babe Ruth Thinks His Home Run Record Is Safe,” Paterson (New Jersey) Morning Call, December 20, 1932, 25.

35 Joseph J. Veccihione, New York Times Book of Sports Legends (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991).

36 Schaefer, telephone interview, 2023.

37 Henry P. Edwards, “Hard to Tell Which Hits a Ball Harder, Babe Ruth or Foxx,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 5, 1933, 44.

38 Edward J. Neil, “Foxx, New Ruler of Swat, Far Shy of Ruth in Personality, but Greater Terror at Bat,” Washington Evening Star, August 15, 1933, 29.

39 “Boston Red Sox slugger Jimmie Foxx hits his 500th home run,” This Day in Baseball, https://thisdayinbaseball.com/boston-red-sox-slugger-jimmie-foxx-hits-his-500th-home-run/

40 Bill Jenkinson, “The Real Jimmie Foxx,” The National Pastime: From Swampoodle to South Philly (Phoenix: SABR, 2013), https://sabr.org/journal/article/the-real-jimmie-foxx/

41 Jenkinson, telephone interview, 2023.

42 Jenkinson, Baseball’s Ultimate Power, 184, 237

43 “Philadelphia’s Foxx,” TIME, July 29, 1929.

44 William Nack, “Lost in History,” Sports Illustrated, August 19, 1996.

45 “Jimmie Foxx 1932 Game by Game Batting Logs.”

46 Mark Millikin, Jimmie Foxx, The Pride of Sudlersville (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1998), 255–56.

47 “Jimmie Foxx 1932 Game by Game Batting Logs.”

48 Dell Foxx, personal copy of his speech to the Sudlersville Lions Club, date unknown.

49 Stephen Stilianos, “Jimmie Foxx,” Pennsylvania Center for the Book, Spring 2008, https://pabook.libraries.psu.edu/literary-cultural-heritage-map-pa/bios/Foxx_James

50 John Bennett, “James E. Foxx,” All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, https://www.aagpbl.org/profiles/james-e-foxx-jimmie-and-double-x-and-beast/689

51 Katie Hortsman, telephone interview, July 2023.

52 United Press, “Bosox Name Jimmy Foxx Minneapolis Farm Coach,” Hartford Courant, January 24, 1958, 21

53 Associated Press, “Jimmie Foxx Handling Bats Again,” The Kansas City Star, January 21, 1962, 31.

54 Nancy Canaday Foxx, telephone interview, 2023.

55 Gil Dunn, “#1 Fan Remembers the Great Jimmie Foxx,” Sudlersville’s Celebration of the Anniversary of Jimmie’ Foxx’s Birth 1907–2007 (pamphlet), October 20, 2007.

56 Dell Foxx speech.

57 Dell Foxx speech.

58 A Google search finds dozens of biographies of popular Hall of Famers, many of whom played in New York, including Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Yogi Berra, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, and Lou Gehrig.

59 Dunn, “#1 Fan Remembers.”

60 Loretta Walls, telephone interview, 2023.

61 Ted Williams, hand-written remarks read at Foxx’s tribute, October 25, 1997.

62 Mark Millikin, Jimmie Foxx, 264.

63 Gary Livacari, “Another Edition of Baseball’s Forgotten Stars! Bill ‘Swish’ Nicholson!” Baseball History Comes Alive, https://www.baseballhistorycomesalive.com/another-edition-of-baseballs-forgotten-stars-bill-swish-nicholson/

64 Loretta Walls, telephone interview, March 24, 2023.

65 “Jimmie Foxx – Player,” Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame Museum, http://www.esbhalloffame.org/index.cfm?ref=30200&ref2=149.

66 Bill Jenkinson, “The Real Jimmie Foxx,” The National Pastime: From Swampoodle to South Philadelphia, 2013, https://sabr.org/journal/article/the-real-jimmie-foxx/

67 Dell Foxx, telephone interview, October 10, 2023.

68 Jenkinson, spoken remarks at Sudlersville’s 100th anniversary celebration of Jimmie Foxx’s birth, October 20, 2007.

69 John Carmichael, My Greatest Day in Baseball as Told to John Carmichael and Other Noted Sportswriters (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1951). Foxx’s day as told to Lyall Smith.

70 Carmichael, My Greatest Day.

71 “Foxx Predicted He Would Win Game with Homer,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 7, 1930, 22.

72 Newt Weaver, telephone interview, June 12, 2023.