Lutzke: How Hall of Famer Sam Crawford became a Tiger

From SABR member Mitch Lutzke at Tigers History on August 1, 2019:

In a season deep into a Detroit Tigers rebuild, it’s may be hard to fathom there was a time when an owner spent lavishly to improve the ball club. However, it was only a few years ago that Mike Ilitch opened signed big-time players to big salaries, as the Tigers strove for what would be an elusive World Series crown. But Ilitch wasn’t the first Tigers’ owner to spend freely in order to win. That honor may have gone to the owner who over a century ago threw big bucks at a future Hall of Fame player.

Samuel F. Angus, a bookseller turned baseball magnate, bought out his four Detroit baseball partners on August 6, 1902, and immediately opened the checkbook. Even though it was midseason, he sent Tigers’ manager Frank Dwyer on a search for an infusion of high caliber talent. Dwyer set his sights on the roster of the National League’s Cincinnati Reds, who had been recently sold and were on their third manager during a tumultuous 1902 campaign. Angus was reportedly still sore the Tigers failed to lure star Nap Lajoie to the Detroit club, so, another future Hall of Famer was targeted—Sam Crawford.

The young slugging outfielder, nicknamed “Wahoo” after his hometown in Nebraska, led the National League in home runs in 1901. His 1902 season was notable for the fact that his home runs were dramatically lower, but Crawford’s ability to leg out triples (he is still the all-time major league leader) was becoming evident.

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Originally published: August 8, 2019. Last Updated: August 8, 2019.