Richards: Al Simmons, remembering a Philadelphia A’s star

From Lawrence Richards at The National Pastime Museum on March 7, 2017:

When fans today think about Aloisius Szymanski, which is probably never, an oxymoron comes to mind: underrated greatness. Tired of his name being brutalized by announcers, players, and  just about everyone while playing for a minor league team, he saw a billboard advertising Simmons Hardware. Szymanski became Simmons. Far easier to pronounce by any criteria, but name-change notwithstanding, Al Simmons is still relatively forgotten. His manager, Connie Mack, said, “I wish I had nine players named Al Simmons.” I bet Mack was happy with the new name.

How good was he? In his first nine years with the Philadelphia Athletics (1924–1932), Simmons led the Majors with 1,796 hits and 343 doubles, and he was second with 1,246 RBIs. He finished fourth in homers with 208, after three guys named Ruth, Gehrig, and Hack Wilson. During that span, he batted .358, second only to Ty Cobb and ahead of Rogers Hornsby. Teammate Lefty Grove claimed, “Could he ever hit that ball!” Fielding? Hall of Famer Joe Cronin described, “He was great all-around, running, fielding, throwing. There never was a greater left fielder in going to the line and holding a double to a single. He’d even dare you to make the wide turn at first on a ball hit to his right.”

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Originally published: March 7, 2017. Last Updated: March 7, 2017.