Womack: How a BBWAA dispute helped Jackie Robinson win the inaugural Rookie of the Year
From SABR member Graham Womack at The National Pastime Museum on November 6, 2017:
On January 1, 1947, The Sporting News made note of the Chicago chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America’s voting 27-year-old Cubs first baseman Eddie Waitkus baseball’s Rookie of the Year for 1946.
Waitkus—whose greatest claim to fame would come two years later when a deranged female admirer shot him, helping inspire the plot of The Natural—had hit .304 for the Cubs.
“Waitkus, a blond Lithuanian from Cambridge, Mass. richly deserves the honor,” the magazine noted. “He was among the youngsters who had to wait while fighting (Japanese) and Germans to prove he was ready to graduate into the majors.”
Not everyone agreed with the Chicago chapter’s selection, though, with second-place finisher Del Ennis of the Phillies being voted top rookie by The Sporting News and the Philadelphia chapter of the BBWAA.
The disagreement provoked a change in voting that set the stage for Jackie Robinson to win the top rookie award and make history twice in 1947.
This page was last updated November 6, 2017 at 2:23 pm MST.