Wyatt: Hack Wilson, the pint-sized dynamo

From Daniel Wyatt at The National Pastime Museum on June 5, 2014:

Hack Wilson could not have found a better place to play baseball during the Roaring Twenties than Chicago. The Cubs paid well, Wilson liked beer and whiskey, and the local speakeasies supplied both for the town’s thirsty patrons. Once asked if he was ever drunk for a game, he replied, “I never played drunk. Hungover, yes. Drunk, no.” However, he was known to hit well even with a hangover. “When I see three balls,” Wilson told a writer, “I just swing at the middle one.”

Lewis “Hack” Wilson was born on April 26, 1900, in Elwood City, Pennsylvania, to alcoholic parents who never married. His mother died when he was eight, forcing Lewis to spend his first few years in foster homes. Still in grade six at 14, he quit school and went to work swinging a sledgehammer in a car factory for four dollars a week. When he reached adulthood, he weighed 200 pounds but was only 5 feet 6 inches in height. He had a large head, size 18 neck, a massive chest, forearms like Popeye, short legs, skinny ankles, and size 6 shoes. Today, there’s a medical term for his odd physical appearance—Fetal Alcohol Syndrome—a disease that generates defects and abnormalities in children brought on by a mother’s high level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

Wilson’s first Major League team was the New York Giants. Spending parts of three seasons there, he was optioned to the minors in mid-1925. Upon hearing the news of Wilson’s departure, teammate Ross Youngs told a reporter, “The Giants are going to regret this.” Wilson went one step further by boldly informing Manager John McGraw, “I may not be good enough to play on your ballclub, but I’ll be back and playing on a better club someday.”

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/hack-wilson-pint-size-dynamo

Originally published: June 5, 2014. Last Updated: June 5, 2014.