Nickname: "Old Aches and Pains"
Born: April 2, 1907 (High Point, NC)
ML Debut: September 10, 1930
Final Game: October 1, 1950
Bats: Right Throws: Right
5' 10" 183
Hall of Fame: 1964 (Baseball Writers, 189 votes on 225 ballots, 84%)
|Played forChicago White Sox (1930-1950)
All Star 1936, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1943, 1946, 1947
A fan favorite -- a 1969 fan poll voted him the greatest living White Sox -- Appling was Chicago's shortstop for nearly twenty years. He signed with the Southern Association's Atlanta Crackers after two years of college and was sold to the Chicago Cubs in 1930. He was dealt to the White Sox that same year. Early in his career, Appling's fielding was suspect. But at the plate he developed into a highly productive hitter known for his ability to fend off numerous pitches to get to one he liked. (Appling is said to have fouled off seventeen pitches in a particular at-bat before hitting a triple.) As is the case with many outstanding contact hitters, Appling hit only 45 homers during his career. In 1936 he won the AL batting title with a .388 average -- the first batting title won by a White Sox player -- and one that was decided in the second game of a September 24 doubleheader with Cleveland, in which he went 4-for-4. (The .388 mark remains the highest by a shortstop in baseball history.) He garnered his second in 1943, batting .328, and hit .300 or better fifteen times in his career. Appling set Major League records for a shortstop for games played and double plays, and American League records for putouts and assists. The 2,218 games he played at short surpassed Rabbit Maranville's mark of 2,153. In 1950 he was released by the Chisox so that he could manage the Memphis Chicks (SA). Two years later, The Sporting News named him manager of the year. And in 1967 he served a stint as interim manager of the Kansas City Athletics when Alvin Dark was fired. Appling was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1964 by special vote. (In 1953, his first year of eligibility, he received just two votes.)
Appling was a hypochondriac, earning the nickname "Old Aches and Pains." But there was nothing imaginary about the injuries he suffered during an exhibition game on March 27, 1938, when he broke his right leg in two places while sliding into second.
Due to military service, Appling missed all of the 1944 season and most of 1945.
In 1936 Appling set career highs in hits (204), runs (111), RBI (128), slugging (.508), and OBP (.474). His 27-game hitting streak that year remained a White Sox record until broken by Albert Belle in 1997.
Appling was replaced as the White Sox shortstop by Chico Carrasquel, who was, in turn, replaced by Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio.
In the first annual Cracker Jack Oldtimers Classic, held July 19, 1982, 75-year-old Appling hit a home run off Warren Spahn in a 7-2, five-inning triumph for the AL.
-- Jason Manning
"Luke Appling was the leader of the team. He was a nice man who would help me and the other younger players learn the ropes. When Chico Carrasquel joined the team to take his place at short, Luke helped him like a baby. They'd work extra time and during games he'd help position him. So even as a rookie, Chico was a tremendous shortstop. Appling was 41 years old, but he had hit over .300 the past 6 years and about 15 times in his career. He didn't play much in his final season but he could still give pitchers fits. He had amazing instincts and could always place the ball through positions vacated by infielders when they moved. He was so impressive. I never saw a batter who could hit so many foul balls -- up to a dozen. I think he enjoyed doing it. In Chicago, they'd get after players for giving balls to fans, so Luke said, 'I'll cost them a few dollars in today's game.'"
-- Bob Cain (1950)
They Played the Game