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Cardinalography: Bottemley's Bat

8:54 AM, Aug 16, 2011   |    comments
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(The Cardinal Nation Show) -- James Leroy Bottomley, was born just four months into the new century on April 24, 1900. An Illinois boy, he grew up in the town of Nokomis in Montgomery County about 85 miles from St. Louis.

Jim Bottomley joined the Cardinals in 1922. He was really the first significant player to come from Branch Rickey's newly devised farm system. He was the first call up who would ultimately become a National League Most Valuable Player, which he did in 1928, as well as a future Hall of Fame inductee.

Bottemly was the second player in baseball to hit 20 or more doubles, triples and home runs in one season.  The first was Lou Gehrig.

Always with a smile, Bottomley earned the nickname, "Sunny Jim."  He was quite the fan favorite. And in fact, he was a big favorite of the lady fans, particularly on lady's day at the ball park. A lot of ladies liked basically for his charm and his good looks.   But he was also popular because of his skill with the bat. Not only as a power hitter, but also as hitter for high average.

That was really the big stat when he played. Babe Ruth was just in the league as well around this time and so Ruth was ready to change the face of baseball with his power hitting. His home run hitting. But most players wanted to hit for high average. And Bottomley clearly did that well.

So well in fact, that he is one of the few players to ever have six hits in one game. And he's the only player in Cardinal's history to have done it twice.

In fact, there are only three players in Cardinals' history who have had six hits in a game. They are not necessarily some of our greatest hitters per say. For example, Stan Musial is not part of that equation. Bottomley did it on two occasions. Terry Moore did it in 1935 and Skip Schumaker did it in 2008.

The first occasion was probably more notable for him in 1924, September that year, Bottomley went 6 for 6 in a game, had two home runs, but he set a Major League Baseball record with twelve runs batted in.

Inside the Cardinals Hall of fame collection is this, circa 1931 Bottemley bat.

This particular bat, while not being used for his six hit game in 1931 does date to that period. So, it's from the 1930s, specifically the early thirties and it is a pretty unique piece. Bottomley was an endorser for Louisville slugger, but in those days there was some question as to what being an endorser for one company meant to another.

With Louisville Slugger bats, if your name is on the barrel, your autograph is branded on the barrel. In this case again, it was just his name in block letters made into his specs by the Hanna Bat Right Company.

After his career ended, Bottomley moved near Bourbon, Missouri, where he raised cattle. He spent the last years of his life in nearby Sullivan, Missouri where he and his wife were eventually laid to rest.

A museum in Nokomis, Illinois is dedicated to Bottomley.
Bottomley died in 1959. he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1974.

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