Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now

Al Simmons: Original All-Star

Posted on July 04, 2012 by Dean Hybl

Al Simmons

The July Sports Then and Now Athlete of the Month hit .462 while starting the first three All-Star Games during a stellar 20-year career that ended with his induction in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

One of the premier outfielders of his generation, Al Simmons was not as well known as Babe Ruth, but he was a steady run producer who helped the Philadelphia Athletics edge the New York Yankees for three straight American League titles from 1929-1931 while claiming two World Series titles.

As a 22-year-old rookie in 1924, Simmons posted arguably one of the greatest rookie seasons ever as he hit .308 with 31 doubles, nine triples, eight home runs and 102 RBI.

He proved immune to the “sophomore slump” the next season as Simmons hit .387 with 253 hits, which at the time was the second highest single season total of all-time and still ranks as the fifth best single season total. He also scored 122 runs, blasted 24 home runs and drove in 124 runs to finish second to Roger Peckinpaugh in balloting for the AL MVP ( a voting result that seems puzzling considering that Peckinpaugh hit only .294 with 4 home runs, 67 runs scored and 64 RBI for the AL Champion Senators).

A model of consistency, Simmons hit over .300 and drove in more than 100 runs in each of his nine seasons with the Athletics. He claimed back-to-back batting titles as he hit .380 in 1930 and .391 the following year.

In three World Series for the Athletics, Simmons hit .333 with six home runs and 17 RBI. The Athletics claimed the title in 1929 and 1930 before losing in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1931.

Part of the Philadelphia Athletics’ fire-sale following the 1932 season, Simmons joined the Chicago White Sox and ran his streak of consecutive seasons to start a career with a .300 average and 100+ RBIs to 11 by exceeding both totals during his first two seasons with the Sox.

He also earned a starting spot in each of the first three All-Star Games and had at least one hit in each game as the American League claimed victory in all three games. In the 1934 game he had three hits (two doubles) and drove home a run as the AL won 9-7, but ironically is probably better known for being one of the five Hall of Famers that Carl Hubbell struck out consecutively early in the contest.

After hitting only .267 and driving home 79 runs in 1935, Simmons was sold to the Detroit Tigers for $75,000. He rebounded with a .327 average and 112 RBI in his lone season with the Tigers.

He then spent two solid seasons with the Washington Senators before splitting the 1939 season between the Boston Bees and Cincinnati Reds. Simmons returned to the Athletics for the 1940 and 1941 seasons, but nearing 40 years old saw very limited action.

After missing the 1942 season, Simmons played briefly for the Boston Red Sox in 1942 and then finished his career by playing in four games for the Athletics in 1943.

Over his 20 year career, Simmons hit .334 with 1,507 runs scored, 2,927 hits, 539 doubles, 307 home runs and 1,827 RBI. He still ranks 19th all-time in RBIs and 23rd in career batting average.

He passed away following a heart attack in 1956 at the age of 54.

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