Inside Pitch

Dec. 2, 1928: Jim Bottomley Named NL MVP

By BRIDGET BIELEFELD
December 2, 2009


COOPERSTOWN N.Y. – When scout Charley Barrett invited Jim Bottomley to try out with the Cardinals in 1920, there was just one problem. Bottomley, an Illinois native, didn’t know where the old Cardinal Field was located.

So his taxi driver – sensing Bottomley’s uncertainty in the unfamiliar city – took him for a joy ride around St. Louis and watched as his cab fare gradually climbed.

Jim Bottomley was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1974 by the Veterans Committee. (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

From that moment on, it was smoother sailing for Bottomley as he adjusted to life in the Gateway City.

In his 11-year tenure with the Cardinals, he made an indelible mark on the team, city and their fans – with one of his most memorable moments coming on Dec. 2, 1928, when he was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player.

In 1928, Bottomley batted .325 and posted league-leading numbers in home runs (31), RBIs (136) and triples (20). His efforts propelled the Cardinals to the World Series, where they were ultimately swept by the New York Yankees.

From 1926-31, “Sunny Jim,” as he was often referred to for his light-hearted disposition, led the Cardinals to the World Series four times with his stellar regular season stats. From 1924-29, he posted 100 or more regular season RBIs and batted .300 or better from 1927-31.

Of the four World Series appearances, the Cardinals won it all twice: in 1926 against the Yankees and in 1931 against the Philadelphia Athletics, creating a mini-dynasty.

“Jim Bottomley was a morale man, a winner, the guy who held early St. Louis championship clubs together,” Hall of Famer Bill Terry said in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Another notable moment in Bottomley’s career came on Sept. 16, 1924, when he established a major league record for driving in 12 runs in a nine inning game against the Brooklyn Dodgers. The record would stand alone for 69 years before being matched by fellow Cardinal Mark Whiten in 1993.

And his talent didn’t end at the plate.

“I noticed one thing that day, and that was that Bottomley could field,” former St. Louis manager and Hall of Famer Branch Rickey said of the first time he saw Bottomley play. “By the sinews of Joshua how he could field! His reach from wrist to ankle was sublime.”

Bottomley was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1974.

CARDINAL MVPs

Player

Year

STL Tenure

Albert Pujols 2009 2001 - Present
Albert Pujols 2008 2001 - Present
Albert Pujols 2005 2001 - Present
Willie McGee 1985 1982-90, 1996-99
Keith Hernandez 1979 1974-83
Joe Torre 1971 1969-74
Bob Gibson 1968 1959-75
Orlando Cepeda 1967 1966-68
Ken Boyer 1964 1955-65
Stan Musial 1948 1941-44, 1946-63
Stan Musial 1946 1941-44, 1946-63
Marty Marion 1944 1940-50
Stan Musial 1943 1941-44, 1946-63
Mort Cooper 1942 1938-45
Joe Medwick 1937 1932-40, 1947-48
Dizzy Dean 1934 1930, 1932-37
Frankie Frisch 1931 1927-37
Jim Bottomley 1928 1922-32
Bob O'Farrell 1926 1925-29, 1933, 1935
Rogers Hornsby 1925 1915-26, 1933

Bridget Bielefeld was the 2009 Public Relations Intern at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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